Project Rameau | Sydney Dance Company and Australian Chamber OrchestraPhotos – Peter Greig

Project Rameau is an intriguing exploration of Baroque music by French composer Jean-Philippe Rameau paired with contemporary dance. The work is the result of an inspired and unforgettable collaboration between the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s Richard Tognetti and Sydney Dance Company’s Rafael Bonachela and the artists that comprise these two premiere Australian arts companies. There was an eloquence and divinity that permeated the performance, a timeless and ethereal quality that enlivened the senses through the finery and emotive sway of Rameau’s music coupled with the precise lines, oomph, grace and intensity of the dance.  

The performance was like viewing an oxymoron personified, and the past and the present existed in the same space-time. 18th century Baroque melody and rhythm sat squarely beside contemporary dance and played out through the percussively fluid, exuberantly contained, voluptuously ascetic movement of the dancers. Rafael Bonachela’s choreography was enchanting, fraught and visually tantalising alluding to the theatrical sensibilities that may have underpinned Rameau’s court and operatic compositions. The dynamism of the dancers filled the theatre and engrossed the audience at all times. Richard Tognetti’s musical direction for the QPAC and Canberra Theatre Centre performances is led by guest director Dale Barltrop. While the ACO musicians sat elevated and behind the dancers, they were by no means secondary or a mere live musical backdrop. There was a palpable energy between the musicians and the dancers, an aesthetic exchange resonated throughout the space creating a heightened atmosphere and a more deeply moving experience for the audience. 

Completing this beguiling amalgamation and (quite literally) perfectly framing the artists is the sleek and very 21st Century design of Benjamin Cisterne. The lighting and set design is minimal while exuding grandeur at the same time. The space was contained visually by a series of frames bordered by pure bright strips of light that looked akin to dream-like windows fading into the past. The rectangular backdrop was lit with a bold single colour that would change to reflect the mood of the music and dance. 

Project Rameau is a unique and exquisite performance born out of the creativity of Bonachela, Tognetti and Rameau. Like a rare celestial alignment, it would be a shame not to take advantage of the small window of opportunity to go and witness this very glorious and welcome artistic collaboration between the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Sydney Dance Company while they are on tour in Brisbane and Canberra. 

Sydney Dance Company and the Australian Chamber Orchestra present
Project Rameau

Venue: Playhouse QPAC, Brisbane
Dates: 11 – 13 July, 2013
Tickets: $53.85 – $86.85