A FAB NIGHT IN: En Pointe Chat LIVE with Alice Topp

A FAB NIGHT IN: En Pointe Chat LIVE with Alice Topp

It is our great pleasure to invite all Friends of The Australian Ballet members and followers, to join us at our next live and online event. Hosted by Friends President Greg Khoury and featuring special guest Alice Topp – one of Australia’s most exciting and acclaimed young choreographers.

Alice will talk us through her creative process in developing her choreography, and how she is pushing our idea of what ballet is through her upcoming initiative Project Animo.

Monday 25th October | Online
5-6pm Discussion and Q&A

Born and raised in Bendigo, Alice started dancing at the age of four. After two years dancing with the Royal New Zealand Ballet, she joined The Australian Ballet as a dancer in 2007, where her choreographic identity first emerged. Her first work, Trace, was created for The Australian Ballet’s 2010 season of its choreographic showcase ‘Bodytorque’. Between 2011 and 2014, Alice would go on to create three more works for Bodytorque, refining her craft and gaining the attention of critics and company directors alike. In 2016, Alice choreographed the critically acclaimed work Little Atlas, which appeared on The Australian Ballet’s mainstage ‘Symphony in C’ program in 2016 and 2017.

In 2018, Alice created her first mainstage one act work Aurum, which premiered as part of the company’s ‘Verve’ program, and went on to its international debut the following year at New York’s leading contemporary dance venue, The Joyce Theater. In 2018, Alice was appointed one of The Australian Ballet’s Resident Choreographers. In 2019, she was invited to spend a month with Studio Wayne McGregor in the United Kingdom, creating a piece for The Grange Festival. The duet she created on the company, Clay, went on to form the basis for a larger work titled Logos for The Australian Ballet’s 2020 ‘Volt’ program, which included two works by McGregor.

Alice has been nominated for a Green Room Award (Little Atlas, 2017) and for three Australian Dance Awards (Aurum, 2018, Same Vein, 2014, Trace, 2010). In 2019, Aurum saw Alice and her creative team win the Helpmann Award for Best Ballet, and a nomination for an Australian Dance Award for Outstanding Achievement in Choreography. She has choreographed music videos for artists including Megan Washington, LANKS and Ben Folds, and has been invited to create works for Houston Ballet II and Queensland Ballet.

Most recently, Alice has co-founded Project Animo, which brings together a collective of independent artistic voices and talent from across Australia’s dance landscape. As creative director, she is collaborating with other beloved Australian Ballet alumni such as Deborah Brown, Madeleine Eastoe, Rudy Hawkes, Andrew Killian, Leanne Stojmenov.

RSVP by midday Monday 25th October | Places are limited
This online event is free for members and $5 for non-members
Event access details will be provided upon RSVP.
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A FAB NIGHT IN: Masterclass LIVE with Jake Burden from Ballet Brothers

A FAB NIGHT IN: Masterclass LIVE with Jake Burden from Ballet Brothers

Express Class + Q&A

The Friends admire Ballet Brothers and their mission to support and encourage males who love to dance, so it is our great pleasure to host our next live and online event in partnership with Ballet Brothers.

Young male dancers are invited to join Jake Burden (founder of Ballet Brothers) in an express 30min class, followed by a Q&A session which parents can also attend.

This event is especially tailored for young male dancers who wish to be set up for success in their pursuit of a successful professional ballet career! It is also an opportunity to shine a light on the mental health of males in dance this Mental Health Month.

This online event is free for 30 lucky participants, and any non-members who sign up will receive a complimentary membership with The Friends.

With expert guidance from Jake, and access to a community of like-minded Ballet Brothers, the next gen of male dancer’s dreams will inch closer to becoming a reality.

Places are limited, so be sure to reserve your spot soon!

This virtual event is free for Friends members and for non-members.
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Image courtesy of Ballet Brothers. Photo by Pure Dynamics Photography

Australian Ballet 2022 Season Launch Event

Australian Ballet 2022 Season Launch Event

As a member of our ballet family, you’re invited to join Artistic Director David Hallberg online as he introduces The Australian Ballet’s 2022 Season.

 

David will be joined by some of the most acclaimed international choreographers in the dance world today to talk about new works, followed by an in-depth discussion with Principal Artist Dimity Azoury and Senior Artist Callum Linnane.

Discover the 2022 Season in this must-see free event. Simply click the link below on Tuesday 26 October to watch the announcement.

 

5PM TUESDAY 26 OCTOBER 
CLICK HERE TO JOIN
Leanne Benjamin, Built for Ballet

Leanne Benjamin, Built for Ballet

Leanne as Manon, with Steven McRae as des Grieux in Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon at the Royal Ballet. Photo Johan Persson

Due to be released in October, this autobiography by Leanne Benjamin with Sarah Crompton reveals the extraordinary life and career of one of the world’s most important ballet dancers of the past 50 years.

The book will take you behind the scenes to find a real understanding of the pleasure and the pain, the demands and the intense commitment it requires to become a ballet dancer.

