What happens when Sydney Dance Company's artistic director Rafael Bonachela joins forces with founding member of rock band The National, Bryce Dessner?
The capital will find out this weekend when the Sydney Dance Company performs Impermanence at the Canberra Theatre Centre, where Dessner's score will be performed live by the Australian String Quartet.
This is the second time Dessner - whose work also includes scores for the films The Revenant and The Two Popes - has been co-commissioned by the Sydney Dance Company and the Australian String Quartet, following the 2015 performance, Frame of Mind.
However, this time, the work has seen more direct collaboration between Dessner and Bonachela.
"When we were working on Frame of Mind, Bryce had never seen my choreography, but he was in Sydney and he watched us during rehearsal and he said to me, 'When are we working together again?'" Bonachela said.
"This time he knew about the energy of my choreography, he knew that it is very layered, very physical, very emotional. He always told me that he had the dancers in mind this time.
"He was creating music for these dancers and my choreography. It was always going to be fast, it was going to be urgent, it was going to be intricate, it was going to be emotional."
Impermanence was originally inspired by the Notre Dame fire in 2019 and the 2019/2020 Australian bushfires and explores the transience and fragility of existence.
It was originally set to premiere in Sydney at the beginning of last year as a 40-minute piece. However, three days before opening night, the performance was postponed due to coronavirus.
The extra time saw the work expand to a full-length piece after Bonachela and Dessner were inspired by the Covid experience.
"Nothing is permanent and I thought that was such a beautiful concept for live performance because it's vulnerable, it's fragile, it's in the moment. It's something that you live right now and then it goes," Bonachela said.
"And I think we were interested in the juxtaposition of beauty and devastation. Nothing is permanent means there's destruction, death, change, but change also brings new life.
"Elements of this experience of Covid and isolation, and everything that was always permanent - contact with family, travel, human touch - is not permanent and it's taken away from us. So the work has become even more poignant, and emotionally charged."
Impermanence marks Bonachela's first choreographic work in two years.
It is also the first Sydney Dance Company piece to tour since Covid and has already been performed in Adelaide and regional Victoria.
Like many people across the world, the pause in touring was a change of pace for Bonachela and the rest of the company as they have spent their careers touring with shows.
"I have been on the road since I was a dancer, then also when I became a choreographer. There's only so much you can do in your studio, so touring, it's everything. It means everything," Bonachela said.
"This is the third trip and so far, the response from the audiences, the enthusiasm from the audiences and the connection, has been a bit more special than before.
"People have been deprived of being able to gather and experience culture in this way. So it's a joy. It's where we belong, and we love doing it."
Impermanence at the Canberra Theatre Centre on Saturday from 7.30pm. Tickets from canberratheatrecentre.com.au.
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