Moving Heart

ElinMaria and Gabriel taking a selfie and smiling on their kayaks
Moving Heart is a small family company by ElinMaria and Gabriel Sydänvirta.

Moving Heart was born in 2015 out of love and inspiration to share our common heartbeat and lifestyle influenced by dance, kayaking, somatics, nature, art and aquatic healing.

Since then we have facilitated dance events, kayaking tours, annual retreats, trainings and festivals, offered catering with tasty vegan food and hosted people in beautiful natural environments. Here you can read more about us. Welcome to join our activities!

All photos on the webpage are from ElinMaria and Gabriel's life and work. Enjoy!

Get to know us more

Work History

Moving Heart Highlights (no specific order):
– Since 2019 we have held sea kayaking tours and courses in Archipelage Sea and we are the only local sea kayaking agency based in the outer archipelago.
– As the most active facilitators in Finland for dance and somatics in nature, we are happy to influence the dancing community with nature as a source of composition and recreation.
– We have performed dance through the Archipelago Sea by sailing and also in mainland in elderly care, refugee facilities and on stage.
– As community dance artists, we acted as artistic directors and choreographers in projects that producted a documentary dance films.
– We have organized several 3 weeks professional trainings with Aguahara in the Andaman Sea and created an active and alive Aquahara community in Finland where we offer annual trainings and courses.
– We have organized several gatherings with Contact Improvisation as well and a cultural-festival.

Other events by ElinMaria and Gabriel Sydänvirta Moving Heart (2014-2023)

