In 2008, it was speculated that Jonah Bokaer may have invented the 26th hour; but this year, it seems that the 27-year-old choreographer/media artist may have found the 8th day of the week in order to conquer the infinite range of creative challenges he sets for himself.
After performing in over twenty cities across Europe, India and the United States this past year, Bokaer was recently seen locally: First, in collaboration with MacArthur Award-winning poet Anne Carson at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, and then in April at the Guggenheim Museum’s Works & Process as co-choreographer and soloist in Robert Wilson’s ”KOOL-Dancing In My Mind.”
His next local appearance is on May 7 when he performs at a Gala for Chez Bushwick that honors 2wice editor Patsy Tarr and the groundbreaking publication’s designer Abbott Miller. The benefit evening takes place at “Everybody Dance Now: 20 Years of Dancing in Print,” an exhibition at the AIGA National Design Center that celebrates the 20th anniversary of 2wice and its predecessor, Dance Ink.
Bokaer is currently at work on two new dances that are scheduled to premiere in New York in the next months. The first is “GPS: Ground Positioning System.” Bokaer’s title, a witty transformation of the traditional acronym for Global Positioning System, well-summarizes his 12-minute solo. The dance takes place entirely on the ground within and around a three-sided structure whose two inner sides and roof become screens for an animated projection. Exploring global mapping technologies and working within this severely confined space, Bokaer’s grounded movement elegantly challenges the unimagined potential of mobility, expression and distortion. The music is an original score by Loren Kiyoshi-Dempster. The enclosure is designed by Bokaer, who also created the digital animation and video; the editing and graphics are by Nicoletta Massignani. “GPS: Ground Positioning System,” which is co-commissioned by Théâtre de Vanves in Paris, will receive its world premiere at Dance New Amsterdam in New York City, June 4-7. It is scheduled to premiere in Europe at the Théâtre de Vanves in March 2010.
Bokaer’s other new dance, “REPLICA,” a spatial and temporal perception-challenging work created by Bokaer, visual artist Daniel Arsham and performer Judith Sanchez Ruiz, is designed for varied performance spaces including stage, gallery or site-specific locations. Commissioned by the National Academy of Sciences—the first dance ever commissioned by NAS—the work explores movement, memory and amnesia through the use of E.M.D.R. (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) testing technologies.
Each performance of the evening-long dance utilizes Arsham’s customized set involving wall erosions and sculpted cavities, which symbolize memory loss. The production also makes use of “creative geography” in video (footage by Bokaer and Arsham). Watching the dancers on previously recorded video, while simultaneously witnessing them live as they interact with Arsham’s décor, the audience experiences a conflation of real and fictional time. The dance will receive its world premiere in Valencia, Spain on May 28 at IVAM: Instituto Valenciana d’Arte Moderna. It receives its American premiere at the Harman Center in Washington, DC on July 1, and its New York City premiere at The New Museum, December 3, 10, 17 and 24.