Board of Directors

Our next AGM of the Corporation will be held on Friday September 29, 2017 at Canada's National Ballet School.

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The 2015-16 Annual General Meeting of the association took place at Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto. The Association said farewell  to Board members—Jack Langenhuizen—and welcomed new member—Jesse Dell, and returning member, Yasmina Ramzy

Helming your board is Samara Thompson (Chair) who is an independent choreographer and dance educator, specializing in the integration of computer technology with dance. She has presented her choreography across Canada, was the recipient of a Paula Citron Dance Award for choreography, has spoken at the CORPS de Ballet International Conference, and written for the Dance Current. Samara graduated with her MA and Honours BFA in Dance from York University. She trained in Canada and the United States with many notable artists and performed in works by Dana Reitz, Carol Anderson, Chuck Davis, and Trish Armstrong. Samara is also a co-host on the Toronto radio show Evi-Dance, where she interviews local and international guests, such as Ohad Naharin, Bill T. Jones, Crystal Pite, and Christopher House. She currently teaches dance at York University.

Jennifer Watkins (Vice Chair) holds a B.F.A. degree from York University with special honours in dance. Following graduation she continued her dance training at the School of Toronto Dance Theatre as well as exploring other modern and jazz styles in Toronto and New York City. She has served in administrative capacities for the Danny Grossman Dance Company, the Young Audience Division for R.H. Entertainments, Dance Umbrella of Ontario, Theatre Direct and CADA-ON, as well as Interim Grants Officer for the Toronto Arts Council. She received a Harold Award in 2000, worked with Moving Pictures Festival, and currently works with the Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Co. and Arabesque.

Cynthia Lickers-Sage (Treasurer) is a Mohawk artist from Six Nations. She is the Founder of both, The Centre for Aboriginal Media and the internationally acclaimed imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival. She has spent most of the last decade working in the arts in the not-for-profit sector as the previous Executive Director at the Association for Native Development in the Performing and Visual Arts and in the governmental sector as an arts officer at the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts. She currently serves on the Cultural Human Resources Council, Dance Ontario, Kakawekwewin (Aboriginal advisory committee to the Canada Council for the Arts), Aboriginal Education Council at OCAD and the National Aboriginal Network for Arts Administration and has served on a variety of volunteer boards and arts service organizations, including Toronto Arts Council, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Cultural Careers Council of Ontario and YYZ.

Sashar Zarif (Secretary) Originally from Azerbaijan, Sashar is an acclaimed dancer, choreographer and teacher who has studied many dance forms. Artistic Director of Sashar Zarif Dance Company, he was a member of the Azerbaijan State Joshgoon Dance Ensemble, and received the title "Artist for People of Azerbaijan". A Chalmers Award recipient, he is the founder of Dancers For Peace and recipient (with Holly Small) of the Paula Citron Award for the Best New Choreography at fFIDA for his presentation of a work commission by Dance Ontario.

Lola Ryan Past Chair is fluently bilingual and has been involved in theatre and dance across North America and Europe as a teacher, performer and writer since 1975. She has taught and performed across North America and Europe and was a founding member of EDAM, Vancouver's innovative dance and music collective. Currently, she teaches in the Theatre Department at the University of Ottawa, trains dancers and actors in improvisation for performance in Ottawa and Athens, Greece and teaches public classes in Improvisation at Ottawa's Dance Network. Lola also works extensively in the schools, teaching dance and movement. She has served on the commissioning committee of  Dance Ontario and on the board of the Council for the Arts in Ottawa. She was a member of the Arts Advisory Committee to the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.

Catherine Carpenko has been involved in the dance and arts community in Canada and the U.S. as teacher, choreographer, performer (in theatre, film and TV), producer (musical theatre and dance) and administrator for over 30 years. Starting as dancer/soloist with the Scarborough Ballet Company in her teens she has since then performed widely and initiated many successful arts initiatives including Studio 71, ( rural dance and theatre school), establishment of Theatre Orangeville, Valleyview and Wildrose Farm (organic) Artist Retreats, 'Children's Art Gallery' for the Headwaters Art Tour, 'Artist's in Schools Dance' programme for Dufferin Arts Council, numerous children's arts focused summer camps. She has choreographed for musical theatre, festivals and special events in Canada and the U.S. She holds a BFA in Dance (therapy) and M.A.'s in Psych./Ed and one focused on Creativity and Wellness. Catherine has a wealth of experience both in the non-profit and corporate sector being an innovator and invaluable resource in new initiatives for healthy organizations and communities. Currently she is the director of the highly successful Wild Rose Farm Artist Retreat, which has been hosting artists from Canada and around the globe for over 5 years. It's unique mandate to support self- directed creativity for individuals and groups with a commitment to environmental stewardship. Catherine works as a psychotherapist in private practice with offices both in Toronto and Orangeville.

