Season One: Bonachela / Nankivell / Lane

26 March - 17 Aug
Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne,
National Tour




Sydney Dance Company’s 50th Anniversary bursts into life with a formidable triple bill from Rafael Bonachela, Gabrielle Nankivell and Melanie Lane, each having carved their own unique style, pushing at the possibilities of movement.

In a season premiering in Sydney before touring nationally, audiences will see three thrilling works share the one stage for the first time.

In the world premiere of Cinco, Rafael Bonachela melds five virtuosic dancers, the award-winning lighting of Damien Cooper and the imagination and skill of fashion designer Bianca Spender with celebrated Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera’s achingly magnificent String Quartet #2.

Gabrielle Nankivell’s Neon Aether, also a premiere, transports both dancer and viewer to a vivid yet ethereal world beyond the clouds. While Melanie Lane’s 2017 New Breed smash-hit WOOF, mashes classical, romantic and pop, driven by a dramatic musical score by acclaimed British electronic artist Clark.

Sydney Dance Company invites you to help celebrate its 50th year through these three extraordinary works that will take you on one unforgettable journey.

★★★★ Well worth seeing… Extraordinary… powerful… memorable”Sydney Morning Herald (WOOF in 2017)

WOOF generates variations of collective actions performed by a group. In an imagined future, stealing from renaissance imagery, pop culture and science fiction, a re-invention of community takes place.” – Melanie Lane

Duration: Approx. 1 hour 37 mins including interval
Content warning: Strobe lighting, theatrical smoke and haze

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26 March – 13 April
Roslyn Packer Theatre Walsh Bay, Sydney

Book in a subscription to save 15%*
Chair’s Evening Subscriptions from $120*

Preview performance (Tues 26 March): All tickets $45*
Single standard tickets: $45 – $98*
Under 30’s (Wed, Thurs, Sat 2pm): $35*
Under 20’s (Wed, Thurs, Sat 2pm): $25*
Company Class Viewing (Sat 6 April): $10*
Group bookings: Receive $10 off tickets for groups 10+. The organiser receives their ticket for free. Bookings via the phone only: 02 9221 4811.


Tue 26 March, 7.30pm (Preview)
Wed 27 March, 7.30pm (Opening Night)
Thu 28 March, 7.30pm
Fri 29 March, 7.30pm
Sat 30 March, 7.30pm
Tue 2 April, 12pm (Schools Matinee)
Wed 3 April, 6.30pm
Thu 4 April, 7.30pm
Fri 5 April, 7.30pm
Sat 6 April, 2pm (Matinee)
Sat 6 April, 7.30pm
Tue 9 April, 11am (Schools Matinee)
Wed 10 April, 6.30pm
Thu 11 April, 7.30pm
Fri 12 April, 7.30pm
Sat 13 April, 7.30pm


2 – 4 May
Canberra Theatre Centre


8 – 11 May
Arts Centre Melbourne


16 May – 17 Aug
National Tour

16 May: Warragul
18 May: Frankston
22 May: Bendigo
25 May: Mildura

27 July: Darwin
31 July: Alice Springs

3 Aug: Whyalla
8 – 10 Aug: Adelaide

15 -17 Aug: Hobart

* Transaction fee of up to $8 may apply. Counter Sales for Sydney & Melbourne are available from 9 – 12:30pm each weekday at our studios, 385 Wattle Street, Ultimo NSW 2007.

Duration: Approx. 1 hour 37 mins including interval
Content warning: Strobe lighting, theatrical smoke and haze


Choreography: Rafael Bonachela
Music: Alberto Ginastera, String Quartet #2
Costume: Bianca Spender
Lighting Design: Damien Cooper

Neon Aether
Choreography: Gabrielle Nankivell
Music: Commissioned composition by Luke Smiles, motion laboratories
Costume Design: Harriet Oxley
Lighting Design: Damien Cooper

Choreography: Melanie Lane
Music: Clark, commissioned composition
Costume Design: Aleisa Jelbart
Lighting Design: Verity Hampson

FREE Artist Talk

We invite you to step behind-the-scenes for an insightful sneak peek of Season One: Bonachela / Nankivell / Lane on Wednesday 20 March, 6:30pm at Roslyn Packer Theatre Walsh Bay. Hosted by Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela, you’ll see excerpts of the performance and hear from some of our creatives, including Sydney Dance Company dancers.

