During the curtain call for the opening night of The Australian Ballet’s Sydney season of Anna Karenina, David Hallberg announced the winners of the The Telstra Ballet Dancer Awards.
Soloist Rina Nemoto took out the $25,000 Telstra Rising Star Award, in recognition of her exceptional talent outstanding achievements and bright future, while corps de ballet dancer Lilly Maskery was awarded the Telstra People’s Choice Award.
Rina was born in Tokyo, Japan, and began dancing at the age of three. When she was 15, she travelled to Paris for two years of classical ballet training with Daini Kudo and Dominique Khalfouni. In 2009, she was awarded a Prix de Lausanne scholarship and joined The Royal Ballet as an apprentice dancer. In 2011, she joined The Australian Ballet, where she was promoted to coryphée in 2016 and to soloist in 2018.
Lilly was born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand. She began dance classes at the age of three, training at the Philippa Campbell School of Ballet and then The Australian Ballet School. She joined The Australian Ballet in 2020.
The winner of the Telstra Ballet Dancer Awards are based on their contributions both on and off the stage. The Rising Star Award is chosen by a panel of judges, while the People’s Choice Award is chosen by a public vote. This year more than 170,000 people voted.
About Rina and Lilly, Hallberg said: “In my short time as Artistic Director of this company I have watched both Rina and Lilly grow as artists, showing that the combination of individuality and hard work truly do pay off. I know this recognition will surely give them the deserved spotlight for them to shine in. I would also like to take this moment to thank 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.”
The other nominees were corps de ballet dancers Adam Elmes and Thomas Gannon, and coryphée Lucien Xu.