18 — 29 October 2016


Sydney Dance Company’s Untamed is a match made in heaven, on earth, and somewhere in between. A Sydney exclusive double bill of vivid colour and wild physicality featuring the world premiere of Anima by Rafael Bonachela and Australian choreographic prodigy Gabrielle Nankivell’s smash hit Wildebeest.

Bonachela’s Anima, latin for breath, spirit and soul, will immerse you in a unique visual world by collaborator Clemens Habicht (known for his film clips for Flume, Bloc Party, Tame Impala). Set to an alluring and vibrant concerto for cello and strings by Bulgarian Grammy nominee Dobrinka Tabakova.

Nankivell’s eloquent creation, Wildebeest, returns to the stage after it’s sell-out premiere season in 2014. Showcasing the power of dancers as individuals and strength en masse. Moody and animalistic, it’s backed by a stormy and industrial score by Luke Smiles.

Listen to the Untamed Podcast Series on iTunes.

Follow #UntamedSDC @SydneyDanceCo on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Dates and Times

18 – 29 Oct 2016
Roslyn Packer Theatre Walsh Bay, Sydney

Tuesday 18 October, 6:30pm (Preview)
Wednesday 19 October, 8pm (Opening Night)
Thursday 20 October, 8pm
Friday 21 October, 8pm
Saturday 22 October, 8pm
Tuesday 25 October, 6:30pm
Wednesday 26 October, 8pm
Thursday 27 October, 8pm
Friday 28 October, 8pm
Saturday 29 October, 2pm
Saturday 29 October, 8pm

Wildebeest – 30 mins
Anima – 30 mins


 Gabrielle Nankivell
Costume Designer: Fiona Holley
Sound Designer & Composer: Luke Smiles, motion laboratories
Lighting Designer: Benjamin Cisterne

 Rafael Bonachela
Visual Designer: Clemens Habicht
Composer: Dobrinka Tabakova
Costume Designer: Aleisa Jelbart
Lighting Designer: Benjamin Cisterne

Cheat Sheet

Who are the choreographers?

Gabrielle Nankivell

“Wildebeest is built with the dancers and their own curiosities and interests taken into account. It is absolutely epic. It has moments where it is tiny and personal and delicate and moments that are massive, an onslaught.”

Originally from Adelaide, Gabrielle Nankivell is one of the most in demand choreographers in Australia due to honing her dance career in Europe. Informed by a somewhat nomadic existence, her work creates a world where instinct and knowledge meet. Gabrielle carries several notebooks with her at all times, all serving different purposes – organizing, recording the mechanics or her chorography and one for random stuff she sees or thinks of. Like many of Gabrielle’s pieces Wildebeest began with writing exercises with the dancers, “we generated a lot of weird imaginative stories to create really complicated material… mostly I talk in images or words that express mood.”

Gabrielle created Wildebeest back in 2014 for the debut season of New Breed she has remounted it with almost a whole new cast for Untamed.

Fun Fact: Gabrielle dyes her hair with beetroot to make it red and is inspired by film directors Michel Gondry, Wes Anderson and Pedro Amodovar.

Rafael Bonachela

“The spirit is as intrinsic to our being as our intellect and form. But how do you capture the sense of the spirit, the unconscious drives, the unspoken thoughts and the unnoticed actions that inform and drive the outward persona?”

Rafael Bonachela is originally from Barcelona and has been the Artistic Director for Sydney Dance Company since 2009. His internationally recognised talent has seen him work not only with contemporary dance at the highest level but also with artists from popular culture, such as Kylie Minogue, Tina Turner, Sarah Blasko and Katie Noonan as well as leading fashion designers Dion Lee and Toni Maticevski.

Untamed marks the world premiere of Rafael’s Anima – Latin for breath, vital force, soul and spirit. Its anagram is Mania, the goddess of the spirit world and the dead. Exploring the boundary between form and spirit, the movement is expressed through flight and flying and shows the absolute extremes the dancers bodies can go to.

