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 AO (2012) for distinguished service to the performing arts (having received an AM in 1982) 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 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) and the Centenary Medal for Services to Society and Dance (2003). He was named Cultural Leader of the Year by the Australian Business Arts Foundation, receiving the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Award (2004); was listed among Australia’s 50 Most Glamorous Exports at a special celebration hosted by the Australian Government and Austrade (2005); and received the Australian Dance Award for Lifetime Achievement (2006). He received the Award for Contribution to Cultural Exchange from 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).
Graeme’s directing and choreographic credits include Metamorphosis, Turandot, Salome, The Trojans and Aïda (Opera Australia); Ainadamar (Adelaide Festival); 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 co-production of Sydney Dance Company and The Australian Ballet); 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); Giselle (Universal Ballet, Seoul); Water (Shanghai Ballet); Forty Miles – A River of Dreams and The Time Together (Tasdance); The Frock (MADE); 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 film Mao’s Last Dancer and the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Love Never Dies.
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 has created numerous roles on 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, 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); Giselle (Universal Ballet, Seoul); Water (Shanghai Ballet); Forty Miles – A River of Dreams and The Time Together (Tasdance); The Frock (MADE); Ainadamar (Adelaide Festival); Aïda (Opera Australia); the film Mao’s Last Dancer and the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Love Never Dies.
Janet’s awards include an AM for Services to Dance (1989); Sydney Opera House Honours (1993); a Green Room Award for Concept and Realisation, Swan Lake (2003); Centenary Medal for Services to Society and Dance (2003); 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). Dance Australia named her ‘One of Australia’s Five Best Female Dancers Ever’.
Set and costumer design
A former graphic artist and newspaper journalist, Kristian Fredrikson studied design in Wellington and won numerous awards for his work. Kristian left New Zealand in the early 1960s and became one of Australia’s most experienced and sought after designers.
Upon his arrival in Australia, Kristian was resident designer for the Melbourne Theatre Company for eight years. He would go on to design a large number of productions for a variety of Australian and New Zealand opera, theatre, and ballet companies including The Australian Ballet (Cinderella, Coppélia, and Nutcracker - The Story of Clara), Opera Australia, Royal New Zealand Ballet, Sydney Dance Company and Sydney Theatre Company, as well as State Opera of South Australia and West Australian Opera. He was one of a specialised team of designers working on the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games opening ceremony.
Kristian created the costume designs and scenario with Graeme Murphy for The Australian Ballet/ Sydney Dance Company coproduction Tivoli and in 2002 he designed and co-conceived Graeme Murphy’s Swan Lake for The Australian Ballet, which earned him a 2003 Green Room Award for Concept and Realisation, and a 2003 Helpmann Award for Best Scenic Design. Kristian was a recipient of four Erik Design Awards and Green Room Awards, as well as an AFI award. In 1999 he received the prestigious Australian Dance Award for Services to Dance.
Kristian Fredrikson’s brilliant career spanned over four decades, including a 42-year association with The Australian Ballet. In 2005, Kristian Fredrikson passed away. Those who worked with him closely remember him as a passionate designer with an incredible eye for detail and colour, a voracious researcher and a lover of history and myth.