Dance Ontario Awards


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Dance Ontario Lifetime Achievement Award
The Dance Ontario Awards Committee (Lola Ryan, Jennifer Watkins, Sashar Zarif, Ofilio Sinbadinho) is delighted to announce that Allen & Karen Kaeja have been selected as the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award recipients.  Given to those who have contributed substantially to the development of dance in this province over a significant period of time, committee members were delighted to recognize Toronto's "coolest couple" (NOW Magazine).

Lori Endes, President of the Board of Directors of Kaeja d'Dance said of the couple in her submission "In nominating Allen and Karen for this lifetime achievement award, I am nominating two individually fierce artists who together have pioneered new dance techniques and festivals, created far-reaching programming and found new ways of captivating and expanding dance audiences. With 39 years of award-winning professional stage and dance film works, they are recognized leaders locally, nationally and internationally for breaking barriers between audience and performance through multi-cultural, multi-generational and economically inclusive performances, collaborations and workshops. I have personally participated in the first iteration of their award-winning Porch View Dances (PVD) with my family, in my neighborhood and have witnessed the impact that this program has on a community, and the city at large, annually. Karen has envisioned a collaboration between professional choreographers and local residents that celebrates life through dance and demonstrates a high level of artistic integrity and consideration toward inclusivity of our diverse population. Each summer, as huge audiences are led down streets to witness professional vignettes by professional dancers mixed with beautiful performances by community members, ending with an audience inclusive movement experience of Flock Landing, the overall impression is that contemporary dance has the power to reach everyone and reflect our collective human experience. Lauded across the country with performances throughout other Ontario neighbourhoods, PVD has been a catalyst for similar events and new ideas for several organizations/artists."

KAREN KAEJA is an award-winning performer, choreographer, community builder and project instigator. “The mastermind behind Porch View Dances” Toronto Star, she thrives on developing performance platforms provoking collaborative relationships between dancers, everyday people and the body. Co-Artistic Director of Kaeja d’Dance with Allen Kaeja, her awards include the CDA “I Love Dance” Community Award and the Paul D. Fleck Fellowship for Innovation.Her performances, choreography and creations have received 7 Dora Mavor Moore nominations, including 4 Dora’s for Crave (winning one). Karen is distinguished in The Canadian Who’s Who, was a finalist for the TAF Muriel Sherrin Award for International achievement in dance, the CDA Innovation Award, and NOW’s Best Local Choreographer and Best Dance Company. Commissioned and presented by performance series around the world from NFLD to Israel to Japan, she was the first resident dance artist for both MUN/Dance NL and the Guelph Dance Festival. Karen has created 16 original Porch View Dances works, is a Mentor and Dramaturge for many instrumental dance artists, is Co-AD with Claudia Moore of Cloud 9 and Artistic Advisor for Jaberi Dance Theatre. She is currently working on several commissions and performances to premier in 2020 and 2021.

ALLEN KAEJA is an internationally recognized and award-winning Choreographer and Dance Film Director, who has created over 170 stage works and 28 Dance Films. Allen is Co-Artistic Director of Kaeja d’Dance with Karen Kaeja, and he is co-founder of the CanAsian Dance Festival. Kaeja d'Dance was runner up of NOW Magazine’s Best Dance Company. His stage and film works have been presented in festivals around the world. Allen has received numerous national and international commissions, teaches Kaeja Elevations and Dance Film master classes worldwide. His latest dance film has toured to Japan and is aired on Bell Media and Marqueearts. He and Karen have recently toured to Japan, Singapore, Israel, China, Mexico and the UK. Allen’s awards include the prestigious Clifford Lee, KM Hunter, and Fleck Fellowship Awards (Canada), the Bonnie Bird Award (UK), the Katheryn Ash Award for Choreography, a UNESCO citation, and was nominated for Ontario’s Arts Education Award. Allen has also co-developed many site-specific and audience interactive engagement performance strategies with Karen Kaeja over the past 30 years.

Their response when notified of the award was “We are incredibly honoured to be recognized with this Award. We could not have persevered our experimenting and dreaming without the thousands of colleagues and supporters we’ve interacted with for four decades. We are grateful to live and breathe dance, together.”

The Kaeja's extraordinary achievements will be celebrated at a ceremony following DanceWeekend on Sunday,  January 26, 2020 at the Fleck Dance Theatre, Toronto.


