BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Sebastian Hirtenstein, President
Sebastian “Bash” Hirtenstein’s undeniable versatility, unshakeable fearlessness and captivating qualities in performance have allowed him to work with a wide spectrum of choreographers & companies such as BoucharDanse, Addy Chan, Michael Caldwell, Canadian Opera Company, Emilio Collalilo, Lenny de la Pena, Barbara Diabo, Rodney Diverlus, The Dietrich Group, Scott Fordham, Gadfly, Kaha:wi Dance Theatre, Little Pear Garden Dance Company, Jennifer Nichols, Kevin Ormsby, Red Sky Performance, Jennifer Thiessen, Kylie Thompson, and at the School of Toronto Dance Theatre with Nova Bhattacharya, Marc Boivin, Susie Burpee, Peter Chin, Jennifer Dallas, Robert Desrosiers, Danny Grossman, Christopher House, Allen Kaeja, Louis Laberge-Côté, Sharon Moore, Julia Sasso, and Darryl Tracy. He has performed throughout Canada, the Middle East, and Asia with Creativiva’s Aladdin and Pinocchio (for which he was dance captain) and has shared stages with stars such as Ariana Grande, Jason Derulo, Kiesza, Bebe Rexha, Delaney Jane, Allan Rayman and Polina Grace.
Sebastian Hirtenstein was elected in 2020/21.
Neena Jayarajan, acting Vice-Chair
Neena is a Bharatanatyam dancer who has trained under the tutelage of Guru Dr. Menaka Thakkar for over 28 years. She has been assistant teacher at Nrtyakala for over 15 years, and has served as both the Assistant Artistic Director (AAD), lead dancer and rehearsal director of the Menaka Thakkar Dance Company (MTDC) for over 6 years. In her role Neena assisted in re-choreographing remounts of MTDC productions & new works and toured to various cities across North America and Asia. Neena performed in both classical and contemporary works throughout her years at MTDC, and in addition performed in the Children's programming wing of the company in over 200 schools across Canada.
Through MTDC, Neena studied under renowned teachers in various dance styles including Padma Bushan Kalanidhi Narayan in Abhinaya, CV Chandrashekar in Bharatanatyam and Sujatha Mohaptra in Odissi. She has toured with MTDC’s Odissi production Gita Govinda across North America & India and was presented as an Odissi Soloist in India. She has also worked with various accomplished dancers including William Lau, Danny Grossman, Patrick Parson & Bengt Jorgen. In addition, taken intensives in other art forms including Kalaripayattu, Ballet, Modern dance and Butoh. She has performed in Sylvie Bouchard's piece La gigue en souvenir, Natasha Bakht’s Riaz, and Nova Bhattacharya’s piece Broken Lines, which won the Summerworks 2016 Outstanding Direction Award.
Neena has also completed her MA in dance from York University where her research was a comparative analysis of the training methods used for the Plie in Ballet and Aramandi in Bharatanatyam.
Neena is a 2016 recipient of the Chalmers Arts Fellowship Grant, allowing her to explore 3 projects with Ravi Jain of Why Not theatre, a group choreography with 5 Bharanatyam dancers and a solo work with Nova Bhattacharya.
Neena Jayarajan was elected in 2017/2018 and became acting Vice-Chair in 2021/2022.
Jeanne Lewis, Treasurer
Jeanne was elected in 2021/22.
Rhonda Baker (she/her) is a Lieutenant Governor MasterWorks Arts Award Winner (2016) for her contribution and performance in an ensemble work called Canvas 5 x 5 and was nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Award in 2014. She is a current board member at The Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists- East Chapter, an alum of The School of Toronto Dance Theatre (2009), and her dance training history includes the Martha Graham technique, Gaga Movement Language, Countertechnique, and Axis Syllabus.
Rhonda earned her B.A., with Specialized Honours in Psychology from York University in 2022 and throughout her studies acquired a concentration in counselling and mental health. Rhonda’s thesis examined associations between early life stress, caregiver responsiveness, and child language development, and was completed under the supervision of Dr. Lara Pierce at the Pierce Experience and Development Lab.
Rhonda Baker was elected in 2016/2017 and became Treasurer in 2018/2019.
Stephanie Mitro is an established industry professional, choreographer and dance teacher based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and is devoted to educating and mentoring young artists across Canada and abroad. Her pre-professional training originated in Ontario - focusing on modern, contemporary, ballet and jazz.
Stephanie is a proud graduate of Ryerson University touting a BFA Degree (Theatre Performance Dance), and has also completed her RAD and BATD Highland examinations with impressive notability. Additionally, she is a graduate of the Pre-Professional Program, DECIDEDLY JAZZ DANCEWORKS, and has performed for numerous dance companies on the West and East Coast’s. Stephanie has had the privilege to work with numerous well-known North American choreographers, via both company and commercial dance industry projects.
