Hi Redditors and lurkers! My name is Gillian Murphy, and I'm a principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre and a principal guest artist at the Royal New Zealand Ballet.

I'll be dancing at the 2014 Dance Against Cancer event in NYC on May 5th (donate here!: https://acsmnhtn.ejoinme.org/MyEvents/2014DanceAgainstCancer/DonateNow/tabid/527823/Default.aspx) and at the Metropolitan Opera House in NYC this May to July.

Ask me anything! :)

Proof: https://twitter.com/gillianemurphy

Comments: 90 • Responses: 25  • Date: 

ningrim10 karma

How did you prepare for the role of Scarecrow in Batman Begins?

gillianemurphy40 karma

in much the same way that Cillian Murphy prepared for the Sugar Plum Fairy

Thorinandco9 karma

Hello! Have you ever made a mistake on stage? How did you handle it?

gillianemurphy11 karma

Yes and you just have to roll with it!

TheCrafter9 karma

Hi Gillian!

I'm a 20 yo male who is just getting into ballet. I've done martial arts in the past (and present) so I'm pretty flexible and have decent body control and awareness of my positioning in space. Just wondering if you had any advice for me or if you thought there was a way I could use dance to make a living. I think it's too late but I'm not going to stop just because of that, I enjoy it far too much. Even if it's just something I do for fun I don't think I'll ever stop.

Edit: Bonus question, how should I stretch for the splits? I want to comfortably get both front and side but I've been stuck at the same spot for about 2 months.

gillianemurphy13 karma

Dance is not the most lucrative career path... we do it because we love it! I think martial arts would be great training for ballet and it's never too late to audition! And stretch when you're warm from practice and don't try this quite yet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7FIvfx5J10

I_Lase_You7 karma

Hello Gillian! Thanks for coming to reddit. I made this for you, based on one of my favorite pictures! Link

gillianemurphy3 karma

Wow - thank you!

teuvotime5 karma

hi gillian! i was just wondering what is your favorite classical role and why? and if there was a classical role that you haven't had the opportunity to perform and still want to?

gillianemurphy8 karma

Hi, Odette/Odile because I get to be two vastly different characters in one evening plus the music is so powerful. I'd like to dance Tatiana in Onegin if I get the chance.

Responsivity5 karma

Who is your favorite superhero and why?

gillianemurphy14 karma

Dazzler is underrated

red_mm4 karma

How do you approach performing ballets that you have been dancing for years and do you prefer to revisit roles or learn new ballets?

gillianemurphy5 karma

New ballets push me in new directions, but I love revisiting roles and trying different nuances. I still feel like I'm learning about how to best embody the characters that I've been dancing for years.

ruchen894 karma

In general, what is the most common injury amongst professional dancers and do you feel like there is a way to prevent them? And do you have any stories/experiences that you're willing to share about a personal injury or setback?

gillianemurphy3 karma

Male dancers typically have knee and back injuries due to so much jumping and lifting. Women have foot and ankle issues due to pointe work. We have amazing physical therapists who monitor and help us prevent these and other injuries. A few years ago I had a bone spur behind my ankle that had to be surgically removed, and it took a few months to get back on stage.

setfaeserstostun4 karma

Hi Gillian, what is your favorite song to dance to?

gillianemurphy5 karma

it's cheesy but Footloose is hard to beat

draibop4 karma

if you had to fight one dancer to the death who would you choose and why,

bonus: where would the fight take place( example: over a lake of fire, in the desert, maybe even in the middle of a baseball field in the middle of the night with only knives, you know night time knife fight.)

gillianemurphy6 karma

Johan Kobborg somewhere sunny so I could use his bling against him.

draibop1 karma

is there any particular reason you chose mr Kobborg, jealous, revenge, perhaps, unrequited love?

gillianemurphy3 karma

because he's always up for a joke or good prank

katherkelly4 karma

Hello! I'm a competitive dancer (focus on modern ballet and lyrical) and I was curious what has been your favorite ballet to perform?

gillianemurphy5 karma

I have many favorites but most recently I had a blast dancing the Bier Maiden in Bierhalle, a one-act ballet choreographed by Ethan Stiefel for the Royal New Zealand Ballet.

blue-butterfly3 karma

Hi Gillian --- thanks for doing this AMA! Sometimes a particular performance is magical --- everything falls into place, the illusion is perfect, the audience is alive with wonder and awe, the dancers weave a perfect creation. Can you tell us about anytime this has happened for you? Do you know why it happens?

gillianemurphy6 karma

This is a feeling I love and what we live for as dancers. There's a special connection and feedback loop in live performances between the performers and the energy of the audience.

gillianemurphy3 karma

Thanks everyone! Had fun answering your questions. I'll be tweeting about dance @gillianemurphy and maybe I'll see you there. :)

xafran3 karma

I'm someone who's looking to start seeing more ballet and I was wondering what are your favorite ballet shows?

gillianemurphy6 karma

Great to hear! Check out Fancy Free, Rodeo, The Dream, etc.. As much as I love Swan Lake and Nutcracker, there's a breadth of ballet repertoire that people should see before they decide ballet isn't for them.

