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How the Magic of Dance will Improve Your Health and Happiness

Studies show that dancing improves our cognitive ability, spatial awareness, confidence and ability to relax and feel happy.

In this episode of Wine and Wisdom, I speak with the iconic Rafael Bonachela who is the Artistic Director of the Sydney Dance Company. I ask him questions like:

  1. What is the importance of the arts in our society? Why are they more important than ever before?
  2. The Sydney Dance Company has obviously had to make major changes in how they have delivered dance to their audience. What have you done? What feedback have you had? What do you say to people who have had to adapt and reinvent themselves because of the corona virus. What insights do you have for them about transitioning?
  3. I’ve seen many people through social media embracing dance in their living rooms while in lockdown. Do you think this has helped people stay physically and mentally healthy? 
  4. Why does dance bring us so much joy and make us feel so good?
  5. What role will dance play in expressing the stories that people have experienced from this challenging time?
  6. What has been the most impactful piece of wisdom that you have received?

#health #happiness #SDCKeepDancing

H – Well, hello, and welcome to the “Wine and Wisdom” show. If you are a returning person to this episode, thank you for coming back. And I’m so pleased that you are here. But if you are here for the very first time, welcome to you too. I’m not sure if you know much about this particular show, but to me, it is all about connection. And I think one thing that we can definitely take away from the last few months from this global pandemic that has put us all into quite a bit of turmoil really, is that one of the silver linings is, as humans, we really do crave connection. We crave connection with other humans who can bring a smile to our face, some warmth to our heart, and some wisdom to our brains. And I feel like I have been extremely lucky throughout my life to be surrounded by some very talented individuals. So the whole connection piece is to firstly, connect with you and have a virtual wine, so cheers!  And secondly, so I can bring the talented, resilient and courageous self-leaders to this show, to share their wisdom.  And tonight, oh my goodness, are we in for a treat! The guest tonight is someone I’ve in fact, and he doesn’t know this, but I have idolised him for over 10 years. He is the artistic director of the one and only Sydney Dance Company.  Tonight, we are going to talk about how the magic of the arts, especially dance as an art form, can help to improve our health and happiness.

So I hope you’ve got something in your wineglass, you’ve got a comfy spot on your couch, you’ve got a very open heart because we are in for the most inspiring conversation with the iconic … Rafael Bonachela.

I am going to bring him on right now? Let’s hope that it works, Oh! There he is! Look at that gorgeous face.

R – I am here!

H – Hello Rafael, thank you for being here.

R – Hello, Heidi. My absolute pleasure, thank you for having me, and for inviting me to spend some time and drink some wine.

H – I was just telling Raf that I have got a very special grand reserve of Spanish wine for tonight in his dedication.  Oh, Katryna’s saying cheers!  And so we would love to know what you are drinking right now.  Are you having a red, a white, a whisky?

R – I’m having a red and it’s Pinot Noir, from Tasmania.

H – Aha, well,

R – That’s what I’m drinking tonight.

H – Thank you for supporting our local wineries, and I’m supporting your local wineries!

R – I know, I know, thank you. Thank you for that.

H – Yes, well. Yes, we’d love to know if you’re having a little sip of wine and what you’re having, tell us where you are and what you’re having and we will get started. So Rafael, please tell me, tell everybody, just a little bit of background, who you are, what you are doing, and how you are sprinkling all your amazingness across the globe?

R – Well, well, well, well. Look for 11 years, I have been incredibly lucky, privileged and honoured to be able to be leading Sydney Dance Company. A company that last year was 50 years old, which is an incredible achievement in the arts for a contemporary arts organisation and dance. And for me my driving force, it’s always that I believe that contemporary dance and what we do as choreographers, dancers, in Sydney Dance Company is one of the most exciting, moving and transformative experiences that audiences can have today. And for me with that belief in mind, my mission, with a company, I’m so fortunate because I’m able to create work, new works of dance, I’m able to commission work of other choreographers, and for me, I want as many audiences from as far from Australia, from overseas from everywhere, to be able to share in that experience that I’m talking about that I know that dance can give to people.  So that is my hope that some of the positive things that we are doing through dance.   

