Andrea Williams
flamenco dancer, choreographer, instructor, and producer
Andrea is the innovator and the driving force behind the “Raices y Alas” project. Originally debuted in September 2010, “Raíces y Alas” (Roots and Wings) was conceived as a full-length show depicting the interaction between traditional flamenco, its varying cultural influences, and its contemporary evolution.
Andrea has been a member of Mozaico Flamenco Dance Theatre since 2004 and has been featured with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver International Dance Festival, and the West Coast Harp Society Tribute Concert to Jurgen Gothe. Thanks to the generous support from the Canada Council for the Arts, Andrea travelled to Jerez de la Frontera and Seville, Spain in 2010, immersing herself in the exploration of a more contemporary and innovative styling of flamenco. She has trained extensively in Vancouver with Oscar Nieto and Kasandra La China and with renowned flamenco artists such as Rosario Ancer, Rafaela Carrasco, Isabel Bayón, Ángeles Gabaldón, & Matilde Coral.


Ashley KirkhamAshley Kirkham
belly dancer
Ashley is a professional Middle Eastern Dancer who has performed throughout Canada, the USA, in Trinidad and in London, UK . She has held residency at most of the Greek, Arabic, Persian and Mediterranean venues throughout the Lower Mainland since 2000. She also performs at many private functions such as corporate events, stage and theater shows, special events such as weddings and birthdays, in movies and as a model for print. She has a background of ballet and jazz as a child and started training in Middle Eastern dance at the age of 15. Ashley also studied flamenco for 5 years in Vancouver with Mosaico Flamenco, in London UK with Flamenco Express, and in Spain – both in Jerez and in Granada . Ashley is also a bellydance instructor, and has been teaching since 2002. In her other life, Ashley has an undergraduate degree in Rehabilitation, and is currently in school preparing for her masters degree in Physiotherapy. She currently works at St Paul ‘s hospital in Pulmonary Rehabilitation Research. Ashley is also a founding member of Vancouver’s premiere live Middle Eastern music and Dance group- Samar Oriental Dance Ensemble with percussionists Tim Gerwing, Liam MacDonald and with oud/chennai/nai player Andre Thibault. For more information about Ashley or Samar, please see and


RaicesyAlas_2013_CyrenaHuangCyrena Huang
flamenco dancer

Cyrena is both a flamenco dancer and a flamenco cellist and frequently performs in both capacities. She has studied baile most intensively with Kasandra La China and Oscar Nieto but also with Isabel Bayon, Adela Campallo, Domingo Ortega, Marco Flores, Maria Juncal, Juana Amaya, Cihtli Ocampo, Cristina Hall, Ricardo Lopez, Emilio Ochando and Lidon Patino among others. She has performed in Cafe de Chinitas Vinetas, the Vancouver International Dance Festival, The Vancouver International Flamenco Festival, Raices y Alas Colores and dances regularly at the Kino Cafe and the Chai Lounge.

As a flamenco cellist she has studied with renowned flamenco violinist Bernardo Parilla and won a BC Buds grant in 2011 to choreograph a work for cello and flamenco. She has performed in several Cafe de Chinitas and Raices y Alas shows as well as the Jondo Flamenco Festival, the Vancouver International Flamenco Festival and the Vancouver International Dance Festival and most recently collaborated in a project with Gaspar Rodriguez, composer and guitarist for Nuevo Ballet Espanol.

Cyrena has been teaching flamenco to all ages, from toddlers to adults at the Al Mozaico Flamenco Dance Academy for eight years. She has also been known to sing flamenco in the shower or when plied with enough sangria.


Dayna SzyndowskiDayna Szyndowski
tap dancer
Dance and music – inseparable. Tap dance grew up with jazz music and is maturing with cultural influences from around the world. It is this ever-evolving characteristic that works its magnetic magic on those who love the art form. As a result of her desire to continuously learn and seek new rhythmic inspiration, Dayna Szyndrowski has been fortunate enough to spend time across Canada, the US, Cuba, Germany, Spain, and Greece performing and studying with many tap and music greats, passing on what she has learned as a teacher to all ages and levels.


Emilio Ochando TaleroEmilio Ochando Talero
flamenco dancer
Emilio Ochando Talero, began studying dance at age 9. He trained with the Spain national ballet at the Royal Conservatory of Madrid. He is a four-time winner of the competition of Spanish dance and flamenco dancing. in 2000 was awarded fourth prize in classical dance in the national competition (Valencia). in 2005 was recognized nationally for its innovative choreography and won second place in the competition for young creators of Alcala de Henares (Madrid). in 2011, won the national award for Spanish Dance and Flamenco. in 2013, won first prize Spanish dance in the international competition
dance Almeria (Spain). He has worked with the company Domingo Ortega, Rafael Aguilar Ballet Theatre, Aida Gomez and New Ballet Spanish. He has toured throughout Europe, Russia, Asia and North America. He is known as a choreographer and dancer, an elegant and refined inner movement and expression.


