Sydney Dance Company is a legendary force in Australian contemporary dance. Its performances have appeared on the great dance stages of the world, from the Sydney Opera House in Australia, to the Joyce Theatre in New York, the Grand in Shanghai and the Stanislavsky in Moscow. In 2009, Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela’s sensuous aesthetic initiated a new chapter in the annals of the legendary Sydney Dance Company. The company makes its Boston Debut with March 4 & 5, and limited tickets are still available!
Celebrity Series is pleased to offer an artist post-performance talk on Sunday, March 5, with Rafael Bonachela. This 20-minute talk, moderated by Peter DiMuro of The Dance Complex, will be held in front of the stage immediately following the Sunday afternoon performance. In anticipation of the engagement, DiMuro shares his thoughts on the company and its Boston debut.
If a dance concert were a meal, we’d expect an appetizer, main course, dessert. The appropriate wines and perhaps a cappuccino would be delightful! The appetites sated, and we’d have a complete taste sensation.
Seeing an evening of dance, or evening of music at the symphony, can be similar to a fine meal. Unlike a play, which more often deals with a narrative, music and dance exist in the same category of abstraction. And, this is the same abstraction I find when trying to understand how that fine meal I have just eaten does what it does to make me feel so deliciously full and completely taste-bud tantalized! I just…feel it!
I don’t mean to make this sound like Art Appreciation 101. Even as an experienced engager with arts, though, I find I sometimes need a reminder when it comes to savoring the many modes of art before me.
As dance-goers, you likely exist somewhere on the spectrum of, on one end, being able to fully articulate into words why a performance appeals to you or how it plays out over time and space as you sit in that plush seat. Or, you might inhabit the other end of the spectrum of response: You might say, “I just….feel it!”
Either extreme state of response is fine, valid and wanted, needed. In the inner-dance world, we can get too dance-nerdy and analyze every moment – so much so that the thrill is gone. I’m all for no-guilt consumption, but I love when I discover some nuance or connection among courses within the meal – or the dance.
The offerings of Sydney Dance Company, next here on the menu at Celebrity Series, are three works that balance each other and whet the appetite differently. As I watch snippets of the choreography and the vibrant performances – even conveyed through the screen – these three works use bodies differently, use space and internal relationships differently, and even use us, the audience, differently.
The three works presented include: WILDEBEEST (2014), with choreography by Gabrielle Nankivell; RAW MODELS (2014, pictured above), with choreography by Jacopo Godani; and FRAME OF MIND (2015), with choreography by Sydney Dance Company’s Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela.
RAW MODELS does feel raw, in your face, and most outwardly directed performance – a confrontation of the dancers’ beauty. Even when matched in duets you feel that the partnering is less about what’s happening between them and more about showing us, the audience, how fierce, how muscular, and how fine they are. It will take me viewing the whole piece to figure out if this is a commentary on the displaying – the modeling? – or is just that, a display of fierce beauty.
RAW MODELS connects with the other two works in sense of tribe. While MODELS faces us and includes us as part of the action, WILDEBEEST brings us in as a voyeur, almost as if we are Jane Goodall looking into the world of primates. Here, where the WILDBEESTs live, is a contained world where what unfolds feels like authentic interchange – a strike, a caress, escalation of chaos – if not always pleasing. We are not a part of this world and less necessary to it, unlike our role in RAW MODELS.
FRAME OF MIND also reveals a tribe. This feels a more reflective world than the WILDBEESTS’, living not only in the physical but in the emotional. Bonachela writes of inspiration for the work, wishing to be in two places at the same time. This comes across in the movement that shifts quickly from internal connections among dancers to external efforts to break free, in shifts in quality, timing and dynamics.
I can’t wait to experience this meal of a concert with you, and look forward to our dialogue post-show on Sunday, March 5.
Peter DiMuro is a career-long dance artist, recently returning to Boston to become the executive director of The Dance Complex, a twenty-three year old non-profit center for dance in Cambridge. He continues to create and direct dance/theatre projects including those for his company Public Displays of Motion in Boston and around the country. He engages the public in creativity literacy in non-arts identified corporate and other community settings. In 2014, he was honored to collaborate with Celebrity Series of Boston as rehearsal director for Sylvain Emard’s Le Grand Continental public dance project.
Photo by ROBERT TORRES