Keith Barker is a member of the Métis Nation of Ontario. He is an award-winning playwright, actor, and Dora-nominated director from Northwestern Ontario. Keith is the director of the Foerster Bernstein New Play Development Program at the Stratford Festival, and the former artistic director at Native Earth Performing Arts in Toronto.
In 2020, he won the Dora Award for Outstanding New Play and the Playwrights Guild of Canada’s Carol Bolt Award. Keith was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama in 2018 for his play, This Is How We Got Here. He received a Saskatchewan and Area Theatre Award for Achievement in Playwriting for his play, The Hours That Remain, as well as a Yukon Arts Award for Best Art for Social Change.
Keith returned to the stage in 2023, playing Louis Riel in France Koncan’s Women of the Furtrade for the Stratford Festival. Other acting credits include Richard Hannay in Bruce County’s The 39 Steps, Cornwall in the National Arts Centre’s Production of King Lear, Roger Hughes in Seeds, and Bernard Smoke in Fury for the Blyth Festival.
John Kameel Farah is a composer and pianist who embraces aspects of Baroque and early music, Middle Eastern music, improvisation, and all forms of electronic music. Born in Brampton, Ontario, he studied composition and piano at the University of Toronto, where he received the Glenn Gould Composition Award twice. He later studied privately with Terry Riley in California and at the Arabic Music Retreat in Hartford.
John calls his music “Baroque-Middle-Eastern-Cyberpunk,” combining the piano with electronics, moving freely between improvisations, soundscapes, and driving rhythms. He also tours his project “Music for Organ & Synthesizers” in cathedrals and churches.
Collaborations include rising ballet star Robert Binet and iconic choreographer Peggy Baker, for which he received a Dora Award in 2016. He composed soundtracks for galaxy formation simulations by astrophysicist John Dubinski and joined the Canadian Electronic Ensemble in 2010. This fall, he will guest-perform with Tangerine Dream and with the Deutsches Kammerorchester Berlin at the Berlin Philharmonic.
John has performed across Europe and North America, as well as South Korea, Brazil, Mexico, and Israel/Palestine, giving masterclasses at the Edward Said National Conservatory in 2003. He is currently doing a Carrefour residency with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, writing a piano concerto, which he will premiere in 2024.
Natasha Powell is a Toronto native who has been working in the dance industry for 20 years. Her soulful approach to movement that transcends genre can be seen and felt in her dancing, choreography, and teachings.
Growing up in a Caribbean home, dancing has always been in Natasha’s life. Bringing flavour to every step, she has collaborated and created over 20 dance works for live performance. As the founder, artistic director, and choreographer for her company HOLLA JAZZ, Natasha created the award-winning show FLOOR’D — the company’s first full-length production — presenting historical jazz dances in a contemporary aesthetic. The production was nominated for four Dora Awards (including Outstanding Original Choreography and Outstanding Production), winning Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble, and named one of 10 best Toronto dance shows of the past decade by NOW Magazine. Her choreographic language has led her to collaborate on theatre projects with Canadian Stage productions of Choir Boy (2022) and Fall on Your Knees (2023).
Inspired by social dances such as jazz, hip hop, and house dance, Natasha shares her love for movement through teaching dance classes and workshops in Toronto and across Canada. She helps individuals find their personal groove, make breakthroughs in their dancing, and ultimately experience joy in their bodies.
Suba Sankaran is a renowned Dora Award-winning, thrice JUNO-nominated world/fusion vocalist who effortlessly combines musical worlds. She has performed across North America, Europe, the United Kingdom, Asia, Australia, and Africa with her Indo-fusion ensemble Autorickshaw, master drummer Trichy Sankaran, and a cappella live-looping duo FreePlay, among others. Performance highlights include performing for Peter Gabriel, Nelson Mandela, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and performing with Jane Siberry, Lorraine Segato, Alan Frew, Bobby McFerrin, and the Swingles.
Suba is in demand as a choral director, arranger, composer, and educator, having taught at York University, the University of Toronto, and Humber College, and has given masterclasses across the globe. She has composed and produced music for theatre, film, radio, and dance, including collaborations with Deepa Mehta, the CBC, Stratford Festival, Shaw Festival, and the debut of her original music at the Barbican Theatre in London as part of Why Not Theatre’s Mahabharata.
Suba co-created City Choir, a global community choir in Toronto, and serves as artistic associate with Confluence Concerts, a company of diverse creative artists dedicated to personal, thought-provoking, and moving presentations. As a South Indian-Canadian, she strives to find meaning in the “in-between” by crossing cultures and creating dialogue in all her artistic endeavours.
