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“Teaching dance to different students, including amateurs, professionals, and pupils with special needs, is a humbling and eye-opening experience regardless of their knowledge, age, or level of dance technique. It constantly prompts me to question and redefine my own artistic practices, values, and aesthetics. Teaching dance has become an integral and natural part of my artistic life and personal artistic process, and I have a deep love for it."


- Maria Nurmela.”

Photo: Vesa Loikas 

Maria has been teaching movement, contemporary dance, and ballet since 2002, gaining a wide range of experiences from teaching students in professional education as well as dance enthusiasts in various institutions.


Some of these institutions include:

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

  •  Summer Universities of Turku, Tampere, and Helsinki, the Finnish National Ballet School,

  • Turku Conservatory (Department of Dance)

  • Metropolia University of Applied Sciences (Department of Theatre Studies, Helsinki)

  •  Savonia AMK - University of Applied Sciences (Department of Dance, B.A studies, Kuopio)

  • NYU - Steinhardt (Dance Pedagogical Department, NY)

  • Zodiak - Center for New Dance Development, Helsinki.


She has also taught and stated works for professional dancers, including the Finnish National Opera and Ballet, and has worked with dancers with special needs in projects such as the Tero Saarinen Company's Apollo outreach project (2012-2016) and DuV Teatern Helsinki (2017).


Since 2018, Maria has been working as the head teacher in a year-long dance pedagogy basic training program at Helsinki, Turku and Jyväskylä Summer Universities, following the curriculum of the Dance pedagogical studies of the University of the Arts Helsinki. These studies serve as preparatory education for professional studies in dance art or provide additional skills for dance artists already working in the field who wish to become teachers.


Maria's approach to teaching dance and movement has developed through her background, incorporating the techniques she learned during her dance career, somatic skills (Feldenkrais, Body-Mind Centering), and ideas she uses to nurture her ongoing work as a dancer/choreographer and her involvement in various artistic projects. Her music education also influences her teaching method. Her studies and MA degree in dance pedagogy at the Theater Academy of the University of Arts Helsinki (2007) and her degrees in the facilitation of dance and movement therapeutic practices from the University of Jyväskylä, Eino Roiha Institute (2013-2014), as well as her Feldenkrais practitioner professional education at Instituto Feldenkrais Madrid (2021-), have given her a specific philosophical and pedagogical perspective in her role as a teacher.


Improvisation/exploration and active listening to one's own body in space, time, and groups are key elements in her teaching. She often combines games and individual tasks that alter the rhythm of the class situation and the group, thereby affecting the rhythm and phrasing of each individual mover. Her aim is to help break old habits and find the core and most authentic and alert way for each individual mover to produce movement.


In Memory and with respect

Tanssikoulu Tanssitiimi / Kirsti Nurmela, from 1982 to 2018 in Turku


Maria's dance journey began at Tanssikoulu Tanssitiimi under the direction of her mother, Kirsti Nurmela, from 1982 to 2018 in Turku. Tanssitiimi was founded in 1982 by Kirsti Nurmela and two other dance pedagogues, Helvi Anias and Ritva Bergström. It was the first dance school in Turku specializing in contemporary dance, improvisation, and dance theatre. The school was established to ensure the existence of contemporary dance education in Turku. From 1982 until Kirsti Nurmela retired in 2018, Tanssikoulu Tanssitiimi played a significant role not only in providing opportunities to study contemporary dance for dedicated hobbyists but also in educating future dancers, audiences, and culture enthusiasts in Turku. Many former students of Tanssikoulu Tanssitiimi / Kirsti Nurmela went on to pursue professional dance careers or chose paths in arts and culture. Maria herself began her dance career at Tanssitiimi and felt it was essential to regularly teach at the school and be involved in its curriculum and development until her mother's retirement. Tanssitiimi celebrated its 35th anniversary in the spring of 2017, known for being a small dance school with a large heart, where anyone - regardless of age, gender, or dance background - could enjoy dance as a beautiful art form. 


Maria is now continuing her mother's legacy as a teacher and dance artist.

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