Dance and fashion have always inspired one another, and for A/W 2016, David Jones partners with Sydney Dance Company (SDC) in a collaboration that is guaranteed to move you.
Barcelona born dancer and choreographer Rafael Bonachela has been leading the SDC for the past seven years and has been garnering global recognition for his work. We chat to him about the collaboration and his work with the SDC.
You’ve been the Artistic Director of SDC for coming up to seven years now, what have been your proudest moments to date?
The ultimate aim for us as a Company is to perform and to be in front of an audience. My proudest moments are those that come from watching these performances take place year after year. One particular highlight was the invitation in 2009 to perform at the Venice Bienalle de la Danza, one of the most prestigious dance festivals in the world. It was from this that we have gone on to perform across stages in theatres in New York, Barcelona, London, Moscow, becoming an internationally renowned dance Company.
How do you develop new concepts, themes or routines for the season?
Sometimes they come to me naturally; sometimes I have to look for them. My ‘natural’ human and personal instincts play a major role in my creativity; they feed through the entire process from the point of inspiration, collaborations at every level, through to the living moments of the final performance.
Where do you look for inspiration?
Life itself inspires all my work. This is my starting point. In life I read, listen to music, watch film, interact with people and live in the 21st century in an urban environment. Everything in this media-heavy world touches me. From micro to macro my emotions are the starting point and move outwards to reflect the underlying issues faced by humanity.
What is the relationship between fashion and dance?
Dance is one of the most collaborative art forms, wherein the body is the centerpiece and fashion dresses the body so the two naturally complement each other extremely well.
What is the potential of dance? What can it express?
Dance is infinite. It is a universal language of the body that everyone and anyone can understand. I can only speak for myself, but I find dance can be about everything, and you can express everything – that’s what makes it so wonderful!
Personally, I look to dance to express my interest in life and the human condition in all its forms, its emotions, its physicality, sexual impulses and its psychological states. I draw upon life in an urban twenty-first century, globalised world. We all carry our own visions of the world, through our unique experiences.
From this perspective, everything I make is informed through my personal experience of the world. Likewise audiences will interpret my work through their own ‘worldview’. However, there are many ways in which I can express universal truths through dance and these underlying truths can also develop through the collaborative processes involved in making dance. One of the fantastic qualities of dance is that it allows many viewpoints and should always be open to a degree of interpretation.
Tell us about the collaboration with David Jones for the A/W 2016 Campaign, and how it came about.
It initially began with David Jones’ 2015 summer campaign. They were highlighting Australian icons and one of our dancers, Juliette Barton, was featured. I know David Jones were blown away and thrilled by Juliette and together with Maud (our design company) we started work on a project involving more of our dancers for the campaign.
I first met with the David Jones team and the Maud team to talk about their vision and concepts and how they envisaged dance as being an integral part of the campaign. At the shoot, in conversation with the filmmaker and photographer, we set the scene and it was then very much a process of seeing and reacting to what worked best in the moment. The interplay between the clothes, the models and the dancers was so important to the piece and we had a lot of fun working with that. It was a very dynamic and collaborative process. Once I knew what the outfits were that are featured in the campaign, it was easy to create the movements that complimented the clothes and showed them off in the best way possible.
What was the highlight of the shoot and collaboration?
Creating a massive zoetrope was amazing. Shooting on a revolving floor was really interesting for us as dancers because it’s movement within movement for both dancers and models. The element of film also presents a unique complexity. It’s interesting to work in a way where you’re imagining what the finished product will look like although you can’t quite see it yet, so there is this element of the unknown. In saying that though, I think the way that the film was conceived complemented the movement really well.
What’s next for SDC?
Next year we have a very exciting international co-production with the Dresden Frankfurt Dance Company in Europe – it will be the first time we do a collaboration of this kind where Lux Tenebris will premiere in Sydney and around Australia and then later in the year be performed by the company in Germany.
Sydney Dance Company opens their season with a new show Countermove, opening at the Roslyn Packer Theatre on 26 February. Find out more at sydneydancecompany.com/productions/countermove.