Rafael Bonachela and the study of human interaction – 2 One Another celebrates 45 Years of SDC

Sydney Dance Company are touring their critically acclaimed multi-award winning production 2 One Another around the country as part of their 45th Anniversary Program.

Chen Wen Photo:  Ken Butti
Chen Wen
Photo: Ken Butti

This award winning show, choreographed by Sydney Dance Company Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela, has already toured extensively across the globe, from the USA to Russia taking in 16 cities in three continents by the end of 2013.

At home in Australia the work collected awards for Best Choreography, Best Female Dancer and Most Outstanding Performance by a Company at the 2013 Australian Dance Awards.

I was recently able to catch up with the very busy Artistic Director of SDC and creator of 2 One Another Rafael Bonachela to speak about this work, its unique creative process and his company of dancers, of whom he is clearly very proud of.

“For this production to have a long and successful life is wonderful for the work, and also for the Company, as it is fantastic to share with people both nationally and internationally what we do”, he explained.

Bonachela sees this work as a celebration of the company and a showcase for the ensemble. Described as “Beautiful, dynamic and highly physical”, 2 One Another is arguably the most successful work of the Company to date under his Artistic Directorship.

“At the time of creating the work I had been three years with SDC. I knew the dancers, as we had spent a lot of time together, and that knowledge fed into the work..The process drew upon our hopes and struggles, of the individual, the company, of the artist and the group..it all fed in to the creation of the work.

An exultant and sensual study of human interaction and relationships, 2 One Another premiered in Sydney in March 2012 and explores the couple (2), the individual (One), and the group (Another). The work is also an exciting collaboration between Rafael, set and costume designer Tony Assness, composer/music director Nick Wales, with inspiration and poetry from emerging literary talent Samuel Webster.

The performance is set against a stunning digital backdrop of motion design and animation and features an extraordinary soundtrack – embracing Baroque to electronica – interspersed with poetry fragments created during the development of the work.

[pull_left]Various writing inspired certain sections, sometime even a single sentence, and the words also appear in elements of the composition, sound & visual designs[/pull_left]Well known for his collaborations with other artists, in this creative process Rafael took some radical departures; in particular his collaboration with the very talented young Australian poet Samuel Webster.

He had never worked in this art form and with a living poet, yet “Poetry suits dance, in that it is non-narrative in the construction is more fluid in so much as there is not a beginning, middle, end”.

How did they collaborate?… “He (Sam) would interact with us in the studio, all the time writing, then we would interact with his writing and interpret that in dance…

I also decided that everything must happen here, here in the studio, so it would feel immediate, always staying connected to the dancing…”

How did his writing support the final result?

“Various writing inspired certain sections, sometime even a single sentence, and the words also appear in elements of the composition, sound & visual designs. The text is also broken-down, as I wanted to leave it also open-ended for the audience to make their own interpretation.”

“It was also a departure from previous pieces in that I often make quieter works, so it was a jump for me to make this colourful, dynamic, and visually stunning piece. I wanted the feel for the audience to be WHAKA BOOM, (its original working title) to be unapologetic, grand and show off our amazing ensemble. It is not a shy work!”.

Rafael laughs and then notes that it is the first time he has “truly embraced colour”, as the the work moves from a monochrome world becoming absolutely saturated with colour to become “almost orgasmic” by the end.

“Designer Tony Assness was the key here in that he kept pushing me to have the confidence to embrace this colourful world, and ‘I gave in’…”

Clearly Rafael is clearly enjoying the success of SDC, and Sydney where he is “happily at home in every way”, and is excited by future possibilities having signed up for another five years. “I feel challenged and motivated, there is so much we want to do for the dance with SDC”.

He is busy putting plans in place this year, including performing nine new works, commissioning 5 young Australian choreographers, and creating the New Breed season in a three year partnership with Carriageworks. The Company is also committed to education at all levels presenting its first primary school matinee last year, and having started a full time pre-professional year as part of its push to support high level professional skills development. Rafael believes SDC needs to “keep pushing the boundaries of what contemporary dance is, can mean, and be. I am proud of what we have achieved and we how we are building on that.”

He is passionate about investing in future, and generating new audiences for the Company’s work, “There is more we can explore, ultimately getting more people engaged with dance….we want to reach out to those people who are walking in the street who don’t know they like contemporary dance…yet!”

For a sneak preview of 2 One Another: 


Company: Chris Aubrey, Juliette Barton, Thomas Bradley, Chen Wen, Andrew Crawford, Holly Doyle, Janessa Dufty, Paul Knobloch, Cass Mortimer Eipper, Fiona Jopp, Bernhard Knauer, David Mack, Alana Sargent, Jesse Scales, Jessica Thompson and Charmene Yap.

For more information, visit sydneydancecompany.com 

National Touring Dates:

Albany: 28 June
Bunbury: 2 July
Geraldton: 5 July
Cairns: 11-12 July
Mackay: 16 July
Rockhampton: 19 July
Townsville: 23 July
Gold Coast: 26 July
Port Macquarie: 31 July & 1 August
Dubbo: 6 August
Bathurst: 8 August
Orange: 9 August

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