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Early life and educationEdit

Raised in Florence, South Carolina,[3] Murphy was a member of Columbia City Ballet before attending high school at University of North Carolina School of the Arts. There, under the tutelage of Melissa Hayden, she danced principal roles in several of the school's productions, including The Nutcracker[4] and George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, Western Symphony, Tarantella and Theme and Variations.[5]


Following her graduation from high school, Murphy joined American Ballet Theatre's corps de ballet in August 1996 at the age of 17. She was promoted to soloist in 1998. In 2001, her debut as Odette/Odile in Swan Lake garnered rave reviews from The New York Times.[6][7] The following year she was promoted to principal dancer.[8] That same year she was named one of Dance Magazine's 25 To Watch by Gus Solomon Jr. [9]

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, Myrta 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, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, and the ballerina in Theme and Variations.

She has 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. Additionally, she has performed featured roles in Company B, The Elements, Overgrown Path, and Without Words. On March 27, 2017, Murphy finally made her NYC debut in Giselle with ABT at The Metropolitan Opera House. This came after years of dancing the ballet's antagonistic force, Myrta.[10][11]

Murphy has performed as a guest artist with Mariinsky Ballet, Royal Swedish Ballet, Staatsballett Berlin, Kiev Ballet, and Salt Creek Ballet. She spent 3 years as a Guest Principal with Royal New Zealand Ballet, during her husband's tenure as the company's director.


  • Awarded the Prix de Lausanne Espoir (1995)[12]
  • Presidential Scholar nominee (1996)
  • Awarded a Dance Fellowship by the Princess Grace Foundation (1998)[13]
  • Received the Princess Grace Statue Award (2009)
  • Honorary Doctorate, University of North Carolina School of the Arts

TV and Movie appearancesEdit

In 2000, she had a small part in the film Center Stage, which featured her ABT colleagues Ethan Stiefel, Julie Kent, and Sascha Radetsky in starring roles. She also appeared in the film's sequel, Center Stage: Turn It Up. In 2005 she performed the dual role, Odette and Odile, in Kevin McKenzie's version of Swan Lake with ABT. This performance was filmed and broadcast as a part of Great Performances: Dance in America on PBS.[14][15] In 2010 She appeared as herself in season 4, episode 8 of Gossip Girl with Ethan Stiefel. She also appears as the eponymous character in Royal New Zealand Ballet's documentary and filmed production of Giselle.[16][17] Behind the scenes, she served as a ballet consultant on the movie Black Swan.

Personal lifeEdit

On September 19, 2015, Murphy married her longtime partner Ethan Stiefel, a former principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet.[18] Stiefel proposed to her following her performance in the opening night gala of American Ballet Theatre's 2011 season.[19] On December 14, 2018, Murphy announced that she was pregnant with their first child and would take maternity leave for the 2018-2019 season.[20][21] In June 2019, Murphy announced the birth of her son.[22]

Murphy graduated from St. Mary's College in 2018.[23] She is currently enrolled in the Crossover to Business program for professional artists and athletes at Harvard Business School.[24]


  1. ^ Jaffe, Susan. "The Artist as Leader: Gillian Murphy". University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
  2. ^ Woods, Astrida (October 21, 2009). "Beyond Bravura". Dance Magazine.
  3. ^ Culbertson, Todd (July 2, 2018). "Todd Culbertson column: Ballet's celestial bodies are essential in the age of the tweet". Richmond Times-Dispatch.
  4. ^ Blank, Barbara (October 31, 2017). "Family Dance: At Pennsylvania Regional Ballet, some are treated like family–others actually are". The Burg News.
  5. ^ "Gillian Murphy". American Ballet Theatre.
  6. ^ Kisselgoff, Anna (June 23, 2001). "DANCE REVIEW; With the Swan, the Lake and Debuts". The New York Times.
  7. ^ Kisselgoff, Anna (July 8, 2002). "BALLET THEATER REVIEWS; Good, Evil and a Vivid Link Between Them". The New York Times.
  8. ^ "Moving Up the Ballet Company Ranks". The New York Times. June 6, 2002.
  9. ^ Escoyne, Courtney (January 2, 2017). "We Totally Nailed These Past "25 to Watch" Picks". Dance Magazine.
  10. ^ Harss, Marina (May 29, 2017). "American Ballet Theatre – Giselle – New York". Dance Tabs.
  11. ^ Hochman, Jerry (May 30, 2017). "American Ballet Theatre: A New Giselle For Our Time". Critical Dance.
  12. ^ "Gillian Murphy Profile Page". Prix de Lausanne.
  13. ^ "Gillian Murphy Profile Page". Princess Grace Foundation, USA.
  14. ^ DeSantis, Marissa (October 9, 2017). "Gillian Murphy on Mastering the Dual Role of Odette/Odile and Which One She Loves Dancing Mos". Pointe Magazine.
  15. ^ Mattison, Ben (June 20, 2005). "PBS Broadcasts American Ballet Theatre Swan Lake". Playbill.
  16. ^ Lancaster, Lynne. "Royal New Zealand Ballet – Giselle". Dance Magazine Australia.
  17. ^ "Giselle". NZ on Screen.
  18. ^ Patricia, Harty; Kara, Rota. "Gillian Murphy: On Her Toes". Irish America (June / July 2016). Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  19. ^ Sucas, Rosalyn (May 31, 2011). "At Ballet Theater, Popping the Question After the Plié". The New York Times.
  20. ^ Wingenroth, Lauren (December 14, 2018). "8 Reasons Why Gillian Murphy Will Be the Coolest Mom". Dance Magazine.
  21. ^ "Gillian Murphy to Take Maternity Leave". American Ballet Theatre. December 14, 2018.
  22. ^ "Gillian Murphy on Instagram: "Overwhelmed with infinite ♥️ for this little guy!!🤱 Huge thank you to each and every one of you for your messages & warm welcome of Ax Nathaniel Stiefel (Ax means "Father of Peace") 💙 Big shoutout to Dr. Sona Degann for making my blissful pregnancy and intense labor/#caesarean as seamless as possible 😅💕 #exhausted #euphoric #grateful 📷: @tessazip ✨". Retrieved June 10, 2019 – via Instagram.
  23. ^ Kourlas, Gia (May 31, 2018). "Clearing the Stage for a Big Graduation Number at City Ballet". The New York Times.
  24. ^ Lansky, Chava (October 11, 2018). "ABT's Gillian Murphy Shares Why Ballet Dancers Are Taking Over Harvard Business School". Dance Magazine.

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