Jonah Bokaer

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Jonah Bokaer
Bokaer performing "Three Cases Of Amnesia" in 2011
Bokaer performing "Three Cases Of Amnesia" in 2011
Born (1981-10-01) October 1, 1981 (age 37)
Ithaca, New York
OccupationChoreographer, Media Artist
GenreChoreography, Dance, Performance, Media, Activism, New Genres
Notable worksWhy Patterns, REPLICA, STACKS, The Invention Of Minus One, A Cure For Surveillance

Jonah Bokaer (born October 1, 1981) is an American choreographer and media artist. He works on live performances in the United States and elsewhere, including choreography, digital media, cross-disciplinary collaborations, and social enterprise.[1]


Originally from Ithaca, New York,[2] Bokaer trained in dance at Cornell University, and subsequently graduated from University of North Carolina School of the Arts as a North Carolina Academic Scholar (Contemporary Dance/Performance, 2000).[3] Recruited for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company at the unprecedented age of 18,[4] Bokaer pursued a parallel degree in Visual & Media Studies at The New School (2003–2007),[5] where he received the Joan Kirnsner Memorial Award. Additional studies in media and performance occurred at Parsons The New School for Design, NYU Performance Studies, and through self-taught explorations into digital media and 3D animation: such studies led to the development of a rare, multi-disciplinary approach to choreography, addressing the human body in relation to contemporary technologies.[6]

Dance and choreography[edit]

As a dancer, Bokaer has worked with Merce Cunningham (2000–2007), John Jasperse (2004–2005), David Gordon (2005–2006), Deborah Hay (2005), Tino Sehgal (2008), and many others. He has also interpreted the choreography of George Balanchine as restaged by Melissa Hayden. Bokaer is also a frequent choreographer for Robert Wilson (2007–Present).[7]

Bokaer is the author of 30 original choreographies, produced in Belgium, Canada, Cuba, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, India, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Recent engagements include the Attakalari Performance Biennale (Bangalore 2009), the Rotterdamse Schouwburg (Holland 2010), Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival (Becket, MA 2011), Festival d'Avignon (Avignon, 2012), BAM Next Wave Festival, and a commission from the National Academy of Sciences (Washington, D.C.).[8]

Activism and social enterprise[edit]

Under the leadership Bokaer in 2002, a group of artists and choreographers formed Chez Bushwick,[9] an adventurous arts organization that has significantly impacted a new generation of dance artists, choreographers, and performers in the United States, and beyond. Founding artists developed a series of public programs that have become emblematic of a new way of working in New York City: across borders, across disciplines, employing variable aesthetic signatures, and overturning divisions between choreographer, curator, producer, and audience member. Through strategies of collaboration, activism, and public dialogue, these cultural strategies have achieved economic justice during a challenging real estate and funding climate in NYC. Chez Bushwick was recently awarded by the Rockefeller Foundation NYC Cultural Innovation Fund.[10]

Bokaer is a co-founder of the Center for Performance Research (CPR), a nonprofit organization in collaboration with John Jasperse/Thin Man Dance. CPR's L.E.E.D.-certified green building, the first in Brooklyn, provides affordable space for rehearsal and performance, arts programming, education and engagement with the community.


Bokaer's writings have been published in Artwurl, The American Society for Alexander Teachers, Critical Corresondence, AADIAL Magazine, Goldrush Dance Magazine, ITCH, Movement Research Performance Journal, and NYFA Current.