Composer and educator Dr. Roydon Tse seeks to communicate to audiences from all backgrounds, drawing inspiration from the urgent challenges posed by climate change, the complexities of grief, and the ever-evolving cultural tapestry of our dynamic world.
Roydon’s music — spanning orchestral, chamber, operatic, and electronic mediums — has been performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Brussels Philharmonic, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Philharmonic, Hamilton Philharmonic, Atlanta Opera, Esprit Orchestra, Verona Quartet, and members of the Paris Opera and La Scala. His music has been recognized with seven SOCAN Foundation Awards for Young Composers, the Washington International Composition Prize (2015), Lieutenant Governor of Alberta’s Emerging Artist Award (2018), the Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Protégé Prize (2019), and the iSING! International Composition Prize (2020).
From Hong Kong, Roydon graduated from the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto in music composition. He was subsequently one of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s 2021/22 NextGen Composers and the 2023/24 Artist-in-Residence for the Colorado Wind Ensemble. Passionate about reaching the next generation of artists, he serves on the teaching faculties of the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance’s Composition Academy, Community Music Schools of Toronto, and the Canadian Opera Company.
Chris Mejaki is Anishinaabe, originally from Sagamok Anishnawbek with ties to Wikwemikoong and M’Chigeeng, Manitoulin Island. He is an actor and playwright based in Toronto and recently completed his time as a member of the Birmingham Conservatory at the Stratford Festival (2023). Chris is a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada’s Acting Program (2018) and the Centre for Indigenous Theatre (2015).
Some of his recent credits include Longaville in Love’s Labour’s Lost, Angel in Richard II, understudy in Every Little Nookie, and Usher/Doctor/Chorus in Hamlet-911 at the Stratford Festival, as well as Dr. Seward/Renfield/Jake in Written in Blood (Talk is Free Theatre), Orestes/Odysseus in The Trojan Girls & The Outhouse of Atreus workshop (Outside the March), and a reader in Weesageechak Begins to Dance 32 and an artist in the 2019 Mskomini Giizis Residency (Native Earth Performing Arts).
The Anishnaabe people have always sat in lodges together, where we would hold ceremony and share teachings through speaking the language, movement, and songs. My Anishnaabe ancestors have passed these gifts to me and I honour them with storytelling, grass dancing, teaching, acting, and writing. My experiences as an Anishnaabe man and the influence of the arts have guided me into developing a one man show. My hope is to hold ceremony on stage and share my story with you. Miigwech.
Evan Pointner is a composer, recording artist, musician, and music educator based in Kitchener-Waterloo. He studied piano, composition, and improvisation with three supportive and inspirational mentors — first with John Kameel Farah in Toronto, and then with Linda Catlin Smith and Glenn Buhr at Wilfrid Laurier University. Since graduating, he has been a dedicated solo and collaborative performer, playing at house concerts, cafes, bars, restaurants, theatres, churches, and art galleries. Since 2018, he has been creating meditative, ambient music through his ongoing recording project, Cedarwood Sounds. These soundscapes have (so far) been built from loops, drones, and spontaneous melodies, all mixed in with field recordings; some fruitful collaborations have also grown from this project.
As well as playing music and gathering field recordings, Evan also practices contact improvisation, a form of dance with its origins in aikido. He has been attending contact jams since 2014, as both a dancer and an improvising musician — sometimes inviting vocalizations into the space, merging the sonic experience with the somatic. He has also attended and hosted sound meditation events, where the focus is on listening together and creating sounds spontaneously with instruments and voices.
One of the things that Evan values most is having shared moments of presence and aesthetic appreciation with others.
Raoul Wilke is a Toronto-based multidisciplinary award-winning artist, known internationally for his expressive and diverse style, while sharing his love on the importance of self-value. He is a member of the Dora Award-winning company HOLLA JAZZ and co-founder of The Moon Runners dance crew.
As a leader of the street dance community within Canada, Raoul has mentored various companies and dance schools over the years on the importance of the historical context within these forms. He is currently Faculty at Toronto Metropolitan University. As a student of dance, he continues to live for the quote, “See the music, hear the dance,” by Balanchine.
Solidifying himself as a visual artist in the past few years, Raoul has completed commissioned works for art events such as 1234 DanceArts, as well as being featured in the Visual Fringe Gallery. His unorthodox style of pen and pencil allow for new collaborations.
In all his work, Raoul aims to reinvigorate the cultural experience with innovative ideologies and showcase the importance of people, while honouring their stories.