Jesse Dell  A graduate of the dance program at York University Jesse Dell has worked as a contemporary dance artist for a decade, performing across Canada and the US while creating over ten original choreographic works, with a particular interest in multidisciplinary creation. Jesse has had the privilege of performing work by Peggy Baker, Aria Evans, Kate Franklin, Susan Lee, Shannon Litzenberger, Tracey Norman, Julia Sasso, Holly Small and Samara L. Thomson, as well as for The Canadian Opera Company, Kaha:wi Dance Theatre, the National Arts Centre, Larchaud Dance Project, The Scandelles and JDdance, a collective she co-founded in 2009 with Jordana Deveau. As a choreographer, Jesse has created work for the Art Gallery of Ontario, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, The School of Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre, Festival of Dance Annapolis Royal, Half Second Echo collective and Dans Kamera Istanbul. Jesse has served as a Guest Judge for Queer Idol Toronto, as an independent creator/producer for Scotiabank Nuit Blanche and as a costume designer for Larchaud Dance Project, Tracey Norman and The Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre. She is a proud member of the Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists and the Canadian Dance Assembly.

Debbie Kapp has been teaching Dance at L. B. Pearson School for the Arts, London, Ontario for the past 20 years. She is a graduate of York University's Dance Program (1979). Before moving to London, Debra taught ballet and Creative Dance at the Thornhill School of Ballet for four years. She has been writing Dance curriculum for the Thames Valley District School Board for 15 years and regularly presents workshops for teachers on how to teach Dance in the school setting. Outside of her role as Dance Educator, Debra is the Producer and Artistic Director of the show "Art Harvest". "Art Harvest" is an annual showcase of Dance Education programs in Southwestern Ontario, produced every fall in London as a benefit for the Jason Edmonds Emerging Artist Fund. As a member of the National Dance Educator's Organization Debra travels throughout the United States and Canada participating in conferences, workshops and Master Classes to continuously acquire new skills and to remain current in the field of Dance. In November of 2005 she won an Award of Excellence from the Jewish Community Centers Association of North America for the innovative and creative programming of the presentation Resilience in the Face of Trouble and Despair. Debra is a co-founder of The London Alliance of Dance Educators, an organization whose mission is to bring together studio dancers and school dance program dancers for Master Classes and performances. She is co-owner of Action Pak, a Resource for Dance Educators.

Jade Jager Clark (Secretary) is the Owner and Artistic Director of Jade's Hip Hop Academy (JHHA). The only all Hip Hop and street dance studio in Toronto, the GTA and one of the few of its kind in Canada. Established in Brampton in 2006 the school's impressive reputation build from outstanding competition results and numerous electrifying performances in the Brampton community and around the province attracts students from as far as Guelph, Barrie, Oakville, Orangeville, Caledon, Milton, Malton, Toronto, Vaughan, Mississauga, Ajax, Hamilton, Woodbridge, Scarborough, Pickering and Georgetown, to train in JHHA's highly acclaimed programs. Jade has successfully managed to raise the profile of authentic hip hop dance and created a successful Performance Company and student teacher program that continues to build, develop and drive the next generation of creative thinkers, performers and workers. Jade is the secretary on the executive board of Directors on Dance Ontario and Chair of the Dance Ontario Youth Board. She is also the founder of Street Dance Canada Inc, organizer of the Canadian Street Dance Championships bringing Canadian street dancers to compete at the World street Dance Championships in England. Jade has received numerous recognitions for her innovative programs and business model, entrepreneurship and accomplishments including the 2010 Zonta Young Women's Achievement, 2011 BBPA Harry Jerome Award Young Entrepreneur Award, a nominee for the 2011 Premier's Awards, 2012 Brampton Outstanding Business Achievement Award and was named 2012 Brampton Arts Person of the Year.

Alan Faigal is an educator and community animator who teaches for Ryerson University's Early Childhood Studies Program.   Alan’s dance training has been in Hip Hop and Urban based genres.  He studies and performs Bollywood Dance under the direction of Lopa Sarkar of Divine Heritage Artistry.  Pedagogy centers on family support and social justice.  His mentorship of practicum students includes the cultivation of self and professional identity.   Alan is also the National Youth Outreach Director for Culture Shock Canada, in that role he has designed and implemented community dance programs for ages 2.5 to 18 all across Southern Ontario.  Alan has been a movement specialist in the fitness/wellness industry for over 17 years.  As a canfitpro PRO trainer he trains and certifies group fitness instructors.  He has recently become an ambassador for the Masala Bhangra Workout.  Dance floors and academic lecture halls are avenues for his dynamic teaching methods.

