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The Australian Ballet's 2013 Telstra Ballet Dancer Award Nominees Showcase Set for Today

Six dancers are in the running to take home Australian ballet's highest honour, with the 2013 Telstra Ballet Dancer Award (TBDA) nominations announced today in Melbourne.

The 2013 Telstra Ballet Dancer Award nominees are Benedicte Bemet (Mackay, QLD), CameRon Hunter (East Fremantle, WA), Natasha Kusen (Maroubra, NSW), Christopher Rodgers-Wilson (Camberwell, VIC), Sharni Spencer (Tamworth, NSW) and Valerie Tereshchenko (Carnegie, VIC).

The Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet David McAllister said he was excited for the group of young dancers as they began the first steps of their TBDA journey.

"I'm also particularly thrilled that for the first time, the nominees will use Instagram to document their TBDA experience. Ballet fans can follow them with the hashtag #TBDA13," McAllister said.

Telstra's Group General Counsel, Carmel Mulhern said the Award plays an important role in recognising and rewarding existing talent within the company.

"Each year the announcement of the Telstra Ballet Dancer Award nominees is such an exciting occasion and one that is highly anticipated.

"Together, it is important we continue to support and encourage the next generation of The Australian Ballet," she said.

Introduced in 2003 to encourage young Australian ballet dancers to reach their full potential, the Telstra Ballet Dancer Award has catapulted some of The Australian Ballet's brightest stars into the stratosphere.

Last year Senior Artist Amy Harris from Ararat in regional Victoria was crowned the 2012 TBDA winner. Her win was a case of third time lucky, with previous nominations for the esteemed Award in 2008 and 2010. In both of those years she took home the public-voted Telstra People's Choice Award, but last year was the first time she had won the main accolade.

Five previous TBDA winners have ascended the ballet rankings to reach principal artist status, including Matthew Lawrence (2003), Amber Scott (2004), Lana Jones (2005), Daniel Gaudiello (2007) and Kevin Jackson (2008).

Audiences can see all the 2013 TBDA nominees in action at the free outdoor event Telstra Ballet in Bowl in Melbourne today, 8 March. Register for tickets at ticketmaster.com.au.

This year's nominees were chosen by The Australian Ballet's artistic staff, previous winners of the award and principal artists. The six dancers were judged on their performances throughout 2012, the ongoing development of their skills and their support of fellow company members.

The winner, announced near the end of 2013, will be decided by an industry panel - comprising of representatives from The Australian Ballet, Telstra and the media - and will receive a $20,000 cash prize from Telstra. The People's Choice Award has a $5,000 prize and is decided by public vote.


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