Joe Orrach

Jul 26—Aug 10, 2024

Joe Orrach is a versatile artist, renowned as a choreographer, performer, and storyteller in both live theater and film. Formerly a Welterweight champion of the US Air Force, Joe transitioned from boxing to dance, specializing in tap. Referred to as the “pugilistic hoofer,” his Newyorican background enriches his highly rhythmic creations.

Joe has shared the stage with tap luminaries such as Gregory Hines, Savion Glover, and the Nicholas Brothers, and has collaborated with directors including Woody Allen and James Mangold.

From 2013 to 2019, Joe conceived, directed, and performed in numerous original works, showcasing his talent across US and European theaters, including notable venues such as Jacob’s Pillow and the Kennedy Center. Notably, he has incorporated the speedbag as a percussive instrument into some of his works, showcasing his versatility.

In San Francisco, Joe was a prominent figure in Teatro Zinzanni from 2000 to 2006, embodying various characters such as Tino the Puerto Rican parking attendant and Gentleman Joe the Barbary Coast boxer.

With an MFA from USC in Dramatic Arts, Joe is committed to community engagement, having developed a conflict resolution workshop for ex-gang members in LA and conducting “Shakespeare Beats” programs in public schools. He also serves as an adjunct instructor, imparting his knowledge of theater and performance.

Through the Joe Orrach Performance Project (JOPP), a 501(c)(3) organization, Joe empowers students to tell their own stories through rhythm, movement, and voice. He has received recognition for his teaching, including Dance Studio Life’s Generous Heart Award and an IZZY award for his original performance writing.


Performance Residency

July – August 2024

Joe Orrach will be in residence this summer developing a new work, Champeens, a new original play, tells a 20th-century U.S. immigrant and migrant story through the eyes and experiences of world champion boxers who became symbolic cultural and actual heroes. We track the stories of these underdogs and momentary heroes through anecdotes of their lives, their loves, their handlers and trainers, and through the culture and music of their worlds. At once heroic, tragic, and hopeful tales of daily life, showing how a former world mixes with the new through the medium of an incomparably dramatic sport, we follow these delicate, often misunderstood gladiators — the Irish Catholic, the Polish Jew, formerly enslaved African-American, the Puerto Rican, the Italian.