Jonah Bokaer has a gift for showing up in the most unexpected places. I first met him while I was holiday shopping in Henri Bendel; he was 17 years old performing as part of the store’s Christmas ground-floor promotion. His body was splashed with bright blue paint. A few months later, Jonah became the youngest dancer to be recruited by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, where he performed for eight years as a principal dancer while simultaneously pursuing a double degree in visual and media studies at The New School. While travelling the world with Cunningham, he was also co-founding Chez Bushwick, and then Center for Performance Research, as well as creating and presenting his increasingly celebrated dances. Sleep? “Maybe four hours,” he claims. Now he is rapidly achieving international acclaim as a choreographer of great originality. The Festival d’Avignon, the Marseille Festival de Danse, Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival, the Next Wave Festival at BAM, the Guggenheim Museum, and the 2013 World Nomads Festival at FIAF are among the commissioners of new dances. Not bad for a 31-year-old. It was deeply moving to watch the gentle respect he has for his father as they rehearsed together at Chez Bushwick for the New York premiere of the father/son duet, “The Ulysses Syndrome.” There is a mysterious and undefinable spiritual quality to Jonah that perhaps explains why such a young artist would create a dance inspired by the peripatetic life his father had before he married and fathered six children.
Years: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Art form: Dance