Rafael Bonachela: Purposely Creating Awkward Encounters


4 April 2018

ab [intra] is Rafael Bonachela’s first full scale work since the critically acclaimed 2 One Another and Project Rameau in 2012 and makes its world debut in Sydney this May before touring nationally. We spoke with Rafael about ab [intra] and his creative process.


“ab [intra], meaning from within in Latin will be a large scale work – when it’s finished it will be just over one hour.

The whole process started last year, I had a few days in the studio with the dancers to think ahead and do what we call ‘R&D’ (Research & Development) to think about what our next work together could be.

I proposed to start with a series of improvisations, experimenting is always an important part of the process. I asked the dancers to be in the moment with each other, to feel and listen to each other, to use their instinct, their impulses and visceral responses. And let me tell you it was pretty crazy at times, but very interesting!

After each improvisation each dancer anonymously wrote down any thoughts, feelings, ideas, & sensations they had experienced while they were improvising. The dancers wrote things like: don’t indulge / purposely creating awkward encounters / power play / small shifts / survival in the natural world / lost in my head, lost in space, lost in time, lost in place / layers of life / soft existence / collisions occur / in a world so alone / existing together but not touching / sex addicted / we are all just animals / stomping around your body / running free.

These initial responses from the dancers became the seeds, the inspiration and the drivers for the creation of ab[intra]. The thoughts, feelings, ideas & sensations felt by the dancers became our universe to explore, in some ways our script.

We used this same method to create solos, duets, trios and all sort of different groupings. The language, the mood and the feel of the movement that became the choreography originated from a very personal and unique place.

I found the instruction ‘purposely creating awkward encounters’ an interesting one, for me brought an interesting dimension to creating movement.

Music is a very important component of any piece I create, for ab [intra] I wanted to bring two of the musical styles that I love together in the same work: contemporary classical with powerful strings, and intricate electronic composition. Two compositions come together to form this synergy in ab [intra].

Latvian composer Peteris Vasks’ Presence, a cello concerto with full symphony, is big music – full of strength, purity and serenity.

My long time collaborator composer Nick Wales has created a brand new score to sit with the Vasks, creating the perfect meeting of classic and contemporary sound.

I am excited to be collaborating again with the design team that brought Ocho to the stage with meDavid Fleischer set and costume design, and Damien Cooper lighting design. Their sensitivity to choreography and creativity will again produce an awe-inspiring  production.

The dancers are always my faithful collaborators.

They give themselves personally and intimately, they bring their own experiences to the studio and the trust we have as an ensemble delivers its own authenticity and openness.

ab [intra] will be a response to all of those thoughts, feelings and ideas. Exploring the depths and extremes of human impulse. What drives our relationships and ignites our ambitions.”

View the rehearsal gallery on Facebook.

Read Dance Informa’s interview with Rafael Bonachela and his advice for up and coming choreographers.

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