Gillian Murphy: Biography, Height, Net Worth & More

Gillian Murphy has established herself as a shining star of the American Ballet Theatre, with dance critics commending her expansive and lovely dancing style illuminated by her rhythmic phrasing. 

Her fearlessness and versatility in ballet have gained Gillian recognition in classical ballet, making it clear that she is one of the leading figures in the theatre today.

Who Is Gillian Murphy?

Gillian Murphy is an internationally acclaimed principal ballerina of the American Ballet Theatre (ABT). 

With a celebrated repertoire of leading roles in classic and contemporary works, Gillian has received various prestigious awards, including the Prix de Lausanne Espoir, the Princess Grace Foundation Award, and the Princess Grace Statue Award. 

She has performed as a guest artist worldwide with renowned dance companies such as Mariinsky Ballet, Royal Swedish Ballet, Staatsballett Berlin, Kyiv Ballet, and Australian Ballet. 

She also starred in ABT’s PBS television production of Swan Lake. 

She was a Principal Guest Artist for three years with the Royal New Zealand Ballet for their film production of Giselle.

Gillian Murphy’s Family

Gillian Murphy was born in the United Kingdom. Then, she and her family moved to Florence, South Carolina. She spent her childhood days with her elder sister, Tessa Murphy. 

In 2015, she tied the knot with Ethan Stiefel, an American dancer, choreographer, and director who proposed to her in 2011 during ABT’s Spring Gala. 

Gillian Murphy and Ethan Stiefel

Their first child, Ax Nathaniel Stiefel, was born in 2019.

Gillian Murphy’s Body Measurement

Gillian Murphy’s height and weight are perfect for a ballerina. 

She stands at an impressive height of 5 feet 6 inches tall (1.68 meters). And her body weight is measured at 65 kilograms (143 pounds). 

Gillian Murphy’s Net Worth

As a successful dancer, Gillian Murphy has an estimable net worth of $5 million as of 2023. 

Her wealth has been accrued through various sources, including her income from dancing, and investments in assets and property. 

While she enjoys the financial security that this affords her, she prefers to lead a humble life, eschewing ostentatious displays of her success.

Gillian Murphy’s Early Life and Education

Gillian Murphy was trained by the esteemed Columbia City Ballet. 

She then moved on to pursue her studies at The University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) under the guidance of Melissa Hayden. 

During her time there, she acquired leading roles in numerous performances, including George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, Western Symphony, Tarantella, and Theme and Variations – all while studying as a high school student.

In 1995, Gillian Murphy made history as the youngest person ever to win the esteemed Prix de Lausanne Espoir in the international ballet competition at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. 

She was named a National YoungArts Foundation Winner in Dance. 

Besides, she was also awarded a Princess Grace Foundation-USA grant, one of the highest honors bestowed by the organization. 

In 2009, she received the Statue Award from the Princess Grace Foundation, recognizing her extraordinary accomplishments in ballet, and in 2014 she was further honored with an Honorary Doctorate from the UNCSA.

In 2018, Julia Murphy achieved a remarkable milestone in her academic career when she graduated summa cum laude with a BA from St. Mary’s College of California. 

Not content to rest on her laurels, she furthered her educational pursuits by completing the Harvard Business School’s “Crossover into Business” program. 

Check more: Anna Pavlova: Biography, Height, Accomplishments & More

Gillian Murphy’s Dancing Career

After a great time with UNCSA, Gillian Murphy found her next destination with American Ballet Theatre’s Corps de Ballet in August 1996 at 17. 

Her hard work and dedication paid off two years later when she became the ABT soloist. 

Her debut performance as Odette/Odile in Swan Lake in 2001 earned rave reviews from The New York Times. 

Thanks to that, she got a promotion to principal dancer the following year. 

Her repertoire with ABT includes:

  • 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;
  • Kitri in Don Quixote;
  • Medora and Gulnare in Le Corsaire;
  • Titania in The Dream;
  • the second girl in Fancy Free;
  • Lise in La Fille mal gardée;
  • the Accused in Fall River Legend;
  • And more. 

She has also danced in featured roles throughout her career.

On May 28th, 2016, Murphy celebrated her 20th anniversary with ABT by gracing the stage for La Fille mal gardée. 

This remarkable feat received praise and acknowledgment from Dance Magazine, who named her one of their ’25 To Watch’ in recognition of her achievements.

Gillian Murphy is also an experienced guest artist, performing with Mariinsky Ballet, Royal Swedish Ballet, Staatsballett Berlin, Kyiv Ballet, and The Australian Ballet. 

She spent three years as a Guest Principal with Royal New Zealand Ballet. At the same time, her husband served as director of the company. 

Gillian Murphy has recently taken on an additional role as an artistic associate of the American Repertory Ballet (ARB). 

She will work side-by-side with her husband, ARB’s newly appointed creative director Ethan Stiefel. 

Her responsibilities include staging classic repertoire, offering guidance and coaching to the dancers in the company, and teaching company classes. 

Gillian Murphy showed her impressive part in the current leadership transitions in the ballet industry.

Her rise to the pinnacle of ABT and ART was powered by her self-discipline, passion, and wit. 

With a repertoire of more featured and principal roles than can be counted, both in the United States and internationally, her accomplishments are astonishing. 

Final Words 

As a renowned principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre and an icon in the ballet world, Gillian Murphy has succeeded through her sheer talent, passion, and dedication. 

UNCSA created the Gillian Murphy Endowed Scholarship Fund, the most prestigious scholarship in the school’s dance program to honor her hard work and commitment to excellence. 

From trailblazing on the local stage to performing worldwide with ABT, Gillian Murphy set a high standard for classical ballet professionals. 

She is living her passion fully and soaring her career to different heights with her influence through her breathtaking performances and teaching, and inspiration.

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