Non-Profit Reg: 8607877
TORONTO INTERNATIONAL DANCE FESTIVAL
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Dancing Damsels Inc.

A multicultural organization for arts promotions & women empowerment

Rathika Sitsabaiesan:

Rathika was born in Sri Lanka and came to Canada with her family at the age of five.

Rathika’s political, social, and cultural consciousness took shape early on in her life as her parents have been community activists who worked towards the advancement and injection of Tamil culture into the Canadian fabric.

Rathika attended the University of Toronto for the first two years of her undergraduate studies, where she was the Vice-President of the Tamil Students’ Association. She then transferred to Carleton University, where she completed her Bachelor of Commerce degree.

While attending Carleton University, Rathika served as a Vice-President of the Carleton University Students’ Association, as Caucus Chair of the New University Government, and as Operations Manager with the Rideau River Residence Association.

Rathika proceeded to obtain a Master’s Degree in Industrial Relations from Queen’s University, where she worked with the Service Employees’ International Union as a researcher and helped the organization to successfully launch the “Justice 4 Janitors” Campaign.

Since the age of nine, Rathika has been making a difference at the grassroots level as a volunteer and community organizer in various capacities. Her inspiration for political participation stems from the student movement, the labour movement, and pursuit of social justice. The causes which are close to her heart include poverty reduction, affordable housing, access to education, employment equity, immigration, and the preservation of Tamil language and culture.

Rathika became involved with the New Democratic Party in 2004 by volunteering in the Ed Broadbent federal election campaign. Since then, Rathika has continued her involvement with the NDP in different capacities. In the 2008 federal election, Rathika was a canvasser and campaign manager.

Before her successful election as MP for Scarborough-Rouge River, Rathika worked at the University of Toronto Students’ Union.

Rathika was voted “Best MP” by Now Magazine in 2012.

Reshmi Nair:


Born in Toronto, Reshmi Nair is a first generation Canadian; her parents emigrated from Kerala, India in the 1960s. Reshmi has spent a significant part of her life on the west coast of Canada, first studying broadcast at Columbia Academy in Vancouver, and later working as a news reporter at Mountain FM in Squamish, B.C. After working at News1130 in Vancouver, Nair moved to television, working first at CTV British Columbia and later at CTV Toronto. 

Reshmi joined CBC News Network to launch Connect with Mark Kelley in October 2009 and has been a rising star at the public broadcaster ever since. She takes pride is sharing stories with Canadians, while having a little fun.

Reshmi says she's just as passionate about art and antiques as she is about the news. On weekends she visits thrift shops and garage sales to search for the next great item to add to her collection.

You can follow Reshmi on Twitter: @reshminair


Minu Jose:

In 2011, Minu Jose made history as being the first South Indian woman in Canada to win the prestigious Miss India Worldwide Canada title. A talented classical dancer with panache for contemporary dance, Minu also took home subtitles for “Best Talent” and most well-spoken contestant. Her win opened the doors for many other South Indian women in Canada to participate in the forthcoming years.

Winning the national event led her to ultimately becoming the official Canadian delegate at the international Miss India Worldwide competition held in Dubai, UAE where she shone again as one of the most well-spoken delegates.

Minu holds degrees in Applied Science & Engineering from the University of Toronto. Presently in the process of pursuing graduate studies in Engineering and Education, Minu is one of the youngest professors teaching Mechanical Engineering & Mathematics in Toronto. She is testament to the fact that women can maintain a balance between being successful in a male-dominated technical industry as well as in the performing and creative arts. 

Mala Pisharody:


Smt. Mala Pisharody grew up in a family of Sanskrit and Malayalam scholars with a passion for art in Kerala, India. She received her training in Bharathanatyam and Mohiniyattam under the tutelage of Shri. K. Venkatesh of the Balaji Kala Bhavan and Smt. Kalamandalam Husna Bhanu respectively. She has also been trained in Kathakali by Shri. Narippatta Narayanan Namboodiri and South Indian Classical Music by Smt. Babitha Narayan and Smt. Suma Shridharan and has completed her Gana Bhooshanam Diploma in Music. Mala continues her artistic journey under the tutelage of the renowned Mohiniyattam exponent Kalamandalam Leelamma, Bharathanatyam exponent Smt. Chithra Visweswaran and Shri. K.Venkatesh. Mala is a graded performing artist with the Doordarshan Kendra in India for both Mohiniyattam and Bharathanatyam and has performed extensively across India.


