Gillian Murphy

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Gillian Murphy
Born (1979-04-11) April 11, 1979 (age 37)
Wimbledon, England
Occupation ballet dancer
Years active 1996–present
Current group

American Ballet Theatre

Royal New Zealand Ballet

Gillian Murphy (born April 11, 1979)[1] is a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre and Royal New Zealand Ballet.

Early life and education[edit]

Murphy was born in Wimbledon, England and took her first ballet class at the age of three in Belgium while her father was working overseas. At a young age the family moved to Florence, South Carolina, where she received most of her early dance training, most notably dancing the Black Swan pas de deux at age eleven. After some experience with the Columbia City Ballet, she continued her studies at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. There, under the tutelage of the famous ballerina Melissa Hayden, Murphy danced principal roles in several of the school’s ballets including a production of The Nutcracker and George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, Western Symphony, Tarantella and Theme and Variations.


Murphy joined American Ballet Theatre at the age of seventeen as a member of the corps de ballet in August 1996, and was promoted to soloist in 1999 and then to principal dancer in 2002. Her repertoire with ABT includes Polyhymnia in Apollo, Nikiya and Gamzatti in La Bayadère, Cinderella in Cinderella, Swanilda in Coppélia, Medora and Gulnare in Le Corsaire, Kitri in Don Quixote, Titania in The Dream, the Accused in Fall River Legend, second girl in Fancy Free, Lise in La Fille mal gardée, the pas de deux Flames of Paris, Grand Pas Classique, Myrtha in Giselle, His Memory and His Experiences in HereAfter, the Queen of Hearts in Jeu de Cartes, Manon in Lady of the Camellias, Lescaut’s Mistress in Manon, the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Desdemona in Othello, Hagar in Pillar of Fire, Raymonda in Raymonda, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, 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, and the ballerina in Theme and Variations.

She has also performed leading roles in Allegro Brillante, Ballet Imperial, Ballo della Regina, Baroque Game, Birthday Offering, Paul Taylor’s Black Tuesday, The Brahms-Haydn Variations, Clear, Désir, Diversion of Angels, Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes, Études, From Here On Out, Gong, In The Upper Room, Meadow, Les Patineurs, Pretty Good Year, Push Comes to Shove, Sinfonietta, Les Sylphides, Symphonie Concertante and The Bright Stream. She has additionally performed featured roles in Company B, The Elements, Overgrown Path and Without Words.[2]

Gillian also made guest appearances with Mariinsky Ballet (former Kirov Ballet), the Royal Swedish Ballet, the Staatsballett Berlin, the Kiev Ballet, and The Royal New Zealand Ballet.


  • Awarded the Prix de Lausanne Espoir after performing the final round at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow (1995).[3]
  • Presidential Scholar nominee (1996).
  • Awarded a Dance Fellowship by the Princess Grace Foundation (1998)[4]
  • Received the Princess Grace Statue Award (2009)[5]

Television and movie appearances[edit]

In 2000, she had a small part in the film Center Stage, directed by Nicholas Hytner with original choreography by Susan Stroman and featuring Amanda Schull and ABT colleagues Ethan Stiefel, Julie Kent, and Sascha Radetsky. Ms. Murphy danced both Odette and Odille in American Ballet Theater's 2005 production, choreographed by Kevin McKenzie after Petipa. She was also seen on DVD's and had a special thanks in the 2008 sequel Center Stage: Turn It Up. In 2010 Gillian appeared as herself in season 4, episode 8 of Gossip Girl with Ethan Stiefel. Gillian was also a ballet consultant on the movie Black Swan along with her colleague Julie Kent. She also starred in the film Giselle by The Royal New Zealand Ballet.

Personal life[edit]

On September 19, 2015 Murphy married her longtime boyfriend, Ethan Stiefel, former principal dancer for American Ballet Theatre and the New York City Ballet. Stiefel had proposed to her in May 2011 after her performance in American Ballet Theatre's Spring Season Opening Gala with American Ballet Theatre.[6]

Ethan is an avid motorcyclist. He once drove 5600 kilometres across the north-eastern US with Gillian riding pillion. She is also a Green Bay Packers fan. Ethan and Gillian also have an Abyssinian cat named Selah.


  1. ^ U.S. Public Records Index Vol 2 (Provo, UT: Operations, Inc.), 2010.
  2. ^ "Dancers: Principals: Gillian Murphy". American Ballet Theatre. Retrieved 13 February 2012. 
  3. ^ "Gillian Murphy Profile Page". Prix de Lausanne. Archived from the original on 2012-03-21. 
  4. ^ "Gillian Murphy Profile Page". Princess Grace Foundation, USA. 
  5. ^ "Press Release, August 11, 2009" (PDF). Princess Grace Foundation, USA. 
  6. ^ Sulcas, Roslyn (31 May 2011). "At Ballet Theater, Popping the Question After the Plié". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 February 2012. 

External links[edit]