Anglo-American ballerina Gillian Murphy has been dancing since the age of three, both in the United States and abroad. Murphy has been the subject of critical acclaim since the age of eleven, when she danced the Black Swan pas de deux. As a life-long dancer, Murphy has herself admitted that she has pushed her body to the limit, and even beyond. As a result, she’s had ankle injuries in the past few years that have required painful surgery.
Murphy recently performed in Known by Heart, a Twyla Tharp ballet, just after she had a painful ankle surgery. After performing en pointe for years, her ankle pain began to get overwhelming, requiring that she have the surgery even though it didn’t fit well with her schedule. Although she took a bit of time off to recover, she had to jump back in quickly to learn the “Junk Man” pas de deux with partner Blaine Hoven in time for the premier of the ballet in London.
Murphy used consistent physiotherapy as a learning tool to expand and extend her dance skills. Rather than be discouraged by her condition post-surgery, she absorbed all she could from her physiotherapist and came away from the experience transformed. Through physiotherapy she strengthened her left foot and was able to accomplish the difficult releve and slides en pointe that the pas de deux necessitates without a problem. She even found that after physiotherapy she had extended range of motion, controlled hyper-mobility and endurance. Most importantly, her frame of mind and focus never wavered. Even when she had to walk through several rehearsals because of her injury, she learned how maximize her dance skills through observation, even while injured, in physical therapy.
By the premier of the show, Gillian was able to turn any post-surgery doubts and jitters into adrenaline and excitement for the performance, and it showed: the show opened to very positive reviews.