Marguerite Donlon

PortraitMarguerite Donlon – ballet director

Marguerite Donlon, dancer, choreographer and ballet director, is regarded as one of the most innovative choreographers today. Her artistry knows neither limits nor age, her creative language incorporates not only dance, but installation and video works. Renowned for her wit and profundity in equal measure, she excites ballet and dance rapture among a remarkably heterogeneous audience. With her innovative style, her Irish humor and her use of different art forms, Marguerite Donlon has established herself and the company in the dance scene of Germany and abroad.                                                    German dance critic and chief editor of Tanz magazine Arnd Wesemann points out: “The cheeky Irish choreographer is tearing down the barriers between dance and bringing the ‘man from the street’ back into the theatre. Her work is far from all artistic ideology and simply incapable of boring her audience. Bridging the gap between classic and comic, avant-garde and Grand Guignol is so much fun that the fans of this former Peter Schaufuss and Deutsche Oper Berlin dancer accuse her of making her pieces too short. This is no ballet mouse turned choreographer but healthy common sense gone over into a humour attack in a profession that is usually not very detached from its own craft. That she’s no lone fighter in Saarbrücken but invites the most interesting choreographers to a double evening therefore feels more like a match and not a gala for the rejuvenation of ballet.” 

Prior to her exceptional career, Marguerite Donlon followed her very own path from the beginning. She was born in County Longford, Republic of Ireland. After a childhood of traditional Irish dance, Marguerite began her ballet studies with Anica Dawson and Dorothy Stevens at the late age of 16. Upon graduation she joined the English National Ballet under Peter Schaufuss and in 1990 became a solo dancer and choreographer with the Ballet of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, where she was able to work with Natalia Makarova, Rudolf Nurejew and Sir Kenneth MacMillan. Her repertory included a wide range of roles by leading choreographers of the twentieth century, amongst them Maurice Béjart, William Forsythe, Bill T. Jones, Meg Stuart and Jiří Kylián. 

In 2001, Marguerite Donlon was appointed director of the ballet of the Saarländisches Staatstheater. With the Donlon Dance Company, she has since formed a well-respected and highly demanded artistic ensemble that produced two dance films for ARTE and has been guesting extensively all over Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, USA, Ireland and South Korea. Marguerite Donlon is also Initiator and Artistic Director of the international dance festival “n.o.w. dance saar,” which was founded in 2006 and had its very successful third edition in 2011. In May 2012 she was confirmed member president of the National Board of German Ballet and Dance Theatre Directors, BBTK. 

Complementary to her work as director and choreographer in Saarbrücken, Marguerite Donlon increasingly made her mark with productions on the German and international ballet scene. She has been creating for numerous renowned ballet companies worldwide, amongst them the Vienna State Opera Ballet, the Nederlands Dans Theater II, the Stuttgart Ballet, the Ballet of the Komische Oper Berlin, the Companhia Nacional de Bailado and the Hubbard Street Dance Company, Chicago. For the “Beckett-Year” in 2006, she directed “Words and Music” and “Act without words 1” by Samuel Beckett, commissioned by the Théâtre National du Luxembourg, which were also performed at the “Ruhrfestspiele” in Recklinghausen. In July 2010, she worked as director and choreographer on Maurice Ravel’s “L’enfant et les Sortilèges” for the Korean National Opera and Korean National Ballet. “Labyrinth of love”, her latest guest choreography and signature piece for the Rambert Dance Company in London, premiered in October 2012 in England.  

Over the years, Marguerite Donlon has staged a number of refreshing brushed-up versions of ballet classics and much praised world premieres. Her nominations for the prestigious “Prix Benois de la Danse” 2007 and for the German Theater Award “Der Faust” 2007 testify to that. She was awarded the Order of Merit of the Saarland State in 2007 and appointed member of the prestigious Global Irish Network in summer 2012.