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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Rhys dances his way back to Newcastle

Gifted performer Rhys Kosakowski will return “home” next week as a member of the esteemed Sydney Dance Company’s production of Impermanence.

The Newcastle-bred classical ballet/contemporary dancer, who recently joined the troupe, is scheduled to take to the stage at the Civic Theatre on Wednesday 9 June from 7.30pm.

The talented youngster has enjoyed a stellar career since being cast, at age 12, in the Australian presentation of Billy Elliot.

His mother enrolled him in tap dancing lessons when he was four and, in his own words, Rhys “got obsessed with performing”.

Falling in love with the art, his teacher advised him that to pursue it further he needed to train in ballet.

When he turned nine, Rhys started jazz and ballet, training with the National College of Dance in Lambton and, withing three months of learning the classical trade, he was hooked.

In 2007, he landed the role of Billy Elliot in the Australian production of the multi award-winning British dance drama Billy Elliot the Musical.

As one of four young boys sharing the titular protagonist, he toured the nation for three years before heading back to the Hunter to train full-time in ballet/contemporary.

“Deciding to leave my hometown when I was 13 made me feel more at home than ever,” Rhys once told Kult.com.au.

“I was free to express myself unapologetically, due to a more open-minded and accepting society, the kind of community that I couldn’t seem to find in Newcastle, not even at school.

“This is how dance became an escape to me, a way to express my individuality without harsh judgement.”

In 2011, a dance competition propelled Rhys to global renown.

A standout at an open audition in Sydney, he received an offer of an apprenticeship to work in Texas with the Houston Ballet School, an internationally-acclaimed academy with a connection to the fourth largest ballet company in the United States – the Houston Ballet.

His passion for movement propelled him through many episodes of notability and success, including performing with the Houston Ballet Company for six years as a Corps de Ballet dancer.

He left them to pursue a wide-range of opportunities in Los Angeles as a freelancer, a move described as a boon to his career, cementing his credentials as someone to watch.

Now, after a COVID-19 impacted 2020, he finds himself with the Sydney Dance Company.

Impermanence is the first new choreographic work from artistic director Rafael Bonachela to be seen on stage in two years.

He’s teamed up with contemporary composer Bryce Dessner, who composed a new score which is performed on stage each night by the renowned Australian String Quartet.

This electrifying work, exploring ephemerality, was set to premiere in March 2020 as part of a triple-bill but was postponed due to the pandemic.

Bonachela and Dessner used the remaining months of 2020 to turn Impermanence into a full-length work.

Dessner’s emotionally powerful score, which features Mercury Prize winner Anohni’s Another World in the closing movement, has been co-commissioned by Sydney Dance Company and the Australian String Quartet, who last worked together on Bonachela’s Frame of Mind in 2018, with music also composed by Dessner.

On Dessner and Impermanence, Bonachela said: “It’s been so wonderful to work with Bryce on this exciting new piece.

“His work, including scores for the Oscar-nominated films The Revenant and The Two Popes, is stunning and I am thrilled that Sydney audiences will finally have the chance to experience this incredible piece.

“After our premiere was postponed in March 2020, Bryce and I decided to take the opportunity to turn Impermanence into a full-length work.

“It was initially inspired by the impact of the Notre Dame blaze and the Australian bushfires of 2019, exploring the transience and fragility of existence.

“After what the world went through in 2020, its return is even more poignant.

“To have Bryce’s score performed on stage by the Australian String Quartet is an incredible experience, for both our audience and the dancers.

“There is nothing more powerful than dance performed to live music.”

As a special treat for those attending the show in Newcastle, Bonachela will deliver a short introduction on the work on stage prior to the performance.

Tickets are available online at www.civictheatrenewcastle.com.au, via phone on 4929 1977 or by visiting the Civic Theatre Ticket Office at 375 Hunter Street.

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