Farnaz OhadiFarnaz Ohadi
flamenco singer
Farnaz has extensive background in music making and singing. From the age of five, Farnaz has been singing and playing woodwind, string and percussion instruments. She has also studied Persian classical/traditional and folk singing under the masterful guidance of Ostad Nezakaty. She began singing flamenco in 2005 under the supportive guidance of Oscar Nieto and has since performed in various festivals, venues, cultural events and concerts in BC. Says Ohadi, “The world needs more cross-cultural art makers – the more one shares and receives from her heart , the more the world will heal towards a legacy that is the harmonious multi-cultural utopia I envision for my children and fellow human beings.”


Gareth OwenGareth Owen
flamenco guitarist

Gareth Owen blends traditional Flamenco guitar with his own original style. A talented young guitarist, from Canada’s West Coast, he is one of the privileged few North Americans born into the world of Flamenco. As the son of Flamenco guitarist, the late Harry Owen and dancer Veronica Maguire, Gareth plays with the instinct and raw intensity that comes from truly having the music in his blood. From an early age he has been immersed in the rhythms of Flamenco, performing profession- ally alongside his family and the Alma de España Flamenco Dance Company. In 2001, at the age of 12, Gareth participated in the CD recording of Alma de España’s “Flamenco Live” at Victoria’s McPherson Playhouse Theatre. In 2008, Gareth recorded his first solo album, “Gareth Owen Flamenco Guitar” live at the Alix Goolden Performance Hall in Victoria, B.C. Gareth’s most recent CD recording, “El Cobre”, with Flamenco singer Antonio de Jerez, has just been released (2010).


Liam MacdonaldLiam Macdonald
Since Liam from Toronto in 1997 to Vancouver he has been equally in demand for his Drumset playing as well as his abilities as a Multi-percussionist, this has led him to working with an extremely eclectic mix of projects such : Celso Machado (Master guitarist from Brazil), Haram (11 piece Avant-Garde Arabic ensemble) & Silk Road Ensemble (World Fusion).


Michelle Harding
flamenco dancer
Michelle has been involved in the Raices y Alas project since its inaugural year and is excited to see how far we have come. She is thrilled to participate again by partnering up with two exceptionally brilliant artists, Dayna Szyndrowski (tap dancer) and Tyson Naylor (pianist). Raices y Alas “Pairings” represents a unique opportunity for her to explore the regions where tap, jazz and flamenco have the potential to intersect and blossom.

Michelle began her flamenco career in Vancouver studying with Oscar Nieto and Kasandra “La China”. She has traveled twice to Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, to train with some of the great masters of the art and has studied extensively with visiting artists over the last thirteen years.

Michelle has been a soloist and company member with Mozaico Flamenco Dance Theatre since 2005, and is an instructor at Al Mozaico Flamenco Dance Academy. She is a favourite weekly performer at the Kino Café and Chai Lounge in Vancouver and has worked professionally with many groups, both local and international, including Moraima, Flamenco Alcala, Mimbre, Mashregh, Zyryab (Canada/Iran), Ricardo Diaz (USA), Ricardo Garcia (Scotland), Flamenco Sur (USA/France) and Calle Verde.


Neha Munshi
kathak dancer
Neha has been learning Kathak dance from Madhu Khare in Vancouver for the last eight years. In 2009, Neha went to India to broaden her understanding of Kathak rhythms and spent four months in Pune learning Kathak with Kaveri Sagedar. She has also trained with renowned teacher Guru Maulik Shah of India. Neha has also spent about seven years learning Bharatnatyam from Anusha Fernando of Shakti Dance.

Neha has performed at many venues in Vancouver and Victoria including the Scotia Bank Dance theatre, Massey theatre, Gateway theatre, Surrey Arts theatre and the Farquhar auditorium at the University of Victoria as well as Victoria’s Centennial Square. Neha thanks her family for instilling the love of art, culture and philosophy in her.


Nathan ToddNathan Todd
contemporary dancer
After beginning his training at The School of Alberta Ballet in 2008, Nathan Todd has since moved to Vancouver to complete his BFA at Simon Fraser University. Now in his fourth and final year of the program Todd is honored to have worked as an interpreter for Rob Kitsos, Vanessa Goodman, 605 Collective, Sauna Elton, Donald Sales, Andrea Nann, and Daisy Thompson. This past summer Todd had the opportunity to work intensively with The School of Toronto Dance Theatre in a partial remount of Vena Cava, under the direction or Rosemary James and Christopher House. In his own work, Todd explores the possibilities that arise through collaboration between multidisciplinary artists. In[a}moment, debuting in 2012, was an interactive instillation exploring the intersections of audience/architecture/performer.