Mala immigrated to Canada in 2004 to join her husband in Toronto and immediately became one of the Artistic Directors of the Adishankara Academy of Performing Arts in Mississauga, Ontario. The Academy currently not only gives performances in Mohiniyattam, Bharathanatyam and Kathakali all across North America and India but also provides specialized training in the first two of these three art forms. Mala has also participated in several productions of the Janak Khendry Dance Company, Toronto such as the Upanishads, Moods of the Rhythms, Gayatri, Mallari, Chandrakauns and Ganga in North America, Mexico and India. She has also worked on a contemporary production titled “Shakti” of the late legendary Chandralekha remounted here in Toronto by the Menaka Thakkar Dance Company.


Mala has also performed at several renowned South Asian events held across North America such as Masala Mehendi Masti, South Asia Calling, Carassauga, Carabram, Markham South Asian Festival, Harbourfront Festival, Panorama India Republic and Independence Day Celebrations, Indian Dance Festival Colorado, Swati Festival Orange County and the Kerala Hindus of North America Conferences in Los Angeles and Washington. Her academy has exhibited the richness and beauty of South Asian dance amongst Canadian organizations such as the Royal Ontario Museum as well as the Canadian Imperial Bank Of Commerce. They are also actively involved in the cultural festivities hosted across the country by several reputed associations such as the OHM Cultural Association, Mississauga Malayalee Samajam, Toronto Malayalee Samajam, Canadian Malayalee Association, Niagara Falls Malayalee Samajam, Malayalee Association of Social Workers Of Ontario, Bharath Seva Sangam (Montreal), Madras Arts and Cultural Association, Chennai Rhythms, Dhwani, Amma Foundation and Chinmaya Shivalaya. Mala was recognized by the Canada Arts Council as an emerging artist in the field of Mohiniyattam in 2012 and would like to acknowledge their support in all of her endeavours. 

Mercy Elengikal:
 I have been in Canada for almost 14 years. Prior to that, I was in Saudi Arabia for about 15 years. I was born and brought up in Kerala, India. I have graduated from the University of Calicut in Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. While I was in school and college I have won many prizes in dancing, singing, acting. Actually I won the best actress award for five years at a stretch.  I have also won prizes for sports in various fields. I have won the best girl guide’s award representing Kerala from our Indian President late Mr. V.V. Giri in a function at Delhi.  

After my marriage I went to Saudi and lived there for 15 years. I worked as a teaching assistant in an American International school. During those years, I started playing shuttle badminton as a beginner. Within a short period I became one of the top players in Championship flight. I have won several prizes for singles, ladies doubles and mixed doubles. I have represented different parts of the Middle East. I have volunteered as a Secretary and Treasurer for a Saudi American oil company’s Badminton club. In the year 2000 I immigrated with my family to Canada. In 2004 I became the Secretary of a revived association, Mississauga Kerala Association which  had been inactive for 4 years. For the last 3 years I worked as the President of this organization till  February 2014. I always find time for this voluntary association to promote our Indian culture to our new generation. I have 4 children and I am working as well. But I never felt the involvement in voluntary activities as unnecessary nor did all of it hinder me from bringing up my children or achieving my goals. I also took initiative to form a ladies dance team so that all these ladies can have some fun time other than their family chores. We are a very strong group and have performed variety of dances on different stages and won prizes for the best Kaikottukali team for 3 years continuously. Looking back, I feel, I have accomplished a lot as a mother and as a woman.

Sonijya Raj :
Raised in Africa, went to University in India, Sonijya Raj came to Canada in the year 2002. After working in the hospitality industry for years, she started her career as a Realtor in 2010. Her passion for Real Estate and Business drove her to the successes of today. For the first 3 years she was top ten producer at Century 21 President Realty and won many outstanding achievement awards from Century 21 Canada. She was nominated for the 2013 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards  recently and her superior performance as a Realtor has earned her the prestigious 2013  CENTURION PRODUCER award which is a Century 21 Icon earned only by an elite group of professionals.

Maria Easow Jobson:

Born and brought up in Kerala, India and educated at All India Medical Institute of Science, New Delhi, Maria Jobson immigrated to join her husband  to Canada in 1995. Maria started her Nursing career in Hamilton, Ontario and then moved to Markham Toronto in 1997. Since she has been working for Markham Stouffville Hospital.

​Maria Easow , won the Dr.Robert J.Gall Award of Excellence for 2013 in recognition for her dedicated work and compassion towards the community. This award is been nominated by the community and gone through a selection process by the Markham Stouffville Hospital Senior Management Award selection committee. She has also received many other awards of excellence during her career.

Currently she works as a Manager of Cardiac and Telemetry unit at Markham Stouffville Hospital. Maria is a resident of Markham and a proud mother of 2.

Kanmani Dhanasekar :
I  am a gold medalist in Masters degree from University of Madras and received it from the Tamilnadu Governor Mr Chenna Reddy  and also have the distinction of being first lady to head sales in Automobile division in India and got top honors in Suzuki convention in Istanbul and later interviewed by leading Radio and television channels .
 
She is a seasoned sales and Marketing Professional with all over 15 plus years experience in sales, marketing and customer relationship and also has a successful track record of consistently achieving business milestones and established credibility in generating business in an fiercely competitive market.
 
Has strong background in building and nurturing cultural events and shows in all southern languages and organized plethora of events between college and university levels as student President of college.

I serve as board of director for Tamilnadu Cultural Society of Canada and South India Chamber of Commerce.

Recently I spear headed the canadian delegation to Tamilnadu for Canada Tamilnadu Bilateral Trade and Investment  and I am the first lady to lead the delegation in 37 years.

I am the Director of Global sales for Nrich Group and we have offices in UK and Australia. While in India I was interviewed by Jaya Television and leading dailies for an entrepreneurial vision. 
My husband Mr Dhanasekar is an MBA and now specializing in IT Administration.I am blessed with two lovely daughters, Aishwarya and Smrithi.
I dedicate all my laurels to my revolutionary father Mr Thangavelu, mother Mageshwari and to my husband and children.

Uma Suresh:



All I do is helping Children and Youth to get themselves involved in the community, get in touch with our culture, follow human values, showcase their arts , remember our language and practice recycling.This is our second mother land and more than education, they must do something to the community and be good Citizens. I am not educated that well in Honors or whatsoever....but the only power I have is to convince people/youth to follow the above mentioned. Every single family/member treat me as their family member for which I am thankful to God. They trust me and believe my words and I am sure is the greatest wealth I earned by JUST LOVE. Lots of youth are following me and that has given me more strength to do more to diversified community youth. I volunteer different divisions of Cancer Society, Heart and Stroke, Canadian Blood Services, City of Pickering, Town of Ajax, Ajax Home Week, JAM Fest, CASSA's Toronto Mela, Ajax Library, WMRCC, ICCAD, DRPS, DDSB, Social Services Canada, Court Services of Durham, local schools, Ajax Welcome Center, SSN, CAC etc., and currently working on contributing something to Autistic children. This is my bio. And I have not applied for any award ,a I think award shouldn't be self applied. One must earn it. And moreover, social work doesn't need to be recognized,as it is like you going to a worship place and not a competitive ground.    

Jennifer Prasad:

Jennifer has volunteered​ for almost 3 years for CARP (Canadian Associatio​n for Retired Persons) in Mississaug​a. She also volunteers in various schools in the Peel region, her church and Women’s Network Groups in Mississaug​a. She also helps many new immigrants in settling and integrating into Canadian society. She is registered with Big Brothers & Big Sisters in the Peel region and is the current secretary of Canadian Malayalee Associatio​n. She has been involved in Panorama India since 2005, was on the Board of Directors in 2009-2011.

A Travel Agent by profession Jennifer has been living in Canada since 1996, with her husband and two sons.