SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 25: Dancers perform during a media preview at Roslyn Packer Theatre on March 25, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. Sydney Dance Company's 50th Anniversary Triple bill features work from Australian choreographic talents Rafael Bonachela, Gabrielle Nankivell and Melanie Lane. (Photo by Don Arnold/WireImage)

Cinco – Secondary

Education Resources


I have, for a long time, enjoyed playing with numbers and Alberto Ginastera’s String Quartet No. 2 Op. 26, composed in five parts, presented a ready name and approach for my new work. Cinco, Spanish for five, is fitting for the 50th anniversary year for Sydney Dance Company and my 10th anniversary as Artistic Director.

Using five dancers I have explored the duality and opposition that I hear in the texture of the music. At times melancholic and pensive and at others insistent and urgent, the movement is paced to the emotive states I encountered as I listened over and over in the months prior to making this work.

Much of the movement was devised within the imaginary constraints of a pentagon, with the dancers operating within their own five-sided world, each overlapping and intersecting. The repetition and patterns in the music gave me the opportunity to create harmony with unison group sections.

My approach to the work has been driven by a mathematical approach which has been wholly softened and enriched by my collaborators. It is a great pleasure to have worked once more with Damien Cooper who brings a richness to the lighting design.

The opportunity to collaborate with fashion designer Bianca Spender has been a dream for me. I have adored watching her bring her defined sensibility to the stage, clothing the dancers in twists and falls to match their own physical grace.

My sincere thanks go to the whole team who have worked on Cinco, and most especially the dancers.

Rafael Bonachela

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Choreography: Rafael Bonachela

Music: Alberto Ginastera, String Quartet #2

Costume: Bianca Spender

Lighting Design: Damien Cooper


READ about the Company Dancers 


When I started thinking about the costumes for Cinco, there were two pinpoints for me: designing movement and design inspired from music. From the first time I listened to Alberto Ginastera’s String Quartet No. 2 Op. 26, I was transformed into a world of movement, dance and an imposing intensity of softness and hardness that was twisted yet beautiful at the same time. So, I started trying to curate ideas which emulated that exact sense of freedom and intensity, working with twists that wrap around the body.

Once I’d created the costumes and brought them to the first rehearsal, I found that my vision wasn’t as effective in a group, and I had misunderstood the men’s requirements. Their costumes didn’t feel strong enough so from there we cut all the garments into pieces to fulfill the concept of ‘twisted beauty’. The costumes, however, still lacked modernity so we spliced the fabrics to create a stronger, indefinable line. I wanted the structure of the garments to represent those different worlds of movement in both the music and in the dancers’ form.

The music alternates between soft and hard tones, and sequences of long and short notes. I interpreted this transition as a representation of dusk to dawn and began to look at corresponding colours. I was also inspired by the translation of the title, ‘five’, which you can see in the five colours used in the costumes: light and dark mushroom grey, dark and dusty blue and a golden haze.

I also wanted the continuous fluctuation of the music to be represented in my design. To accentuate the dancers’ bodies in every movement, I used the finest quality silk chiffon, creating a romantic light-lustre effect. When worn by the dancers under the stage lighting, the audience will be able to see every gesture they make and the air floating through the costumes; when the dancers jump, the costumes imitate this movement and jump themselves.

Bianca Spender

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Music. Dancers. Choreography. Clothes. Lights. So simple but together so much tension. This is going to be wild.

The lighting will add an extra level to the choreography of the space. Five lights that will interrogate five dancers. They will be in your face, they will hide, they will focus, and they will push the rhythmic structure of Ginastera’s music. Colour will be used sparingly, allowing Bianca Spender’s costume to dominate the palette.

Damien Cooper

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Rafael Bonachela’s dance work Cinco (Spanish for five) was inspired by Alberto Ginastera’s String Quartet No. 2 Op. 26, a composition in five movements. Rafael describes the music as raw, emotive, frantic, haunting, melancholic, fearless, virtuosic and with a sense of perpetual motion, which is sometimes smooth and connected and at other times percussive. These aspects inspired the idea of rebellion – the act of resisting or overcoming another force and finding harmony through conflict. Rafael wanted to communicate these aspects through movement while exploring the numerical concept ‘five’.

Rafael then researched into the geometry of the number five, using this as inspiration to inform choreographic tasks to generate movement. This research also influenced his choices regarding the structure the work (in five movements), number of dancers performing, group formations (pentagon) and floor patterns used (shape of a five-pointed star).

