natsumi sophia bellali

Natsumi Sophia Bellali was born in Tiohtià:ke/Montréal, and raised by a Japanese mother, and a Moroccan father. She graduated from The Ailey School in New York, where she
cultivated her love and respect toward modern dance, amongst other styles the city showed her. She has performed with MICHIYAYA Dance and Ping Chong + Company,
and has been an understudy for the Mark Morris Dance Group. Bellali utilizes every platform directed her way as a vessel to share the wonders of her roots; from short works for competitive events, to large entertainment productions, to her own solo work Salam Tata currently in creation. She further shares her practice, and her passion to make people feel empowered in their bodies, by teaching in different settings such as wellness centers, yoga studios, pre-professional schools, and by supporting athletes of other disciplines through dance training. What is it to be a child of immigrants in Montreal? Salam Tata illustrates this unique and complex identity through telephone conversations with an aunt living in Morocco. The work addresses the themes of beauty standards, marriage, religion, and womanhood, through dance and theater.

mona el husseini

Open to professional choreographers from culturally diverse backgrounds, the joint support is offered annually in partnership with the CAM,Conseil des arts de Montréal. This support aims to foster the development of a dance artist living in the territory of Montreal and to support them in a process of research, creation, and production of work. The selected artist will be offered the opportunity to present their work in the MAI spaces as part of the official program during the 23-24 season.

Mona El Husseini is an Egyptian Contemporary Dance artist based in Tiohtià:ke / Montreal. She completed her dance education at the Cairo Contemporary Dance Center in Egypt and studied International Business and Contemporary Dance at Concordia University. She teaches barre, Pilates, and contemporary dance in Montreal and Cairo. Mona is currently working on Monday or Tuesday: a solo search, and a mother-daughter duet titled Creatrix. In her creative process, Mona goes beyond the dance and traces the thread that weaves the different art forms she practices including Martial Arts, painting, and writing. In un-layering questions of personal identity and heritage, Mona is interested in how stories are transmitted, shared, and told through the body across generations. She finds the dance in the place where the inner and outer meet, the traditional and the contemporary converse, and in the encounter between the intimate and the collective. 

Creatrix started as an invitation to co-create a dance duet with her mother, Hala; a doctor, science teacher, and a mother of three who is not trained in dance. In this process, they dance through their genealogy in an attempt to get to know themselves and each other by meeting those who preceded them. Using tokens, photos, and letters passed down through generations, they reflect on their past; where they come from, and where they now find themselves. Mona and her mother visit home in their fluid memories and vivid childhoods. Mona tries to touch all that is fleeting and step on the intangible rhythms that animate their heritage. They bring their opposing worlds to one another and search for the common denominator in art and science, motherhood and girlhood, past and present. Her mother always wanted to write her memoirs, in return, this dance may count as a prelude to achieve this goal. 

nicole jacobs

Member of Curve Lake First Nation and Tiohtià:ke/Montréal based dance artist, Nicole Jacobs trained in ballet, jazz, tap, acrobatics, and musical theater prior to graduating from Concordia University with a BFA in contemporary dance, and a minor in psychology. Nicole is an experienced contact improvisation dancer and facilitator, having studied the dance form intensely through traveling, teaching, and assisting in the organization of contact improvisation festivals in India, Thailand, Portugal, and Germany. Nicole has participated in numerous projects both as a performer and facilitator throughout Quebec with Theatre Junction, St. Ambroise Montréal Fringe Festival, Take Up Space Dance, Chantiers Jeunesse, and Le Gros Orteil. Her teaching repertoire includes developing workshops that she has facilitated at BIGBANG, Extravadanse studio, Collège Sainte Anne, and private training. She also develops accessible dance classes for neuro-diverse populations that she has shared across Canada and England. Nicole’s current research is focused on the meeting points between contemporary dance, floorwork, acrobatics, and interpretation. She is interested in the merging of disciplines and drawing from her training in theater and circus arts to create work that is experiential and poetic in nature.

Photo credits: Robert-Majewski

marbella carlos + chloé seyrès

Marbella Carlos and Chloe Seyrès, are the queer performing arts collective Kozmic Joy –a collective which focuses on merging interdisciplinary practices, elevating marginal art forms and marginal artists.

Marbella Carlos is an interdisciplinary artist who was born in Manila, Philippines. In her practice, she uses burlesque to explore her experience as a racialized Canadian. Her work has led to multiple awards and performances including Bagel Burlesque Festival, Fierté Montreal 2019, Teaser Festival in New Orleans. She was the winner of the Best Debut category at the top burlesque competition in the world, the Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas.

