Without further adieu, The Australian Ballet dancer Benedicte Bemet has been crowned the 2015 winner of the Telstra Ballet Dancer Award (TBDA), the nation’s most prestigious prize in ballet.
The highly-coveted award recognises Benedicte’s exceptional talent and outstanding achievements throughout the year. But Benedicte’s long-term passion and dedication to ballet did not go unnoticed.
Born in Queensland’s Mackay, the 21-year-old moved to the Gold Coast at a young age and first started dancing at age three. When she relocated to Hong Kong, Benedicte continued her passion for ballet and started dancing professionally when she returned home at age 14, and later joined The Australian Ballet in 2012.
Benedicte not only takes out the crown for the award, but also received a $20,000 cash prize from principal partner Telstra. Benedicte had previously also won the Telstra People’s Choice Award in 2013, which was decided by public vote.
The announcement was made by Telstra Chief Financial Officer, Warwick Bray on stage at the Sydney Opera House on Thursday December 3, following a performance of The Australian Ballet’s Artistic Director David McAllister’s incredible The Sleeping Beauty.
As he presented the award, Bray said: “One of the greatest successes in our 31 year partnership has been the establishment and legacy of the Telstra Ballet Dancer Award, which is dedicated to supporting and encouraging the future of The Australian Ballet’s rising stars.
“On behalf of Telstra I’d like to congratulate Benedicte on this outstanding achievement. What a remarkable accomplishment at such a young age and we look forward to watching her career blossom in the years to come.”
The Australian Ballet’s David McAllister also congratulated Benedicte on her win.
“Since joining The Australian Ballet in 2012, Benedicte has been a dancer who catches your eye. 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. Benedicte joins a very impressive list of former Telstra Ballet Dancer Award winners and will add great lustre through what I am sure will be a very exciting future with The Australian Ballet,” he said.
Marcus Morelli, from Brighton Victoria, won the $5,000 Telstra People’s Choice Award on the night. The other four nominees this year included Jasmin Durham from Gordon, ACT, Robyn Hendricks from Port Elizabeth, South Africa, recently-appointed Principal Artist Ako Kondo from Nagoya, Japan, and Amanda McGuigan from Summer Hill, NSW.
The award has helped catapult the careers of some of The Australian Ballet’s brightest stars, with seven former winners being promoted to principal artist in the company following their award, including Matthew Lawrence (2003 winner), Amber Scott (2004), Lana Jones (2005), Daniel Gaudiello (2007), Kevin Jackson (2008), Ty King-Wall (2010) and Chengwu Guo (2011).
The nominees were judged throughout the year on their contributions both on and off the stage to the company. This year’s TBDA judging panel was formed by David McAllister (Artistic Director, The Australian Ballet), Libby Christie (Executive Director, The Australian Ballet), Carmel Mulhern (Group General Counsel, Telstra) Robyn Foyster (Publisher, The Carousel) and Katarina Kroslakova (Editor, Life & Leisure, AFR).
For the first time in 2015, ballet as an art form was taken to another level with a series of unique artist-dancer collaborations revealed to announce the 2015 Telstra Ballet Dancer Award nominees. The series spanned an array of art categories with some of Australia’s most talented installation artists and designers.
Audiences can see Benedicte and Marcus on stage during The Sleeping Beauty touring nationally now.