Program notes

Verve is generously supported by The Robert Southey Fund

Constant Variants

Choreography Stephen Baynes
Music Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Variations on a Rococo Theme
Set and costume design Michael Pearce
Lighting design Jon Buswell

Mozart was the composer Tchaikovsky most revered, and the pure classicism of the ‘Roccoco’ theme is almost Mozartian in its elegance. 

In the variations which follow, however, this classicism is frequently subsumed by Tchaikovsky’s innate soulful, Slavic Romanticism, and this juxtaposition of classical restraint against Romantic fervour was the point of departure for both myself and Michael Pearce. 

I am very grateful for the opportunity to revisit this work with an almost entirely new cast.

-Stephen Baynes


Choreography and costume design Alice Topp
Music Ludovico Einaudi ‘Run’, ‘Underwood’ and ‘Choros’; ‘I Giorni’ (arranged by Sally Whitwell)
Staging and lighting design Jon Buswell

Aurum was created with the support of a Rudolf Nureyev Prize for New Dance, awarded by The Joyce Theater, with major funding from the Rudolf Nureyev Dance Foundation
‘Run’, ‘Underwood’ and ‘Choros’ are published by the Chester Music Group and used by kind permission of the Music Sales Group

Aurum is a piece inspired by kintsugi (golden joinery), the Japanese art of repairing broken ceramics with gold or metallic lacquer. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of the object, something to acknowledge and honour rather than disguise. By illuminating the fractures with gold, the repair often leaves the object more beautiful than it was in its original form. 

Like pottery, humans are vulnerable to the cracks, knocks, pressures and fractures of life. 

Often we see damage and imperfection in ourselves and others as blemishes in our character rather than strengths, and spend our days making attempts to hide the cracks, pulling on daily masks to conceal what we believe others won’t like or accept: ultimately reducing, filtering, airbrushing and diluting our true selves. 

Aurum (the word means gold in Latin) looks at the concept of learning to celebrate our own scars, imperfections and history with a sense of illumination and transformation, embracing the human condition in all its vulnerability, authenticity, fragility and impermanence, and discovering beauty in the broken.

-Alice Topp

The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.
-Ernest Hemingway

There is a crack, a crack in everything That’s how the light gets in.
-Leonard Cohen


Choreography and costume concept Tim Harbour
Music 48nord (Ulrich Müller and Siegfried Rössert)
Set design Kelvin Ho
Lighting design Benjamin Cisterne

Filigree and Shadow was designed to be a catharsis for aggression. Many ideas went into this, but I think the most resonant is the story of birds surviving a hurricane. Rather than trying to escape the storm, they fly directly into it and are funnelled upward to the relatively calm air above. Here they drift, sometimes hundreds of kilometres, blown off course but alive. The action of those birds informed the design of the set, and their braving of the hurricane served as a strong metaphor for the creation of the dance.

-Tim Harbour


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