Bonachela's <i>Scattered rhymes</i> © Wendell Teodoro
Bonachela's Scattered rhymes
© Wendell Teodoro
The pace is set from the moment two female dancers run loops around the stage with driven intent, as geometric lines flash vividly across the floor. Eerie, vibrating sounds pierce through the ears of the just-settled audience. In Sydney Dance Company's 45th anniversary year, the world première of 'Louder Than Words' is an intense, perpetual outpouring of energy.

The acclaimed Rafael Bonachela's dramatic stop-start partner work begins in an electric ambience as 121 hanging white cylinder lights zap, as if we’ve been caught in giant jellyfish tentacles. As more dancers appear, movement is controlled, hitting the fast-paced vocal sounds of Tarik O’Regan’s Scattered Rhymes, reminiscent of 14th century religious choral music. Angular elbows, flexed feet and bent knees are coupled with quick pencil turns and swinging arms. The timing of the movements in relation to the staccato vocal beats creates the vision of bodies imitating the dramatic facial expressions of the gospel singer through movement.

Bonachela's <i>Scattered rhymes</i> © Wendell Teodoro
Bonachela's Scattered rhymes
© Wendell Teodoro
The dancers become increasingly expressive, as they throw their heads back and open their mouths in a sudden, silent scream - while throwing their arms up, fingers outstretched. These sudden jolts and quirky gestures, with thumbs and pinky fingers extended, indicate the sort of outburst of emotion of scattered minds. Partner work plays upon the idea of unrequited love, as dancers connect in disjointed shapes, attempting but failing to unite as one. Duos transfer energy via push and pull extensions, in a curious display of seemingly clashing personalities. One female dancer pulls free from a male, walking on wobbly tip-toes in a brief moment of fragility as if literally ‘finding her feet’ in the face of independence. Notable moments include Charmene Yap being pulled across the stage by three males, gliding in a deep forward split, while the company yet again executes a superb canon effect. In a line, dancers unfold one after the other, swinging their arms in quick succession in a repetitive visual delight.

Flailing strips of dark fabric hang from the ceiling, creating an ‘edgeless’ stage in the second work, Andonis Foniadakis’ Parenthesis. Dancers advance in lines through this intriguing moving curtain, in a strut-like movement to the powerful beat. It’s almost as if the dancers are moving in fast-forward, with continuous, swinging heads and throwing limbs, driven by the building, droning sounds of overlapping violins and noises that resemble a ticking clock. Tassos Sofroniou’s female costuming is particularly striking, in aqua, boysenberry and navy shades. The flattering layers of pleated free-flowing fabric contrast with the fitted busts in intricate angular cuts.

Whilst it is difficult for the dancers to hit unison at such a fast pace, their undeniable strength and endurance is to be congratulated. Holding still on the nape of their neck, with their legs swung over in an upside-down fetal position, the dancers' bellies heave as they fleetingly catch their breath in a non-stop, physically demanding performance.

Foniadakis' <i>Parenthesis</i> © Wendell Teodoro
Foniadakis' Parenthesis
© Wendell Teodoro
The sensual closing section features a couple in skin-coloured costuming; highlighting that intimacy is the peak of human connection - the ultimate act of expression where one loses their inhibitions. Overall, the spacing of the dancers creates a frenzied layer of movement as they fling their arms and legs in all directions at a rapid pace. Textured choreography coupled with simultaneous choral voices, electric vibrations, or a constant crescendo of violins, makes for a high-pressure, full body execution which doesn’t give us much time to breathe, but I’d recommend you go along for the wild ride.

***11