BWW Review: Jonah Bokaer Presents His Riveting Solo THE DISAPPEARANCE PORTRAITS at Cooper Hewitt
It is always a pleasure to acknowledge a rare, unique voice in the dance world. I say this with pleasure after viewing Jonah Bokaer's "The Disappearance Portraits" on August 24, 2017, at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. I have been following Mr. Bokaer's work for a number of years but never had the occasion to write about him. Thus, I now luckily have the opportunity.
Bokaer, a recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, is an interdisciplinary artist who merges choreography, visual art, film, and artistic research. This has led to a new form of choreography which, I'm happy to say, does not have a tag attached to it. So it can be a dance that fits the moment or even the current millenium. It's not ballet, could it be modern dance? Or is it just Bokaer being a unique artist? I like that. How many unique artists do we get to see?
"The Disappearance Portraits" is a solo addressing themes of relocation and migration. Because it is a site-specific performance installation, leveraging the unique architectural renovations and new landscaping of the setting where it is being performed, it is seen on very rare occasions. Since I had not seen this before, I can only judge what I saw that evening, and it turned out to be quite an eye opener.
On the surface, it seems as if a dancer is running hither and yon, looking for a location which will welcome his presence, a place where he can rest and quietly call home. Is it on the top of a mountain, behind the bushes? The garden of Cooper Hewitt provided a unique atmosphere for Mr. Bokaer's peregrination, and his journey was watched by the audience in eager anticipation of his movements and the next architectural setting.
But stop and ask yourself? What is this? What's between the lines? Here you stop and think. A solo body, a body that signifies all the yearning, the hurt, the expectations for a new life that we read about in the news. Expressed through the simplicity of movement. Nothing grand, nothing majestic. Simple and loving. Memories, stories. A place to call our home. That is what is so touching and why I felt myself moved. I understood.
Mr. Bokaer has a great deal to offer. I look forward to seeing more and writing at length about his works. I can think of no higher compliment!