Fall for Dance North is a year-round village, strengthened and supported by a bright constellation of accomplished seasonal additions. The expertise, creativity, passion and hard work of our permanent and seasonal staff, partners, collaborators, dedicated board and volunteers combine to nurture and realize festivals of astounding beauty, annually.
Ilter Ibrahimof is the co-founder and Artistic Director of Fall for Dance North, Toronto’s Premier International Dance Festival. Born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, Ilter moved to North America in 1998, first to attend Emerson College in Boston and then living and working in New York City and Montréal before settling in Toronto. As a creative mind in the dance field, Ilter is regularly invited to participate in various festivals and conferences in Canada and around the globe as a curator and speaker. In 2020, Dance Collection Danse Hall of Fame awarded Ilter the Sandra Faire Next Generation Award.
Aviva Fleising has worked in arts management for almost two decades. Since 2008 she held various positions at the Canadian Dance Assembly as Programs/Services Manager, General Manager and Interim Director. Prior to that Aviva worked in marketing at Arts Commons in her hometown, Calgary. Following a summer stint as Artist Liaison at the Montreal Fringe Festival, Aviva was motivated to pursue a Certificate in Arts and Cultural Management from Grant MacEwan College, Edmonton. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Contemporary Dance from the University of Calgary. As an artist, Aviva has produced two full-length interdisciplinary productions as well as a number of shorter works. She has authored an award winning short play and is a member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada.
Lily comes from an extensive background in performing arts, with over seven years of experience working in areas of production and performance for dance, theatre and arts festivals in Canada, including Luminato, The Toronto Fringe Festival and The Hamilton Festival Theatre Company. She holds a degree in Theatre from the University of Ottawa (2014), has produced new work and toured nationally with indie theatre company Passing Through Theatre (co-founded in 2015) and studied clown and movement at Ecole Philippe Gaulier in Paris, France (2017). A Toronto native, she is excited to be working with FFDN to contribute to fostering our dance community and promoting a culture of creativity in this vibrant city.
Producer, Digital Programming
Milana Glumicic is a Toronto-based producer with a background in digital media, marketing, and live performance.
Milana studied Devised Theatre at York University training under FFDN artist, Michael Greyeyes, and holds a certificate in Search Engine Marketing at BrainStation. Milana’s admiration of dance led her to produce digital content working closely with dance artists at City Dance Corps. Milana is an aspiring film director and writer.
Milana is forever grateful for all the dance artists who share their energy with us all.
Director of Design
Simon Rossiter has been a part of the Fall for Dance North team since its inaugural year—he was the Festival’s 4th hire!—and considers himself lucky to be able, each year, to help bring such exceptional and diverse dance works to life on our stages. Simon is a Toronto-based lighting designer who occasionally designs scenery. He has created more than 250 original designs, including work for Ballet am Rhein; Citadel + Compagnie; Dancemakers; the National Ballet of Canada; Canada’s National Ballet School; Soulpepper Theatre Company; Théâtre français de Toronto; Theatre Smith-Gilmour; and Toronto Dance Theatre. For the Festival, Simon has created original designs for more than a dozen new works, including Robert Binet’s Children of Chaos, Charles Moulton’s 72-Person Precision Ball Passing, Anne Plamondon’s Counter Cantor and Fiddle Embrace, and William Yong’s Four Heavenly Kings. Simon’s designs have been honoured with nine Dora Mavor Moore nominations for Outstanding Lighting Design, receiving the award three times, and he also sits on the Board of Directors of the Associated Designers of Canada.
Director of Production
Aidan Ware hails from Calgary, Alberta, and is a graduate of the BFA Technical Theatre program at the University of Alberta. Upon completing an 18-month lighting practicum program at the Banff Centre, Aidan moved to Toronto where his creativity and passion for bringing new technologies to live performance have led him to work with various creative houses including Solotech, TIFA, and most recently as Lighting Designer / Technical Director for Rick Miller’s BOOM YZ. Prior to joining Fall for Dance North, Aidan was the Assistant Technical Director at Canadian Stage where he oversaw much of the organization’s pivot into digital production during the pandemic and briefly joined the FFDN team as their livestream producer in 2020. Aidan is delighted to support Fall for Dance North’s return to the stage as Director of Production for this year’s festival!
Director of Advancement and Philanthropy
Melissa Forstner has lived throughout the midwestern and eastern United States, moving to Toronto in 2006. Wherever life has taken her, growing up in Ann Arbor, getting her B.A. in English at Northwestern University (Evanston, IL), earning her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, working as an attorney in Philadelphia, and raising young kids in Cincinnati, dance - training, performing, teaching and attending - has always played an important part in finding her sense of home. She is so happy to work for Fall for Dance North and be a part of expanding the dance community so that many more people can find a sense of home there.
