Gillian Murphy is a ballerina with American Ballet Theatre, and her repertoire includes leading roles in all of ABT’s current full-length classics and in shorter works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Jiri Kylian, Antony Tudor, William Forsythe, Martha Graham, Lar Lubovitch, Paul Taylor, Frederick Ashton and Agnes de Mille.
Gillian was raised in Florence, South Carolina and received her high school education and advanced dance training under the tutelage of Melissa Hayden at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. As a teenager, Gillian was awarded the Prix de Lausanne Espoir, and she joined American Ballet Theatre in 1996.
After being honored with a Princess Grace Foundation Award, Gillian was promoted to Soloist in 1999 and to Principal Dancer in 2002. She starred as Odette/Odile in ABT’s PBS television production of Swan Lake and as Giselle in the New Zealand Film Commission’s movie of Stiefel and Kobborg’s production of Giselle at the Royal New Zealand Ballet, where she was a Principal Guest Artist for three years.
Gillian has also appeared onstage in world premieres of new creations by Alexei Ratmansky, Mark Morris, Benjamin Millepied, Michelle Dorrance, Jorma Elo, Marcelo Gomes, James Whiteside, Aszure Barton, Peter Quanz, Natalie Weir, John Neumeier, Robert Hill, Christopher Wheeldon, Ethan Stiefel, and Twyla Tharp. Gillian has danced as a guest artist throughout the world, performing with the Mariinsky Ballet, the Royal Swedish Ballet, the Staatsballett Berlin, the Kiev Ballet, the Australian Ballet, as a ballerina with the Metropolitan Opera, and in numerous other international engagements and galas.
She is a proud charter member of the concert ensemble, Stiefel and Stars, and for three summers in Martha’s Vineyard, Gillian directed a training program for dancers aged 12 to 14, Dreamcatchers. More recently, Gillian has taught ballet masterclasses in Tokyo, Indianapolis, Winston-Salem, and San Diego as well as classes in New York City for Dance Theatre of Harlem, ABT’s Studio Company, and dancers of the Metropolitan Opera.
In 2009, Gillian was the recipient of a Princess Grace Statue Award, the organization’s highest honor. In 2014, Gillian received an Honorary Doctorate in the Performing Arts from UNCSA. In 2018, Gillian graduated summa cum laude from St. Mary’s College of California with a Bachelor of Arts. In 2019, Gillian successfully completed the Harvard Business School’s “Crossover into Business” program for professional athletes. For the most current updates, Gillian can be followed on Instagram at gillianemurphy.