Board of Directors

 REMINDER: AGM of the Corporation will be held onSeptember 23, 2019 at Canada's National Ballet School.

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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 Company.


Anuschka Roes (Treasurer)  has 40 years experience in the dance field teaching classical ballet, national/character dance, Benesh Movement Notation andf pedagogy, as well as producing a series of informational training videos on the latter.

An examiner for both RAD and ISTD, she was appointed manager of the NBS Teacher Training Program in 1996.



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.


Jade Jager Clark is the Owner/Art Dir of Jade's Hip Hop Academy (JHHA), the only all Hip Hop/street dance studio in the GTA and one of the few of its kind in Canada. Established in Brampton in 2006, the school's impressive reputation attracts students from across the province, to train in its highly acclaimed programs. Jade has raised the profile of authentic hip hop dance and created a successful Performance Company. She is also the founder of Street Dance Canada Inc, organizer of the Canadian Street Dance Championships taking Canadian street dancers to the World Street Dance Championships in the UK. She has received numerous awards and recognition 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 nomination for the 2011 Premier's Awards, 2012 Brampton Outstanding Business Achievement Award and was named 2012 Brampton Arts Person of the Year.


Jesse Dell graduated from York University and has since worked as a contemporary dance artist, performing across Canada and the US while creating choreographic works, with a particular interest in multidisciplinary creation. She has performed work by artists including Peggy Baker, Julia Sasso, and Holly Small, 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. Jesse has created choreographed for the AGO, 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. She served as a Guest Judge for Queer Idol Toronto, as an independent creator/producer for Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, and as a costume designer. She is a member of the CADA and the CDA.


Jeff Dimitriou is a renowned choreographer, creative director, artist and producer. Best known for choreographing the 2015 Pan American Games Closing Ceremonies,[1] 2015 Parapan Opening, Cirque Du Soleil and noteworthy films as associate on Suckerpunch, Mirror, Mirror, Twilight Breaking Dawn.


Jane Gardner is General Manager of Quinte Ballet School of Canada that offers professional training program for students in Belleville and provides recreational dance and outreach programs for all ages including Dancing with Parkinsons. She has managed cultural facilities, touring companies, regional theatres and creation-based companies all over Ontario.

While Executive Director at Theatre Ontario, she launched a health & safety training program for theatre managers, supported joint marketing programs for summer theatres and worked with Ontario's arts service organizations to secure the initial funding and resources that helped to create ArtsBuild Ontario.


Debbie Kapp taught Dance at L. B. Pearson School for the Arts, London, for over 20 years and is a graduate of York University's Dance Program (1979). She taught ballet and Creative Dance at the Thornhill School of Ballet and wrote the Dance curriculum for the Thames Valley District School Board, regularly presenting workshops for teachers on how to teach Dance in the school setting. Debra is the Producer/Artistic Director of the show "Art Harvest", an annual showcase of Dance Education programs in Southwestern Ontario, produced as a benefit for the Jason Edmonds Emerging Artist Fund. 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,and co-owner of Action Pak, a Resource for Dance Educators.


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 who taught Dance and Drama to intermediate students for many years. She also wrote programmes and curriculum and ran workshops for colleagues. Kate directed and choreographed numerous school musicals and coached school dance teams. She was part of the planning team which developed HDSB's Creating A Scene held annually at Mississauga's Living Arts Centre and was creator/founder of HDSB's annual dance festival Florescence celebrating International Dance Day for which she received an Award of Merit. Kate is a dancer with Burlington Footnotes (a senior's performance troupe), also designing and constructing costumes. She 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. She coordinates the Halton Dance Network together with Alan Faigal.


Tina Nicolaidis is one of Toronto's most popular dance experts with a specialty in Ballet/Jazz & Latin dance. She is the co-founder/Art Dir of City Dance Corps and 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. She 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 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. 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 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. She regularly performs, teaches and lectures in over 60 cities on 5 continents. 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. 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 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. 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 such as 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". Born in El Salvador, raised in Montreal, trained in New York, and now living in Toronto, Ofilio "Sinbadinho" Portillo has achieved many of his dreams.