“Sydney Dance Company performances pretty well encompass everything – they’re dramatic, beautiful, exhilarating, thoughtful, thought-provoking, wild and there’s always really good music. I can’t really imagine not subscribing to Sydney Dance Company – it’s an essential part of my life.”
From Rafael Bonachela’s debut as the Artistic Director in 2008, Leta Keens has been a long-time subscriber to Sydney Dance Company performances. In January, we sat down to find out what she treasures most about being a subscriber and her experience performing on stage with us in 2019 as part of our 50th Anniversary celebrations.
I attended Sydney Dance Company a couple of times, years and years ago, and then revisited a performance out of curiosity when Rafael premiered 360° for the Company in 2008. I had read a bit about him and was keen to see his work. I was partly interested because I knew he’d been at Rambert Dance Company and one of my mum’s cousins had performed with that Company. When I was a kid our family used to go and see her perform, which was always incredibly exciting. 360° was absolutely thrilling, and I’ve been attending Sydney Dance Company performances ever since.
I’m pretty sure I would have gone to 360° on my own – I almost always do, which probably sounds a bit anti-social. My friends are just the best, but I love being in the darkened theatre surrounded by people I don’t know, getting lost in the performance, and staying in that world even as I walk home. I’m always so mesmerised by everything Sydney Dance Company does that I’m not even sure I could talk to anyone about it straight away even if I wanted to – my reaction is always so physical and emotional that it’s not easy to put into words.
I have to say I’m the world’s worst dancer – and that’s definitely not false modesty. When an email came through wanting audience members to take part in Gideon Obarzenek’s Us 50, I signed up immediately. I like to challenge myself every now and then, and this seemed like the ultimate challenge. I was fine until another email came through the week of the performance saying to wear comfortable clothes, i.e. pants. I don’t own any, so I wore pyjama bottoms.
As I was walking down to the theatre around peak hour, I was ringing friends, saying, ‘I’m walking through the city in my pyjamas’. It just seemed to go with the whole madness of getting up on stage doing the thing I’m least capable of. Every Sydney Dance Company performance is fabulous, but this was incredible. It was so brilliantly done; everyone in the Company was so lovely and supportive, and the whole experience gave me even more admiration for the professional dancers. A friend of mine got a little group together to come that night which made it even more special. One aspect of Us 50 that I found very moving, was that it acknowledged the importance of the audience – it was just right for Sydney Dance Company, as I’ve always felt they really care about the audience.
I go to a whole load of performances, from gigs in pubs to theatre and orchestras, and when I think about it, Sydney Dance Company performances pretty well encompass everything: they’re dramatic, beautiful, exhilarating, thoughtful, thought-provoking, wild and there’s always really good music. I can’t really imagine not subscribing to Sydney Dance Company. It’s an essential part of my life.
Yes, I would! Sydney is a better place for having the Sydney Dance Company.