DANCE REVIEW: Sydney Dance Company “Rafael Bonachela’s we unfold”, Playhouse (Melbourne Arts Centre), 10.11.2010

Since 2009 “we unfold” from Rafael Bonachela has only been seen by a select few audience members, however this piece of work is now in major venues and stunning audiences nationwide as we found out at Melbourne’s Art Centre.

From start to finish “we unfold” is relentless and barely gives the 14 exceptionally strong dancers time to breathe. It commences with all performers stood sporadically on the stage, facing random directions with a stark white light backlight creating a familiar silhouette before the dancers leave the stage one by one, until we are left with notable performer Juliette Barton. She engages the audience in a solo and effortlessly glides downstage, intertwining with herself and rippling through the music hinting at what the remainder of the performance has in store. As more dancers join Barton we begin to really notice the music that’s driving and pulsating beneath this spectacular show of athleticism and technique.

A collaboration between Bonachela and Ezio Besso shows that custom-made music for dance is really a must as the two fit harmoniously together and never do they overshadow one another. This is no mean feat as at times the music becomes extremely powerful. However the SDC dancers hold their own and never shy away from giving it all the their energy.

As the piece progresses we soon start to understand the journey that Bonachela is taking us on. However throughout the piece there does seem to be something missing. Once you have been astounded by the sheer physicality of the company (which may take you some time) you start to notice the journey and the emotions, or rather the lack of emotions emitted from the dancers. Although some of the dancers give a convincing and engrossing performance, this shows up some of the others that don’t seem to have fully arrived. This does raise the issue of how such a physical piece can originate from an authentic place and remain honest? It seems that in this case the emotions were merely a result of the technique and material and although in Bonachela’s work this is normally something I wouldn’t normally comment on, as his work is mostly about the body and its physicality in space, this piece does seem to need the emotions for the journey to make sense.

Regardless of this, the dancers seem to power their way through the full 60 minute piece, completely involving the audience. There are times where all the dancers appear on stage engaging in impressive unison work, and moments where we see moving and emotionally charged duets all aided by the smart and minimalist choice of costume from Jordan Askill, further enhanced by the elegant and sleek lighting of Hugh Taranto.

“we unfold” is definitely one to watch and is a real triumph for the Sydney Dance company, uncovering what they arguably do best, sheer physical and breathtaking contemporary dance.

Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Christopher Hall
Image: Jeff Busby



  1. sweet

  2. See the video:

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