Tilman O'Donnell was born in Boston, Massachusetts to a German mother and American father.
He trained at the National Ballet School in Toronto, Canada and joined The Göteborg Ballet under the direction of Anders Hellström. In 2002 Tilman worked at the Staatstheater Saarbrücken. Thereafter he joined the Cullberg Ballet from 2003 until 2007. Tilman was a member of The Forsythe Company in Frankfurt from 2007-2012 and a guest artist until 2015. Tilman worked as rehearsal director for the Goteborgs Operans Danskompani in 2014.
Tilman made his debut as a choreographer in 2002 and has been awarded first prize in two international choreographic competitions. In 2005 he was appointed both 'Dancer To Watch" and "Choreographer To Watch" by the leading European magazine Ballet Tanz. In 2011 he created two site-specific works for Cullberg Ballet in Stockholm. In 2012 he created the piece "August did not have what is commonly considered good taste as far as furniture is concerned.." He has also created works for Spira Jönköping under the banner Cullberg To Come (Word of Mouth) and a piece for Staatstheater Graz.
In 2014, Tilman was invited to be artist in residence together with Cyril Baldy at Centre Choreographique Circuit-Est / Goethe Institut Montreal. In 2015 he created the solo Whatever Singularity #453: Solo For Maxime / Dancing With Alain for the Göteborgs Operans Danskompani, and toured the work to the Nordwind Festival in autumn 2015. A work for full dancer orchestra , entitled In LIfe & Love & So On, premiered in October 2015 at The Royal Danish Ballet, Copenhagen. Shortly thereafter, he created These & Those & Upon Us (with Cyril Baldy) for the University of Dance, Copenhagen, Denmark. In addition, he created In Some Sense (with guitarist Mikkel Ploug), premiered at Jazz Days in Koge, Denmark. The work is slated for expansion in 2018. Tilman returned to Montreal with Cyril Baldy in 2016 to create the site specific piece Whateverness Singularities in collaboration with Montreal based artists Hanako Hoshimi-Caines, Dana Michel, Adam Kinner, and Jacob Wren.
In addition, Tilman teaches workshops internationally and is a member of the artist platform HOOD, a long term collaborative format supported by PACT Zollverein in Essen, Germany.
In 2015, he was named Hoffnungsträger by the prominent European dance journal Tanz.