‘She’s astonishing, very, very talented. She has a lovely line and all that, but she
brings out the dramatic qualities in the music too.’
— Kenneth MacMillan

‘It’s the uniqueness of the Royal Ballet ballerina Leanne Benjamin that tomorrow
night at Covent Garden, aged nearly 49, she will be playing a sex-mad teenager, and
no one will have the slightest difficulty believing it. Then she’ll retire. Not for her a
soft swoop into long dresses and matronly gestures, easing decorously into the sunset,
but an all-out assault on physical and emotional extremes that is typical of the
career of this tiny stick of dynamite from the Australian outback.’
— Ismene Brown theartsdesk.com, 2013

Grab your copy from Melbourne Books
MORE INFO

 

 

Get to Know Some of Our Australian Finalists Competing in The Fonteyn

Get to Know Some of Our Australian Finalists Competing in The Fonteyn

This year’s 15 finalists in the Royal Academy of Dance’s Margot Fonteyn International Ballet Competition (previously known as The Genée) include five brilliant Australian talents.

This Thursday, The Margot Fonteyn International Ballet Competition will be held online for the first time, with the final scheduled for September 9th 7:30pm BST. The final will be hosted by RAD President, Dame Darcey Bussell, and RAD Artistic Director, Gerard Charles.

Of the 15 finalists, there are 5 Australians – Mia Atkinson, Christian Carlo-Stella, Milei Lee, Amber Mitchell-Knight, and Amelia Soh.

We took some time from their busy schedules to get to know four of our Australian finalists a little better before watching them impress this Thursday in the finals.

Mia Atkinson, 15

Where are you from?
I am from Sydney, Australia.

What is your dance training background?
I first started training in Picton, New South Wales when I was just 4 years old. I then moved to Sydney with my family when I was 10 years old to further my training.

Where are you now and where do you train currently?
I am located in Sydney and I am currently in my 3rd year of full-time training at the Tanya Pearson Academy.

Do you have a favourite variation to perform, and why?
My favourite variation to perform currently is Raymonda Act 2 Variation 2 which I am performing in the Margot Fonteyn International Ballet Competition Final. I love the music and all of the challenges this solo brings.

What’s your favourite memory from your time in the dance world?
My favourite memory so far is going to London last month to train at the Royal Ballet School for their summer intensive.

Where do you hope to see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years, I see myself hopefully dancing in a leading company overseas!

Christian Carlo-Stella, 18

Where are you from?
I am from Sydney, Australia.

What is your dance training background?
I started ballet when I was 6 years old and had begun full-time when I turned 15.

Where are you now and where do you train currently?
Last year I moved to London to train at the English National Ballet School and I am just about to go into my second year this September.

Who would you say is your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspiration in the dance world is Vadim Muntagirov. I’ve always loved watching him whether it’s on Instagram or YouTube as he has such clean technique yet can still amaze the audience with effortless tricks.

How has COVID impacted your preparation for the recording of the finals?
Training for The Fonteyn finals has been tricky, especially due to COVID, although very rewarding. Some of the ways it has affected us is that the competition is now being held online therefore learning all of the solos was quite tricky, especially if our Wi-Fi wasn’t always the best. It has also affected me as I found it quite hard to perform to a camera compared to a live audience, as well as not having an audience that gives you the adrenaline to push through to the end of a solo.

Where do you hope to see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years, I hope to see myself in a ballet company somewhere in Europe hopefully climbing the ranks within the company.

Milei Lee, 17

Where are you from?
I am from Melbourne, Australia, but my background is half Japanese and half Chinese.

What is your dance training background?
I started ballet at 3. When I was 6 years old, I began training at the Brian Nolan Academy of Dance. I spent a valuable 5 years there, building my dance foundation before starting full-time training at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School. I am so fortunate to have received the most incredible training from my teachers in Australia. They have continuously supported me through my ballet journey which I am beyond grateful for.

Where are you now and where do you currently train?
I moved to London in September 2020 to commence by studies at the prestigious English National Ballet School. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here and I cannot wait to be heading into my second year at ENBS this September.

Who would you say is your biggest inspiration?
I have always been hugely inspired by Marianela Nunez. I am constantly mesmerised by the way she carries herself on the stage – I admire her charisma, artistic quality, technical control, and the connection she creates with her audience. I actually spotted her in Covent Garden one day and I excitedly went over to say hi. She was so friendly and gave up her time to chat to me. Not only is she a sensational dancer, but she’s also such a genuine and kind-hearted individual – this makes me love her even more!

Do you have a favourite memory from your time in the dance world?
I have made some incredible memories in the 14 years I have been dancing but one memory that I treasure is the time I won the Genée Dance Challenge in 2016. This competition was an eye-opening experience as I got to perform alongside so many talented dancers around Australia and had the amazing opportunity to be judged by company directors from The Royal Ballet, The Australian Ballet and The Royal New Zealand Ballet! After participating in the Genée Dance Challenge, I was determined to make The Fonteyn my next big goal. It feels so surreal that I am now a Fonteyn finalist for 2021!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years, I hope to be a dancer in a ballet company, performing and touring around the world and be the inspiration for the next generation of dancers in the industry.

