Jonah Bokaer
Jonah Bokaer
Why Patterns | Recess
February 2016
“Jonah Bokaer is one of the mystery men of American dance…both subdued and intense, alert and unfathomable, quietly graceful and utterly focused.”
-The New York Times
    A collaboration with choreographer Jonah Bokaer and the design firm SNARKITECTURE, led by Daniel Arsham and Alex Mustonen, Why Patterns is a performance commissioned by Dance Works Rotterdam with a reinterpretation of the Morton Feldman composition of the same name. The visual design emerges from a single ping-pong ball that is introduced into a frame on stage, initiating a series of choreographed games. Unpredictable results trigger events that flood the stage with thousands of balls, which are manipulated by the movements of the four dancers as the square frame is collapsed.

    Why Patterns is a new choreography for stage, gallery, and alternative exhibition space. The project examines pattern recognition, design, and perceptual faculties as they apply to the human body and visual imaging. The work explores many different art forms under the headings of Dance, Performance, Sculpture, Architecture, and Lighting Design. The collaborating artists will use techniques that include choreography, stage design, and musical reconstruction, while expanding the traditional roles of each. This work is to be collaborative between choreographer and visual designer, and is to be experimental in the forms it produces.

    The work RECESS, a collaboration between choreographer Jonah Bokaer and artist/architect Daniel Arsham is a constantly evolving and fluid dialogue between the two, exploring movement, representation, temporality, memory, and space. While never the same performance from venue to venue, each iteration of RECESS looks at the historical work of art, dance and architecture through the combined solo and collaborated work of Bokaer and Arsham. Through conversation, video, and performance, ideas and statements are built upon utilizing still and moving images of both artists’ work, as well as each of them explicitly and implicitly performing for the audience. With measured movements, intentional ellipses, the artists seek to engage the audience into a deeper relationship than that of either a strict performance or lecture.

    Jonah Bokaer (Choreography & Performance) has been creating dances for stage, museum, gallery, and outdoor spaces throughout the world since 2002. He is the author of 34 choreographies, ten videos, three motion capture works, three interactive installations, two mobile applications, and one film. His work has been produced throughout theaters in Belgium, Canada, Cuba, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, India, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, the U.K., and the U.S.
    Often created to accommodate museum spaces, Bokaer’s dances have been performed in New York City at The New Museum, MoMA PS1, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and Museum of Arts and Design. His dances and films have also been seen at the Asia Society Texas Center, MASS MoCA, Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami (Florida); the Musée d’Art Contemporain (Marseille, France); Carré d’Art (Nimes, France);; La Ferme du Buisson (Marne-La-Vallée, France); Palazzo delle Arti (Napoli, Italy); IVAM (Valencia, Spain); Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen (St. Gallen, Switzerland); MUDAM Luxembourg; La Triennale di Milano; and others.

    Bokaer was the first dance artist to be inducted a Young Leader of the French American Foundation (2008–2009) and was among the very few dance artists to ever be recognized with the prestigious Crain’s NY Business “40 Under 40” (2011). Between 2013-2015, Bokaer is among 10 United States artists to receive a Doris Duke Charitable Foundation “Building Audience Demand” Grant Award, in partnership with the Georgia Institute of Technology.

    He worked with Merce Cunningham Dance Company between 2000-2007.

    “With these words in mind, I believe that 30+ years later it still remains a radical, architectural, and poetic gesture to question the need for patterns – either imposed, designed, or random. In collaboration with Snarkitecture and the four dancers, I have choreographed games that change every night, and cannot be predicted precisely. As I watch the piece, and still wonder why patterns emerge, and how.”
    – Jonah Bokaer, Choreographer of Why Patterns, Reconstructed for 2011

    New Approaches to Choreography
    Over the past several years, I have developed a body of work addressing the creative potential of digital technologies in movement production, and duplication. I often create choreography by rendering a virtual body in the built domain, employing motion capture, digital animation, 3D modeling, and choreographic software to generate movement material. “Choreography” involves designing a body onscreen, embodying its movements in real time, and performing the choreography live.
    While developing this new artistic practice, I frequently question (and subvert) the spaces and subject matter within which my work is performed, creating site-specific creations that playfully critique the venue presenting a dance. This generally involves a visual or sonic intervention in the periphery of each venue, such as with this production.

    I am also deeply committed to fostering interdisciplinary dialogue with artists across media, internationally. With this in mind, I have established a way of making productions in which artists can congregate, develop ideas, and present work in a catalytic environment. I am interested in bringing innovative new work into direct conversation with contemporary thought and culture.

    “Jonah Bokaer is one of the mystery men of American dance. In 2000, when he joined the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in his teens (the youngest performer in its history), he made an immediate impression: both subdued and intense, alert and unfathomable, quietly graceful and utterly focused.” -New York Times

    “Jonah Bokaer pushes definitions of dance…” -ArtsATL

    “a man of many talents” -New York Times

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