Posted on 27 June 2018 By Rose Mulready

Alice Topp’s new work Aurum has been the stand-out hit of our Verve program, drawing tears and superlatives from stunned audiences. The Australian writes that Topp is “at the cusp of an extraordinary choreographic career” and that she possesses “freedom, imagination and vulnerability that should see [her] go very far indeed.” Here’s why you shouldn’t miss her moving ballet.



Topp's previous works have centred around powerful connections between two dancers. She has used the pas de deux as a way to explore emotional layers, chemical charges and innovative ways for human bodies to revolve around each other. Although Aurum is work on a larger scale, Topp's signature gift for the pas de deux shines through both in group work and central duos.

Andrew Killian and Robyn Hendricks. Photography Jeff Busby


The inspiration for Aurum is the Japanese art of kintsugi (golden repair), which involves filling cracked pottery with precious metals, turning damage into precious beauty. Topp draws a correlation between kintsugi and our emotional lives, asking that we celebrate the knocks and cracks that have made us the people we are, instead of hiding our vulnerability behind a mask. The concept, transmitted through heartfelt dance and the surging, rolling music of the celebrated Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi, resonated. Many in the audience cried. Many took the trouble to post messages paying tribute to the work; here are just a few of them:

"Absolute winner in a sensational program, perfect dancing, music, sets, design, intensely moving" - Deborah Smith

"Stunning performances. Aurum was breathtakingly beautiful." - @kirstie.m

"Highlight of the season/decade!" - @griseldablue

"Ok so I'm still not over it, aurum was so incredible. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time."@geee.mac

"Aurum was absolutely stunning and magnificent! The dancers, the music, the softness, the love, the poetry, the lighting. The pure beauty of it all brought tears to my eyes." @tbohappiness

Callum Linnane and Coco Mathieson. Photography Kate Longley


Jon Buswell, who collaborated with Topp on her 2016 work Little Atlas, has created a vast kintsugi-inspired staging for Aurum that moves from cool white light and grey cracks to rippling fields of golden and amber hues. A gold floor reflects the dancers' movements. The simple white tunics and trousers for the dancers were designed by Topp.

Kevin Jackson, Leanne Stojmenov and artists of The Australian Ballet. Photography Jeff Busby


When a choreographer moves from small works to a larger one, part of the interest for an audience is seeing how they will deal with an expanded cast. Topp has choreographed for The Australian Ballet's mainstage before - Little Atlas was her debut - but she has previously worked with duos and trios. Aurum has twelve dancers, and Topp moved them across the stage with assurance, devising serial turns, counterpoints and stark patterns for her white-garbed troupe. 

Artists of The Australian Ballet. Photography Lynette Wills

The critics love it

Here's a small selection from the critics who attended performances of Verve:

"Topp’s piece stands out for forging a deep emotional connection with the audience, and for being completely relevant to 2018." - Daily Review

"overflows with rich, curvaceous floor patterns and many duets ... Topp's choreography [lets the dancers] demonstrate more fluid and delicate sides of themselves than they usually reveal in traditional ballet." - Herald Sun

"Hers is a rapidly maturing, fresh and different choreographic voice that is unafraid of beauty, fragility, and a depth of feeling too often missing in contemporary ballet ... It is rare to see choreography of such vulnerability and authenticity in the ballet world ... Aurum was a work which succeeded in reaching out to touch people's hearts."  - Dance Australia

Andrew Killian and Robyn Hendricks. Photography Jeff Busby