Glimpses of Graeme and the forgotten impresario

Graeme Murphy as Jean Cocteau in “Poppy”, 1978. Photograph: Robert Hartman

CANBERRA authors have produced not one however two essential books about dance in latest months. 

First up is “Glimpses of Graeme. Reflections on the work of Graeme Murphy”, by critic and dance writer Michelle Potter.

The ebook is simply that, a sequence of glimpses into Murphy’s work via the assorted opinions Potter has written over a few years for publication in Canberra and past however, as Potter says, a real biography of Murphy is but to be written.

There’s a Canberra angle. “Glimpses”, staged on the Canberra Theatre in October 1976, was the profitable entry in a choreographic competitors referred to as “Ballet, 76” within the yr earlier than Murphy was appointed director of Sydney Dance Firm. The forged included Canberra dance legends Ross Stretton and Meryl Tankard.

Potter has assembled her chosen opinions in accordance with a number of themes she sees in Murphy’s work – music initiatives, crossing generations, approaches to narrative, parts of design, postmodernism, theatricality and collaboration, so she typically returns to particular person works underneath totally different headings. 

Graeme Murphy in rehearsal in Sydney for Australian Ballet’s 2019 manufacturing of “The Comfortable Prince”. Photograph: Kate Longley.

The ebook analyses Murphy’s consideration to design within the ’70s when he was listed as designer for no fewer than six productions, a apply he continued into the ’90s. Supremely visible in outlook, he engaged influential artists, notably Kristian Fredrikson, on whom Potter has additionally written a big ebook. 

There’s a down-to-earth evaluation of publish modernism because it applies to Murphy and a piece on his famed shock techniques the place he’s quoted as saying: “It was a method of jolting the viewers”.

Murphy’s inspirational sources, Potter explains, had been nearly all the time subjected to some sort of re-contextualisation. In “Nutcracker: the story of Clara”, as an example, he informed the story of a Russian dancer who spent her ultimate years in Australia.

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Doubtless, the preferred of his re-contextualisations has been his “Swan Lake”, made for the Australian Ballet in 2002, reimagined as a contemporary love triangle, perhaps with hints of the connection between Charles, Diana and Camilla.

Individuals, Potter says, name Murphy “an inventive hero of his nation”, however to Potter it’s the magic in his choreography, his capability to attract audiences into work emotionally and his agency perception in collaboration that make Graeme Murphy nice.

“Glimpses of Graeme. Reflections on the work of Graeme Murphy” (Forty South publications, rrp $45. Obtainable at

POTTER’S strategy is simplicity itself – a sequence of reflections on Murphy’s profession – however Canberra historian John Stanley Anderson’s “exploratory” biography, “Forgotten impresario: discovering Daphne Deane”, is exhaustive and scholarly, with a whopping 70 separate chapters.

The quilt of “Forgotten Impresario: discovering Daphne Deane”.

The writer owes his inspiration for the ebook to letters held by his spouse’s second cousin, an Australian dancer who labored because the secretary of his topic earlier than World Warfare II. 

Anderson speaks of “the relative invisibility of girls in historical past” as he recounts the story of Deane, a forgotten theatrical entrepreneur, actor, singer, journalist, producer and tutorial, from her delivery in Queensland as Theodora Harriette Endurance Lush, her early days, her time working with Sydney theatre director Gregan McMahon throughout the Nineteen Twenties, her appointment as the primary and solely professor of dance on the NSW State Conservatorium of Music and her experiences seeing Anna Pavlova in 1926 and 1929. 

On this half, her early marriage to a shyster in Sydney makes for engaging studying.

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Deane’s initiatives within the theatre had been legion, because the ebook reveals, however her declare to fame rests on her entrepreneurial abilities, nice tuned in England, the place she toured the Ballet Rambert to provincial France in 1937, reaching their apogee in 1937-8 together with her complicated manoeuvrings to convey the Ballets Russes to Australia, associated within the chapter titled “Conniving a Tour to Australia”. However JC Williamson’s and the Tait Brothers acquired the credit score for that.

Lively within the Paris Theatre Guild each pre and post-war, Deane grew to become partially a determine of thriller as she slipped out and in of the limelight, ending up in a severe brush with the legislation in 1948 that signalled the tip of her profession. 

Again in London on an Australian pension, she was final heard of in August 1976 and no document of her dying has been discovered. 

Terribly, there isn’t a entry for her within the “Australian Dictionary of Biography” and on this ebook Anderson is eager to set issues proper.

“Forgotten impresario: discovering Daphne Deane” (Google Books, free open entry at