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Sydney Dance Company is celebrating its 50th anniversary in a massive way with Mardi Gras and CINCO

Rafael Bonachela is the artistic director of the Sydney Dance Company and responsible for most of the epic dance pieces the troupe puts on in Australia and around the world.

He does it well.

So when his baby turns 50 and celebrates its birthday in quite an epic was as it has, you know he’s behind it, doing nothing but the best for the dance company responsible for Forever & Ever and ab intra just to name a few.

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In addition to the milestone in itself, the Sydney Dance Company participated for the first time in the annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and is putting on a new double bill production, headlined by the new work, CINCO (you can win tickets here).

“Mardi Gras was an incredible thrill, for me personally and for the Company. Believe it or not, it was the very first time that Sydney Dance Company had participated in the parade,” said Rafael.

The entry of the Company signified 50 years as a diverse organisation that hires and is involved directly with many people who identify as LGBTIQ+ and their friends.

“We employ a significant number of LGBTQI artists and staff and we have a long tradition of welcoming the LGBTQI community to participate and express themselves through dance,” he said.

And they did it well. Rafael doesn’t even shy away from admitting their float was essentially one of the best ones out there on Oxford Street.

“It was an explosion of gold glitter, complete with a ballet bar, mirrors, and performing dancers and drag divas. The participants wore retro dancewear designed by Aleisa Jelbart with sparkly pom poms. It was a lot of fun and the team looked fabulous!,” said Rafael.

The dance class manager of the Company had a direct hand in the whole process of preparation and execution of the float, too.

A long standing member and proud – and long-time partnered – LGBTIQ advocate Ramon Doringo led the high energy routine on the back of the float in a gold corset with pearlescent choker, feathered centurion headdress and glittering platform sneakers. He looked very much the part.

“Our Mardi Gras performance actually took inspiration from Ramon’s fearlessness and commitment towards celebrating diversity through dance. This year, Ramon has been teaching dance classes at the Company for 30 years!” said Rafael.

But in addition to the celebration and milestone that was the annual Mardi Gras, it’s CINCO – kicking off this March 2019 – that has people talking, especially Rafael who’s creative masterpiece (again) really let the work shone. He explained:

‘The starting point for this work was the music, which is always a really big part of my process. In this case I found Alberto Ginastera’s String Quartet No. 2, which I love (listen below). I’ve never heard of his string quartets before and they’ve never been used for dance. That was really the starting point for me. The music is in five movements. I wanted to work with five dancers and we’re also celebrating 50 years of Sydney Dance Company. If you look back, a lot of my works have numbers in them, so with Cinco it’s quite a coincidence that the music has five movements, and it’s also five decades of the Company. It all became about the number five,” said Rafael.

“I never know where the next idea is going to come from. I stay open and curious. I read, listen to music, go to galleries, concerts, live life and interact with people in an urban environment. My emotions are my starting point and from there I move outwards creatively.  My natural human and personal instincts also play a major role in my creativity and inspiration,” he continued.

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Sure, there’s a lot of work, inspiration, inward and outward reflection that Rafael goes through before he settles on a work and where he’ll take it, but there’s no doubt it’s a combined effort.

“For me the process of creating a new work is never exactly the same, depending on the concept. What I want to achieve and whom I am working with,” he said. “Before I start working with the dancers I do a lot of thinking about different strategies that I might use for the creation of the movement. They could be visual stimulation, text based a poetry, or more about sensations and feelings or something more abstract.”

Regardless of how you look at it, Sydney Dance Company achieved something this year. More than just producing dance showcases, it magnified itself on the LGBTIQ roadmap, celebrated life and all its diversity, and put together a show of a stripped back cast of 5 to celebrate the latest creative capacity of all its members. This year is shaping up well already.

See more about CINCO and get your tickets until 13 April 2019 at the Sydney Dance Company website.

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