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Maria Nurmela is a Finnish choreographer, and performer who has been working as a freelance dance artist since 2002. She has a background in contemporary dance and performance and has worked in various contexts, including stage performances performed in major festivals, short films, digital projects, museum events, and public engagement projects. Maria's artistic creations often incorporate somatic-informed and interdisciplinary practices, site responsiveness, visual elements, and lighting design created from recycled materials. Her works aim to connect with a diverse range of humanity, while also considering non-human entities.

Her works explore subjects such as the body, movement, space, literary sources, sound design, moving images, and dialogue. Maria's creative process involves blending different artistic fields to form a unique formal language and entity. One of Maria's notable works is "Falling Through The Disappearing Light 2021," which premiered at the Turku Art House in November 2021. The piece is based on the fairy tale "the little match girl" by H.C. Andersen.

Maria's works have been presented at various festivals in Finland and abroad, including prestigious venues like Critical Path Sydney (2019) and Palais de Tokyo Museum Paris (2018) and as the first-ever performance in the new House of Arts of the City of Turku. She collaborates regularly with Finnish filmmaker Vesa Loikas, and their short film "ECHOES / Kaikuja" (2020) was nominated for the Prix Lumière Prize 2022 at the Cinedansé Festival in Quebec, Canada.

Since 2017, Maria has been leading The Days Project alongside Finnish dance artist Ville Oinonen. The project began as a commission for a work they could perform together following their successful careers as freelance dance artists. English choreographer and designer Theo Clinkard created a work with them, emphasizing co-authorship through a practice that is rewritten by Maria and Ville for every performance. The Days have toured extensively in Finland and internationally, including Europe, Russia-Siberia, Canada, and the UK. The project aims to engage with local communities and break down hierarchies between performers and movers. Maria and Ville also conduct workshops for movers aged 65 and older in each location where The Days are performed, providing creative and social engagement opportunities.


Maria´s engagements as a performer within contemporary dance and theatre include works with Susanne Linke, Susanna Leinonen Company, Yuval Pick, Ip Tanz-Ilona Pasthy, Kolmas Tila Theatre, Helsinki University Theatre,  Duv Teatern and many others.

Her longest artistic engagement has been with Finnish choreographer Tero Saarinen. Maria has been a part of the Tero Saarinen Company since 2003, working as a dancer, repetitor, and teacher of Saarinen's movement technique, and leading the company's social outreach project, Apollo, from 2012 to 2016. She has toured extensively with the company and appeared in festivals, dance theatres, and dance films worldwide.

In addition to her work as a freelance dance artist, Maria Nurmela teaches contemporary dance, movement, and dance pedagogy. She mentors and serves as an advisor in different institutions, including the Theater Academy of the University of Arts in Helsinki and Helsinki Summer University. Maria is also a board member of the Regional Dance Centre of Western Finland. Her artistic contributions have been recognized, and she has received grants, awards, and residencies, including the ABOA artistic grant, Hellerau - European Center for Contemporary Art residency, Saari Residency (Kone Foundation), and the Bogliasco Foundation's Fellowship. In 2016, she was named the first House Artist/Choreographer within the Regional Dance Center of Western Finland.

Maria Nurmela holds an MA in Dance (Pedagogy) from the University of Arts Helsinki - Theater Academy and a BA in Dance from Folkwang University. She has also studied Dance and Movement Therapy at the Eino Roiha Institute at the University of Jyväskylä. Currently (2021-), Maria is studying to become a Feldenkrais practitioner at the Institute Feldenkrais Madrid.






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