Jonah Bokaer's CURTAIN Comes to France's Avignon Festival Tonight, July 20

Jonah Bokaer's CURTAIN Comes to France's Avignon Festival Tonight, July 20

Jonah Bokaer, who has been making artistic waves on the international dance circuit since he began choreographing almost ten years ago, will be seen both close-up and afar in these coming months: outdoors at the Avignon Festival in France (tonight, July 20–July 22, 24–26) and indoors at the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, MA (August 1–5) when he and Bolshoi Ballet star David Hallberg perform together in the world premiere of Bokaer's "CURTAIN."

"CURTAIN" is co-produced by Fondation d'Entreprise Hermes as part of its program New Settings; SACD (Societe des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques; Paris: Sujets a Vif Commission 2012); Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin (Paris) and The Producers Circle of Chez Bushwick (Brooklyn, NY).

The title of "CURTAIN" has several references including to the Iron Curtain, whose destruction made possible the present and historic relationship between the South Dakota-born Hallberg and the Bolshoi Ballet. The full sixty-minute dance is comprised of two solos--CURTAIN performed by Hallberg and SORRY performed by Bokaer--as well as a duet, Les Innocents, performed by the two artists. The original score by Chris Garneau includes portions of a student lecture that composer John Cage gave at the 1984 Jacob's Pillow Festival, now rendered almost unrecognizable by Garneau's application of a centrifugal speaker.

The design for "CURTAIN" is created by long-time Bokaer collaborator Daniel Arsham, who uses a non-Newtonian substance, whose state of matter (liquid, solid or gas) reacts to the stress of an outside interference. For this work, the "stress" comes from cast fiberglass molds that will be unsealed minutes before the performance begins. The resulting sculptures and props that populate the stage at the start of the dance melt down, creating new shapes and forms as the show proceeds. In effect, these time-based, dissolving sculptures create their own dance. The costumes are by former Marc Jacobs designer Richard Chai.

Marking a rare time that Americans have been invited to perform at the Avignon Festival, the shows will take place in le Jardin de la Vierge du Lyce?e Saint-Joseph in Avignon, where Bokaer and Hallberg will perform Les Innocents. The Pillow performances will additionally include the individual solos. In both settings, there is no "curtain." The program will be performed at The?a?tre de la Cite? Internationale in Paris in November, where there is also no curtain. Jonah Bokaer will perform the two solos CURTAIN and SORRY and Adam H. Weinert and James McGinn will perform the duet Les Innocents in Paris.

Choreographer and Media Artist Jonah Bokaer has been creating dances for stage, museum, gallery and outdoor spaces throughout the world for the past decade. During that time, he has also created ten videos, three motion capture works, as well as interactive installations, several mobile applications and a film. The 30 works that he has choreographed have been seen throughout theaters in Belgium, Canada, Cuba, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, India, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Often created to accommodate museum spaces, Bokaer's dances have been performed in New York City at New Museum; MoMA PS1; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; and Museum of Arts and Design. His dances and films have also been seen at MASS MoCA (North Adams, MA); Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami (FL); the Muse?e d'Art Contemporain (Marseille, France); Carre? d'Art (Nimes, France ); Maison Jean Vilar (Avignon, France); La Ferme du Buisson (Marne-La-Valle?e, France); Palazzo delle Arti (Napoli, Italy); IVAM (Valencia, Spain); and Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen (St. Gallen, Switzerland).

His work with theater / opera artist Robert Wilson includes creating the choreography for Wilson's operas "FAUST," performed by the Polish National Opera, "AI?DA" for Teatro dell'Opera di Roma; "Fronteras" at IVAM in Valencia; "KOOL" at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City; and "On The Beach" at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York City.

Bokaer's prodigious accomplishments have been recognized with many awards and honors including a Human Rights Award (2000); Joan Kirnsner Memorial Award (2005); Foundation for Contemporary Arts (2005-2006); Passing It On Award, Brooklyn Arts Exchange (2006); Inaugural Gallery Installation Fellowship from Dance Theater Workshop (2007); Finalist: Rolex Mentor / Prote?ge? Initiative in Dance (2007); New York Dance & Performance "Bessie" Award - Special Citation Chez Bushwick (2007); New York Dance & Performance "Bessie" Award– Aaron Copp, Lighting Design (2008); National Dance Access Scholarship from Dance/USA (Mellon Foundation, 2007); Alumni Achievement Award from North Carolina School of the Arts (2009); Rockefeller NYC Cultural Innovation Award (For Chez Bushwick, 2008/9); Bogliasco Foundation Prize Fellowship in Choreography (2011); SACD Prix Noveau Talent Chore?graphique (2011); National Endowment for the Arts (2011, 2012).

