The Australian Ballet and Telstra have announced four artists selected as finalists in the inaugural Telstra Emerging Choreographer (TEC), a new award dedicated to nurturing choreographic talent in Australia.
The TEC award offers the finalists a chance to create new work and potentially take part in The Australian Ballet’s 2022 Bodytorque program. The Australian Ballet’s Bodytorque program, has been an incubator for some of the country’s brightest choreographic talents, including dance luminary Graeme Murphy and Resident Choreographer Alice Topp. The winner will also receive a prize of AU$10,000, courtesy of Telstra, to support the development of their work.
The 2021 TEC Finalists include: Feras Shaheen (Punchbowl, Sydney); Aimee Schollum (Seddon, Melbourne); Mathilda Ballantyne (North Melbourne, Melbourne); and Geoffrey Watson (Preston, Melbourne). The four aspiring choreographers will each be provided a budget of up to $2,500 to create a work of four to six minutes. Their works will then be reviewed by the TEC 2021 Judging Panel, including: The Australian Ballet’s Artistic Director David Hallberg and judges, including Damian Smith (Artistic Director of The National Theatre Ballet School) and Lucy Guerin AO (Lucy Guerin Inc).
“The finalists for our inaugural TEC Award have shown the range and diversity of the dance community here in Australia. We received a substantial number of entries, giving a clear indication of so many burgeoning creatives. Fellow judges Damian Smith, Lucy Guerin and I will review the unique pieces submitted by each finalist with great interest, as they all have their own diverse choreographic voice, expanding across many styles of dance. Working with Telstra on this initiative has already uncovered some great choreographic talent and enables us to create greater opportunity for the young Australian dance makers of today,” said The Australian Ballet Artistic Director, David Hallberg.
“At Telstra, we are proud to be nurturing young artists and encouraging them to thrive, ensuring the future of dance is bright in Australia,” added Genelle Sharples, Telstra Principal, Media, Sponsorship & Awards.
More than 60 aspiring choreographers covering all genres of dance submitted applications in response to the TEC 2021 theme exploring the ‘Joy of Dance.’
ABOUT THE TEC 2021 FINALISTS:
Aimee Schollum is Melbourne based, but New Zealand born. She is a dancer, choreographer and graphic designer. She holds a Bachelor of Art and Design (Honours AUT 2010), a Diploma of Dance (2015), was a member of TrIPP (Transit International Professional Pathway 2018) mentored by Israel Aloni and a member of the Dancehouse Emerging Choreographic Program (2019/20). Choreographic credits include ‘Sonos’ winner Best Dance/Physical Theatre (2018 Melbourne Fringe), ‘Eyes Wide Open’ (2019 Melbourne Fringe) and ‘Moth’ (2021 supported and presented by Dancehouse). Most recently she performed in Stephanie Lake Company ‘Colossus’ (2019 Melbourne International Arts Festival), Chunky Move & Contact Gonzo ChoreoLab performance at NGV (2020) and was a rehearsal director for ‘Simulcast’ Bendigo by Chunky Move (2019). Alongside her dance practice, Aimee collaborates with independent artists and dance companies and has designed artwork for the Australian Youth Dance Festival, Yellow Wheel, Lucy Guerin Inc, and Tasdance to name a few.
Feras Shaheen is based in Punchbowl, Sydney. His art practice spans across performance, semiotics, street dance, readymade art and digital media. Feras was born in Dubai to Palestinian parents and moved to Sydney at the age of 11. Drawing from his Street Dance background, as well as Palestinian cultural dance traditions, Feras traverses different roles within the arts, working as a performer, teacher, choreographer and digital artist. He holds a Bachelor of Design from Western Sydney University, and in addition to his artistic practice, Feras works as a freelance graphic designer, photographer and filmmaker. Feras is also a member of Marrugeku, Buggy Bumpers Crew, Cultural Renegades and Klappsquad.
Melbourne based Mathilda Ballantyne began her training at the Melbourne School of Classical Dance. In 2010 she was accepted into The Australian Ballet School. During her time at the school, she received various awards such as the Graeme Murphy Award for Excellence in Contemporary Dance and the Areti Boyaci Award for Excellence in Spanish Dance. In her graduating year, Mathilda performed in Coppélia as part of The Australian Ballet’s Regional Tour and was also commissioned, to co-choreograph a piece for the school’s Gala Dinner. Mathilda was a finalist in The Brisbane International Contemporary Dance Prix. It was there she was invited to perform with Projection Dance Company upon graduating in 2019, where she was able to work and tour with former dancers with Company Wayne McGregor and The Australian Ballet dancers for the company’s 2020 season.
Geoffrey Watson is a Melbourne-based artist whose work is rooted in choreography but has branches in wearable design, text, lighting, sculpture, and photography. Through this work, Geoffrey advocates for a state of perceptual unrest: an agent to further confound the already confusing landscapes of art, history and reality with gonzo sensitivity. Geoffrey’s performance works include Camel (Arts House, 2016), Loving You Ad Nauseam (Trades Hall, 2016) DISTRACTION: Smackdown!(Melbourne Fashion Festival, 2017), DISTRACTION: T.C. F’d Up (Counihan Gallery, 2017), Geoffrey’s Corpse: Violet Spurlock (Uferstudios Berlin, 2019), Rachael Wisby (Newport Substation, 2019), and ongoing visual arts mission Reverse Fruit. As a performer, Geoffrey has worked with companies and artists including BalletLab, Nana Biluš-Abaffy, Lucy Guerin Inc., Lee Serle, Alisdair Macindoe, and Gekidan Kaitaisha.