I have been teaching contemporary dance and ballet since 2002. I have gained a wide spectrum of experiences by teaching students at the professional education in following institutions:

  • Theater Academy of the University of Arts in Helsinki (MA students in Dance and Dance Pedagogy)

  • Finnish National Ballet School

  • Turku Conservatory, department of dance

  • Metropolia University of Applied science, department of theatre studies

  • Savonia AMK - University of Applied Science, department of dance (B.A studies)

  • NYU - Steinhardt, dance pedagogical department  

I have also taught and set works for professional dancers, such as Le Mariage, by the choreographer Tero Saarinen at the Finnish National Opera and Ballet and worked with students with special needs in projects, such as the Tero Saarinen Company´s Apollo outreach project.

My approach to teaching contemporary dance and ballet has developed through my own personal background. It consists of the techniques I have studied during my dance career, somatic skills and ideas I use to nurture my own ongoing experience as a dancer and during my involvement in international artistic projects. The knowledge gained during my music, dance and movement therapy education plays as well a big role in my teaching method. 

My studies and MA degree in dance pedagogics at the Theater Academy of the University of Arts in Helsinki (2007) (Department of dance and theater pedagogical studies), as well as the degree of the facilitation of dance and movement therapeutic practices from the University of Jyväskylä, Eino Roiha Institute (2013-2014) have given me specific philosophical and pedagogical perspective to my work as a teacher.

Improvisation/exploration and active listening of one´s own body in space/time/groups is the key element in my teachings. I often combine games and individual tasks which shift the rhythm of the class situation, the group, but also the rhythm and frasing of the individual mover. My aim is to help shredding the old habbits and manners to find the core and the most authentic and alert way to produce movement in every individual mover.

Teaching dance to different students: amateurs, professionals and pupils with special needs is a humble, is always an eye opening experience despite of the students´ knowledge, age or the level of the dance technique. I am always forced to question and re-formulate my own artistic practices, values and aesthetics. That´s why to teach dance is for me an essential and natural part of my artistic life, my personal artistic process. I love it deeply.


Tanssikoulu Tanssitiimi - Tanssitiimi Dance School, Turku
Tanssikoulu Tanssitiimi was founded in 1982 by my mother Kirsti Nurmela and two other dance pedagogues Helvi Anias and Ritva Bergström. In 1982 Tanssitiimi was the first dance school specializing in contemporary dance in Turku. Tanssitiimi was founded with a big heart and a wish to ensure to the existence of contemporary dance education in Turku. Since then the school has had an important role not only providing opportunities possibility in contemporary dance for devoted hobbyists but also in educating future dancers, audience and culture lovers in Turku. Many former students of Tansstitiimi have continued to study dance professionally and have chosen careers in dance or in arts and culture in general. Many are now returning to the school with their children to give the next generation an opportunity to experience dance as an inspiring hobby. I started my dance career in Tanssitiimi and its very important to me to regularly teach at the school and to be involved with the school´s curriculum and development. Tanssitiimi was celebrating its 35th anniversary in the Spring 2017! The school is famous for being a small dance school with a big soul,  where everybody - whatever their age, gender or dance background - can enjoy dance as a beautiful art form!

Students of the Tanssikoulu Tanssitiimi - School for Contemporary dance Tanssitiimi, 2014. Photo Maria Nurmela