The Australian Ballet VOLTThe Australian Ballet’s 2020 contemporary triple bill Volt will set pulses racing at Arts Centre Melbourne from 13 to 24 March, before heading to the Sydney Opera House from 3 to 22 April.

Volt will feature two highly acclaimed, lightning-fast works by a giant of the contemporary ballet world, Wayne McGregor, and one brand-new work by the company’s resident choreographer, the Helpmann Award-winning Alice Topp.

Alice Topp returns with the world premiere of Logos – an exploration of the storms we weather – our fears, fights, darkness and demons – how we wear them and how they impact others. Logos will interrogate the notions of a dormant beast within, how humans live and work with their monsters and what the landscape looks like after the storm.

Performed to a soundtrack by the Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi, a Topp favourite, with lighting design by her long-term collaborator Jon Buswell, Logos is a work about armouring ourselves against predators, pressures and climate. The piece had its origin in a duet made as a development work on the dancers of Company Wayne McGregor in London.

“I can’t wait to bring Logos to life and am so humbled to have it sit in a program alongside works by my hero Wayne McGregor,” says Topp. “I feel so lucky to have had the extraordinary experience of spending time with Wayne and his beautiful company in June where the seeds of the new work were planted.”

“I’m looking forward to realising this work, sharing these ideas and musings with home audiences and seeing Volt thrill, challenge and move,” she added.

The British-born McGregor’s ballets have redefined the boundaries of contemporary dance, defying audience expectations around the world. His works Dyad 1929 and Chroma feature in The Australian Ballet’s repertoire, and Alice counts her performances in these ballets as a highlight of her career as a dancer.

McGregor’s Dyad 1929 was created for The Australian Ballet in 2009 and was last seen in 2013. It celebrates the centenary of the Ballets Russes and the pioneering creative vision of impresario Sergei Diaghilev. The work is one part of a Dyad diptych – the other part of which is Dyad 1909, created in London on McGregor’s own company, then called Random Dance.

The dates 1909 and 1929 bookend the explosion of creativity that was Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, tracing an arc from its first season in Paris to its disbanding after Diaghilev’s death in 1929.

The abstract Dyad 1929 captures the compulsive forward motion of these decades through its rocketing choreography, which is in turn driven onward by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Steve Reich composition Double Sextet. A bold monochromatic set design by McGregor and Lucy Carter, who also designed the fierce lighting, is complemented by Moritz Junge’s minimal-chic costumes.

Last performed by The Australian Ballet in 2014, McGregor’s multi-award-winning 2006 work Chroma is often hailed as one of the greatest to emerge from the 21st century and has been performed by the world’s premier ballet companies. It is a riveting exploration of the ways human bodies communicate extremes of thought and emotion.

Inspired by Minimum – a visual essay by architect John Pawson (who was invited to create Chroma’s stark box of a set), McGregor works with the idea of creating pure shape through a process of subtraction. The dancers move with rapid, immaculate precision, dressed in a muted palette by costume designer Moritz Junge.

An original score by Joby Talbot combines the composer’s own inventions with arrangements of music by American rock band The White Stripes. Stylish lighting design by Lucy Carter transforms Pawson’s minimalist set.

“We’re so lucky to have these two works in The Australian Ballet’s repertoire and to be resurfacing them for our Volt season, which is going to be this year’s most explosive and energetic program,” said The Australian Ballet’s artistic director, David McAllister. “It’s also fabulous to be showcasing Alice Topp’s brand-new work between these McGregor classics.”

“It’s been a joy to watch Alice manoeuvre from company dancer to resident choreographer and to see her create with such vigour and receive such recognition. For audiences to witness rising Australian choreography talent alongside one of the world’s best modern dancemakers is going to be special.”

“This is a real ‘master and apprentice’ moment and I look forward to seeing this electric program light up the stage in Sydney and Melbourne,” said McAllister.

Wayne McGregor CBE is a multi-award-winning British choreographer and director. He has made more than 30 works for his company Studio Wayne McGregor, founded in 1992 with the name Random Dance. His work is regularly performed by companies around the world. Company Wayne McGregor, his ensemble of touring dancers, is the resident company of Sadler’s Wells, London.

Alice Topp was appointed one of The Australian Ballet’s resident choreographers in 2018, after performing with the company as a dancer since 2007. Her work Aurum – which was created with the support of a Rudolf Nureyev Prize for New Dance, premiered in The Australian Ballet’s 2018 season of Verve, and was performed at the Joyce Theater in New York in 2019, winning a Helpmann Award for Best Ballet soon afterwards.

CHROMA (2006)
Choreography: Wayne McGregor Music: Joby Talbot, Jack White III Costume Design: Moritz Junge Set Design: John Pawson Lighting Design: Lucy Carter

LOGOS (2020)*
Choreography and Costume Design: Alice Topp Music: Ludovico Einaudi Staging and Lighting Design: Jon Buswell

DYAD 1929 (2013)
Choreography: Wayne McGregor Music: Steve Reich Double Sextet Stage Concept: Wayne McGregor, Lucy Carter Costume Design: Moritz Junge Lighting Design: Lucy Carter

State Theatre – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Season: 13 – 24 March 2020
Bookings: www.artscentremelbourne.com.au

Joan Sutherland Theatre – Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point
Season: 3 – 22 April 2020
Bookings: www.sydneyoperahouse.com

For more information, visit: www.australianballet.com.au for details.

Image: Imogen Chapman – photo by Georges Antoni

Note: * Logos is a co-commission by Studio Wayne McGregor, The Australian Ballet and Dance@The Grange. It is generously supported by the Robert Southey Fund for Australian Choreography