Longford honours renowned ballet director and choreographer

Longford honours renowned ballet director and choreographer

A civic reception was held at Aras an Chontae last week to honour Marguerite Donlon for her distinguished career as a ballet dancer, choreographer, artistic director and her critically acclaimed achievements in the world of dance. 


Described as an innovative and unique creator, her ideas have pushed artistic limits just as her rich creative language melds art forms. 

Known by her audiences for balancing the witty and the profound, she has excited the dance world with a freshness that never strays far from reality. 

The Longford woman’s innovative style – creative rigour laced with Irish humour - has secured her a unique position, and a loyal following in the dance world.

Marguerite Donlon has always followed her own path but was not shy to point out that much of her talents were inspired by her parents Tom and Johanna.

She began her ballet studies with Anica Dawson (Shawbrook) and Dorothy Stevens at the relatively late age of 16. 

Describing the honour bestowed on her last Friday evening, she said, “To be recognised by your own hometown is probably the sweetest recognition of all and to share it with so many of you means so much”. 

Marguerite went on to say that there had been many doors on her journey that she had been privileged to open.

She then pointed to the many people who had held the keys to those doors and who had subsequently accompanied her to receive her honour at Aras an Chontae.  

“Naturally I have to start with my parents - my mother and my father,” she smiled. 

“My father who was never, ever held back showing his pride on each milestone and who encouraged me forward all the time, but who is most probably credited with the beautiful feet I got as a dancer - they are his! 

“My mother who somehow made me believe by her sheer extravagance as she danced through the house while cooking and cleaning that she was a Hollywood movie star inspired me greatly.

“I became hooked into the wonderful world of theatre and especially dance and a world in which, literally, dreams can come true.”

She also took time to acknowledge the support of her sister, Lynn and brother, Tom.

From 2001 to 2013, Marguerite Donlon was the director of the ballet of the Saarländisches Staatstheater. 

Her ‘Donlon Dance Company’ became a well-respected and in-demand artistic ensemble behind more than 30 productions and two dance films for Franco-German television station ARTE. 

The company has guested extensively all over Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, USA, Ireland, South Korea, China, and Italy. 

Coaching has always been an anchor of Donlon’s dance work, and since 2014 she is an accredited business coach specialising in creative thinking, team-building and empowerment.

“Thank God,” she continued, “For Slashers and Scor na nÓg and Scór because they gave me my first opportunity to perform on stage and I loved it.

“Then  Anica Dawson took me on even though I was 16-years-old and thank God she did; she never let me go; she encouraged my parents to let me go to England and at the tender age of 16, I packed my bags and off I went.”

Upon graduation Marguerite 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. 

There she worked with legends such as Natalia Makarova, Rudolf Nurejev and Sir Kenneth MacMillan. 

Her repertory covered the twentieth century choreographers, including Maurice Béjart, William Forsythe, Bill T. Jones, Meg Stuart and Jiří Kylián.

She met many people along the way who saw her raw talent and supported it.  

“Yes, I did work hard; it was hard, hard work,” she continued, before pointing out that there were also many painful as well as joyous moments along the way.”

To read the story in full, see this week’s Longford Leader.