Wed, 20 March
6.30 – 7.30pm
Roslyn Packer Theatre Walsh Bay, Sydney

If you would like to attend this FREE event, please register below.

Register Now

Company Class Viewing

Join us for an exclusive sneak peek into the life of a professional dancer. This is a unique opportunity to witness a behind the scenes class, which the Company take on stage, before their performance of Bonachela / Nankivell / Lane.

Sat, 6 April 
12pm – 1pm,
Tickets: $10

Roslyn Packer Theatre Walsh Bay, Sydney

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3. Behind The Scenes Experiences – Go behind the curtain with our 2019 artists and Company dancers. Find out fun facts and what life is like as a dancer.

4. Flexibility – Unlimited free ticket exchanges.

5. Exclusive Offers – Subscribe to the full year by 1 Dec 2018 with the code SDC2019 to go in the draw to WIN A Hobart Art Weekend! Plus receive a range of arts and dining offers (T&Cs online). See full list of benefits below.

Subscriber Benefits

All 2019 Subscribers will be posted a subscription card that entitles them to the following benefits valid from 1 January until 31 December 2019. All promo codes and links required will be supplied with subscription cards and via email.

  • Unlimited FREE ticket exchanges with Sydney Dance Company ($6.50 fee waived)
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  • Sydney Dance Company Dance Classes: 3 complimentary classes available for each subscriber. To redeem present your card at Studio Reception for the classes to be loaded onto your card. View Class Timetable here.
  • Art Gallery of NSW: Receive tickets at concession price for the exhibitions Masters of modern art from the Hermitage (Until 3 Mar 2019) and The essential Duchamp (27 Apr – 11 Aug 2019) at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Simply display your Sydney Dance Company subscriber card at the Gallery’s ticketing and information desk on arrival to receive the discount.
  • Australian Chamber Orchestra: Receive 10% off full price adult tickets for the ACO’s 2019 mainstage performances nationwide. Redeem using the promo code provided with your subscription card.
  • Dendy Cinemas: Receive 20% off Adult tickets at Dendy Newtown and Dendy Opera Quays upon presentation of a valid Sydney Dance Company subscriber card. This offer is not valid on Saturdays after 5pm, public holidays, Dendy Arts, Dendy Lounge, Festivals, special events and premieres. Not valid in conjunction with any other offer. Only available when purchasing tickets in person at the Dendy Box Office.
  • Ensemble Theatre: Receive 10% discount on full priced single tickets to Ensemble Theatre plays in 2019. Book via phone to access this special offer. T: 02 9929 0644 – Quote the code provided with your subscription card.
  • Griffin Theatre: Enjoy concession priced tickets to Griffin Theatre Company productions in 2019. Redeem by using the promo code provided with your subscription card online, via (02) 9361 3817, or at the box office. Offer excludes ATYP @ Griffin events.
  • Hicksons Izakaya: Enjoy an intimate preshow dinner on the wharf with exceptional Japanese cuisine and fantastic views of Walsh Bay at Hicksons Izakaya and 15% discount year round. Offer valid for food only, alcohol excluded, membership cards must be presented. Bookings essential.
  • Opera Australia: Receive an 8% discount* on single tickets to Opera Australia’s 2019 performances in the Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House, Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour and the State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne. Quote the promo code provided with your subscription card when booking directly with Opera Australia. Phone (02) 9318 8200 (Sydney) or (03) 9685 3700 (Melbourne), or visit and enter the promo code before selecting your performance and seats.*Valid until 7 December 2019. Limit of 4 tickets per production per customer. Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer. Excludes performances of West Side Story at the Sydney Opera House and Arts Centre Melbourne, Evita and events on New Year’s Eve.
  • Pinchgut Opera: Receive 10% off tickets to Pinchgut Opera’s Concert Series in 2019. Pinchgut Opera present Bach & Telemann in Sydney and Melbourne, an evening of uplifting elegance and grace, and a special one-night only concert in Sydney featuring shining countertenor Valer Sabadus. Use promo code provided with your subscription card when booking tickets to unlock this special offer through this link.
  • Sydney Festival: Enjoy 20% off full price A Reserve or General Admission tickets to Dust and One Infinity. Use promo code provided with your subscription card for use on Sydney Festival bookings only via The offer will be valid from 3 December 2018 – 28 December 2018 unless ticket allocations are exhausted earlier.
  • Sydney Symphony Orchestra: Receive a 10% discount (A, B & C reserves) on all Sydney Symphony 2019 Subscription Season concerts, available from 19 November 2018. Quote promotion code provided with your subscription card when you book online or call (02) 8215 4600. Visit for performance details.(Terms and conditions apply: Cannot be used in conjunction with Special Events, special offers, concessions, subscription packages or Sydney Symphony Presents performances. Booking fee may apply. Valid via the Sydney Symphony Box Office only.)
  • Sydney Theatre Company: $10 off Adult A-reserve tickets to 2019 main season plays presented the Drama Theatre and Roslyn Packer Theatre. This offer is subject to availability with a maximum purchase of two tickets per member, per production, and excludes Saturday evening performances. The valid productions in 2019 main season are Mary Stuart, How to Rule the World, Mosquitoes, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Torrents, Lord of the Files, Avalanche: A Love Story, The Real Thing, Cosi, The Beauty Queen of Leenane. Ticket on sale dates are available on the individual play pages at This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any special offer or concession and is not valid for Season Tickets.
  • Ventuno: Enjoy an intimate preshow dinner on the wharf with exceptional Italian cuisine and fantastic views of Walsh Bay at Ventuno. Receive 10% off your meal on presentation of your 2019 Subscriber card.