Shirsha Chakraborty is an award-winning Indian alternative R&B singer-songwriter based in Brampton, Ontario. She creates melody-focussed music that is a seamless blend of R&B, pop, jazz, soul, and trap combined with her Indian roots. She is also a vocal teacher and a session artist who arranges and records intricate background vocals and adlibs.
Shirsha has trained in Hindustani classical vocal music for eight years, in Speech Level Singing for a decade, and graduated from Humber College with a music degree. She has performed across Canada and internationally. In 2014, Shirsha won a national Indian singing competition called “Voice of Storm” and was awarded the opportunity to record with Bollywood maestro Shankar Mahadevan. In 2022, she collaborated with South Asian hip-hop producer Yanchan on a Hindi cover that went viral and this year, Bollywood composer Shekhar Ravjiani released her R&B version of his song on his new indie label Garuda Music.
This summer Shirsha joined Bollywood artist Ash King in headlining Canada’s largest South Asian music festival Bollywood Monster Mashup, and then headlined Toronto’s Hot and Spicy Festival with her own band. She is currently working on an intimate series of original songs to be released in 2024.
Sami Anguaya is a Toronto-based singer and composer who creates music that blurs genre lines. Named one of Canada’s top “30 under 30” classical musicians by CBC in 2023, his work has been commissioned and performed by Exultate Chamber Singers, Western University Singers, Modern Sound Collective, and University of Toronto Wind Ensemble, as well as by indie filmmakers and game developers.
Sami’s music has been characterized as driving, engaging, and vibrant. Frequently drawn to groove-based and popular styles for inspiration, he composes with a rich, rhythmic style that attracts a broad range of listeners.
Sami’s graduate work focused on studying the pre-colonial woodwind techniques of his Kichwa heritage (Ecuador) and experimenting with vocal performance techniques that embody aesthetics found in Kichwa music. His work has been recognized by the University of Toronto’s Lothar Klein Fellowship in Advanced Composition, William Irving Fairclough Graduating Scholarship, and Ontario Graduate Scholarship. Most recently, he was the recipient of the Tecumseh Sherman Rogers Graduating Award, which recognizes a graduating student deemed to have the greatest potential to make an important contribution to the field of music.
Sina Bathaie is a Toronto-based composer and multi-instrumentalist with more than 35 million streams on digital platforms. Originally from Iran, he is known for his unique style of playing traditional instruments such as the oud and ukulele, with electronic music. Sina has been featured at festivals including Burning Man, Luminato, Folk Music Ontario, CINARS, and Mundial Montréal. His album, Ray of Hope, was nominated for Best World Beat Album at the 16th Independent Music Awards.
In 2022, Sina premiered his electronic music body of work at a sold-out concert in Toronto, resulting in the creation of “Breath of Life,” which has amassed 15 million streams and achieved charting success in countries including Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey. He has been signed with prestigious record labels such as Hoomidaas, Alt Orient, and Tibetania, and has performed in Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Germany.
Sina began learning the santur at the age of seven from his father, Javad Bathaie, and studied Persian music with the oud, a fretless stringed instrument. He later pursued studies in Composition and Orchestration for Film at Berklee College of Music and has composed scores for movies such as The Horse Latitudes, Un royaume déménage, Ameno, and Mr. Settled Immigrant.
A citizen of the Sto:lo Nation, Sid Bobb is an arts leader and interdisciplinary artist whose artistic practice moves between the spiritual, familial, communal, and professional. Son of Raymond Bobb and of Siem Dr Lee Maracle ban Sto:lo, Sid has been actively engaging in the customary Indigenous knowledge transfer of his nation, communities, and families.
An award-winning artist, Sid has been artmaking and performing both internationally and throughout Canada for close to three decades. Along with his wife and colleague Penny Couchie, he is co-artistic director and co-founder of Aanmitaagzi, an Indigenous arts organization and centre for multi-arts, site-specific works, and international collaborations. As one of the lead artists of Aanmitaagzi, Sid has been artmaking, telling stories, and dancing on stage, trains, sidewalks, and on the ice with community for 15 years. Since 2010, Penny and Sid are also co-owners and operators of Big Medicine Studio, a 3,000 square foot arts space on the shores of Lake Nipissing. Big Medicine Studio is a hub for creation, development, and exhibition for performing and visual arts — a place where community comes together to celebrate and engage in arts and culture.
