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The Company

Gillian Murphy

Florence, South Carolina

Joined ABT 1996 / Principal since 2002

Biography

Raised in Florence, South Carolina, Gillian Murphy began her ballet training at the age of three in Belgium and continued her ballet classes at the age of five in South Carolina.

After training in South Carolina as a member of the Columbia City Ballet, she continued her studies at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.  Under the tutelage of Melissa Hayden, she danced principal roles in several of the school’s ballet productions including The Nutcracker and George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, Western Symphony, Tarantella and Theme and Variations.

In 1994, at the age of 15, Murphy was a finalist at the Jackson International Ballet Competition.  In 1995, she was awarded the Prix de Lausanne Espoir after performing the final round at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.  In 1996, she was a National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts Level I awardee and a Presidential Scholar nominee.  In 1998, she was honored with a Princess Grace Foundation-USA grant.  The Princess Grace Foundation awarded her its highest honor, the Statue Award, in 2009.  She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from her alma mater, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, during commencement ceremonies in May 2014.

Murphy has appeared as a guest artist in Australia, Japan, Mexico, Germany, Italy, Canada and throughout the United States.  She made her debut with the Mariinsky Ballet in March 2008, dancing Odette-Odile in Swan Lake.  Other guest appearances include the Royal Swedish Ballet, the Mariinsky Ballet, the world premiere of a new production of The Nutcracker, directed and choreographed by Ethan Stiefel for the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and Nikiya in La Bayadère with The Australian Ballet in November 2014.

Murphy joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in August 1996, was promoted to Soloist in 1999 and Principal Dancer in 2002.  Her repertoire with the Company includes Polyhymnia in Apollo, Nikiya and Gamzatti in La Bayadère, the Ballerina in The Bright Stream, Cinderella in Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella, Cinderella in James Kudelka’s Cinderella, Swanilda in Coppélia, Medora and Gulnare in Le Corsaire, Kitri in Don Quixote, Titania in The Dream, the Accused in Fall River Legend, the second girl in Fancy Free, Lise in La Fille mal gardée, the pas de deux Flames of Paris, Grand Pas Classique, Giselle and Myrta in Giselle, the Queen of Hearts in Jeu de Cartes, Known by Heart pas de deux, Manon in Lady of the Camellias, Lescaut’s Mistress in Manon, the Sugar Plum Fairy in Kevin McKenzie’s The Nutcracker, Desdemona in Othello, Other Dances, Hagar in Pillar of Fire, Raymonda in Raymonda, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet (Romeo’s Farewell to Juliet), Princess Aurora in Ratmansky’s The Sleeping Beauty, Princess Aurora and the Lilac Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty, Odette-Odile in Swan Lake, Sylvia in Sylvia, the first and third movements in Symphony in C, the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, the ballerina in Theme and Variations, Princess Tea Flower in Whipped Cream and leading roles in Allegro Brillante, Bach Partita, Ballet Imperial, Ballo della Regina, Baroque Game, Birthday Offering, The Brahms-Haydn Variations, Clear, Désir, Diversion of Angels, Duets, Études, From Here On Out, Meadow, Les Patineurs, Piano Concerto #1, Push Comes to Shove, Raymonda Divertissements, Les Sylphides, Symphonie Concertante and Without Words.  Murphy has also performed featured roles in Black Tuesday, Company B, Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes, The Elements, Gong, In the Upper Room, Overgrown Path, Pretty Good Year and Sinfonietta.

She created Pierrette in Alexei Ratmansky’s Harlequinade, Clara, the Princess in Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, leading roles in Her Notes, Kaleidoscope, Rabbit and Rogue and Thirteen Diversions, and featured roles in After You, Glow – Stop, One of Three, Praedicere and Within You Without You: A Tribute to George Harrison.

Murphy danced Odette-Odile in the ABT telecast of Swan Lake and also appeared in the ABT telecast of Le Corsaire.  Other television credits include the Washington Opera’s Die Fledermaus and, in November 2010, an appearance on the series Gossip Girl.  During November 1999, she also participated in the Melissa Hayden Project, part of the Balanchine Foundation’s video series filming dancers, who worked with George Balanchine, teaching their roles to young performers.  The Foundation filmed Hayden teaching Murphy the pas de deux from Stars and Stripes and Donizetti Variations.  Murphy was seen in the feature film Center Stage and also appeared in the sequel, Center Stage 2: Turn It Up.

Ms. Murphy’s performances with American Ballet Theatre are sponsored by Mary Jo and Ted Shen.

Photo: Rosalie O'Connor

Upcoming Performances

December 15, 2018
7:00 pm
Costa Mesa, California
Segerstrom Center for the Arts
The Nutcracker
(Clara, the Princess)
January 29, 2019
7:30 pm
Washington, D.C.
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Harlequinade
(Pierrette)
February 1, 2019
7:30 pm
Washington, D.C.
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Harlequinade
(Pierrette)
May 13, 2019
7:30 pm
New York, New York
Metropolitan Opera House
Harlequinade
(Pierrette)
May 15, 2019
7:30 pm
New York, New York
Metropolitan Opera House
Harlequinade
(Pierrette)
May 25, 2019
8:00 pm
New York, New York
Metropolitan Opera House
Whipped Cream
(Princess Tea Flower)
June 12, 2019
2:00 pm
New York, New York
Metropolitan Opera House
Le Corsaire
(Medora)
June 14, 2019
7:30 pm
New York, New York
Metropolitan Opera House
Le Corsaire
(Medora)
June 19, 2019
2:00 pm
New York, New York
Metropolitan Opera House
Manon
(Manon)
June 22, 2019
8:00 pm
New York, New York
Metropolitan Opera House
Manon
(Manon)
June 28, 2019
7:30 pm
New York, New York
Metropolitan Opera House
Swan Lake
(Odette/Odile)
July 3, 2019
7:30 pm
New York, New York
Metropolitan Opera House
The Sleeping Beauty
(Princess Aurora)

Repertoire

"For me, on the stage, it's a full immersion into making the most of that moment—and it's such a fleeting moment and art. It doesn't have to be perfect. The idea of perfection, I think, is something to aspire to in terms of how to have more clarity and precision and shapes to our classical lines. But ultimately, when I'm sitting in the audience, I want to be moved. I don't enjoy watching people dance who are just executing steps. I feel dance really has to speak to something deeper within. The choreography is there as a means to that expression and artistry and imagination, not as a be all and end all in itself."

-Gillian Murphy, Pointe Magazine

Milestones

1996

Joined Corps de Ballet August 1996

1998

Won Princess Grace Award

1999

Promoted to Soloist August 1999

2002

Promoted to Principal Dancer August 2002

Gillian Murphy

Gillian Murphy in Swan Lake. Photo: Gene Schiavone.

2005

Starred as Odette/Odile in ABT PBS Swan Lake Broadcast

2008

Guested with the Mariinsky Ballet as Odette/Odile

2009

Honored with the Princess Grace Statue Award

2014

Received honorary doctorate from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts

2015

Married longtime boyfriend Ethan Stiefel