Artistic Director/Choreographer, Sydney Dance Company
Choreographer Die silberne Rose
Graeme Murphy was born in 1951 and started his professional career as a dancer at the Australian Ballet before he left Australia in 1971 to pursue his career in New York and Europe. After his return he was appointed Artistic Director to Sydney Dance Company in 1976 - then known as The Dance Company (N.S.W.). He has since created a remarkably diverse repertoire of dance works, including thirty full-length productions. Poppy, his full-length production on the life of Jean Cocteau (1978), marked his breakthrough as a choreographer and the beginning of his intensive cooperation with Australian composer Carl Vine.
Murphy's works reflect a discerning interest in music, drawn from a variety of 20th Century composers: Maurice Ravel; Iannis Xenakis, Karol Szymanowski, Olivier Messiaen, Steve Martland, Istvan Marta, and Giya Kanceli to name only a few. Yet Graeme Murphy remains particularly noted for his work with Australian music, including many commissioned scores. Besides Carl Vine (Tip, Poppy, Piano Sonata, Beauty and the Beast, Mythologia), Australian composers who have inspired Murphy include Barry Conyngham (Rumours, VAST), Richard Meale (Viridian), Graeme Koehne (The Selfish Giant, Nearly Beloved, Tivoli), Martin Armiger (Fornicon), Ross Edwards (Sensing), Iva Davies (Boxes, Berlin), Max Lambert (Deadly Sins, Berlin,Tivoli), Michael Askill (Free Radicals, Salome, Air and Other Invisible Forces), and Matthew Hindson (Ellipse).
Additionally, he has created works for The Australian Ballet (including Nutcracker and his 2002 award winning Swan Lake), Nederlands Dans Theater (Song of the Night, 1987), the Royal New Zealand Ballet (Orpheus, 1987), and a solo work for Mikhail Baryshnikov's White Oak Dance Project (Embodied, 1986). He has also choreographed for the Canadian Opera Company (Death in Venice) and The Metropolitan Opera, New York (Samson and Dalila).
He began directing for Opera Australia in 1984 with Brian Howard's Metamorphosis, subsequently directing an acclaimed production of Giacomo Puccini's Turandot, followed by Richard Strauss' Salome and Hector Berlioz' The Trojans, the latter bringing the singers and dancers of Opera Australia together with Sydney Dance Company in a large scale spectacle.
Graeme Murphy's most important works of the past few years include Mythologia, a work commissioned for the Olympic Arts Festival 2000 with music by Carl Vine, Tivoli, a co-production between The Australian Ballet and Sydney Dance Company, created for the occasion of the Centenary of Federation in 2001 and winning four Australian Dance Awards, as well as Swan Lake, conceived for the Australian Ballet in 2002 in collaboration with Associate Director Janet Vernon and designer Kristian Fredrikson, for which he was awarded the Australian Dance Award for Best Achievement in Choreography and the Green Room Award for Concept and Realisation.
Graeme Murphy's latest work for Sydney Dance Company, GRAND (for solo piano) premiered at the Sydney Opera House on June 1, 2005. He recently completed a major dance work based on the Chinese legend of Mulan, a commission for the Shanghai International Festival. Hua Mulan brought together Sydney Dance Company with the Shanghai Song & Dance Ensemble in a cast of sixty dancers and musicians. The Silver Rose, a full-length work based on Der Rosenkavalier, is Graeme Murphy's first commission for the Bavarian State Ballet in Munich.
Graeme Murphy was awarded various prizes of well-known Australian cultural institutions, he received an AM (Australia Medal) for services to dance in 1982 and is the recipient of three honorary doctorates.