Programming the perfect mix of new and exciting repertoire with the return of breathtaking award-winning favourites is not an easy task. Careful consideration is given to orchestrating a season to please any tastes and expectations. Sydney Dance Company Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela gives us a little insight into his process.
The 2018 season looks wonderful, when you are starting to plan the performing year, what do you take into consideration? How do you make programming decisions?
For me, programming is a much bigger picture than just looking at the year ahead. My approach is quite holistic; I look well into the future, planning for the next 2-3 years. What we reveal to our audiences in a season launch is just a snapshot of the immediate future, what’s to come and what they can buy tickets for. I like to piece together a balance of contrasting works; it’s really all about having the right mix! I focus on programming choreographers that I admire & choreographers that I respect and am excited about. I truly want to offer audiences in Australia the best in dance from around the world.
2018 is starting off with an international tour, heading to South America and then on to Europe in April. Are there any challenges taking Australian contemporary dance to a foreign audience?
The art form of contemporary dance is universal. Sydney Dance Company might be based in Australia but what we create is part of a larger global conversation. International audiences are really interested in seeing what we create and are excited by the opportunity to view dance from different parts of the world. Ultimately, the main challenge we face is one of sheer logistics; transporting large-scale sets across the world & ensuring they can travel from city to city.
Double bill ‘Forever & Ever’ features the return of award-winning ‘Frame of Mind’ and the world-premiere of Antony Hamilton’s ‘Forever & Ever’. What do you need to consider when programming a double bill, particularly when one work is well-known and the other is making its debut?
There is a real appetite for audiences to see critically acclaimed works again. Every time we bring back a work from our repertoire we receive incredible feedback; audiences sometimes love the work even more the second time! Dance is something that you begin to love & understand even more the more you witness it. Frame of Mind is a multiple award-winning work & it was loved by our audiences at the time so we hope that everyone is up for it again!
Antony is one of the most ground-breaking & interesting choreographers currently living and working in Australia. He has an incredible international profile and I am so proud to commission him to create a work for Sydney Dance Company. In 2017 he choreographed Crazy Times for us, a children’s show that has toured to young audiences all around Australia. I can’t wait for our Sydney audience to witness the incredible work of this talented dance maker.
When it comes to double bills I have always been more into contrasts than themes. I know that the creative pairing of Antony Hamilton and brother, Julian Hamilton of The Presets, will likely produce a work with a very electronic score & an incredibly unique aesthetic. I feel that this work, paired with the more classically influenced Frame of Mind that features a string quartet & stunning set by Ralph Myers, will be a really nice complement. Each work will take the audience on an entirely different journey.
New Breed will be staged at Carriageworks for the fifth year, you obviously feel a tremendous amount for this production, staging works by up and coming choreographers. What brings you back to this production each year?
New Breed is a very important part of our programming here at Sydney Dance Company. It is so wonderful to be able to offer independent choreographers the opportunity to create a work on our company dancers. We select both emerging & more established choreographers that we have identified for the really interesting work they have been producing. For me personally, I have only made it to where I am today, the Artistic Director of Sydney Dance Company, because I too was given the same opportunities. Being a young choreographer and having the chance to create work, to make mistakes, to learn from the craft, to be offered dancers and studio space in which to do this was essential. This is what we provide here at Sydney Dance Company with New Breed and it is so very special.