Gillian Murphy Critical of “Black Swan”

Apparently, Gillian Murphy gave an interview to the L.A. Times in which she called Black Swan unrepresentative of the ballet world and said she was a little disturbed by its intentionally overdone darkness. She says in her experience the lecherousness of the artistic director is fake (thankfully!) as is the competitiveness within the company, though she admits it’s competitive to get into a big company in the first place. I would have thought it would be competitive within a company as well, but from the time I’ve spent around ABT and NYCB dancers (and from reading their blogs) it does seem that the dancers are very supportive of each other. And the support doesn’t seem false, like it’s forced whenever outsiders are around, but genuine. Look at how everyone came to the support of Jenifer Ringer over Macaulay’s snarky comment about her weight.

But apparently Dancing on My Grave presents another story. Maybe things have really changed since then.

Interestingly the article mistakenly calls Murphy British (as if they’re trying to present her as uppity toward Hollywood). She’s American though, and has never seemed the least bit snobbish, imo.

Above, Gillian with Ethan Stiefel in Swan Lake (as the white swan! 🙂 ); photo by Fabrizio Ferri, from here.


  1. Forgive my English but she’s full of sh*t. Her comments are ridiculous. Doesn’t sound like she’s ever even been to the ballet.

    • Stephanie Phillips

      Oh, she’s been to the ballet. She’s even been in quite a few!

      • Thank you Stephanie 😀

        Jonathan, you really have to see her in Swan Lake! She’s the best, imo.

        Someone told me, in response to this post, that Gillian works for a particular company in which the A.D. is not lecherous, or known for being so, so that is probably one reason she has this take. If I were a ballerina I would definitely want to be in ABT.

        • I saw her in Swan Lake, Murphy is astonishing in her performance. In fact the work done in the movie looks rather amateurish once I watched her Swan Lake performance. It’s on You Tube 35 acts.

    • You wonder if the greatest ballerina known has ever been to the Ballet? You must not know much of the the world of Ballet.

    • Thank you for linking to that, Dea – I hadn’t seen it! It’s interesting because NYCB hardly ever does Swan Lake, or any of the story ballets – they mainly do abstract modern or Balanchine ballets. I thought it was just last season that they began to have a classical winter repertoire. I bet Tina Brown’s people looked for someone in NYCB to write about Black Swan since that’s Millepied’s company. She writes really well!

  2. I personally think that papers shouldn’t even have reviews. People need to make up their own minds. If you listen to other people to do it for it, it just leads to bad things

  3. I believe I have seen her in Swan Lake, but it was 4 or 5 years ago at the Kennnedy Center in Washington, DC. Although it may have been Michele Wiles. Regardless, each one of them is the best. I was wondering if you and any other ballet aficiandos can help me out here if you feel comfortable giving your opinion. I have never been able to figure out why Sascha Radetsky has not been promoted to principal. Any thoughts?

  4. If you’ve never seen Gillian Murphy perform as the Swan Queen and Black Swan visit my blog.

    Gillian Murphy is probably the foremost ballerina on earth, no lie she is exquisite!

    However Murphy doesn’t seem to realize that Black Swan is not a documentary about the world of Ballet. Black Swan is about one woman’s journey into madness and redemption and the horror therein. Black Swan is about repressed sexuality since Nina was a borderline personality.

    However with the grace and fluidity that Ms. Murphy has, well she isallowed to say whatever she wants as long as she dances.

  5. I don’t know if I buy the “they really seem to get along” thing. Remember, Tonya, you are a part of the press. And those blogs are just as much marketing material as anything else.
    In a way, I miss the bad old days. When everyone wore their crazy on their sleeve. It now seems more honest. But, anyway. I really agree with you on the point that “Black Swan” is not a documentary. I think Gillian Murphy should relax.

  6. The truth is, like most movies about dance, Black Swan doesn’t portray dance companies the way they really are (or Swan Lake the way it really is). No dancer is going to become a principal in a large company unless they already possess the artistic maturity to be able to perform a role like Odette/Odile. You simply cannot make it that high on technique alone. Furthermore, Black Swan is actually the more technically challenging part and White Swan is more about artistry and expression, so they got that backward. But my main issue with Black Swan is that in any large company, the principal roles in classical ballets (such as Swan Lake) are not given to a single dancer but are shared among all the principals and even some of the up-and-coming soloists. So the premise of the movie, that a dancer thinks she’s being replaced, is just not realistic because that’s not what happens. Maybe she wouldn’t get to perform on opening night, but if the director had doubts about her ability to perform the role, that probably means she’s not first cast anyway.

  7. Black swan may be extremely insulting to the ballet world but the acting done by Natalie and all the rest of the cast was really professional and believable,

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