B i o
JOE ORRACH is a choreographer, performer and storyteller in live theater and film. Joe started as a boxer, Welterweight champion of the US Air Force, before turning to dance, especially tap. Joe has been called the “pugilistic hoofer.” His Newyorican background adds a dimension to his highly rhythmic work. Joe tap danced with Gregory Hines, Savion Glover, Nicholas Brothers, Jimmy Slyde and Michelle Dorrance, and has been directed by Woody Allen, James Mangold, Jeremiah Chechik and David Shiner.
During 2013-2019, Joe conceived, directed, choreographed and performed original works 147, IN MY CORNER, STReet/FeaT, shaDOW and Everything Begins at Dawn in US and European theatres, including Jacob’s Pillow, Theatre de Suresnes in Paris, Odyssey Theatre, LA, and the Union of Actors Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia. A unique aspect of some of his original work: Joe has played the speedbag as a percussive instrument in jazz bands, with symphony orchestras and solo worldwide. Joe choreographed and performed in Terrence Blanchard's opera CHAMPION at SFJazz, reprising his role with the National Opera at the Kennedy Center. Just before the pandemic interrupted the performing arts, Joe choreographed The Royale at the Aurora, Berkeley and brought his performance ensemble to present In My Corner for the general population at San Quentin Prison.
In San Francisco, Joe performed as one of Teatro Zinzanni’s “power acts” from 2000 to 2006, creating such characters as Tino the Puerto Rican parking attendant, Gentleman Joe the Barbary Coast boxer, Joey the tap-dancing short-order cook, and Alister the bookworm who transforms himself into a world-class boxing champion.
Orrach has an MFA from USC in Dramatic Arts. He developed a conflict resolution workshop for ex-gang members in LA through the Pasadena Playhouse, and he takes his “Shakespeare Beats” to public schools. He teaches theatre and performance as an adjunct instructor. Each year, through the 501(c)(3), Joe Orrach Performance Project (JOPP), Joe reaches hundreds of students with programs to help them tell their own stories through rhythm, movement and voice. He is recipient of Dance Studio Life's Generous Heart Award for his teaching, and an IZZY award for his original performance writing.