aryasneedle423 karma

as someone who has been in the dance world for a very long time how do you deal with the pressure everyday to be perfect not only in dance but in your turn out and body image and flexibility as well.

gillianemurphy7 karma

Love your username! Make the most of the gifts you have. Artistry is a critical part of dancing, and I would rather watch someone who exudes musicality and passion etc. and who maybe doesn't have the best turn-out or sky-high extension.

toughcall0382 karma

Hi Gillian! I got to see you, Marcelo Gomes, Misty Copeland and Sascha Radetsky do Don Quixote last week at the Kennedy Center. It was my first time seeing ABT do a full length ballet (I'd seen a lot of the mixed reps on tour) and I just have to tell you, I burst into tears during your entrance. It was so beautiful and I'm so glad I got to see all of you on the same stage. Thank you for such a gorgeous performance.

Now I got my fangirling out of the way, I have two questions

  1. You've done the same roles so many times, often with the same partner. How do you keep it fresh every single performance?
  2. Will you be involved in Flesh and Bones in any way? I know there are a few ABT alums involved so we're definitely going to need to see you dancing on TV more often!

gillianemurphy1 karma

Didn't mean to make you cry but thank you so much! I really appreciate it.

1) I try to be in the moment so during a performance, I'm not thinking of past shows and can respond spontaneously with my partner(s).

2) No immediate plans to be involved in Flesh and Bone, but my fiance Ethan Stiefel will be choreographing the dance sequences, and I'm excited to see dance reaching a wider audience.

yjtow2 karma

You are the queen of Ashton. Your Titania is THE best in the world. What's special about Ashton to you? What do you love? What do you find challenging?

gillianemurphy2 karma

Thanks! I love his sense of humor and his choreographic storytelling ability. It can be technically difficult, but I love it all. Titania, Sylvia, and Lise are three of my most favorite roles, and I'm about to dance Ashton's version of Cinderella at the Met in June.

red_mm2 karma

What do you hope to do once you stop performing regularly?

gillianemurphy2 karma

I hope to pass on what I've learned to the next generation of dancers and to keep contributing to the art in some way.

Quijote_de_la_Mancha2 karma

Welcome to Reddit Gillian :) you're such a talented and incredible dancer. I love seeing you at ABT's MET season each year. My question is what's your daily schedule like? How does it differ when you have a performance?

gillianemurphy6 karma

I usually take ballet class in the morning for 90 minutes and then have 3 to 7 hours of rehearsal, but on a performance day, I have class, 1-2 hours of rehearsal, take a quick nap, and start getting ready 2 hours before curtain.

PolydactylOnPointe1 karma

It would be so cool if you could guest with New York City Ballet in Theme and Variations or something else. I would like to see you dance with Amar. Any chance that you could spend one evening at City Ballet?

gillianemurphy2 karma

Doubt that's in the cards but I do love Balanchine, and I'd love to dance with Amar at some point.

dem_raketemensch1 karma

What do dancers generally think of contemporary ballet, especially the ones that focus on athleticism instead of an emotive story? Do they enjoy the challenge of it, etc.? Is there a difference of opinion based on a generational divide?

gillianemurphy3 karma

As dancers, we enjoy the versatility in the rep. There's a lot of athleticism within the emotive classical ballets, but everyone I know loves the adrenaline rush of athletic, contemporary ballets like Tharp's In the Upper Room.

ruchen891 karma

Hi Gillian! I'm so happy you're doing an AMA on reddit...I had to good fortune of watching you in Le Corsaire back in July 2012 in Ethan's farewell performance with ABT. Absolutely stunning performance by all of you! You're one of my favorite ballerinas -- you have amazing technical skill but also you really continue to grow and explore artistically. I've always wanted to ask you the following questions...answer as many as you want! :)

  1. What has been the "easiest" role for you, why? and conversely, what role did you find the most challenging and why?
  2. At ABT, you've had the opportunity to dance a wide variety of roles with many dancers...can you single out a single performance or dancer that you feel has had the greatest impact on you/your career?
  3. If you weren't a ballerina, what do you think you'd be doing?

gillianemurphy2 karma

Hi, thank you! The most challenging role would be Lizzie Borden because I had to exude rage, which does not come naturally.

JustinMichael4121 karma

Gillian, thank you for doing an AMA.

First off, I saw you perform Desdemona in Los Angeles years ago and you were amazing. The performance continues to be one of the best I have ever seen and I want to thank you for that moment.

Question.. I'm a professional in a midwestern company whose director decided to retire this year. Thankfully, I'm in a good place both personally and professionally to handle whatever may come next (the new AD has't been appointed yet but the hope is that the board will have someone in place by the time we start back in the fall). I was wondering if you had any words of wisdom because no matter how prepared I feel, there are definite moments of panic about the uncertainty. Thank you so much!

gillianemurphy3 karma

It's natural to feel unsettled but change is often positive. Stay optimistic and grounded in your experience and preparedness. :)

EliShannon7-6 karma

Do you like girls or nah

gillianemurphy5 karma