We were meant to be on a tour right now in NSW with the company, in Orange, in Dubbo, you name it, we were going to WA, and we are going to South Australia this year. So, unfortunately, we are not able to, but I do love being able to share dance with everyone. It’s one of the things that I’ve always as a little boy that was born in a small town just outside Barcelona and never had the opportunity to take a dance lesson when I was little. I know the impact that arts … and I know that we will be talking about these tonight … also can have on humans and people. So that’s part of my mission.

H – And when you say that, I know a little bit about your backstory, you’re one of four boys growing up in a family that was not in the art as such, is that correct?

R – No, they were not, but you see, the arts and culture is part of, in Spain, dancing and moving and they have never been to a ballet they had never been to certainly to see contemporary dance or anything like that. My parents were factory workers and having a family post-Franco like I was born with Franco, and there was no dance, I love dancing, and they never stopped me. So there was nothing that they could do because they didn’t know where to take me or never mind the fact that that could be a profession. But they always encouraged me, I joined the choir, just so that I could learn how to sing for free and play the piano and, the artistic side, they really celebrated it, although for them, they didn’t have the possibility to go to theatres or take us to theatres.  They really love music and dance and that is just a very simple way of sharing, that’s what you’re talking about, was part of our background. So I was very lucky in that way.

H – And so was there like this defining moment or something that happened to you? We had a guest last time who talked about the magical dance of choice and chance. How life becomes a chance or it becomes a choice. But for you what was it? Was it chance or was it choice that led you to where you are now?

R – Look, a bit of both, and I have to say that there’s been a few moments in my life that I was like, “I kind of believe that this is happening to me.” Like, “Really?” Really that I never maybe looked for?

H – Yes.

R – But I was very actively sort of working and focusing in what I love doing so I never thought that I could become a dancer, until I saw “Fame” on TV, the series.

H – Yes, I know–

R – You can get, it wasn’t Swan Lake or anything like that, and it was Leroy. I had a crush, I was like so for me, it was like, “Oh, you got…” I bought the book, I bought the cassette, I became obsessed with the fact that you could go and learn how to dance. And then my parents helped me once I could get training and so on, and then it became an obsession. And there was were people that I’ve met along the way, that suddenly said to me, “Oh, look,” I remember my first teacher of contemporary dance in Barcelona, and I was like, 16, and I had taken a few lessons, like a year worth of lessons. And she said, “Oh, there’s a contemporary dance company doing an audition next week.   They are looking for men.” And because there were so few men in the late 80’s, that danced, I was like, “Oh, contemporary dance, I don’t even know what that is.” Literally, and I’m not just saying it. But its dance, so I went to this audition, and I ended up with a job, that suddenly took me touring across Europe. And I was able to see other companies, other men dancing. I wasn’t the only boy anymore.

So this, I’ve been very lucky that through my life, there’s been this, discipline that it takes to become a dancer, and hard work, because you can have great teachers, but it’s sort of, you’ve got to do it yourself. Like, it’s you, and your body. If you don’t do it, if you don’t invest in it, is not going to happen, and that’s wonderful, because you’ve got some control over it. But then also there is are things and people that you need that will send things to you and, so yes, that was a moment and then, I guess also coming to Australia, when I came in 2008 as a guest choreographer.   I was here for two months, I was making it work , I was going back to London, which is where I lived for 20 years, but then while I was here, I didn’t even know that Sydney Dance Company were looking for a director and people were saying to me like, “You’re going for the job?” And I’m like, “No, what job?” Like, “I’ve got a company in London,” and so on. But then being here in Australia after a month, and then a month and a half, I was like, “Hmm, maybe I should think about this opportunity in Sydney Dance Company, “and getting to know the people here and everything.” So that was another defining moment where I just came here to come and do something and go back to where I was living and working, but life brought these people and this opportunity. And then within three months, I moved to Australia. So yes, you have to sometimes, make things happen but also go with the flow.

H – Just do what unfolds for you really, isn’t it?

R – Yes, absolutely.