Amber Mitchell-Knight, 18

Where are you from?
I was born in Perth, WA and then moved to Sydney at the age of 2 with my family. I lived in Sydney for several years before my family and I relocated to regional NSW but I continued to travel to and from Sydney every day to continue my full-time training.

What is your dance training background?
I began my training at the age of 2 at Mosman Dance Academy. I then spent a few years training at Tanya Pearson Classical Coaching Academy and The Teresa Johnson Ballet School before transitioning to studying a full-time course at Classical Ballet 121 in 2017. I moved to Melbourne in 2019 to continue my training at the National Theatre Ballet School under the Artistic Directorship of Mr Damian Smith. I have always trained in the RAD syllabus completing all my exams with high distinction and achieving 100% on two occasions.

Where are you located now and where do you train currently?
Currently I am in Melbourne studying my Advanced Diploma of Dance (Elite Performance) at the National Theatre Ballet School with Artistic Director Damian Smith and Associate Artistic Director Susan Sargison.

Do you have a favourite variation to perform and why?
I have had the privilege to learn and perform a number of variations and it’s difficult to narrow down a favourite. If I had to choose though I would say my favourite variation is Raymonda Act 2 Variation 2 which happens to be the solo I am performing in the Fonteyn Finals. I love the difficulty and challenge of this variation, finding that consistency in each section. This solo showcases a beautiful soft and regal quality. There is a lot of port de bras and upper body work which is my favourite element of dancing, expressing through the arms and movement of the upper body. A close second would be Paquita’s Wedding Variation. I had the opportunity to compete in the YAGP finals with this variation and like the Raymonda variation, the focus and attention to the upper body and port de bras gives me that magical sense of dancing and expressing myself and moving in the most delicate and beautiful way. Along with the upper body quality that is prominent in both solos, I also love turning and experiencing the natural forces and momentum whilst spinning and at the same time,
challenging myself to stay balanced and in controlled.

How has COVID impacted your preparation for the recording of the finals? 
Making it into the Fonteyn Finals was so exciting and amazing but couldn’t have come at a more challenging time in Melbourne. There is no denying it, COVID made my preparation for the finals incredibly difficult. Melbourne had gone through multiple lockdowns since the initial outbreak and we currently sit in our 6th. Ongoing lockdowns have impacted the consistency of my training significantly, flicking between training in my small one-bedder apartment to the studios at NTBS. The ability to film my performances and take part in the online lessons and masterclasses within the competition proved immensely challenging. I ended up filming the initial required classwork on the day Melbourne went into its 5th lockdown which was tough having had very little time to prepare let alone practice.

Whilst in lockdown I was able to watch the online classes for the commissioned variation but was initially not permitted to dance with the other finalists as I was not allowed in a studio. I frantically took notes as I watched over zoom and tried to get as much of the piece in my body as I could until I could get back into the studio and run it properly. Luckily restrictions were eased for 1-2 weeks and I was able to get back to the studio and start work on the commissioned piece and revisit my other solos. I thought it best to try to film my pieces prior to the submission due date just in case we were thrown into a further lockdown. But before I’d had the chance to film, we were suddenly given 5 hours’ notice of yet another lockdown. Already on my walk home for the day, when I heard the news, I turned around and rushed straight back to the Theatre at 6pm to film before the curfew at 8pm. There was no choice as I knew this would likely be the only chance I would get to film anything to submit, not knowing how long this new lockdown would go for. It was incredibly disappointing and frustrating knowing how little studio time I’d had to learn the commissioned piece and prepare and practise all three pieces to submit for the Finals, especially knowing there was still so much room for improvement.

The National Theatre has a beautiful stage which is where the filming was planned to take place. Unfortunately, in the rush, with very limited resources available at such short notice, the lighting was not great resulting in having to submit studio footage instead. All that said though, even as I remain in lockdown having now surpassed 200 days, I am forever grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in such a prestigious competition. I know I put forward the best that I could under the circumstances and enjoyed participating in all elements of the competition I was able to. Sure, it was not how I would have wanted it to be but it was still a wonderful experience and well worth the challenge.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years, I see myself dancing in a company and experiencing my dream of performing on stage professionally surrounded by so many incredible and talented dancers. I look forward to being able to perform some of my favourite ballets and roles and having received some of the best opportunities working with some great dancers and choreographers. I would also like to have had opportunities to teach younger students and work to inspire them to follow their dreams and guide them in building upon their knowledge of the art form. At some point I intend to commence studying nutrition as this is a keen interest of mine and a path I would like to pursue as an extension to my career as a professional dancer having a passion for food and health.

 

Tickets for The Margot Fonteyn International Ballet Competition finals are available at www.royalacademyofdance.org/ and will grant you access to the livestream and on-demand recordings.