|"Forever and Ever" - choreographed by Antony Hamilton"
– Choreographed by Rafael Bonachela – Lighting Design by Damien Cooper
A Ghost, The Host & The Lyrebird” –Choreographed by Marina Mascarell –
Music by Nick Wales - Set & Costumes
designed by Lauren Brincat and Leah Giblin – Lighting Design by Damien Cooper
Ever” – Choreographed by Antony Hamilton – Music by Julian Hamilton - Costumes
designed by Paula Levis – Lighting Design by Ben Cisterne
Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre: 9 – 11 March, 2023.
Opening night performance on 9th March reviewedby Bill Stephens
|"I Am-ness" - choreographed by Rafael Bonachela
unusual for companies to premiere new works in Canberra. We are the national capital
after all. However it is unusual for the Sydney Dance Company to premiere one
of its works outside Sydney. In fact, this is the first time the company has
done this in the fifteen years Rafael
Bonachela has been its Artistic Director.
two world premieres. Bonachela’s own new work, “I Am-ness”; and the first ever Australian commissioned
work by Spanish choreographer, Marena Mascarell, “The Shell, A Ghost, The Host
and the Lyrebird”. The third work in
this triple bill is a revival of Antony Hamilton’s 2018 Helpmann Award winning
masterwork, “Forever & Ever”.
commenced on a meditative note with the opening strains of Peteris Vasks’ “Lonely
Angel” filling the darkened theatre to herald Bonachela’s “I Am-ness”. As the
curtain slowly rose, four dancers were revealed, motionless on a haze-filled
stage. They began to respond to the
music forming complex sculptural patterns, engaging and disengaging with each
other with superbly controlled and co-ordinated movement enhanced by Damien
Cooper’s moody lighting design.
|"I Am-ness" choregraphed by Rafael Bonachela
is classic Bonachela. Another striking showcase of his mastery of movement in which he works
with four perfectly attuned dancers, Naiara de Matos, Piran Scott, Madeline Harms and Riley Fitzgerald to
create an abstract visualisation of the
music, so beautiful and compelling as to make it impossible to listen to this
music again without the image of these dancers running through the mind.
|"The Shell, A Ghost, The Host & The Lyrebird" - choreographed by Marina Mascarell.
By way of contrast, Marina Mascarell’s stunning creation, “The Shell, A Ghost, The Host & The Lyrebird” contained very little actual dance as such. Instead Mascarell offered a strikingly beautiful abstract staging involving hectares of ropes and fabric manipulated by 9 dancers to create, what appeared to be, a storm at sea.
|Jesse Scales in "The Shell, A Ghost, The Host & The Lyrebird"
remarkable set and costumes designed by Lauren Brincat and Leah Giblin
certainly had a nautical flavour with red, white, and blue highlights featured
prominently, while Damien Cooper’s atmospheric lighting design and Nick Wales impressionistic
soundtrack which featured naturalistic sounds of creaking wood, sea birds and
wind among the orchestrations, heightened this impression.
Throughout the work the dancers wrestled with the ropes and fabrics to create ever-changing stage pictures, occasionally swaying side to side as if blown by wind, while fascinating with their ability to avoid potential disaster.
|"Forever and Ever" choreographed by Antony Hamilton
Rounding out this triple- bill, a welcome revival of Anthony Hamilton’s extra-ordinary 2018 creation, “Forever and Ever” which commences even before most of the audience have resumed their seats after interval. Returning to their seats the audience is startled to notice lone dancer, Jesse Scales, earnestly practicing striking moves on the unlit stage. A flash of light heralds the reveal of the stark black and white stage. Scales exits as a line of dancers, ominously costumed in huge black or white full-length puffer jackets, slowly take the stage.
remarkable costume design is inspired by babushka dolls, and as the work
progresses the puffer jackets are removed to reveal more layers, firstly bright yellow and black, then red and black,
until the dancers finish in simple brief black attire.
|"Forever and Ever" choreographed by Antony Hamilton.
While this is happening the dancers perform ever-changing patterns of complex movement, mostly in unison, but sometimes individually, propelled by the perpetual beat of Julian Hamilton’s insistent soundtrack, and enhanced by an amazing light design by Ben Cistene which utilises hand-held lanterns and flashes of brilliant colour.
effect is aggressive, startling and completely mesmerising, leaving the audience
in awe at the ability of the dancers to accurately perform the massed movement,
and providing the perfect conclusion to an evening of challenging, perfectly
executed and deeply satisfying contemporary dance.
feature of this performance was the surprise appearance on stage of Rafael
Bonachela, immediately following the premiere of his own work, “I Am-ness”.
Clearly affected by its enthusiastic reception, and to provide an imaginative
solution to cover the extra time
required to set up the complex setting required for the next work, Bonachela
charmingly used the time to explain why the program was entitled “Ascent” and
to provide background to the other works on the program.