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Book your tickets to Season One with the code EARLYBIRD for your chance to win three incredible prizes.

Purchase tickets to Sydney by 15 March or to Canberra and Melbourne by 18 April to go into the draw to win (T&Cs apply):

  • Upgrade to Two Premium Opening Night tickets to Season One Bonachela / Nankivell / Lane in Sydney, Melbourne or Canberra with access to the VIP post-show party and a $100 dinner voucher
  • Merchandise pack (Sydney Dance Company tote bag and tee)
  • A Bonachela / Nankivell / Lane limited edition poster signed by our Company dancers

5 reasons why you can’t miss our 50th Anniversary Triple Bill

  1. DON’T GET FOMO: It’s our birthday and we want to celebrate with you – the audience!
  2. THREE FOR ONE: Enjoy three works for the price of one. Escape to three different worlds and be entertained for 97 mins.
  3. CULTURE FIX: Date night or friends catch up sorted. Enjoy a meal on the harbour at sunset before an evening performance!
  4. I SAW IT FIRST: Be the first to see two brand new works that have never been performed before.
  5. FASHION FORWARD: Collaborations are with renowned artists, like Australian fashion icon Bianca Spender and UK electronic musician Clark.



Despite being one of the youngest art forms, contemporary dance is perhaps the most primal and physical. It is open to your own personal interpretation – you can view it in the same way you experience art and ask yourself how it makes you feel. Read our ‘Collaborators Guide To Contemporary Dance’ here.

Bonachela / Nankivell / Lane is approximately 97 minutes and includes a 20 minute interval.


