Biographies
 
 

Graeme Murphy was born in Melbourne and studied at The Australian Ballet School. He has danced with The Australian Ballet, Sadler’s Wells Ballet (London) and Ballets Félix Blaska (France). In 1971, he received an Australia Council Grant to study overseas. He returned to Australia in 1975 as a freelance choreographer. The following year, he was appointed artistic director of Sydney Dance Company (then known as The Dance Company NSW), a position he held until 2007. During his 31-year tenure, he created more than 50 works, including 30 full-length productions.


Graeme is the recipient of an AM (1982) for his Services to Dance and three honorary doctorates – Hon. D. Lit. Tas (1990), Hon. D. Phil. Qld (1992) and Hon. D. Lit. UNSW (1999). He was honoured at the Inaugural Sydney Opera House Honours (1993) and named a National Living Treasure (1999) by the National Trust of Australia. He has received a Helpmann Award for Best Choreography, Body of Work –    a Retrospective (2001); the prestigious James Cassius Award (2002);  the Green Room Award for Concept and Realisation, Swan Lake (2003);      a Centenary Medal (2003); named Cultural Leader of the Year by the Australian Business Arts Foundation, receiving the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Award (2004) and was listed among Australia’s 50 Most Glamorous Exports at a special celebration hosted by the Australian Government and Austrade (2005). He received the Award for Contribution to Cultural Exchange by the Ministry of Culture, the People’s Republic of China (2008) and the Fred & Adele Astaire Award for Excellence in Choreography in Film for Mao’s Last Dancer (New York, 2011) and was made Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) from the recent Queen's Birthday Honours (2012).


Graeme’s directing and choreographic credits include Metamorphosis, Turandot, Salome, The Trojans, Aida (Opera Australia); Ainadamar (The Adelaide Festival of Arts); Beyond Twelve, Nutcracker-The Story of Clara, Swan Lake, Firebird, The Silver Rose, Romeo & Juliet and The Narrative of Nothing (The Australian Ballet); Tivoli (a Sydney Dance Company and The Australian Ballet co-production); VAST (The Australian Bicentennial Authority); Hua Mulan (a Sydney Dance Company and Shanghai Song and Dance Ensemble co-production); Die Silberne Rose (Bayerisches Staatsballett, Munich); Water (Shanghai Ballet); Forty Miles–A River of Dreams (Tasdance);  Embodied (Mikhail Baryshnikov) and The Torvill and Dean World Tour Company. He also choreographed Death in Venice (Canadian Opera Company); Samson et Dalila (The Metropolitan Opera, New York); the movie Mao’s Last Dancer and the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Love Never Dies.



 
Graeme murphy AM

GRAEME

“ I think the greatest joy in choreographing is actually the communion that takes place during the rehearsal. The fact that you are in such raw proximity with your dancers, and that there is such an honesty that develops when all your defences are actually down.”






















“Sometimes I think: 'This piece I'm working on is no good. Why am I bothering?'

When this happens, Janet pulls me through. She can work out the reason why it is not happening. 'Look,' she'll say. 'There is no link between this movement and this movement.' She can put a thread through the work and pull it together as a whole, whereas I can get too bogged down with detail. She loves the problem-solving aspect of choreography whereas I love the one-to-ones with the dancers, where I tap into their psyche.

janet vernon AM

Adelaide-born Janet Vernon studied at The Australian Ballet School and has danced with The Australian Ballet, Ballets Félix Blaska (France) and Sydney Dance Company. In 1976 she was appointed, along with Graeme Murphy, to the artistic helm of Sydney Dance Company, where they remained for 31 years. Graeme created roles for Janet including: Shéhérazade, Daphnis and Chloé (Lykanion), Some Rooms (The Bathroom), After Venice, Nearly Beloved, King Roger (Queen Roxanna), Berlin, The Protecting Veil, Salome (Herodias) and The Trojans (Andromeque) – a collaboration with Opera Australia.

 

Creative Associate credits include: Swan Lake, Nutcracker--The story of Clara, Firebird, The Silver Rose, Romeo & Juliet and The Narrative of Nothing (The Australian Ballet); Tivoli (A Sydney Dance company and The Australian Ballet co-production); Hua Mulan (a Sydney Dance Company and Shanghai Song & Dance Ensemble co-production);         Die Silberne Rose (Bayerisches Staatsballet, Munich); Water (Shanghai Ballet); Forty Miles–A River of Dreams (Tasdance); Ainadamar (The Adelaide Festival of Arts); Aida (Opera Australia); the movie Mao’s Last Dancer and the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Love Never Dies.


Awards include: an AM for Services to Dance (1989); Sydney Opera House Honours (1993); Dance Australia named her ‘One of Australia’s Five Best Female Dancers Ever’; Green Room Award for Concept and Realisation, Swan Lake (2003); Centenary Medal for services to society and dance; Lifetime Achievement, Australian Dance Awards (2006); Green Room Award, Outstanding Contribution to Dance (2006) and the Fred & Adele Astaire Award for Excellence in Choreography in Film for Mao’s Last Dancer (New York, 2011).


Graeme Murphy in POPPY

Photo Branco Gaica

Janet Vernon in

AFTER VENICE

Photo Branco Gaica

Photo Lynette Wills