JonahBokaer onRules of theGame at Soluna A DELICATE COLLABORATION J
onahBokaer,DanielArshamandPharrellWilliams opentheDallas SymphonyOrchestra’sNancyA.Hasher andDavidJ.Haemisegger FamilySoluna InternationalMusic&ArtsFestivalwiththeworld premiere ofRules of theGame,withchoreography byBokaer, visuals
byArshamandmusic byWilliams,playedliveby theDSOandarranged byDavidCampbell, onMay 17 atWinspearOperaHouse. The evening also includes two ofBokaer’spreviousworkswithArsham:WhyPatterns andRECESS.Af
ter theDallasperformance, the showwill tour to several destinations.
Bokaer, anaccomplishedchoreographer andcreator of 57works, is a JohnSimonGuggenheimMemorialFellowinChoreography, aUnited StatesArtistsFellow(FordFoundation), aNYUCenter forBalletArts Fellow, andaCivitellaRanieriFellowinItaly.Hisworkhasbeenseen throughout venues inEurope andtheUnitedStates, including two sea- sons at Jacob’sPillowDanceFestival, theFestivald’AvignoninFrance, Théâtrede laCité Internationale inPariswiththeHermèsFoundation, theBAMNextWaveFestival, forwhichhewas commissionedfor the inaugurationofBAMFisher, andtheFestivaldiSpoleto. InHouston,his workhasbeenpresentedby theUniversity ofHoustonCynthiaWoods MitchellCenter,AsiaSociety TexasCenter andDiverseWorks.
Bokaer visitedwithArts+CultureTexas editor inchiefNancyWozny on thenewworkandhis first showinDallas.
I’mdelightedtosee thatRules of theGame includesDaniel Arsham. Ihavealways thought that the twoof youpossessa rare synergy.Danielhas suchasenseofmovementandyouhave aremarkableaffinity formaterials.Howdoyousee your chem- istry?
Daniel andIhavebeenworking together for almost tenyearsnow.He is my longest collaboratornext toRobertWilson—andtherefore the chem- istry is very evolved, andpolyvalent.Wehavebeentakingdifferent artistic paths, andhavematuredour owncrafts separately,but always remain connected.Webothworkwithdifferent collaborators sometimes.But somehow,we stay ina constant conversation.An
dafter all these years, wehavedevelopedsucha specific vocabulary that I thinkweunderstand eachother verynaturally. The chemistry couldbe comparedtobrothers, maybe.
Pictured: JonahBokaer. Photo:MichaelBeauplet
HowdoesaddinginPharrellWilliams change that energy? If I’mnotmistaken,PharrellWilliams is among the three largestproduc- ers ofmusic ontheplanet—so this represents quite anopportunity, anda greatdeal of electricity. This composerhas givenahuge gift todance,by deciding to compose for ourmedium.Wehadsome very authentic and creative sessions altogether.Our last sessionwas sevenhours long, andI thinkwe all forgot to eat, orhydrate,wewere so engaged.During those preciousmoments,wehave to focus onthe artistic, andthe energy is very explosive.We are all excitedabout themusic andthe challenge that this hybridproductionhas to offer. I alsoworkvery closelywithDavid Campbell,who is arranging the score for anorchestra.Hewill also con- duct theDallasSymphonyOrchestrawhowill interpretPharrell’s compo- sitionfor the first time.
Williams’ score isaverydifferentdirectionmusically for you.Talk about that shift.
Musically, it isbecoming very fascinating rightnow,becauseDavid Campbell is addingmelodic andrhythmic layers onto the original score. Ithasbeendynamic for thedancers, andfor all involved, to followthe evolutionof this score.My
first residencywaswiththe eightdancers that are going to interpretRules ofTheGame:AlbertDrake, LauraGutierrez, JamesKoroni,Callie Lyons, JamesMcGinn,SzabiPataki,SaraProcopio, andBettiRollo. Thiswas inOctober, 2015.At
that time,we allworkedon the original rawfiles thatPharrellhadcomposed;nowwe areworking onamore arrangedversionso thedancers are also exploring further and adding subtleties to themainphrases.
Daniel’s visualsare stunningandseemsoattunedtothe chore- ography. Is theremuchbackandforthabout the actual content?
JamesMcGuinn, LauraGutierrez, Szabi Pataki, Sara Procopio in “Why Patterns,” at theAmericanDance Institute, February 2016, Photo courtesy of theAmericanDance Institute. page 18
May-July 2016 www.thedancecouncil.org
Wehadearly conversations about this specificwork.Mo
re thanever before, Ihave letDaniel explore freely—inpart because video is anew means of expressionforhispractice.But of coursewe are inconstant conversation.Hehas attendedsome of the rehearsal sessions Ihavewith mydancers,whichis always very special, andI also go onset or tohis studio to see the advancement of theworkquite regularly.Daniel also closely follows the evolutionof the choreography sohe candefinemore preciselyhis owngestures for visual art.
DANCE!NORTHTEXAS a publicationof the dance council ofnorthtexas vol. 19 •no. 2
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