Australian Dance Reviews

Transported at Adelaide Festival: Sydney Dance Company’s ‘Impermanence’

Sydney Dance Company's 'Impermanence'. Photo by Pedro Greig.

Festival Theatre, Adelaide.
10 March 2021.

I’m not sure we all need a reminder of how impermanent our comfortable lives are after the upheaval of the last year, but Sydney Dance Company’s Rafael Bonachela played with this exact theme in his new work, Impermanence, at Adelaide Festival. Although this work would speak volumes at any moment, the timeliness of debuting the work during this season of re-emergence was accepted with immense gratitude and rapturous applause from the parched dance audience.

Sydney Dance Company's 'Impermanence'. Photo by Pedro Greig.
Sydney Dance Company’s ‘Impermanence’. Photo by Pedro Greig.

Bonachela reminded us why his company are world leaders in contemporary dance. The precision, technicality and artistry of the dancers was sublime and downright astonishing, after a year of disrupted training and no performance. The choreography was intricate and highly demanding, as I heard many in the audience remark, “How on earth do they remember so much choreography?!” There was never a moment to rest on laurels or take a breath; every move was precision, strength and grace. 

The music composition by Bryce Dessner was transporting, engaging and could have stood on its own, perfectly executed by a string quartet on stage. I only wish the quartet were downstage instead of in the back corner so we could have enjoyed the choreography upon the strings as well as the dancers.  

Sydney Dance Company's 'Impermanence'. Photo by Pedro Greig.
Sydney Dance Company’s ‘Impermanence’. Photo by Pedro Greig.

This collaboration between Bonachela and Dessner, after Frame of Mind, is once again a masterpiece. Bonachela and Dessner are said to have been inspired by the tragic fires in the Australian bush and at Notre-Dame Cathedral to create a work about our temporal surroundings and the frailty of life, to impart hope in the face of devastation. And hope they did instil. Hope in dance, hope in music, hope in creativity, in life all around and hope for a new day. 

The moments of perfect unison, full company on stage were what set my heart a flight, but every movement was crafted with intention by Bonachela and commitment and authenticity by his talented, technically brilliant dancers. I could watch this work again, again and walk away every time inspired and encouraged, seeing the beauty in the ephemeralness of life.

By Deborah Searle of Dance Informa.

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