Karole Armitage’s signature choreography style – simultaneously classical and riotous, cerebral and modish – established her place as the ‘punk ballerina’ of the dance world. In the 1980s, she electrified the downtown New York scene with classical dances performed in spiked heels, and ballet poses intermixed with voguing. Now, Armitage runs her own company, Armitage Gone!, and has collaborated with artists such as David Salle and Jeff Koons, as well as designers Jean-Paul Gaultier and Marc Jacobs, whose spring 2020 show was a joyful riot of Armitage movements.
The downtown dance maven created this sweet and simple guide to staying in shape at home, especially for Wallpaper* readers.
Dancer Karole Armitage’s at-home exercises
- Gently tuck your chin into your check and let it hang. Take a few deep breaths. You should feel a stretch going down your neck an even into your spine.
- Bring your head up again and lean your head, first right and then left, each time breathing deeply for a few breaths. Now make a slow circle by dropping you head to your chest. Circle your head in a clockwise motion. Make sure you see the ceiling!
- Reverse it and repeat with at least four circles total.
- Let your arms hang with no tensing of muscles. Push your shoulders forward, then thrust them backwards. Inhale as you go forward and exhale as you go back. Do this at least four times.
- Now circle your shoulders so that they go almost as high as your ears. With an inhalation and an exhalation, circle forward up back and centere. Then reverse. Do this at least four times.
- Circle your arms in a path that goes straight out from your shoulder, up to the ceiling, and back behind you to return down. Do this forward then backwards four times fairly slow, and then speed up another four times.
- Imagine a point on the crown of your head. Take that point and let your chin drop forward just as you did in the head exercise, but this time keep going downward, feeling the stretch vertebrae by vertebrae as you go lower and lower until you touch the floor.
- Roll up just like you came down: vertebrae by vertebrae. Do this twice. Now imagine that you get punched in the stomach.
- Standing nice and straight imagine a fist strikes the centre of your stomach just above the belly bottom. Exhale. That impact should allow you to make a big circle in your back. Be sure to let your knees bend when you get punched.
- As you inhale straighten the circle in your back into a nice, straight, long spine. Repeat four times.
- Try to stand perfectly straight as you bend your knees as low as possible with your heels remaining on the floor. Don't tip forwards or backwards – just go straight up and down.
- Do this two times with your arms hanging down.
- Repeat twice with your arms out in front of you at shoulder height.
- Try two times with your arms above you reaching to ceiling.
- Finally do it two more times with your arms open to the side parallel to the floor.
- Flex your feet, and then try to point them forward.
- Do this five times slowly and then five times fast.
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Mary Cleary is a writer based in London and New York. Previously beauty & grooming editor at Wallpaper*, she is now a contributing editor, alongside writing for various publications on all aspects of culture.
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