Emily Cheung is a choreographer and educator. She received her BFA, BEd, and MA from York University. A recognized leader in cross-cultural exchange, she frequently liaises with foreign artists practicing traditional and contemporary Chinese dance in Toronto. As the artistic director of Little Pear Garden Dance Company in Toronto, Emily is involved in preserving traditional Chinese dance — creating contemporary dance that honours Chinese traditions and collaborating with artists from other disciplines and ethnic backgrounds to create works with unique aesthetic sensibilities.
Emily has crafted a compelling body of choreographic works that seamlessly blend innovation and emotion. Her works are characterized by their ability to transcend boundaries and touch the hearts of audiences. Her pieces are known for their captivating narratives, intricate patterns, and profound themes that explore human experiences. Emily’s choreography often evokes deep emotions and provokes introspection. Many of her works have been featured in prestigious venues and festivals, earning critical acclaim and numerous awards for its innovation and creativity.
Emily seeks to push the boundaries of choreography and challenge conventions to bring fresh perspectives to the stage. Her new works continue to solidify her reputation as a visionary choreographer and leave an indelible mark in the dance milieu.
Penny Couchie is an award-winning arts leader, choreographer, dancer, actor, and community engaged artist of Anishinaabe ancestry from Nipissing First Nation, Ontario. She is co-founder and co-artistic director of Aanmitaagzi, an Indigenous multi-arts company based in her home community.
Penny holds an Honors BA from the University of Toronto and is a graduate of The School of Toronto Dance Theatre. Most recently, she was honoured with the Ontario Arts Council 2023 Indigenous Arts Award and in 2016 she received the K.M. Hunter Artist Award for Dance.
Over the past 20 years Penny has guest taught at schools throughout Canada and the United States, including the Centre for Indigenous Theatre. Her most recent choreography includes Spiderwoman Theater’s Misdemeanor Dream, La MaMa, New York; The Unnatural and Accidental Women, National Arts Centre, Ottawa; Aanmitaagzi’s latest production, Serpent People, Citadel Theatre, Toronto; Material Witness, a co-production by Aanmitaagzi and Spiderwoman Theater, La MaMa, New York; When Will You Rage? for Planet IndigenUS, Harbourfront Centre, Toronto; and Like An Old Tale, Jumblies Theatre, Toronto.
Penny is also co-owner and operator of Big Medicine Studio, a 3,000 square foot facility dedicated to the creation, development, and exhibition of Indigenous performing and visual arts.
A French-speaking playwright and actor based in Ottawa, Alain Doom is well known to theatre audiences across Canada. As an actor, he was lauded for his performance in Frères d’hiver by Michel Ouellette (Théâtre la Catapulte), followed by Molière’s L’École des Femmes (Théâtre français de Toronto), and for his role in Du pépin à la fissure, a solo work written by Patrice Desbiens and presented at the Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario (TNO) in Sudbury, after which it toured for a record five years.
As a playwright, Alain explores different aspects of personal, family, and collective memory. He was shortlisted for the 2016 Trillium Book Award and won the Prix littéraire Émergence for Un neurinome sur une balançoire, which premiered at the TNO. Under the title Neurinome, this “polyphonic monologue” was then adapted as an award-winning web series, directed by Marie-Claude Dicaire and Jean-François Dubé (TV5 Unis) and featured at festivals around the globe. Un quai entre deux mondes, shortlisted for the 2019 Trillium Book Award, was adapted and directed by Louise Naubert, and premiered at the Théâtre La Tangente in Toronto. Le Club des Éphémères, directed by Dillon Orr, was first performed at the TNO in Sudbury, then at Théâtre français de Toronto. Alain’s plays are published by Éditions Prise de parole.
ShoShona Kish is an Anishinaabekwe community organizer, writer, producer, activist, songwriter, and two-time 2023 JUNO award-winning touring artist. At Canadian Music Week 2023 she was awarded the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Award alongside her creative and life partner Raven Kanatakta. She received the Spirit of Folk Award at the International Folk Music Awards and was recognized by the Berlin-based Worldwide Music Expo (WOMEX) for her work internationally with the prestigious Professional Excellence Award.
ShoShona leads the multi-award-winning band Digging Roots with Raven Kanatakta. Their music breaches categorization, seamlessly blending global and traditional Indigenous sounds with roots, blues, and soul. They have brought their unique musical marriage of unvarnished truth and unconditional love to venues and festivals around the world.
Like her music, ShoShona defies colonial definitions, constantly subverting any attempts to put her in a box. Community focused, she is guided by both curiosity and purpose, openly exploring topical, inspirational, and often uncomfortable issues, treating her work and music as a call to action.
