Profile: Spanish born choreographer Rafael Bonachela’s stellar career both as a dancer and choreographer began in Barcelona where at the age of seventeen he performed with Lanonima Imperial.
The Early Years: He traveled to England and joined Rambert Dance Company in 1992 where he remained as a lead dancer and Associate Choreographer until 2005. It was Rafael’s commitment to concentrate on the creation of his own dance works that saw him move away from Rambert to form Bonachela Dance Company in 2006.
Dancer: As a dancer, Rafael has performed in works by many of the world’s leading choreographers including Merce Cunningham, Richard Alston, Christopher Bruce, Siobhan Davies, Jiri Kylian, Twyla Tharp, Mats Ek, Javier de Frutos, Wayne McGregor, Kim Brandstrup, Mark Baldwin, Jeremy James, Per Jonsson, Lindsay Kemp, Ohad Naharin, Karole Armitage, Matthew Hawkins, Frederick Ashton and Antony Tudor.
Choreography: His dynamic and exciting work has resulted in commissions from companies around the world. Among them, Sydney Dance Company, which in 2008 commissioned Rafael’s first full length production 360o. Less than six months later, Rafael’s appointment as Artistic Director of Sydney Dance Company made headlines in the dance world and began a new era in Australian contemporary dance.
Rafael Bonachela describes himself as a ‘movement junkie’ and the exploration and experimentation of pure movement is his motivation. In addition to his own movement vocabulary, he finds inspiration in the visual arts and popular culture, which gives his work a distinctive style. He is a choreographer committed to innovation.
The first of nine works for Rambert Dance Company, Three Gone, Four Left Standing, premiered in 1998 at Sadler’s Wells Theatre. He was appointed as Rambert’s Associate Choreographer in 2003, a position he held until 2005.
In 2002, Bonachela’s career took an interesting turn when he was invited to choreograph Kylie Minogue’s routine at the Brit Awards. His unique approach to choreography, combining contemporary dance within a more mainstream context, was so highly acclaimed that he went onto work extensively with Ms Minogue, as well as other popular artists and clients including Tina Turner, The Kills, Primal Scream, Juliet, Jaguar Automóviles, Siemens Mobile and Hugo Boss.
Awards: He has won many Awards including the first ever Place Prize award for choreography, along with the Audience Vote Award and the New York Bloomberg Choice Award (2004); third place in the 19th International choreographic competition in Hanover,Germany, the Choo San Goh Award and TIME OUT Award for best show of the year (all in 2005). In 2007, Bonachela Dance Company was nominated by the National Dance Awards Critics Circle for Outstanding Repertoire (Modern).
After the launch of Bonachela Dance Company in 2006, Rafael was announced as one of the first Artists in Residence at the South Bank Centre, London. This association with the South Bank Centre will continue alongside his artistic directorship of Sydney Dance Company.