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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.

O'ROURKE, Marina

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O'ROURKE, Marina. A ballerina and director of the Dubuque Academy of Ballet and the Dubuque City Youth Ballet (DCYB), Marina was the daughter of famed dancer Tatiana Bechenora O'ROURKE began her training at the Academy of Ballet and continued in Chicago, Kansas City and Minneapolis with Stone/Camryn, the Dukodowskys and Loyce Houlton. She was a scholarship student at the Oklahoma University School of Ballet from which she she graduated and received the Outstanding Student and Choreography awards. Following graduation, O'Rourke studied at the International School of Ballet in Cannes, France, completed three teachers courses with renowned Master Teacher, David Howard and in 1979 spent five weeks at Her Majesty's Roya Academy of Dance in London. (1) She danced with the famed Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and performed in the original production of Rogers and Hammerstein's, "Carousel." (2)

O'Rourke served as president of the Iowa Dance Council and as a consultant to the Iowa Arts Council. She was a faculty member in the Drama Department at CLARKE COLLEGE and an artist-in-residence for the Washington and Roosevelt Middle Schools performing arts programs. In the fall of 2008, she served as Artist-in-Residence for the Dubuque Arts Council. With students from the Academy, she annually hosted Dubuque area students during the "Arts Trek" programs to introduce the arts.

Writing was added to O'Rourke's repertoire of skills. In 2010 O'Rourke was director of the Academy and instructor. She was also the director of the DCYB and the Heartland Ballet. In 1987 she unveiled the "Concert Company," an elite group of nineteen students chosen from the fifty students "gleaned" from the Dubuque City Youth Ballet Company for the Academy of Ballet. These nineteen were given professional material and more demanding choreography. (3) She has staged all the most famous ballets, created numerous original ballets, and in 2002, wrote the original ballet/play "The Golden Glow" performed at the FIVE FLAGS CIVIC CENTER. She staged two dozen musicals with university, high and middle schools and choreographed both GET THE LEAD OUT and JOE SENT ME! musicals dealing with Dubuque history. In 2009 the Dubuque City Youth Ballet under her direction performed "Coppelia, The Doll That Came to Life." (4) The ballet company presented "Swan Lake" in 2014. (5) In 2015 she wrote and choreographed "The Fairest of Them All" based on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" with music composed by David Resnick. (6)



1. Johnson, Elaine, "Steel Tempered by Discipline," Telegraph Herald, April 22, 1979, p. 8

2. Meslar, Eileen, "Dance," Telegraph Herald, February 4, 2018, p. 25

3. Blocker, Sue, "Dance Company Offers the Creme de la Creme," Telegraph Herald, March 19, 1987, p. 9

4. Advertisement, Telegraph Herald, March 8, 2009, p. 9

5. Advertisement, Telegraph Herald, April 2, 2014, p. 32

6. Advertisement, Telegraph Herald, March 13, 2015, p. 17