Spotlight Edition 2 – Introducing Inari Hulkkonen, Catapult Artist 2019-2020

Hello to all those reading, we’re grateful that you’re here to engage with Spin Arts and find out more about us! Over the next few weeks, while our shows aren’t touring, we’re going to introduce you to our team and our artists.

This second Spotlight Edition shines a light on Inari Hulkkonen, our current Catapult 2019-2020 artist. 

Who is Inari?

Inari Hulkkonen is a Finnish dance artist based in Leeds.

With an interest in movement, language and poetics, Inari’s work comprises dance and text within the mediums of solo choreography, durational performance and improvisation. She works as a dancer and collaborator with artists such as Vanessa Grasse, Swen Steinhauser, Lewys Holt and Kuan-Yu Chen.

Inari is a CATAPULT Artist 2019/20 (Northern School of Contemporary Dance & Spin Arts) and Accelerate Artist 2019/20 (Yorkshire Dance & Northern School of Contemporary Dance, funded by Leeds Dance Partnership). She is a winner of Poetry Debutant Competition by Finnish literary magazine Nuori Voima in 2017. Inari trained at Northern School of Contemporary Dance (2013-2016) and as part of SMASH – an intensive training in experimental physical performance in Berlin (2016).

What is Catapult?

Catapult is a brilliant year-long professional development opportunity for an emerging dance maker, creative partnership or collective based in Yorkshire. The talented, successful artist receives a bursary to support their professional development, as well as space, and mentoring to support their creative practice and strategic development. 

Catapult is delivered in partnership with the Northern School of Contemporary Dance and funded by Arts Council England.

Inari, can you tell us about the work you are developing through Catapult?

I am working on a solo titled I want him to like my hair, originally created for a scratch night at Yorkshire Dance early 2019. During my Catapult residency, I am further researching and developing this work with the aim of creating a full-length solo performance. I have invited dramaturge Tanya Steinhauser and performance maker and writer Marianne Tuckman to help me over the process.

I want him to like my hair is an ode to having an obsessive and imaginative mind and expressive body. It is a grand finale to past heartbreak and a balancing act between seeking validation and empowerment. It is a dive into language, thought and movement through autobiography and the absurd.

Do you have a daily practice or wellbeing routine? 

Not daily, but since the beginning of lockdown, I have taken up a regular yoga practice with the excellent, absolute gem of a teacher, Kasia Witek (fellow Spin Artist), through her online classes. I warmly recommend. 

What do you enjoy doing outside of work? 

Reading – I have just finished Jia Tolentino’s essay book Trick Mirror (which is incredible, worth a read). I enjoy walking on the coast. Being in nature (as much as that is possible in a city). Seeing my friends. Taking pictures with my £1 charity-shop-found point-and-shoot film camera which has a great hazard of fingertips accidentally covering the lens, so usually a good portion of the film ends up being pictures of orange blobs. I have come to accept that as part of the fun. 

What’s one thing most people don’t know about you? 

I have no musical skill or talent, but I am in a band. We are called The Hypocrites. 

What have you learnt in the last 4 years since graduation and what advice would you pass on to those entering the industry? 

I am not sure I am in a position to give advice (especially as I don’t know what the experience of entering the industry in the time of Covid is like), but I can say something about my time so far and what I am currently learning:

  1. That it is healthy to talk about work and money openly without shame.

Whether that means addressing fees and payments as a freelancer or talking about what other jobs you might have outside of dance to support yourself. I feel like the latter helps to bust some myths about success and being validated as a ‘dance professional’.

Entering a dance career can take time. You have time, even if things do not happen as quickly or linearly as you hope. It has taken me more than three years to start getting regular-ish paid freelance work in dance. Until very recently, I have made most of my income in a bar job.

  1. To prioritise both my mental and physical health. 

To set boundaries for my time and energy so that work and searching for work are not all I do and think about! To make sure I have a life outside of this. 

This might mean saying no to things. If someone is offering me an ‘opportunity’ or expecting an investment which might be helpful for my practice but requires a lot of unpaid work, I will evaluate whether or not I have the time to do it. Sometimes that means prioritising a bar shift over a creative opportunity.

There is a general culture of asking artists to do things for free and occasions of organisations expecting freelancers’ time without payment and framing that as support. You do not have to take every single opportunity to show up if the price is either compromising your income or exhausting yourself, or both. Only do it if it benefits you (or if it’s fun enough) and you will come out on the other side intact.

  1. To understand privileges, dis/advantages, and what else goes into securing jobs outside of individual qualities and effort.

‘Investing in one’s practice’ is just a fancy way of saying unpaid work. You need to have some resources in the first place (time, money) to be able to invest them. Everyone’s resources will be different depending on whether they have some support when starting out (for example living rent-free in a location where they can access classes and meet people) or whether they are relying on wages every month to survive. If investing lots of time establishing one’s practice for free is an expectation for emerging artists (from organisations and funders), then the industry becomes unhealthy and inaccessible. 

Starting out, I was less aware of this and instead put everything down on my individual qualities, causing a lot of anxiety, a very unhealthy mindset, and working constantly whilst earning little and feeling like I am going nowhere.

  1. Listen to different industry perspectives and experiences.

I love the idea behind the Understory website ( which offers an insight into how different people from varying backgrounds navigate the unexpected in their dance careers.

There is some brilliant advice on this website. There are so many different journeys. You have time – trust that and trust yourself. And if something needs changing, we as individuals have the ability to create and shift the culture in the field through how we work and interact with each other.


We look forward to continuing our work with Inari over the next few months. Inari will be back in the studio in September where she’ll continue working on, I want him to like my hair.

Catapult 2020-2021 programme is currently open to applications. Find out more information at

Thank you for reading. Stay tuned for our Spotlight Edition 3 coming soon.
Take care!

Photo credit: Maria Alzamora