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