on the MOVE - Toronto 2017 Presenter Bios

Panelists & Workshop Leaders


Amanda Acorn is an award winning choreographer based in Toronto. As a dancer she collaborated as a company artist with Dancemakers from 2011-2015. Independent engagements include projects with Dana Michel, Brendan Fernandes, Helen Husak, Lady Janitor, Benjamin Kamino, Isabel Lewis, Lemi Ponifasio and Andrea Spaziani. Her own works are intimate sensorial encounters for the theatre and unconventional spaces, constructing responsive environments using a choreographic frame. She is the emerging artist in residence at Dancemakers 2016-2018. www.amandaacorn.com


Mariah Awaiye is a recent graduate of the BFA dance program at York University and the artistic director at Kreative Dance Company. She is an associate member with the Canadian Dance Teachers Association (CDTA), a certified yoga instructor, a canfitpro certified fitness instructor and a certified acrobatics instructor through Acrobatic Arts. Mariah combines her competitive studio experiences and her post-secondary training to create a program at Kreative Dance Company that develops young dancers and enables their artistic abilities. 


Jennifer Bennett Darbyshirehas served the Toronto dance community as an administrator for 10 years. She joined The National Ballet of Canada in 2015 as the Administrative Manager of the Artistic Department and the Executive Assistant to the Artistic Director. Jennifer was the Managing Director of Dance Umbrella of Ontario from 2012-2015 and continues to consult through her own project and production administration company, Motive Management Inc. Jennifer served on the Board of Directors for the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (www.TAPA.ca) from 2012-2015; was the Dance Discipline Chair for ArtsVote 2010 and 2014 (artsvote.ca); and was a member of the Steering Committee for the On the Move Toronto Conference in 2014 and 2015.


Natasha Eck, has created & facilitated Creative Arts programing for communities across Canada, for over a decade. Natasha is a York University alumni with a BFA in Dance, Bachelor in Education, & a good standing member of the Ontario Certified Teachers Association.

Natasha has had the opportunity to work with organizations such as: Dance Ontario, dance Immersion, Dusk Dances, Arts Starts, Canadian Opera Company, Living Arts Centre, St. Albans Boys & Girls Club, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, and Access Alliance Multicultural Health & Community Services. Natasha continues to advocate for the value and impacts of Arts Education on individual well-being.


Lisa Emmons is a contemporary dance artist and choreographer based in Hamilton. A graduate of York University with a BFA, Lisa has worked as a freelance performer, choreographer and instructor with Motus O Dance Theatre and many independent artists across Canada and internationally. In February 2014 Lisa founded Form Contemporary Dance Theatre, through which she has produced performances in three Hamilton Fringe Festivals, winning a Critic’s Choice award, in addition to a number of productions in Hamilton, Burlington and across the GTA. Lisa is committed to fostering the growth of contemporary dance and founded the dance workshop transFORM, which has been available to dancers across Hamilton and Burlington.

Lisa strives to be open and available to the world around her, and is excited about fostering collaborative relationships across disciplines to develop opportunities for artists as well as promoting the arts to the public.


Jasmyn Fyffe is described as, a young artist whose body of work is developing in a style all her own. - Anya Wassenberg, Sway magazine. Winner of the 2013 Frankie Award [Montreal] for most outstanding choreography/choreographer for her work, Pulse, Fyffe has created numerous works on her company Jasmyn Fyffe Dance and has self-produced shows in Toronto and Montreal (ON). The company has also presented work in Brooklyn (NY), North Bay (ON), and Birmingham (UK).  Independently she has performed/choreographed in Toronto, New York, Turkey, Pittsburgh (PENN) and Berlin (GER) and she is currently on a month long residency at Lake Studios in Berlin, Germany. “Fyffe is an indisputably talented performer and dancemaker,” Kathleen Smith, The Dance Current.


