Following the news that The Australian Ballet has received the largest donation in its history, here is an interview with one of their Corps dancers.
Cupcakes and conversation with Alice Topp, Corps de Ballet, The Australian Ballet
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning?
I would say the people I work with and our shared passion to be the best we can be, as individuals and as a collective. I love getting to work and seeing my friends, plus Monday morning means catching up on weekend gossip!!!
What are you looking forward to dancing in 2010?
Every production brings its own challenges and excitement but I’m particularly looking forward to performing in Japan with Graeme Murphy’s Swan Lake and Nutcracker.
Who would you most like to dance with and what would you dance?
There is no one particular dance partner that I desire to dance with but if Steven Heathcote was still dancing, it would have been him, in any production!!
If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance?
I’d have to say right here. Our audiences are responsive, our theatres are lovely and I love living in my own country. It’s a great lifestyle that we have here. We are also very lucky with our fantastic facilities and repertoire and the company is full of such beautiful creative and talented people.
How do you prepare your pointe shoes?
I usually bend them a little and just stick them on!!! I tend to go through shoes pretty quickly so there’s not much I do to prepare them. I spend more time trying to make them last!!
What is your daily routine at the moment?
Well we are currently in a rehearsal period, preparing for The Silver Rose. I’ve been waking up with my kitten alarm clock (I just adopted a little 4 month old kitten that thinks breakfast time is 6am!) and then get up at around 8am. I do yoga every morning an hour before class with fellow dancer Gina Brescianini which helps me feel warm and balanced, ready to take on class at 10.30am. Ordinarily rehearsals take us through the day til 6.30pm. After work I usually catch up with friends over dinner, films or shows or spend the night in with my flatmate and cat.
You can ask six famous people to dinner- who would you invite?
I would invite the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Anne Frank (if she were still present), Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston….I mean, what is going on!!!
What would surprise people about you?
I love cricket and footy, beer and I have 2 tattoos.
Who inspired you to dance?
A combination of my mum, who introduced me to dance, my first ballet teacher, who really invoked a fire in my belly and a determination in me, and the stars of The Australian Ballet when I was growing up, for their memorable performances and moments where as a child I lost myself in time.
What is your best piece of advice?
It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you react to what happens to you.
How do you prepare in the hours before a show?
I usually have a nice warm shower then put my iPod in and listen to some music whilst putting on my makeup and doing my hair. I will then do company warm-up barre, get into costume and perhaps do some yoga breathing exercises before starting the show.
Which role has tested you the most and how?
I would say the most challenging piece of choreography I have been involved in was Wayne McGregor’s Dyad 1929. I found it exhilarating and physically demanding at the same time. The movement felt foreign on my body at first until I found a place within myself and the work in which to expand and grow. It’s proven to be my favourite piece to perform to date.
If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create?
Something comfortable that would move with the body and compliment the figure. Perhaps a nice boy leg leotard that showed the beautiful muscular physiques of the dancers with a chiffon overlay for the women to create a softness and femininity.
What do you look for in a dance partner?
Someone with good communications skills. A person willing to listen and compromise. A dancer with commitment to the work and to the dance partner and also a good sense of humour!!!!
What is your favourite quote?
Hold on to what is good, even if it is a handful of Earth.
Hold on to what you believe, even if it is a tree which stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do, even if it is a long way from here.
Hold on to my hand, even when I have gone away from you.
‘Awesome!!!’ Or ‘Excellent.’ Or ‘Heck Yes!!!’
What’s been your best on-stage moment so far?
I can’t really narrow it down to one!! There’s been a few very memorable moments. I particularly loved our tour to Paris in 2008 where we performed Swan Lake and received a standing ovation. Dyad 1929 and Divergence both brought some extremely exciting stage moments for me, plus every time a colleague steps onto the stage for the last time….. that always brings extra magic and a few tears!!
In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now?
Still loving dancing as much as I do now and making the most of every moment that I have in this career that I feel very fortunate to have. Wherever that takes me, in whatever capacity I contribute in.