Choreographic tips from the experts

If you’re thinking of entering the MadeBy Choreographic Competition and are looking for some inspiration, we’ve collated some tips from the experts to guide you through your artistic journey.

Alice Topp
Resident Choreographer
The Australian Ballet

Alice is the Choreographic Mentor for MadeBy. Her passion for choreography began when she created her first work, Trace, for the 2010 season of Bodytorque, The Australian Ballet’s choreographic showcase. From 2011 to 2014, she made three further works for the Bodytorque seasons. In 2016 she choreographed Little Atlas, which appeared in the company’s mainstage program Symphony in C in both 2016 and 2017. In 2018 her work Aurum, which was created with the support of a Rudolf Nureyev Prize for New Dance, had its world premiere as part of The Australian Ballet’s Verve program. It was her first main stage one-act work and had its international debut the following year at New York’s leading contemporary dance venue, The Joyce Theater.

In 2019, Alice and the creative team won a Helpmann Award for Best Ballet for Aurum, and Alice was also nominated for an Australian Dance Award for Outstanding Achievement in Choreography for the same work. She has been nominated for a Green Room Award (Little Atlas, 2017) and for three Australian Dance Awards (Aurum, 2018, Same Vein, 2014, Trace, 2010). 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. In 2018, Alice was appointed one of The Australian Ballet’s Resident Choreographers. She was invited to spend a month with Studio Wayne McGregor in the UK in 2019, creating a piece for The Grange Festival. The duet she created on the company, Clay, went on to form a larger work, Logos, for the Australian Ballet’s Volt season alongside two McGregor works, premiering in March 2020. The year also saw the Royal New Zealand Ballet restage her work Aurum.

Alice’s Tips

  • You don’t need to have all the answers! There’s no right or wrong in the creative process. Experiment, play, have fun, take risks … discover what works for you, and what doesn’t. Learn from the process. Make material and throw it away. There’s no one way to do things. Trust yourself and what feels right for you.
  • Don’t get hung up on choreographers’ block! It’s a totally natural thing to experience! If you get stuck on a step, give yourself some space and come back to it. Skip over that part and fill in the blanks later. Sometimes it’s good to return to a part with fresh eyes!
  • Keep coming back to your story/narrative/inspiration. Sometimes it’s easy to keep returning to steps that feel good for you to dance but they don’t always reflect your narrative. Keep reminding yourself of your vision, what you want to say and how best to get that message across.
  • Back yourself. Self-doubt is a natural part of the process when embarking on an unknown journey. It’s new territory and it’s ok to have nerves and doubts but have the courage to trust your voice, your vision, and your self-expression. No one can be you, no one can say things the way you say them. Be unapologetically YOU, as only you can. That’s the magical part.
  • Don’t forget to have fun with it! You’re putting a piece of art out into the world that didn’t exist beforehand – that’s pretty special! Enjoy the journey!


Gerard Charles

Artistic Director
Royal Academy of Dance
  • Listen to the music, allow your mind the freedom to see what thoughts come to you. It could be a mood, a character, an emotion, or simply it may make you wish to move in a certain way. Take what is coming from within you and allow it to flow into a piece that truly reflects you.
  • Don’t try to be like anyone else, but similarly don’t try and be different just for the sake of it.
  • Let your response to the music be honest and then allow it to grow and adjust as you see your dancers responses to the music and to your ideas