Gelsey Kirkland received her early training at the School of American Ballet, dancing children’s roles in Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Harlequinade. She graduated to the New York City Ballet in 1968, was promoted to soloist in 1970, and principal dancer in 1972. She performed a variety of leading roles in their repertory, including Concerto Barocco, The Cage, Irish Fantasy, Symphony in C, La Source, Theme and Variations, Tarantella, Harlequinade, The Nutcracker, and Dances at a Gathering.
In 1974, by invitation of Baryshnikov, Gelsey joined American Ballet Theater as principal dancer. She received worldwide acclaim for her performances as: the title role in Giselle, Kitri in Don Quixote, Clara in The Nutcracker, Swanhilda in Coppélia, Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, the sylph in La Sylphide, Lise in La Fille Mal Gardée, Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, Nikiya in The Kingdom of the Shades, the Mazurka and pas de deux in Les Sylphides, and the sleepwalker in La Sonnambula.
Ms. Kirkland appeared as a guest in The Sleeping Beauty and MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet with The Royal Ballet at Covent Garden, and in Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet with The Stuttgart Ballet. She performed the balcony pas de deux with Anthony Dowell at Queen Elizabeth’s 60th Birthday Gala .
Her appearances on American and British television include Live from Lincoln Center and the film version of Baryshnikov’s The Nutcracker.
In 1986 Ms. Kirkland transitioned into teaching and coaching at American Ballet Theatre, The Royal Ballet School, English National Ballet, and The Australian Ballet. She was Professor of Dance at Adelphi University, taught at the Victorian College of the Arts, and was director of the ballet program at Danceworld 301. Ms. Kirkland studied the Vaganova Method at the Victorian College of the Arts. She continued intensive teacher training under Nina Osipyan.
In 2006-2008 she collaborated with Kevin McKenzie and Michael Chernov in the staging and additional choreography for The Sleeping Beauty for American Ballet Theatre, as well as appearing as the Fairy Carabosse in that production. Read less