Sydney Orchestra, top dancers merge in ‘Project Rameau’

They’re calling it a marriage made in heaven, two of Australia’s leading artistic companies coming together for one collaboration.


The Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Sydney Dance Company usually have the stage to themselves, but in a new performance, Project Rameau, they will share it.

“We both asked each other if this was going to work,” says Richard Tognetti, Artistic Director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra. ”Rafael was the man with the answer – yes.”

With music written for dance by French Baroque composer, Jean-Philippe Rameau, the performance is an opportunity for a new live experience.

“Dancing to recorded music all the time, you are alive and you are dancing, but it can go a bit on auto-pilot,” says Rafael Bonachela, Artistic Director of the Sydney Dance Company.

“The main thing is the small bits of elasticity that come with live performance,” Tognetti says.

“Where you find that the dancers can respond to.., so it’s actually the little things between the notes.”

The little things actually big things for the dancers.

Dancer Andrew Crawford says “I think the energy that comes from the orchestra really helps boost the performance; you don’t actually feel like you are dancing, you are kind of getting danced.”

Fellow dancer Charmene Yap agrees. “It’s very exciting; we don’t usually perform with a live orchestra, so to get the live interaction between the musicians and us on stage.”

On their own each of the two artistic directors lead companies that are at the top of their game and perform to audiences nationally and internationally to acclaim; together, they have created a powerhouse of artistic expression on stage.

But is one stage big enough for two Artistic Directors? Who’s really the boss here?

“We take turns,” says Bonachela.

“Up until now it was definitely Rafael, but now he is just sipping chardonnay with the sponsors, everyone else has to perform,” jokes Tognetti.

The performance opens tonight in Sydney and will tour to Brisbane and Canberra next year.

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