H – And so I’m Raf right now, I think more than ever, the arts in society just has this even I don’t know a more important role. What are your thoughts on that? How are the arts as a group, what are they going to be for us right now?

R – I mean, I think, look – I often think, when I’m really upset, because, they are not giving enough importance to the arts or supporting the arts and so on. That is like, can you imagine a world without the arts? Can you imagine a world without music, without literature, without dance, without film architecture? The arts are everywhere.

H – Yes.

R – Everywhere, and everywhere we look. And it’s often taken for granted. Like even now, when people are stuck at home and we kind of go to the theatre or all of these amazing things, like to a museum. I mean, now as of today, you can go to a museum, but you can’t still not go to the theatres. People don’t realise that watching TV, watching Netflix, it’s all full of artists that have trained for a lifetime. Like we would not be entertained and enlightened, and even if the arts didn’t exist. But for me right now, with what you are saying, it’s more important than ever because for me the arts really underpin culture and who we are in society and, enriches our souls, and entertains us above anything else.

But in these times with such social and economic confusion and there’s so much change and upheaval in so many ways, and it’s not just Coronavirus. You put the news on and people are going “No, enough is enough!” And I think when there’s a lot of change, the arts – they are that voice that that helps us to understand and to describe the world around us. They give voice to the people that have no voice. So there’s so much why it’s so important. And I mean, in Spanish, I always say this thing about like, in English it’s sort of like, “Life is not enough.” Meaning life by itself, without culture and the arts and music and everything that makes us who we are, for me, I feel like it would be, it’s not enough you need the arts in a way.

H – And I’d love to hear from those who are watching and I know with Facebook Live, as you know Rafael, that we have people watching now but people will watch and watch later on tonight and tomorrow on the weekend, but what I’d love to if you are watching now is to tell us what was your first experience of the arts? Was it going to a museum, was it to the Sydney Dance Company, Bangarra, what did you experience? Oh, we’ve got a questions from someone, “Rafael, we have all learned many ways “to move online as a substitute.  “Cuatro has been so amazing to watch online, yes. And I don’t know if I said that right.  And to showcase music and dances, “would you consider doing that more often?” Thank you Katryna that is a fantastic question.

R – No, absolutely, and I think that’s one of the things that we have learned from this moment in time. That, and in a way, it was very much part of our planning, in how to reach more people. And obviously, through a virtual world, through streaming, through creating more content. And because we are doing company and so on, and never had the time, and suddenly everything stopped. And we were like, “Okay right, this is it.” And within six days, we pivoted the Sydney Dance Company, one of our most wonderful things that we have is the dance classes. So we have this incredible company, and we do everything that we do, but we also have 80,000 participants a year, that come to take a dance class, whether it is ballet, contemporary, jazz, tap, hip hop, you name it, we do it.

H – You do it.

R – We managed to go virtually, the virtual studio we call it. and the feedback from people across the country, that don’t live in Sydney and can’t go to take a class, it’s just incredible. So absolutely, I mean, we will learn from these and we will continue to find new ways, in this digital world to connect with people.

H – Well, I mean, I think watching what you have done has been incredible, there is no doubt. But no matter what you continue to do online, because I would love to be able to tap into seeing that more often as well. But I can assure you now that getting back into the Roslyn Packer Theater, and seeing your next production is high on my list of firsts that will be booked as soon as you open the booking.

R – Thank you. Please don’t stop doing that.

H – But I think it’s a great question because, this kind of reach that you’ve been able to get, wow! I mean, I would imagine first off, it would have been like, “Oh my gosh, “how are we going to do this?” And you’ve had to really transition during this time to bring dance to Australia and to the world really through what you’ve done.

