Valerie Tereshchenko has been named the 2017 Telstra Ballet Dancer Award winner, one of The Australian Ballet’s most prestigious prizes.
Spending her early childhood in Kiev, Ukraine, it wasn’t until Valerie’s family immigrated to Australia when she was six that she was enrolled in her first ballet class.
Joining The Australian Ballet in 2009, her fascination and passion for the art form accelerated when she took her first class with Amber Scott, former Telstra Ballet Dancer Award winner and now Principal Artist at The Australian Ballet.
In recognition of her exceptional talent and outstanding achievements throughout the year, Valerie will receive a $20,000 cash prize from The Australian Ballet’s Principal Partner, Telstra.
The Awards announcement was made last night by Telstra Group Executive Media and Chief Marketing Officer, Joe Pollard on stage at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre, following The Australian Ballet’s opening night performance ofAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the company’s final 2017 season.
While presenting the AwardJoe Pollard said, “One of the greatest successes in our 33-year partnership with The Australian Ballet has been the establishment and legacy of the Telstra Ballet Dancer Award, which is dedicated to supporting the growth and future of The Australian Ballet’s rising stars.
“On behalf of Telstra I’d like to congratulate Valerie on this outstanding achievement. Adding this remarkable accomplishment to her list is a sure sign of a thriving career with The Australian Ballet,” continued Ms. Pollard.
“It is always wonderful to watch the new crop of Telstra Ballet Dancer Award nominees go through this enriching journey. I’m thrilled to see rising star Valerie Tereshchenko acknowledged for her dedication and artistry as this year’s winner, and I look forward to watching this award boost her trajectory. Jake Mangakahia, exemplified what it takes to be the people’s choice winner this year, showcasing the loyalty and support of his fans, friends and family to take out this award,” says The Australian Ballet’s Artistic Director, David McAllister.
Also announced was the $5,000 Telstra People’s Choice Award which is decided by an online public vote. This year Telstra and The Australian Ballet produced a series of short films showcasing each of the dancers. The films were designed to help Australians understand the incredible effort and talent required by each of the finalists, and what they go through to perform so beautifully on stage.
The 2017 Telstra People’s Choice Award went to Jake Mangakahia.Jake joined The Australian Ballet in 2012. In 2014 he took a two-year break to fulfill his life-long dream to serve as a Christian missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day-Saints. Whilst Jake was away he trained on his own for six hours a day and upon his return to The Australian Ballet he performed a leading role inNijinsky. Proving Jake’s status as a crowd favourite, this is the second time Jake has taken home this award, the first being in his premiere year with the company.
“We were thrilled to see a record number of votes for the People’s Choice Award as a result of our short film series this year – and we are incredibly pleased for our winner Jake who captured the attention of many fans during the voting period,” said Joe Pollard.
For the second year in a row, genders were equally represented among the nominees, who this year includedDrew Hedditch (Canberra, ACT),Isobelle Dashwood (Toowoomba, QLD),Jake Mangakahia, (Sunshine Coast, QLD),François-Eloi Lavignac, (Limoges, France, resides in Melbourne), andSharni Spencer (Lismore, NSW).
The nominees were judged throughout the year on the contributions they made to the company, both on and off the stage. This year’s judging panel includedDavid McAllister (Artistic Director, The Australian Ballet),Libby Christie (Executive Director, The Australian Ballet), Joe Pollard (Group Executive Media and Chief Marketing Officer, Telstra),Cynthia Whelan (Group Executive New Business, Telstra),Cecily Ryan(Head of Lifestyle, The Daily Telegraph) andTory Maguire(Editor-in-Chief,Huff Post).