Finance and Advancement Officer
Melina has worked in the field of arts management as finance coordinator and bookkeeper since 2018. She graduated from the Accounting and Finance program at Seneca College. Her professional experience includes accounting consultant services on best practices with respect to accounting financial reporting, accountability to stakeholders, financial policies and internal control efficiencies, financial planning, and budgeting to not-for-profit, with special focus on arts, culture, and community services sector. Her leadership roles in the cultural and artistic Latin community in collective groups and organizations such as Casa Maiz Cultural Centre, Día de los Muertos Collective and Grupo Teatro Libre gave her a deep appreciation of the importance of the cultural diversity and pluralism to contribute and integrate to Canada’s multicultural society.
Melina is very excited and honored to be part of the FFDN working team and have the opportunity to learn and contribute to the incredible growth.
Communications & Marketing Manager
Sheila O’Neill is a creative storyteller with a desire to inspire and foster connection through creative pursuits, most notably writing. Sheila stepped into her first ballet class at the age of four and has since had a lifelong connection to the beauty and expression of dance. She received her formal education in Psychology from the University of Toronto with the opportunity to study abroad at Trinity College Dublin. With an extensive portfolio as a storyteller and writer, her work has been featured in Canadian publications such as blogTO, HOLR and Style Nine to Five. It is rewarding for her to be part of the FFDN team, where she can be curious, forward-looking, think out-of-box, solve problems and champion change.
Born in New Delhi, India into a family of artists, musicians, dancers and scientists and yet Vikram’s biggest influence was his grandmother’s storytelling. A gold medalist in Fine Arts from Kolkata University, Vikram then came to Canada to pursue cinema.
His short film, the multi award winning Calcutta Taxi funded by Bravofact! and NFB Canada, was in the races for the Academy Awards in 2014 after winning the Oscar Qualifier at the Aspen ShortFest 2013 and was screened at over 50+ festivals worldwide. Vik’s commercial on Paralympians for the Pan Am TO2015 titled ‘Are you ready’ was nominated for the Cannes Lions in the Film category. His debut feature documentary Beyond Moving premiered at the HotDocs theatre in February 2020 with theatrical and VOD distribution through Blue Ice Docs. His recent feature documentary Dog-Ma - is a deeply personal journey about his mother feeding 500+ stray dogs on the streets of Delhi.
Kimberley Cooper is the Artistic Director of Decidedly Jazz Danceworks (DJD) in Calgary, Canada. She has been a part of DJD for over three decades, as a dancer, Resident Choreographer/Artistic Associate and as Artistic Director (2013-present). In 2002, Cooper was named Emerging Artist of the Year by Alberta Dance Alliance, and since 2002, she has created 18 full-length works on DJD. She served as an Artist in Residence during Calgary as Cultural Capital of Canada in 2012 and was awarded Dance Victoria’s Crystal Dance Prize in 2014 for her research in Brazil. Cooper has contributed chapters to the books; City of Animals, for University of Calgary’s Humanities Department about New Universe, a work she created with American jazz bassist and composer William Parker in 2017 and Rooted Jazz Dance: Africanist Aesthetics and Equity in the Twenty First Century (University Press of Florida, forthcoming).
Natasha Powell is a Toronto native who has been working in the dance industry for 17 years. Her soulful approach to movement that transcends genre can be seen and felt in her dancing, choreography, and teachings. No stranger to the stage, Natasha has collaborated and created over 20 dance works for live performance. As the founder, artistic director, and choreographer for her company HOLLA JAZZ, she created the award-winning show FLOOR’D - the company’s first full-length production, presenting historical jazz dances in a new light. The production was nominated for 4 Dora Mavor Moore Awards (including Outstanding Original Choreography by Powell, and Outstanding Production) winner of the Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble, and named one of top 10 dance shows of the recent decade by NOW Magazine.
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.
8-Count Guest Curator
Esie Mensah is a dancer, choreographer, director, educator, and TedX speaker, whose mastery of storytelling is as diverse as her experience. From working with megastars like Rihanna, Drake, and Arcade Fire to historic brands like Holt Renfrew, Coca-Cola, TIFF, Toronto Raptors, and more, Esie has a unique ability to transform movement into a physical language. Esie has been doing so as a movement director since 2018 with recent works including, the Shaw Festivals’ Russian Play and Victory, Soulpepper’s MaRainey’s Black Bottom to Dora-nominated Musical Stage Company’s production Caroline, or Change.
