The Australian Ballet and Telstra announce finalists in aspiring choreographers initiative

David Hallberg, artistic director of The Australian Ballet, with dancers Callum Linnane and Imogen Chapman. Photo by Nicole Cleary.
David Hallberg, artistic director of The Australian Ballet, with dancers Callum Linnane and Imogen Chapman. Photo by Nicole Cleary.

The Australian Ballet and Telstra are delighted to announce the four artists selected as finalists in Telstra Emerging Chorographer (TEC).A new award dedicated to nurturing choreographic talent and artistic creativity in Australia, TEC offers aspiring choreographers the chance to create new work and potentially the opportunity to take part in The Australian Ballet’s 2022 Bodytorque program. The winner will also receive a prize of AU$10,000, courtesy of Telstra, to support the development of their work. 

The Australian Ballet and Telstra were delighted with the response to the project’s inaugural year, receiving entries from artists across Australia. More than 60 aspiring choreographers covering all genres of dance submitted applications in response to the TEC 2021 theme exploring the ‘Joy of Dance.’ 

The 2021 TEC Finalists include: Feras Shaheen (Punchbowl, Sydney); Aimee Schollum (Seddon, Melbourne); Mathilda Ballantyne (North Melbourne, Melbourne); and Geoffrey Watson (Preston, Melbourne). The four aspiring choreographers will each be provided a budget of up to $2,500 to create a work of four to six minutes. Their works will then be reviewed by the TEC 2021 Judging Panel, including The Australian Ballet’s Artistic Director David Hallberg and judges, including Damian Smith (Artistic Director of The National Theatre Ballet School) and Lucy Guerin AO (Lucy Guerin Inc). 

To be announced this December, the winner will receive a prize of $10,000 thanks to Telstra to support the development of their work. They will also have the opportunity to be selected by Hallberg to continue their development by working with The Australian Ballet’s artistic team and dancers to create a new work as part of the company’s 2022 Bodytorque program. The Australian Ballet’s Bodytorque program has been an incubator for some of the country’s brightest choreographic talents, including dance luminary Graeme Murphy and Resident Choreographer Alice Topp. 

Telstra and The Australian Ballet are firmly aligned with supporting innovation through the creatives of the future. The TEC award aims to inspire the next generation of Australian choreographers by providing them with a platform and an opportunity to develop their choreographic talent and nurture their potential. 

Hallberg says, “The finalists for our inaugural TEC award have shown the range and diversity of the dance community here in Australia. We received a substantial number of entries, giving a clear indication of so many burgeoning creatives. Fellow judges Damian Smith, Lucy Guerin and I will review the unique pieces submitted by each finalist with great interest, as they all have their own diverse choreographic voice, expanding across many styles of dance. Working with Telstra on this initiative has already uncovered some great choreographic talent and enables us to create greater opportunity for the young Australian dance makers of today.”

Telstra Principal, Media, Sponsorship and Awards, Genelle Sharples, said, “We are so pleased to be building on our 30 plus year partnership with The Australian Ballet. Through the TEC initiative, we are empowering the next generation of choreographers and supporting them to achieve their full potential. At Telstra, we are proud to be nurturing young artists and encouraging them to thrive, ensuring the future of dance is bright in Australia.”

The partnership between Telstra and The Australian Ballet is one of the longest-running arts partnerships in the country. Telstra has been the Principal Partner of The Australian Ballet for 37 years. Through the Telstra Ballet Dancer Awards, Telstra has helped to celebrate ballet talent for nearly two decades by shining a spotlight on the ballet’s rising stars. 

For full details of the initiative, visit australianballet.com.au/support-us/corporate-partnerships/partners/telstra-emerging-choreographer.

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