BWW REVIEW: MURPHY Is A Beautiful Celebration Of Acclaimed Australian Choreographer Graeme Murphy's Extensive Career

BWW REVIEW: MURPHY Is A Beautiful Celebration Of Acclaimed Australian Choreographer Graeme Murphy's Extensive Career

Friday 6th April 2018, 7:30pm, Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House

The Australian Ballet opened its 2018 season with MURPHY, the stunning retrospective of Graeme Murphy's career as an innovative choreographer as he celebrates 50 years with The Australian Ballet. Murphy is joined by his Creative Associate and partner Janet Vernon to recreate works he designed over the past 38 years to showcase his diverse range of innovative and expressive works.

BWW REVIEW: MURPHY Is A Beautiful Celebration Of Acclaimed Australian Choreographer Graeme Murphy's Extensive Career
Dimity Azoury and the Artists of the Australian Ballet perform Prologue from SILVER ROSE (Photo: Daniel Boud)

Commencing with a film collage, including an insight into Murphy's marvellous mind, the screen makes way for the first of six selected works. Dimity Azoury and Ty King-Wall feature in the Prologue from THE SILVER ROSE, commissioned by Bayerisches Staatsbal and premiered at Munich National Theatre in 20005 before its Australian Ballet Premiere at QPAC in 2010. Azoury delivers the anxiety and terror the aging star Marschallin feels when confronted by the reminders that time is not on her side and that her youth is slipping away with the aid of projections and a collection of distorted mirrors manipulated by a bevy of young men. Murphy's use of the percussive nature of the pointe shoes echoes the ticking of the clocks that close in on the dancer and the frenetic but graceful torment gives way to the comfort of Octavian's embraces which King-Wall presents with the sensuality and sensitivity that his older lover imagines but may not necessarily be real as they sleep in Roger Kirk's (set and costume design) Art Nouveau bedroom suite.

BWW REVIEW: MURPHY Is A Beautiful Celebration Of Acclaimed Australian Choreographer Graeme Murphy's Extensive Career
Christopher Rodgers-Wilson and Karen Nanasca in Sock Duo from AIR AND OTHER INVISIBLE FORCES (Photo: Daniel Boud)

Two parts of AIR AND OTHER INVISIBLE FORCES are included with Brett Chynoweth, Drew Hedditch and Brodie James recreating the Arabic inspired Trio and Karen Nanasca and Christopher Rodgers-Wilson presenting the Thai influenced Sock Duo. Presented on Akira Isogawa's minimalist set with earthy orange and beige costumes, these works shift from the light comedy that appears to flutter between an avian story and a tale of playful boys in Trio to an elegant power struggle as a couple find equilibrium in Sock Duo whilst a large windsock floats across the stage.

BWW REVIEW: MURPHY Is A Beautiful Celebration Of Acclaimed Australian Choreographer Graeme Murphy's Extensive Career
Leanne Stojmenov and Jarryd Madden in SHEHERAZADE (Photo: Daniel Boud)

Murphy's melding of Maurice Ravel's Sheherazade with the imagery from Gustav Klimt's 'Golden Phase' sees dancers Leanne Stojmenov, Jarryd Madden, Lana Jones and Brodie James joined by Mezzo Soprano Victoria Lambourn on opening night (sharing role with Jacqueline Dark for the Sydney Season) to recreate the oldest of the work showcased with SHEHERAZADE first performed in 1979 by the Sydney Dance Company. The work, presented in Kristian Fredrickson's (costume and set design) interpretation of the golden geometric paintings of lovers, is elegant and delicate as Lambourn presents a restrained vocal storytelling over the physical expression. Lambourn's pure sound floats lightly over the tableau whilst the orchestra provides the bolder tones and more passionate expression, echoed by the movement.

BWW REVIEW: MURPHY Is A Beautiful Celebration Of Acclaimed Australian Choreographer Graeme Murphy's Extensive Career
The Artists of The Australian Ballet in GRAND (Photo: Daniel Boud)

Jade Wood, Brett Chynoweth, Jill Ogai and Marcas Morelli present the playful Quartet from ELLIPSE in Akira Isogawa's bright costumes that draw influence from tribal armour. Murphy has captured the childlike joy in games and experimenting with other dance styles in an amusing expression of physicality and precision. This 'comedy relief' makes way for archive footage of GRAND, which made its Sydney Dance Company debut in 2005. This work balances between humorous, frenzied, frenetic and compassionate as a range of styles are used throughout the vingnettes as Scott Davie accompanies on a Grand piano which gradually makes its way around the stage with the aid of the dancers.

BWW REVIEW: MURPHY Is A Beautiful Celebration Of Acclaimed Australian Choreographer Graeme Murphy's Extensive Career
Leanne Stojmenov and Kevin Jackson in GRAND (Photo: Daniel Boud)

The second half of the evening centres on a recreation of FIREBIRD, first presented by The Australian Ballet in 2009 at the Adelaide Festival Centre. Leon Krasenstein's (Costume and set design) delicate expression of the red feathered Firebird and the sinister reptile Kostchei are bought to life by Lana Jones and Brett Chynoweth respectively with Amber Scott and Kevin Jackson taking on the human roles of Tsarevna and Ivan Tsarevich respectively. Murphy's inventiveness blends with Krasenstein's giant egg shell set to deliver a mesmerising short story of good and evil, underpinned by Igor Stravinsky's score performed by the Opera Australia Orchestra under the bsaton of Nicolette Fraillon.

BWW REVIEW: MURPHY Is A Beautiful Celebration Of Acclaimed Australian Choreographer Graeme Murphy's Extensive Career
Brett Chynoweth as Kostchei and Artists of The Australian Ballet in FIREBIRD (Photo: Daniel Boud)

MURPHY is a wonderful retrospective of a great Australian choreographer and should not be missed. Regardless of whether you've seen these works before or if this is your first taste of Graeme Murphy's work, or even your first foray into Ballet, this will not disappoint. The combination of athleticism and precision with the artistry and emotion that Murphy draws out of his dancers is fabulous as stories and feelings are expressed.

BWW REVIEW: MURPHY Is A Beautiful Celebration Of Acclaimed Australian Choreographer Graeme Murphy's Extensive Career
Kevin Jackson as Ivan Tsarevich as Lana Jones as Firebird in FIREBIRD (Photo: Daniel Boud)

MURPHY

The Australian Ballet

6 - 23 April 2018




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