As a featured speaker at TEDxToronto 2019, Esie spoke about her experience as a dark-skinned dancer and the enlightening journey of creating her Dora-nominated production Shades. She has since shared her voice and experience with Payments Canada, Microsoft, Deloitte, University of Calgary, the Government of Canada, X University, Staples, Sheridan College and more. Evolving into a producer and filmmaker, her short film, A Revolution of Love, 2020 opened Toronto History Museum’s Awakenings initiative to decolonize historic spaces. In July 2021, Mensah announced the world premiere of her newest short film, TESSEL, a national call of healing supported by 21 dance organizations from across Canada and co-commissioned by Fall For Dance North and Harbourfront Centre. This powerful woman shows no sign of slowing down.
2022 Seasonal Staff
Leah Totten is a dance teacher, choreographer, entrepreneur and arts manager. In 2012, she founded BOSS Dance Company, a female hip-hop collective with a focus on empowerment through dance arts where she remains Artistic and Executive Director. Through the organization, she has produced 5 theatre shows and offers training, performance opportunities and mentorship to her students. Leah is also a Professor at Centennial College’s Dance Program and has taught at over 150 institutions across Canada, the U.S, and Europe. She is passionate about community building, working with youth, and is committed to making art accessible for all.
A native of Nanaimo, British Columbia, Jillian Vanstone enjoyed a 22-year career with The National
Ballet of Canada, 11 as a principal dancer until her final performance with the company in March 2022.
Ms. Vanstone explored an extensive repertoire during her years with The National Ballet of Canada
including the 19th century classics, the masterworks of the 20th century, and new ballets by some of the
today’s leading choreographers. She is best known for her interpretation of Alice in Christopher
Wheeldon's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland".
Jillian also enjoyed performing in international galas in Canada, South America and Europe, and has had
the pleasure of performing with Fall for Dance North.
In addition to performing Jillian has acted as a stager for Christopher Wheeldon, produced evenings of
dance in collaboration with The Port Theatre in Nanaimo, and been a regular host of live and digital
events and interviews for various arts organizations.
Jillian has a passion for supporting creatives, both artistically and logistically, in realizing their vision, and
is so pleased to be working with the incredibly inspiring team at FFDN. She looks forward to contributing
to the creation of dynamic and accessible live performance.
Production Coordinator, Heirloom
Angela Xu is a Toronto-based dance artist, actress, and performance technician. She holds a BFA Special Honours in Dance from York University. In recent years she has collaborated with and performed in Fall for Dance North (Charles Moulton’s 72-Person Ball Passing), Luminato Festival, New Blue Emerging Dance, Social Growl, and Toronto Fringe Festival. Angela believes in dance as a form of healing.
She has stage managed Ismailova Theatre of Dance’s Master and Margarita, TO Love-In’s Summer Love-In Festival, and York University’s Department of Dance and Vanier College shows. Her work in lighting design and board operation have found their way into York University’s Language of Landscape, amongst other shows.
Angela is so excited to be working as Production Coordinator for Fall for Dance North 2022's upcoming Heirloom series!
Company Manager, Meridian Hall
Zita Nyarady works at the intersection of dance, theatre and circus. From performing to producing. Directing to dramaturgy. Teaching to administration Zita brings stories to life. Zita has worked on projects with SummerWorks, Toronto International Storytelling Festival, Theatre Direct, Shakespeare in Action, LookUp Theatre, Hercinia Arts Collective, Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists, Prologue for the Performing Arts, Crow's Theatre, Nightwood Theatre, Buddies in Bad Times, Pilobolus Dance Theatre and Odin Teatret. Zita was a past Dramatist in Residency at The Heliconian Club and is in the Cirque du Soleil performer database. She was part of the first cohort of University of New Brunswick's Contemporary Management in Arts & Culture program. Zita is excited to be part of the Fall for Dance North team.
Company Manager, Indigenous Enterprise
Kafi Pierre is a Canadian creative whose theatre career has spanned over 20 years; Some of her theatre credits include; "The Lion King," "Bombay Dreams,” " Cirque Du Soleil," "America's Got Talent," and "Fela! The Musical".
She has been the face for brands like McDonald's, Google, Liberty Mutual, Rogers, Staples and Belair Direct. Her film and television credits include; State Like Sleep (Dir, Meredith Danluck), A Witches Ball (Dir. Justin G. Dyck), Titians (Dir. Brad Anderson) and has performed on Good Morning America, CBC, Macy's Day Parade, Sony Pictures, MTV, BET, Nickelodeon, ABC and NBC.