He was the first dance artist to be inducted a Young Leader of the French American Foundation (2008-2009) and was among the very few dance artists to ever be recognized with the prestigious Crain's NY Business "40 Under 40 (2011).

Born in South Dakota, Mr. Hallberg began his formal ballet training at 13 with Kee Juan Han at the Arizona Ballet School and continued his studies at the Paris Opera Ballet School. Mr. Hallberg attended American Ballet Theatre's New York Summer Intensive in 1999 and 2000 as an ABT National Training Scholar. He joined ABT's Studio Company in September 2000; joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in April 2001; and was promoted to Soloist in January 2004 and Principal in May 2005.

Mr. Hallberg joined the Bolshoi Ballet as the first American Premier Dancer in September 2011. He danced the Prince in "Sleeping Beauty" in the first ballet performance of the renovated Bolshoi Theater. He later appeared in a live telecast of the ballet, which was seen in theaters around the world. He dances the Bolshoi's first performances of George Balanchine's "Jewels" in May 2012.

With American Ballet Theatre, his repertoire of full length ballets include leading roles in "Swan Lake," "Romeo and Juliet," "Giselle," "Don Quixote," "La Bayadere," "Othello," "Le Corsaire," "The Nutcracker," "Cinderella," "Sylvia," "La Sylphide," "The Bright Stream," "Lady of the Camellias" and "Raymonda." He dances a wide range of shorter works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Kurt Jooss, Antony Tudor, Mark Morris, Twyla Tharp, Lar Lubovitch, Jiri Kylian, Frederick Ashton, and William Forsythe. Alexei Ratmansky created roles for Mr. Hallberg in three of his world premieres for Ballet Theatre: "On the Dnieper" and "Seven Sonatas" in 2009 and "The Nutcracker" in December 2010. He will add the title role in John Cranko's "Onegin" and Kashhei in Alexei Ratmansky's new "Firebird" during ABT's 2012 Metropolitan Opera season.

Mr. Hallberg has been a guest artist with the Marinsky Ballet, Teatro Colon Buenos Aires, Bolshoi Ballet, Kiev Ballet, Royal Swedish Ballet, Opera di Roma, Georgian State Ballet and The Australian Ballet. He toured Russia in 2008, 2009, and 2011 with the ensemble Kings Of The Dance in which he danced Frederick Ashton's "Dance of the Blessed Spirits," originally created for Sir Anthony Dowell.

Future engagements include "The Sleeping Beauty" with Gillian Murphy at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires in August 2012; Gala performances in Buenos Aires and at the end of 2012, performances with the Australian Ballet.

Mr. Hallberg won the 2010 Benois de la Danse Prize as best male dancer for his performance as Albrecht in "Giselle" with American Ballet Theatre. He was honored with the "Rising Star Award." from Georgian State Ballet and Nina Ananiashvili, and was a recipient of the Princess Grace Fellowship and the Chris Hellman Dance Award for 2002–2003.

Mr. Hallberg created the David Hallberg Scholarship to mentor a young aspiring male student in a career in dance at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School of American Ballet Theatre. He has also created The Innovation Initiative at ABT, which facilitates emerging choreographers in the field of dance.

Daniel Arsham is a graduate of the Cooper Union in New York City. He has collaborated with Merce Cunningham, Hedi Slimane, Robert Wilson, and Richard Chai among others. Architecture is a prevalent subject throughout his work: environments with eroded walls and stairs going nowhere, landscapes where nature overrides structures, and a general sense of playfulness within existing architecture. Straddling the line between art, architecture and performance, Arsham makes architecture do things it's not supposed to do, mining everyday experience for opportunities to confuse and confound our expectations of space and form. Simple yet paradoxical gestures dominate his sculptural work: a facade that appears to billow in the wind, a white cube eroded on all sides like a glacier, a figure wrapped up in the surface of a wall. Structural experiment, historical inquiry, and satirical wit all combine in Arsham's ongoing interrogation of the real and the imagined. His work has been shown at PS1 (NYC), The Museum of Contemporary Art (Miami), The Athens Biennial (Greece), The New Museum (NYC), and Carre d'Art de Nimes (France), among other venues. He is represented by Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin in Paris.

Photo credit: Peter Ross