Jonah Bokaer, who began choreographing almost ten years ago, will return to Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival August 1-5 in the Doris Duke Theatre.
Bokaer's multimedia dance productions are described as "surprising, witty, intelligent, and visually astounding." At the Pillow, he and longtime associates will present the U.S. premiere of CURTAIN, an evening-length collaboration with acclaimed visual artist Daniel Arsham.
"Jonah Bokaer's multifaceted dance and visual art productions stir the imagination and spirit," comments Ella Baff, Executive and Artistic Director of Jacob's Pillow. "Along with beautiful and interesting movement, there are clever and surprising visual elements that expand our ideas about dance. I think of Jonah as an inventor, and he defies category. His performances feel like he's invited the audience over to his laboratory to think and play. We're delighted to welcome him back to the Festival."
Based in Brooklyn, New York, Jonah Bokaer is an international choreographer, media artist, artist space developer, and social entrepreneur. His work integrates choreography with digital media and other visual and sound art media, resulting from cross-disciplinary collaborations with artists, architects, composers and designers. Bokaer's work has been produced and performed in Belgium, Canada, Cuba, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, India, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
His latest work CURTAIN just had its European premiere to audience acclaim at the Avignon Festival July 20–22 and 24–26, 2012, and will have its U.S. premiere at Jacob's Pillow August 1–5. In a titular reference, in both settings, out of doors at the Avignon Festival and in the Doris Duke Theatre at Jacob's Pillow, there is no stage curtain.
American Ballet Theatre and Bolshoi Ballet principal David Hallberg is an original collaborator for CURTAIN, however he will not perform as part of the U.S. premiere due to an injury. The cast for both the European and U.S. premiere performances at the Pillow includes Bokaer himself, with performers Adam H. Weinert and James McGinn.
The design for CURTAIN is created by long-time Bokaer collaborator and acclaimed contemporary visual artist Daniel Arsham, who contributes imaginative and innovative staging and sets, including life size sculptures of plaster and sand, and a "non-Newtonian" shape-shifting element. These innovative set pieces dissolve and change throughout the production, creating new shapes and forms as the show proceeds. The original commissioned score by Chris Garneau includes portions of a student lecture that composer John Cage gave at Jacob's Pillow in 1984, identified from the Jacob's Pillow Archives by Director of Preservation Norton Owen and Bokaer. This year marks John Cage's centennial, an occasion being celebrated across the world. Originally from Boston, singer-songwriter Garneau is has toured North America, Europe, Asia, and Brazil. He has released Music for Tourists LP (2006), C-Sides EP (2007), and El Radio LP (2009) with Absolutely Kosher Records (North America), Fargo Records (Europe), Pocket Records (China), Lirico Records (Japan), and his music has been featured on the television show Grey's Anatomy and in Pedro Almodóvar's film The Skin I Live In. The delicate costumes for CURTAIN were designed by fashion designer Richard Chai, a top designer who has worked with Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, and Armani Exchange, and was recently named Swarovski Menswear Designer of the Year at the 2010 CFDA Fashion Awards.
Jennifer Dunning of The New York Times comments, "Some artists cannot resist the challenge of innovation. Jonah Bokaer is one, and he does not limit his reach to performing and choreography." An alumnus of The School at Jacob's Pillow, Bokaer trained in dance at Cornell University and North Carolina School of the Arts. Bokaer has worked with acclaimed artists such as Merce Cunningham, David Gordon, Deborah Hay, John Jasperse, Tino Sehgal, Robert Wilson, and many others.
A Co-Founder of CPR - Center for Performance Research and Chez Bushwick, Inc. in Brooklyn, New York, Bokaer is dedicated to the advancement of interdisciplinary art and performance with a strong focus on new choreography. His work has been presented widely throughout the U.S. and abroad, including Dance Theater Workshop, Danspace Project, Dixon Place, La Mama Experimental Theatre Company, the ISB (Bangkok), Naxos Bobine, Studio Théâtre de Vitry, La Générale (Paris), Les Subsistances (Lyon), La Compagnie (Marseille), La Ferme Du Buisson (Marne-la-Vallée), De Singel (Belgium), International Tanzmesse NRW (Germany), PSi (Copenhagen), Kunsthalle St. Gallen (Switzerland), among others. In 2011, Bokaer's work was presented in the Doris Duke Theatre at Jacob's Pillow.