In 2015 Kafi accepted the position of Artistic Coordinator, working alongside famed director Franco Dragone on the "The Han Show" in Wuhan, China. In 2017, Pierre was asked to come on board as Associate Choreographer for the now critically acclaimed Paramount Theatre's Jesus Christ Superstar in Chicago, and in the same year produced an outdoor production for the Beaches Resort and Spa in Turks and Caicos. In 2018 Kafi joined Cirque du Soleil as an Associate Artistic Director, and most recently was a Producer for the Luminato Arts Festival in Toronto.
Ms. Pierre is a Claude Watson Arts Program alumnus and an Alvin Ailey American Dance Center graduate. She holds a BFA in Performing Arts from Saint Mary’s College and a graduate certificate in Arts Administration and Cultural Management from Humber College. She is thrilled to be joining the FFDN team for this year’s festival!
Company Manager, Theatre at The Creative School
Jasmine Au (she/her) is an emerging arts manager and producer. She is a recent 2021 graduate of Toronto Metropolitan University’s Performance Dance program, where she graduated with an Honours BFA and a minor in marketing. Jasmine’s extensive dance training has informed her postgraduate journey; she is passionate in her pursuit of creative producing and contributing to the dance form from a managerial standpoint.
She has gained experience with prominent organizations such as adelheid dance projects, CanAsian Dance, Fall for Dance North, Orillia Centre for Arts + Culture, The AMY Project, and The National Arts Centre. She is currently the Associate Producer at Toronto Dance Theatre and sits on the Board of Directors at Peggy Baker Dance Projects. Jasmine was a part of the FFDN team last year, and is excited to be joining the team again for this year's festival!
Community Arts Coordinator
Faith Buchanan is a teacher, dance artist, and choreographer. Her passion for social justice art education, creation, and direction stems from a desire to create safe spaces for intersectional identities to express themselves through the arts. Faith is deeply passionate about using her gifts to create and hold space for underrepresented voices within the education and arts sectors. Her passion is enriched by a Bachelor of Fine Arts specializing in dance education alongside a Bachelor of Education at York University. In addition, Faith is currently pursuing a Masters of Education at York University.
Faith’s passion for arts education has led her to arts-based event coordination through various dance and music organizations in an effort to contribute to the depth and breadth of knowledge within the arts community.
Faith is delighted to be a part of the Fall For Dance North team and is incredibly excited to reach new audiences through the organization.
Nikki is the new Volunteer Coordinator for Fall For Dance North this season and has worked and volunteered in the arts for over 25 years. Currently Nikki works at Canada’s National Ballet School, is on the board of directors, treasurer and Front of House Manager for Theatre InspiraTO, as well as working/volunteering with Toronto Dance Theatre and The School of Toronto Dance Theatre and has enjoyed Fall For Dance North since its inception.
Nikki looks forward to being a part of this amazing event and is thankful for the opportunity.
Digital Engagement Coordinator
Elise Roopchan is a new media artist and digital engagement coordinator with a background in dance and social media marketing. Elise Roopchan has a longstanding involvement and passion for the performing arts. As a child she spent 7 years studying ballet at The National Ballet School of Canada where her passion for dance and performance art grew. Elise has continued to deepen her relationship with dance, performing with dance crews and competing in Toronto Carnival’s King and Queen competitions. Elise Roopchan is a recent graduate earning her Bachelor's of Fine Arts Degree in New Media from Toronto Metropolitan University. Elise is passionate about creating inclusive and accessible environments within the dance community through digital mediums and is grateful for the opportunity to join the FFDN team.
My experience with FFDN over the course of the last few months has been incredibly enriching. My relationship with the organization began through an internship that turned into an official role as Festival Coordinator. The team welcomed me with open arms, and being surrounded by such dedicated and inspiring individuals makes the experience so much more meaningful. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to facilitate impactful and accessible artistic experiences through dance, and to be part of an organization that aligns with my personal values and passions.
- Leah Totten, Festival Coordinator
Year Round Collaborators
Board of Directors
Chair Valerie Wilder
Past Chair Joan Lozinski
Treasurer Gerry Hannochko
Advising Representative (Portfolio Manager), Dealing Representative - Qwest Investment Fund Management Ltd.
CEO, NPower Canada
Chief of Staff, Chartered Professional Accountants Canada (CPA Canada)
Chief Operating Officer, Firinne Capital
Principal Dancer, The National Ballet of Canada
Senior Associate, Torys LLP
Director, Philanthropic Advisory Services BMO Private Wealth