R – Yes, it’s been incredible and we’ve learned a lot and it’s been really the silver lining, as they say, with everything because we’ve been able to keep most of the company employed. And because the dancers in the company are teaching in the virtual studio, they are actually doing the technical support for the virtual studio, everyone’s had to learn so many more. And we also have a full time course that’s going online. And then of course, the company at the very beginning for me, we were sent home. We were almost opening a new season. Literally on the Tuesday we went home, and the opening was meant to be on Saturday, I think, or the preview. And for me it was very important to find a way to be able to artistically respond to this moment in time. And that’s when we came up with a whole SDC hashtag, #SDCKeepDancing which was going to be this virtual space, where, I asked the dancers to throw ideas around, because everything was postponed, at least the next three months, and to create artistic content that we could share with, our audience, with our patrons. And it’s been amazing because, we did an international dancing film, with dancers dancing in their living rooms, like Mother’s Day, Families Day, you name it every day. Every day–

H – Yes.

R – With creativity,

H – Yes.

R – With the arts, and it’s been amazing how responsive people have been to it and how supportive of what we do and it’s been a way of, “Yes, we can’t come to your town,” unfortunately, but Cuatro which is for films that we did with Sydney Symphony Orchestra. We started talking about it a few months, three months ago, and we thought that we would be filming it in our living rooms, and then bit by bit restrictions have been lifted quicker than in other places, thank God. And then on that first week, when we were able to have four people together in a room, I was like, “Okay, this is it.” One dancer at a time, one musician at a time, they never met in person, they only met on Zoom. We rehearsed on Zoom, choreographed on Zoom. And then we were four people in the building. And then one by one, we filmed it and then the magic of film, brought it to life. So it’s one of those things you cannot control but finding ways to still be creative and to still be able to do it, yes, it’s important.

H – Well, I think that you’re quite the master of that really because you’ve gone from being a dancer, then to a contemporary choreographer with your own dance company in London choreographing, you then went on to being a pop princess’, choreographer. We know you were the genius behind Kylie Minogue’s Fever tour, so that was quite a transition again. Now–

R – That was one of moments I was talking about that I was like, “I cannot believe this is happening to me” But indeed, I’m going to go with it.

H – Yes, I’m just going to say, “Yes.” And I’ll work it out later, right?

R – Exactly, exactly.

H – Yes, and then as an artistic director of one of Australia’s most incredible companies. And of course, even now having to transition into this online platform, of bringing dance to all corners of the earth. I mean, so many people during COVID-19 have also had to change what they are doing, change how they are doing it, they have lost jobs, they have got to apply for new jobs, new roles, there is transition going on everywhere. So being the master, which I truly believe you are, have you got any insights for people on how to evolve and adapt?

R – I mean, what’s become really, really clear is that, we very quickly in this last few months is that we are as people and organisations are going to have to be agile and be innovative in the way that we are able to adapt because of this increasingly changing environment and the challenges that it brings. So that’s become even for someone that’s used to, from dancer to choreographer, to this to that, but we need to be opening up and diversifying and increasing our skills.

So I guess, my insight was that, I never knew that I would become a dancer. My parents said to me, “Oh, look, “we’ll let you go to London to study dance, but you have to finish high school because if that doesn’t work, you can go back to university and go back to study. And when I was finishing as a dancer, I never knew if I could be a good choreographer, the truth is, nothing ever came, fully realised, note I had to go at it, I had to get bad videos, I had to get a lot of No’s. And often people say to me, “Oh my God, all of the things you’ve done!” And I’m like, “I should write a CV of all of the no’s I always got.” Because that probably is longer, or as long as the amazing stuff. And honestly, I feel so lucky and so proud. But I think I loved what I do, I never went in for the money, obviously.

H – Do it then forget about it?

R – Yes, yes. The joy that it brings to you is a very different one. In every way I can’t complain, but I think it can be scary but you can only put yourself into it and inform yourself and do research and people want to help also. So you can always reach out to people. I’m always like, “I didn’t know everything.” And I’m always learning, and I’m still learning, but if I don’t, I ask, I don’t pretend. So I think there’s going to be a lot of things that are going to change for other people. But to just be open minded. Open minded and receptive, and things are going to be different.

H – Yes, absolutely. And what’s been interesting, you talking about this time that we are in and having to be agile and do different things. It’s been interesting to watch people on social media who have embraced dancing in their lounge rooms and dancing like you said, at least 80,000 people who used to come to class and now doing it, maybe not all of them, but via Zoom–

R – We have them, 55,000 so far.