• Aguahara professional trainings, level 1-3 (Annualy since 2014)
• Aguahara PRO Advance Trainings (2019 – ongoing )
• Aguahara sessions (2014 – ongoing)
• Aguahara PRO Nature retreat Nötö (2019, 2020, 2021)
• Aguahara Experienced Workshop. Tampere (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020)
• Sea Kayaking tours and trainings in the outer Archipelago (2019- ongoing)
• Yoga and Mindful Kayak-retreat Nötö (2021, 2022)
• Yoga – Weekly classes Korpo and Nagu (2022, 2023)
• Children’s dance, Korpo and Nagu Daghem (2023)
• Dance Archipelago – Cacao and dance! Korpo and Nagu (2023)
• Yoga and Naturebathing – Retreat Korpo (2023)
• Mindfulness and compassion- 12 week course Korpo (2022)
• Candles in the dark – meditation Korpo (2022)
• Moving Landscapes – Contact Improvisaiton, Turku (2022)
• Contact Improvisation – fundamentals Turku (2022)
• Embracing world distress and structural trauma Online course (2022)
• Saari Danceretreat in nature Nötö (2019, 2020, 2021)
• Lumi New Year’s dance – Contact improvisation festival Neittävä, Vaala (2020)
• What happened next? Children’s dance and storytelling,
tour in Archepelago (2018) Nötö and Korpo (2019, 2020, 2023)
• Dancing Clowns – Workshop Nötö (2021, 2022)
• Selfcompassion Embodied, workshop Turku (2020, 2022)
• Held by the Earth, online class (2021, 2022)
• Home in my Body, 4 weeks Course online (2 times annualy, 2021-ongoing)
• Home in my body – embodied selfcompassion, Turku Finalnd (2021, 2022)
• Dance togetherness score, online (2020)
• Imprint, dance documentary film, coreographers and producer, screening on festivals (2018-)
• Ready To Fly – Dance intensive course, ESKUS, Helsinki (2019)
• Poetry of Flying – Dance intensive course, Circus Lounge, Turku (2019)
• Heart for the Sea – Festival, organizer/producer, Nötö (2019)
• LAPPI New Year´s Dance – Contact improvisation festival, Sodankylä (2019)
• Red Carpet – Dance performance, tour in Archipelago (2018)
• Compose With Me! Dance-performance. Artistic Leader and choreograph with MiinaMaria Aalto Setälä. Tour Finland and Umeå Sweden. (2017, 2018)
• Community Dance – Lecture Dans i Västerbotten, Umeå Sweden (2018)
• När vi dansar, community dance project, Umeå Sweden (2018)
• Dance in old people’s home, Tour Lycksele, Umeå and Åre, Sweden (2016) Korpo (2023)
• Rinnassani ruusutarha, Reading poems and dance improvisation, Turku, Espoo, Kajaana, Finland (2016,2017,2018,2019)
• Kotinani refugee camp – Life in Haiti, workshop tour, Jyväskylä (2017)
• Experience trip to Kyrgyzstan – Journey to the land of yurts, workshop tour, Jyväskylä (2017)
• Hospital Clown Umeå University Hospital. Weekly visits. Cancerfonden, Umeå Sweden (2014-2016)
• Children refugees Barn på flykt Workshop and serminar about Community dance, Umeå Sweden (2018)
• Forest dance/ Skogsdans Workshop Umeå Sweden (2018)
• Burning Art Festival Workshop Contact Improvisation, Vaasa (2018)
• Contact Improvisation for professionals Workshop for Dans Centrum Norr, Umeå, Sweden (2018)
• Panel discussion and workshop, Dans i skolan Biennalen, Skellefteå Sweden (2018)
• Dynamic Flow, Waterdance Intensive, Water & Land -dancefestival, Ko Chang, Thailand, (2016, 2018)
• Aguahara level 1,2,3 organizer and teacher, 3 weeks training, Thailand. (2017, 2018)
• Archipelagodance/Saaristotanssit, Workshop in Archipelago National Park. (2017, 2018)
• Momentum, Contact Improvisation intensive, Luova Kasvu, Espoo. (2017, 2018, 2019, 2023)
• Aguahara – introduktion course Water & Land Festival Ko Chang, Thailand (2016)
• Contact Improvisation – Jam facilitators Water & Land Festival Ko Chang, Thailand (2015)
• Flying Dolphin – contact improvisation and water dance workshop, Turku (2015, 2016)
• Poetry Of Movement Workshop, Turko, Finland, Umeå Sweden. (2016, 2017, 2018)
• Mjuk yoga/Soft Yoga, Workshop, Kärppälä, Nötö Finland. Burträsk, Sweden (2016, 2017, 2020, 2021, 2022)
• Flow Training Contact Improvisation, Luova Kasvu, Espoo and Nötö (2016,2017, 2018, 2022)
• Forest dance/metsätanssit. workshop in Seitseminen National Park (two times/year 2016, 2017, 2018) (2019, 2020)
• My Body My Culture, Workshop with teenage refugees, Arvidsjaur, Sweden. (2015)
• Contact Improvisation, Jyväskylö (2015, 2016)
• Aguahara- try out workshop, Tampere Finland, Umeå Sweden (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)
• Center workshop for water, Acroyoga Workshops in Aguahara training, Ibiza Spain. (2016)
• Sagodans/Dance and Storytelling Balettakademien, Utopia and library, Umeå. Burträsk kyrka, Sweden (2015, 2016, 2017)
• Framsteg – Dance and Gender Equality Project, education, mentorship and workshops for pre-school-teachers. UTMANA, Umeå Equality Committee, Municipality of Vindeln, Sweden. (2015, 2016, 2018)
• Children’s dance and Equality work – pandel diskussion and education, Dans i skolan bienallen Sweden (2017)
• Vila i Din Kropp Dance workshop Burträsk, Sweden (2015)
• Black hole – dance video and performance, Umeå Saga teatern, Sweden (2015)
• Contact Improvisation workshop, two weekends Umeå, Sweden. (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)
• Fly & Dive – Contact Improvisation and Acro yoga workshop. Tampere (2015)
• Dance in water workshop, Umeå, Turku, Sweden, Finland(2015, 2016)
• Ready to Fly – Contact Improvisation Workshop. Tampere, Turku Finland, Umeå Sweden (2015, 2018)
• Allsång och rörelseglädje av hjärtans lust/Sing along and joy of movement Music and dance with old people. Vuxenskolan, Evita Care, Umeå, Sweden. (2014).

