Postmodern Pioneer: The Next Generation

Bare minimum: Jonah Bokaer's NUDEDESCENDANCE
photo: Matthu Placek

Jonah Bokaer, at 18 the youngest dancer ever hired by Merce Cunningham, is now, at 24, a freelance choreographer, "dance activist," and host of the monthly Shtudio Show, held in his loft in Bushwick—while still touring internationally with his august mentor. "We're creating a permissive space where anything can happen. Dissent is practically the password to get in," he says of the series, returning March 18 and April 15. "I'm wearing many hats here; dancers today have to. All of us—Jeremy Wade, Loren Dempster, with Miguel Gutierrez curating—are producers, artists, facilitators, activists; there's an incredible body of work happening, across generations and across disciplines. It's a free zone, artist run." I first noticed Bokaer in Marisela LaGrave's Magnetic Laboratorium doing yoga in the middle of Essex Street (viewers watched from a second-floor window). Last year he performed his solo NUDEDESCENDANCE—an homage to Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase— in Manhattan (five times), Florida, and Bangkok. While dancing with Cunningham he completed a degree at the New School, which, he says "gave me training in digital media, and makes me optimistic about the idea of an avant-garde, bringing dance into dialogue with some of the most powerful tools of our time."

His major influences are Michael Cole, Pixar, and Bushwick loft culture. He works with motion capture: "Once you have the data you can render it on any other body—you can have Hillary Clinton performing the movement of Missy Elliott dancing hip-hop! When Merce's company is off, I can never really keep still; I've worked with David Gordon and John Jasperse." He recently won an award from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts.

"Jonah's current use of the Dance Forms software not only subverts our expectations of what a computer-generated dance looks like but what any sort of dance experience may feel like," says Cole. "His works are little miracles—not merely dances but mini-lectures in biomechanics, string theory, art history, activism, mysticism, and fun-ology."


See also:

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  • To Serve and Protect: A Freestyle Series Rumbles On
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  • Vision Quest
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  • Dancing in Your Sleep: Label Microcosm Calms the Nerves
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  • Wonder Women
    A season of old masters, Gumby, biomorphs, and cell phones
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  • A Mechanized Culture and its Equally Mechanical Population Meet
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  • Tweaking Their Legacies: Composers Reinvent Themselves
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  • Bokaer performs at P.S. 122's "Danceoff" March 21 & 22. On April 15 at Chez Bushwick, 304 Boerum Street 11, Bushwick, Brooklyn, he hosts a benefit performance-exhibition by artists who've collaborated with filmmaker Charlie Atlas. Call 917-586-6735 for program information.

    Listings by Elizabeth Zimmer

    Stan Won't Dance
    March 15–19

    P.S.122, 150 First Ave, 212-352-0255

    London troupe formed by alums of DV8 presents Sinner, a thriller about the bombing of a gay bar.

    Jane Comfort and Company
    March 16–19

    Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church, 131 E 10th, 212-674-8194

    The new Fleeting Thoughts: Mr. Henderson's 3 A.M. has a vocal score by Joan La Barbara; it explores extremes of timing and spatial relationships.

    March 17–26

    New Victory Theater, 209 W 42nd, 212-239-6200

    Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson show highlights from their repertory.

    Moving Theater
    March 23–25

    Dance New Amsterdam, 280 Bway, 212-279-4200

    Ryan Kelly and Brennan Gerard offer Without, which explores the consequences of the first encounter between Verlaine and Rimbaud in 1871.

    Yasuko Yokoshi
    March 23–26

    Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church, 131 E 10th, 212-674-8194

    Yokoshi's what we when we, inspired by a Raymond Carver story, is a collaboration with traditional dancer Masumi Seyama VI, and performed by five Japanese contemporary dancers.

    Mark Morris Dance Group
    Through March 25

    BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, 30 Lafayette Ave, Bklyn, 718-636-4100

    Celebrate the troupe's 25th anniversary with a long season of new and repertory favorites: Coming up are New York premieres to Milhaud and Stravinsky, plus a film series curated by Morris at the BAM Rose Cinemas.

    Rennie Harris Puremovement
    April 4, 6, & 7

    Skirball Center, 60 Washington Sq So, 212-992-8484

    Harris's Philly-based street-dance aces headline a hip-hop festival at this spiffy new theater.

    Stephen Petronio Company
    April 18–23

    Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue, 212-242-0800

    Petronio's long-awaited Bloom has a score by Rufus Wainwright, performed live by the Young People's Chorus of New York City.

    'Sourcing Stravinsky'
    April 19–22

    Dance Theater Workshop, 219 W 19th, 212-924-0077

    Annie-B Parson directs a project using Stravinsky's music as a starting point for new work: Dayna Hanson and Linas Phillips, Rennie Harris, Cynthia Hopkins, David Neumann, and Yvonne Rainer bring us their new spins.

    Akram Khan Company
    April 26–29

    Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Bway at 60th, 212-721-6500

    London-based Anglo-Indian choreographer combines modern and kathak dance, and offers the New York premiere of ma.

    Richard Move
    April 27–May 6

    The Kitchen, 512 W 19th, 212-255-5793 x11

    Originally performed by White Oak Dance Project in 2002, Move's The Show (Achilles Heels) makes its U.S. debut featuring Deborah Harry playing the Goddess Athena, Broadway dance star Rasta Thomas in a role originated by Baryshnikov, and music by Arto Lindsay.

    Meg Stuart+Benoît Lachambre
    April 27–29

    Dance Theater Workshop, 219 W 19th, 212-924-0077

    The toast of her generation in Europe, Stuart returns to town in Forgeries, Love, and Other Matters, performed atop an onstage mountain with Lachambre and music by Hahn Rowe.

    The Forsythe Company
    May 2–6

    BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, 30 Lafayette Ave, 718-636-4100

    Simultaneously a live performance and a projected film, Forsythe's 2000 Kammer/Kammer marks the first appearance here of his new company, risen from the ashes of Ballett Frankfurt.

    American Ballet Theatre
    May 22–July 15

    Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center Plaza, 212-362-6000

    Company premieres of James Kudelka's new Cinderella and John Cranko's Jeu de Cartes, a revival of Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Manon, and classics Swan Lake, Sylvia, Romeo and Juliet, Le Corsaire, and Giselle, plus a Stravinsky celebration.

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