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Australian Ballet's 2011 Telstra Ballet Dancer Award Nominees Announced

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Nominations are in for the 2011 Telstra Ballet Dancer Award and it's going to be a hot year of competition! Six dancers with a diverse range of backgrounds and styles have been announced in Melbourne today as contenders for the annual award.

The 2011 Telstra Ballet Dancer Award nominees are Brett Chynoweth (Mount Waverley, Victoria), Chengwu Guo (Jiangxi, China), Rudy Hawkes (Ipswich, Queensland), Robyn Hendricks (Port Elizabeth, South Africa), Luke Marchant (Maitland, New South Wales) and Karen Nanasca (Auckland, New Zealand).

Created in 2003 to encourage Australian ballet dancers to reach their full potential, the Telstra Ballet Dancer Award has propelled the careers of several stars of The Australian Ballet to the highest level.

Previous Telstra Ballet Dancer Award winners Lana Jones, Kevin Jackson and Daniel Gaudiello have started 2011 as principal artists after their promotions last November.

This year's six talented artists have been nominated by The Australian Ballet's artistic staff, previous winners of the award and principal artists. Nominees are judged on their performances throughout the year, ongoing development of their skills and their support of fellow dancers.

Group Managing Director, Telstra Business, Deena Shiff, said the award illustrated Telstra's ongoing commitment to nurturing the next generation of ballet talent.

"These young dancers have been selected for their exceptional talent both on and off the stage and will be the ones to keep a close eye on during the 2011 season."

The Telstra Ballet Dancer Award winner is voted by an industry panel – comprised of representatives from The Australian Ballet, Telstra and the media – and receives a $20,000 cash prize from Telstra. The People's Choice Award has a $5,000 prize and is decided by public vote.

In a historic first last year, the Telstra Ballet Dancer Award was a tie. Ty King-Wall and Dana Stephensen were joint TBDA winners, and Telstra doubled their generous support, awarding both artists the full $20,000 prize money.

Amy Harris won the People's Choice Award for the second time, having first won the title in 2008.

You can catch the nominees in action at Madame Butterfly, opening in Melbourne on 25 February before travelling to Adelaide and Sydney.

Telstra has armed each nominee with a BlackBerry to tweet about their TBDA journey. Follow the nominees as they tweet about their rehearsals, performances and all the news from backstage at The Australian Ballet.

To vote for your favourite dancer, simply SMS their first name to 0439 BALLET (0439 225 538) or visit beinvolved.com.au to enter online and full terms and conditions.

Join us on the search for Australia's rising ballet star!

For more information, visit australianballet.com.au.


Brett Chynoweth – Corps de Ballet
Melbourne-born Brett started dancing at age five.
While a student at The Australian Ballet School, Brett
won the prestigious Graeme Murphy Award for Excellence in Contemporary Dance and received a scholarship that enabled him to train in New York and Toronto. Brett graduated dux from The Australian Ballet School with honours to join The Australian Ballet at the beginning of 2009.

Chengwu Guo – Coryphée
Chengwu began dance classes at the age of eleven in his native China. In 2006 Chengwu won the prestigious Prix de Lausanne, receiving a full scholarship to complete his vocational ballet training with The Australian Ballet School. Chengwu joined The Australian Ballet in 2008 and was promoted to coryphée in 2011. He also has the distinction of having won the 2009 season of 'So You Think You Can Dance – China'.

Rudy Hawkes – Soloist
At the age of seven, Ipswich-born Rudy joined his local dance school, where he spent several years learning jazz, tap and contemporary ballet. Rudy joined The Australian Ballet School in 2002 where he was selected to participate in a 2004 student exchange to the American Ballet Theatre's Studio Company in New York and the National Ballet School of Canada in Toronto. Rudy joined The Australian Ballet in 2005, was promoted to coryphée in 2009 and became a soloist in 2011.

Robyn Hendricks – Soloist
South African-born Robyn began ballet classes after her grandfather observed she was always dancing on her toes. Growing up in an academic family, Robyn was the first family member to pursue a creative passion. Robyn came to Melbourne in 2001 to participate in the Cecchetti International Competition and has made it her home. Robyn joined The Australian Ballet in 2005 and was promoted to soloist in 2011.

Luke Marchant – Corps de Ballet
Luke was born in Maitland, New South Wales, where he began ballet classes at the age of four. Luke relocated to Melbourne to attend The Australian Ballet School where he won the Level 7 Award for Excellence and performed with The Dancers Company tours of 2007 and 2008. Luke joined The Australian Ballet in 2009.

Karen Nanasca – Corps de Ballet
Karen was born in Auckland, New Zealand. Hailing from an athletic family, she followed in their footsteps by studying ballet from the age of seven. Karen won the New Zealand National Ballet Award in 2004 and was a semi-finalist at the 2005 Prix de Lausanne. In 2006 Karen was awarded the ElizaBeth McDonald Scholarship, allowing her to join The Australian Ballet School. Karen became a member of The Australian Ballet's corps de ballet in 2009.


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