Gelsey Kirkand was born in Pennsylvania in 1952. When she was fifteen George Balanchine asked her to join the New York City Ballet; two years later she became Soloist. Balanchine created his new Firebird with her as the lead. In 1974 she left the NYCB and joined the American Ballet Theatre as a principal dancer opposite Mikhail Baryshnikov. She is now retired from performing and has become an inspired teacher and coach.