BWW Review: Sydney Dance Company Opens in New York City
Sydney Dance Company was founded in 1969 by dancer Suzanne Musitz. Since 2009 this company has been led by Spanish-born Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela, who choreographed the third piece on the program, which opened at New York City's Joyce Theater on March 7, 2017, when I was in attendance.
The first work of the evening was Wildebeest, choreographed by Gabrielle Nankivell. Program note: "With the head of an Ox, the hindquarters of an antelope, and the mane and tale of a horse, the wildebeest as image morphs easily between living animal and fanciful creature". The composer of the music and sound design, Luke Smiles, motion laboratories, included sounds of thunder and lightning in the original score. The shorts and loose fitting tops with cut-outs in back and in front, in a variety oF Browns and rust colors, were designed by Fiona Holley. The lighting design, featuring darkness broken by spotlights that changed during the performance and had a moment of strobe lighting, was designed by Benjamin Cistern. The dancers are good looking, most with well-shaped leg muscles. On stage alone as the lights came up was a single male dancer, who moved with great restrictions, looking like he was having problems moving. This difficulty changed immediately when joined by a female dancer. The choreography moved rapidly as dancers moved on and off the stage, from standing to floor and back again. There did not seem to be enough ideas, however, to merit the length of the work. The final solo, which closed the piece, introduced me to the dancer with the largest spirit, Janessa Dufty. Her energy reached beyond the stage, bringing meaning to the dance. Each time she appeared subsequently, I wanted to watch only her.
Raw Models (NY premiere), choreographed by Jacopo Godani to an original commissioned score, 48
Nord- Ulrich Mueller and Siegfried Roessert, which seemed spacey, sometimes trance-like. Black sheer costumes with black shorts and black socks and dark lighting design, which employed spot lights and some strobe effects (similar to those used in Wildebeest), were the designs of the choreographer, Godani. Program note: "Raw Models is the result of a war against our alter egos, the ones that live inside our minds but do not reflect our true core, the ones that have been given life and have been shaped by everyone else's principals and ideas." Unlike the other two works, which used the full company, this choreography was performed by seven dancers. They moved as a group, creating designs and patterns. When dancers touched, as in duets, their movements were fluid and seemed to inspire each other. Charmene Yap was notable in her duet. This piece, too, seemed to go on longer than necessary.
Last on the program was Frame of Mind (NY premiere), choreographed by Artistic Director Bonachela. Program note: "Frame of Mind was born of my own experience of wanting to be in two places at once." The lighting design, again by Cisterne, was dark, employing spotlights and some strobe effects (again). The music was written by Bryce David Dressner, originally written for Kronos Quartet. The dancers, wearing black tops and shorts, performed on a stage with two red curtains, creating an angle, reshaping the stage and on which their shadows often appeared, an interesting effect. Again, Dufty and Yap were a joy to see.
There were angular arm movements and other movement vocabulary that were shared by all three works. All were imbued with high energy, but lacked enough changes to sustain interest for the length of each. The lighting ideas were shared by all three pieces presented. The music for all three, too, shared qualities. The performance was single toned, which led to a decline of attention as each piece continued.
Photo credit: Jack Saltmiras