Dimity Azoury and Benedicte Bemet have been promoted to principal artists of The Australian Ballet. The surprise news was announced by Artistic Director David McAllister onstage at the Sydney Opera House on Saturday, following their performances in Stanton Welch’s Sylvia. Both dancers learnt of their appointments during curtain calls with their loved ones present.

Dimity Azoury and Benedicte Bemet. Photo © Kate Longley

“Dimity and Benedicte started their ballet journeys in regional Australian towns, which showcases the breadth of talent we have in our country. They have been nurtured and supported by many people along the way to be where they are now. I am sure their stories will be aspirational for young budding dancers across the county,” said McAllister.

Dimity Azoury. Photo © Kate Longley

Azoury, who is from Queanbeyan, New South Wales, began dancing at the age of four. She studied at Canberra’s Kim Harvey School of Dance for 11 years before joining The Australian Ballet School in 2005. She became a member of The Australian Ballet in 2008 and was promoted to soloist in 2015 after her debut as Baroness von Rothbart in Graeme Murphy’s Swan Lake, and to senior artist in 2017. Azoury has worked with choreographers including Nicolo Fonte, Graeme Murphy, Tim Harbour, Stephen Page and Stephen Baynes, and was the recipient of the Telstra Ballet Dancer Award in 2014.

“Since joining the company in 2008 Dimity has been a dancer that choreographers have loved to create on. Her performances are always filled with passion, as we saw in her fiery and complex Baroness in Graeme Murphy’s Swan Lake but equally in her haunting and delicate Giselle in Maina Gielgud’s production. I know these qualities will continue to fuel her work as she joins the principal rank,” said McAllister.

Benedicte Bemet. Photo © Karina Longley

Bemet, who was born in Mackay and began ballet at the age of three, studied at the Gold Coast’s Ransley Ballet Centre before continuing at Hong Kong’s Jean M. Wong School of Ballet at 10. She became a member of The Australian Ballet School four years later and joined TAB’s corps de ballet in 2012. Bemet was promoted to coryphée in 2013, to soloist in 2016 and to senior artist in 2018. She received the Telstra Ballet Dancer Award in 2015. Limelight described her performance as Clara in TAB’s The Nutcracker in September as “very musical… her weightless arabesques and balances filling out every moment of the music”, praising her “beautiful phrasing.”

“Benedicte has always had a natural quality and a joyful radiance on stage, and she has danced a number of principal roles with great distinction,” said McAllister. “After an injury a couple of years ago her personal growth has added even greater depth to her innate ability and has been evident in her recent performances of the Sugarplum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Flavia in Lucas Jervies’ Spartacus and the title role in Stanton Welch’s Sylvia.”

“Both dancers will bring unique and wonderful strengths to our fantastic line-up of principal artists and have exciting futures ahead of them,” McAllister added.

Sylvia continues at the Sydney Opera House until November 23