Photo: Petri Summanen

Kirsi Monni to continue as Professor in Choreography

Kirsi Monni continues as Professor in Choreography at Uniarts Helsinki's Theatre Academy. Monni has enjoyed a long career as a dancer, choreographer, teacher, researcher and developer of production structures in dance. She received her doctorate in dance performance in 2004 and has held the position of Professor in Dance Performance at the Theatre Academy since 2009. Monni’s new tenure is for five years and begins 1 January 2019.

Dean of the Theatre Academy Maarit Ruikka states that Monni has led and developed her degree programme with a great deal of determination and vision while successfully collaborating with the other degree programmes of the academy. Monni has also been active in various administrative and operative organs within the Theatre Academy, for instance as the Chairman of the academy’s publication committee.

 “Kirsi Monni has in-depth knowledge of dance performance and of the challenges inherent in artmaking and creative processes. Her vision is clearly articulated and she has set a contemporary artistic-pedagogic direction for her work. This has served to raise the level of teaching and has shaped the students’ frame of reference with respect to current discourse, international partners and research perspectives.”

According to Ruikka, Monni is eager to nurture her own understanding of new possibilities within art and its significance to society. These skills and characteristics, combined with academic maturity, enable students to delve more deeply into their art.

Monni herself explains that she applied for the position anew because even though art is made in the field, the university is the only place where research is carried out in connection to teaching as well as for its own sake.

 “I am a choreographer, but I also have a strong interest in the theoretical development of the field and of gaining a deeper comprehension at the conceptual level, in combination with practical work. The university context also facilitates the development of international cooperation in teaching and research. Additionally, I find it really inspiring to get to work with motivated students – pondering and developing the field together.”

Monni constantly has many interesting projects on her plate: research related to teaching, processes for MA and doctoral students, projects related to the editing of publications and international cooperation.

 “If I would have to mention one of the most interesting projects I have ever participated in, it would be the three-year Erasmus Intensive Project, involving six different European MA programmes. Together with Ric Allsopp I edited a book that documented and explored the project further: ‘Practising Composition – Making Practice’, released in the Kinesis dance publication series.

Regarding the tenure just beginning, Monni is waiting to see a project planned with other Nordic MA programmes called Choreographic Platform in the Nordic Countries get well underway during the period 2019-2020. She hopes the project will result in students gaining good contacts and diverse perspectives.

 “I’m eagerly waiting also to see more cooperation between different art fields and new transdisciplinary initiatives. I’m also hoping to find the time to do more art and research myself. Up until this point I have been focusing mainly on developing understanding of theory and methods to meet the needs of the classroom, as well as the field of dance as a whole through the Kinesis series.”

Among other new appointments, Eeva Muilu took up her new role as Professor in Dance Performance on 1 August 2018. Dance performance and choreography are parallel concepts and Monni thinks cooperation at multiple levels and study stages would be beneficial to both degree programmes. 

 “The aims of these degree programmes are constantly changing, as they are given varying emphases on account of developments in the field. At the moment we are very much processing e.g. issues of hierarchy and agency in our work and studies. It is important that we tackle these and other issues together, and I keep an open mind as I look forward to more collaboration. This autumn we begin planning the degree requirements that will come into force in 2020, and they should be able to present some well-considered suggestions for current themes.”