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sydney dance company: somos by rafael bonachela


It was a privilege to witness a breathtakingly brilliant show
in a perfect intimate venue, Sydney Dance Company’s
Neilson Studio. Somos is choreographer Rafael Bonachela’s
tribute to his Spanish background, the first time he has
relied so explicitly on his heritage. He draws on the spirited
dances and songs of his early years and has created an
exquisitely beautiful and special experience.

Somos means “we are” in Spanish. Rafael explores our intrinsic
natures and internal lives, essentially what we are, and through
movement and dance gives expression to and externalises
these innermost selves.

The performance comprises intimate solos, duets and trios and
on occasions groups. The small groups are where every muscle
movement, every emotion and every breath is exposed to the
audience. The opening dance happens behind a see through
curtain, a veil creating a liminal space, a barrier for the physical
and emotional, for the individual and the collective, a curtain
which is required to reduce how exposed and vulnerable the
audiences and dancers are to each other. It is only when we
have become more familiar with each can the curtain rise for
the full experience of closeness and intimacy.

The wonderful music chosen is an essential component of SOMOS.
Lithe and passionate bodies perform to twelve songs from five
of Rafael’s favourite composers. Silvia Perez Cruz, Chavela Vargas,
Estrella Morente and Rosalia feature bringing flamenco and
bolero style music but also some harsh industrial sounds. Sound
mixing and editing is by Nick Wales. Damien Cooper’s lighting
shows great artistry and adds another layer to the experience.

Costume and design is by Kelsey Lee and is sensual and meticulous.
The costumes are designed in minute detail for the close
observation of an audience that is only two or three metres from
the dancers. The costumes also reflect the individual/collective
duality of the piece. There are specific designs for each dancer
while still maintaining a collective aesthetic.

The fantastic dancers are Lucy Angel, Naara de Matos, Dean Elliott,
Riley Fitzgerald, Liam Green, Madeline Harms, Luke Hayward,
Morgan Hurrell, Sophie Jones, Connor McMahon, Jesse Scales,
Piran Scott, Emily Seymour, Coco Wood and Chloe Young.

SOMOS by Rafael Bonachela opened at Sydney Dance Company’s
Neilson Studio on 1st November and runs until 18th November.
It is highly recommended.

Production images by Pedro Greig.


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