Kenneth Kvarnström is the new artistic director of Kuopio Dance Festival

Kenneth Kvarnström has been chosen as the new artistic director of Kuopio Dance Festival starting in 2025. Kvarnström is one of Finland’s most famous choreographers in the world, and he has had a significant impact on the development of Finnish contemporary dance.

Kvarnström has worked in various roles in the field of art since the late 1980’s. His dance group K. Kvarnström & Co. has toured around the world in Europe, USA, Asia and Africa. He has worked in numerous productions and organizations as a dancer, choreographer, producer as well as artistic and executive director.

In addition, he has worked as the director of Dansens Hus in Stockholm and as a choreographer of Helsinki Dance Company, a dance group of Helsinki City Theatre. In 2008, Kvarnström was appointed Professor of the Arts by the Arts Council of Finland.

The board of the association states its choice:

“In 2025, Kuopio Dance Festival will start a new program season spectacularly, while also celebrating the 250th anniversary of the city of Kuopio. We are really excited and proud to be able to plan the program season with Kenneth, who is internationally one of the most prominent Finnish choreographers.”

“In addition to the fact that he is an artist professor and has excellent networks in the international field of dance as well as in Finland, he has experience and insight into significant art organizations and the creation of works for large stages. We approach the future with ambition, constantly growing and developing our festival.”

Kvarnström’s desire is to bring new kinds of performances to Kuopio:

“I want to bring performances, groups, choreographers and artists that have not been seen in Finland before. Such artists, whose works have been and are important in the development of contemporary dance in the world.”

“It is also important to listen to the audience and the team, what they want and hope for. I think it would be great, if Kuopio was the center of dance once a year.”

Kvarnström, originally from Karjaa and currently living in Sweden, often travels between Finland and Sweden. Today’s working methods also enable remote work, but despite this, the future artistic director plans to have a strong presence in Kuopio. The city is already familiar to Kvarnström, and he has been seen at Kuopio Dance Festival, for example, in 1993 with his commissioned piece “Carmen?!”.

”I think it would be great, if Kuopio was the center of dance once a year.”

Five-year season for the artistic director

A selection group consisting of board members and external experts interviewed 10 very high-level and expert dance professionals for the position.

“During the application process, it was great to see how well the dance field is doing in Finland. Many of them will certainly be our partners in the future,” says Salima Peippo, executive director of the association.

“In terms of the future, we have decided that the artistic director’s terms at the festival will last a maximum of five years. This way, the festival’s program remains fresh and more professionals than before can curate the festival.”

The first festival piloted by Kenneth Kvarnström is organized in 2025. Previous artistic directors, along with the current artistic director Riku Lehtopolku, have been Jorma Uotinen, Alpo Pakarinen, Jukka O. Miettinen and Doris Laine. Riku Lehtopolku’s season, that started in 2020 will continue until the 2024 festival, when Kuopio Dance Festival is organized for the 55th time.