38 NOVEMBER 2016
and contemporary artist Daniel Arsham. For the past decade, the two
have approached their work as cohesive visual art, rather than dance plus
backdrop. For example, in Bokaer’s 2010 solo RECESS (set to appear
at BAM on the same program), a massive roll of paper, conceived of by
Arsham, is the dancer-choreographer’s partner onstage—the scenography
is inextricable from the choreography. “I like injecting new things into
dance,” says Bokaer, whose unexpected multimedia projects have taken
him everywhere from New York’s MoMA PS1 to an interactive iPad app.
Rules, however, is their biggest project to date, and brings the addi-
tion of new collaborators: Grammy Award–winning musician Phar-
rell Williams and arranger-orchestrator-conductor David Campbell.
It was described as “a brand-new medium” in Rolling Stone. “If that’s
true, then I’m very honored!” Bokaer says with a laugh. “But I think
people have collaborated with composers and visual artists for a very
long time.” The piece is Williams’ first commissioned score for a dance
work; it maintains the upbeat groove that characterizes his work in
pop music but is lent an epic feel by Campbell’s arrangement for the
Dallas Symphony Orchestra (a special mastered recording will be used
for the performances at BAM and on tour). Rules also marks Arsham’s
first use of film in one of Bokaer’s pieces, with a video of objects falling
and shattering in slow motion to be projected onto the back wall of the
stage, mirroring actual objects with which the dancers interact.
“Usually when a piece is just out of the oven it’s very exciting, but
Bokaer, in blue shirt (above and
there’s a sort of racing to the finish line that happens,” says Bokaer. “It’s
when you can tour—and we’re blessed with a very robust tour here, on
three continents—it’s usually on the repeated performances of it that
“I like injecting new
things into dance.”—Jonah Bokaer
right), likes dancers who push
themselves to extremes.
Still actively dancing, Bokaer
often steps in for missing cast
members during rehearsal.