” Dance as a full engagment of the body and mind has moved me deeply since my childhood. Through movement I can process intimate and delicate things that would be hard to be expressed verbally or by other means. Through dance I am able to express worlds of imagination within the depths of reality in the most accurate and deep way. ” (Maria Nurmela)
Since my graduation in 2002 at the Folkwang University, the prestigious school of Pina Bausch and German dance theatre tradition, I have been working professionally both in Finland as well as internationally in the field of contemporary dance, theatre and performance. I have had the priviledge to work as a dancer with some of the artforms most creatively interesting choreographers such as Susanne Linke, Yuval Pick, Malou Airaudo and Alan Danielson among many others.
My longest artistic engagement is, however, with the Finnish choreographer Tero Saarinen. I have worked in Saarinen`s internationally acclaimed company, Tero Saarinen Company, since 2003 as a dancer (10 creations in total), as a repetitor in the Company´s repertoire, as a teacher of Saarinen´s movement technique and leading the company´s social outreach project Apollo in years 2012-2016. I have been regularly touring with TSC and appeared at festivals and dance theatres throughout Europe, US, Australia; as well as in dance films, such as A Chair Fit for Angel by Canadian director Raymond St-Jean featuring Tero Saarinen´s Borrowed Light ("Best Canadian Film" and the "ICI ARTV Award for Best French Canadian Production" at the 32nd FIFA International Festival of Films on Art).
My own choreographic work consists of site specific performances and installations often created in collaboration with interdisciplinary crews, such as the art collective Andrea O. ( 2011 Finland) among others. Her productions have been performed at Sibelius Museum (Turku, Finland), Stadttheatre Fürth (Germany), Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova Museum for contemporary art (Turku, Finland), the World Congress of Art therapy (Lucca, Italy) and at New York’s modern dance mecca Judson Memorial Church by the Movement Research. In my own creative processes she usually combines different theatrical tools - music, text, movement to enable the discovery of new artistic entities and ways to engage with the contemporary art world. Music has also played an important role in my own projects, since studying piano, the theory and history of music and singing since her childhood . This passion has brougth me to collaborate with musicians like the Finnish jazz pianist Kari Ikonen and institutions such as The Turku Philharmonic Orchestra and its conductor Leif Segerstam commissioning one of her choreographies for Jean Sibelius´ composition Scaramouche (2014).
I regularly teach and lecture future dance and theatre professionals, dance lovers and enthusiasts at institutions such as the University of Arts Helsinki - Theater Academy, The Finnish National Opera Ballet School, Tanssikoulu Tanssitiimi, as well as I have been involved in special pegagogigal projects such as Tero Saarinen Company´s community outreach project Apollo tanssii! (2012-2016).
My artistry have been recognized in Ballet/Tanz Year Book 2008 when I was nominated as one of the most remarkable female contemporary dancers in Europe. I have also been awarded by numerous grants, awards and residencies among the Saari Residency (Kone Foundation) and the Bogliasco Foundation´s Fellowship. In Autumn 2016 I will be working as the House Artist/Choreographer within The Regional Dance Center of Western Finland.
I hold an MA in Dance (pedagogy) from the University of Arts Helsinki - Theater Academy, an BA in Dance from Folkwang University. I have as well studied Dance and Movement Therapy at Eino Roiha Institute in University of Jyväskylä (2013-2014).
” Maria Nurmela dances with her full senses and tuning with her surroungings in those partially unexpected situation. Fascinating encounters and dialogue happen between her and people passing by. What a brilliant artistic sensitivity she has. ” (The city of people by FREEkollektivi&Anniina Kumpuniemi. Mia Hannula. Turun Sanomat 2015)
” Nurmela´s choreography for Passion, is a must ” (Passion - love according G.H.Kolmas Tila. Jouko Grönholm.Teatteri ja Tanssi 3/2015)
” Each dancer was a jewel, but I was especially taken with Maria Nurmela’s melting quality in Wavelengths.” (Wavelenghts by Tero Saarinen Company at the John F. Kennedy Center. Sarah Kaufman, Washington Post 2013)
”..Maria Nurmela also stood out with her bizarre mix of sad and manic expressionism coupled with a soft, adagio movement quality.” (Next of Kin Tero Saarinen Company 2008. Graham Watts, Ballet. Co)