Maria Koliopoulou is a female artist, activist, choreographer, performer and dance teacher with immigrant roots living and working in Athens. She earned a scholarship to the Laban Centre fοr Movement and Dance and studied Fine Arts at Vacalo School of Arts & Design in Athens. She practices in the martial art of Aikido in which she holds the second black belt and is a founding member of Prosxima Dance Company where she choreographs and performs since 1996.
Her background as an artistic director of Prosxima Dance Company, has given her the opportunity to develop her artistic, organisational and managerial skills, including researching for and creating a number of choreographic works, working alongside with performers of different abilities as well as touring nationally and internationally.
In the recent years she has presented works commissioned by the Onassis Stegi, the Athens Festival, the Ephorate of Greek Antiquities and the International Contemporary Dance Festival of Algiers. Her choreographic works have been presented in Athens, Algiers, Vienna, Karlstadt, Ljublana, Salzburg, Stockholm, Prague, Budapest, Chania, Serres and Kavala.
She has been awarded the Jarmila Jeřábková award (2008) at the New Europe Festival in Prague and the 2nd Prize at the International Contemporary Dance Festival of Algiers (2013) in Algiers.
As an independent choreographer she has collaborated with the Danish Institute – Bridges between Women Artists, the Neos Kosmos Theatre in W. Shakespeare’s Othello, the National Theatre of Greece in M. Gorky’s Lower depths, L. Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and N. Kazantzakis Zorba the Greek.
With a strong collaborative background, she has been choreographing dance performances for diverse communities, involving people who love dancing, amateurs and professional dancers. She has been teaching workshops in dance technique, choreography and improvisation in higher education, in universities, in amateur and professional dance schools or institutions, among others the Belgrade Dance Institute and the School of Fine Arts in Athens.
Collaborating with the Onassis Stegi on different projects, leading workshops for dancers with and without disabilities has given her a deep understanding and experience of inclusive dance training. More specifically, though the Unlimited Access program, the iDance: Dance without discriminations project and currently the Europe Beyond Access program, she has been choreographing the work ‘the Flight’ for 25 performers for the International "Unlimited Access" Dance Festival and has been leading inclusive dance workshops. Moreover she had the opportunity for two years to work in more than 8 public schools in disadvantaged areas of the city with minority groups, including two special schools, initiating movement and ‘original play’.
In 2017 she was invited as a guest choreographer at the Belgrade Dance Institute as well to create the work ‘4 only’ for Editta Braun company.
In 2018 her work T e r r a i n premiered in the State Museum’s of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki, during the Off Borders Festival, with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Sports in the frame of the State Subsidies for Dance 2018.
In November 2019, she was invited by Stop Gap Dance Company, choreographing a new work ‘Here and Where?’ for Sg2. She presented the solo, C for Clay, during the Danceable#3, Holland Dance Festival, 2019.
The premiere of her work Instar, on 12th March 2020, a production of Prosxima Dance Company, coincided with the lockdown measurements for the arts and not only, in Greece, amid Covid-19. The work is a duet on female identity. Two women explore their dyadic relationship by approaching with humor and sensitivity issues on power, hierarchy, inclusion and exclusion. The performance meets the vague boundaries between dressed and naked body through a penetrating look which allows its differences to be seen. It is supported by the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports in the frame of the State Subsidies for Dance 2019, 2020 and the Amnesty International Greece. It was re-staged at a terrace in the centre of Athens so to be accessible to all amid Covid-19 measures for only vaccinated people in closed theatrical spaces in Greece. It toured on northern Greece to Philippi Festival.
Her inclusive work Clear Midnight was commissioned by the Athens Epidaurus Festival, where it premiered on 7th June 2021, and was supported by the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports and Onassis Stegi.
She is currently researching the work ‘Made’ for dancer Madeleine Månsson supported by the Swedish Arts Grants Committee.
PUBLICATIONS & MEMBERSHIPS
She has published the essay, “The development of the Artistic Skills in Dance Teaching”, in Culture and Art- seven essays on dance(Propobos Publications, Athens 2000, Greece).
She has been a member of syndesmos chorou and common platforms, two initiatives that foster a dialogue between choreographers in Greece or exchanging ideas with artists from Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Greece, Argentina, Spain, Great Britain.