Friday, May 3, 2019


Sydney Dance Company
Choreography by Gabrielle Nankivell, Rafael Bonachela and Melanie Lane
Canberra Theatre to 4 May

Reviewed by Len Power 3 May 2019

Celebrating their 50th Anniversary this year, Sydney Dance Company presented three startling and enjoyable works at the Canberra Theatre under the title ‘Bonachela/Nankivell/Lane’.  An opportunity to view and compare the work of three very different choreographers at the top of their game made for an exciting evening of dance.

'Neon Aether' - photo by Pedro Greig

Choreographer, Gabrielle Nankivell, describes ‘Neon Aether’, the first work presented, as ‘an ode to the burning intangibles that fuel our imagination’.  Danced to a driving music score by Luke Smiles, this is a work that seems part science fiction and part memory, filled with dreams and longings for something just out of reach.  The precise dancing of the eight performers was breath-taking and there were some quite magical and memorable moments.  The clever lighting design by Damien Cooper added tremendously to the atmosphere of this work.

'Cinco' - photo by Don Arnold

The clue to the second work presented, ‘Cinco’, is in the title.  Choreographed by Rafael Bonachela, the number ‘five’ is basic to the structure of the work.  Using five dancers and dancing to Alberto Ginastera’s five part ’String Quartet No. 2 Op. 26’, the dancers move within the imaginary constraints of a pentagon.  Although mathematically-based, it’s still romantic, wistful and dream-like and performed superbly.  Bianca Spender’s costumes were quite beautiful and complemented the intention of the work.

'Woof' - photo by Pedro Greig

While the first two works presented were new, the third work, ‘Woof’, was first seen in the company’s ‘New Breed’ season in 2017.  Choreographed by Melanie Lane with twelve dancers, it’s a work set in an imagined future in which the participants create a new culture through movement.  Memories of the past still linger in this new environment and the human spirit continues to shine through in spite of the changes that are occurring.  The music composed for the work by Clark with its classical and modern elements suited the work’s intention very well.  Verity Hampson’s lighting design adds an exciting dimension to the production and the dancing was masterful.

This was a striking evening of fine dance with three works that were visually and emotionally satisfying as well as entertaining.

Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast on the Artsound FM 92.7 ‘In the Foyer’ program on Mondays and Wednesdays at 3.30pm.