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    Despite dancer’s injury, Jonah Bokaer’s ‘CURTAIN’ will go up at Jacob’s Pillow

    Choreographer Jonah Bokaer.
    Peter Ross
    Choreographer Jonah Bokaer.

    A much-anticipated program at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival has taken a new turn because of an injury to a dancer. Choreographer/media artist Jonah Bokaer and dancer David Hallberg planned to team up to perform the US premiere of Bokaer’s “CURTAIN” Aug. 1-5. The evening-length multimedia work, created in collaboration with artist Daniel Arsham, includes references to the Iron Curtain, without whose fall Hallberg would not have been able to become the first American star to join Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet in a permanent role as principal dancer last year.

    Bokaer, a former performer with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and cofounder of two arts centers in Brooklyn, has been called “contemporary dance’s renaissance man” by Roslyn Sulcas in The New York Times. Bokaer initially included two solos in “CURTAIN”: one for him and one for Hallberg, as well as a duet. But Hallberg injured his foot and will not perform, according to Mariclare Hulbert, director of marketing and communication at Jacob’s Pillow.

    “Jonah has really brilliantly adjusted the piece,” said Hulbert. Now Bokaer will perform two solos, and dancers James McGinn and Adam H. Weinert will join him in “CURTAIN,” which just made its world premiere at the Festival d’Avignon in France.


    The production includes shape-shifting set pieces by Arsham, a commissioned score by singer-songwriter Chris Garneau (who grew up partly in Boston) that incorporates elements of a lecture by composer John Cage, and costumes by former Marc Jacobs designer Richard Chai.

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    “Obviously we’re disappointed, and Jonah is disappointed,” said Hulbert of Hallberg’s injury. “But it’s still going to be a really innovative and impactful premiere, so we’re excited.”

    If you go, note that Jacob’s Pillow isn’t the only place to see the work of Bokaer and Arsham right now. They’re among the artists with pieces on view in the Mass MoCA show “Making Room: The Space Between Two and Three Dimensions.” That’s just an hour’s drive away, and you could catch this show while you’re there. How’s that for a Berkshires weekend?

    Rebecca Ostriker can be reached at