When Rafael Bonachela first splayed the music he planned to use for Cinco to his dancers they told him he was crazy.
Composed by Argentinian Alberto Ginastera, String Quartet No. 2 was the key inspiration to the Sydney Dance Company's artistic director's piece for this week's triple bill performance in Canberra. However, it's powerful and at times intense nature led the piece's five dancers to believe that it was more worthy of a larger cast.
"As an artist and a choreographer you're always looking for new challenges and for me I knew that this piece of music and that drive and impact, to match it only with five dancers would in itself be a journey but I am so incredibly proud of every little bit that the dancers have given of themselves ... because by the end it is relentless," Bonachela said.
The choreographer had the classical piece running through his mind for three years before finally hitting the studio in January, and said it couldn't have been more of an appropriate year to finally create Cinco. This year is the Sydney Dance Company's 50th anniversary and Bonachela sees these five decades as just another quintet to inspire his choreography.
"The piece has five movements, so in my mind, there were five decades of Sydney Dance Company and I'm going to use five dancers," he said. "It was written in the 1950s, so it was all drawing to the number five and that is why I called in Cinco, which is five in Spanish. In a way, it came from a very simple idea but it was really the music that drove it."
Cinco joins Gabrielle Nankivell's Neon Aether and Canberra-born Melanie Lane's Woof at Canberra Theatre until May 4. They're just two of the Australian choreographers to be featured in the company's 2019 program, in a year that Bonachela only wanted to commission Australian artists.
"When I thought about Sydney Dance Company, a company that has always been supporting Australian artists - even though in my 10 years with the company I have commissioned international artists to come and work with us - this year I wanted it to be about Australian artists," he said. "So Melanie Lane who is born in Canberra and Gabrielle Nankivell from Adelaide, they are both incredible choreographers. In the way that Sydney Dance Company has, in a sense, always been about artists. So that was my take on the 50th."
A Sydney Dance Company triple bill is a rarity for Australian audiences, with the company usually saving these for international performances. But, as dancer Chloe Leong said, the format provides a varied night of dance.
"You have the first piece Neon Aether which is really sparse and with beautiful images, but also a very vibey, contemporary, modern scheme to it," she said. "In the middle you have Cinco which is slightly related to a neo-classical piece and then you have Woof at the end, where you're in a club and along the journey with all the dancers who are just having a huge amount of time on stage. I think is great for audiences to come and see three such different forms of contemporary dance."