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Graeme Murphy

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Most people outside of Australia wouldn't be familiar with Graeme Murphy. Unfortunately, soon the UK will know his work when the Australian Ballet tours to England soon with Murphy's Swan Lake. It is certainly not Australia's Swan Lake.

What Graeme Murphy does is he goes around and bastardises ballets. With nothing else to compare it to, it is like changing Shakespear's words. Of what I am aware, he has done it to the Nutcracker and now Swan Lake. His version of the Nutcracker was awful and it may have succeeded as a ballet in its own right, but people wanting to see the real Nutcracker were very disappointed. He also made a ballet called "Shades of Gray" about Dorian Gray. Well he even bastardised that by putting in a scene with a S&M guy in the middle of the stage with men in leather sliding around the stage on toilets. It would have been much better for the UK to have seen our diverse technique in "White" - a triple bill we recently did consisting of the final act of La Bayadere, Relic (a new, contemporary piece by Adrian Burnett) and Suite en Blanc by Serge Lifar. These are all completely different ballets but great ballets.

I am very disappointed in the Australian Ballet's choice to tour with Swan Lake. I advise you not to see it as you will think less of the Australian Ballet after seeing it.

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I have to disagree with your assessment, MinkusPugni. My family and I were fortunate to be living in Australia last year when we got to see the AB/Murphy "Swan Lake." I found it very thought-provoking and well done. I posted a review of this in the AB section: if I could find the instructions for creating a link to it, I would, but I can't. The date I posted my review was May 3, 2004.

We saw the Eastoe/Heathcote/Dunn cast. Eastoe alone would, IMO, make it worth the money to see. I found her acting and technical skills quite inspiring.

We weren't there long enough to see the debut of "Shades of Gray," but even there I would have to say I was intrigued by the descriptions of its intent. It was meant to explore the impact of AIDS on the performing arts world. I'm not sure you could sanitize such a theme without offending a few people. I personally applaud and try to support choreographers who attempt to use dance to say something about the world as we know it today.

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I am also a traditionalist. I am not saying his choreography is bad. Infact, his Nutcracker Pas de Deux is one of the best I've seen but I think if he wanted to make that Swan Lake he should have called it something else. You can change the choreography of a ballet without changing the storyline. As I said before, his work could survive more on its own rather than under traditional titles. But the Shades of Gray which was supposed to be about Dorian Gray wasn't really. It was too strange and he could have brought his opinion across differently. I am glad though that there are still classical(ish) choreographers around and we're not just changing ballet into contemporary.

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I saw a very lovely program years ago (1992) in Sydney. Unfortunately, I do not remember the name of one of the ballets. One used the music to Jailhouse Rocks quite well. The dancers were well trained, energetic, and expressive. I found Mr. Murphy's ideas to be original and skilled choreographically. It was a refreshing evening for this classical ballet addict. May be it was also the charm of the fabulous Sydney Opera House, large or small theatre...WOW! :huh:

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Thanks, chauffeur, for your full and interesting review of the Graeme Murphy Swan Lake -- and thanks, carbro, for materializing it as a link.

It helps me to understand and appreciate people's feelings about an artist or performance when they take the time to describe what they've actually seen. That's my own "attention span of a five year old boy" for ballet criticism.

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