Karole Armitage, director of Armitage Gone! Dance Company based in New York, was rigorously trained in classical ballet. Through her unique and acute knowledge of the aesthetic values of Balanchine and Cunningham, she is seen by some critics as the true choreographic heir to the two masters of twentieth-century American dance. Known as the "Punk Ballerina," Armitage is renowned for pushing the boundaries to create works that blend dance, music and art. Following the premiere of the Watteau Duets, Mikhail Baryshnikov invited her to create a work for the American Ballet Theatre, and Rudolph Nureyev commissioned a work for the Paris Opera Ballet. She has collaborated with contemporary composers and worked with artists such as Jeff Koons, Brice Marden and David Salle. She choreographed two Broadway productions (Passing Strange and Hair, which awarded her a Tony nomination), videos for Madonna and Michael Jackson and several films. She has set new works on companies that include the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, Ballet Naccional de Cuba and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. Her company tours an extensive repertoire and creates site-specific works for festivals and venues worldwide. She has directed operas from the baroque and contemporary repertoire for prestigious houses of Europe, including Teatro Di San Carlo in Naples, Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, the Lyric Opera in Athens and Het Muzik Theatre in Amsterdam. She also choreographed The Cunning Little Vixen for the New York Philharmonic. Armitage was awarded France's most prestigious award in 2009, Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. This is her first collaboration with Cirque du Soleil.