Murray Kilgour

Senior Ballet Teacher, Professional Division

Murray Kilgour is one of the world’s most respected dance educators. Mr. Kilgour started his early dance training in Vancouver with Kay Armstrong. He continued at Canada's National Ballet School with the legendary Betty Oliphant, as well as Daniel Sellier, Alex Ursuliak and Nancy Schwenker. He has studied character dance with Eugenie Farmanyants and Kira Zatzepina of the Bolshoi Ballet School, as well as classical ballet with Eugine Volukin, who is now head of Teacher Training at the Bolshoi Ballet School.                  

In 1967, Mr. Kilgour joined the National Ballet of Canada, where he danced many soloist and principal roles. He left Canada in 1971 and joined the Royal Ballet, Covent Garden. In 1973, he joined Sadlers Wells Royal Ballet (now Birmingham Royal Ballet), where he was a soloist and principal dancer. During his performing career he danced in ballets by Sir Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, John Cranko, Flemming Flindt, Mikhail Fokine, Celia Franca, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Heinz Poll, Antony Tudor and Sir Peter Wright.                                       

As a teacher, Mr. Kilgour studied educational methods at the Paris Opera School, the School of American Ballet and the State School in the former East Berlin. He took summer courses at the St. Petersburg Ballet School (the Maryinski). From 1980 to 1989, Mr. Kilgour taught at the Royal Ballet School­ – both the Junior School (White Lodge) and the Upper School – teaching classical dance for boys, pas de deux, repertoire and character repertoire. Among his students was the Yorkshire boy whose determination to study ballet inspired the movie Billy Elliot. In 1984, Mr. Kilgour and his wife Nancy travelled to Beijing, China on a cultural exchange to teach ballet and repertoire at the Central School of Ballet (China's National School). They took two students with them, including Billy Elliot, who is now a ballet master at the Royal Ballet. Adam Cooper, the Tony Award-winning dancer who portrayed the adult Billy at the end of the film, was also a student of Mr. Kilgour's at the Royal Ballet School.

Prior to his return to Canada, Mr. Kilgour was senior male teacher at Central School of Ballet in London, England. As Head of Male Dance he was instrumental in developing all aspects of course work for the boys' training, which included in-service development of a three-year course of study involving classical dance, repertoire and pas de deux. He also assisted Ballet Central (the graduating-year performing group) with their productions, including setting works from the classical repertoire, Bournonville repertoire and works of Ashton and MacMillan. In 2000, Mr. Kilgour taught as a guest with the National Ballet of Canada and the National Ballet School.

Many of Mr. Kilgour's students have gone on to notable dance careers. These dancers have become choreographers and principal and soloist dancers with companies such as Nederlands Dance Theatre, the Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Stuttgart Ballet and Tokyo Ballet.

Return to Artistic Staff