Chloé Seyrès is a French queer roller dancer. A former high-level athlete, 4-time world champion, and ex-member of 2 national teams, she is now a movement artist and coach. She has performed in a variety of cabarets, corporate events and festivals, on-screen doing motion capture for the Rollerchampion video game, as a support dancer for TVA’s Les Chanteurs Masqués, and in music videos for The Sloe Gin Fizz, Raphaël Dénommé and Mike Clay. Most impressively, she has been contracted to showcase her skills in performances with Cirque Éloize, Montréal Complètement Cirque, and Fierté Montréal 2022.

sophia wright

Sophia Wright (she/her) is a dancer, choreographer, and creator based in Tio’tia:ke / Montreal and currently works in a collective with dance and theatre artist, Alida Esmail. Sophia’s artistic practice is fuelled by the desire to bring diverse practices and communities together. Originally hailing from Calgary, Sophia obtained her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Contemporary Dance from Concordia University and continued her studies in Cultural Mediation at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris, France. In Paris, Sophia became an active member of the collective La Main, a multi-disciplinary collective of artisans, artists, and technicians. It was also in Paris that she first engaged with the Deaf community through the arts, an intercultural and multilingual collaboration that she continues to this day. Parallel to her dance career, Sophia is developing her skills in metalwork with the goal of bringing elements of sculpture and set design into future projects.

Photo credit: Alexandre Quillet 


In 2016, five individuals, passionate about the traditions of their country, decided to start a dance project. After gaining experience in other artistic contexts, the desire to do things differently allowed them to embark on an unknown path. Tondóa was born as an experimental laboratory that broke the conventions of a traditional projection folklore company. Reflections on the management, the creation of works and the vision of traditional dances were put forward with an unprecedented openness from its members. The primary members that make up the fabric of Tondóa are: Daniel Diaz, Nicole Speare, Camila Petro, Juan Sebastien Hoyos, and Milena Yanes. 

During the stage of development, the organization set up guidelines to define a way of creating. Putting forward our respect for Colombian traditions, Tondóa would strive to make them evolve. The dancers therefore shared not only their knowledge of dance, but also their personal experiences. Therefore, the diversity in age, gender, sexual orientation and background became the strength of the group.

Today, Tondóa defines itself as a research and creation dance company that allows us to go back to the roots of tradition while making links with the current socio-cultural context. As a learning community, we want to create a safe space for exchanges, ideas and progress to share our vision of the art of movement.

For the year 2021, a restructure of the group is allowing for the creation of two divisions, a semi-professional group and a professional collective, with different but complementary objectives to meet the needs of the dancers and the project.

alida esmail

Alida Esmail (she/her) is a Tio’tia:ke/Montreal-based dance and theatre artist born in Burlington, Ontario. She holds a BFA in Contemporary Dance from Concordia University, a Certificate in Movement Arts and Mixed Media from the Attakkalari Centre in India, and a MSc in Rehabilitation Sciences from Université de Montréal. She is also trained in International Ballroom/Latin dance which she currently uses to develop and spread Liquid Lead Dancing, a gender-neutral approach to partner dancing. Alida’s identity as a second generation Canadian-Muslim, bilingual anglophone, and female of colour living in Quebec’s socio-political climate is the backdrop for her choreographic work. As she discovers how to find a sense of belonging, she has also begun to uncover the unspoken loss, erasure, trauma, and privilege from her ancestral lineage passing from India to Africa to Canada.

She has recently created a Collective with Sophia Wright and with the support of Alliance they are building a collaboration with Deaf theatre artist, Hodan Youssouf, to discover her relationship to the above themes. The Collective has also been supported by the Plateau Mont-Royal, the Conseil des arts de Montréal, Théâtre aux Écuries, the Maison de la culture du Plateau Mont-Royal and PTC (Playwrights Theatre Centre) Vancouver. Alongside Alida’s performance career she is also involved in innovative Arts and Health research which has been published in reputable peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Photo credit: Douglas Rideout

hoor malas

Hoor Malas is the recipient of the joint mentorship with the Conseil des Arts of Montreal for 21-22 in dance.

Hoor Malas is a Syrian dance and movement artist recently moved to Montréal.

Started at the age of eight in the Ballet School in Damascus. Got her B.A in dance from the Higher Institute of Arts in Damascus-Syria and a diploma in contemporary dance from The Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Leeds-UK. She participated in many workshops in Europe and the UK. She has been teaching contemporary dance techniques for ten years in the Art conservatory in Damascus. 

She started choreographing in 2014-15.

In her work, she dives into social matters influenced by personal experiences.  Some of her latest choreographic work Regression (2016), Three Seconds (2018), Hanging (2019), Dust (2020-21) et sa nouvelle pièce solo If my body had a name that are works in progress.  


nasim lootij

Choreographer, performer, teacher and Laban notator, Nasim Lootij left Iran in 2006 to study dance in Paris. Since 2014 she lives and works in Montreal where she co-founded the collective Vâtchik Danse with Kiasa Nazeran, dramaturge and PHD in theatre. 

Their sources of inspiration: the art and socio-political history of Iran, the modern currents of the early twentieth century, including German expressionism.

Their creations: Moi-Me-Man (2017), La Chute (2019), L’Inconsistance (In progress). The latter is supported by MAI’s Alliance program, Dance-Cité, Maison de la culture Plateau-Mont-Royal and José Navas/Compagnie Flak.