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.

Ariana Pirela Sánchez

Ariana Pirela Sánchez is a choreographer and dancer who holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication with a Major in Audiovisual Arts from Andrés Bello Catholic University in Caracas. She began her dance training at Escuela Taller de Danza in Caracas, Venezuela, and then pursued her professional training at the Quebec Dance School. Based in Canada since 2011, she works as a performer, choreographer, researcher and dance teacher, in addition to collaborating as a cultural journalist and dance critic. She has participated in many residency programs, including RURART (2018 – Cookshire-Eaton) and Center Q (2015, 2016, Quyon) where she studied with Tedd Robinson to deepen her choreographic work.

Recipient of two Première Ovation grants, two L’OJIQ grants and one CAMP-iN grant, she also presented her choreographic work in Montreal at the Festival Vue sur La Relève, Cuisine Ta Ville and Phénomena Festival; in Mexico at the CAMP-iN Festival; in Toronto at the New Blue Dance Festival; in Sherbrooke at RURART; and in Quebec at the Symbiose Festival. Ariana has also participated in various workshops in Québec, Montréal, Los Angeles, Mexico and in Spain. Her artistic process is imbued with a constant inner quest. She is interested in the mixture of forms to create a dialogue between small and physical gestures, dance, music and theater.

Danza Descalza

The Danza Descalza collective is a collaborative space of research, creation and sharing in contemporary dance, inspired by Afro-Colombian dances, among others. The collective’s primary objective is to raise awareness and democratize dance with different types of audiences. Based in Montreal, the collective exports its work throughout Quebec and internationally.

Bringing together numerous partners and collaborators, Danza Descalza features three main members: Yesenia Fuentes, Andrea Nino and Laurence Sabourin, all of whom work in the collective as choreographers / interpreters / educators. Within Danza Descalza, the three artists wanted to create a methodology for collective work, in which their respective strengths and experiences come together and support each other, creating a place for knowledge-sharing and horizontal decision-making by consensus.

Heather Mah

From 2013 to 2018, Heather has been dancing in Les Chaises, by Eugene Ionesco, for PPS Danse. In a version adapted for young audiences, with text and dance. In January 2018 she presented her solo in the event Agés et déjantés, at MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels).

In 2005 she received a B.A. with distinction (Psychology) and a coaching certi????cate. Today, as well as performing in dance, she is an instructor and personal coach using the wellness practices: meditation, movement/dance, and yin-yoga, to promote health and balance for the body, mind, and spirit. Her mission is to bring out the innate somatic and spiritual intelligence in everyone, regardless of age or physical condition.

She teaches regularly at the Monastère des Augustines in Quebec city, and at the Yoga de l’Éveil studio in Montreal, QC. 

Heather Mah is the recipient of the MAI + CAM (Conseil des arts de Montréal) joint mentorship in dance for 2018-2019.


Image : Angelo Barsetti



Sonia Bustos

Sonia Bustos is a Mexican dancer and choreographer. She holds a Masters in dance from UQAM (2014) and a Bachelors in theatre from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (2006). She has worked with, among others, Danza Contemporánea Universitaria, Les Soeurs Schmutt, and the interdisciplinary group Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra, with presentations in Mexico, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, and Austria. She dances in the solo Intérieur brut, which was created in collaboration with choreographer Élodie Lombardo and presented in April 2018 at the MAI. Sonia received a Vivacité Montréal (CALQ, CAM) grant for this project, in addition to support from the Canada Council for the Arts through the Explore and Create program.

Sonia’s interests as a dancer and choreographer are closely linked to questions of socio-political engagement as well as to a recognition of the dancer’s creative labour. Her artistic research is axed on the status of women, the third root in Latin America, memory, theatricality, and public engagement. She is also interested in video dance as a tool for evoking and questioning the ephemerality of dance.