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2023 Telstra Ballet Dancer Award Winner Lilla Harvey

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Lilla Harvey with artists of The Australian Ballet
Photo Lissa Tomasetti

Corps de Ballet dancer, Lilla Harvey joins the esteemed list of Telstra Ballet Dancer Rising Star Award winners. We chat to Lilla about the competition and what she hopes to achieve next.

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Lilla Harvey
Photo Lisa Tomasetti

What was going through your head when they announced you as the 2023 Telstra Ballet Dancer Rising Star Award winner?

After they announced Isobelle as the People’s Choice winner, I was standing on stage next to the fellow nominees just feeling grateful to be there and knew that I would be ecstatic for whomever took out the main prize, each of them just as deserving as the next.
The adrenaline of being on stage in a position like that meant that my thoughts were pretty quiet, while I was hyper focussed on the voice speaking and trying not to look like I was struggling holding my absurdly large bouquet of flowers. Hearing my own name, I did briefly question my sanity, I was truly surprised, as anyone who saw my face would know. The “Is this real?” quickly turned into “How insanely crazy and amazing is this!”
It took hours for my face to break out of its huge smile and for me to come back down to earth.

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Lilla Harvey, Kunstkamer, 2022
Photo Jeff Busby

What does winning the award mean to you?

Not many artists are able to receive such outright recognition for everything they put into their workday to day, year after year, it is such a huge honour to receive this award. As much as I am self-driven (as a dancer has to be), the power of being reassured that I’m on the right path and my dancing has value and potential can’t be taken for granted.
It has poured gasoline on the fire that drives me to be better than I was yesterday, to be courageous, extend my artistic voice and reach the potential others see in me. All I want to achieve in my career as an artist is to have an impact on people, this has been an exceptional start. Reflecting and fortifying the “why”, is so important when you challenge your body and mind as much as ballet dancers do, the Telstra Ballet Dancer Awards reinvigorated that for me.

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Lilla Harvey in THE HUM, 2023
Photo Rainee Lantry

What was your favourite part about the competition?

I enjoyed working with the creative industry professionals that I otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn from. I selfishly enjoyed the messages of love and support from so many people from various areas in my life.
It was such a wholesomely nostalgic feeling to look back at my entire journey and the chain reactions that have gotten me to where I am. The campaign also pushed me to contemplate and define what makes me unique and what I really value in myself as a dancer.

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Lilla Harvey
Photo Kate Longley

Who is your biggest inspiration?

My inspirations are a vast and eclectic scope of resources and come from every medium I absorb, dance, books, film, music etc.
This question however always brings me back to my sister Annie. The way she fearlessly and generously interacts with life, her ability to find beauty and creativity where others cannot and how she can be unapologetically herself despite the many tests to her resilience that have been thrown her way.

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Hugo Dumapit and Lilla Harvey
Photo Christopher Rodgers-Wilson

What advice would you give to future nominees?

An opportunity like this can easily lead to analysis paralysis when it comes to interviews and social media posts. I would say don’t waste energy worrying that you’re making the “perfect” campaign. Ask yourself if it is authentically you and what you believe. When it is, you can’t be wrong.
I would also say; find tools and the confidence to back yourself, it is a vulnerable thing being in the spotlight and having all of your motives questioned in a competitive setting. Know who you can speak to if you feel unlike yourself and remember your worth isn’t something an interview, show, picture, article or award can change.

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Lilla Harvey
Photo Lisa Tomasetti

If you weren’t a dancer, what career would you choose?

This answer has changed so many times, and honestly it’s not something I’m ready to decide as I can’t yet imagine not being a dancer. I have always been fascinated with biology and think right now my interests would bring me to do something connected to women’s health.
On the other hand, I have a strong pull to environmental sciences and conservation. I am a curious person and so I think research for improving life in some way would be what I want to do.

You can see Lilla perform throughout The Australian Ballet on Tour this July and August.

The Australian Ballet On Tour