Nathan LeisNelson Leis
Nelson Leis has been performing as an actor in film, television, and theatre since 2000 after studying at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. Recently he has appeared on the tv series’ The Killing, Arrow, and Supernatural and the feature film Evangeline. Nelson was honoured as ‘Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Web Series’ at the 2011 LA Web Fest for his performance on The Jim, a series that he co-created. The Jim won 5 awards in Los Angeles and went on to be an official selection for the Marseilles Web Fest in France. As a producer and actor Nelson recently worked on the crime-comedy web series Bad Seeds. Nelson is excited to be a back on stage and honoured that Andrea Williams invited him to be a part of her creation.


Palma Kontogianni
flamenco dancer
Palma Kontogianni has been involved in performing arts since childhood. She studied flamenco with Rosario Ancer and Oscar Nieto, as well as taking classes in Spain and with visiting teachers. For many years, Palma performed with the Flamenco Rosario company, taught at Centro Flamenco, and danced weekly at Kino Café. She has also presented a series of independent multi-disciplinary performances, including “Women in Wartime”. More recently, she was a soloist in the 2011 and 2012 Vancouver International Flamenco Festival. Palma enjoys taking contemporary clásico/flamenco vocabulary outside the traditional context, as a dance language to tell unique stories.

P.S. Yes, Palma is her real name! The fact that it’s also the flamenco term for clapping is just coincidental.


Peter MolePeter Mole
flamenco guitarist
Peter’s passion for flamenco was born during a trip to Spain, where he witnessed a group of Gypsies singing, dancing and playing guitar on a hillside in Granada. Since then, he has returned to Spain several times to study and sustain a connection with the latest developments of the art form. The Canada Council for The Arts has funded his most recent trips where he took classes with such guitarists as Carlos Heridia, Miguel Arragon, Diego de Moraio and Fyty.
For over a decade, Peter has been deeply committed to presenting flamenco of the highest calibre, and is regarded as one of the “pillars” of the flamenco community in Vancouver. His blending of sophisticated contemporary harmonies with the traditional rhythms of flamenco has distinguished him as an innovative and unique artist and he has become the first choice as accompanist for many leading dancers.


Saina Khaledi
santour soloist, composer
Saina Khaledi is an award-winning Santour soloist and composer living in Vancouver, BC. She began playing at the age of six and went on to graduate with a B.A. in Music specialising in Iranian Musical Instruments. She is a much sought-after soloist and ensemble musician in both Iran and Canada.


Tim GerwingTim Gerwing
Tim Gerwing is a Vancouver, Canada based musician and producer who also specializes in Middle Eastern percussion. Tim has been working together with Ashley since 2005 and has also worked with many dancers and musicians in London, UK. He offers lessons and workshops, and is a frequent performer with our master Serwan Yamolky Trio, which includes Liam MacDonald, has recently released a new album entitled “La Younsa”. Tim is a also a great musician with Gord Gdinas’ Haram Ensemble.


Tyson NaylorTyson Naylor
Pianist and keyboardist Tyson Naylor has firmly established himself as one of Vancouver’s most compelling musical talents. He is a member of Vancouver bands Dan Mangan, the Crackling, Francois Houle’s Living Ditches, the Tyson Naylor Trio, and the Abramson Singers, with whom he did a residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts in 2011. Tyson has made numerous appearances at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, with artists such as Tony Wilson, Bruce Freedman, and The Crackling. He’s toured throughout Canada, Germany and Poland. He has performed in Europe with Tobias Delius and Tristan Honsinger (of ICP Orchestra), Jan Roder (Schlippenbach Quartet), Christian Kögel, Kurt Rosenwinkel, and Joe Williamson. In Canada he has played with Jesse Zubot, François Houle, JP Carter, Peggy Lee, Steve Dawson, Gord Grdina, Tommy Babin, Mother Mother and Ndidi Onukwulu. His work on Dan Mangan’s “Oh Fortune” has been recognized with a Juno award for best alternative album of the year in 2012.


Zosia HorstingZosia Hortsing
flamenco dancer

Zosia began her love affair with flamenco as a teenager and has never looked back. First inspired by the vision and teaching of Veronica Maguire and the late Harry Owen of Alma de Espana Flamenco in Victoria, she has since studied and performed flamenco in Ottawa, Paris and Vancouver, where she now studies under Kasandra “La China” and Oscar Nieto, and performs as a member of Mozaico Flamenco Dance Theatre. She is constantly challenged, moved and humbled by flamenco as an art form, and loves collaborating with those who share her passion for dance.