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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

In Context: Rules Of The Game

Choreographer Jonah Bokaer and visual artist Daniel Arsham celebrate a decade of collaboration in this evening of three works featuring an original score by Pharrell Williams. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #RulesOfTheGame.

Program Notes

Rules Of The Game (PDF)

Pharrell Williams on the evolution of Rules Of The Game, from his initial collaboration with Arsham to this evening-length triptych: “Before it was something that didn't move. It was beautiful, but it didn't move. Now, this is a brand-new medium where movement is not only an addition, it's essential to communicating the point.”

Jonah Bokaer by Madison Mainwaring
A penetrating conversation between dancer Madison Mainwaring and choreographer Jonah Bokaer on his friendship with Robert Wilson, his training as an animator, and his development of dance-related apps.

Rules Of The Game—Playing Together Nicely (BAM blog)
Jonah Bokaer talks with the BAM blog about his process, the nitty-gritty of collaboration, and the inspiration he drew from Luigi Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author.

Williams and Arsham discuss their collaborations.

Now your turn...

What did you think? Tell us what's on your mind in the comments below and on social media using #RulesOfTheGame.


  1. debating leaving seat many times. why patterns was ok, but rules of the game was hard. squirming in chair.

  2. First half,a little slow with all balls and playing together children( symbolic I got it) soundtrack was awesome.
    Second half was unbelievably incredible. Fluidity of the dances.

  3. Fantastic performance! Bravo to the entire cast. The music blended so well with the artistic movements. I was in awe the entire time. The last dance was enigmatic and truly captivating.

  4. I see maybe a dozen shows a year at BAM and this is one of the worst I've seen! The first 2 older pieces were ok but the newest work was almost offensive in its lack of substance. Seemed to have a lot of potential with an interesting mix of collaborators but was such a fail. Sad this was in the large space when far more beautiful moving works are confined to the smaller BAM theaters.

  5. I came to see/hear Rules of the Game, not the other pieces. Dance came in fourth, behind the lighting, music and the gimmicks. Was I supposed to spend my time wondering what kind of white sheeting they used, or how they were going to clean up all the pingpong balls? It didn't help that I was sitting behind a big guy with a big head, or that the aisle lights could have been dimmer. I left at intermission.

  6. That was one of the most tedious, vacuous performances I've ever seen at BAM.

  7. This was our first show at BAM, which was long overdue. The press photos made it look like an elegant performance of modern dance, however mysterious. Names of choreographer,etc were notable. I couldn't find any information about the dance before the performance and in fact very little in the catalog. The opening piece was slow and was strange...abstract...absurd. We didn't "get" it. IF there could have been some sort of interpretation about the pieces that might have helped tremendously. We left at intermission, disappointed, still wondering what it all meant. Please work on giving more essence, history and interpretation to the works for the audience. Thanks!

  8. Agree with many other comments that this was one of the worst shows I've seen. The dance was not the focus, it wasn't moving or dynamic or emotional in any way. Way too gimmicky and weird. Definitely a disappointment.

  9. this was an abomination. what a waste of time and money. the choreography fell far short. it seemed to be a bunch of things that the jonah found "cool" in rehearsal and just stitched together. i see dance almost every week and this is by far one of the worst of the past several years.

    good grief, BAM. step it up. whoever brought this show to BAM should be fired.

  10. It was like watching cats play with toys. I had to leave at intermission.

  11. I failed to see the collaboration between the choreographer and Pharrell Williams, The choreography in Rules of the Game seemed totally arbitrary to the music. The dancers could have stood on stage and picked their noses to the music for that matter. I am in agreement with previous writers, this was one of the most disappointing evenings I have seen at BAM in the past 20 years. The lighting was gorgeous and the highlight of the evening for me was the roll of white paper. Nice idea and could have been explored more without pointed feet rolling it out. The evening seemed to be filled with choices that were so counterintuitive. Just glad the dancers head work.

  12. In the program notes, Jonah Bokaer writes, "This is a performance for you to inherit and keep with you after you watch it. Maybe it’s a game of tag; maybe you’ll hashtag our performance for a later social media feed."

    I hope, as a culture, we do not "inherit" or "keep" this performance. I want to rid it from my memory as badly as I want to rid an STD. Bokaer, however, wants his virulent work to stay with me like a chronic illness or condition. Heaven help me.

  13. I am absolutely shocked to see such negative comments. I regularly go to see modern and contemporary dance, and I was impressed with Jonah Bokaer's choreography and incorporation of media (music and video). It's so nice to see something new and different! Dance doesn't always make the viewer feel buoyant, and that's part of creating meaningful art that goes beyond the event itself.

    Bokaer's first piece of the evening with the large paper was incredible: he combined dance and sculpture while including little humorous moments, such as the paper moving with someone in it while Bokaer was on the side of the stage.

    The comments on this page clearly show that the work was provocative. I have been left thinking positively about Bokaer's unique vocabulary and how important it is to create work that excites and challenges viewers.

  14. A real marvel! Coma again.

  15. A striking evening full of innovative dance performances. In Rules of the Game I loved seeing the dancers positions in the space, almost sculptural, radiating stillness. Wonderfully complimented with the scenographics and music. How wonderful in Recess to see create architectural form through dance. In Why Patterns I thought the effect of randomness left the dancers with an element of chance and free interpretation that was very exiting to see.  A big compliment to everybody involved, who like still many other people in this world are using their talents in a positive way. Which is giving me hope in these times.

  16. So, I got here up with the "Busy mom" health formulation. It consists of some time-hacks in order to assist you to get in your exercising whilst attending to the countless demands of elevating kids running a family. Being the daddy of four youngsters (who are all grown up and out of the house.For more ==== >>>>>>

  17. What a timely performance, especially after the election. I laughed during Recess and found the piece quite playful. I enjoyed watching the energy during Rules of the Game, and the dialogue among the dancers, the music and the projections. I went to see The Magnetic Fields as well during the Next Wave Festival and am grateful that I've had the chance to see these artists as they experiment and grow.

  18. I think Bokaer wanted the piece to feel long because he wanted us to feel the gravity and importance of the message he was trying to relay. “Rules of the Game” made me think of the destruction of the Earth and how we are not doing enough to save our planet. I found the intelligent playful use of the white paper and the pig-pong balls very creative. The white paper made me think of icebergs changing shape and melting and the yellow raincoats made me think of a radioactive site and the balls of radioactivity spreading everywhere…
    The last piece made me think about how we are neglecting the planet and are wasting time fighting among ourselves instead of focusing on saving the Earth. Not sure if that is what the piece was about. The basketballs on the screen reminded me of a planet being destroyed, the Greek heads reminded me of civilizations being destroyed, and then there was the fighting in slow motion which was so “beautiful” to watch and the marching around of the tightly knit group of dancers that made me think of the Chinese Terracotta Army coming to life. The color of their costume may have also made me think of the terracotta army.


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