NANCY KARP has been making work in San Francisco for three decades. She has created more than 75 dance works for her San Francisco-based company Nancy Karp + Dancers founded in 1980. Karp and the company have toured throughout the U.S. and abroad, including extended artist residencies in Germany, the former Yugoslavia, India, and Japan. She has been awarded commissions by the Für Augen und Ohren and the Sprachen der Künste Festivals in Berlin, the Cabrillo Music Festival, and the American Institute of Architects in San Francisco, among others. As an artist-in-residence at the Kyoto College of Art in Japan in 1990, she choreographed Terrace Canon, a site-specific work for 32 performers as part of the Kyoto International Contemporary Music Forum. Site-specific performance work has been an important part of Nancy Karp + Dancers’ programming. Performances have included site pieces commissioned for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Oakland Museum, and a commission for the Choreographers’ Festival at Yerba Buena Gardens for the work, La Processione with music performed by the Green Street Mortuary Band.Nancy has received numerous grants and awards for her work, including the Bay Area Dance Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2005, a Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship (1995-96) to India, where she worked for five months with dancers and actors from the Kerala Kalamandalam, choreography fellowships and dance company grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, San Francisco Arts Commission, and the Rockefeller Foundation/MAP Fund. An active member of the San Francisco Bay Area arts community she served as a trustee of the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, chairing its Arts Committee from 1993-2000 and was a mentor in CHIME Program, Choreographers in Mentorship Exchange, in 2004-05.
In 1993, Karp’s evening-length work, Kristallnacht, Night of Broken Glass, created in collaboration with composer Alvin Curran and designers Jack Carpenter and Sandra Woodall, was premiered before sold-out houses at San Francisco’s Theater Artaud. Kristallnacht was Karp's first work with a historical context, and received widespread critical acclaim. Subsequently, in 1995, Ms. Karp was invited to return with the Company to Theater Artaud for a second two-week sold-out run of the work. Other major works which have toured internationally include Prima Materia (1987), with music by Ingram Marshall and visual decor by Carol Law, First Light (1985) with a sound score by Bill Fontana and visual decor by Berlin-based artist Wolfram Erber, and Dot Bunch (1984) with music by Charles Amirkhanian and visual decor by Carol Law.
In 1986 she published Six Dances/Nancy Karp, a limited boxed edition of dance scores, and in 2003 published a second edition of scores, photographs, essays and drawings entitled Nancy Karp + Dancers: Dances 1977-2003. Karp and the dance company also released Four Dances: The Music, a selection of music compositions commissioned by the New Arts Foundation/Nancy Karp + Dancers for choreography by Nancy Karp. Memory/Place, in a limited edition of 50, was released in April 2019, and is a collection of selected drawings from Karp's notebooks from this work.