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.
He remained with Rambert as a dancer and Associate Choreographer until 2006 at which time he successfully set up the Bonachela Dance Company (BDC) to concentrate on the rapid rise of his choreographic career. As a choreographer, Rafael has been commissioned to make works for Candoco, George Piper Dances, ITDANSA Danza, Contemporanea de Cuba, Transitions Dance Company and Dance Works Rotterdam amongst others.
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 visiting international guest choreographers. The premiere works are often programmed alongside Rafael’s own creations, ensuring diversity for audiences and providing much sought after 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 Bonachela’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, Sarah Blasko and Katie Noonan as well as leading fashion designers Dion Lee and Toni Maticevski. Such collaborative efforts reflect the inspiration he finds and utilises from culture today.
Since the premiere of 360°, Rafael has created several pieces for Sydney Dance Company including we unfold (2009), 6 Breaths (2010), LANDforms (2011), 2 One Another (2012), Project Rameau (2012), Emergence (2013), Les Illuminations (2013), 2 in D Minor (2014), Scattered Rhymes (2014) and Frame of Mind (2015). In addition, he has remounted outstanding repertoire from BDC such as Soledad and Irony of Fate (2010) and The Land of Yes & The Land of No (2011). In April 2013, Kaldor Public Art Projects brought Rafael on board to develop the choreography for artists Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla’s work Revolving Door, which was part of the acclaimed live performance art exhibition 13 Rooms.
Rafael was named winner of the dance category for The Monthly’s 2013 Arts Awards and listed as one of the (sydney) magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People in 2012 for his efforts to popularise dance since taking on the job of Artistic Director with Sydney Dance Company and as curator of Australia’s international festival of contemporary dance, Spring Dance at the Sydney Opera House.
In February 2013, Rafael was honoured with an Officer’s Cross of the Order of Civil Merit by His Majesty the King of Spain.
Rafael was recently named in the 2013 Dance Australia Critics Survey for ‘Most Interesting Australian Artist’ for his ‘stimulating collaborations with Australian artists from other fields’ (Deborah Jones).
Rafael was also named in the 2012 Dance Australia Critics Survey for the ‘Most Outstanding Choreographer’ and ‘Best New Work’ for 2 One Another. This work won the ‘Best Ensemble’ Award in the 2012 Green Room Awards and the 2013 Australian Dance Award for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Choreography’ and ‘Outstanding Performance by a Company’.
In 2014 Sydney Dance Company and Carriageworks with the support of The Balnaves Foundation, launched a major multi – year program, New Breed, under the Artistic Direction of Rafael Bonachela. The program supports young Australian choreographers through the creation and presentation of new and diverse dance works.
Rafael’s Frame of Mind won the 2015 Helpmann Awards for ‘Best Choreography in a Dance Work’ and ‘Best Dance Work’.
In 2016 he premiered Lux Tenebris for Sydney Dance Company’s CounterMove 26 Feb – 12 Mar 2016 in Sydney, also touring to Canberra, Melbourne, NSW, QLD, NT and WA, as well as the premiere of Anima for Untamed in October of the same year.