  1. WHAT IS Bonachela / Nankivell / Lane?

The title of this season is actually a combination of the three chorographer’s surnames – Rafael Bonachela, Gabrielle Nankivell and Melanie Lane. Together they create a formidable triple bill celebrating Sydney Dance Company’s 50th Anniversary year.

Bonachela’s new work features five dancers who perform to all five movements of a string quartet composed in the 1950s. It’s only fitting that the work be called Cinco, meaning five in Spanish.

Nankivell’s Neon Aether explores the sky, the imagination and the unknown. Referencing science fiction, the solar system and interstellar clouds, Neon Aether takes the audience on a journey through six episodes of the body ascending in space.

Completing the triple bill is Lane’s WOOF, which first premiered in New Breed 2017. WOOF imagines a post-human future where a re-invention of community takes place. It takes inspiration from classical dance, Renaissance art and pop culture and is accompanied by a bold musical score from UK electronic producer Clark.

WATCH: A preview of Melanie Lane’s WOOF.

READ: A Q&A with choreographer Gabrielle Nankivell




Rafael Bonachela, Cinco

“The impulse to feel, experience and understand a dance work in the theatre should be an individual one… when all explanations have been exhausted… the only thing left is to feel.”

Rafael Bonachela is originally from Barcelona. This year marks his 10th year as Artistic Director and resident choreographer at Sydney Dance Company. Since 2009, he has created 14 works for the Company’s repertoire. Read more.

Fun Fact: Rafael Bonachela’s work Cinco means ‘five’ in Spanish. In the Catalan dialect, it’s pronounced think-o.


Gabrielle Nankivell, Neon Aether

Neon Aether started out as the air before me into which I stretched my fingers, searching for a way to articulate things I felt but could not describe.”

Gabrielle Nankivell is an Australian performer and director with formative ties to Europe. Gabrielle’s work has been widely presented across Australia, Europe and Asia. She previously choreographed Wildebeest for Sydney Dance Company, which was nominated for a 2017 Helpmann Award for Best Choreography. Read more.

WATCH: Gabrielle create Neon Aether in the studio.

Fun Fact: For one section of Neon Aether, Gabrielle asked the dancers to think of themselves as rotating planets around each other. This is reminiscent of an orrery – a clockwork model of the solar system.


Melanie Lane, WOOF

“I hope WOOF evokes a multitude of experiences for the audience… Mostly, I think there is a definite sense of transformation, how being human can be messy, outrageous and beautiful.”

Melanie is a choreographer and performer based in Melbourne. As a choreographer, Melanie has established a repertory of independent works performing in international festivals and theatres including the Sydney Opera House. In 2018, Melanie won the Keir Choreographic Award for her work Personal Effigies. Read more.

WATCH: Melanie create WOOF in the studio.

Fun fact: Melanie frequently collaborates with UK electronic musician (and her husband) Chris Clark, to choreograph his live shows. He has also scored four of her contemporary dance works.



Clark, WOOF

“The composition for WOOF draws from both classical and electronic textures, a musical triptych that begins with a dissonant acoustic cello piece that deconstructs and morphs seamlessly into a seductive digital realm.”

Chris Clark has worked with music and sound for 16 years. Signed at an early age to the British indie label Warp Records, he has released nine albums as well as a multitude of EPs and singles. His last studio album, the eponymously titled Clark, was rated as Best New Music by Pitchfork.

WATCH: Clark’s live show for his album Death Peak, featuring choreography from Melanie Lane.

LISTEN: Clark picks his favourite tunes on our Spotify playlist.


Luke Smiles, Neon Aether

“My work is strongly influenced by techniques normally aligned with cinema sound and Neon Aether presented a great opportunity for me to draw on these interests.”

Luke creates highly detailed soundtracks for theatre, dance and film. Working under his business name motion laboratories, Luke has composed and produced soundtracks for many Australian and international artists and companies.

Fun fact: Luke found inspiration for the score of Neon Aether from radio airwaves and 1980s science fiction cinema.