Meaghan Giusti has over 17 years of experience in the performing arts industry; she is a graduate of York University with a Masters Degree and Honours BFA in dance and studied abroad at the University of Chichester in England. As a performer and choreographer she has presented work at the FiDA International Dance Festival, the Toronto Fringe Festival, Dance Ontario Weekend and International Dance Day at Dundas Square. Her work was also commissioned and presented by the Simcoe Contemporary Dancers in Barrie Ontario. Working within Toronto's vibrant dance community for over 10 years Meaghan has worked with the Canadian Dance Assembly, fFIDA International Dance Festival, Tiger Princess Productions, George Brown College Dance Department, DanceFuzion and the CanAsian Dance Festival. As a passionate dance educator, Meaghan is the owner of Broadway Arts Centre, a performing arts studio in Toronto for children and youth as well as a partner of Dance Educators International, providing education and professional development for emerging and established dance teachers.


Iris Jacobson has over 25 years of consulting and training experience. She works with clients to clarify career decisions, navigate change and create strategic advantage for a competitive edge. This includes coaching individuals to generate successful outcomes in “high stakes” interviews and to market their unique value via accomplishment-based ‘elevator pitches’ and resumes.

Iris has designed and facilitated hundreds of effective workshops, generating high participant engagement and outstanding feedback. She holds a BA from The University of Toronto, B Ed. from O.I.S.E., Training Generalist Designation from Langevin Learning Services and Career Development Practitioner Graduate Certificate from Conestoga College.


Born in Guelph ON, Peter Kelly is a Toronto based multifaceted dance artist, choreographer, instructor and producer. Peter is a graduate from the Dance Performance Studies program at George Brown College and is now in his second season as a company member with Toronto Dance Theatre. A part from TDT, Peter is Dance Ontario’s Provincial Networks Coordinator, a collaborator with Impromptu Movements, a performer with The Go To Company, a member of the Garage TO, and the Artistic Director of New Blue Emerging Dance.


Robert Kingsbury is a multidisciplinary artist working in forms of experimental dance. He received a BFA in Fine Arts from York University, majoring in piano performance and composition. Robert composes music, records and edits video, creates text and is a holistic therapeutic bodyworker. His works are influenced by somatic practices, Brechtian techniques and the aesthetics of site specific performance installation. Robert was honored to receive the 2011 Premiere’s Award for emerging artist. He mentors with Berlin based Shannon Cooney and has performed for other independent choreographers in Toronto, Montreal, NYC & Berlin. Recently Robert self-produced several full length multidisciplinary works.


Lilia Leon is a Mexican-Canadian performing artist with Mestizo heritage, with a multi-disciplinary career as a dancer, actor, choreographer and arts educator. She has collaborated with multiple Indigenous, Canadian and Latin American artists, who have left an imprint in her artistic practice. She believes in the power of art and community to impact social change and has developed strong connections with like-minded companies such as Aluna Theatre, b.current and Jumblies Theatre. Lilia holds a BA degree in dance from York University (’04) and is a graduate of the Professional Training Program at The School of Toronto Dance Theatre (’07).


Dr. Chase McMurren is a psychotherapist and medical director at the Artists’ Health Centre (AHC) and a faculty member in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto. Dr. McMurren uses a contemporary-integrative person-centered approach to psychotherapy with the goal of helping arts workers identify and modify patterns that seem to get in the way of living and practicing well. Dr. McMurren has also trained in mindfulness-based stress reduction (or MBSR). In addition to his work at the AHC, Dr. McMurren works as a home visiting physician for frail older adults who are homebound and as a coroner.


Esie Mensah, the 2014 Black Canadian Award Winner for Best Contemporary Dancer and the 2015 recipient of the Cultural Promotion award from the Ghanaian-Canadian Association. Esie has worked with some of the industry's biggest icons such as Rihanna, Drake, Janelle Monae, Nelly Furtado, Flo Rida, as well as Coca Cola, Luminato, TIFF, Estée Lauder, FIFA, WE DAY and more. Esie was the co-choreographer for “Panamania" Victory Celebration as apart of the 2015 Pan Am Games entertainment. Choreographer of the CHFI commercial "Mornings are a little different" for the new Erin and Darren show and is present as a dancer in the 2016 remake of Rocky Horror Picture Show airing this Halloween on FOX TV. 


