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Karole Armitage collection

Call Number: RH MS 1143


This collection documents the professional dance career of Karole Armitage, a Lawrence, Kansas native, from her early days as a young ballerina through 2017. The materials, comprising correspondence, newspaper and magazine articles, programs, and more, were collected by Katie Armitage, Karole's mother.


  • Creation: 1959 - 2017


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Audio visual materials are stored in the KU Annex off-site storage area.

All researchers interested in reviewing this material must consult Spencer Research Library Public Services staff (785-864-4334 or, 9-5 M-F CST) before a planned visit; staff will respond within three days, though materials may not be available in that timeframe. Access to audio visual materials may require digitization first. Be advised that drop-in requests for this material cannot be accommodated.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Karole Armitage

Karole Armitage, popularly known as the "punk ballerina", was born in 1952 in Madison, Wisconsin and grew up in Gothic, Colorado and Lawrence, Kansas. She began studying ballet at the age of four and went on to train in Lawrence, Crested Butte, Aspen, Salt Lake City, New York City, North Carolina, and London. Her first professional ballet position was as a member of the Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève in Switzerland from 1973-1975 under the direction of George Balanchine. She then joined Merce Cunningham's company from 1975-1981.

Armitage is a prolific and talented choreographer, leading several of her own companies to great international success. Armitage started her first company, Armitage Gone! in 1979, and then founded the Armitage Ballet in 1985, while taking choreography commissions from European ballet and opera companies. In 2005 she launched Armitage Gone! Dance, a New York-based ballet company that continues to tour worldwide today. In her career as a choreographer, Armitage has collaborated with several visual artists in her productions, such as Jeff Koons and David Salle.

Karole Armitage has received a number of honors and awards throughout her career, including a Guggenheim Fellowship for Choreography in 1986, Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France in 1992, Officier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France in 2002, Grand Prix Roscigno Danza in Italy in 2005, a Radcliffe Fellowship at Harvard University and a Simons Fellowship at the University of Kansas in 2016, and a fellowship at MIT as a Media Lab Directors Fellow in 2017.

Karole's mother, Katie Armitage, is a local historian in Lawrence, Kansas.


3 Linear Feet (5 boxes + 1 oversize box + 1 oversize folder + 1 video cassette)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

This collection comprises materials collected by Karole Armitage's mother Katie, spanning Karole's dance career through 2017. The collection is organized into four series: Katie Armitage's files on Karole's dance career; Katie Armitage's files on Karole's collaborators and teachers; Performance posters; and audiovisual materials.

Katie Armitage's files on Karole's dance career, the bulk of the collection, includes correspondence, newspaper and magazine clippings, programs, and photographs relating to Karole's career. There are materials related to this topic in both the 1995 and the 2017 accessions, and materials are shelved at both RH MS 1143 and RH MS 1477.

Katie Armitage's files on Karole's collaborators and teachers includes individual files of correspondence and newspaper clippings devoted to individual collaborators and teachers.

Performance posters includes large-scale posters of Karole's performances, and Audiovisual materials includes a documentary on VHS tape. Posters and other oversize items are located at RH MS R248 and RH MS R444; the VHS tape is located at KC AV 70.

Physical Location

RH MS 1143

Physical Location

RH MS 1477

Physical Location

RH MS R248

Physical Location

RH MS R444

Physical Location

A/V items at Annex (Contact Spencer Library Public Services)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gifts, Katie Armitage, 1989, 2017.

Related Materials

Armitage Foundation records, RH MS 685, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Physical Description

KC AV 70

Guide to the Karole Armitage Collection
Karole Armitage collection
Finding aid prepared by sh, 2008. Finding aid encoded by sh, 2008. Finding aid revised by vej, 2019.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in<language encodinganalog="language">English</language>
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Karole Armitage collection, RH MS 1143, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States