H – Oh my gosh!

R – I love it. I love it.

H – I mean, especially during a time with lockdown when our physical health and our mental health is actually at risk, really?

R – Yes.

H – Dance, in fact, has played a really important role to help with people’s physical, mental health, don’t you think?

R – Absolutely, I absolutely agree. And I believe that dance has been and will be of great help because in this instance, we’ve been able to reach far and beyond and connect virtually, with thousands of people. And some people sometimes are actually shy to go into a studio of dance because they think that they might know as much as the rest of the people. So the feedback that we have had has been extraordinary. Because people just like, from all parts of Australia, like Alice Springs, you name it, in the living rooms, in the kitchens, wherever, just being part of a community. That’s very true. We’ve heard stories of families that are in the medical profession, even or people that have been lonely without family, because they are separated in this big country. And it’s been really, really good for not just the body, but also the mind. Because I often think like for humans, even before we learn how to speak, and to communicate through words, if you put music and there’s a baby there, like that can’t even stand that. You’re holding it by the two arms, the baby starts moving it’s in us, and we should do it more. We move.

H – Yes.

R – We hear music, we can’t speak, we can’t make it but we move. I always say that we may not speak the same language, but we can move, we can come together to the same beat. So I am very glad that we’ve done it, and also what I have heard from different people, it’s just been wonderful. We all have a body. The more we get to know it, the more we understand it, the more connected we are to who we are I think.

H – Yes, oh. Yes, they are beautiful words, thank you. I couldn’t agree more, and I’d actually love to know if anyone would be game enough, who is watching right now to tell us in the comments whether they have been dancing in their lounge room over the last few months and what they have been dancing to. What is your favourite person to turn up or out, harangue up and move your body to come on.  We want to see, don’t be shy.

 So Rafael, one other part of that whole mental health component is the feeling of joy. I think we’ve talked a lot about joy and how to tap into the things in your life that bring you joy, because when you can do that, not only are you more resilient to the curve-balls and the cannonballs that we can’t control that come into our lives, but it makes us smile, and there’s a ripple effect of joy when it comes from one person into everybody around us. And watching people online and being someone who has loved going to see dance over two decades or more actually, I get such joy. I see dance bringing so much joy to people. When you’re creating, is that one of the goals, we want to bring the audience joy?

R – Look, I think there’s that side of it. And but for me, I have always loved dancing, obviously. And then I decided to train and become a dancer and then I became a choreographer, and it became my career choice. But beyond that, dancing alone or dancing in a disco with people, that shared experience of dancing. I remember some of my best memories were in the 90’s

H – Yes, Yes

R – Some of my best memories is just dancing–

H – You remember those ones?

R – Yes, I remember and I see the people, and whether you become a dancer or you don’t, it doesn’t matter. It is something that brings you joy and the truth is that, beyond that, a music and partying and so on and coming together, there is a lot of science behind dance and how dance brings you joy, and how dance is good in every possible way, because, it raises your heart rate, and I know this because it releases the feel good endorphins into the bloodstream. And apparently it’s more than any other form of exercise. So that and then there is another element to it, that dancing connects with your emotional senses into your brain, and for many people, it can really prompt like amazing emotional responses. It can be really cathartic, it’s really therapeutic. It can even make people cry. It can really get you on, but mostly, it really does lift the spirits. There’s a lot of studies, a lot of science that has been done behind dancing, the cognitive benefits of dancing, spatial awareness, and confidence, body language et cetera. Reduces the levels of cortisone of distress. Like it’s got it all. Obviously I’m really pushing for that, but it really does relax you and makes you a happy person.

H – Yes, oh without a doubt. I mean, as a participant or as a spectator, actually, both in fact it brings joy, so it’s wonderful. And when I think about what’s going on right now and once you can again be going back into studios and doing what you do best and working on the next performances for the audience’s, what role do you see dance will have in telling the stories of what has gone on in the past few months? Will we see dance telling those stories?

