The Australian Ballet soloist Jill Ogai has won the 2019 Rising Star winner as part of the Telstra Ballet Dancer Awards, claiming a $20,000 cash prize from Principal Partner Telstra in recognition of her exceptional ballet talent and outstanding achievements this year.
The Telstra Ballet Dancer Awards recognise the rising stars of ballet and next generation of dance talent, supporting the career growth and achievements of many past winners who have often progressed to senior roles in Australia’s national ballet company. Jill Ogai for the Rising Star award was aided by her ability to pioneer a unique contemporary style into her dancing at The Australian Ballet.
“I think it is wonderful that as the Rising Star, I represent a very versatile dancer who does both contemporary and classical roles.”
“It’s pretty overwhelming actually,” Ms Ogai said. “A couple of years ago, I would have never imagined that I would be the Telstra Rising Star. It has not been a shooting star journey for me, it has taken time. That journey makes the win even sweeter.”
The Telstra Ballet Dancer Awards is the most prestigious prize in The Australian Ballet. The Telstra Rising Star Award was decided by a judging panel, which included David McAllister, Libby Christie (Executive Director, The Australian Ballet), Genelle Sharples (Media and Sponsorships Principal, Telstra), Carmel Mulhern (Group General Counsel, Telstra), Nadia Fairfax (Editor Fairfax Journal) and SophieTedmanson (Executive Editor Qantas Magazine).
“Our partnership with The Australian Ballet aims to nurture this country’s extraordinary ballet talent. With eight former winners being promoted to principal artists, we are very proud of the contribution this partnership has made to their careers as well as to raising the profile of ballet in the community to inspire the ballet stars of the future,” said Telstra CEO, Andrew Penn.
The Australian Ballet’s Artistic Director, David McAllister said, “Jill is a powerful, expressive dancer who shines brightly on stage transitioning from classical to contemporary programs with ease. I’m excited for her future and I’m certain she will continue to be an inspiration to young dancers across the country and thanks to Telstra she has the support to propel her career even further.”
Sydney-born Jill Ogai begged her parents when she was four, alongside her twin brother, to start ballet classes after their tennis-coach father played a film of Swan Lake. Her family later moved to Adelaide where she continued training before moving to Melbourne at age 14 to begin full-time studies at The Australian Ballet School. Jill joined The Australian Ballet in 2012 and was promoted to soloist six years later. The award follows her playing lead roles in Sylvia and The Nutcracker. Earlier this year she also starred with Kevin Jackson in Stephen Baynes’ Unspoken Dialogues at the prestigious Joyce Theater in New York.
The other four nominees this year included: Corps de Ballet Dancer Isobelle Dashwood; Senior Artist Cristiano Martino; Soloist Sharni Spencer; and Corps de Ballet Dancer Yichuan Wang.