Choreographer Rafael Bonachela and composer Ezio Bosso have collaborated with tremendous success once again to create 6 Breaths. Performed by the Sydney Dance Company, 6 Breaths is a composition inspired by six forms of breath. It was followed by a second work called LANDforms, an emotional response to the effect of weather elements on landscapes. 6 Breaths charts the journey from human’s first breath (at birth) to their last. Played by six cellos, it is divided into six sections including ‘Out of Breath (breathless)’, ‘Crying Breath (weeping)’ and ‘Under One’s Breath (whisper)’. Bonachela was intrigued by the different types of breath and their significance, despite the fact we take this vital function for granted.

Sydney Dance Company in <i>LANDforms</i>, © Wendell Teodoro
Sydney Dance Company in LANDforms,
© Wendell Teodoro

The show opened with a powerful projection of a man, pieced together by fragments that frequently formed and broke apart. Coupled with Ezio Bosso’s music, this ethereal sight was eerie yet breath-taking. The ambiguity of the image helped heighten the atmosphere as the lights by Ren Kenward slowly revealed the silhouettes of the dancers behind the gauze screen.

What was most notable from this piece was how in tune the dancers were with one another, like a machine. The opening sequence, ‘First Breath (life breath)’ was a powerful show of agility and beauty. The abstract movements depicting new life were enthralling. So often, the simplicity of one movement was juxtaposed by the unusual tilt of a head or flick of a wrist. You were left awe-struck, in anticipation of the next sequence. Each dancer performed effortlessly throughout, never losing an ounce of intensity. It was as if they were performing the dance for the first time.

‘Crying Breath (weeping)’ was a trance-like sequence between two male soloists. As they danced, they became like one body, continually linked by intricate leg extensions and lifts. At times, their movements were heavy and pained like heaving cries, at others slow and fluid like silent breaths. The soloists must be praised for their balance of elegance and masculinity. Out of all the sections, this one had the greatest connection to Bonachela’s intended concept of breathing.

There was no doubt; Sydney Dance Company was at its best when dancing together. The blocking of sequences was outstanding, with all sixteen dancers weaving in and out of formation with ease. This required impeccable timing and stamina from the dancers, which they all had in spades. There was always something new and unique happening across the stage to marvel at. The transient nature of the dance left you wishing moments could be frozen in time, allowing you to marvel at their magnificence for that second longer.

Ezio Bosso’s music was superb. It complemented the dancing perfectly, and we could clearly tell there had been a close collaboration between choreographer and composer.

If I am to stretch to find faults with this performance, I would say LANDforms brought a decrease in pace, which, although interesting for the first view sequences, lost my focus slightly. The similarity of movements, with their languid style needed greater variety at times. However, these feelings were overshadowed by the finale. Taking inspiration from rain, the denouement of LANDforms displayed a strip of water falling from the roof of the theatre onto the stage. The dancers moved through this sheet of rain as they danced which was a wondrous sight to behold. Bonachela’s work was dance at its best.

****1