Sydney Dance Company
The Sydney Dance Company is one of Australia's most successful and well-known contemporary dance companies. The company was founded in 1969 as the dance-in-education group Ballet in a Nutshell by Suzanne Musitz (Davidson), later changing its name to Athletes and Dancers, and Dance Company (NSW). In 1979 the company was renamed the Sydney Dance Company by its new artistic director Graeme Murphy, who had joined the Dance Company (NSW) in 1976.
The success of Murphy's tenure as artistic director, with fellow dancer, collaborator and wife Janet Vernon, has been compared to the dancer and choreographer Jerome Robbins because of the way he and his company has marketed dance to a wider audience, and brought contemporary dance into a more commercial arena.
Part of Murphy's success has been his wide-ranging taste in music and the eclectic choices of musical accompaniment he has made for his dance works. The breakthrough work Some Rooms (1983), which received enormous acclaim, featured a selection of existing music by composers Keith Jarrett, Joseph Canteloube, Francis Poulenc, Benjamin Britten and Samuel Barber, whereas other works featured newly commissioned original music. Hate (1982) had a score by noted Australian composer Carl Vine, and his successful 1985 production Boxes featured original music by composer and musician Iva Davies, who was then the lead singer with popular Australian rock band Icehouse.
Current Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela’s first commissioned work for the Company, 360°, was as a guest choreographer with the Company. Following his appointment in 2009 as Artistic Director he has premiered his new works we unfold (2009), 6 Breaths (2010), LANDforms (2011) and 2 One Another (2012); presented Australian premieres of his previous works Irony of Fate, Soledad, and The Land of Yes & The Land of No; and new commissions from guest choreographers Kenneth Kvarnstrom (Mercury 2009); Adam Linder (Are We That We Are 2010); Emanuel Gat (Satisfying Musical Moments 2010); and Jacopo Godani (Raw Models 2011).
In May 2007, the company announced that Tanja Liedtke would be its new artistic director; however on 17 August of that year Liedtke was accidentally killed after being struck by a garbage collection truck in an inner northern suburb of Sydney.
In December 2007, Executive Director Noel Staunton launched the company's 2008 season, announcing three guest choreographers, Meryl Tankard, Rafael Bonachela and Aszure Barton, to create new works for the company. Bonachela was subsequently appointed the Company's new Artistic Director.
In December 2008, Foxtel signed a three-year sponsorship of the company involving special broadcasts and incorporating the company into subscription television programs Australia's Next Top Model and Project Runway Australia.
In December 2009 Anne Dunn was appointed Executive Director of the Company.
Dancers and choreographers
Sydney Dance Company has launched the careers of several highly successful Australian dancers and choreographers, including
- Gideon Obarzanek, founder and former artistic director of Melbourne dance company Chunky Move
- Paul Mercurio who has gone on to make several movies including Strictly Ballroom which was directed by Baz Luhrmann.
- Stephen Page, now choreographer and director of Bangarra Dance Theatre
- Kim Walker, who spent ten years as Artistic Director of The Flying Fruit Fly Circus based in Albury, and took up the position of Executive Director at the National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Development Association (NAISDA) in 2007.
- Josef Brown, who has been playing the lead character Johnny Castle in the stage version of Dirty Dancing since it opened in Sydney in 2004
- Lawson, Valerie (4 May 2007). "Welcome to her brave new world". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 10 August 2010.
- Lloyd, Tim (17 August 2007). "Dance director killed". Adelaide Now. Retrieved 10 August 2010.
- Knox, David (15 December 2008). "A waltz with Sydney Dance Company". tvtonight.com.au. Retrieved 10 August 2010.