It’s a long way to the top if you want to choreograph for the Australian Ballet, but Bendigo-born dreamer Alice Topp always loved ballet and for her, the hard yards of daily practice and then separation from her family to study in Melbourne, were worth the effort.
Topp, 33, says she’s extremely privileged and excited to live an amazing life with the people of the Australia Ballet who she considers to be a family of loving friends.
That’s not to say she doesn’t always take with her, whether she’s in New York or Paris, the legacy of a wonderful childhood in Bendigo.
“It doesn’t matter where I am, I always think of myself as basically a Bendigo girl, a country girl,” she said.
Her parents Lorraine and Graeme Topp were always supportive of their talented daughter.
“Dad was a teacher at Eaglehawk Secondary College and mum worked in retail,” Topp said.
“Dancing demands incredibly long hours, we do 180 shows a year, but I try to catch up with mum and dad on a day off or on a Sunday when the Demons are playing.
“But it’s usually during my annual holidays at Christmas when I can come home and relax.”
The trajectory of Topp’s career took her from the Maude Stuart Ballet Academy and Anne Maree Dancers in Bendigo to the Victoria College of the Arts and then full time classical training at Ballet Theatre of Victoria.
After two years with Royal New Zealand Ballet, Topp joined The Australian Ballet in 2007 and has danced in a wide range of classical and contemporary repertoire.
Topp choreographed her first mainstage work Little Atlas to great acclaim in The Australian Ballet’s 2016 Symphony in C program.
Her current work, which is still in development, Aurum is based on the Japanese concept that broken objects are not something to hide but are repaired with gold.
After requesting his permission, Topp is basing Aurum on the music of the Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi.
Discussing the art of choreography, Topp said she collaborates with her fellow dancers to turn her concepts and ideas into an art form.
She calls it “creating on bodies”.
“I really enjoy the pleasure of our time working together in the studio,” she said.
Aurum will premiere in The Australian Ballet’s upcoming contemporary program Verve at the Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre with Orchestra Victoria, June 21-30.
– Dianne Dempsey