The 21-year-old dancer from Queensland has been dancing with Australian Ballet since 2012. She receives a $20,000 prize.

Last night at the Sydney Opera House, during the curtain call of the Australian Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty, Benedicte Bemet was named the 2015 winner of the Telstra Ballet Dancer of the Year Award. The annual prize recognises a dancer from the company who has shown outstanding development and skill during the season.

The 21 year-old dancer from Queensland, who joined the Australian Ballet School aged 14 and entered the senior company in 2012, was clearly overwhelmed with the news, clasping her hands to her face in shock as she stood on the stage of the Joan Sutherland Theatre. She receives a cash prize of $20,000 and joins the elite roster of Telstra Ballet Dancer of the Year winners who will decide which dancers should be nominated for next year’s award.

The six nominees on stage at yesterday evening’s announcement

Australian Ballet artistic director David McAllister spoke of Bemet’s superb performances over the past season. “Since joining The Australian Ballet in 2012, Benedicte has been a dancer who catches your eye,” he said. “Whether in a line of swans or dancing Clara in The Nutcracker, she dances with a passion and confidence that have made her an audience favourite.”

The award is an encouraging sign for the young dancer, who is currently the rank of coryphée. Seven of the 12 previous winners, Matthew Lawrence (2003 winner), Amber Scott (2004), Lana Jones (2005), Daniel Gaudiello (2007), Kevin Jackson (2008), Ty King-Wall (2010) and Chengwu Guo (2011), have all gone on to be promoted to Principal Artist, the highest rank in the company.

Also announced last night was 2015’s People’s Choice Award, which went to the sole male nominee this year, Marcus Morelli. The Victorian dancer from Brighton receives a $5000 cash prize. Also nominated this year were Jasmin Durham, Robyn Hendricks, recently-appointed Principal Artist Ako Kondo and Amanda McGuigan.

Benedicte Bemet and Marcus Morelli are currently appearing in Australian Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty. Read online editor Maxim Boon’s five star review here.

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