Danc­ing in the dust

Tak­ing Syd­ney Dance Com­pany to the red heart of Aus­tralia is a spe­cial pril­grim­age for artis­tic di­rec­tor Rafael Bonachela

The Australian - Wish Magazine - - Arts -

A young girl stands be­fore Rafael Bonachela and con­fesses she’s never be­fore seen a con­tem­po­rary dance per­for­mance. Watch­ing Syd­ney Dance Com­pany per­form live in Wagga Wagga, NSW, has been a life-chang­ing mo­ment. It’s one that quick­ens the heart of the com­pany’s artis­tic di­rec­tor. Bonachela grew up in a small town out­side Barcelona, where he never saw any pro­fes­sional dance ei­ther, even though he was mak­ing up his own dances from an early age.

The old­est of four boys, he was meant to set an ex­am­ple. “My fa­ther was hard­core,” Bonachela re­calls. “He made me get up at 5.30 in the morn­ing and go and pick pota­toes with him. He wanted me to know what hard work was all about. We also used to go hunt­ing.” The young Bonachela was so un­schooled in dance he didn’t even know move­ments had names un­til he fi­nally be­gan dance lessons at 15.

Lit­tle won­der, then, that to­day he has such a pas­sion for ed­u­ca­tion and re­gional tour­ing. He is just as ex­cited to take his com­pany this month to cen­tral Aus­tralia, which sees so lit­tle dance, as to tour North and South Amer­ica and Rus­sia at the end of this year.

Af­ter steer­ing the on­cetrou­bled com­pany back into the black, Bonachela is rid­ing high af­ter re­ceiv­ing Spain’s Cross of the Or­der of Civil Merit just as his new triple bill, DeNovo, re­ceives a rap­tur­ous re­cep­tion.

On the day WISH vis­its the com­pany stu­dios, young girls are run­ning around in leo­tards at­tend­ing work­shops. The day be­fore, a high school group had seen DeNovo, and Face­book is buzzing with thrilled com­ments.

Hav­ing dou­bled au­di­ences by per­suad­ing peo­ple not to be scared of con­tem­po­rary dance, Bonachela is de­ter­mined to get the mes­sage out to the younger gen­er­a­tion. “We have to give them a chance to dis­cuss it —and dis­like it!” he says. He is hope­ful that ef­forts to get dance into the national cur­ricu­lum will bear fruit in a cou­ple of years “And that will re­ally change the fu­ture in Aus­tralia,” he says. SDC per­forms 2OneAnother in Ade­laide, May 8-11, Alice Springs, May 15, Dar­win, May 18.

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