Aria Evans is a Toronto-based interdisciplinary artist working in film, dance creation and performance. She draws on her experiences as a woman of mixed race (Mi’kmaq/Black/settler heritage) to capture meaningful social and cultural themes through her interactive art. Aria is artistic director of the Go To Company and co-artistic director of hub14. The Toronto, Ontario and Canada Council for the arts have supported Aria’s endeavours as well as Jumblies Theatre, Native Earth Performing Arts and b current.
Aria has presented her own choreographic work with SummerWorks, the Toronto Fringe, Nightwood Theatre, the University of Toronto, HarbourKIDS, Native Earth Performing Arts, the University of Toronto Scarborough, FRESH BLOOD, the Gardiner Museum, the Harbourfront Centre’s Next Step Series, Series 808 and Dance Ontario, Long Winter, Labspace Studio, Intergalactic Arts Collective, Rivoli Dances 4 and many more. Her works have been presented in both North America and Europe. She has toured with company Kaha:wi Dance Theatre, created work commissioned by the Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance, performed for the Indspire awards, participated and performed in works by Michael Greyeyes, Penny Chouchie, Julia Sasso, Peggy Baker, The Banff Centre, A Tribe Called Red, Susan Lee, Constance Cooke and Expect Theatre, to name a few.
Aria has sat on Canada Council and Dora Award juries, been an Invited Guest Contributor to the 20th anniversary Canadian Arts Summit and talked on interdisciplinary panels for TAPA’s INDIEX. Through film, she has collaborated with many of Toronto’s leading dance artists and organizations.
Tara Kannanngara grew up in Chilliwack, BC and studied classical piano and singing from an early age. She was active in musical theatre and choirs, then picked up the trumpet in high school, concentrating on classical before later moving into jazz. Tara studied at the University of Victoria and concentrated on classical trumpet and vocals; later, Tara moved to Toronto to pursue jazz studies at the University of Toronto where she came into her own as a performer and songwriter.
As a bandleader, Kannangara is quickly making a splash on the Toronto jazz scene and continues to perform all across Canada and throughout the United States with notable performances at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC and New York City’s Jazz Gallery. Tara’s group has been awarded the 2016 Julian Award for excellence in emerging Canadian jazz artists, the Sting Ray Rising Star Award as a part of the TD Montreal Jazz Festival and her debut album “Some Version of the Truth” has been nominated for a 2016 Juno Award for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year.
Tara has had the opportunity to work and perform with leading international jazz artists, including Esperanza Spalding, Theo Bleckmann, Tim Hagans, Ran Blake, Donny McCaslin, Bry Webb, Kirk MacDonald, Andrew Downing, and Elizabeth Shepherd.
Tia Kushniruk was born in Edmonton, Alberta and currently resides in Toronto. At the age of three she was forced to dance at the insistence of her parents, but quickly grew to love movement. In 2013, she became a Databank Artist for Cirque du Soleil and pursued one year of Bachelor of Commerce. She began working with Jake W. Hastey (American Ballet Theater), the artistic director of Toy Guns Dance Theatre (Toy Guns), and joined them for their summer 2014 season touring across Western Canada. During her time with Hastey, Kushniruk discovered physical theatre and grew to incorporate theatrical elements of hyperbole into her creative body of work and improvisation. In the summer of 2016 she returned to Toy Guns as rehearsal director and soloist in four critically acclaimed productions and choreographed her first full length work in collaboration with Katherine Semchuk and Jocelyn Mah. A recent graduate of The School of Toronto Dance Theatre, she worked with Antony Hamilton (Australian Dance Theatre, Chunky Move), Shay Keubler (Radical System Arts, 605 Collective), and Hanna Kiel (Human Body Expression) this summer. This September, she joins Toronto Dance Theatre as their new intern for the 2017/2018 season.She was the 2016 recipient of the Kathryn Ash Scholarship.
Germaine Liu is a Toronto-based percussionist, performer and composer. Her compositional interests involve collaborations with people or the objects she plays and joyful explorations of everyday gestures and feelings. Her most recent collaboration CeramiX with ceramic artist Chiho Tokita involves creating a set of compositions specific to Tokita’s ceramic work. Liu has performed as a soloist and has been privileged to collaborate with many wonderful musicians, dancers and artists. Liu studied percussion with John Goddard, Jesse Stewart and music with Ellen Waterman at University of Guelph and composition with David Mott at York University.
Kai Masaoka makes art happen. A maverick of theatre abilities, he oils the wheels of ideas with his skills in sound design and engineering, lighting, rigging, and carpentry at indie theatres and adventurous out of the way venues around Toronto. Known for his love of picnics, Kai fights off theatre scurvy by roaming the city on his blue coaster cruiser bicycle most days the weather is nice.
Michael Murray: “I grew up with renewable energy and the relationship of using less in a world of excess consumption. My post secondary education began in electronics and matured into design. My design education started at Humber College and continued at OCAD University giving me a great mix of making and thinking skills. I believe great design is functional art, either as an object or an idea, that embodies a story and the story becomes the gravity that keeps pulling us back to certain designs.”