R – Contemporary dance for me, deals obviously with the now, with what’s going on now, it’s of the moment, and it should reflect our times. And I think that in different ways, and with different voices, different choreographers will respond to the world around the soul. Yes, I do believe that the dance will play an important role in telling the story. And in fact, from day one of lockdown, choreographers and dancers around the world got busy creating in ISO, as they say Australia, in isolation, and so many people are happy in expressing how they feel, the isolation, the distance and so on through films, through dance. So I think that right now, yes, there is this exchange. That’s very true, that we are getting used to and it’s a way of connecting, and it’s wonderful. And then also there is film that’s being used, but I definitely cannot wait to get into the studio and to be back in the theatre with the dancers.

H – Yes.

R – And I don’t know, personally, I’m still navigating this reality. And the truth is that I don’t know where we will all learn it, and I think we are not there yet. Even if in Australia, we are quite lucky with the fact that health wise things have not been as bad as in other countries, the pandemic is far from over. I have always said that, that life inspires all my work. The life that I live, the people that I lead will always inspire. So I have no doubt that this is going to be part of, whether it’s consciously or subconsciously, there’s something that’s going to remain there through my work in the future.

H – Yes, I’m sure there, and I look forward to seeing how that unfolds for your creation. It will be quite remarkable, I am sure. Now Rafael you’re having to hold on to this giant company. You have had to look after all the dancers, you’ve had to look after all your community who are still desperate to see parts of Sydney Dance Company come into their computers at least. I imagine the pressure that you’ve been under over the last three months, to hold everything together has been immense. So my question to you is, what are you doing for yourself to ensure that your resilience is strong enough to deal with these very stressful and uncertain times?

R – Well look, I’m very lucky that I have a beautiful partner, Joe, we live together and we are together and he is incredibly supportive, and we are there for each other, and I feel very, very fortunate that’s in my life, because as they say, for the good or for the bad.

H – Yes.

R – So yes, for those moments, it’s important to have people around. Obviously, we have not been able to, I work with an incredible team of people that have worked so hard, and just really, incredibly make me so proud of working in this place in Sydney Dance Company. Because they have really inspired me actually, that has been a big part of building my resilience, seeing everyone around me, just like going for it and get so much good for people, at all levels of the organisation, in the administration team, with the dancers, with the company. Also the dancers, I said to them, our job description is out the window, for the next period of time. If we want to stay employed, we need to learn how to do everything that we have never maybe before had to learn. I mean, I have tried to stay as physical as possible. At least we’ve been lucky in Australia that we have been able to at least go to a park and run, or move, or work and enjoy the beautiful city that we live in. So that’s been a big part of it, and then now, obviously, now we can connect with friends and people and spend some time with family. And that’s important, I’ve been talking to my mother every day, I’ve never done that in four years. So yes, and it’s been very beautiful, because I’ve been like, just do not talk about COVID-19. I’ve been doing this thing, but we’ve been talking about when she was young. So she’s been telling me all these stories of when she was young and her mother and her father who were my grandparents, and we’ve had this special connection. In fact that if COVID-19 would not have happened, I would not have kept calling her every week, and checking in on her. But there’s been a beautiful new bond, actually that’s come out of wanting to make sure that she was not alone and stuff like that. So Yes, I’ve tried to stay busy and sane.

H – Yes, well, I think I just want to go back, because I’m sure you’ll love this. Katryna said that she saw FAME on TV last week, and she danced like it was 1988.

R – I actually watched the series not that long ago.

H – It’s such a great series, oh my gosh! And Claudia is saying that dance is so therapeutic at all stages of life. There are studies showing that it helps the elderly people and their cognitive function. There’s also quite a bit of mathematics in dancing and educational programs that aim to connect the two together.

R – Absolutely.

H – Thank you Claudia, that’s a great input to this conversation, yes.

R – Yes, it’s beautiful to hear that actually, because there’s so much, we talked about creative thinking, innovative, and so on. The arts and science go alongside each other. It’s about discovering the world, it is about more knowledge. In different ways they are so connected in everywhere, and yes, when choreographing and dancing and your body, thus develop, it gives you tools that you can use beyond dance, as a human being, in fact, a lot of dancers, we’ve been talking about transitioning careers and so on, and when you’re a dancer, you may become a choreographer, or you may not. So a lot of dancers have to be truly retrained age 35, into lawyers, electricians, plumbers, like, “I’ve had it all.”

