Theatre Review: The Sydney Dance Company: Bonachela/Nankivell/Lane: 50th Anniversary Triple Bill

Recognised for the quality of their work, the Sydney Dance Company have been at the forefront of contemporary dance in Australia. Due to their high class work it is unsurprising the company has survived for fifty years and to celebrate their anniversary they are touring some of their finest work.

By
Overall
4

Presented by Sydney Dance Company  
Reviewed 09 August 2019

Recognised for the quality of their work, the Sydney Dance Company have been at the forefront of contemporary dance in Australia. Due to their high class work it is unsurprising the company has survived for fifty years and to celebrate their anniversary they are touring some of their finest work. A triple bill show, the evening was split between three distinctly different dance pieces. Neon Aether, Cinco and WOOF.

Neon Aether breaches the fine line between science fiction and madness, soft in its approach to what choreographer Gabrielle Nankivell describes in her choreographer’s notes as “rushing forward through feelings steeped in the past”. The future nostalgia she speaks of is light and soft, drawing from the ethereal themes of her piece, highlighting the gentle nature of space, light and horizon. The close fitting bodysuits amplifies this with what can only be presumed to be inspired by 1960 science fiction films. Soundtrack/soundscape by Luke Smiles, recognised for his diverse international work, further builds on classic future themes with radio waves and archetypal si-fi computer generated sounds that comfortably reflect the performance.

Cinco was more subtle in its nature with Rafael Bonachela placing a great deal of focus on the company’s 50 years of work. Five dancers perform a piece that is driven by the dancers moving in the space of a five pointed geometric shape. With an almost mathematical approach, the pentagon the performers move in overlap and interfere with each other while still being removed from each other’s environment. Dynamic in nature, the firm lines that were established through the lighting contrast with the loose and floating costumes stress the play with space time. Bonachela’s choice to use Alberto Ginastera’s String Quartet No. 2 Op.26 drives the firm time and soft motion at the same moment. During heightened points the dancers move with unexpected speed and reproduce patterns that come across as effortless but alarming with their accuracy.

WOOF is a critically acclaimed piece originally conceived in 2017 for the Sydney Dance Co. by Melbourne based choreographer Melanie Lane. A curious mix of classical renaiscence sculpture and euro pop, the entire performance is blended in an obscure yet appropriate way. The soundtrack composed by London based Chris Clark, another internationally recognised composer, mirrors the performance implicitly with classical and electronic music. The same is said about the simple and innocuous costumes. Sportswear driven with grey and earthy tones, the cast could be mistaken for rehearsing in comfortable clothes if it weren’t for the conspicuous black dye that covered their hand and forearms. Gritty and infectious the dye becomes, as it slowly covers the dancers as they peacock in the space or interact with each other. It is the symmetrical shapes and flawless precision that make WOOF a stunning piece to watch with movements that would have been considered jarring if it wasn’t for its fluid nature. 

All three pieces were astounding to say the least. The delivery of the ensembles work is second to none. All three performances are expertly choreographed, costumes are appropriately designed and the soundtracks establish perfect atmospheres for three entirely unique and moving performances.

Reviewed by Simon Lancione

Rating out of 5:  4

Season Ended

theatre, Dance, Sydney Dance Company, Gabrielle Nankivell, Luke Smiles, Rafael Bonachela, Alberto Ginastera, Melanie Lane, Chris Clark

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