Interview: Rafael Bonachela Q&A

Monday 21 September 2009

Rafael Bonachela It’s not unusual to have two jobs working in dance – but Rafael Bonachela’s are on opposite sides of the world. Since 2008 he has been Artistic Director of Sydney Dance Company, whilst continuing to run his own company, Bonachela Dance Company (BDC), based here in London. He’s had a long association with Rambert, as a dancer and Associate Choreographer, has worked with Kylie Minogue on her Fever and Showgirl tours and was the first winner of The Place Prize in 2004.

He’s back in London to present a brand new work, The Land of Yes and The Land of No at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre (25 & 26 September), which is the start of an extensive UK tour for his company. We caught up with him mid-air…

Tell us about The Land of Yes and The Land of No. It sounds like making it has been a particularly collaborative process?
It really was. We were lucky to have some research and development time a few months before the creation with the dancers and Ezio Bosso the composer. Ezio spent the whole time in the studio working with us on the ideas and concepts that later shaped the work. All the research was focused on different signs and what they meant to us emotionally – both in the present and from our pasts. We used this as a starting point to generate the movement and music, rather than as literal directions.

It’s nice to have you back in the UK! You are still producing work with your company here as well as being Artistic Director of Sydney Dance Company. How’s the cross continental life working out? **It’s very nice to be back! This year has been quite intense going backward and forwards, but as a freelance choreographer, I’ve been on the go for quite a few years now. I enjoy it and feel really luck to be doing what I most love doing – creating work!

What are you enjoying most about Sydney & Australia? **My job first and foremost, it was such an exciting opportunity and that was the main reason I went to Sydney. But it really is a beautiful city to be living in. The light is a huge plus to my quality of life.

Is the contemporary dance scene very different there? **The scene is much smaller than in the UK, so the competition for funding, audiences, press etc isn’t quite so intense. But it’s still a thriving scene.

And what’s nice about coming back to London?

  • So many things – BDC, friends, proximity to Barcelona and my family, loads of performances to see……..

How did you first get in to dance? **I didn’t get training till I was 15 years old – before that I used to make dances with my friends from the neighbourhood. Later I trained at London Studio Centre.

Did working with Kylie Minogue a few years ago change the way you make work for your own companies/dancers? **It helps you to think big as you are choreographing for thousands of people in arenas and sometimes one needs to think that way in contemporary dance as well.

Are you still doing any work with Kylie/other artists? **Not at present. I do get approached by bands but most times can’t make their schedules – they work on quite short timescales – they call you today for work tomorrow!

You won the first Place Prize in 2004 – what effect did that have on your career?
It was a great boost to my personal profile, but it also helped me to set up BDC and get exposure for my new company.

Who (or what) have influenced you artistically? **As a professional dancer in a repertoire based company I worked with an incredibly wide range of artists taking a little something from everyone. However, the person I most admired was Merce Cunningham – not just his work, but his approach to it.

What’s your favourite film? **Anything by Pedro Almodovar *Book? * **Anything by Isabel Allende
And music?
Ezio Bosso’s works

What’s next for you? **Keep on making dances! There are a couple of very exciting new ventures coming up for me … but I can’t talk about them yet, so watch this space!

If your life’s work hadn’t become dance, what might it have been? **That’s so hard to say, but anything to do with film or photography.

*!! The Land of Yes and The Land of No *

Choreographed by Rafael Bonachela and dancers **Original Music by Ezio Bosso **Designed by Alan Macdonald / Lighting design by Guy Hoare **Costume design by Theo Clinkard **Dancers: Amy Hollingsworth, Fiona Jopp, Cameron McMillan, Lisa Welham, Renaud Wiser and Paul Zivkovich

*Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, 25 & 26 Sep 09. More details/online booking* * tour Sep 09 – Mar 10 Tour dates


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