June 13, 2014/For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Lauren Whitaker, 336-734-2891, firstname.lastname@example.org
New Gillian Murphy Endowed Scholarship created in DanceOffered at YAGP Finals; first recipient announced
WINSTON-SALEM – The School of Dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) has announced the establishment of the Gillian Murphy Endowed Scholarship. The four-year scholarship is named for UNCSA alumna Gillian Murphy ’96, a principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre.
Murphy returned to UNCSA in December 2013 as featured guest performer for The Nutcracker, and again in May 2014 as speaker for High School Commencement, where she received an honorary doctorate.
Gillian remains a steadfast supporter of the School of the Arts,” said School of Dance Dean Susan Jaffe. “She is a great ambassador for us, and a wonderful role model for our students.”
Dean Jaffe said the first recipient of the scholarship is Florrie Geller of Savannah, Ga. The scholarship was offered at the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) Finals in New York in April. YAGP is the world’s largest ballet scholarship competition. More than 5,000 young dancers compete for scholarships at YAGP each year.
“Being able to award the scholarship at the YAGP ensures UNCSA remains among the elite dance conservatories in the country, attracting the top dance talent, such as Florrie Geller,” Jaffe said. “Florrie is a very talented student and I cannot wait to see how she grows at UNCSA.”
Geller, who began dancing at the age of five, won a gold medal in Junior Women’s Classical Ballet and a bronze medal in Junior Women’s Contemporary Dance at the YAGP Regional semifinals in Tampa, Fla., this year. She placed in the top 12 in the Junior Women’s category at the YAGP Finals in New York City, where she danced in the final round at the David Koch Theater.
Gillian Murphy has been a member of American Ballet Theatre since 1996, when she joined the corps de ballet upon graduation. She was promoted to soloist in 1999 and principal dancer in 2002.
Under the tutelage of Melissa Hayden while at UNCSA, Murphy danced principal roles in several ballet productions including The Nutcracker and George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, Western Symphony, Tarantella and Theme and Variations.
Murphy has appeared as a guest artist around the world, including Japan, Mexico, Chile, Greece, Germany, Italy and Canada. In 2012, she became the principal guest artist at the Royal New Zealand Ballet where she danced the title character in Giselle and leading roles in Balanchines’s Who Cares?, Andrew Simmons’ Of Days and Ethan Stiefel’s Bierhalle.
She received the Princess Grace Foundation’s Statue Award, its highest honor, in 2009.
Jaffe said the scholarship will help build on the legacy that Murphy established at UNCSA. “We already have a reputation for high quality training, but we don’t yet have the resources to offer full-ride scholarships to our students of choice,” she said. “This scholarship is a tremendous boost to our recruiting efforts.”
The Gillian Murphy Endowed Scholarship was established through the leadership of Board of Visitors member and dance supporter Ralph Womble. Donors contributed more than $300,000 in a matter of weeks, reaching the halfway goal of $600,000 for a fully endowed scholarship. An anonymous donor provided the operational funds to begin awarding the scholarship until the endowment is reached.
About Gillian Murphy
Raised in Florence, S.C., Gillian Murphy began her ballet training at the age of three in Belgium and continued her ballet classes at the age of five in South Carolina.
After training in South Carolina as a member of the Columbia City Ballet, she continued her studies at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Under the tutelage of Melissa Hayden, she danced principal roles in several of the school’s ballet productions including The Nutcracker and George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, Western Symphony, Tarantella and Theme and Variations.
In 1994, at the age of 15, Murphy was a finalist at the Jackson International Ballet Competition. In 1995, she was awarded the Prix de Lausanne Espoir after performing the final round at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. In 1996, she was a National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts Level I awardee. In 1998, she was honored with a Princess Grace Foundation-USA grant. The Princess Grace Foundation awarded her its highest honor, the Statue Award, in 2009.
Murphy has appeared as a guest artist around the world, including Japan, Mexico, Chile, Greece, Germany, Italy, Canada and throughout the United States. She made her debut with the Mariinsky Ballet in March 2008, dancing Odette-Odile in Swan Lake. Other guest appearances include dancing with the Royal Swedish Ballet, the Kiev Ballet, the Staatsballett Berlin, and in the world premiere of a new production of The Nutcracker, directed and choreographed by Ethan Stiefel for the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. In 2012, Murphy became principal guest artist at the Royal New Zealand Ballet where she danced the title character in Giselle and leading roles in Balanchine’s Who Cares?, Andrew Simmons’ Of Days, and Stiefel’s Bierhalle.
