If you’ve seen the posters around town advertising the Sydney Dance Company’s latest double bill, Shared Frequencies, chances are you may have walked into a pole while ogling the super-sexy images of the company’s nude dancers, their bodies intertwined as water shimmers across their lithe, rippling frames.
Guest choreographer Jacopo Godani is creating the double bill’s title work, which will be presented alongside LANDforms, an original piece by artistic director Rafael Bonachela.
He told the Star Observer the posters were not necessarily indicative of what audiences would see on stage.
“There is a lot of sexuality, but not as a message, not as the content. When you work with abstract concepts like we do, it depends on what kind of significance your mind gives to the images we portray. I don’t think there’s anything intentionally sexual in what we do,” he said.
“So no, there’s not going to be any fucking on stage, if that’s the question!”
This wicked sense of humour is a surprising quality from an Italian-born choreographer whose formidable reputation precedes him.
The Star Observer perused Godani’s exhaustive five-page CV before our chat, the document detailing his world-spanning two-decade dance career alongside other intimidating tidbits (he’s fluent in Italian, English, Spanish and French — but only intermediate in German. Tut tut).
He shrugged when we told him just reading his resume made us want to curl up in bed for the rest of the week.
“You don’t need to study for 20 years to do something — you can just do it. In moments of crisis, so many people are unable to reinvent themselves and change paths, but I’ve discovered in my own life that it’s possible to do many things and do them well. I’ve discovered that most of us only function at 1 percent of our capacity, which sucks,” he said matter-of-factly.
And what percentage is he functioning at?
“I think I’m at about 40 or 50 percent. I could do much more,” he sighed.
Godani seems a kindred spirit for Bonachela, a fellow Mediterranean high achiever. He said that while the two had observed each other from afar for years, this was their first opportunity to work side by side.
“Rafael and I see things very much alike. His humbleness in his work and not taking himself too seriously — those are things we share. We both like to work on a very high professional level, but without any attitude or drama.
“And of course Rafael is very keen on having other people come here and work with the company. He wants to give his dancers and his audience different points of view.”
It’s for this reason that the pair have been reticent to share their respective works in progress since Godani arrived in Sydney four weeks ago.
“I saw one run-through of his piece, the day I arrived. But since then I’ve stayed away — I don’t think it’s a good idea [to share]. We are here to propose as much originality as possible.
“If we can bring people into two completely different universes, that’ll be the best achievement.”
LANDforms takes its inspiration from the fluidity of landscapes and features a live aria from Katie Noonan alongside a luscious string score.
The pair’s method of enforced seclusion seems to be working, because Bonachela’s piece sounds a world away from what we witnessed when we sat in on a rehearsal with Godani and the company — the work is filled with jagged, fractured movements accompanied by a dark, unsettling score composed by German electronic duo 48 Nord.
For a non-dancer, the language used in the rehearsal room is puzzlingly esoteric: “more quality in the body,” Godani insisted at one point, “more playful, almost like you’re whistling a song.”
But the dancers all speak the same language, and understand his critiques innately.
Before long, we were able to watch part of the show in motion, with stunning male dancers Wayne Parsons and Richard Cilli (that’s his bum, emblazoned across every second bus stop in Sydney) engaged in a tense, passionate spar that oozed sexuality.
And true to his word, Godani was a firm but fun choreographer, commanding instant respect when he entered the room but still leaving time for playful asides.
He broke away from the dancers at one point to jokingly chide an art class also sitting in on the session, using the dancers as figure studies.
“Look at all this blank white paper. What is this, abstract art? Come on guys, I want to see progress by the end of the class!”
info: Shared Frequencies is at the Sydney Dance Company, March 29 – April 16. Visit www.sydneydancecompany.com
Photo by Tim Richardson.