On the Couch with Rafael Bonachela

Rafael Bonachela

Who is Rafael Bonachela?
I’m the Artistic Director for Sydney Dance Company, a position I’ve held since 2009, and a choreographer – my latest work ‘2 in D Minor’ is touring alongside pieces by Jacopo Godani and Gideon Obarzanek as the program Interplay, which is about to open in Melbourne after performances in Sydney and Canberra.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I try really hard not to play “what if’ games about the past. I love what I do and have my eyes fixed firmly on the present and future.

Who inspires you and why?
The dancers I work with each day at Sydney Dance Company – their energy and dedication, their artistry and their focus inspires me enormously. They throw themselves into and make the most of each day in the job they love.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Make dance a compulsory school subject. Dance is inspiring, it’s healthy and fun, and leads to a better understanding of one’s own body. In our classes at Sydney Dance Company, we try to make a difference by showing young people that dance is open to everyone. It’s not just ballet or hip hop … it can be inspired by anything from the world around us. We show young people the strength and skill involved in dance and that men and women are equally talented in this art form.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
My favourite holiday is returning to Barcelona, the city where I was born, because it’s home to my family and friends that I miss so much. Barcelona has amazing restaurants and is a very beautiful city, but it’s my family that I look forward to visiting the most.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
I take them on the coastal walk from Bondi Beach to Bronte, that’s the quintessential Sydney experience.   Salt air, sunlight, amazing scenery, and good exercise – perfect!

What are you currently reading?
Nijinsky: A Life
by Lucy Moore, the tragic life story of one of the greatest dancers in the history of ballet. I sometimes imagine being in the audience that night in 1913 when Nijinsky premiered the ballet of Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring), and the Parisian audience rioted and tore the place up! What a reaction to this wonderful art.

What are you currently listening to?
Scattered Rhymes
by Tarik O’Regan, which will form part of the score for my next piece of choreography. I start listening to the music over and over, ahead of making the movement. It gives me a chance to absorb the feel and texture of the music – to really let it get under my skin.

Happiness is?
Being in the same city as my partner, which doesn’t happen nearly often enough at the moment.

What does the future hold for you?
This year is Sydney Dance Company’s 45th Anniversary and I have just extended my contract for another five years so I am looking forward to taking Sydney Dance Company into its 50th Anniversary. It is a fantastic achievement for any arts company to have that sort of longevity. I am looking forward to finding ways to celebrate the history of the Company and the many artists that have contributed to it.

Rafael Bonachela was born in Barcelona where he began his early dance training before moving to London, joining the legendary Rambert Dance Company in 1992. He remained with Rambert as a dancer and Associate Choreographer until 2006 at which time he successfully set up the Bonachela Dance Company (BDC) to concentrate on the rapid rise of his choreographic career.

In 2008, Rafael premiered his first full-length production 360° for Sydney Dance Company. Less than six months later, he was appointed Artistic Director making headlines around the dance world. His works for Sydney Dance Company include we unfold (2009), 6 Breaths (2010), LANDforms (2011), 2 One Another (2012), Project Rameau (2012), Emergence (2013) and Les Illuminations (2013).

In addition, he has remounted outstanding repertoire from BDC such as Soledad and Irony of Fate (2010) and The Land of Yes & The Land of No (2011). In April 2013, Kaldor Public Art Projects brought Rafael on board to develop the choreography for artists Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla’s work Revolving Door, which was part of the acclaimed live performance art exhibition 13 Rooms.

Rafael’s internationally recognised talent has seen him work not only with contemporary dance at the highest level but also with artists from popular culture, such as Kylie Minogue and Tina Turner. In 2013, Rafael was honoured with an Officer’s Cross of the Order of Civil Merit by His Majesty the King of Spain.

Sydney Dance Company’s Interplay is being presented at Melbourne’s Southbank Theatre from 30 April – 10 May 2014. For more information, visit: www.sydneydancecompany.com for details.

Image: Rafael Bonachela