Big Ideas Fest Speakers

Joe Orrach

Joe Orrach

Joe is an actor, singer, dancer and story-teller who has worked in theatres worldwide, in television and on screen. Joe’s performing career started as a boxer. He was Welterweight Champion of the US Air Force before turning to dance. He started his dance career as a tap dancer on the streets of NYC where Gregory Hines discovered him and gave him his first inside job. On stage, Joe has performed with Joan Baez, Bob Hope, the Smothers Brothers, Michael Davis, Liliane Montevecchi, Bill Irwin, David Shiner, Melissa Manchester, and the Cookie Monster, among others. He has tap danced with such greats as Gregory Hines, Jimmy Slyde and Savion Glover, and old masters including the Nicholas Brothers, Honi Coles, Charles "Cookie" Cook, Chuck Green and Lon Cheney.  He has been directed by Woody Allen (Everyone Says I Love You), James Mangold (Copland), Tim Boxell (Valley of the Heart's Delight), Stefan Haves (Punch Drunk) and David Shiner (Nacht Mund). CNN International profiled Joe on "People in the Arts." Joe received his MFA from University of Southern California's School of Dramatic Arts in Acting. 

Joe tours IN MY CORNER, a play with an original score by Matt Clark, directed by Jeremiah  Chechik, that Joe wrote with Lizbeth Hasse  He recently premiered STReeT/FeaT, an original work for 3 dancers and 3 musicians at the Theatre de Suresnes, Paris. The work was conceived by Joe during a Harrison House Music and Arts Residency in Joshua Tree in 2014. Most recently in March 2016 Joe choreographed and was a guest artist in Terence Blanchard’s opera CHAMPION for the SF Jazz Center. Joe will reprise this featured role in 2017 at the Kennedy Center. 

When not on the stage, Joe can be found in the classroom, community center or boxing gym. Each year, through the 501(c)(3), Joe Orrach Performance Project (JOPP), he reaches hundreds of students with programs that help them tell their own stories through rhythm, movement and voice. He is the recipient of Dance Studio Life's Generous Heart Award for his teaching. 

Watch Joe Orrach's talk, "To Be, To Learn".