ShoShona is the co-founder of the award-winning International Indigenous Music Summit and music label Ishkōdé Records. She is also a member of the Music Canada Advisory Council and formed the Indigenous Music Advisory Council to establish and launch the National Indigenous Music Office.
Tanya Lukin Linklater’s performances, installations, and writings cite Indigenous dance and visual art lineages, structures of sustenance, and weather. She undertakes embodied inquiry and rehearsal with dance artists in relation to scores and ancestral belongings, often in museums. Her work reckons with Indigenous peoples’ lived experiences, (home)lands, and ideas.
Recently, Tanya’s work has traveled to the 14th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea; Aichi Triennale, Japan; Art Gallery of Ontario; Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver; Chicago Architecture Biennial; National Gallery of Canada; New Museum Triennial, New York; Remai Modern, Saskatoon; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Toronto Biennial of Art.
Tanya is a recipient of the Artist Residency Award from the Wexner Center for the Arts, The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, and was longlisted for the Sobey Art Award. Her first collection of poetry, Slow Scrape, was published by The Centre for Expanded Poetics and Anteism, with a second edition released by Talonbooks. A dedicated educator, Tanya will convocate with a PhD in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University this fall.
Tanya’s Sugpiaq homelands are in southwestern Alaska. She has lived and worked in Nbisiing Anishinaabeg Aki for nearly 15 years.
Vineet Vyas, a tabla artist, is a disciple of the legendary tabla maestro, the late Pandit Kishan Maharaj of India. Born and raised in Nova Scotia, he began performing on the world stage in Vancouver at Expo 86. Vineet has performed at concerts across India, Europe, and North America. He has been invited to present masterclasses at many Canadian and American universities. Performance venues include the Kennedy Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Getty Museum, Palace of Fine Arts, SFJAZZ, and the World Music Festival Chicago.
Vineet’s debut solo CD, Taalworks, was a breakthrough album featuring tabla at the forefront and was released in India through Times Music. In 2010, his solo album, The King of Dhamaar – A Tribute to Pandit Kishan Maharaj, received an East Coast Music Association (ECMA) nomination for Global Music Recording of the Year. In 2015 and 2019, Vineet was a finalist for the Muriel Sherrin Award presented by the Toronto Arts Foundation. He is the 2022 co-recipient of the Dora Award for Outstanding Original Sound Composition (Dance Division). In 2022, he released his third solo tabla album, Satyam, which also received an ECMA nomination for Global Recording of the Year.
Vineet holds an MFA in World Percussion from the California Institute of the Arts.
Mandy Woo is a composer, music producer, and music educator from Scarborough, Ontario. Her music has been heard on CBC and Fairchild Radio. Mandy has shared the stage with Robotaki, Featurette, Goodbye Honolulu, and Jon Neufeld of Starfield. She was a regional finalist for CBC Searchlight (2016, 2017), participated in the 2016 Orchestral Reading Session hosted by the Screen Composers Guild of Canada, and was a finalist for the Fairchild Radio Canadian Chinese Song-Writers Quest (2015). postmoderndisco is her personal outlet for exploring the blending of opposite musical elements, such as soundscapes combining electronic and orchestral textures.
Mandy is a master’s graduate from Berklee College of Music in Scoring for Film, TV, and Video Games. Recent projects include the short perennials, which premiered at Reel Asian International Film Festival in 2022, and Gisele’s Mashup Adventures, currently running on CBC Gem and CBC TV.
Sashar Zarif is an internationally renowned choreographer, performing artist, educator, and researcher. For the last three decades he has toured across 40 countries, promoting cultural dialogue through intensive fieldwork, residencies, performances, and creative collaborations. His award-winning, multidisciplinary dance projects are steeped in the artistry and history of traditional, ritualistic, and contemporary dance and music of the Central Asian, Middle Eastern, and North African regions, focusing on the Sufi and Shamanic practices within the Islamic societies, and the diverse world we live in.
In 2011, Sashar was awarded the honorary title of Master of Dance from the Uzbekistan National Choreographic Institute and became an honorary faculty member for his work and contribution to dance in Uzbekistan.
Sashar’s acclaimed choreographic approach, “Living Stories/Moving Memories,” is an exploration of memory’s physical, mental, and emotional aspects. Through this practice, he investigates the past in the present, using dance as a dynamic, multidisciplinary bridge between history, culture, identity, and art. His work reflects a commitment to preserving and reinterpreting the past while engaging contemporary audiences in meaningful dialogues about our shared human experiences.