The Australian Ballet announces third Walter Bourke Prize winner
Soloist Brett Chynoweth wins $25,000 travel scholarship
The Australian Ballet is delighted to announce that Soloist Brett Chynoweth is the third recipient of the Walter Bourke Prize, valued
Brett will use the prize money to travel to London in August for four months, where he will rehearse and potentially perform with The Royal Ballet.
The Walter Bourke Prize was established by his friends in 2005, and awarded in its inaugural year to Remi Wortmeyer. Danielle Rowe was the most recent winner in 2009. The prize is not awarded annually but on merit, and is specifically to be used to fund a dancer’s professional development overseas.
Walter Bourke was a well-known Melbourne identity, and is remembered as the owner of local Southbank establishment, Walter’s Wine Bar. But before his culinary career, he had a long and illustrious life as a professional dancer.
The Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet, David McAllister, said Walter was fondly remembered for his contributions to the company. “Walter was one of those extraordinary people who succeeded at whatever he did, be it ballet or food. He had a stellar career both here and abroad, so it’s wonderful that his legacy continues by giving our dancers the opportunity to spread their wings overseas,” said McAllister.
In 1962 Walter became a founding member of The Australian Ballet, where he danced in ballets such as Robert Helpmann’s The
Display and John Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet. He received a scholarship to the Royal Danish Ballet in 1965 and in 1968 moved to
the Royal Swedish Ballet, where he met fellow dancer Maria Lang. They joined the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in 1970 and toured the US and Canada before returning to Sweden and marrying in 1972. He also tasted success as a choreographer. He and Maria created the exuberant ballet Grand Tarantella, still danced by companies around the world.
Walter and Maria returned to Australia in 1974 as principal artists with The Australian Ballet, and Walter later served on the company’s Board for many years. He passed away in September 2003.
Maria Bourke said Brett was an excellent choice for the prize. “Brett has an energy and passion that draws your eye to him when he’s on stage; he also has a great curiosity about the world and I think this experience overseas will help him further develop as an artist,” said Maria.
Twenty three year old Brett was born in Melbourne and joined the company in 2009, after being awarded Dux of The Australian Ballet School. His breakout roles include Goro in Madame Butterfly, Mercutio in Graeme Murphy’s Romeo & Juliet and Melancholic in George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments.
Melbourne audiences can catch Brett in two productions in June; the contemporary triple bill Vanguard which opens on Thursday 6 June and Graeme Murphy’s Swan Lake, opening Friday 21 June.