Evolution Dance Theatre

Evolution Dance Theatre also known as EDT is a federally registered not-for-profit Canadian company that develops, promotes and performs original Middle Eastern-inspired multimedia and multidisciplinary spectacles to both entertain and provoke dialogue on social, spiritual and humanistic

The company is committed to producing unique, one-of-a-kind performances which are visceral, visually captivating and have broad universal appeal. Evolution Dance Theatre has a mandate to entertain, educate and inspire.  In addition the company emphasizes Women’s empowerment and
showcases multiculturalism while maintaining heritage.

EDT utilizes Middle Eastern dance forms in combination with a variety of other dance genres to tell stories that cross boundaries of gender and generations to bridge the global gap of cultural interchange and to reinforce the universality of the human condition. EDT showcases original stories
that reveal the Middle Eastern traditions and display the rich and colourful culture that is so mysterious to many of the Western world.

Unlike other belly dance-inspired productions, Evolution Dance Theatre uses dance as a canvas to create a spectacle that incorporates music, performance, video, special effects and other dance genres to create a one-of-a-kind storytelling experience while celebrating diversity.

Evolution Dance Theatre’s core values of Unity, Universality and Integrity are reflected strongly in all of its productions as well as in the spirit of the company.

With the expertise and solid commitment of Keshishian EDT president, the company has produced and brought to the stage four successful Middle Eastern-inspired shows in Toronto since 2006.

Evolution Dance Theatre – Behind the Veil … the costumes and set design were gorgeous. And Keshishian’s wide choice of music was solid.
classical 96.3fm

Board of Directors

Armineh Keshishian: President & Artistic Director

Armineh - DirectorThe founder of Evolution Dance Theatre Armineh Keshishian brings the discipline and skills she practices daily in her professional life as a Certified Financial Planner to her role as the visionary behind these productions.

Speaking about the inspiration behind Evolution Dance Theatre and its unique, Middle Eastern-themed productions, Armineh says “my work is influenced by the context of my upbringing: the fact I was born Christian and raised in a Muslim country. This has given me an insight into these two different worlds, of what is allowed and what is not. The stories are influenced by the fact that my mother was an independent woman who encouraged me to have a higher education and be financially independent, and yet she, herself was a woman of tradition. Because I did not want to follow the traditional rules and regulations as a socially obliging Middle Eastern girl I went on to find my path as an artist and as a woman who can express herself.”

For Armineh Keshishian, dance is an outlet that has allowed her to celebrate her life journey and foster greater understanding of complex cultural issues. Finding her way to the stage, Armineh’s passion for dance and performance began as a young child. Armineh has had an extensive performing and choreographic career, spanning more than twenty years. She has performed on the stage as a theatre actress starting in the 1980’s including “The Odd Couple” and she was the featured dancer at the Royal Ontario Museum opening exhibit of Egypt. She was also the featured performer in the production of “Three Ladies of Baghdad” where story tellers told the story of 1001 Nights through interactive dance and performance.

Armineh has incorporated her creative skills with her financial knowledge and has committed herself to dance theatre. “I like to express my body not in an isolated form as an individual expression but as a cultural awareness, a story or a history where I am connected to the world” she says.

Keshishian has created and produced a number of multidisciplinary and multimedia productions and she adds “By creating Evolution … of the Human Kind, my objective was to show the differences of power in its variations such as implied power vs. true power where the latter comes from within”. “And with behind the Veil “another creation, she adds “I approach the story as a current phenomenon with a reflection on the past”. Keshishian’s personal experience with art and the traditions of the Middle East adds authenticity to these shows and her career in finance has provided the fiduciary skills and discipline needed to present successful dance theatre productions.

She adds; “I strive to create cultural fusion through art. I like to tell current Middle Eastern stories that have universal appeal. My aim is to bring people and cultures together by focusing on our commonalities vs. our differences.”

Nicholas Stirling: Administrator & Musical Director

Nicholas Stirling brings performing, composing and studio recording experience through his LuxuriaMusic studio.
He has composed and performed for several decades, with formal studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music (piano / clarinet), Toronto Tabla Ensemble (tabla) and African drumming (djembe) with Saiko Saho.
A long-standing member of the Screen Composers Guild of Canada (SCGC), he provides original music scores for award-winning film and television productions for networks and broadcasters including CBC Newsworld, TVO, NFB, TLC and Discovery USA.
In the community, Nicholas continues to facilitate hand drumming sessions for patients in the Schizophrenia and Medical Withdrawal units at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), with over 160 sessions since 2009.
Recent music scoring includes music theme packages for Cinefix Productions, and Women in Film and Television (WIFT) Crystal Gala Awards 2011-2014.
On stage, Nicholas is active as percussionist with the Persian-Canadian quintet INSOU UNSOU.
His 2013-15 performances include Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts, Beit Zatoun House, Hart House Toronto, Parya Trillium Foundation, Iranian Women’s Organization of Ontario and Iranian Heritage Day at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Assik Dror: Treasurer

Treasurer, CPA, CGA
Assik has over 20 years of experience in accounting. As a senior financial analyst, numbers are her way of thinking. Assik comes with a Middle Eastern family background. In her spare time, she enjoys a variety of cultural events, music, and dancing. She also loves to travel.

Denise Jayawardene : Advisory

Denise Jayawardene has extensive stakeholder relations, public consultation, communications and project management experience in the public transit, energy and infrastructure sectors.
Denise provides strategic advice and recommendations to senior executives of high profile public service corporations. She identifies opportunities for community engagement, emerging challenges, and develops policy and best practices for community relations and economic development.
Denise graduated from the University of Waterloo with a degree in Environmental Studies and also holds a Business Management Certificate from Ryerson University. She attended Richard Ivy School of Business Entrepreneur training and earned a Spanish language certificate when she lived in Spain.
Denise has a passion for supporting the arts in Toronto. She was a writer for the Scarborough Arts Council where she featured local artists and events to promote their awareness and foster the growth of the Toronto arts community.