Winners of 2023 Telstra Ballet Dancer Awards revealed at Sydney Opera House

Lilla Harvey. Photo by Lisa Tomasetti.
Lilla Harvey. Photo by Lisa Tomasetti.

On 20 May, on the stage of the Sydney Opera House, dancer Lilla Harvey was announced the winner of the 2023 Telstra Ballet Dancer Awards and bestowed the prestigious Telstra Rising Star Award. Joining Harvey centre-stage, Soloist Isobelle Dashwood was named the winner of the Telstra People’s Choice Award. As The Australian Ballet and Telstra unveiled the winners of this year’s awards, both dancers were met with a rousing applause in recognition of each of their extraordinary talent, dedication to the art form and bright futures in ballet.

The awards now in their 20th year were unveiled by Telstra Chief Executive Officer Vicki Brady following the closing performance of George Balanchine’s Jewels at the Sydney Opera House. The winners were chosen by a panel of judges from The Australian Ballet and Telstra, as well as the general public via online voting.

The Telstra Ballet Dancer Awards incorporates two separate awards: The Telstra Rising Star Award, which awards a $25,000 prize to the winner and The Telstra People’s Choice Award, which is accompanied by a $15,000 prize for the winner.

Lilla Harvey, winner of the 2023 Telstra Ballet Dancer Awards.
Lilla Harvey, winner of the 2023 Telstra Ballet Dancer Awards.

The partnership between Telstra and The Australian Ballet is one of the longest running arts partnerships in the country, at 39 years. The annual awards are a key component of the partnership and are the most prestigious prize in Australian ballet today.

Winning the Telstra Ballet Dancer Awards has been a career highlight for some of Australian ballet’s biggest stars such as current Principal Artists Benedicte Bemet, Callum Linnane and Dimity Azoury, Chengwu Guo, Amber Scott and Amy Harris. The awards help dancers build confidence in their skills and abilities as they work to ascend the ballet ranks to the most senior dancing positions in Australia’s national dance company. It is testament to the awards that as many as 11 former winners having gone on to become Principal Artists of The Australian Ballet.

Genelle Sharples, Principal, Media, Sponsorships and Awards for Telstra, said, “It is a joy to recognize Lilla and Isobelle for their outstanding achievements in their artform. We commend their unwavering commitment, infectious passion and relentless dedication to their craft. As we celebrate 20 years of the Telstra Ballet Dancer Awards, I am so proud to see these awards continue to nurture ballet’s rising stars and encourage the next generation of Australian ballet talent to flourish.”

The Australian Ballet’s Artistic Director, David Hallberg, congratulated Harvey and Dashwood on their wins. “We see such bright futures in these two dancers; both Lilla and Isobelle are so deserving of this recognition as they have both dedicated so much hard work and time to reaching their goals and achieving their aspirations. Their pursuit of strength and determination to excel has been exemplary in the past year, and I’m delighted to see both of them taking a bow to relish in their achievements.”

The Telstra Ballet Dancer Awards 2023 winners were selected based on their contributions to the company throughout the year. As well as Harvey and Dashwood, the other three dancers nominated for the 2023 Telstra Ballet Dancer Awards included Adam Elmes (corps de vallet dancer), Riley Lapham (coryphée) and Katherine Sonnekus (coryphée). Nominations are made by the artistic team, the company’s dancers and past winners. A nomination is a huge honour for these dancers, as it recognizes their hard work and potential as determined by their peers.

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