Stephanie is also the co-founder of the Halifax modern, contemporary, jazz company - VOTIVE DANCE – and her company thrives on performing across Canada in a variety of touring shows and festivals. She has participated in many exploration projects across the country. She has performed in commercial work and numerous original choreographic works, including: Wish, Desire, Vow (Atlantic Fringe Festival); Short Stories (Atlantic Fringe Festival); In Pursuit, East Meets West, Shedding Suffixes, Proven Lands (Nextfest, Atlantic Dance Festival, Soulocentric); Natural Forces, Perspective (Connection Dance Works); and Homeplace (collaboration with Pier 21), to name a few.
As a sought out choreographer, her work has been showcased by a plethora of dance companies, pre-professional/professional performance groups, arts schools and dance festivals. She has also been the recipient of numerous awards for her choreographic and artistic visions.
Stephanie Mitro was elected in 2019/2020.
Suma Nair Growing up in the Middle East, Suma Nair was initiated into the study of the Indian classical dance form of bharatanatyam under the training of Sujatha Suresh. She continues to practice, teach and perform the style.
Suma is the Assistant Artistic Director of Sampradaya Dance Creations. She holds an MFA in Dance Choreography from York University and was awarded the Susan Crocker and John Hunkin Scholarship in Fine Arts for 2014-2015. Her works include Kindred (2016), Transcendence (2016) and a remount of the work “Howzat” for Sampradaya Dance Creations (2017). Suma draws upon her training as an Indian Classical dancer to create the foundation to explore new forms of dance expression that combine Indian Classical and Contemporary styles.
She also holds a Master’s in Business Management and Mass Communications and with her experience in Event Management and Public Relations, Suma Nair blends her existing skill sets with a career in the performing arts.
She has also received training in documentary filmmaking from Algonquin College, Ottawa and was selected as a part of three-member film crew to work with the NGO Save The Children in Haiti, post the earthquake in 2010
Roberto Soria (he/her)
I am Roberto Soria, and as a seeker of pleasure it only makes sense that movement has been a part of my life for so many years. I have no idea where I might go. I am on a journey of reopening and trusting in my Sagittarian blood. I am an aspiring DJ/creator of noise; I love to rave, recently started a YouTube channel and really want to start making clothes with my friends. I am a loving lost human who is doing what I can each day to please my creative being, so I start in the unknown, opening my cells and allowing my mind to collide with my desires. I needed to fly so I decided to fly. Also I love talking to people on the street, so if you ever see me, come say hi!
Roberto Soria was elected in 2019/2020.
Photo by McKenzie James.
Corynne Bisson is a filmmaker, choreographer, and dancer based in Toronto. After being a part of the local dance community for 12 years in rural northern Alberta, she received her undergraduate degree at the University of Calgary majoring in Dance. Since beginning her professional career in Toronto she has begun to produce, direct and choreograph dance short films with a co-founder under the company name GALPAL Productions. Some of her most recent films include Blade&Silk (2017), Let Her Out (2018), Us (2019), What Do You See (2020) and Praire Girl (2021).As one-half of GALPAL Productions she produces and co-hosts a weekly podcast, 'Being an Artist is F**king Killing Me'
Created in an effort to address the trials and tribulations of being an artist, co-hosts and co-founders Raine Kearns and Corynne Bisson interview a new artist every week to try to re-define what it means to be successful in today’s art world. The podcast gives space for artists and creators to talk about issues that matter to them, mental health and lack of recourse to name a few, freely. From dancers to actors, tattoo artists to jewelry designers, painters to interdisciplinary artists, Raine and Corynne stay down to earth and vulnerable with their guests while still making an incredibly witty and entertaining podcast that anyone can relate to.
Photo by Aidan Tooth.
Eleanor van Veen (she/her) is a Tkaronto-based mover, collaborator, performer, instructor, and Radiohead lover. She graduated with Distinction from The Conteur Academy. She has performed works by Alysa Pires, Hanna Kiel, Igor Bacovich, Malgorzata Nowacka-May, Meghann Michalsky, Naishi Wang, Robert Glumbek, Susana Pous, and Sylvie Moquin, and has worked with Human Body Expression, Nostos Collectives, ProArteDanza, and Project InTandem. Reaching across North America, she has performed in festivals: Chuzpah!, Capezio Ace Awards, Dance Ontario DanceWeekend, Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur, the response’s digital Dance Café, and The Toronto Fringe Festival. In 2020, she received a Dora Mavor Moore Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in DanceWorks CoWorks / Human Body Expression’s Resonance. Acting as a vessel for her own and her collaborators’ artistic visions, she recognizes her privilege to freely move, and she is a hard working, vigorous, expansive, precise, supple, curious, and sweaty mover.
Photo by Aidan Tooth.