About Gabriel

Gabriel has worked since 2004 as a Community and Dance Artist in local communities, especially with children and teenagers, in more thatn 70 different countries around the world. He has combined several art forms and used dance and movement as a tool to connect with people and as a gateway to learn from each others and to do cross-cultural exchange. Since 2012 he has taught Contact Improvisation, Aquatic dance and Aguahara in Europe and Asia. Since 2019 Gabriel has worked as a sea kayaking guide, taking kayakers to explore the wonderful landscapes of the Archipelago Sea. He is a certificated AguaHara Instructor, dance teacher and a professional sea kayak guide certified by the Finnish Sea Kayaking Association (SuMe/Nil) and the Finnish Kayaking and Rowing Association.

About ElinMaria

ElinMaria has since 2009 brought Community Dance, Dance Improvisation and somatics in different projects and locations; for teenagers, children, mixed abilities, teachers in the school, staff in the old people’s home, in the refugee centers, in the elderly care as well as in the dancing schools. She has developed methods to educate pre-school teachers with dance as a tool for gender equality and norm critical pedagogy. She’s a dedicated yoga- and meditation practitioner since more than 20 years. Educated among others at Nordiska Yoga-institutet Viryayoga-teacher(RYS200h), Mindfulness Center Sverige (MfC), ISLO Dance and Somatics and Somatic Selfcompassion® with trauma Informed Approach.


We have a rich background, broad competence and long experience in leading groups. We intend to provide you with high-quality education and offer a space where you can devote yourself to what makes you feel alive. We want to offer a pedagogy that is methodical and accessible and at the same time encourages our learning potential, allows us to find care and compassion, curiosity and joy in our learning process. We build our pedagogy based on a holistic understanding of the body and our interaction with life, each other and nature. We intend to recognize each other’s unique stamp on a learning environment and foster a sense of community. We are curious to learn from each other.


Nature has a great impact on our daily life and work. After two summers living in our sailing boat and touring with a dance-performance in Archipelagos of Åland and Åboland, we found a home in the outer Archipelago on island of Nötö where we lived 5 years. Nowadays we live together with our child in Archipelago on island of Korppoo.

Moving Heart is rooted in our daily intimate relationship with nature. Most of Moving Heart’s courses, retreats and events happen in nature with simple living conditions. We thrive from building connections between modern society and being in touch with nature. We recognize that we are all part of nature and everything around us is part of the Earth. What happens with our perception when we acknowledge this fact? Through an Eco Somatic and Mindful approach, we bring embodied experiences into practice. Eco Somatics is an emerging interdisciplinary field that connects body-shaping practices such as dance and healing art with ecological consciousness. Mindfulness can be described as the practice of paying attention to the present moment.

Movement and embodiment

Movement and dance is our beat. Sharing the language of movement can give meaning and connection; to ourselves, life, nature and each other. As dance-artists we are curious to bring the poetry of dance where it’s not usually experienced or performed. We claim that all movements can become dance.

Kayaking is just another way to dance, with the rhythm of the sea, wind and weather, rooting us in our bodies and to the nature landscape beyond. We intend to provide a high quality of detailed and technical understanding of movement and the foundations behind it. We wish to support and appreciate everyone’s own uniqueness. To be at home in our body and nature gives us resilience and a sense of belonging.

Settle deeper into your breathing body and beating heart.
The art of life can be colored through dance and its forever changing rhythms.
Integrating dance as a part of daily life gives sensations of being alive and awake,
If it’s just the tiniest little dance observing our own breaths rise and fall.
We are curious to be present in the moment, touched by whatever is there.
– ElinMaria

Community and meaningfullness

We wish to bring people together in a sense of togetherness, co-creation, connection and meaningness. We aim to create as safe space as possible where everyone is welcome regardless of earlier experiences, body, age, gender, identity, ethnicity and religious belief. Co-creation is part of many of our course settings: we do things together and we appreciate everyone’s unique impact. We wish to cultivate loving kindness, compassion and a learning environment where we are curious to learn from each other and grow our understanding on what are the components that bring us together.

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