March 17, 2014
By Deborah Searle of Dance Informa.
I was privileged enough to be at the 2014 season opener for Sydney Dance Company with Interplay. What a way to start the year! The company chose a perfect program to showcase it’s varied and immense talents in its 45th anniversary year.
Interplay was comprised of three very distinct works by three internationally acclaimed contemporary choreographers: Sydney Dance Company Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela; Italian-born, Frankfurt-based choreographer Jacopo Godani, who was recently proposed as the new artistic director of The Forsythe Company; and Melbourne’s Gideon Obarzanek, previously of Chunky Move.
Starting with Bonachela’s latest work, 2 in D Minor, Bonachela swept us a way in a celebration of music and movement, and their inter-connected relationship. This was a world premiere for 2 in D Minor.
The music of J.S. Bach was played live on stage by violinist Veronique Street and was interjected with a contemporary recorded soundtrack by Nick Wales. The dancers wore nude undergarments with black pants and open, black draping suit jackets, which is a look that Bonachela seems to favour. It did look quite striking on stage and it suits his style of movement.
Although it seemed to go a little long with the same formula of one dance to live violin, one dance to recorded music, the dancing was sensational and a testament to Bonachela’s detailed, intense choreography and his dancers’ sheer technique and precision. The dancers were beautiful and when Veronique Street was on the stage, they created magic together, drawing us into a conversation between music and dance, musician and dancer.
The striking work of Jacopo Godani was next with Raw Models. This work was edgy, isolated and intoxicating. Jacopo used dramatic lighting, designed by himself, consisting of strobe, many blackouts and spotlights, mixed with raw, animalistic yet complex, precise movement to wow us. An arresting pas de deux by Charmene Yap and Andrew Crawford was the highlight. They are both stunning and the interesting partnering and shapes they created showcased their talents and technique. Crawford’s height and legs-for-days are a true asset to him. The audience rightfully gave Raw Models a standing ovation and gasps were audible here and there throughout the performance as the intense combination of the dancers, lighting and music took our breath away.
In another contrast altogether, we were then treated to L’Chaim by the quirky Gideon Obarzanek. This was more of a dance theatre piece than a traditional contemporary ballet work, where the dancers acted, spoke, played and gave us a glimpse into their personal lives as people, not just artists. Actor Zoe Coombs Marr spoke over a microphone from an unknown location in conversation with the dancers as they went through their movements in two distinct groupings, with matching costumes (which were a mix of coloured street clothes) and mirrored movements. L’Chaim was interesting and engaging on so many levels and it had us all hooked right from the start. Coombs Marr continually asked questions of the dancers –“Are you grumpy?”, “Why do you dance?”, “Does it take a lot of strength to do that?” These questions made us ask questions of ourselves and questions about life in general. It was a touching, emotional celebration of dance and the freedom it gives us to express ourselves and it left me feeling elated. It was such a fun, joyous, raw and real piece of theatre and I’d love to see it again.
Interplay gave us such a contrasting and varied program that showed the company’s versatility and vast strengths in a true celebration of dance, music, art and life. Congratulations on 45 years Sydney Dance Company! With work like this, you will surely thrive for another 45 years and beyond.
“Interplay” travels to Canberra and Melbourne next. Make sure to get your tickets. Visit www.sydneydancecompany.com for more information. Want to win tickets? Enter here: www.danceinforma.com.au/articles.
Photo (top): Charmene Yap and Andrew Crawford in Jacopo Godani’s Raw Models. Photo courtesy of Sydney Dance Company.