H – Yes.

R – And I think that what you bring with you into that new profession coming from dance, and having had that intelligence in your body that’s not just intellectual but it is physical intelligence, it’s a gift I think.

H – Yes, beautiful.

R – So more time for everyone, I think.

H – Absolutely without doubt and Rafael, I know we have gone over time are you okay, because I’ve got two more questions are you–

R – I’m good, I’m good.

H – Okay, thanks very much. Thank you for everybody for sticking with us–

R – I have my wine.

H – Yes, me too. I mean, that always helps us to keep going, doesn’t it? So my second last question to you is, I would love to hear what piece of wisdom that has been given to you, that has made an impact in your life and who was it from and why was it important?

R – Well look, I don’t know, I think this moment in time, like the Coronavirus that’s like the moment that suddenly for the first time in my life, we are all worldwide going through this same thing, regardless of where you live, what age or background or anything. It’s made me really think about seizing the moment, and Carpe Diem basically

H – Yes.

R – And this is something that’s affecting all of us, but it’s affecting all of us in very different ways, and very differently for each other. My brother, 44 was in hospital in intensive care, fighting for his life. He did survive Coronavirus, and he’s one of the lucky ones. But it was so close within me and my proximity and my family, that to live through that experience, that it made me really realise that the importance of the now, and the importance of staying open, and the importance of the moment because nothing is permanent. And there is nothing bad about things not being permanent. Because there is something beautiful about change. But honestly, you are here and you are not sorry. It sounds a bit, I don’t want to be negative because I’m not but something like this can happen and you change.

H – Yes, it can happen.

R – Being authentic, being truthful to who you are. And living that moment, it’s a wisdom that I don’t know if it’s wisdom or something, but it’s something that Coronavirus, more than ever has made me really gone like, “Rafael, there’s only so much you can think about the past.” I know of course, I should learn from the past. And there’s only so much you can worry about the future. The now, it is really.

H – Yes. Oh no, well said and I think, despite all the horrendous things that have come out of the last few months, there definitely has been some gifts that we can all embrace to move forward with, and I think what you’ve said there is certainly one of them. So I want to wrap up with understanding as Australians who have loved the Sydney Dance Company for 51 years now.  We do not want to see it fold at all. JobKeeper will end in September. And I know that has been a big part of ensuring that everybody has been able to keep their jobs even though the roles have changed. What can we do to support your company? What can we do to make sure it will continue to be able to be a company like, can we donate, what can we do to show our support for something that we do not want to lose?

R – No, thank you, and I think that one of the things that it’s been a topic tonight is joining the virtual studio or the physical studio because now we’ve opened it, we’ve opened again, ultimate studios in Sydney. So that on itself, too, for me, I always say that, our most important collaboration is our audience. They buy tickets, they come and see the theater. That’s the best anyone could do. Right now, unfortunately, for a little bit of time, that’s not an opportunity, to buy a ticket. But it will be in the future, so I hope that people that maybe never came, will come. But to maybe join the Sydney Dance Company family through the classes, which are multiple, in every possible way at all levels. That is a way of helping, but also getting something that we do really well. We are sharing and we are connecting. And then of course, if anyone can and would like to make a philanthropic, support us through philanthropy and make a tax deductible gift, then, in this time until we emerge from the COVID crisis, just go to the website and there’s always a Donate button, like I think it’s in all organisations.

H – Yes, right now.

R – Yes, and it’s always, any gift of any size, it’s enormously welcomed and it means a lot to me and to everyone at Sydney Dance company.

