Now in its 17th year, the Telstra Ballet Dancer Award is an inspired piece of corporate support by Telstra, which has been partnering The Australian Ballet for 35 years.

Created in 2003 to support the rising stars of The Australian Ballet, the Telstra Ballet Dancer Award has become a popular, high-profile and coveted award. The six finalists this year, nominated for their artistic quality, powerful stage presence and contribution to The Australian Ballet, are: Isobelle Dashwood (Corps de Ballet), Jill Ogai (Soloist), Cristiano Martino (Senior Artist), Marcus Morelli (Senior Artist), Sharni Spencer (Soloist), and Yichuan Wang (Corps de Ballet).

Sharni Spencer, Marcus Morelli, Jill Ogai, Cristiano Martino, Isobelle Dashwood and Yichuan Wang. Photograph courtesy of The Australian Ballet

The Telstra Ballet Dancer Award is worth $20,000. The winner is chosen by a panel of judges from Telstra and The Australian Ballet. The nominees are also in contention for the $5,000 People’s Choice Award, which is decided by a public vote. The finalists are featured in a series of videos on the Ballet website so that the public can get to know more about them and then cast their vote.

“We love that we are able to share the dancers’ stories and their joy of ballet, providing inspiration for all Australians to get involved. Ballet is an incredibly demanding art-form and this award is an opportunity to recognise the passion and artistry these dancers bring to the stage,” said Genelle Sharples, General Manager of Media and Sponsorships for Telstra.

David McAllister, Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet, commended the calibre of this year’s dancers. “Year on year we continue to see some amazing talent rise through the ranks of The Australian Ballet and this year’s six nominees are a fantastic representation of the dedication and commitment that The Australian Ballet embodies. Being nominated for the Telstra Ballet Dancer Awards is such an honour for each artist, it really gives these hard-working and inspiring dancers such well-deserved recognition. The winner announcement is always one of the highlights of our year, but always a tough process, as they are all deserving.”

The Telstra Ballet Dancer Award and People’s Choice Award will be announced at the opening night performance of The Nutcracker at the Sydney Opera House on November 30.

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