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  • Fiona Prior

Sydney Dance Company

Sydney Dance Company

Bonachela / Nankivell / Lane

A celebration of fifty years of Sydney Dance Company! My first dip into the wonder was Graeme Murphy’s ‘Poppy’ – a wild and wonderful performance that referenced the works and sensibilities of Jean Cocteau. Almost thirty years later I still get excited if I’ve an evening of Sydney Dance Company ballet to look forward to, now under artistic director and resident choreographer Rafael Bonachela.

Where Murphy was a born story weaver, Bonachela has always brought a far more ‘form and movement in space’ sensibility to his works. In last night’s ‘Cinco’, all the precision was present but softened by his response to the emotive states of Alberto Ginastera’s String Quartet No. 2 Op. 26., the inspiration and sound dimension of ‘Cinco’. Lighting by Damien Cooper was meticulous and completely enhancing of the work and ‘Cinco’s’ costume design by Bianca Spender also added a sensual fluidity to the subtle feminine grace of ‘Cinco’; a dimension frequently not encountered in Bonachela’s works.

Gabrielle Nankivell’s ‘Neon Aether’, the first work of the night, was in the choreographer’s words, ‘an ode to the burning intangibles that fuel our imaginations.’ ‘Neon Aether’ was carried on a Space Odyssey-style metaphor, complete with NASA sound-bytes embedded. It worked. The stylisation did, however, lead my Latin-leaning companion to express his desire to feel a more human heartbeat in the work ‘or at least [that of a] chimpanzee’!

You can understand that through this same companion’s filter, choreographer Melanie Lane’s ‘Woof’ was another balletic journey that was not wholly built upon known humanity. From a beginning where the dancers configured Renaissance sculptural imagery (I’m sure I saw Giambolgna’s ‘The Rape of the Sabine Women’ and Gericault’s ‘The Raft of Medusa’) – the work continued its journey of collective spirit through to post-human moments – dancers eventually leaving the stage, being drawn into a luminous burst of orange light beyond the audience’s vision (and experience?). I liked it. I believe my companion would have liked the endpoint to be a burning human heart behind the curtain … and maybe it was? :)

Whatever your aesthetic preference, a Sydney Dance Company performance is and I am sure will continue to be an experience of elegance, physical and emotional talent and joyful creativity.

Bonachela / Nankivell / Lane

Roslyn Packer Theatre until 13 April

National Tour

16 May – 17 August 2019

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