Queensland Ballet is delighted to unveil the recipients of the Rachael Walsh Award for Artistic Excellence and the Mary Li Award, recognising outstanding contributions to artistry, excellence, and leadership among its Company members in 2023.
Established in 2015, the Rachael Walsh Award pays homage to former Principal Dancer Rachael Walsh. This award acknowledges both an established artist and an emerging artist who cultivated and performed with notable artistry.
Inaugurated in 2022 through the generosity of Brett and Maria Clark, the Mary Li Award celebrates a company dancer who exhibited unwavering commitment, dedication, and hard work to the art form and Queensland Ballet.
Valued at $5000 each, these awards play a pivotal role in motivating and inspiring Queensland Ballet Company dancers, fostering a culture of excellence and dedication.
The awards ceremony, presented by Queensland Ballet Director of Foundation and Endowment, Rachael Walsh, and Queensland Ballet Chair, Brett Clark, took centre stage at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC).
Walsh proudly presented the Rachael Walsh Award for Artistic Excellence to Soloist, Laura Tosar, and Company Artist, Edison Manuel. Walsh commented, "Both artists have displayed outstanding talent, making significant contributions to the artistry of Queensland Ballet."
Tosar, originally from Havana, Cuba, joined Queensland Ballet as a Company Artist in 2016 and has ascended through the ranks to Soloist in 2022. Manuel, a testament of the Queensland Ballet Academy, completed his training in the Pre-Professional Program in 2021, accepted a Jette Parker Young Artist contract in 2022, and earned a promotion to Company Artist in 2023.
Continuing the ceremony, Clark presented the Mary Li Award to Senior Soloist Chiara Gonzalez. Clark commented “Chiara shows excellence and continual improvement of her ability with every performance.”
Gonzalez, who joined Queensland Ballet’s Pre-Professional Program in 2015, has swiftly progressed from Jette Parker Young Artist in 2017 to Senior Soloist in 2023.
Walsh emphasised the profound significance of these awards, stating, “The awards are a gift for today’s artists and an important investment in the future of Australia's artistic talent.
“As artistic and community leaders, it is our responsibility to encourage and nurture young dancers, giving them every opportunity to reach their full potential and to feel supported and encouraged during their careers,” she concluded.
Since 2015, Queensland Ballet has invested in 19 dancers, providing them with the opportunity to reach their full potential. Queensland Ballet is excited to continue nurturing talent, fostering artistic growth, and upholding the rich legacy of dance in Australia.