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Dancing Toward Spain With Rafael Bonachela

Missed out on a Euro summer this year? No worries – Sydney Dance Company is bringing Spain to you in Sydney.

Photo: Pedro Greig

The world premiere and inaugural season of Up Close: Somos draws from its Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela’s Spanish roots as a project with “a distinct Latin flavour.”

Held in the Neilson Studio at the Wharf, the performance features music by iconic Latin musicians such as Rosalía, Silvia Pérez Cruz, Buika, Arca, Diego Carrasco and Las Migas to accompany its dance performances. Before and after the show, audiences can visit Bar Boca – Sydney Dance Company’s café space transformed for the performance – for an extended Spanish experience. From home, if they still want more, Sydney Dance Company offers a dedicated playlist to prolong the show's atmosphere.

Bonachela shared, “Somos is possibly my most intensely personal work yet. This is the very first time in my career that I have returned to my Spanish roots, digging deep and exploring how my home country has helped to shape me as an artist and as a person, honouring my family and the traditions of my place of birth.”

Photo: Pedro Greig

Neighbourhood Media caught up with him to learn more about what we can expect from this deeply personal and cultural project.

If this is our first encounter with your work, what should we know about you?

Rafael Bonachela: I work as a Choreographer, Artistic Director and Curator, spanning both high art and popular culture. Somos is no different, with its passionate yet highly technical movement blending modernity and tradition.

How will you incorporate your Spanish heritage into the show?

In my fifteenth year as Artistic Director of Sydney Dance Company, Somos is my most intensely personal work yet. Meaning ‘we are’ in Spanish, in Somos, I reclaim the traditions of my place of birth and explore how they’ve moulded me as a person and artist. Somos revisits traditional forms with a modern sensitivity, exploring tragedy, aggression and passion.

How else does Somos reflect your journey?

Somos represents the very first time in my career that I have returned to my Spanish roots, digging deep and exploring how my home country has helped shape me as an artist and person, honouring my family and the traditions of my place of birth.

I was born in the small Spanish town of La Garriga just outside of Barcelona in the 1970s at the end of Francoist Spain, when the country moved back to democratic rule. When I was born in La Garriga, a society that was going through 36 years of dictatorship, the country had experienced a lot of hardship and pain. I was born at a time of hope and change, and that change happened quickly.

Somos captures an awakening after such a painful and turbulent time and a celebration of heritage and identity.

How can we get into the mood of Somos?

As Sydney Dance Company’s first-ever mainstage season in our intimate Neilson Studio, Somos offers audiences total immersion. For the duration of the season, Bar Boca offers wining and dining before and after performances, complete with live music on Friday and Saturday nights.

The Up Close: Somos playlist is a curation of iconic Latin artists, including Rosalia, Silvia Perez Cruz, Buika, Arca, Chavela Vargas and Estrella Morente. Each imbued with different flavours and feelings, they are the canvas upon which I’ve choreographed a cascade of solos, duets and trios. You can listen to the playlist on Sydney Dance Company’s Spotify account.

What do you hope we’ll take away from Somos?

Somos is performed in the round, allowing the audience to witness the Company’s extraordinary artistry closer than ever before. So close you can see every breath, every muscle movement, every emotion. It’s this intensity of connection, collectiveness and communal experience that I hope will linger long after the lights are out.

Tickets for Up Close: Somos are available from $35 for performances between 1 – 18 November at Neilson Studio at Sydney Dance Company.

An audio-described performance, tactile tour and performance will also be run on Saturday, 11 November.

For tickets, call 02 9221 4811, email or book online at

By Tahney Fosdike


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