Murphy joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in August 1996, was promoted to soloist in 1999 and principal dancer in 2002. Her repertoire with the Company includes Nikiya and Gamzatti in La Bayadère, the Ballerina in The Bright Stream, 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, the second girl in Fancy Free, Lise in La Fille mal gardée, the pas de deux Flames of Paris, Grand Pas Classique, Myrta in Giselle, the Queen of Hearts in Jeu de Cartes, Known by Heart pas de deux, Manon in Lady of the Camellias, Lescaut’s Mistress in Manon, the Sugar Plum Fairy in Kevin McKenzie’s The Nutcracker, Desdemona in Othello, Other Dances, Hagar in Pillar of Fire, Raymonda in Raymonda, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet (Romeo’s Farewell to 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, the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, the ballerina in Theme and Variations, and leading roles in Allegro Brillante, Bach Partita, 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, Duets, Études, From Here On Out, Gong, In The Upper Room, Meadow, Les Patineurs, Piano Concerto #1, Pretty Good Year, Push Comes to Shove, Sinfonietta, Les Sylphides and Symphonie Concertante. Murphy has also performed featured roles in Company B, The Elements, Overgrown Path and Without Words.
She created Clara, the Princess in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker and leading roles in Glow – Stop, Kaleidoscope, One of Three, Rabbit and Rogue, Thirteen Diversions and Within You Without You: A Tribute to George Harrison.
Murphy danced Odette-Odile in the ABT telecast of Swan Lake and also appeared in the ABT telecast of Le Corsaire. Other television credits include the Washington Opera’s Die Fledermaus and, in November 2010, an appearance on the series Gossip Girl. During November 1999, she also participated in the Melissa Hayden Project, part of the Balanchine Foundation’s video series filming dancers who worked with George Balanchine, teaching their roles to young performers. The Foundation filmed Hayden teaching Murphy the pas de deux from Stars and Stripes and Donizetti Variations. Murphy was seen in the feature film CENTER STAGE and also appeared in the sequel, CENTER STAGE 2: TURN IT UP.
In 2013, Murphy starred as Giselle in a Royal New Zealand Ballet movie produced by the New Zealand Film Commission.
About Florrie Geller
Florrie Geller began creative movement classes at Boston Ballet at the age of five, and subsequently took ballet lessons in Savannah, Ga. with Paula Deans Fichtenkort and Karena Brock Carlisle. At the age of nine, she attended the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) Young Dancer Summer Workshop, and she returned the following summer after the five-week summer course at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB).
She began pre-professional ballet training at CPYB at the age of 10 under the tutelage of Marcia Dale Weary, Leslie Hench, Laszlo Berdo and the faculty of CPYB. Florrie performed in all the CPYB productions while she trained there for three years, including Laszlo Berdo’s Peter Pan, Swan Lake, and Giselle. She received an Adopt-A-Dancer merit scholarship in 2011-2012. Geller was featured in Kelly Ann Sloan’s A Serious Sonata during 2011 Choreoplan, and danced in Sean Lavery’s Twinkliana, as well as the principal parts of Harlequin and Chinese Tea in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.
Geller received full-tuition merit scholarships to The School of American Ballet summer course in 2012 and 2014, as well as a full merit scholarship to Next Generation Ballet’s 2013 summer intensive.
In 2013, she became a trainee at the Patel Conservatory’s Next Generation Ballet. She studied with Peter Stark, Ivonne Lemus and the Next Generation faculty. In Spring of 2013, she danced the role of Aurora in the full length production of The Sleeping Beauty.
Geller won the gold medal in Junior Women’s Classical Ballet, and the bronze medal in Junior Women’s Contemporary Dance at the 2014 Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) Regional semifinal in Tampa, Fla. At the 2014 YAGP Finals in New York City, she danced in the final round at the David Koch Theater, and placed in the top 12 in the Junior Women’s category.
She will enter UNCSA as a high school freshman in August 2014.
As America’s first state-supported arts school, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts is a unique stand-alone public university of arts conservatories. With a high school component, UNCSA is a degree-granting institution that trains young people of talent in music, dance, drama, filmmaking, and design and production. Established by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, the School of the Arts opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.