Meet Elizabeth Murphy, PNB's Newest Principal

Christmas came early this year for Elizabeth Murphy. Last Friday, the Pacific Northwest Ballet dancer made her debut as the Sugar Plum Fairy in the company premiere of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker. But the excitement didn't stop there. Just before the curtain rose, she was promoted to principal. For Pointe‘s bi-weekly newsletter, we caught up with Murphy during rehearsals for the holiday classic.

Murphy in costume as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Photo by Lindsay Thomas, Courtesy PNB.

What is it like to learn such an iconic role?

The whole first day of rehearsal I had butterflies. Growing up, I watched every single Nutcracker performance I could, and I loved seeing Julie Diana do the role at Pennsylvania Ballet. When I started to learn Sugar Plum, I even remembered how she did a certain arm, and I wanted to do that, too.

What do you hope to bring to the role?

I always think it's nice to see dancers be themselves. That was something I learned from Violette Verdy when she worked with us on Jewels. She would give us so many things to think about, but at the end of the day, she'd say, "Just be yourself." It was really freeing to hear that.

Do you have a favorite moment in this version?

For sentimental reasons, I love the part with the angels. There's something so sweet about the little girls onstage, and I was an angel when I was younger.

This production has all new costumes. What are they like?

Ian Falconer, who did "Olivia the Pig," designed them. They have this fantastical feel, very vivid colors and a lot of sparkles. I don't think I've ever seen a purple Sugar Plum costume, but it makes a lot of sense to me!

 

For more news on all things ballet, don’t miss a single issue.

Latest Posts


Pacific Northwest Ballet's Sarah-Gabrielle Ryan, photographed by Jayme Thornton for Pointe

The Radiant Sarah-Gabrielle Ryan: Why She's One to Watch at Pacific Northwest Ballet

Hollywood could make a movie about Sarah-Gabrielle Ryan's big break at Pacific Northwest Ballet.

It was November 2017, and the company was performing Crystal Pite's film-noir–inspired Plot Point, set to music by Bernard Hermann from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. Ryan, then a first-year corps member, originally was understudying the role of another dancer. But when principal Noelani Pantastico was injured in a car accident, Ryan was tapped to take over her role.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Elliot deBruyn, Courtesy BalletX

Don’t Miss These Virtual World Premieres Happening in March

As the ballet world pushes into spring, companies across the country are adapting to the pandemic by premiering new digital works, wrapping up virtual seasons and engaging in artistic collaborations. Here are a few of the world-premiere digital programs on tap this month.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

Dancing in a Mask? 6 Products to Keep Maskne at Bay

Wearing a mask while dancing in exchange for finally getting back into the studio seems like a small price to pay—though it doesn't make maskne any less pesky.

But the irritation and acne caused by sweating in a mask doesn't have to be part of the equation. To clear up breakouts and prevent new ones from popping up post-rehearsal, Dr. Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Entière Dermatology, explains the importance of a strong (but simple) skin-care routine.

"Masks cause heat, friction and occlusion on the skin," says Levin, who trained in ballet through her teenage years. Combine that with the sweat that gets trapped by your mask and you've got the perfect environment for clogged pores and bacteria overgrowth. Levin notes that the best approach for clear skin is to consistently use a gentle cleanser in the morning and at night, followed by a lightweight moisturizer, and a topical cream with an active ingredient to treat and prevent breakouts.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks