Welcome New DO Board Members

Oct. 04, 2021


Dance Ontario Association is pleased to announce the appointment of five new board members for the 2021/22 year: Emily Cheung, Lisa Sandlos, Patrick Parson, Rob Galbraith, and Suzan Richards! We can’t wait to start working together to develop an even more vibrant, diverse, and sustainable dance community in Ontario!

Learn more about our new Board members here:

Emily Cheung is an educator, performer and choreographer. She received her B.F.A., B. Ed. and M.A from York University specializing in Dance. Most of her training was completed in China, Hong Kong, United States and Canada. She is recognized as one of the leaders in cross-cultural exchange and liaison with foreign artists practicing traditional and contemporary Chinese dance in Toronto. Ms. Cheung also received an award as one of the ten “Voices of Chinese Canadian Woman” in Ontario during the 150th Anniversary celebration of Canada. Ms. Cheung is the Artistic Director of Little Pear Garden Dance Company in Toronto. She specializes in both Chinese Classical dance and Chinese Contemporary dance. Cheung is involved in preserving traditional Chinese dance, creating contemporary dance that honours Chinese traditions, and collaborating with artists from other disciplines and ethnic backgrounds to create works with unique aesthetic sensibilities.

Dr. Lisa Sandlos has been a faculty member at York University since 1998, teaching in the Department of Dance, the School of Kinesiology and Health Sciences, the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, and the Faculty of Education. Dr. Sandlos holds a PhD in Gender, Feminist, and Women’s Studies and an MA in Dance at York. She is qualified as a Certified Movement Analyst (CMA) through the Laban Institute of Movement Studies (LIMS) and as an Expressive Movement Analyst (EMA) at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). These certifications equip her to work with a diverse range of students in educational or coaching contexts. Building on her doctoral thesis, a main trajectory of Dr. Sandlos’ research focuses on the sexualization of young female dancers and the impacts of this trend on dance education, public perceptions of dance, and girls’ psychological and social development. Another branch of her work is accomplished through Soma-City, an organization that uses interdisciplinary methods of research and teaching to explore topics at the intersection of human movement and landscape design. An enthusiastic presenter of her academic research and the various embodied movement/dance modalities that she practices, Dr. Sandlos has been invited to share her expertise at various conferences, educational and training programs and festivals in locations including Theatrum Mundi in Paris, France; The University of El Paso, Texas (UTEP); The University of California Polytechnic, Pomona; The University of the West Indies, Bridgetown, Barbados; and Etobicoke School of the Arts (ESA) in Ontario, Canada. Drawing on her extensive experience in facilitating inclusive, community-based dance, she is the co-director of a dance-environmental activism project in Erin, Ontario which is part of the international Global Water Dances initiative.

Patrick Parson, a native of Trinidad and Tobago, has been a dancer and musician from the age of 10. He continues to draw much of his artistic inspiration from the vibrant multicultural community that makes up the Caribbean. Patrick spent his early years singing in choirs, composing and singing calypsos, playing with steel orchestras, dancing and drumming with community folk groups, and studying ballet and modern dance at the Caribbean School of Dance and the Dance Academy of Trinidad and Tobago. He was trained in the dance and drumming styles of Guinea and Senegal by Mor Thiam, the Artist Director of Les Ballets Africains, and in Canada graduated from The School of Toronto Dance Theatre. Patrick’s founding of Ballet Creole in 1990 brought Black Dance to mainstream Canadian stages, establishing the Company as the forerunner of Black Dance in Canada. Patrick is the recipient of the Entrepreneurial Award of Merit from the African Caribbean Chamber of Commerce, and the New Pioneers Award from Skills for Change, for his pioneering work in the world of dance in Canada. He has served as cultural adviser to the Toronto Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, Metro Cultural Affairs, Ontario Arts Council, Harbourfront Centre, Laidlaw Foundation, and the Arts Advantage Program at Downsview Secondary School. Patrick holds a Masters Degree in Dance Ethnology from York University where he has been a course director in the Faculties of Fine Arts and Kinesiology. He regularly conducts workshops and lecture demonstrations for universities and schools in Ontario. Through extensive studies at the Katherine Dunham Institute for Humanities, Patrick has been awarded certification as a teacher of the Dunham Technique, which he teaches in Canada where it is little known and practiced.

Suzan Richards is a loving mother of Julianne and Samuel. She is the proprietor of The Cultural Arts Studio, School of Afro-Caribbean Dance, Wellness Community for the past 26 years. Formally trained in Ballet Jazz at The Montreal Jazz Dance Academy and the West Can Folk PerformingCompany in Montreal, she is an inspired performing artist, seasoned teacher and choreographer. Her strong cultural roots from the island of Dominica motivated her to create The Cultural Arts Studio, School of Afro-Caribbean Dance, a space where folk dances from Africa & The Caribbean can be shared and celebrated. Known in the community as “Teacher Suzan”, she has touched the lives of thousands of youth in this community through this endeavor. In addition Suzan is a Professional Artist & Arts Educator with Multicultural Arts In Schools and Communities (MASC) a local non profit organization that offers schools and communities arts experiences led by professional artists that awaken the creative process, deepen cultural awareness, encourage engagement, and give vivid demonstration of Canada’s diversity. She is also the co-cost of Caribbean Calendar on Rogers-22 and is a ZYIA ACtive Representative holding strong to the pillars to Uplift, Light and Empower the Community.

Valizan (Rob Galbraith) began his joureny into Middle Eastern Dance in 1995 when he joined The Society for Creative Anachronism, an education group that learns about the Middle Ages by recreating it. Teachers Rayah Bint Youssef and Moria The Black instilled basic technique while classes with the sublime Roula Said took him to a new plateau. Current influences include Yasmina Ramzy, FatChance Bellydance, Jillina, Rachel Brice and Francisco Carranza. He has become a sought after solo performer and teacher for his powerful style and energy. He also heads up his own tribal group, Shades of Araby, celebrating its 15th year of dance. Appearances include Arabesque Dance Company productions Asala and Oum, Black Forest Tribal Fest in Offenburg Germany, The International Bellydance Conference of Canada, Tribalcon, Sacred Circles, Tribal Camp Oslo in Oslo Norway, Tribal Revolution in Chicago and Face Zenna at the Royal Ontario Museum. He also headlined In the Heat of the Hafla in Milwaukee, Belly Boo Bash in Dayton, Ohio, and appeared at Cabin Fever and the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo, NY. He began teaching American Tribal Style bellydance at Arabesque Academy in 2004 and became an apprentice in the company in 2005 when he began training in Egyptian Folklore with master teacher Yasmina Ramzy. He was honored to be a lead dancer in the Arabesque Dance Company, and in the all male bellydance troupe, The Righteous Rogues of Raks. He continues to teach regularly across Southern Ontario. Valizan holds a degree from the Ryerson School of Journalism, took the Arabesque Academy Pro Course, is the first male to graduate from the FatChance BellyDance Teacher Training program and is the first FatChance BellyDance Brother Studio.

For a full list of new and returning Board members please visit https://danceontario.ca/page-detail/board-directors