Jonah Bokaer, Choreographer


 Bokaer’s two iconic repertoires ‘OCCUPANT’ & ‘Study For Occupant’ will be performed at The Basilica Hudson this week. Below we ask Jonah what keeps him up at night and other questions.


Video by James Autery

Wednesday, June 15th at 2PM and 8PM

Thursday, June 16th at 2PM and 8PM

Friday, June 17th at 8PM

Basilica Hudson

110 South Front Street, Hudson NY


OCCUPANT is a trio for three dancers performed by Tal Adler-Arieli, Sara Procopio and Betti Rollo and will be preceded by a Jonah Bokaer solo, Study For Occupant, both with scenic collaborations by Daniel Arsham. Minimal and mesmerizing, these works were inspired by the Edward Albee play of the same name.

OCCUPANT has been presented worldwide including at 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. Multimedia collaborators for this work include scenographer Daniel Arsham, sound designer Jesse Stiles, dramaturge Gavin Kroeber and acclaimed Japanese electronic composer and sound artist, Ryoji Ikeda (Dataplex).

New York-based Daniel Arsham is a celebrated contemporary visual artist; his work straddles art, architecture and performance. He collaborated 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, and The New Museum in NYC, Le Carré d’Art De Nîmes, and other venues.

10 Q's

Current frame of mind: Driving the boat, keeping it together and trying to reach the top of the Himalayas.

A natural talent I posses that is little known: Cooking. I am particularly good at making Mediterranean food and I love to cook for my close friends and family. When I am not touring, I enjoy organizing small dinners at my home for my partner and for a few friends. I like to be creative and to blend all kinds of spices together.

The most rewarding aspect of my profession: To be able to make people happy. Special performances for students are very rewarding because younger audiences are not afraid to express themselves and they give a lot in return. For me, delivering a work that makes people feel something is the biggest reward.  

The least rewarding:

I am not sure, to be honest. I work a lot and I have been working quite intensely since an early age. Sometimes it’s hard, but I feel grateful. Even during my darkest moments my profession is so exceptional and I receive so much in return that I cannot really complain about anything. It is all very worth it!

Creators I’m influenced by: Writer and poets. All poets, be they visual artists, architects, designers, filmmakers.

I had to work hard to learn: Pretty much everything. I am a self made man. No one ever took me by the hand to tell me “things are going to work like this or like that.” I had to quickly figure out how to run a non-profit business in New York City, and I did.

What keeps me up at night: The drive to succeed.

First thing I do when I wake up: I brush my teeth.

I get easily distracted by: My partners and collaborators. I like to dedicate time to them, and I like to keep the work environment light and pleasant. I sometimes crack jokes with my team and like to discuss and converse. 

I’m feeling really excited about: Life in general. This is why I am an artist.

Visit Jacobs Pillow for the performance onJune 21-June 25th.