Sydney Dance Company Triptych

Rebecca Varidel
27th Sep 2015

Take the music of Benjamin Britten, a strings ensemble, classical singing in French, and ethereal floating drapery on costumes, then when thinking dance, accompanying thoughts might lead to pink satin toe shoes and ballerinas en pointe. Wrong. Bare feet and contemporary dance are the answer.

In the 20th Century New York was aroused by the Father of American Ballet, bare foot Choreographer George Balanchine. Skip to the 21st century and Sydney is graced with our own visionary talent, with Sydney Dance Company Artistic Director, and Choreographer Rafael Bonacela. This year Bonacela won Helpmann Awards for both Best Choreography and Best Dance Work for his Frame of Mind.

And this year, Triptych with the new Variation 10 extends his 2013 Simple Symphony and Les Illuminations to the latest 2015 Sydney Dance Company triple bill.

The Roslyn Packer Theatre curtain rises. Behind the dancers' stage, the strings of the ACO2 ensemble adorn the platform for all three acts. For the centre piece, the original Britten inspiration Katie Noonan serenades the microphone.

"Upon discovering Les Illuminations I immediately imagined it as a dance piece and am so thrilled that this dream has become a reality alongside the incredible musicianship of ACO2 and the potent choreography of Rafael Bonachela and his beautiful dancers of Sydney Dance Company. It really is a gorgeous feast of sound and movement and I am thrilled to be part of it" she resonates.

Costume designer Toni Maticevski captures the mood across all three, from the ethereal playful innocence of Simple Symphony, through the dark unisex noir of Les Illuminations through to sensual body hugging and flirty transgender draping for the newest addition of Variation 10.

"There was a real focus on zones on the body. A lot of the male dancers bodies are enhanced with slung lines that manoeuvre around their chests, crotches, arms and backs. The female dancers are given a softer treatment, with tiered volumes cascading and warming the silhouettes."

With this background, elevated by the staging and lighting design of Ben Cisterne, the company poetically enthrals us from start to finish, demanding at the first preview long curtain calls, due to the thunderous applause after each act.

Bonacela celebrates partnerships, in all their forms. At first, the aura of exploration is innocent. Then, at times the duos move in unison, but without touching, and linger in sexual tension. The bad boy poet Rimbaud has the stage. The partnerships explore other aspects of relationships with shows of love and nods of misdemeanours. The use of vignettes, Bonacela later tells me allows the musicians to turn the page.

In full company for Variation 10, his "inspiration comes directly from the music, a remarkable work. Listening to it, it is impossible not to feel the changing pace and feeling. What I love; this is a work of contrasts, of dark and light, of sadness and happiness. It is ghostly, forceful, delicate, passionate, fun, intelligent and playful."

Sydney Dance Company, Katie Noonan & ACO2 are performing in Triptych until October 10.

Triptych as an evolutionary extension is the very essence of contemporary dance. Not to be missed.