top of page
  • Instagram
  • Facebook






The Days Project aims to foster a strong connection with local communities and break down barriers between different individuals as performers and movers. Led by Maria Nurmela and Ville Oinonen, the project offers workshops specifically tailored for individuals aged 65 years or older. The intention is to collaborate with local venues to engage with existing community groups or to bring people together for a one-time workshop event.

The workshops, which typically last 2-3 hours depending on financial and scheduling constraints, incorporate movement exercises derived from the performers' own practices as well as elements from the performance itself.


Following the workshops, the project concludes with a live performance featuring two local non-professional performers invited from the workshop participants. This particular aspect of the project has proven to be immensely rewarding for all involved, providing much-needed opportunities for creative and social engagement for the most vulnerable members of our society. By including older participants in the performance, the duet becomes relatable and serves as a poignant reminder to audiences that this could be anyone's story. The presence of these elders adds a tangible and powerful element to the performance, creating a sense of connection and resonance that resonates deeply with viewers.

“ The Days shows that contemporary dance and performance belong to every body and every age.”

- workshop participant, 2022



Tero Saarinen Company - Apollo Tanssii! / Apollo Dances 

From 2012 to 2016, Maria worked as a project coordinator, head teacher, and choreographer at the Tero Saarinen Company's community outreach project, Apollo tanssii!, which was funded by Helsinki City. This special project involved close collaboration with Apollo High School in the Malminkartano neighborhood of Helsinki.

Over the course of four years, Maria developed Apollo Tanssii's pedagogical and artistic curriculum, which consisted of a series of workshops for teenage boys and girls. Additionally, a special interdisciplinary workshop was designed specifically for teenage girls.


The project aimed to increase interaction, community engagement, body awareness, and creativity among upper secondary and high school students through contemporary dance. Each year, the project had a theme, and for the four-year duration, the theme was "I am present." The workshops focused on individual strengths as well as group dynamics. As half of the participating students were immigrants, the project also aimed to enhance their integration into Finnish society and the school system.

The workshop for both boys and girls was typically conducted over a six-week period during the autumn seasons from 2012 to 2016. Sessions were held approximately three times per week, lasting 3-4 hours each, either at Apollo High School or at Tero Saarinen Company's home studio at the Alexander Theatre. In 2012, Maria led the pilot project with Tero Saarinen Company's repetitor Henrikki Heikkilä. In 2013 and 2014, she collaborated with Tero Saarinen Company's dancer Mikko Lampinen, and in 2015, she collaborated with TSC dancer David Scarantino. Each year, the workshop participants had the unique opportunity to work with two musicians who improvised and created music for both the workshop sessions and the choreography developed in close collaboration with each participant throughout the six weeks. Esteemed Finnish jazz musicians, including composer-musicians Jarmo Saari, Olavi Louhivuori, and Mamba Assefa, were honored to collaborate with the project.

At the culmination of each year's workshop, the teenagers had the chance to perform their choreography on the main stage of the Alexander Theatre. The choreographic process was a collaborative endeavor throughout the six-week project.

From 2013 to 2016, the Apollo tanssii! project included a special interdisciplinary workshop specifically designed for girls. This workshop was co-facilitated by Maria and visual artist Hanna Azevedo and lasted approximately two weeks. The aim was to provide girls with an opportunity to work intimately in an all-female group, exploring the awakening of womanhood and the physical changes that come with it through dance. The workshop incorporated movement, drawing, sculpture, and creative writing, resulting in an exhibition held annually in different gallery spaces in Helsinki. The exhibition visually documented the girls' journey into the realms of contemporary dance and visual art.

Several choreographies performed at the Alexander Theatre were: "Tapestry of Dreams from Those who Throw Themselves into the Moment" (in collaboration with choreographer Mikko Lampinen, 2013), "Gravity Walk" (in collaboration with choreographer Mikko Lampinen, 2014), and "Dreams of Tomorrow" (in collaboration with choreographer David Sacarntino, 2015). Exhibitions showcasing the project's results were held at Akkuna & Tovi Galleries in April 2015, titled "Elämän askeleita," and at Kirjasto 10 from April to May 2016, titled "Sukellus mieleeni - tanssin oman reittini."

The project concluded when its funding ended.



Andrea O. Collective and community outreach project Aspettando 

Andrea O. collective, based in Finland, undertook several community art projects aimed at organizations and individuals, including patients, involved in institutional care in Turku (Finland) and Lucca (Italy). The collective's main objective was to make a lasting impact on different communities by imparting methods to transform emotions through art.

One of their community art projects, titled 'Aspettando' (meaning 'Waiting for' in Italian), took place in the city space of Lucca and the Lucca Mental Health Center in June 2011. This project was based on photobiographical methods and the fundamentals of contemporary dance. It involved members of Co-operativa Zefiro, Laboratorio di Arte Terapia Multimediale ASL2 Lucca, artists from the Andrea O. collective, and researchers from Finland. Prior to this project, the group had collaborated in the Phototherapy Europe—Learning and Healing with Phototherapy network.

The Lucca Mental Health Center has developed artistic methods to promote the social inclusion and well-being of psychiatric patients and to foster a sense of community. The objective of 'Aspettando' was to develop artistic means of coping with dreams we are waiting for or dealing with things we have lost and eagerly anticipate their return. This experimental community art project included live performances in which the entire group participated in the artistic process.

The outcome of the project Aspettando(2011)was a series of five short dance films, directedby Maria in collaboration with filmmaker/photographer Merja Isokoski. These films involved the participation of six individuals from the center. The film 'Aspettando' was presented at the World Congress of Art Therapy, showcased at the City Museum of Lucca during a week-long exhibition in the autumn of 2011.

bottom of page