Spring Into Action
SYDNEY: As he takes up his three-year tenure as curator of the Spring Dance festival at the Opera House, Sydney Dance Company’s artistic director Rafael Bonachela has one aim: to bring dance to the people. He speaks to Garrett Bithell about the 2012 season.
“To see great dance can actually be life-transforming. Mind-blowing. There are a lot of people out there who just know they like it yet.”
So says Rafael Bonachela, the charismatic Spanish artistic director of Sydney Dance Company, who believes – perhaps above all else – that dance can be transformative. Fans of dance know to this to be true, and in Raf’s estimations there are hoards of people out there who just need to be exposed to the artform – then they’ll know to.
It is with this in mind that Raf has signed on the curator of the Spring Dance festival at the Opera House for the next three years. One of his primary aims is to attract new audiences with cutting-edge shows from around the world.
“Dance should play a bigger part in everyone lives, for many reasons – not least because the artform of dance is good for you,” Raf tells SX. “Education is one way in – soon in Australia dance is going to become part every student’s life with the roll-out of a national curriculum. Once that happens the shift will be considerable – young people will know about contemporary dance. It won’t come as a surprise to them in their adulthood.”
Raf’s compelling, subversive productions for Sydney Dance Company have in many way shocked the city. High-impact, challenging and often profoundly sexual, with sound-scapes created by progressive musicians, his work has been jarring for many of the old subscribers. But these qualities will be at the centre of Spring Dance 2012.
“This year’s festival has lots of different dance flavours on offer, with work that ranges from pure dance, hip hop and flamenco, to cross-artform works exploring the relationship between dance, visual arts and sound-scapes. There are three Australian premieres of international work and four world premieres. We are also showcasing the work of 12 Australian choreographers throughout the festival.”
[Pictured] Sydney Dance Company’s Charmene Yap and Richard Cilli for Spring Dance. Photo: Ellis Parrinder
SPRING DANCE 2012
Maria Pages & Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (Spain/Belgium)
Two of the most celebrated and award-winning names in dance join forces in an exhibition of flamenco, live Arabic music and haunting stagecraft. Internationally revered flamenco artist Maria Pages and choreographer and dancer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui have together taken Dunas around the world, with Cherkaoui’s Moroccan-Belgian heritage providing inspiration for the production’s overarching theme of cultural fusion. Aug 22-25, Drama Theatre
Correria & Agwa
CCN Creteil et Val-Del-Marne/Cie Kafig (France)
Eleven Brazilian dancers from the slums of Rio de Janeiro will break, pop, lock and waack their way across the stage in these two distinct yet complimentary works that have seduced audiences and critics alike around the world. Correria (running) celebrates the physicality of endurance and pleasure of speed, while Agwa (water) explores the beauty and power of the planet’s most essential resource as the dancers backflip, weave and somersault their way between hundreds of water-filled plastic cups on stage. Aug 29-Sept 2, Drama Theatre
Weight x3 & 2
Tao Dance Theatre (China)
From its first performance in 2008, Tao Dance Theatre has attracted a groundswell of excitement with their compelling contemporary dance productions, travelling from its native China on a world tour that has encompassed the US and the UK. In this acclaimed double bill, choreographer and company founder Tao Ye explores extreme physicality and the body’s untapped potential through his supremely fluid dancers. Aug 22-26, Studio
Sydney Dance Company (Australia)
The world premiere creations of four gifted female choreographers from around Australia – Stephanie Lake, Larissa McGowan, Lisa Wilson and Emily Amisano. Collectively they have worked for prestigious companies such as Expressions, Chunky Move, Lucy Guerin and Australian Dance Theatre. A stripped back stage frames the sheer talent of these women, with their works brought to life by Sydney Dance Company’s supreme dancers. Aug 28-Sept 1, Playhouse
Clouds Above Berlin
Antony Hamilton & Melanie Lane (Australia)
Art installation meets dance soundscape in this double bill choreographed and performed by Australian talents Antony Hamilton and Melanie Lane. In Tilted Fawn, Lane – who is currently artist in residence at Berlin’s Dock 11 studio – is a lone figure moving slowly and precisely through a soundscape by British electronic artist Clark; and in Hamilton’s Black Project 1, both dancers occupy a linear, monochromatic landscape, performing a series of fast and intricate rhythms. Aug 29-Sept 2, Studio
IOU Dance Solo Series
IOU Projects (Australia)
Six of the best Sydney-based dance artists come together for an evening combining a festival atmosphere – complete with a true blue BBQ – and six independently-choreographed works rolled out over a single performance. This showcase will present some of the brightest and most diverse talent in Australia. From fast-paced depictions of modern day life and reality TV to influences from Eastern forms and intimate storytelling, this is a very unique production. Aug 22-25, Playhouse
Never Stand Still
Legendary dancers and choreographers Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, Suzanne Farrell, Mark Morris, Judith Jamison and Bill Irwin appear alongside new innovators to reveal the passion, discipline and daring of the world of dance. Filmed at iconic Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, this documentary features performances by the dancers interwoven with intimate interviews, behind-the-scenes insights and rare archival footage. Aug 20, Drama Theatre
Spring Dance runs from Aug 20 until September 2 at various venues at the Opera House, including The Studio, Playhouse and Drama Theatre. Head to www.sydneyoperahouse.com/springdance for tickets and more information.