Selected works[edit]


  • Daniel Arsham | Artist (2009–Present)
  • Charles Atlas | Filmmaker (2003)
  • Irit Batsry | Video Artist (2010)
  • Liubo Borissov | Surveillance Designer (2007)
  • Anne Carson | Writer (2008)
  • Michael Cole | Video Artist (2006–2008)
  • Peter Cole | Sculptor (2008)
  • Collective Opera Company | Original Opera (2006)
  • Aaron Copp | Lighting Designer (2008–Present)
  • Merce Cunningham | Choreographer (2000–2007)
  • Loren Dempster | Composer (2005–Present)
  • Robert Gober | Sculptor (2005)
  • Marisela La Grave | Intermedia Events (2003)
  • Christian Marclay | Composer (2008)
  • Isaac Mizrahi | Fashion Designer (2008)
  • Snarkitecture | Scenographers (2010)
  • Robert Wilson | Theater Artist (2007–Present)
  • FAUST, By Charles Gounod (Teatr Wielki, Polish National Opera, 2008)
  • AÏDA, By Giuseppe Verdi (Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, Italy, 2009)
  • KOOL: Suzushi Hanayagi (Guggenhiem Museum, New York City, 2009)
  • CONFINES (IVAM: Institut Valencià d'Art Modern, Spain, 2009)
  • Dialogue ONE Theatre Festival, Williamstown, MA, 2009

Museums, performances and commissions[edit]

Relations with France[edit]

Bokaer's choreography over the past decade has been made possible in large part through a vigorous artistic relationship with France.

Dance and choreography

  • Working with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company throughout 30 French cities, in 9 regions, over the course of 8 years
  • Touring new choreography to Alternative Spaces in Paris - Naxos Bobine (2006), La Générale (2006), Atelier de Paris (2007), Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin (2007, 2010)
  • Production support in Marseille - La Compagnie (2006), Ballet National de Marseille (2010), MAC Marseille (2010)
  • Production support in Lyon - Les Subsistances (2007)
  • Production support in Nîmes - Le Carré d'Art (2009)
  • Production support in Paris - Art/Dan/Thé Festival, Vanves (2010)
  • Production support in Avignon - Les Hivernales Festival (2011), Les Penitents Blancs (2011), CDC Avignon (2011)
  • Receipt of the FUSED / French U.S. Exchange in Dance grant (2011)

Production and presentation

  • Provision of residencies to Alexandre Roccoli (Chez Bushwick, 2007)
  • Provision of residencies to Christian Rizzo (CPR, 2008)
  • Provision of residencies to Steven Cohen (CPR, 2009)
  • Provision of residencies to David Wampach (CPR, 2009)
  • Restaging of French choreography on U.S. artists via David Wampach (CPR, 2009)



  • FUSED / French U.S. Exchange in Dance (2007, 2008, 2010, 2011)
  • Cultural Services of the French Embassy (2008, 2009, 2010)
  • FIAF's Crossing The Line Festival (2007, 2008, 2009)
  • ONDA (2010)

Awards and honors[edit]

Bokaer has been honored with a Human Rights Award (Public Volunteerism, 2000), a fellowship from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts (Dance & Media, 2005–2006), the inaugural Gallery Installation Fellowship from Dance Theater Workshop (2007), and one of four national Dance Access Scholarships from Dance/USA, with funds from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (2007), and the Alumni Achievement Award from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (2009).[11] Additionally, Bokaer recently accepted the Special Citation at the New York Dance & Performance / Bessie Awards, for the arts organization Chez Bushwick (2007); his choreography "The Invention Of Minus One" was also awarded a Bessie Award for original lighting design by Aaron Copp (2008). He is also a 2008–2009 Young Leader of the French American Foundation, and is the first dance artist to have been awarded.[12]

