Today I am speaking with the Artistic Director of Sydney Dance Company, Rafael Bonachela. Rafael grew up in the small town of La Garriga near Barcelona in Spain, the eldest of 4 brothers. With no dance school in the town, the young Rafael would instead create dances for himself and his classmates, before at 15, being allowed to take the train to Barcelona to take his first dance class. It was a pivotal moment—both a star and a passion was born. By 17 he was offered a professional contract and was travelling Europe as a contemporary dancer. But rather than continue on that trajectory, Rafael wanted to hone his craft, and decided to return to the studio to train, he moved to London and trained with London Studio Centre. From here, Rafael’s world exploded—with dance, with love, and with creating movement—which now had a name, choreography.
In this beautifully intimate and joyful interview, Rafael talks about his early years in Spain, bullying, coming out in London just as AIDS had arrived on the scene, losing hair, finding love, life and choreography and living out his dreams. But more than that, Rafael talks about how he came to accept the position of Artistic Director with Sydney Dance Company, what he looks for in selecting dancers and how he has turned Sydney Dance Company into a powerhouse of contemporary dance in Australia, recognised across the globe.
Rafael continues to lead the Sydney Dance Company. The Company is now back on the stage and touring “Impermanence,” the work Rafael created during Covid. For tour dates and to buy tickets, head to sydneydancecompany.com, or you can find Sydney Dance Company on Instagram @sydneydanceco, and to follow all of Rafael’s adventures, you can follow him @rafaelbonachela.
Rafael and I recorded our conversation in Sydney on the land of the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation, to whom we pay our greatest respects.
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