Rafael Bonachela -” the ruggedly handsome choreographic prodigy -” is in rehearsals for his latest contemporary dance piece. But the man whose star clients include pop princess Kylie Minogue and the forever young Tina Turner is more than happy to step away and talk to the Sydney Star Observer about the work and his incredible life.
Despite being schooled in classical and contemporary disciplines, Rafael has famously managed to oscillate between the mainstream and the avant garde. The Barcelona native has developed his own distinct language of movement that has propelled the dancer to the fore of his field.
Writers use words to express [themselves]. I am a choreographer, to speak I need movement and the body. My language has its own nuance and dialect, Bonachela told Sydney Star Observer.
It’s like painting with different colours, tones and depths. Sometimes I paint very fast, other sections are much slower.
Bonachela has a seven-year working relationship with Kylie Minogue, the queen of colour. He first began collaborating with the pint-sized pop princess on her 2002 Fever tour. It was a significant step in the charming choreographer’s career. A contempo-rary dancer, with his pedigree, taking on a commercial project of such scale was unheard of at the time.
I didn’t understand why she came to me. The pop princess of the world was giving me work … an artistic contemporary dancer from the most prestigious contemporary companies, he said.
She said she wanted something different and unique, not the same steps that every commercial dancer uses. I knew I could definitely give her something she hadn’t used in her tours before.
The result was visual Viagra. Minogue’s Fever tour was widely praised as a groundbreaking pop tour for its themes, sets and audience sensitivities.
It was very futuristic and she wanted to move away from the typical pop shows, with tops off and men shimmying, something a bit more challenging for the audience, Bonachela said.
I made it frivolous and entertaining but in a contemporary, artistic way. I just followed my instincts and she loved [it] … she was so nice and made me feel so comfortable, we worked so well together.
Bonachela’s new show won’t be harking back to his work with Minogue. While there is undeniably amazing commercial choreography in the piece, contemporary dance takes a completely different approach.
The yet to be titled performance takes a more intellectual standpoint, Bonachela said. The show will appeal to the emotions of the audience and aim to elicit a mimetic reaction through focus on conceptual and thematic frameworks, not relying solely on the visual.
There is always a concept -“ in this case there are going to be many because it’s an hour performance. There will be moments of tenderness and rage and abandonment … there will be a purity to this piece, he said.
I’m not into making chewed dances or something that feels processed. It will be organic. I like to challenge the audience. I am not telling them what to think, but more pushing for an emotional reaction.
Contemporary dance is not usually centered around a narrative or prescribed plot, like Swan Lake or Romeo and Juliet. It is about interpreting a physical performance and allowing that presentation to move you.
The point is not what the audience feels but that they do feel from my work, Bonachela said. Everyone is an individual and intelligent enough to come out with their own reading.
He promises the world premiere piece will be fresh and innovative. Audiences will see a new language never seen before. The work has no limits or restrictions -“ Bonachela has been given freedom to take it anywhere he wants.
I entertain and am fun, but on a different frequency to that of commercial dance, he said.
I love both worlds. I love switching from both and pull my audience into this interplay.
Bonachela’s motivation in visual arts and popular culture gives his work a distinctive brand that is sure to continue the growth of his global fan base. Known as a movement junkie, the acclaimed choreographer explores and experiments with every inch of the human body, pulling and prodding it in every position possible … now that’s hot.
Rafael Bonachela’s new work will be staged at CarriageWorks 9 July-16 August at 8pm. Tickets to the evening shows, A-reserve $59/$53/B-reserve $48/$43. For more information visit www.carriageworks.com.au.