Creating Solos

Rafael created a choreographic task which combined three aspects to generate new movements. He asked the dancers to imagine they were standing inside three pentagons intersecting their body along the lateral/horizontal plane: one at their feet, one at their waist and one above their heads. Each of pentagon’s five angles (points) was assigned a number from 1-15. He also assigned the dancers’ five body regions a number from 1-5 (including head, two arms and two legs). He finally provided the dancers a list of words which end in ‘ive’ (for example: give and massive), linking to the word ‘five’.

Rafael provided the dancers with random combinations of numbers and words and asked them to create single movements which combined one body region moving towards the direction of one pentagon angle and informed by one of the words ending in ‘ive’.

This complex task resulted in five solos which have been placed throughout the piece and phrases which have been included and adapted throughout the work.

Creating Duos

Rafael asked the dancers to create five phrases which each consisted of five movements to be performed over the duration of five counts using either their upper body (torso, arms and head) or lower body (legs). He paired the dancers and asked them to combine their upper and lower body phrases together. Rafael then reassigned partners and asked them to create duos by responding to each other’s phrases. They could do this by finding moments to physically connect with each other, interact with the negative space around each other and manipulate each other’s movements.


Prior to choreographing Cinco, Rafael created a timeline which unpacked the mood, intensity and pacing of the music. As movement was being generated and developed in the studio, he structured these sections of solos, duos, trios, quartets and quintets into this timeline creating a strong connection between the music and movement and an arc which flows over the duration of the whole work.

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Watch this behind the scenes video of Rafael Bonachela’s CincoVIDEO 1 

Watch this behind the scenes video of triple bill, Bonachela/Nankivell/LaneVIDEO 2

Watch this preview video of Rafael Bonachela’s Cinco: VIDEO 3

Watch this advertisement video of triple bill, Bonachela/Nankivell/Lane: VIDEO 4


Read about what to expect in Bonachela/Nankivell/Lane in this CHEAT SHEET.

Read interview with Rafael Bonachela, How the number five inspired Rafael Bonachela’s Cinco. Written by Sydney Dance Company – 19 March 2019.

Read interview with Bianca Spender, Bianca Spender on designing for dance. Written by Sydney Dance Company – 9 April 2019.

Read Broadsheet feature articleSydney Dance Company is about to kick off its 50th celebrations, written by Che-Marie Trigg – March 2019.

Read Dance Australia’s feature articleSydney Dance Company: Bonacela, Nankivell, Lane, written by Geraldine Higginson – April 2019.

Read The F’s feature article, Sydney Dance Company is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary in a massive way with Mardi Gras and Cinco, written by James Banham – March 2019.  

Read Vogue Australia’s feature article, Bianca Spender’s dreamy costumes for Sydney Dance Company, written by Lucie Clark – March 2019.

Read The Daily Telegraph review, Sydney Dance Company’s 50th anniversary debut shows what heights the human body can hit, written by Elizabeth Fortescue – March 2019.

Read Sydney Morning Herald reviewSydney Dance Company: Virtuoso display thrills with speed and stillness, written by Jill Sykes – March 2019.

Read Daily ReviewSDC Triple bill review, written by Martin Portus – March 2019.

Read Limelight reviewSeason One (Sydney Dance Company), written by Jo Litsen – March 2019.

Read Audrey Journal reviewAbsolutely Electrifying, written by Elissa Blake – March 2019.

Read The Plus Ones reviewBonachela / Nankivell / Lane: An urgent and passionate triptych of dance, written by Eric Qian – March 2019.

Read Bachtrack’s reviewSydney Dance Company launches its 50th year, written by Chantal Nguyen – March 2019.

Read The F’s reviewCinco by Rafael Bonacela and Sydney Dance Company: Contemporary dance at its best, written by James Banham – April 2019.


Listen to interview with Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela and former company dancers Sheree Da Costa and Shane Carroll, Sydney Dance Company turns 50, presented by Michael Cathcart – March 2019.

Listen to the music used for Rafael Bonacela’s Cinco, Alberto Ginastera’s String Quartet No. 2


Creating a Duo Phrase – Task in pairs

Aim: To create a movement phrase based on the concept of ‘five’.

Resource: Print out Examples of Stimuli Words resource included here.

– As a class, read through the Cinco Exploring Stimulus and Examples of Stimuli Words resources, discussing how words ending in ‘-ive’ were used by the Sydney Dance Company dancers to generate movement.

– Individually, select five words from the list and research their definitions.

