Karen Pierce Blank earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance from the University Mary Washington where she studied under Sonja Dragomanovic, Kathy Harty Gray, Claudia Read, and Marianna Bauman. She holds Elementary and Intermediate certificates from the Royal Academy of Dance and certificates in the Vaganova Teacher Training Program levels Four through Six. She also completed Elementary and Intermediate training in Labanotation.
Ms. Blank began her dance training at the Washington School of Ballet under Mary Day and Martin Buckner. She continued her training at the Fairfax School of Ballet with Tom and Illona Russell, and Katherine Fredgren. She went on to become a founding member of the Arlington Center for Dance with Ms. Fredgren, teaching Ballet, Creative Dance for Children, Jazz, and Modern Dance. She owned and directed the Shouse Village School of Dance in Vienna, VA and now, with forty years of teaching experience is on the faculty of Carroll County Dance Center in Sykesville, MD.
As a member of the Kathy Harty Gray Dance Theatre from 1978-2013, she originated leading roles in over 40 works. Her solo work in “Irish Rhapsody” at the 2004 Piccolo Spoleto Festival was noted by the Charleston Post and Courier.
Ms. Blank has performed with the Hampton-Harty Dance Company, Discoveryland Outdoor Dramas, and the Center Dance Company. She has performed works by world-renowned choreographers Frederick Franklin and Ben Stevenson. Eric Hampton, co-founder of the Hampton-Harty Dance Company, created a role for her in his work entitled “Nocturne.” She also performed works by Katherine Fredgren, and Andrea Watkins, author of Dancing Longer, Dancing Stronger. In 1974 she appeared at the Kennedy Center in Elan Diehl Cooper’s ballet “The First Waltz.”
Her choreographic style is strongly influenced by the techniques of Martha Graham and José Limon, as well as her mentor, Kathy Harty Gray. She has choreographed for numerous high school musicals including The Pajama Game, Beauty and the Beast, Bye, Bye, Birdie, and Oliver! Her choreographic works for Carroll County Dance Center include: “Communion,” “Memorare,” “The Dreaming Tree,” “The Kraken,” “May’s True Love,” “When The Full Moon Is Bright,” “Imagine,” “The Cliffs of Muir,” “9 to 5,” “Mermaids,” “Awakening,” and “The Diary’s Last Page.”
In addition to her dance career, Ms. Blank designed and executed many of the costumes for Kathy Harty Gray Dance Theatre, and was nominated for the DC Metro Dance Award in Costuming for “Baroque Excursions” in 2005.