Awards, honors, fellowships



  1. ^ "Artist Residency". Knight Foundation. 2012-03-15. Retrieved 2013-02-05.
  2. ^ "New Museum - Digital Archive". Retrieved 2013-02-05.
  3. ^ "Academic Scholars Program". Retrieved 2013-02-05.
  4. ^ Alastair Macaulay (August 2, 2012). "Exploring The Space With Stillness". The New York Times.
  5. ^ Weinstein, Tresca (2011-07-31). "Choreographer's new work mixes dancers and 5,000 ping-pong balls". Times Union. Retrieved 2013-02-05.
  6. ^ Simon, Edward. "Jonah Bokaer - Profile - Dance, Media, Visual Arts - USA Projects - Artist Fundraising & Advocacy". USA Projects. Retrieved 2013-02-05.
  7. ^ Caden Manson (Editor In Chief). "In Performance: Jonah Bokaer's REPLICA (NYC)Contemporary Performance". Contemporary Performance. Retrieved 2013-02-05.
  8. ^ "UC Berkeley Art, Technology, and Culture Colloquium - Bio: Jonah Bokaer". Retrieved 2013-02-05.
  9. ^ "Chez Bushwick".
  10. ^ 06/15/2010 in Pivotal Place: New York City (2010-06-15). "Replica Performs at Pocantico's Kykuit Forecourt | Rockefeller Brothers Fund". Archived from the original on 2013-02-06. Retrieved 2013-02-05.
  11. ^ "404 Error" (PDF).
  12. ^ "Jonah Bokaer | French-American Foundation". Retrieved 2013-02-05.
  13. ^ Heyman, Stephen (2010-01-08). "The Nifty 50 | Jonah Bokaer, Choreographer -". Retrieved 2013-02-05.
  14. ^ "NEA 2013 GRANT AWARDS: State Listings for the Art Works I/Literature Fellowships (Poetry) categories". Archived from the original on 2013-02-06. Retrieved 2013-02-05.

Further reading

  • 2wice Arts Foundation, Cunningham and Rauschenberg. New York: Editions 2wice, 2005.
  • 2wice Arts Foundation, False Start: Jonah Bokaer. New York: Editions 2wice, 2008.
  • 2wice Arts Foundation, Fifth Wall: Jonah Bokaer. New York: Editions 2wice, 2012.
  • 2wice Arts Foundation, Green World: Merce Cunningham. New York: Editions 2wice, 2007.
  • BAM: The Brooklyn Academy of Music, BAM: The Complete Works. New York: The Quantuck Lane Press, 2011.
  • Baryshnikov, Mikhail, Merce My Way. New York: The Baryshnikov Foundation, 2008.
  • Boisseau, Rosita and Philippe, Laurent, Photographier La Danse. Paris: Nouvelles Éditions Scala, 2013.
  • Copeland, Roger, Merce Cunningham: The Modernizing of Modern Dance. New York: Routledge, 2004.
  • DeMers, Anna Sycamore, "On the Beach by Jonah Bokaer and Davide Balliano". The Johns Hopkins University Press: Theatre Journal, Vol. 65, No. 1., pp. 101–102 (March 2013). DOI: 10.1353/tj.2013.0017
  • England, Betsy, Gray Matter: Daniel Arsham, Jonah Bokaer, and Judith Sánchez Ruíz's REPLICA. The Drama Review: Vol. 55, No. 1. (Spring, 2011).
  • Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Artists for Artists: Fifty Years of the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. New York: Foundation for Contemporary Arts, 2013.
  • Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Daniel Arsham. Paris, Miami: Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, 2008.
  • Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Daniel Arsham. New York, Paris, Hong-Kong: Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, 2012.
  • Gober, Robert, A Robert Gober Lexicon, Essay By Brenda Richardson. New York: Matthew Marks Gallery, 2005.
  • Jacobson, Bill, Photographs. Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2005.
  • Lithgow, John, Drama: An Actor's Education. New York: Harper Collins: 2011.
  • Milder, Patricia, Performing Arts Journal #100: Performance New York. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press Journals, 2012.
  • Reynolds, Dee, Rhythmic Subjects: Uses of Energy in the Dances of Mary Wigman, Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham. Alton, England: Dance Books, 2007.
  • Turk, Edward Baron, "Avignon 2012: Celebrating the Jean Vilar Centennial". The French Review, Vol. 87, No. 1. (October 2013)
  • Wozny, Nancy, Jonah Bokaer: Moving Toward An Embodied Technology. Contact Quarterly: CQ Chapbook 1, newDANCEmedia. Vol. 35, No. 2. (Summer, 2010).
  • On Vanishing: "New Mythologies for Choreography in the Museum, Jonah Bokaer". PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art (May 2014), Vol. 36, No. 2, pp. 10–13 (doi: 10.1162/PAJJ_a_00190)

External links[edit]