Photo: Mirva Niemi

Kalle Pulkkinen: Feel free to be yourself

1. Who are you and how did you end up studying at the Theatre Academy?

I’m Kalle Pulkkinen and it’s my second year studying in the degree programme in dance at the Theatre Academy. It took me a bit longer to find my path to the Theatre Academy, because I didn’t apply to study dance until I was 30 years old. Before starting my studies at the Theatre Academy, I worked as a special education teacher in Joensuu for several years. A couple of years ago, I began wondering whether I should pursue studies in dance, which has been my hobby from a young age. I went to see some dance performances at the Theatre Academy, and they got me really inspired. I realised that I wanted to study at the Theatre Academy, because the team effort in the performances made a strong impression on me. I felt that I was ready to study the field and make it my profession.

2. What is it like to study at the Theatre Academy?

My studies have been really interesting and versatile. I feel like I’m getting new perspectives and thoughts each teaching period. To put it simply: studying has been interesting, diverse and enriching. I also appreciate the general atmosphere and common values here.

3. What has been the best part of your studies?

The best part is being able to work on and explore dance. The next best part is the performances and all the nice people. I feel that dancers have a similar set of values, but at the same time, they have their own approach and way of thinking, which makes everything so interesting.

4. What has been the most challenging part of your studies?

The most challenging part has been to discover that expectations don’t always match reality. It’s natural to wonder as a student how you’ll be able to incorporate your own expertise into the world of dance and society at large. And obviously you’ll have questions about what kind of work you’ll find after graduation.

5. What was your entrance exam like two years ago?

The entrance exam had several rounds and included a dance class, improvisational assignments, group exercises, a written assignment based on an art piece that we watched on film, an interview, and finally a performance of a solo dance piece specially made for the exam.

6. How did you prepare yourself for the entrance exam?

I completed the pre-examination assignments and prepared a dance solo. I also read more information on the entrance exam on the University of the Arts Helsinki website.

7. What kind of thoughts do you have about life after graduation?

I have a trustful attitude towards the future, and I’m sure that everything will work itself out on its own. There will surely be ups and downs, easier and tougher periods along the way, but life is never a steady ride. Obviously the first thing on my wish list is to be able to dance with nice people also in the future.

8. What kind of advice do you have for future applicants?

I strongly encourage anyone who’s interested in the field to apply here. You can’t know for sure whether this could be the field and the place for you unless you come to the entrance exam to try out and experience the vibe yourself. Personally I was a bit unsure at first whether the Theatre Academy was the right place for me, but in the entrance exam I became sure that it was.

It helps to have an open mind in the entrance exam, and it doesn’t hurt to have an adventurous spirit, either. Encouraging applicants to have a positive mindset probably sounds corny, but it’s true – a positive attitude shines through in the performance. It’s also best to just feel free to be yourself and not worry about not having that much experience in certain dance styles like contemporary dance, for example. Students here all have different backgrounds: I myself have a background in show dance, but my friends are ballet, contemporary and break dancers. So just be yourself, and you will go far in the entrance exam.