Gelsey Kirkland is an American ballerina. Kirkland joined the New York City Ballet in 1968 at age 15, at the invitation of George Balanchine. She was promoted to soloist in 1969, and principal in 1972.
She went on to create leading roles in many of the great twentieth century ballets by Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, and Antony Tudor, including Balanchine’s revival of The Fire bird, Robbins’ Goldberg Variations, and Tudor’s The Leaves are Fading. Balanchine re-choreographed his version of Stravinsky’s The Fire bird specifically for her. She left the New York City Ballet to join the American Ballet Theatre in 1974.