Marja Koponen

As a London-based freelance dance artist from Finland I have experience from two different dance scenes, which has shaped me into a strong individual with a great ability to adjust, challenge, and create.  Physical movement brings me to a place of bodily and emotional excitement that I want my audience to experience through my performance.


Education and Further Training

Laban, The City University, London – September 2005 - July 2008                                                    Bachelor of Arts with Honours: Class Two Division One (BA Dance Theatre programme)

Sibelius Upper Secondary School, Helsinki, Finland – September 2002 - June 2005                Matriculation Examination (A-levels equivalent): Finnish (Mother Tongue) M, English E, Swedish E, German C, Sciences (Philosophy, Biology) E, Advanced Mathematics E and Contemporary Dance 5.  Grading scale: L/5=A*, E/5=A, M/4=B, C/3=C, B/2=D, A/1=E, I/0=U

Helsinki Dance Institute, Helsinki, Finland – August 1991 - present                                         Contemporary dance, ballet, jazz dance, contemporary African dance, and improvisation

Workshops attended: Lyrical jazz by Val Suarez in 2008, Contemporary African dance by Marika Kalenius; various since 2003, Music Making course in 2007, Pilates by Hely Järvinen in 2004, Mattox technique by Tarja Rinne in 2004

Performance Experience

May -September 2009 – Chasing Shadows, GV Art, London                                                                            A series of dance pieces integrated with Sally McKay’s first solo exhibition of her drawings of dancers. I work as a dancer in this performance directed and choreographed by Susan Sentler.


March 2009 – Weekend in Venice, Hotel du Vin, Brighton                                                                      Weekend in Venice is a short film directed by Ellie Brent. I participated in the making of this film as a dancer in the ballroom scene of the film choreographed by Nicola Tann.


February 2009-ongoing Darkness Cycle no 2: Ago Pro Obscurum, Robin Howard Dance Theatre         I have the role of a blind child in the remake of Darkness Cycle no 2: Ago Pro Obscurum by Marie-Gabrielle Rotie from 2007 to be performed at Robin Howard Dance Theatre in February 2009 by a new cast.


February 2009 – Staircase in Tilt, Trinity College of Music                                                                              A collaboration work between dancers and musicians directed by Susan Sentler to be performed as a site-specific structured improvisation piece in February 2009


June 2008 Tumbling down the Sky, Laban                                                                                                           I had a valuable opportunity to adapt to this quick learning process for replacing another dancer in the public performance of Mirela Kolo Christophe's dissertation choreography exploring dreams and the use of props.


May -June 2008 Create and Protect Moving Human art, Laban and St. Martin                                            I was the performer in this collaborative project that was an installation combining art and dance with audience participation. The other collaborators were choreographer Geneva Rosett-Hafter and artist Carol Mancke.


November 2007-February 2008 – Darkness Cycle no 2: Ago Pro Obscurum, Laban                                      A group piece choreographed by Marie-Gabrielle Rotie taking inspiration from Nosferatu and using Butoh as a basis for the work. The work premiered in 2007 and was on tour in greater London in early 2008.


October 2007-February 2008  – (Dis)Appearing Acts (in Rooms made of Theatre), Laban                            A group work structured as an unpredictable performance game choreographed by Efrosini Protopapa. The work premiered in 2007 and was on tour in greater London in early 2008.


August 2007 – The Night of Arts, Helsinki                                                                                             Performance with Marika Kalenius’s Contemporary African dance group of Helsinki dance institute in this out-door event of the Helsinki Festival.


January 2007 – Event, Laban                                                                                                                                      A group piece directed by Gary Lambert. The work was based on Merce Cunningham’s Points in Space (1986) and devised by using chance methods.


October 2006 – Exquisite Corpse, Laban                                                                                                            This was a site specific collaboration work between choreographer Amanda Punsoda, designer Holly Waddington, and the dancers. Final work of graduating MA students at Laban


July 2006 – Fregar, Laban                                                                                                                                           A duet danced and choreographed by myself and Karolina Ginman as a part of New Choreography Showcase 2006. Fregar is an ongoing project the first version of which was performed in Helsinki in June 2005.


July 2005 – Sotilaan tarina (The Soldier’s Tale), Lieksa, Finland                                                                      A musical play directed by Joel Elstelä for Lieksa Brass festival in Lieksa, Finland. I had the role of the princess which includes dancing and acting.


April 2004-May 2005 – Alakko nää, Helsinki, Finland                                                                                      A group work combining contemporary and jazz dance influences that premiered in the Helsinki Dance Institute 35th anniversary show in the Alexander theatre in Helsinki in 2004.              



Choreographic works and artistic projects

2009 – Solmu, The Night of Arts, Helsinki                                                                               Co-choreographed, performed and designed with Karolina Ginman and the music composed by Aki Päivärinne, this duet premiered in the Helsinki Festival in August 2009. Solmu takes place outdoors on stairs and is an investigation of the choreographic problem of separating two bodies after being a tight unit of two bodies intermingled and merged into one.

2009 – Noah the Musical, Court Theatre, Tring                                                                                                    I collaboratively choreographed this youth musical with Geneva Rosett-Hafter. It turned out to be the most successful large scale children’s show performed by Court Theatre to date.


2008 – A Product of Imagining, Laban                                                                                                               This choreography explores the nature of imagined conversation. There are five dancers and ten chairs on stage and instead of music this work uses spoken text as the sound score.


2008 – Creating a Habit, Laban                                                                                                                              My BA dissertation work was presented as a lecture demonstration investigating the use of improvisation as a choreographic method and exploring how the sense of being present in the moment can be lost in the process of setting material as well as trying to find a way around this problem.


2007 – The Moment before, Laban                                                                                                                             A structured improvisation solo for Katy Pearce based on emotional experience of dancing in Oxford Circus.


2005 – Truer than something, Laban                                                                                                                      A solo I choreographed for myself exploring the difference between what is seen and what is true.


2005 – Ja hänelle sanottiin että hän oli kaunis, Kanneltalo and Sibelius-lukio, Helsinki, Finland            A solo work I choreographed for myself as a part of my diploma in dance art in upper secondary school. The work is based on the novel Camellia woman by Alexandre Dumas Jr.


Teaching Experience

Ongoing from February 2009 – Freelance dance teaching, London                                                                 I regularly teach weekly creative contemporary dance classes to children between the ages 3 and 6 working as self-employed. 


October 2008 – The Dance Center, Santa Rosa, Ca, USA                                                                                   I taught a contact improvisation master class together with Geneva Rosett-Hafter to the modern and jazz dance groups of The Dance Center.


July-September 2008 – Helsinki Dance Institute, Finland                                                                                  I have worked for Helsinki Dance Institute as substitute teacher for contemporary and jazz dance teaching all levels and ages.

References upon request.