Valerie Wins Ballet Dancer Award

Photo Ben Symons

Valerie Tereshchenko named the Telstra Ballet Dancer Award 2017

Jake Mangakahia wins the People’s Choice Winner

Valerie Tereshchenko

Valerie Tereshchenko has been named the 2017 Telstra Ballet Dancer Award winner, one of The Australian Ballet’s most prestigious annual prizes.
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 6 nominees were Valerie Tereshchenko, Drew Hedditch, Isobelle Dashwood, Francois-Eloi Lavignac, Sharni Spencer & Jake Mangakahia. Read more about these dancers in our previous article.
Originally from Kiev, Ukraine, Valerie’s family immigrated to Australia when she was six and she enrolled in her first ballet class.
Photo Kate Longley

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.
Also announced was the $5,000 Telstra People’s Choice Award 2017 which is decided by a public online vote and was won by Jake Mangakahia.
The Awards announcement was made on stage at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre, following The Australian Ballet’s opening night performance of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Telstra Group Executive Media and Chief Marketing Officer, Joe Pollard.
While presenting the Award Joe 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.
Jake Mangakahia

“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.
Jake Mangakahia 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 in Nijinsky. 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.
2017 Telstra Ballet Dancer Awards Nominees (L-R): Valerie Tereshchenko, Drew Hedditch, Isobelle Dashwood, Francois-Eloi Lavignac, Sharni Spencer & Jake Mangakahia.

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 included David 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) and Tory Maguire (Editor-in-Chief, Huff Post).
Now in its 15th year, 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 Chengwu Guo (2011), Ty King-Wall (2010), Kevin Jackson (2008), Daniel Gaudiello (2007), Lana Jones (2005), Amber Scott (2004) and Matthew Lawrence (2003).
As part of the nominations, Telstra and The Australian Ballet created a video series that gave a glimpse inside the minds of the nominees. The films revealed the individual challenges each dancer must overcome before they step on stage.
Watch Valerie’s video here:
Watch Jake’s video here:

Follow Valerie and Jake on Instagram through #TelstraBallet and their handles:
Valerie Tereshchenko: @valteres
Jake Mangakahia: @jakemangakahia