by Aaron Rhodes
Jonah Bokaer is a dance choreographer and multimedia artist who visited the college April 6–8. During his visit, there were two performances of works he choreographed as well as a lecture he held between performances.
Bokaer’s work has been performed in numerous countries and been recognized by several institutions including MoMA PS1, the Guggenheim Museum and now the Nerman. Bokaer has gained his notability through many years of hard work and his versatility and unique blend of mediums.
“The kind of work that I make fuses choreography with visual art,” said Bokaer. “So that fusion usually involves very striking visuals on stage and also placing the body with unusual materials. It produces powerful images.”
Bokaer possesses a degree in visual and media studies from The New School, a prestigious New York university.
“I think that [my studies] actually taught me a lot about the stage and how to use stage space and stage depth,” he said.
Having traveled internationally for his work, Bokaer said the Mediterranean Basin and areas around it have had a lot of influence on him, one of the reasons being that his father was born in Tunisia.
“Most recently I’ve been excited to focus on the Mediterranean basin and all of the diversity in that arena [as well as the] Middle East, Africa and North Africa. … I think that there you have very contemporary human and social issues going on and I think in that landscape you see people making different kinds of work, which is sometimes more socially motivated or politically motivated. But then in that region there are some beautiful, very deep folkloric traditions, and that interests me — seeing how people move or have always moved.”
At his Thursday afternoon lecture, Bokaer began the talk by leading the audience in a series of hand exercises meant to increase circulation and alertness. He also passed around an iPad that was running a choreography application Bokaer helped develop.
The highly interactive hour-long talk in the Hudson Auditorium also included a presentation of some of Bokaer’s past works on the projector; examples of other artists’ interesting uses of stage, lighting and motion and many discussions with attendees about their favorite dance pieces they had seen performed.
“If people come to see our dance and choreography program and see something they’ve never seen before or never imagined, then I feel like I’ve done my job: giving people new images and new ways to look at things,” said Bokaer.
For more information on Bokaer, visit his website.