Kaylynne (Kate) Lowe is a retired Halton District School Board teacher having taught Dance and Drama to intermediate students for the last fifteen years of her career. Throughout said career, Kate wrote Dance and Drama programmes and curriculum and ran workshops for her colleagues to help teach these subjects. She directed and choreographed numerous school musicals (several of which were student written) and coached school dance teams. Kate was part of the planning team which developed HDSB's "Creating A Scene" held annually at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga. She was the creator/founder of HDSB's annual dance festival "Florescence" celebrating International Dance day receiving an Award of Merit for her work. In retirement. Kate continues to nurture her passion for dance. She is a dancer with Burlington Footnotes (a senior's performance troupe), also designing and constructing costumes. Kate volunteers in several schools helping with their Dance and Drama programmes, choreographing musicals and developing original dance and drama pieces for festivals. Recently Kate began working with autistic children in an educational setting using the new Ontario Arts curriculum.

Tina Nicolaidis is one of Toronto's most popular dance experts with a specialty in Ballet/Jazz & Latin dance. Tina is the co-founder and Artistic Director of City Dance Corps, one of Toronto's leading dance schools going into its ninth year of business. She has been featured in numerous television shows and magazines including, Much Music, Fashion Magazine, Maclean's, National Post, CBC's "Living in Toronto", Rogers "Toronto Living", Elle Magazine, and CH TV to name a few. She has been a dance judge for international level Latin dance competitions and American reality TV shows such as Instant Beauty Pageant. As a dance advocate, Tina produces and sponsors an annual charity showcase, "Talent Defined" which features Toronto's up and coming dance companies and choreographers. Tina also gained recognition for training lead actor Jake Simons for his role as the original "Johnny Castle" in North America's fastest selling premier stage production of Dirty Dancing. As a choreographer, her most recent accomplishments include choreographing Nelly Furtado's 'Mi Plan' concert tour for 2010/2011.

Yasmina Ramzy is a choreographer and visionary committed to the expression of Bellydance as high art. Since 1981, she spent the first 15 years performing throughout the Middle East for royalty and heads of state, then founded the critically acclaimed Arabesque Dance Company and Orchestra, Arabesque Academy and the International Bellydance Conference of Canada (IBCC). She received her key training in early 1980s from leading masters in Egypt and Syria including Aida Nour of the Reda Troupe and Mohammed Khalil, director of the National Folklore Troupe of Egypt. Her unique and highly creative choreographies have won numerous awards and commissioned by many dance ensembles internationally including the Bellydance Superstars. Today, she regularly performs, teaches and lectures in over 60 cities on 5 continents. Yasmina has produced 7 instructional and 8 performance DVDs as well as 7 CDs for Arabesque Orchestra. The “Ask Yasmina” column published in the world’s largest Bellydance magazine, The Gilded Serpent is translated to several languages. Bravo TV says she "has taken Bellydance to another level" and the Globe and Mail says "she will go down in history as having redeemed Bellydance".

Ofilio Sinbadinho is a choreographer, actor, dancer, designer, photographer, educator, artistic director, and most of all a constant work in progress. His curiosity brought him to learn an array of dance styles. He is responsible for bringing shine on stage to street styles such as Hip Hop and House Dancing. His drive makes him an exceptional professional artist and his realness a unique admiring person. His talent led him into landing roles in feature films "Resident Evil: Retribution", "Turn The Beat Around" and "You Got Served 2: Beat The World" as well as working in the movie "Camp Rock 2" featuring the Jonas Brothers. He can be seen in commercials for Virgin Mobile and WarChild foundation. His hard work has brought him to cities like Berlin, Rio, Paris, Chicago, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. He has worked with artists such as: Nelly Furtado, Kreesha Turner, Feist, Jully Black, Thunderheist, Danny Fernandes and European sensation Cascada. He is the founder of the highly praised Gadfly Dance Company. His work has been presented during festivals like: Manifesto, Ted Talks Toronto, Luminato, Break Beats and Culture, Toronto Fringe, International Dance Day, and Nuit Blanche. He worked as assistant choreographer in the hit TV show "So You Think You Can Dance Canada". Ofilio has persevered to demonstrate his art on many aspects, from touring, to movies, TV shows, music videos, live stage performances, international dance battles, and theatrical productions. Born in El Salvador, raised in Montreal, trained in New York, and now living in Toronto, Ofilio "Sinbadinho" Portillo has already achieved many of his dreams. His successes and setbacks make him thankful for the experiences and people he has encountered. Therefore, he looks forward to continue to share his talent, energy and mindset to inspire others to dream, believe and achieve.