Season Preview: Your guide to the arts in 2021

A few days before Sydney Dance Company premiered Impermanence in March this year, the doors of the theatre were closed due to COVID-19 and the season was cancelled. It was a “heartbreaking disappointment”, said SDC Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela.

Bonachela had created Impermanence to a brand new score by Bryce Dessner, which had been co-commissioned with the Australian String Quartet who were to perform the music live on stage.

Originally it was a short piece programmed as part of a triple bill. Not any more. Now a full-length work, Impermanence will open Sydney Dance Company’s 2021 season at the Roslyn Packer Theatre in February, and will later tour nationally.

Impermanence promotional image. Photograph © Pedro Greig

“The COVID shutdown inspired me to extend Impermanence to make it a full-length work – a response to the uncertainty we all face,” said Bonachela.

Impermanence sees the dancers joined onstage by our dear friends, the exceptional Australian String Quartet, playing Bryce Dessner’s exquisite score live. How poignant that a work originally influenced by the fragility of existence is the first to be staged after the devastation of the pandemic.”

Dessner – who founded iconic New York rock band The National, wrote the film scores for The Revenant and The Two Popes, and also composes classical music – was initially inspired by the tragedy of the Australian bushfires and the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has added an additional emotional punch with the work, which SDC describes as “a visceral and thrilling exploration of the juxtaposition of beauty and devastation”.

ab [intra]. Photograph © Pedro Greig

In September, SDC will present a revival of Bonachela’s powerful, highly acclaimed work ab [intra], which was first staged in 2018 and then presented on a sold-out European tour in 2019. Created with the dancers of the company, it explores the extremes of human emotion, and is performed to music that fuses a lush cello concerto with ambient electronica.

“The name ab [intra] means ‘from within’ in Latin, and Rafael Bonachela’s new work does indeed sweep you into its own dazzling, taut, beautiful, almost otherworldly place – so much so that there are times you realise you have almost forgotten to breathe,” said the Limelight review.

In November, SDC will present the eighth edition of its choreographic development program New Breed, showcasing a series of new works by emerging Australian dance creators.

SDC has announced the dates of its 2021 Sydney seasons, and the dates for the national tour of Impermanence. Additional performances outside of Sydney will be announced in early 2021.

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