Sydney Dance Company is bringing ab [intra] to Newcastle | Ken Longworth

TIME AND SPACE: Sydney Dance Company is bringing its critically acclaimed show, ab [intra], to the Civic Theatre next month. Photo: Pedro Greig
TIME AND SPACE: Sydney Dance Company is bringing its critically acclaimed show, ab [intra], to the Civic Theatre next month. Photo: Pedro Greig

SYDNEY Dance Company artistic director and choreographer Rafael Bonachela decided to involve all the dancers when he began putting together a very different style of contemporary dance show early this year.

He asked each of them to anonymously write down the thoughts, feelings, ideas and sensations they experienced while they experimented with their movements in the dance studio. The comments they put down included: “soft existence”, “channels and pathways”, “waves”, “feel the floor”, “existing together but not touching”, “bury it”, “so many colours in the spectrum”, and “purposely creating awkward encounters”.

These responses became the driving force for the creation of ab [intra], a show which opened to rave reviews in Sydney in May, and is now touring Australia, with performances at Newcastle’s Civic Theatre on Friday and Saturday, August 10 and 11, at 8pm. After the show finishes its tour in September, it will head overseas.

“Ab intra” is a Latin term meaning “from within”, and the dance routines in the 70-minute show bring out the emotions people feel, when alone and with other people, in a diverse collection of sequences that range from solo pieces to episodes that involve up to 15 of the company’s 17 dancers.

The show’s music blends string instrumentals with electronic soundscapes. Bonachela is obsessive about music, and the shifts in the music styles between freewheeling electronica by composer and long-time collaborator Nick Wales and a more rapturous cello concerto by Latvian composer Peteris Vasks let him place the dancers' gestures in time and space.

While there is no story as such, the interactions of the people in each segment show how people interact when they come together or are left alone in various circumstances.

ab [intra] is the first program-length dance narrative Bonachela has produced at Sydney Dance Company for six years. Most of its works in that time have been short narrative pieces or excerpts from longer dance works.

The nature of the dance routines changes with each segment. There are amusing sequences, moving ones, and others in which the mood changes as the performers get together. Bonachela and the dancers have been acclaimed for the athleticism and physical prowess of their movements and the more lyrical moments of quieter sequences. The different costumes, with one of two female dancers in a routine that shows a clash of opposites clad in a long-sleeved white leotard and the other in a sleeveless high-neck black number, are attention-grabbing. The men are often bare-chested.

Ticket for ab [intra] range from $35 to $58. Bookings: 4929 1977.

Theatre Review

I hope it’s not raining in London

Bearfoot Theatre, at Tantrum Studio, Merewether

Ended Saturday

NICHOLAS Thoroughgood, who wrote this play, is only 18, but he has made its story of two young people who come together, after forgetting what has happened in their lives, a gripping and often amusing story in its running time of around an hour.

The Bearfoot Theatre staging team, headed by director Riley McLean, used the small space of a former church well, sitting the audience on both sides of the platform stage. The production showed how the issues raised in the story could affect all people, with some performances having people of the same sex as the two central characters, and others having a male and female, with those from their lives that they eventually recall also having variable sexes. I saw two shows in which both the main characters were members of the same sex, and there were certainly some differences between the characters. The first staging had Cassie Hamilton, as the One, the demanding person who had first come to the unit, and Taylor Reece as the initially nervous the Other. This One was at first very threatening, and the Other decidedly concerned. In the second, the initial relationship between Jack Twelvetree’s One and Nicholas Thoroughgood’s Other was lighter, but the darkness gradually emerged. Both stagings were attention-grabbing.

* NEWCASTLE Theatre Company has cancelled its  Play in a Day event, listed for August 4-5, because of the unavailability of staging team members. It plans to stage the event in 2019.