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Frame of Mind reviewed

By Fiona Prior - posted Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Sydney Dance Company's 2015 season begins with a double bill by choreographic living legend William Forsythe and Sydney Dance Company's own Artistic Director, Rafael Bonachela.

Although second on the program, I will start with Bonachela's Frame of Mind as it is the more accessible piece. In a media article published in the lead up to the premier of Frame of Mind in Sydney last weekend Bonachela explained that the work was born from an emotional moment where he wanted to be in many places at the one time ... with his mother who was ill and in another country / with his partner who was residing in the US / and also in Sydney with new friends and challenges.


He was walking through a park and listening to music by Bryce Dessner (from the album Ahaym, a collaboration with Kronos Quartet) when he was suddenly overcome by this impossible longing. Frame of Mind projects the complexity of our emotions and the links our psyche has with other places, other times and other periods of our life.

The set of Frame of Mind is a large, New York style studio with peeling paintwork and a huge window successfully used – by virtue of the lighting by Ben Cistern – to symbolise the passing of time and to create a shadow world that is as much a part of our present selves as are the intricate relationships so skilfully woven by the dances on the stage floor.

This marvellous set, along with costumes, came courtesy of Ralph Myers. The costume designs were minimal and dark, allowing the Sydney Dance Company performers to move without encumbrance and to waft, spin, hook-up with an other/others and to melt into the shadows at various times throughout the performance. Even if the night's performance were only this piece, I'd recommend your attendance.

Appearing for its Australian premiere, Quintett is the treasured work of ground-breaking choreographer William Forsythe, and is publically known as the final love letter Forsythe created for his dying wife, dancer Tracy-Kai Maier.

One of Forsythe's most closely guarded dance works, Quintett has rarely been performed outside of his direct supervision. In the 22 years since its creation, only seven companies around the world have been permitted to present the piece. Quintette's season in Australia is the first time the work has been staged in the Southern Hemisphere!

As you can imagine, Quintett contains a myriad of emotions and it is accompanied by a remarkable soundtrack – a sentence spoken by a homeless person has been recorded, then put on a loop by Gavin Bryars as the extraordinary Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet. I took a non-Sydneysider to Frame of Mind to give her a taste of some of the Sydney's unique culture.


Mind you, it is Mardi Gras weekend in Sydney so Sydney is representing her own life and colour well!

I'm used to more inaccessible works but my friend was not, and she found the looped soundtrack of Quintett detracted from the beauty of the dance. The dancing, of course, was extraordinary, and the work poignant and technically immaculate. I recommend Quintett not just for its beauty but also for its legend. Do be aware, however, that the sound track may challenge you as it did my friend.

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Australian premiere,
William Forsythe's Quintett
World premiere, Rafael Bonachela, Frame of Mind

Sydney Theatre
6 March – 21 March 2015
Phone: 02 9250 1999

Canberra Theatre Centre
30 April – 2 May 2015
Phone: 02 6275 2700

Southbank Theatre, The Sumner, Melbourne
6 – 16 May 2015
Phone: 03 8688 0800

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About the Author

Fiona Prior has contributed to many arts related publications over the last two decades including The Bridge, Pulz, Stiletto, Satellite and Billy Blue.

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