Fun Fact: Rafael use to sing in a church choir when he was young in Barcelona, now rides a Vespa in Sydney and loves going to the Kings Cross market on Saturday’s.

Who are the composers?

Luke Smiles

The introduction of a Commodore 64 computer into the family home in the early 1980ʼs began Luke’s fascination with computers and sound.  Self taught and with a keen interest in how things work, Luke has developed a unique rapport among choreographers & directors in the development of soundtracks for dance, theatre & film. His latest film soundtrack is for Girl Asleep.

Luke has collaborated with Gabrielle for a decade across a range of projects allowing them to build a highly intuitive working partnership. His soundtrack to Wildebeest is stormy, industrial and intricately incorporates musical composition, field recordings, sound effects, foley and sound design.

Dobrinka Tabakova

Dobrinka Tabakova was born in the historic town of Plovdiv, Bulgaria and for the past 25 years has lived in London. This is her first collaboration with Rafael and they met in Germany earlier this year to discuss the project. Her two pieces featured in Anima are Insight for string trio (2002) and Concerto for cello and strings. Both project a sense of longing, of breathlessness and of revelation, this appealed to Rafael as he could feel the vital force within the strings and wanted to capture it, to physicalize it.

What do the pieces look like?


Dark and moody, there is no set, only a black space that the dancers emerge from en masse with intermittent pulsating lights. Clothed in neutral earth toned costumes, as with an animal herd or components of a machine, each dancer is an individual and yet they are one group. So when the dancers appear and disappear in low light and mist they create the sense of a glint or reflection that small parts or a mass is present and emphasise the rhythmic intricacy of the movement.


For Anima, Rafael collaborated with Clemens Habicht who is best known for directing film clips for Flume, Bloc Party, The Presets and Tame Impala. A pure white set reflects the radiance of a coloured world made with lights as well as a projected film created using 3D scanners to capture the dance. This film will provide a different angle of the same movement the dancers are performing live, providing a different perspective for the audience. To enhance the colours of the projection, the dancers perform in street wear style costumes in a white to grey gradient.

Fun Fact: There are three dance floors laid down on top of each other for Untamed, two black and one white.

WATCH highlights from Anima.

Media & Audience

“★★★★ Every time you might think the Sydney Dance Company performers have reached their peak, they push their abilities up another notch”Sydney Morning Herald

★★★★death-defying lifts… magnificently vibrant… the sensuality of his work, especially in that masterly duet, lingers in the memory long after the lights come up.” – Limelight Magazine

★★★★  Untamed leads with a mesmerising journey through forms of animals, humans and mechanised tribes, and closes in a whirlpool of flying dance…. It’s a never-pausing torrent of swirling partners and flying bodies, arms and legs thrust skywards to the limit.” Daily Review

“★★★★ Extraordinary… Powerful… Bonachela’s group sections give me a shiver of excitement.” – DanceTabs

“★★★★  Extreme choreography with fearless ferocity”Time Out Sydney

“The Australian ‘Nankivell sees beauty and wonder in the primitive, animalistic self, even with danger as a constant companion. Every molecule of the body is vibrantly alert, a state brilliantly captured by Bernhard Knauer at the beginning of Wildebeest and Janessa Dufty at the end” – The Australian

“The standing ovation was testament to the dancer’s skill and beauty of movement and its power to move, entrance and transport the viewer to something less ordinary.” – Daily Telegraph

“The dancers move their incredible bodies in such a way that one forgets they are human.”The Plus Ones

“This magnificent double bill will leave you breathless and stunned with awe at the superb performances.” – Sydney Arts Guide

“Sydney Dance Company never fail to amaze me with their talent and the choreography of Rafael Bonachela and Gabrielle Nankivell was breathtaking.” – @amyroseliving

“Anyone lucky enough to be absorbed by this performance will never forget this tour de force!” Michael Mangold (audience)

“Absolutely transfixing. There was such fluidity and vitality in every movement. Such athleticism by the dancers – a must see!!!!!” – Katherine Kapetanellis (audience)