Margaret Illmann was born in Adelaide and was trained at the Australian Ballet School.
She received a scholarship to train at the ballet school of the Paris Opera.
In 1985 she joined the Australian Ballet and became a soloist in 1988. In 1989 she
became a member of the National Ballet of Canada and was promoted to principal dancer
Margaret Illmann interrupted her career in Canada in 1993 to take on the leading role in the musical "The Red Shoes" on Broadway.
She came to Germany in 1996, initially for two seasons as principal dancer with the Stuttgart Ballet and then in the 1999/2000 season as a guest artist with the Deutsche Oper Berlin. She is currently a guest appearing as Giselle at the Deutsche Staatso per Berlin. In the course of her extensive international guesting she has danced with many different companies such as the New York City Ballet, the English National Ballet, and the ballet companies of La Scala in Milan, Rome Opera and San Carlo in Nap les. In addition she has danced with the Hamburg Ballet John Neumeier, the Dresden Ballet and the Bavarian State Ballet in Munich.
Her repertoire ranges from all major classical roles to those of modern ballet. She has danced , to give but one example, the role of Juliet in four different choreographies (Amodio, Cranko, Neumeier, Vàmos). In addition she has danced works by Ashton, Balanchine, Béjart, Deane, Kylián, MacMillan, van Manen, Petit, Preljocaj, Robbins, Scholz, Spoerli and Taylor amongst others.
Amedeo Amodio, Mauro Bigonzetti, David Bintley, Luciano Cannito, William Forsythe, James Kudelka, Lar Lubovitch, Graeme Murphy, John Neumeier, Ricardo Nunez, David Parsons, Glen Tetley and most recently Marguerite Dolon have created new choreographies with Margaret Illmann.
Her partners have included Roberto Bolle, Fernando Bujones, José Manuel Carreno, Vladimir Derevianko, Thomas Edur, Maximiliano Guerra, Rex Harrington, Vladimir Malakhov, Oliver Matz, Massimo Murru, Raimondo Rebeck, Lloyd Riggins and Robert Tewsley.
Margaret Illmann has won many prizes for her work as an artist, e.g. the Theatre World Award and the Fred Astaire Prize; she was nominated by the New York Drama Desk Association as the best leading female performer in a musical and she was nominated for the Prix Benois de la Danse 2000 for her interpretation of the role of Titania in Heinz Spoerli's "A Midsummer Night's Dream". She has been voted several times the most outstanding female dancer in the annual international critics' survey of dance-international was awarded the 2000 critics' prize by the Berliner Zeitung.