5 Reasons You Need to See Murphy

Posted on 27 September 2017 By Rose Mulready

In 2018, we pay a loving tribute to Graeme Murphy, Australia's foremost choreographer and a cherished member of our family. Fifty years ago, Murphy joined The Australian Ballet as a member of its corps de ballet. He went on to an incandescent career as head of the contemporary Sydney Dance Company, as well as transforming the classical language with signature works for The Australian Ballet: Swan Lake, Nutcracker  - The Story of Clara and Beyond Twelve. The Murphy program, which matches highlights from his career with his scorching one-act Firebird, is our salute to this seminal Australian creative. Here are five reasons to kick off your ballet year with Murphy.


There's a reason Murphy is Australia's most well-known choreographer. Highly musical, bold, irreverent and imaginative, he has a sound grasp of classical ballet and the vision to bring it alive for a modern audience.

Graeme Murphy. Photography Lynette Wills


Murphy brings a radiant strangeness to his interpretation of the Russian folktale The Firebird, in which a prince wins the trust of a magical bird and, with her help, defeats the evil magician who holds his beloved captive. Michel Fokine made a version of the story for the Ballets Russes in 1910, with a commissioned score by Stravinsky. Murphy takes the Stravinsky score as the starting point for his one-act work, which stars a particularly avian Firebird and introduces complexity to the simple story of good conquering evil.

Lana Jones. Photography Alex Makayev


Every highlights program is a lucky dip of treats, but this one - given that it contains excerpts of seminal works from Murphy's long career - will deliver variety to please every kind of dance lover.

Ty King-Wall and Lucinda Dunn in The Silver Rose. Photography David Kelly


The best-of section of our Murphy tribute will bring together a selection of highlights from his entire oeuvre, including excerpts from Sydney Dance Company works never before seen on The Australian Ballet's stages.

Graeme Murphy and his artistic associate Janet Vernon. Photography Julian Kingma


Music is paramount to Murphy, and his tribute program will be a treat for the ears as well as the eyes. He has also collaborated across his career with designers of the calibre of Akira Isogawa, Leon Krasenstein and Kristian Fredrikson. Bring on the pretty (and strange!)

Chengwu Guo in Firebird. Design Leon Krasenstein. Photography Alex Makayev