Telstra Ballet Award Nominees Announced

 Six talented dancers of The Australian Ballet have been announced as nominees for the prestigious Telstra Ballet Dancer Award. Now in its 15th year, the award recognises rising stars that embody what it means to thrive.

The 2017 Telstra Ballet Dancer Award nominees are Isobelle Dashwood (Toowoomba, QLD); Drew Hedditch (Canberra, ACT); François-Eloi Lavignac, (Limoges, France); Jake Mangakahia, (Sunshine Coast, QLD); and Sharni Spencer (Lismore, NSW), Valerie Tereshchenko, (Kiev, Ukraine).

The 2017 Telstra Ballet Dancer Award winner will take home a $20,000 cash prize, while the winner of the People’s Choice Award, decided by public vote, will receive $5,000.

To inspire people to vote in the People’s Choice Award, Telstra and The Australian Ballet have created a film series that gives a glimpse inside the minds of the nominees. The films reveal the individual challenges each dancer must overcome before they step on stage. Lifting the curtain on ballet, the intimate stories are told through the dancers’ physical, mental, and emotional relationship with mirrors during practice. Each journey of transformation highlights the effort that often goes unseen.

Telstra’s Chief Financial Officer Warwick Bray said that for more than three decades, Telstra has helped ballet dancers to develop their careers and allowed audiences to connect with the wonder of ballet in new and innovative ways.

“One of the greatest legacies of our partnership has been the establishment of the Telstra Ballet Dancer Award. Each year, this partnership allows dancers the opportunity to grow, thrive and enhance their careers. To help people across Australia understand the talent of these dancers and the incredible effort they put into their art, and to shine a spotlight on the beauty and discipline of ballet, we’ve created short videos that celebrate each nominee, showing their special qualities and what they go through to perform so beautifully on stage,” said Mr Bray.

The Australian Ballet’s Artistic Director David McAllister commented on the calibre of this year’s dancers.

“It is always an exciting moment in our year when we are able to reveal the nominees for the Telstra Ballet Dancer Award. We have seen this award boost the trajectory of many of our rising stars, some of whom are now principal artists. It’s wonderful to see the Australian community get behind our dancers for the People’s Choice Award. Each nominee has both passion and talent, and they all have interestingly diverse backgrounds, coming from across Australia and from overseas,” said Mr. McAllister.

Seven former winners of the award have subsequently been promoted to principal artists of The Australian Ballet: Matthew Lawrence (won 2003), Amber Scott (2004), Lana Jones (2005), Daniel Gaudiello (2007), Kevin Jackson (2008), Ty King-Wall (2010) and Chengwu Guo (2011).

The 2017 Telstra Ballet Dancer Award winners will be announced on Tuesday 5 December 2017 at the opening-night performance of Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland©. Australians are encouraged to watch the video series and vote for their favourite dancer in the People’s Choice Award at



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