Pulga Muchochoma was born in Quelimane, Mozambique. His dance career and training began in Quelimane with Montes Namuli Dance Company. In August of 2006 he came to Toronto with the company for the International AIDS Conference. With Montes Namuli/Shakespeare Link Canada, he performed in several shows in venues in Toronto and Mozambique. When Montes Namuli returned to Mozambique, Muchochoma stayed in Toronto to study at The School of Toronto Dance Theatre. Pulga has worked with many choreographers, local and international. He is happy and excited to currently be working with Toronto Dance Theatre under Artist Director Christopher House.
Laura Philipps is a theatre maker from Toronto working as a producer, stage manger and production manager. Laura is a co-chair of Theatre Ontario’s 2017 Youth Advisory Committee with an upcoming event Emergence: a theatre training day for youth, by youth. Laura works as a digital engagement specialist with the Bloor St. Culture Corridor, Toronto’s most diverse arts and culture district from Bathurst to Bay streets. Laura attended University of Toronto where she was Artistic Producer of the UC Follies, and continues to work with the campus community as associate producer of the 2017 Drama Centre Alumni Show, ASMRtist.
Sonja Rainey is a Dora nominated set and costume designer and community-based artist. She has designed for theatre, puppetry, opera, film and spectacle events and has had work produced in Canada, the U.S and as part of the Prague Quadrennial. Her approach is tactile and experiential, responding to the ideas and themes at hand to create objects, immersive environments that blend forms and materials to move towards the questions and stories that lie below the surface.
Collaborations have included working with the Bicycle Opera Project, Urbanvessel, the Canadian Opera Company, Jumblies Theatre as well as Making Room Community Arts, MABELLEarts and the Community Arts Guild. Her work with these companies has encompassed set and costume design; puppet, projection and mask work; illustration and sculpture as well as the creation of short narrative films. Sonja has an MFA in Theatrical Design from the University of Texas at Austin, a BFA specialization in Design for the Theatre from Concordia University and has most recently studied at the Manitoulin Conservatory for Creation and Performance.
Heather Saumer is an active performer in Toronto as trombonist, vocalist, composer, improviser, arranger, songwriter, curator, and teacher. She is involved in many projects and ensembles in the Toronto area, and her own projects which often include elements of movement, visual art and spatial considerations. Her performance career has taken her across Canada, Europe, and to New York, and she’s performed with a diverse array of artists including Sylvie Courvoisier, members of the ICP Orchestra, Dave Douglas, Bry Webb, and Owen Pallett.
Doug Tielli has been a fixture of Toronto’s music scene since 1999, contributing his multi-instrumental abilities, song-writing, composition and improvisation to a variety of local ensembles, such as The silt, Drumheller, and The Reveries, as well as pursuing his own singer-songwriter project. He has performed and recorded with such renowned musicians as: Marshall Allen, Baby Dee, Devon Sproule, Jennifer Castle, Eugene Chadbourne, Amy Millan, John Oswald, Evan Parker, Dan Whiteley, The Constantines, Rheostatics, Snailhouse, Royal City …. He has toured Canada, U.S.A., Italy, Germany, U.K., Ireland, Austria, Denmark, Belgium, Holland, Finland and Estonia.
In 2011, ‘Swan Sky Sea Squirrel’ he released his first solo recording and followed it with his second in 2013, ‘Keresley’ which met with critical acclaim. ‘Truth and Elseness’ his third recording is awaiting release in 2017.
He is also an accompanist for dance improvisers, a yoga class, as well as maintaining a teaching practice.
Originally from Montreal, Kathia Wittenborn trained at Le Conservatoire de Danse de Montréal, Ballet Divertimento, and The School of Toronto Dance Theatre. Wittenborn has had the privilege to train and perform throughout North America and Europe. As a Toronto-based dance artist, she has worked with Robert Abubo, Amanda Acorn, Susie Burpee, Jane Alison McKinney, Sharon B. Moore, Kevin A. Ormsby, JD Dance, Red Sky Performance, and Tribal Crackling Wind. Tribal Crackling Wind’s work Woven was awarded with a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Performance as an ensemble. Wittenborn is currently working with Aria Evans, Marie Lambin Gagnon, and Shannon Litzenberger.
Mark Zurawinski is a Toronto-based drummer and percussionist whose eclectic palette and fondness for left of field music takes him to interesting sonic places from contemplative chamber music to free-jazz freakouts, pan-aegean folk grooves to digital noise. He is a regular collaborator with a many creative musicians in Toronto, shared the stage with a number of internationally acclaimed improvisers and performed at some of the key Canadian music hubs; the Guelph Jazz Festival, the Toronto Jazz Festival, the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, SuperMusique Series, NAISA’s Sound Travels Festival and the Music Gallery’s X Avant.