Tuesday 6 April was a big night for Nathan Brook. Not only did he perform in the opening night of The Australian Ballet’s triple bill New York Dialects at the Sydney Opera House – the first time the company had performed in Sydney in more than a year – but he took home both the Telstra Rising Star Award and the Telstra People’s Choice Award. In the process, he pocketed a combined prize of $40,000.

Nathan Brook is presented with the 2020 Telstra Ballet AwardsNathan Brook is presented with the 2020 Telstra Ballet Awards. Photograph © Lisa Tomasetti

The announcement is usually made in Sydney on the opening night of the final production for the year, but had to be postponed because of COVID. Instead Telstra Chief Executive Officer Andrew Penn presented the Awards as the curtain fell on New York Dialects. The exhilarating program, which features Balanchine’s Serenade and The Four Temperaments, as well as the world premiere of Pam Tanowicz’s Watermark, won a five-star review from Limelight.

Brook won the two 2020 Telstra Ballet Awards from a field of six nominees, which included soloist Imogen Chapman; coryphée Jasmin Durham; corps de ballet dancer Serena Graham; coryphée Corey Herbert and corps de ballet dancer Cameron Holmes.

Born and raised in Avalon Beach on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Brook is the youngest of three boys. Growing up on the beach, his brothers became competitive surf boat rowers, while he himself grew to love scuba diving. But his biggest love was always dancing. He began jazz classes at the age of seven, training with Aryana Lamont at the Lamont Dance School in Avalon Beach, then moved to Melbourne at the age of 14 to attend the Australian Ballet School.

When he graduated, he initially missed out on securing a place in The Australian Ballet. Instead, he joined Queensland Ballet’s Young Artist Program, and became a member of the company in 2015. He joined the corps de ballet of The Australian Ballet in 2016, was promoted to coryphée in 2018 and became a soloist in 2019.

Brook was bullied at school because he studied ballet, and is fiercely passionate about breaking down that stigma and encouraging young ballet boys to fulfil their dreams, and feel supported in the process.

Nathan BrookNathan Brook. Photograph © Nicola Cleary

The Australian Ballet’s Artistic Director, David Hallberg, congratulated Brook on his win, saying: “It is a thrill to announce my first Telstra Ballet Dancer Award to Nathan Brook. I have watched Nathan grow as an artist in previous years and his commitment, drive, dedication and ambition make him a great advocate for this award. The future is very bright for Nathan in the world of dance. I am so proud of this year’s nominees; bouncing back from their time away from the stage and returning with a fresh outlook on their careers. It is a special place to be as an artist and I can’t wait to nurture and develop all of them in years to come. Lastly, a warm thank you to Telstra for supporting The Australian Ballet and the talent that they spotlight. It is encouraging for all of us here to know we are aligned in nurturing the talent within The Australian Ballet.”

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