Rafael Bonachela was born in Barcelona where he began his early dance training before moving to London, and in 1992 joined the legendary Rambert Dance Company.
He remained with Rambert as a dancer and Associate Choreographer until 2006 at which time he successfully set up the Bonachela Dance Company (BDC) to concentrate on the rapid rise of his choreographic career.
As a choreographer, Rafael has been commissioned to make works for Candoco, George Piper Dances, ITDANSA Danza Contemporanea de Cuba, Transitions Dance Company and Dance Works Rotterdam amongst others.
In 2008, he premiered his first full-length production 360° for Sydney Dance Company. Less than six months later, he was appointed Artistic Director making headlines around the dance world.
Rafael’s vision for the Company embraces a guiding principle that has seen the repertoire grow with the addition of commissioned dance works from Australian and visiting international guest choreographers.
These premiere works are often programmed alongside his own creations, ensuring diversity for audiences and providing much sought-after opportunities for his remarkable ensemble of dancers to be exposed to the work of some of the most in-demand choreographers of our time.
Over the past seven years, Rafael has created numerous dance works for Sydney Dance Company including we unfold (2009), 6 Breaths (2010), LANDforms (2011), 2 One Another (2012), Project Rameau (2012), Emergence (2013), Simple Symphony (2013) Les Illuminations (2013), 2 in D Minor (2014), Scattered Rhymes (2014), Frame of Mind (2015) and Variation 10 (2015).
In addition, he has remounted outstanding repertoire from BDC such as Soledad and Irony of Fate (2010) and The Land of Yes & The Land of No (2011).
Rafael’s achievements in dance have been widely recognised both within the industry and in the broader community.
In 2012 he was listed as one of Sydney Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People for his efforts to popularise dance since taking on the job of Artistic Director with Sydney Dance Company and as curator of Australia’s international festival of contemporary dance, Spring Dance at the Sydney Opera House.
In 2013 he was honored with an Officer’s Cross of the Order of Civil Merit by His Majesty the King of Spain and was named winner of the dance category for The Monthly’s 2013 Arts Awards.
Rafael’s 2012 work, 2 One Another has won numerous awards including ‘Best Ensemble’ (Green Room Awards 2012), ‘Outstanding Achievement in Choreography’ (Australian Dance Awards 2013), and ‘Outstanding Performance by a Company’ (Australian Dance Awards 2013).
The 2015 production, Frame of Mind was the winner of all four categories of the 2015 Helpmann Awards including ‘Best Choreography’, ‘Best Dance Work’, ‘Best Male Dancer’ and ‘Best Female Dancer’
Rafael’s internationally recognised talent has seen him work not only with contemporary dance at the highest level but also with artists from popular culture. He embraces the opportunity to collaborate on both dance and cross art-form projects, a philosophy which has seen him work with company’s artists including singers Kylie Minogue, Tina Turner, Sarah Blasko and Katie Noonan; fashion designers Dion Lee and Toni Maticevski; visual artists Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla (for Revolving Door, 13 Rooms, Kaldor Project, 2013); and artist Mira Calix (Inside There Falls, Sydney Festival, 2015).
With Sydney Dance Company he has also collaborated with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Queensland Symphony Orchestra.
In 2016 he premiered Lux Tenebris for Sydney Dance Company’s CounterMove Sydney, also touring to Canberra, Melbourne, NSW, QLD, NT and WA, as well as the premiere of Anima for Untamed in October of the same year.
In January 2017, Rafael created Nude Live, a collaboration with the Art Gallery of NSW for Sydney Festival which was declared a highlight of the festival by Sydney Morning Herald.
Rafael’s critically acclaimed work, Ocho was created in April 2017 as part of the double-bill Orb, alongside Taiwanese choreographer, Cheng Tsung-lung’s work, Full Moon.
ab [intra] was Rafael’s first full-length work since the epic masterpiece 2 One Another in 2012. ab [intra] had its world premiere at the Roslyn Packer Theatre in Sydney in May 2018.
In October 2018, Rafael Bonachela’s award-winning Frame of Mind will be brought back to life as part of a double bill alongside Antony Hamilton’s brand-new work Forever & Ever.
2019 is Rafael’s 11-year anniversary as Artistic Director of Sydney Dance Company.