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Sydney Dance Company // Louder Than Words

by Elisa Parry

If I couldn’t see every vertebrae of her back I would wonder if she was real, if she had weight, if she wasn’t just muscle and water – something fluid that spilt across the stage.

Beneath the low hanging globes that arch cathedral-like from the ceiling, two women dressed in wine-red shifts collide with an almost violence. The music pulses an intermittent techno beat. They run fast frantic circles, only to come together again in anger, desperation, lust.

This is the opening scene of Scattered Rhymes, a world premiere by Rafael Bonachela, and it proves beyond a shadow of doubt that actions speak louder than words.

More dancers enter to hauntingly choral tones. Their bodies contort and writhe on the stage. It’s not beautiful. It’s chaos.10590487_10152553573694221_5583634404950139352_n

For a while I look for the story, but lose it in the movement. I focus on the shapes instead and am rewarded as patterns slowly emerge, as the beauty begins.

Tarik O’Regan and Nick Wales composed the score for Scattered Rhymes. It combines 14th century religious choral music, with Petrarch’s poetry on unrequited love and is glued together in parts by some pretty spacey, trance beats. Overall I’d call it comfortably confronting.

In fact, the whole composition seems to make perfect sense and no sense at all. The struggle of unrequited love is there in the unflattering angles and jerking limbs yet the interspersed duets provide harmonious interludes of reciprocation.

As the curtain falls I release a breath I didn’t realise I was holding. Intense doesn’t begin to describe it. We stumble out to intermission mildly awed ready for well-deserved champagne.

After the onslaught of Scattered Rhymes, I’m slightly more prepared for Parenthesis by Andonis Foniadakis, the second world premiere for the evening. The dancing has begun before the curtain is fully up and it becomes very clear, very quickly, that this performance will not be lacking in intensity either.


It begins with a storm. The curtains billow, the thunder claps, the tension builds. Foniadakis aimed to explore ‘the relation of duality and all the external interactions that might disturb or interrupt it’. We watch as dancers interact with just one other, versus the group. There’s a strong ‘two’s company three or more’s a crowd’ vibe about it. The music is sparse. It’s interspersed by a sultry female voice and later a deep, distorted male voice, who I’m almost certain is actually Bane from Batman – though that could have been the champagne. The final duet is one of the most powerfully intimate things I have ever seen.

Then suddenly it’s over. I’m exhausted from simply watching. But really it’s more than watching – it’s experiencing. Such vivacious energy can’t be confined to the stage, it leaks out into the crowd, follows us home. Fills our dreams with wine-red cathedrals full of unrequited love.

Sydney Dance Company’s Louder Than Words runs from October 4-18 at Sydney Theatre. For tickets visit

Photos by Peter Greig and Wendell Levi Teodoro via Sydney Dance Company.



elisa-picElisa grew up in a sleepy town on the far south coast of New South Wales. When she was seventeen she moved to Denmark on a Rotary Exchange for a year before returning to study Creative Writing and Media and Communications at the University of Wollongong. Having become well acquainted with the travel bug, it wasn’t long before she secured a scholarship to study abroad in Spain. Since then she’s backpacked across Europe, camper-vanned around New Zealand and explored the Yasawa Islands of Fiji. She’s spent the last two years writing for radio, has previously worked in Publicity, and has had a number of short stories published.

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