Kaari Martin, an internationally-renowned choreographer and dancer, has been appointed Programme Manager at Dance House Helsinki.
“Kaari has a very clear and realistic view of the current state of the dance sector and she is clearly very driven and motivated to bring positive change to the field going forward. She brings with her significant experience and expertise in this environment,” Samuli Nordberg, a member of the Dance House Board commented.
“We were also very impressed with Kaari’s connections outside of the dance sector. She has a wonderful ability to take a broad view of the sector as a whole.
As the Programme Manager, Kaari Martin will be responsible for developing the Dance House’s policies and for encouraging practitioners and other sector participants to get involved. Along with her wider team, she will also turn her attention to the Dance House’s future activities.
“One of the key strengths I will bring to this role is my outsider’s perspective. From the very beginning of my career, I have worked with artists representing a number of different disciplines,” Martin explains.
Along with her husband, the composer Roni Martin, she has led the award-winning contemporary flamenco ensemble Compañía Kaari and Roni Martin. The dance company’s work and ongoing success are based not just on artistic vision and hard work but also a commitment to interdisciplinary working.
Proactive, energetic and straight talking, Martin is known as a doer who makes things happen.
“I want to be involved in creating a Dance House that truly represents all dance. No discipline or genre should view the others as a threat. With all the leading practitioners involved, the Dance House will be an internationally unique organisation,” Martin says.
Artistic quality will be the key watchword for Martin – particularly as the targets for Dance House, with regard to the match funding requirement especially, have been set high.
“Our launch needs to be truly stellar and backed up by a diverse programme offering. It is our intention to secure financial backing for more high-risk productions through larger-scale dance gala events,” Martin adds, outlining her vision.
On assuming her new role, she will first turn her attention to expanding her knowledge and understanding of the dance scene, both in Finland and internationally. According to Martin, taking a keen interest in different genres and seeking collaborations between dance and other art forms will be crucial in the future.
“One of the challenges the sector faces is that dance is often a very lonely and individualistic pursuit. We have a lot to learn from the music industry in terms of how, even in the face of divergent ideas about what dance should be, broad-based collaboration and joint working will foster more high-quality dance in Finland.”
Martin would also like to promote open debate surrounding the Dance House, without the fear of criticism.
“Working with Roni, I have become used to harsh criticism and always having to back up the choices that I make. I have also had no option but to become a pretty good listener.”
Compañía Kaari and Roni Martin will continue to operate as before but from January, Kaari Martin is due to limit her involvement to the company’s choreographies. Responsibility for the company’s leadership will be assumed by a new Managing Director, due to be appointed in the new year.