Alberto Ginastera, Cinco

“There is a daring sense of nature, unpredictability, freedom of thought and action, and harmony through conflict felt through Alberto Ginastera’s music.” – Rafael Bonachela

Alberto Ginastera was an Argentinian classical music composer, widely considered to be one of the most original 20th century Latin American composers. Over his career, he composed several operas and ballets, concertos, chamber music and eleven film scores.

LISTEN: Alberto Ginastera’s String Quartet No 2 Op.26.




Using the number five for reference, the five dancers are structurally placed on stage using a star or pentagram for reference. The set is minimal, allowing for the fluidity and grace of celebrated Australian fashion designer Bianca Spender’s blue and yellow toned costumes to dominate the palette.

Fun Fact: Bianca Spender also celebrates her 10th Anniversary this year heading her own fashion label.

Neon Aether

The set and costumes for Neon Aether takes cues from science fiction films, deep sea exploration and human vs. machine. The boilersuit inspired costumes incorporate belts, cords, cables and harnesses and its colours represent the horizon and planets in the sky.


WOOF imagines what the future could look like. The atmosphere is moody and mysterious, with subtle colour shifts in lighting and dancers emerging out of the darkness, dressed in nude and earthy tones.

Fun Fact: The costumes for all three works have taken approximately 280 hours to make.



“It’s so exciting to perform Rafael Bonachela’s work and to perform the new creations of guest artists. I definitely feel like it’s a Company where the dancers constantly grow and it’s what excites me about the year.” – Company dancer Luke Hayward

There are 17 full time dancers in Sydney Dance Company including one Trainee. All dancers rehearse five days a week (six when required), commencing with a ballet or contemporary technique class at 9.30am, then rehearsals until 6pm. Rehearsals range from run-throughs of current repertoire to creating new work for upcoming seasons.

Many dancers also undertake additional training of their choice, such as cycling, swimming or cross training. Contemporary dancers often perform in bare feet or socks dyed to their skin tone, although you may see them wearing different footwear in some pieces. The dancers also see the Company physiotherapist a few times a week for tailored pre-hab sessions.

READ: Find out more about the six new dancers who joined the Company this year.



The term ‘choreography’ refers to a sequence of steps that become phrases and make up a dance piece. Like actors remembering their lines, dancers learn and remember these movement phrases during rehearsals so that they can perform them perfectly on stage.

To enable future casts to perform the piece, companies use a number of archival methods, including video-recording, passing it on from human to human (bringing back an original cast dancer to teach a new dancer), and taking notes that describe the intangible parts of the work, for example, ‘how it feels’. There is also choreology – various styles of dance notation which use visual symbols to represent an order of movement.



Roslyn Packer Theatre Walsh Bay is located at 22 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay. It is one of a number of industrial, heritage buildings converted into arts spaces along Sydney’s Harbour. Situated on the site of two old Bond Stores from the 1890s, the theatre took three years to build, opening in 2004.

From the beautiful bare brick walls to intact warehouse machinery, the rugged sandstone wall in the scene dock to wooden panels in the foyers made from timber salvaged from building demolished during the Walsh Bay development, the building speaks of its past. The total capacity for each performance of Bonachela / Nankivell / Lane is 845, including the stalls and dress circle.



A contemporary dance crowd is diverse. Anything from what you’d wear to see a band, through to smart casual or formal, is appropriate.



The Walsh Bay area has many restaurants and bars with stunning harbour views, where you can enjoy a meal and a drink before or after the show.

Venues include: Ventuno, Fratelli Fresh, Hicksons Izakaya and Lotus Dumpling Bar.

Find out more:

Watch our trailer and behind the scenes videos.

Read our Q&As with choreographer Melanie Lane, Gabrielle Nankivell and Rafael Bonachela.

Listen to Clark’s musical favourites on our Spotify playlist.

Share your Bonachela / Nankivell / Lane experience with #SDCTurns50 on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.