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"What draws me in when I choreograph? Actually, a more accurate question might be, what can I choreograph during a time when the world is in turmoil, from the crises of climate change to erupting wars; when humanity is relative, and one person's voice gets drowned in various noises? And, beings of other species are still less privileged than us.

I am interested in empathetic and dialogical processes. Personal stories, the uniqueness and diversity of others, otherness, and engaging in dialogue to explore what happens between 'Me' and 'You,' whether I am another human or a different species, attract me."


- Maria Nurmela.

I am drawn to tactile sensations, sensory experiences, stories beneath the surface, and processes that emanate strongly from the body but are permeated by various artistic languages.

Movement is my medicine and the foundation of my existence, but also the source of my work, thought, emotion, cognitive and physical processes, and holistic events. I am intrigued by how I can make the audience experience movement in their bodies, as a visceral happening, personally. Perhaps that's why I have created several site-specific works, as the audience can be involved in so many ways and be in the midst of the performance world.

In the process shared with lighting designer Kalle Ropponen and sound designer Jaakko Vastapuu in 2016, we sought minimalism, the most distilled form of artistic language, and asked how with minimal materials, technical elements, and things, we could create a complete and coherent performance. Our collaborative work, 'Closer to the Wild Heart,' was based on the Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector's novel of the same name, an existential and philosophical work. This led us to explore the use of ecologically sustainable theater technology, minimizing electricity consumption, using anything other than the massive spots of the theater machinery as light sources, for example. This theme has continued in all my works since then. Expressiveness, despite technical minimalism, and coherent expression in each work are central questions for me; questions that, in my opinion, we should consider more in performing arts in this era from various perspectives.

In my ongoing work, 'Entanglement / Skin Rivers,' which I am developing with filmmaker Vesa Loikka, we also contemplate our existence as fellow beings with non-human companions. What kind of work can we create together with beings other than humans, what kind of choreography and narratives emerge during our coexistence? What is the ethics of working with other species? The result will be a hybrid, as our working location, a nature reserve, simply cannot bring the audience."


I usually start my creative process by designing a scenario or life situation that encourages the exploration of various forms of movement and facilitates the development of an embodied sensitivity aligned with the chosen theme for the project. In the beginning, we might also watch documentaries, delve collaboratively  into relevant literature, and engage in discussions that pertain to the project's theme. Transitioning between the cognitive and embodied aspects is  both intriguing and challenging but I make a conscious effort to ensure there's room for intuitive and inexplicable elements, embracing the unknown.

I employ empathetic observation and am open to wholeheartedly accepting input from my colleagues throughout the process. Over time, certain elements begin to surface and gain significance. I collect these discoveries, conduct further research, contemplate, sketch, reevaluate, and experiment, often starting with personal exploration and then proposing additional investigations for my collaborators.

At a particular point in the process, we amass a significant body of material. It is at this juncture that I suggest initiating an durational exploration of the themes that have emerged during the course of the creative process. These themes encompass fragments of movement material, some generated by me and others collaboratively, chunks of text, set materials, and sounds, all of which I suggest to be woven into a dialogue. This dialogue can have varying durations, spatial parameters, embodied actions, or kinetic qualities as sub-themes. These explorations become a regular part of your daily rehearsal process. During this phase, I constantly shift between zooming in on micro elements and exploring macro concepts, constructing the world within which our creative "creature" will reside.

In the end, through crafting, experimenting, making mistakes, immersing both mentally and physically in the process at both cognitive and physical levels, that 'work' begins to emerge and crystallize into a distinct and authentic whole.

I consistently find it fascinating how the initial ideas conceived at the start of the process or when creating the new work, often evolve into different central elements that shape the entire creative endavour. To navigate this journey, my biggest task is to be present, maintaining a heightened awareness, trusting my intuition, and placing faith in the intelligence of ideas conceived in the moment. My practice of Feldenkrais plays a crucial role in this, as it nurtures my ability to remain calm and open to sensory experiences.

Photo: Vesa Loikas 

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