  • Charlotte Holmes
  • Grant Strate
  • Lawrence & Miriam Adams
  • Brian Robinson
  • Trish Beatty
  • David Earle
  • Peter Randazzo
  • Lois Smith
  • Herbert Whittaker
  • Janet Baldwin
  • Boris Volkoff
  • Nesta Williams Toumine
  • Judy Jarvis
  • Joysanne Sidimus
  • Dr. R.N. Laidlaw
  • Rina Singha
  • Peter Boneham (1992)
  • Gladys Forrester (1993)
  • Vera Davis (1993)
  • Carol Anderson (1994)
  • Rose Hill (1997)
  • Danny Grossman (1998)
  • Patricia Miner (2004)
  • Mimi Beck (2007)
  • Roelof Peter (Ron) Snippe (2010)
  • Nadia Potts Gomez (2013)
  • Vivine Scarlett (2016)

Currently Lifetime Achievement Award recipients receive $1,000 and an original bronze sculpture, Winged Torso, cast in bronze.  Created by Patricia Moody, it is one of a limited edition and is embued with a sense of motion and grace, ideally honouring its recipients. Patricia Moody was born in Staffordshire, England and trained at the Burslem School of Art.  She has been a member of the Group of Sculptors Nine and has produced a series of etchings at the Open Studio.  She is known in Canada and the U.K. and has been commissioned to produce bronze portraits.  Her works have been exhibited in Toronto at the Mantra Gallery.


Jacque Foesier Youth Dance Award


This annual award seeks to recognize exceptional young dancers ages 19 & under who are not only pursuing excellence in their craft but go above and beyond making a difference in the lives of others and/or contributing to the dance community.The Award is named after Jacque Foesier, long-time Dance Ontario Board member and dedicated dance teacher who made significant contributions to the dance community in the province.

14-year old Zachary Seto was nominated by Ashey Watts, Director of the Watts School of Dance in Mississauga and Rachael Lutes, Head of Dance/Drama at Cawthra Park Secondary School. For more than eight years, he has trained in Contemporary, Ballet, Hip Hop, Jazz, Lyrical, Musical Theatre and Acro and has won awards in numerous dance competitions and  was offered automatic placement on the World Performance Team to travel to Spain and Portugal and traveled to Mexico as part of the Five Star Team. Early challenges have instilled a resilience and sensitivity towards others that he extends through his teaching at drop-in contemporary classes at the studio as well as through informal tutor/assist at Cawthra Park SS.

"It has been a pleasure to teach Zachary over the years, and I am so proud to have watched him grow and develop into the eloquent, genuine, determined and passionate dancer he has become. He truly has been a gift to my studio, and I look forward to see him evolve in his adult career"  Ashley Watts

"Zachary truly exemplifies what it means to be a passionate, committed, and determined student"  Rachael Lutes
We look forward to highlighting Zachary Seto's achievements at an award ceremony in the new year.

PAST RECIPIENTS: Makeda Benitez, Isabella Rapino, Madison Gray, Tess Vosper, Claire Whitaker, Ethan Bucholtz

This annual award seeks to recognize exceptional young dancers ages 19 & under who are not only pursuing excellence in their craft but go above and beyond making a difference in the lives of others and/or contributing to the dance community.

Dance Ontario knows that there are many young dancers across Ontario doing great things and is currently soliciting nominations.


Dance Ontario seeks to recognize a young talented dancer who goes beyond their training to make a difference, effect change, develop, promote, inspire, educate, connect and contribute.

The Award is named after Jacque Foesier, long-time Dance Ontario Board member and dedicated dance teacher who made significant contributions to the dance community in the province.

Nominee must have:

  • demonstrated a passion, dedication and commitment in the pursuit of excellence in dance;
  • a proven track record of successful competitions and/or performances and be a strong dancer in their genre(s)
  • demonstrated a contribution to the dance community as a teacher/assistant, volunteer, organizer or advocate

Nominators must submit:

  • A completed nomination form
  • A letter of recommendation if nominator is not a studio/company director, teacher, or choreographer
  • A performance video, either a DVD or links to YouTube or Vimeo - public or unlisted (which are private) links can be submitted online via e-mail


We look forward to receiving your nominations!

The recipient of the Dance Ontario Youth Award and their achievements are celebrated at an award ceremony that takes place during DanceWeekend each January. A cash award of $300 is also included.

Dance Ontario also offers awards in the following categories:

The Dance Innovation Award in recognition of a special or forward-thinking initiative undertaken by an individual.
2010 Recipient: Eroca Nicols
2013 Recipient: Apolonia Velasquez and Ofilio Portillo


The Community Service Award (occasional) to recognize an individual's support for the dance community.
Recipients: John Newton, Ted Fox, Alan Page, Patrick Kutney, Omer Yukseker, Colin Anthony (posthumously) and Kenny Pearl