H – Well, I will certainly put that link into the chat after we close off tonight and you do have six days left to the end of the financial year, if you do need to get some donations, tax-deductible donations put into your accounting system, so please do that. But more than that, even is the Coronavirus has hit us all in very different ways. And for a lot of people they have felt quite down and out about how the impact has had on their personal life and their professional life. And it has also being in lockdown has meant that perhaps there hasn’t been as much movement and activity and connection with others. So the Sydney Dance Company really allows you to tick those boxes by moving more and connecting with others and feeling the joy of cranking up music in your lounge room and dancing like nobody’s watching. So if anybody who’s watching now or later has felt a bit down and out, has felt that their physical health has been impacted negatively, and is feeling perhaps that their mental health has been impacted negatively, gift this to yourself, and just give it a shot. Just gift it to yourself because the joy that you will feel that will surge all those hormones that we talked about.

R – Endorphins.

H – Endorphins – making this love-drug go through your body can make such a difference. So please give it a shot just do one class with them, one virtual class and see how it makes you feel. What do you think Rafael, is that a good way to get people to do that?

R – Absolutely. And it comes from the heart and I know that you know the company really well. Even before I knew the company, you knew the company, I’m the lucky one, that’s now running with it. But to be able to, I think, dance should be like, any other lesson in school, like when we were talking about Cuba earlier.

H – Yes.

R – One thing I love about Cuba is that dance, it’s like math or language or any other lesson that you would have done.

H – Yes.

R – And the most incredible dancers. But you don’t even need to become a dancer. That’s the thing. It’s just such a good thing to do. So it’s never too late.

H – It’s never too late.

R – It’s never too late. Everyone, it’s never too late.

H – It isn’t too late. And yes, on that, Raf and I were both in Cuba, separate holidays earlier this year. And we were talking about how that connection, that movement and dance and music and song and the joy that that brings. And it’s just part of their upbringing which is a little different. Here in this country where we idolise sport above all else, (and I do idolise sport as well) but there’s this whole different dimension to the joy that dance can bring, and the connection that dance that can bring. So let’s dig deep and if you’ve got $1 or $5 or $10 or more, every little dollar will go and help this amazing Australian company keep its doors open so we can all enjoy the beauty and the magic of dance. So Rafael Bonachela, thank you so much for tonight. You have been incredible to have here with us and I know people are so appreciative of your time, of your wisdom, of having a little wine together. That is always nice. And for everybody who has any questions for Rafael, please put them in the comments. We’ll check in a bit later and answer them. But for now, I don’t know if you’ve got anything you’d like to say before we wrap up.

R – Sorry, Heidi. No I’ll just like to thank you so much for having me. It’s an absolute joy. And it’s always wonderful to be able to share and I’ve had a wonderful time tonight with you. So thank you, Heidi, very much obliged.

H – My pleasure. And if anyone would like to know who the guests are upcoming on this “Wine and Wisdom” show, just direct message me and I can sort that all out for you. But for now, thank you Rafael, oh my gosh! I can’t even believe that I’ve got my face next to yours on the screen. It’s so exciting. And thank you Annie. I love you, Annie for making this happen!

All right, everyone, good night. Have a wonderful night, enjoy your wine, and we will see you again soon.

About Rafael Bonachela:

Rafael Bonachela was born in Barcelona where he began his early dance training before moving to London, and in 1992 joined the legendary Rambert Dance Company.

With his choreographic career on the rise, he left Rambert in 2006 and successfully founded the Bonachela Dance Company.

In 2008, Rafael premiered his first full-length production, 360°, for Sydney Dance Company. Less than six months later, he was appointed Artistic Director making headlines around the dance world. His vision for the Company embraces a guiding principle that has seen the repertoire grow with the addition of commissioned dance works from Australian and international guest choreographers. The premiere works are often programmed alongside Rafael’s own creations, ensuring diversity for audiences and providing opportunities for his remarkable ensemble of dancers to be exposed to the work of some of the most in-demand choreographers of our time.

Rafael’s internationally recognised talent has seen him work not only with contemporary dance at the highest level but also with artists from popular culture such as Kylie Minogue, Tina Turner and Sarah Blasko.

2020 marks Rafael’s 11th year as Artistic Director of Sydney Dance Company.

His Contact Details:

  • Twitter – @sydneydanceco & @rafaelbonachela
  • Instagram – @sydneydanceco & @rafaelbonchela
  • Facebook – Rafael & SDC
  • Donate

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