– Divide into two groups for the following choreographic task. Each group will either use your upper body (torso, arms and head) or lower body (legs).

– Individually create five movements, each movement using the definition of one of your five words. Try not to be literal or mime your definition. You may like to consider how the definition makes you feel, or whether it triggers a memory or association (a person, place or event). Try to make it as complex and rich in detail as possible.

– In pairs (one person assigned upper body and one lower body per pair), perform your phrase for each other and discuss which words were used as stimulus for your movements and what you interpreted from observing each other. Discuss how audiences can develop diverse interpretations from contemporary dance performances.

– In pairs, combine your upper and lower body phrases together.

– Pair up with a different partner and create a duo phrase, performing your phrases simultaneously. Look for ways you can respond to each other by physically connecting with each other, interacting with the negative space around each other and manipulating each other’s movements.

– As a class, share your phrases with each other and reflect on the choreographic process.

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Creating a Duo Phrase – Task in pairs

Aim: To create a phrase based on the concept of ‘five’.

Resource: Print out of Pentagon Stimulus resource included here.

Note: This task involves two different components including: three 2-dimensional pentagon shapes (which will inform the direction of your movements) and five body regions (which inform the body part that will move).

– As a class, read through the Pentagon Stimulus resource, discussing how Rafael Bonachela used the concept of ‘five’ in his choreographic tasks. Imagine you are standing inside three pentagons intersecting your body horizontally at your feet, at your waist and at your head.  Each of pentagon’s five angles (points) are assigned a number from 1-15.

– Also discuss the human figure and how each body region has been assigned a number from 1-5 (including head, two arms and two legs).

– As a class, discuss the table of randomly generated codes included here. For each movement, a pentagon number has been provided (representing the direction and level of the movement) and a body region number (representing the body part which will be predominantly moving).

– Using the table found here, individually create 16 movements, each moving the associated body region towards the associated direction and level.

– For example: movement one in the table includes the numbers Pentagon 13 and Body Region 2. This directs you to move your right arm (or another body part on your right arm such as a finger) above your head towards the front right corner of the room.

– Consider moving your body in unique ways (finding different pathways through the space) and at different tempos (fast, slow, etc.).

– In pairs, perform your phrase for each other. Learn your partner’s phrase and combine them together. You may like to interweave the movements or combine the two phrases consecutively.

– For each of your movements, select one of the following elements of dance. Apply the element to adapt and develop your movement.

  • Shape
  • Size/dimension
  • Floor pathway
  • Movement quality

– Once your phrase is complete, use the following suggestions to further develop and structure your movement material:

  • Repetition
  • Call and response
  • Retrograde

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Suggested Questions for Discussion

  1. Write down your initial thoughts after watching Cinco. You may wish to brainstorm this as a group. Use the questions below to assist with articulating your thoughts and ideas:
  • What sections, movements or phrases did you like or dislike, and why? Can you describe these using the elements of dance?
  • What feelings or emotions did you experience when watching the work? What specifically about the performance made you feel this way?
  • What did the work make you think about?
  • What is your interpretation of the work? Compare and contrast your interpretation of Cinco with someone else’s.
  • Did you observe any choreographic tools used throughout the work such as symmetrical and asymmetrical movements, unison, repetition, canon, group formations and changes of directions and levels? How did these impact on your interpretation of the work?
  • How did the different aspects (movement, music, set, lighting and costumes) impact your experience?
  • After considering all the aspects above, would you recommend the performance to someone else?
  1. Describe the relationship between the music, costuming and choreography. Do you believe these production components and elements of dance integrate cohesively to explore the concept of ‘five’? Justify your evaluation with evidence.
  1. Cinco choreography was created using elements of chance. After reading the Exploring Stimulus resource, how has Rafael explored the concept of ‘five’ with elements of chance choreography? What advantages are there to incorporating chance techniques in a choreographic process and can these be seen in Cinco?
  1. Cinco is structured using transitions between various groupings of dancers including solos, duos, trios, quartets and quintets. Describe these transitions and discuss how they create a sense of flow to the work.
  1. Describe the relationship between the dancers throughout the work. Does it develop or remain consistent over the duration of the work? Consider their use of force, energy and movement qualities, how they make physical contact with each other and how their focus is directed towards each other.
  1. After reading the Cinco Costume Design Note resource, argue whether Bianca’s costume designs either enhance or subtract from the dancer’s bodies and their movements? In your response consider Bianca’s choice of fabric material, costume length, fabric colour and angles (created at the seam of two different coloured fabrics).

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