Kelly Morden holds a diploma in Dance from George Brown College and a BFA in dance from York University. Kelly is the founder of Dance With Kelly, an inclusive dance program for children in Toronto. She also works with the City of Toronto. She is dedicated to working closely with children from diverse backgrounds and welcomes kids of all physical abilities. Kelly believes all children should be given equal opportunities to participate in dance.Aside from teaching, she directs kid’s shows for Ten Toes Dance Theatre and runs the “All Girls Club” at Hub14.


Artistic Director of KasheDance  and Program Manager at CPAMO, Kevin Ormsby has many interests in the creative practice and administration, the 2016 Chalmers Fellowship and OAC KM Hunter Award Nominee, Kevin has honed his passion for dance, advocacy, writing and education while performing in Canada, the Caribbean and the United States. The TAC Cultural Leaders Lab Fellow (2015) and Canada Council’s  Victor Martyn Lynch – Staunton Award (2014) winner, is also an adjunct artist at Dance Exchange (Washington D.C), danced with Garth Fagan Dance (NY), and performed works by Lemi Ponifasio, Marie Josee Chartier, Allison Cummings, Ron K Brown, Patrick Parson, Milton Myers, Menaka Thakkur, Mark Morris and Bill T. Jones. He is a Board Member at Prologue to the Performing Arts, Nia Centre for the Arts and Canadian Dance Assembly. His recent report for CPAMO investigates Collaborative Practices in the Arts.


Ashleigh Powell is a Toronto-based teacher and choreographer and manager of the Sharing Dance Program at Canada’s National Ballet School. Through NBS’ Teacher Training Program she obtained teaching qualifications with the Cecchetti Society, Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing and the Royal Academy of Dance. Ashleigh is recipient of the Carole Chadwick Award and the Betty Oliphant Award for teaching and holds an Honours Degree in History from the University of Toronto. Selected choreographic projects include: Storefront Theatre (Chasse-Galerie, Edmond, Shrew) Theatre Brouhaha (Skriker) Hart House Theatre (Hamlet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Equus, The Great American Trailer Park Musical), Next Stage Festival (Fairy Tale Ending)


A 2016 and 2017 K.M. Hunter Dance and 2013 TELUS Newcomer artist award nominee and winner of Neighbourhood Arts Network 2013 BMO SEEDS FUND, Lua Shayenne’s dance practice is rooted in her African ancestry. Her company, Lua Shayenne Dance Company (LSDC), presents dance works that explore current subject matters with the aim to be a vehicle for spiritual and social progress. LSDC has presented five productions and was recently featured in Fall for Dance North at the Sony Centre.

Lua recently performed in Brendan Fernandes’ (Us/Canada) In Touch, Lars Jan’s (NYC/LA) Holoscenes (Toronto/Florida/Miami/London,UK/Abu Dhabi tours) and Lemi Ponifasio’s (New Zealand) Apocalypsis - Luminato Festival.www.luashayenne.com


Bree Wasylenko is an actor/dancer/choreographer born and raised in Calgary, now living in Toronto. As a dancer, Bree has performed in a wide array of film and TV projects, and felt her career taking off after winning a coveted spot in the Top 20 on So You Think You Can Dance Canada. Following this, Bree began exploring the world of choreography. As Co-Director of Collective Elite Entertainment, she has choreographed for Sam Smith, Carly Rae Jepsen, Calvin Klein, Pepperidge Farms, Telus, Canadian Country Music awards and many more, on top of creating, choreographing and directing the short film "Ruin". Bree's transition into acting came after booking the lead role of "Kate" in Family Channel's "The Next Step". Since then she has had roles on "Reign", "Murdoch Mysteries", "The Beaverton" and feature film "Kin".


Helping dancers make necessary transitions into, within, and from professional performing careers since 1985.