Graeme Murphy AO


Graeme Murphy 2010

Graeme Murphy was born in Melbourne and raised in Tasmania, Graeme began his training with Kenneth Gillespie, the founder of the Tasmanian Ballet Company. He furthered his studies at The Australian Ballet School. He has danced with The Australian BalletSadler'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 the Order of Australia (1982) for his Services to Dance and three honorary doctorates – Hon. D Litt Tas (1990), Hon. D Phil Qld (1992) and Hon. D Litt 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 (2001) for Best Choreography, Body of Work – a Retrospective, the prestigious James Cassius Award (2002), a Centenary Medal (2003) and the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Award (2004). He was named Cultural Leader of the Year (2004) by the Australian Business Arts Foundation, listed among Australia's 50 Most Glamorous Exports at a special celebration hosted by the Australian Government and Austrade (2005) and received the Award for Contribution to Cultural Exchange by the Ministry of Culture, the People's Republic of China (2008).

Graeme's directing and choreographic credits include Poppy, Daphnis and Chloe, Some Rooms, Salome, Beyond Twelve, Nutcracker, Air and other invisible forces, Grand, Berlin and Ever after Ever for Sydney Dance Company, Metamorphosis, Turandot, Salome, The Trojans, Aida for Opera Australia, Ainadamar for the Adelaide Festival of Arts, Beyond Twelve, Nutcracker - The Story of Clara, Swan Lake, Firebird and The Silver Rose for the Australian Ballet, Tivoli was a Sydney Dance Company and The Australian Ballet co-production, VAST for the Australian Bicentennial Authority, Hua Mulan was a Sydney Dance Company and Shanghai Song and Dance Ensemble co-production, Die Silberne Rose for Bayerisches Staatsballett in Munich, Water for Shanghai Ballet, Embodied for Mikhail Baryshnikov and The Torvill and Dean World Tour Company. He also choreographed Death in Venice for the Canadian Opera Company, Samson et Dalila for the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Sensing, a unique dance film for ABC-TV and the movie Mao's Last Dancer.

Graeme became the patron of Tasdance in 2009. He has had 3 of his works performed by Tasdance since its inception. Sequenza VII was remounted for Tasdance in 1982, 1984 and for Tasdance's 1998 production of Vital Expression. Nina Veretennikova remounted the work for Tasdance as she first performed Sequenza VII in Sydney Dance Company's first season in 1977. Nina danced with Sydney Dance Company from 1977 to 1990 under the direction of Graeme Murphy and Janet Vernon, where she danced in solo and principal roles in the company's major works. In 1991, Graeme created Bard Bits for the Sydney Dance Company's season Shakespeare Dances. Tasdance selected four short pieces from Bard Bits and as Catherine Goss performed in the original production she was in a wonderful position to remount these pieces for Tasdance's 2001 production of Treasured Island. In 2010 Graeme choreographed an original work Forty Miles – a River of Dreams for Tasdance's Heart Matters season.