Gillian Murphy: Biography, Height, Net Worth & More

Gillian Murphy is an American principal ballerina whose career was closely attached to the American Ballet Theatre.

Almost all iconic short and full-length works of ABT are in her repertoire, and her list of credits is filled with honorable awards and honorary certificates.

With respect, we are going to take a look back at her journey to success!

Gillian Murphy’s Biography

  • Birthname: Gillian Murphy
  • Birthday: April 11, 1979
  • Nationality: American
  • Parents: N/A
  • Siblings: 1 elder sister (Tessa Murphy)
  • Spouse: Ethan Stiefel
  • Children: 1
  • Height: 5 feet 6 inches (1.68 meters)
  • Net worth: estimated $5 million 

Gillian Murphy and Ethan Stiefel

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, she 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.

In 2014, she was further honored with an Honorary Doctorate from the UNCSA.

In 2018, she 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

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, she 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’s works besides ABT

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 the Royal New Zealand Ballet. At the same time, her husband served as director of the company. 

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

Check more: 15 best ballet companies in the world

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, she 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.

What is your favorite thing about her? Please share with us in the comment box.

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