In what promises to be one of the most exciting dance offerings of the year, this March Sydney Dance Company brings together three very different new works for De Novo, a night of dance that also draws on the talents of leading names in contemporary music and fashion design.
Leading the triple-bill is Emergence, a new work by SDC artistic director Rafael Bonachela featuring a specially commissioned soundtrack from singer-songwriter Sarah Blasko and costumes by fashion designer Dion Lee. Also on the bill are Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman’s joyful Cacti, and up and coming Australian choreographer Larissa McGowan’s hilarious Fanatic.
“Each piece is completely different in style – I’ve loved the challenge of learning the diverse range of movement,” said dancer Jesse Scales, who is rehearsing for all three pieces.
Both Scales and fellow dancer Chris Aubrey said they were particularly excited to be working on Emergence, with its specially commissioned Sarah Blasko soundtrack.
“The music is a collaboration between Nick Wales and Sarah Blasko. Sarah’s voice provides a moody tone,” Aubrey said.
“It’s different to have lyrics in the music. It’s a concept that I haven’t yet experienced with Raf’s works,” Scales continued.
While Emergence sees the ensemble dancing in exquisite tailor-made costumes by acclaimed Sydney designer Dion Lee, Cacti will present audiences with a different visual feast: the sight of SDC dancers moving about the stage amidst real, potted cacti. Sounds like a nerve-racking experience for a dancer.
“I guess having cacti on stage as props could add to the excitement, although I am planning on an excitement-free performance by keeping the cactus spines exactly where they belong,” Aubrey chuckled.
“It definitely has a pace to it, and there are very creative moments and very comical ones. Working with props is different for us as well, with the big white boxes and the little cacti. It’s another element for us to juggle and focus on during the piece,” Scales said.
De Novo saves perhaps its most unusual piece for last: Fanatic is a tongue-in-cheek exploration of sci-fi fan culture, set in the lounge room of a disillusioned fan who uses YouTube to vent his feelings on the latest installment of the Alien vs. Predator franchise. Aubrey in particular has his work cut out for him, playing both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Predator.
“Fanatic is pure entertainment. [It] can appear light and comical from the outside, but as performers it is the opposite. There are so many styles, rhythms, emotional and tonal shifts through this work that you must be present in the moment the whole time. It is certainly a kick-arse 15 minutes,” he said.
“The trick for us is to not play it like we’re trying to be funny otherwise it looks like you’re overplaying it,” Scales said.
“I think the complete switch that we need to make to change from character to character seems strangely comical to the audience: it’s like watching people with split personalities on steroids.”