A lone woman in white enters the stage in the glow of a flickering fluorescent tube. As the spotlight grows, her body ripples and pulses, flowing seamlessly from one movement to the next. It seems she’s reaching for something just beyond her grasp, but watching her yearning is beautiful. When she’s joined by a man, their bodies loop and join without stopping in a captivating sequence of continuous movement.
The liquidity of The Land of Yes and the Land of No’s opening is swiftly undercut in the next section, in which the ensemble of ten dancers emerge from the wings to cross the stage with deft, unified and angular movements. Their unison is so perfect, their conformity so complete that when one body is (deliberately) out of synch with the others it causes a genuine shock and minor discomfort for the eyes.
This tension between control and release, the group and the individual, the permitted and the regulated, is what drives Rafael Bonachela’s latest work for the Sydney Dance Company. Backed by Ezio Bosso’s score (with clear nods to Bach), production design by Alan Macdonald and costumes by Theo Clinkard, it is a work that moves lightly across the stage, with no moment too long or too hard. The interplay between the dancers’ all-white costumes and the shifting colour of the backdrop screen illuminates a series of interactions exploring the dual desires of conformity and rebellion.
But there’s not much to rebel against in this work, which has all the hallmarks of Bonachela’s choreography and dramaturgy: technical excellence, visual clarity and an exploration of human experience that is broad without generalising. Bonachela is a master at captivating and enchanting his audience, and his work is deliberately non-confrontational. The Land of Yes and the Land of No doesn’t aim to change the way you see the world -- but it might be the most beautiful expression of what you already know.