Dance pedagogy student found a supporting group of friends in her class

Interviewing master’s student Reettaleena Rauhala.

Who are you, and how did you end up studying at Uniarts Helsinki?

I am Reettaleena Rauhala and I study dance pedagogy. I have danced my whole life. I graduated from the Kallio Upper Secondary School of Performing Arts. In London, I completed a bachelor’s degree in dance, during which I focused on contemporary dance.

After returning to Finland, I taught dance at the basic education level for a few years. Then, I took a break from dance for a few years because I felt that the values of the dance world did not match mine. That is, I found the dance world to have an extremely narrow-minded opinion about who should be allowed to express themselves in public, which made me sad.

I thought I had two options: I could leave the dance world completely, or I could try to change it. Thus, I decided to apply to the Degree Programme in Dance Pedagogy, and here I am.

What was your entrance examination like?

Due to Covid-19, the entrance examination was organised on-line. On the entrance examination day, we were given assignments on Zoom and we could work on them for a couple of hours before we had to return them. I think the examination would have been different if we could have been physically in the same space. This time, everything was individually focused and centred on written assignments, which I found challenging.

Furthermore, in the preliminary assignments preceding the entrance exams, in addition to the written assignments, we had to do a solo performance based on photographs taken by various artists. One subject in the preliminary assignments’ written section was diversity in art. I had to think about making and teaching art, which I found very educative.

How did you prepare for the entrance examination?

I relieved the tension related to the entrance examination by talking with many people. I knew a couple of people who had graduated earlier from the same degree programme, which was helpful. For example, the entrance examination materials dealt with an artistic-pedagogic process, which would have been incomprehensible to me had my friends not explained it. With them, I could work on my ideas and prepare for the entrance examination interview.

What has studying been like?

My studies started as contact teaching, but quickly, we had to go remote. Our group is quite small, and we have special permission to meet in person for certain courses. Even so, most of our lectures have been organised on Zoom, which, obviously, has been quite hard. Currently, the situation is luckily better, and we have more contact teaching.

What has been the most memorable course during your studies?

What comes to mind first is an artistic-pedagogic project at the beginning of the second year. We had six weeks to implement an optional project independently. We created a performance. During the intensive working sessions, I felt I was seen as an artist, as well as a pedagogue, which felt significant.

I also liked the way the project was implemented because teachers were part of our working group. As a teaching method, it was interesting and one I want to use in the future.

What is best in studying?

Our dance pedagogy group is definitely the best thing. Maybe for the first time during my education, I feel I have found a united group of people who support and encourage each other.