When we say that Season One: Bonachela / Forsythe is made up of groundbreaking performances and Australian debuts, we mean it. There’s a world premiere score by Grammy award-winning composer Bryce Dessner, on-stage performances by the Australian String Quartet, and three works performed in front of an Australian audience for the first time.
Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela discusses the importance of each work that features in the upcoming season.
Click below to book your tickets now to see Impermanence, part of Season One: Bonachela / Forsythe, for a chance to win a mixed case of Cassegrain wine and a $200 Westfield voucher.
Q. This isn’t your first time working with Bryce Dessner and the Australian String Quartet. Why did you want to create a new work with them?
In 2015 I choreographed Frame of Mind using existing music by Bryce Dessner. I absolutely loved creating it, and the result was a very powerful work which audiences and critics all enjoyed. Bryce saw the work and loved it. When he came to the studio and met with me and the dancers, we knew there was more we could do together. It was at that moment that we decided to work together again and I commissioned Impermanence. It’s always very special when the concept for the music and the dance are one and the same. I also love working with live music and the Australian String Quartet were the perfect match for this collaboration after the success of Frame of Mind in 2018 when they performed Bryce’s music live. They have co-commissioned the score with us. It’s really a dream come true to bring all three elements together.
Australian String Quartet rehearsing ‘Impermanence’. Photo by Sam Jozeps.
Q. What are some of the inspirations behind Impermanence?
The title of the work reflects on the ephemeral nature of life. The idea of Impermanence came about in conversation with Bryce in July last year. We met in Paris, where he lives, shortly after Notre Dame had been burned down. Bryce was telling me how he had been thinking about how easily things fall apart, even structures we imagine to be eternal (like Notre Dame) but also the fragility and impermanence of human life, the planet and human relationships. There’s something both so beautiful and so devastating about that and we decided that we wanted to explore this concept in music and choreography.
If we then fast forward to November 2019, Bryce was deep in the process of writing the music and the bush fires in Australia really started. Images were beamed across the world, and Bryce was deeply affected by what he was seeing on TV. The images of the Australian bush on fire really entered the work and his thinking. He was profoundly moved; he had been here, he had met the dancers and there was a real personal connection for him.
In regard to the choreography, the philosophical concept of change made me think on the ephemeral, the fleeting, things that exist only in a moment and then are transformed. For me personally, the awareness of the impermanence of everything makes me feel that we must use every moment – that every moment counts – and that the transitory nature of life inspires a need for energy, urgency and radiance.
Q. How has this influenced the movement within the piece. What can audience expect to see?
I love the music that Bryce has created and the score itself has been a big inspiration on the movement. It’s full of emotional power; there is an intensity and physicality in the score that I really connected with and responded to. The journey through the score is epic – driven – raw – poignant – beautiful – mournful – radiant. I am breathless thinking about it!
Bryce is an incredible composer and there is also an intricacy, complexity and virtuosity in the writing of the score that I love; the patterns are constantly shifting and this really reflects how I like to work. There are layers and layers beyond the original concept and I worked with the dancers to interrogate the emotion behind that concept – we workshopped feelings of panic and alarm, the rush of adrenaline, the juxtaposition between force and inertia. I am a choreographer obsessed with craft and this score is the perfect counterpoint to the movement we have created.
Q. Your award-winning work E2 7SD is also being performed in Bonachela / Forsythe. For anyone that isn’t aware, can you tell us what makes it unique?
This will be the Australian premiere of E2 7SD, a duet that I created almost 16 years ago and has been performed by several companies in Europe. Its title is drawn from the East London postcode where I lived when I made the work. The original cast and composer also lived in the same post code: we were all very close! The score is derived from recordings the two original dancers made of their daily lives in East London over the course of a month.
Duets have always been a big part of my choreographic interest. I am constantly intrigued by the interplay between two bodies. E2 7SD is a fast paced, action packed duet. It’s high-energy, intense and the dancers are intricately connected.
E2 7SD won the inaugural Place Prize for choreography in London, the Audience Vote Award and the New York Bloomberg Choice Award. This work is incredibly important in my repertoire and represents a huge step towards me being where I am today. I used the prize money to start my own company in London, Bonachela Dance Company, and strike out on my own as a full time choreographer… the rest as they say is history! It’s so exciting to be bringing it to audiences in Australia.
Q. How does it feel to be bringing Forsythe’s N.N.N.N. to Australia for the first time?
If there is a living choreographer that I believe has and keeps on shaping dance as we know it, it’s William Forsythe. He is ‘the god-father’ of contemporary dance and is recognised as one of the world’s foremost choreographers.
Forsythe’s N.N.N.N. is a work for four dancers which demonstrates his innovative approach to dance making. Our journey to performing this work began in 2015 after Sydney Dance Company was the first in Australia, and one of only a handful across the world, to be granted rights to perform Forsythe’s seminal work, Quintett. That was an incredible experience for the dancers and our audience. Since then, the trust that Forsythe has in us has continued to grow and I am delighted that our relationship with this extraordinary choreographer continues.
N.N.N.N. was created in 2002, nearly a decade after Quintett, and the evolution of Forsythe as a choreographer over that time is evident. It embodies an artist who is enjoying his craft and who has mastery over movement – he has nothing to prove to anyone! Purist dance lovers will be in their element and it also has huge appeal to those with less dance experience. It’s a very striking work!
Book your tickets now to see Season One: Bonachela / Forsythe from 21 March — 4 April in Sydney and 12 — 16 May in Melbourne.