The gorgeous Valerie Tereshchenko just won the prestigious 2017 Telstra Ballet Dancer of the Year Award. Telstra, which has partnered with The Australian Ballet to make the award annually since 2003, does so to support the aspirations and development of the elite dancers at the company. The winner gets $20,000 (AUD).
Meanwhile, across the Tasman Sea, American Patricia Barker is making New Zealanders unhappy because she hasn't hired any new NZ School of Dance graduates for the Royal New Zealand Ballet which she now directs. This is the first time in more than two decades that a NZ School of Dance graduate hasn't joined the company. To add insult to injury, reportedly more than half the dancers have left the company either by their choice or hers. Well folks, the Prime Minister is investigating. That's how seriously they take their national pride. Even the nation's rugby experts are weighing in on the ballet situation (click red link for story) and pointing out how the depth and breadth of rugby talent and leadership being developed in New Zealand by New Zealanders is an immense source of pride.
The good news is that RNZB's Tonia Rose Looker, who Ethan Stiefel recognized as a bright talent when he was the Artistic Director at RNZB, has hopped the Tasman Sea to accept a position in the Queensland Ballet corps. One of Haglund's all time favorite ABT Tharp Bombers, Laura Hildago, is a longtime principal there, and former RNZB-er Lucy Green who joined last year was just promoted to principal by Artistic Director Li Cunxin.
Hopefully, Ms. Barker will not try to Americanize the RNZB either with dancers or in management style. Cultural sensitivity and respect might help here. What worked in Grand Rapids or in Seattle may not work on the other side of the world.