18 - 29 Oct
Tickets From $30
Roslyn Packer Theatre Walsh Bay

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.

Discover your wildebeest within this October.

Listen to the Untamed Podcast Series on iTunes.
Follow #UntamedSDC @SydneyDanceCo on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

SAVE 15%

18 – 29 Oct 2016
Roslyn Packer Theatre Walsh Bay, Sydney
Tickets From $30

Wildebeest – 30mins
Interval – 20mins
Anima – 30mins

Purchase a 2-show package and save 15%! Book online or via 9250 1999.
2 Show Package from $73

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

Note: Theatrical haze will be used during the performance

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


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


A Collaborators Guide To Untamed

1. What to expect

Despite being one of the youngest art forms, contemporary dance is perhaps the most primal and physical. Less emphasis is placed on narrative structure – contemporary dance engages on an emotional level.

The audience response to a performance is part of the work. Without leaving your seat, you will be a collaborator. There is no correct interpretation; the way dance makes you feel is how you’re meant to feel. The performance of Untamed lasts for 90 minutes with a 20-minute interview in the middle and will leave you inspired and energized.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. What will 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.

5. Insight into life as a Dancer

There are 16 full time dancers in Sydney Dance Company and one trainee. All dancers rehearse five days a week (six when required) commencing with either a ballet or contemporary class at 9:30am then rehearsals until 6pm. Many also undertake additional training of their choice like yoga, bike riding, swimming or cross training.

A typical performance day is from 2 – 10pm ending with their legs being submerged in boxes full of ice after the show in order to assist their bodies cool down and to help reduce inflammation.

Contemporary dancers often perform in bare feet or flesh coloured socks that are dyed to their skin tone. Although in some pieces you may see them wearing different types of footwear.

The dancers will also see the company physio a few times a week to manage any niggles or injuries they may have.

Fun Fact: Never say ‘good luck’ to a dancer, in the performing arts world you say ‘chookas’. This dates back to the 1900s, when a full house meant that the cast would be given chicken to eat after the show.

6. How do dancers remember the steps?

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, there are a number of archival methods used including recording it on video, passing it on from human to human (bringing back an original cast dancer to pass on the feeling to a new dancer), notes are taken that describe the intangible parts of the work, for example ‘how it feels’. And there is the annotation of dance to music that is called ‘choreology’.

7. The Theatre

Roslyn Packer Theatre Walsh Bay is located at 22 Hickson Road Walsh Bay, previously called Sydney Theatre it is one of a number of industrial, heritage buildings converted into impressive arts spaces along Sydney’s Harbour. Situated on the site of two old Bond Stores from the 1890’s, construction of the theatre began in 2001 and opened in 2004. From the beautiful bare brick walls to intact warehouse machinery to a 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 is 845 for Untamed and includes the stalls and dress circle seating areas.

8. What to wear?

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

9. Before and after

The Walsh Bay area is full of impressive restaurants and bars with stunning views to have a meal or a drink at pre or post show. Including Sydney Dance Lounge, Ventunos, Fratelli Fresh, Lotus Dumpling, The Palisade and Bar at the End of the Wharf. You’ll even receive discounts and special offers at some if you show your ticket to Untamed.

10. Want to find out more?

Read the show program, watch behind the scene’s videos, listen to the free podcast and follow #UntamedSDC on on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

‘★★★★ 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

Audience Feedback

‘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)