Modern dance that moves you


120 mins in all / 2 intervals

Important information for 7:30pm performance on 23 April:  Please be advised that there is no disruption to tonight’s performance of Verve in Joan Sutherland Theatre at Sydney Opera House. We recommend that you allow extra time to get to the venue in case of traffic disturbances in the area.

Three homegrown choreographers. Three very different works. Verve takes you on a voyage through contemporary Australian dance with what Australian Stage calls “a blast of energy and talent”.

Alice Topp’s sensual Aurum moved critics and audiences to superlatives, tributes and tears when it premiered in 2018. Inspired by the Japanese art of kintsugi – repairing cracked pottery with precious metals – the work explores damage, healing and the beauty of our flaws. The dancers’ powerful movement and profound emotion are framed in a breathtaking staging by Jon Buswell, featuring a reflective golden floor and ripples of burnished light. After winning the prestigious Rudolf Nureyev Prize for New Dance, this acclaimed work will have its New York premiere at the Joyce Theater in May.

Stephen Baynes’ Constant Variants mirrors the elegant classicism of Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme with velvet-soft, delicate dance. Gliding airborne, captured in warm light and vast picture frames, his dancers conjure the mesmerising beauty of Renaissance paintings.

Verve ends with a bang: Tim Harbour’s Filigree and Shadow, the hit of our 2015 contemporary program. The stripped-back clarity of its set, designed by Sydney architect Kelvin Ho, contrasts with the ferocious complexity and speed of the choreography and the drama of the specially commissioned electronic score by German duo 48nord. Adrenaline tingles all the way to the explosive finale.

In this Sydney-exclusive season, Verve takes the pulse of Australian contemporary dance – and finds it beating strong.

Who will be dancing at your performance? Check the Verve casting.

There is great beauty in this savagery; a magnetic, visceral drama that grabs you in a choke hold and refuses to let go.

Limelight on Filigree and Shadow

Choreography Stephen Baynes
Music Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Variations on a Rococo Theme
Set and costume design Michael Pearce
Original lighting design Jon Buswell

Choreography and costume design Alice Topp
Music Ludovico Einaudi
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

Choreography Tim Harbour
Music 48nord (Ulrich Müller and Siegfried Rössert)
The score for Filigree and Shadow was commissioned by The Australian Ballet in 2015
Costume concept Tim Harbour
Set design Kelvin Ho
Lighting design Benjamin Cisterne

The 2019 season of Verve is generously supported by The Robert Southey Fund

★★★★ It has plenty of vigour and enthusiasm

Sydney Morning Herald

★★★★ …choreography that surprises and delights

Sydney Morning Herald

I’m always fueled by emotion: the hope that people will feel something or that the work provokes thought is my great passion.

Alice Topp

... a vision brilliant in its macabre, pulsating darkness ...

The Guardian on Filigree and Shadow

I love the way dancers use their body as their instruments to share stories, ideas and express emotion.

Alice Topp

... powerful, muscular, rugged: they crouch, they crawl, they run ...

The Guardian on Filigree and Shadow

I love how open and honest Australian Ballet dancers are. Their attitude, commitment to the art form and sense of humour are qualities that create such a strong family of artists.

Alice Topp, coryphée and choreographer

... a seething mass of choreographic innovation that both astounds and confronts

Limelight on Filigree and Shadow

I love the physicality of ballet; but although the athleticism itself can be extraordinary, it’s the humanity within it that inspires me.

Stephen Baynes, Resident Choreographer

... ambitious, multi-faceted and relentless ...

Herald Sun on Filigree and Shadow

See world-class ballet in your lunchbreak



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