Graeme Murphy

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Graeme Lloyd Murphy AO (born 2 November 1950) is an Australian dance choreographer. Together with his fellow dancer (and wife since 2004) Janet Vernon, he guided Sydney Dance Company to become one of Australia's most successful and best-known dance companies.


Murphy was born in Melbourne, and grew up in Tasmania, where he took dance classes with Kenneth Gillespie in Launceston, he began his career as a student at the Australian Ballet School at the age of fourteen. In 1968 he became a dancer with the Australian Ballet where he had opportunities to choreograph, he toured America with the Australian Ballet in 1970–1971 and created his first ballet, Ecco le Diavole (Ecco), to music by Nino Rota, presented at Melbourne's Princess Theatre in July 1971, featuring Roslyn Anderson, Roma Egan, Janet Vernon, and Wendy Walker.[1]

He later danced with the Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet (now Birmingham Royal Ballet), and Les Ballets Félix Blaska in France; in 1975 he worked as a freelance choreographer. He rejoined the Australian Ballet in the early months of 1976 as both a dancer and as a resident choreographer, he was appointed as artistic director of the Dance Company of New South Wales in November 1976 (in 1979 this company became the Sydney Dance Company).

Murphy has been compared to the dancer and choreographer Jerome Robbins because of the way he and his company have marketed dance to a wider audience, and brought contemporary dance into a more commercial arena. Apart from his work within ballet, he also did choreography for Torville and Dean.[2]

On 18 December 2004, after almost 40 years together as artistic and life partners, he and Janet Vernon married on their rural property outside Launceston.[3]


On 26 January 1988, Murphy was named a member of the Order of Australia for "his service to ballet."[4] On 1 January 2001, he was awarded the Centenary Medal for "service to the development of dance in Australia and Tasmania",[5] on 11 June 2012, Murphy was named an Officer of the Order of Australia for "distinguished service to the performing arts, both nationally and internationally, particularly ballet and contemporary dance, as a choreographer and director, and to the enhancement of Australia's cultural environment."[6]

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