Jonah Bokaer Brings Pirandello-Inspired Work to Jacob’s Pillow

Jonah Bokaer Choreography (photo Sharen Bradford)

(BECKET, Mass.) – While the Miami City Ballet occupies the Ted Shawn Theatre at Jacob’s Pillow for the long weekend, contemporary dance aficionados won’t want to miss the program in the Doris Duke Theatre, where visionary choreographer Jonah Bokaer stages his newest work, Rules of the Game, set to an original score by 10-time Grammy Award-winning hip-hop/R&B artist Pharrell Williams. The program, running Wednesday, June 21-Sunday, June 25, also includes Bokaer’s gripping Occupant, a trio work based on Edward Albee’s play about sculptor Louise Nevelson.

Rules of the Game (2016), a work for eight dancers, is inspired in part by the 1921 Luigi Pirandello play of the same title, a landmark theatrical work about the relationship between authors, their characters, and the actors who portray those characters. The original symphonic score was co-composed by Pharrell Williams and composer and conductor David Campbell, who arranged it for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra — the stage work Rules of the Game is the exclusive venue for which this recording can be experienced. The work is directed and choreographed by Bokaer, with scenography by Daniel Arsham. Siobhan Burke of the New York Times wrote, “Mr. Arsham’s striking, high-definition backdrop, a film featuring ceramic basketballs and classical busts that float through darkness like celestial bodies, colliding and shattering.” Arsham had previously collaborated with the singer-songwriter, rapper, and producer Williams, but prior to this work, Williams had never collaborated on a dance or performance piece in this way.

The program also includes the trio OCCUPANT, preceded by a solo for Bokaer, Study ror Occupant, both scenic collaborations with Daniel Arsham. Minimal and mesmerizing, these works were also inspired by a dramatic work for stage: in this case, a play by Edward Albee of the same name, whose limited-edition text was a gift from legendary artist Jasper Johns to Bokaer. OCCUPANT has been presented all over the world including The Fabric Workshop & Museum in Philadelphia; The Spoleto Festival in Italy; The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami; and the Monodramas Festival of Luxembourg, and last week at Basilica Hudson in Hudson, N.Y.. Multimedia collaborators for this work include scenographer Arsham, sound designer Jesse Stiles, dramaturg Gavin Kroeber, and composer Ryoji Ikeda (Dataplex).

Celia Wren of the Washington Post calls Bokaer a “daring contemporary choreographer who’s known for interdisciplinary experiments and especially for collapsing the distance between the dance and gallery/museum worlds.”

Inclusion of these works with Rules of the Game results from a unique curatorial dialogue between Jacob’s Pillow director Pamela Tatge and Jonah Bokaer.

New York-based Daniel Arsham is a celebrated contemporary visual artist; his work straddles art, architecture, and performance. He was the youngest artist invited to collaborate with choreographer Merce Cunningham, and realized one of the set designs for eyeSPACE in 2007. He is a graduate of The Cooper Union in New York City. In addition to Merce Cunningham (2007-2009) and Jonah Bokaer (2007-present), he has collaborated with artists such as Hedi Slimane, Robert Wilson, and Richard Chai. Architecture is a prevalent subject throughout his work; he draws inspiration from environments with eroded walls, stairs going nowhere, nature

overriding structures, and works with a general sense of playfulness within existing architecture. Structural experiment, historical inquiry, and satirical wit are all combined in Arsham’s ongoing interrogation of the real and the imagined. His work has been shown at MoMA PS1, Miami’s Museum of Contemporary Art, The Athens Biennial, The New Museum in NYC, Le Carré d’Art de Nîmes, and other venues.



Jonah Bokaer Choreography (photo Sharen Bradford)

About Jonah Bokaer Choreography

Tunisian-American choreographer Jonah Bokaer has been active as a choreographer and exhibiting artist since 2002. The creator of 57 works in a wide variety of media (dances, videos, drawings, motion capture works, interactive installations, mobile applications, and film), Bokaer’s work has been produced in venues around the world, including Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, BAM Next Wave Festival, Festival d’Avignon, Spoleto Festival, La Triennale di Milano, and SOLUNA International Music & Arts Festival. Bokaer has performed at the Guggenheim Museum, MoMA PS1, and The New Museum in New York City. He was awarded a Young Leader of the French American Foundation, for founding Chez Bushwick in 2002 and cofounding Center for Performance Research (CPR) with John Jasperse in 2008.

Bokaer has collaborated with artists including Lynda Benglis, Anne Carson, Merce Cunningham, Robert Gober, Anthony McCall, Tino Sehgal, Lee Ufan (Guggenheim Retrospective 2011), and Robert Wilson (2007-Present). As choreographer for Robert Wilson, he has completed six operas, including Faust (Polish National Opera), Aïda (Teatro dell’Opera

di Roma), and On The Beach (Baryshnikov Arts Center). Bokaer has collaborated with visual artist Daniel Arsham on nine full-length works since 2007. In 2015 he received the United States Artists Fellowship in Choreography (Ford Foundation), was named a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellow in Choreography, and in 2016 won Italy’s Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellowship, in the Visual Arts category. In 2016, he was confirmed as one of the Resident Fellows at NYU Center for Ballet and the Arts.


Jacob’s Pillow Connections

Jonah Bokaer is an alumnus of The School at Jacob’s Pillow; he participated in the Visions of Jazz Workshop in 1998. He performed at the 2003 Festival, with Merce Cunningham Dance Company, and his own works were presented in the Doris Duke Theatre at Festival 2011 and 2012.


Performance & Ticket Details


Jonah Bokaer Choreography at Jacob’s Pillow

Doris Duke Theatre, June 21-25

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8:15pm

Saturday & Sunday at 2:15pm

$45, $35, $25

A limited number of $20 Under 35 tickets are available; adults ages 18-35 are eligible. One ticket per person;

each guest must show valid I.D. when picking up tickets at Will Call.


Tickets are on sale now; online at Jacob’s Pillow, via phone at 413.243.0745, and at the Jacob’s Pillow Box

Office at 358 George Carter Road, Becket, MA, 01223.



Miami City Ballet

June 21-25, Ted Shawn Theatre






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