Dancing in the Raw

Arts editor HELEN MUSA previews the Sydney Dance Company’s latest Canberra season

HOW on earth do you describe the delicious abstraction of a truly contemporary piece of dance?

“Super sleek and sexy,” one critic drooled over guest choreographer Jacopo Godani’s “Raw Models”, part of the Sydney Dance Company’s triple-bill, “Interplay”, coming to the big stage of the Canberra Theatre in April.

But no, that’s not it, I find, when I talk to the Italian-born choreographer as he prepares to revive “Shared Frequencies”, originally created in 2011 after he met SDC’s director Rafael Bonachela at a contemporary dance symposium in Venice.

It’s more that “we have these creative beings moving in a way that is unreal, sometimes moving super-fast and sometimes floating.”

Jacopo Godani photo by Ben Symons

Choreographer Jacopo Godani… “I have my experience in the artistic and creative matters, but I wish I had more knowledge of the political world.” Photo by Ben Symons

“It’s not easy to describe work such as this,” Godani tells “CityNews”. “I try not to refer to anything… it’s based on the way the body and the mind connect, how our intellects can consent to drive the dance to the maximum of potential.”

Since 2011, there’s been a rollover of dancers in the Sydney Dance Company, so he’s been training a new generation in the work, never before seen in Canberra. “The focus is still the same,” he assures me, “and these are very focused dancers.”

That’s essential because, as he says: “It involves a sophisticated and complicated co-ordination of flight involving the human skeleton’s movement and it’s very eloquent, but I don’t know how to explain it.

“What you see could be from another dimension, but we try to dress it up as something theatrical, with the costumes and light.”

As well, his regular collaborators, the Munich-based experimental electro-acoustic group, 48nord, created the “Raw Models” score. “Working with them is like a shot of adrenalin,” he says. “They really address perfectly the rhythm and the atmosphere needed – we have the beat and the power and the strength.”

Godani is no novice. Originally trained at the Centro Studi Danza in La Spezia, he made his professional debut in Paris, formed his own dance company in Brussels, then was from 1991 to 2000, a leading soloist with William Forsythe’s Ballet Frankfurt, where he also collaborated in creating the company’s signature pieces.

It’s hardly surprising then to learn that Godani has been proposed by the City of Dresden in Germany to become successor to William Forsythe as director of the world-famous Forsythe Company based in Frankfurt, with the possibility of taking up the job in autumn next year.

But Godani is far more cautious than the excited Sydney Dance Company, which has announced it is a fait accompli, telling me: “It is one of the options for me to be artistic director, but this is still just a prospect to be evaluated by the states of Hesse and Saxony, as well as the cities of Dresden and Frankfurt… but I’m still very excited about it.”

He’s not allowed to comment, apart from saying its official that the founder, William Forsythe, is leaving, and that he is one of the potential directors who has been approached. It’s a highly political appointment, with politicians from four different entities to persuade he is capable of managing such a major company.

“I consider myself clever in my own field… I have my experience in the artistic and creative matters, but I wish I had more knowledge of the political world,” he sighs.

“Interplay,” Sydney Dance Company, Canberra Theatre, April 10-12, bookings to 6275 2700 or canberratheatrecentre.com.au

 

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