we unfold was the first work that newly anointed Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela created after beginning his tenure in early 2009 and had its much anticipated debut in March 2009. The production was so well received that it will tour to seven Australian venues during 2010, as well as to La Biennale di Danza in Venice and the World Expo in Shanghai.
we unfold is a tour de force combining a stunning score by Ezio Bosso and powerful video art by Daniel Askill with talented dancers under the visionary direction of Bonachela. The work deals with a myriad of topics, ranging from fear of the unknown and leaving one’s origins to lamentation, humankind’s interaction with nature and madness, ultimately affirming the power of the heart in a troubled universe.
The talented cast slickly performs the demanding choreography. Movements were deliberately repetitive and sudden, with the angsty and tortured souls on stage creating a sense of unease among the audience. During the rehearsal process, the dancers were encouraged to improvise and it shows, with a palpable sense of freedom a testament to the ensemble’s sense of ownership of the work. Among a consistently high standard of dancers, emotionally expressive performers Emily Amisano and Chen Wen were standouts. we unfold eschews traditional gender roles, with the female dancers demonstrating a strength and aggressive athleticism every bit as impressive as the men’s, meaning they frequently physically dominated the stage.
Particular mention of the score must be made, as it is not only one of the strongest elements of the show but the beginning point of its conception. In 2009, Italian composer Ezio Bossio completed the composition of his first symphony. Bonachela heard it and loved it so much he decided to use it as a score for his first work. Symphony no. 1 “Oceans” is dominated by the cello, and was inspired by the journey made by Bonachela in coming to Australia to join the company. Oceans is in five movements, each of which represents a facet of the sea and its relationship with humans, life and time.
The design aspects of we unfold are similarly spectacular, distinguished by the work of video artist Daniel Askill and costume designer Jordan Askill, along with lighting designer Hugh Taranto. The film component of the work is a slow moving journey that is reminiscent of Bill Viola’s work, depicting a combustible universe and figures cowed by the elements. It acts as a counterpoint to the water symphony, using elemental forces that marry perfectly with the choreography as a result of intense collaboration between Bonachella and Daniel Askill, Jordan Askill’s costume design has a purity and simplicity coupled with a modernity that suits the piece perfectly.
The first and final movements of we unfold were particularly beautiful. Allegro giusto “to plough the waves” is dedicated to the waves and was a spectacular opening to the show, while the finale, presto “Landfall, we unfold” was both melancholy and invigorating, presenting landfall and the ‘arrival’ of humans. While beautiful and original, the one hour performance at times feels relentless due to the intensity of the choreography remaining at a similar pitch. More light and shade would have shaped the piece better and allowed the audience some breathing space to better appreciate the journey they were being taken on.
Sydney Dance Company presents
May 5th – 8th 2010
Canberra Theatre Centre, The Playhouse
May 11th – 12th 2010
Albury Entertainment Centre
May 14th – 15th 2010
Wagga Wagga Civic Centre
May 18th – 19th 2010
Griffith Regional Theatre
July 23rd – 24th 2010
Civic Theatre, Newcastle