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  • Writer's pictureFiona Prior

Impermanence - Sydney Dance Company

Updated: Mar 2, 2021


Artistic Director: Rafael Bonachela

Collaborator/Composer: Bryce Dessner

Australian String Quartet

If you can imagine dancers on an almost monochrome blue grey stage that lights with subtle shooting stars, moving with melancholic grace to Antony and the Johnsons ‘Another World’ … then you are on your way to understanding how beautiful and full of fleeting moments is Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela’ s vision, ‘Impermanence’.

(Do listen. You, like me, will wonder if 'Another World' is about the ending of our world, or of a life, or maybe even a relationship? Whichever and whatever, it is sublime and a perfect musical snapshot to enhance your 'Impermanence’ experience).

I think most people have now heard the tale of the inception of ‘Impermanence’. Creative gurus Rafael Bonachela and iconic composer Bryce Dessner (American rock band ‘The National’) were initially moved to collaborative creativity by Notre Dame’s fire and the devastating Australian bushfires of 2019. Then came COVID-19 and a rewrite of their original – and unperformed – work to encompass a whole new dimension of existential grief on its postponed premiere in 2021. 'Impermanence' grew by 20 minutes and Dessner's eight score accomaniment grew to 12.

As once artistic director of Sydney Dance Company Graeme Murphy used to work with narrative, Bonachela works with theme. His works don’t tell a linear tale but emanate an emotional and aesthetic response to a concept. ‘Impermanence’ makes us think of life and death, of relationships strong and then gone … all on a personal and planetary level.

All these nuances are delivered through exquisite choreography that is a mix of ballet, yoga, and gob-smacking grace and fitness.

Sleek sets are designed by David Fleischer. Lighting by Damien Cooper is minimal; ever changing hues reminiscent of a stylised horizon that is moving through time – sunrise oranges to midnight blues and so forth and so on.

Costumes by of Aleisa Elbert work with lighting to enhance the unadorned beauty of the dancers, illuminating their graceful silhouettes and movements on stage.

The Australian String Quartet plays in a corner of the stage, full of emotive chords and moods. They are singularly ‘right’ for this work.

I can’t recommend Impermanence more strongly.

Do go see.

Sydney Dance Company - National Tour calendar details here.

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Fiona Prior
Fiona Prior
Mar 02, 2021

That is delightful James. 🌺


Mar 02, 2021

Fiona- Thank you for taking me on that transcendental trip to Another World and you had me dancing like I’ve never danced before.


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