Reviewed by Frank McKone
Choreographer – Rafael Bonachela
Composer – Bryce Dessner
Lighting Designer – Damien Cooper
Stage Designer – David Fleischer
Costume Designer – Aleisa Jelbart
Australian String Quartet:
Dale Barltrop – Violin I
Francesca Hiew – Violin II
Christopher Cartlidge – Viola (Guest)
Michael Dahlenburg – Cello
Rehearsal Director – Chris Aubrey; Rehearsal Associate – Charmene Yap
Dancers: Juliette Barton, Isabella Crain, Sabine Crompton-Ward, Davide Di Giovanni, Dean Elliott, Riley Fitzgerald, Jacopo Grabar, Liam Green, Luke Hayward, Telea Jensen, Dimitri Kleioris, Rhys Kosawoski, Chloe Leong, Jesse Scales, Emily Seymour
Photos by Pedro Greig
There’s a great irony in the creation of Impermanence. We all seek continuity, stability, even harmony in our lives. We treat this as the ‘normal’ state we expect, or at least hope for, in our physical world and in our personal relationships. But in this dance work the moments when everything comes together in unison, or the connection in spirit between a couple is locked in: these moments are surprising, wonderful – and fleeting. There is a great sadness, finally, as the last figure in the fading light understands that this is the truth. Nothing is permanent.
Yet, at that very moment we are brought to our feet to celebrate the discipline of the musical composition, the choreography, and then the dancers and musicians – the continuity, stability and harmony which they have demonstrated to create this work of art. And, ironically, in this there is great joy.
The work originated in the experience of Dessner and Bonachela who were in Paris in 2019 shortly after the Notre Dame fire, then here as the bushfires engulfed the east coast of Australia, followed by the Covid pandemic in 2020. Scenes are broken up by flashes of light and changing cyclorama colours, following the line of extraordinary unexpected harmonies within the dissonant urgent music, as the dancers form unrelated groups, individuals leave and enter at random, pairs, threes and fours form and break apart and at intervals a solo dancer takes the space, perhaps only to be discovered by horrified observers as if melted into the ground.
In the Program, which can be found online at the Sydney Dance Company website, the scenes are entitled:
Requiem – Ashes