CLAY by Alice Topp

Bodytorque.Digital | 18 February 2022

About CLAY In 2019, Alice Topp choreographed a duet, Clay, on London’s Company Wayne McGregor. It was performed at the Dance@TheGrange festival that year. In 2020, that duet became part of Topp’s one-act ballet Logos, one of the works danced by The Australian Ballet in its final performance before the COVID pandemic forced the closure of theatres. Of Logos, Topp said, ‘How do you wear your monsters? When do you start to wear another’s monsters as your own? Life can feel full of modern demons and pressures. Sometimes it becomes a dance with your devils of grief, a wrestle with pain, a bargaining with your beasts of fear. The storm around us drowns us, and before we know it, we have lost ourselves, engulfed in the whirling turbulence … How can our fears be so great that our only solution is to turn on ourselves and each other? In these times, isn’t hope and love our greatest weapon and armour?”

A Note from Alice Topp Clay holds a very special space in my heart. Created in the UK on Company Wayne McGregor, it crossed oceans to have its Australian debut as a keystone in the larger work, Logos, on the cusp of COVID-19. At a time when the world was spiralling into a pandemic, the piece seemed to encapsulate the impending turbulence we were about to experience. Sadly the season was cut short - 3 shows and the curtain went down on the program. Clay was the first piece of mine the ballet company brought back to life on stage in 202, at Summertime at the Ballet, and it felt like a full circle for the duet. Whilst the larger work Logos has yet to experience it’s full stage life, I wanted to find a place for this duet to exist beyond the stage - in people’s homes and hearts. It’s an intimidate duet about personal griefs and traumas, so after 18 months of lockdowns, it seemed fitting to customise Clay for the lived-in environment - the space where we have experienced many of these griefs over the past 2 years. Clay is a very human story and by making it into film, we had a way of inviting the audience into the duet, like a third dance partner. Rather than observing the story from the stalls, film has the ability to invite the viewer into the relationship and go on the journey with them.

About Bodytorque.Digital: Bodytorque was originally conceived to uncover the creativity of The Australian Ballet’s dancers and develop their choreographic talents. This development program has been a breeding ground for our company's brightest talents including Australian legend Graeme Murphy and resident choreographers Stephen Baynes, Tim Harbour and Alice Topp. Four new works have been commissioned, designed specifically for the digital space. Bodytorque.Digital combines all elements – choreography, dancers, music, and cinematography – together through digital screens. Each work will be premiered on The Australian Ballet’s YouTube channel, with the ability to interact with audiences live.