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 received an award as one of the ten “Voices of Chinese Canadian Woman” in Ontario during the 150 th Anniversary celebration of Canada. She was a finalist for the Muriel Sherrin Award. 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.
Tony K.T. Leung
Tony K.T. Leung is a Canadian composer/cellist, whose music has been performed internationally by leading contemporary music ensembles. Born in Hong Kong, Tony discovered music through his first instrument, the erhu, and later the cello. As a youth, he arranged music for a Chinese orchestra, which sparked an early interest in western music and composition. After decades of primarily acoustic works, he currently explores technology-based musical expression.
Tony K.T. Leung’s creation of the music for “Spectrum of Connection” is funded by a grant from the Ontario Arts Council and the Government of Ontario.
Victor Tan studied violin, piano, and painting since young. After immigrating to Canada from Taiwan, he continued his musical involvement as a choir conductor and a pop-song composer. Victor’s degree in computer science and his pursuit in photography inspired him to develop skills in image/video post-processing and graphic design. He is currently responsible for the Little Pear Garden’s branding design as the company’s executive director.
Company Dancer/BISBIC instructor
Zachary Cardwell is a passionate dance teacher, choreographer, and dancer interested in cultivating connections within ourselves and between one other.
A graduate of the Arts Umbrella Post-Secondary Dance Program, under the direction of Artemis Gordon, Zachary has had the pleasure of performing works by choreographers such as Crystal Pite, Marie Chouinard, Jiri Kylian, Mats Ek, Sharon Eyal, James Kudelka, and Aszure Barton, among others. During his tenure with the Arts Umbrella Dance Company, Zachary toured Holland performing in the ITS Dance Festival and Netherlands Dans Theatre’s Shortcuts XL.
In Toronto, Zachary has had the privilege to dance with Toronto Dance Theatre, Zata Omm Dance Projects, Dusk Dances, Little Pear Garden Dance Company, hART dance, Jane Alison McKinney, ACE dance theatre, and Cadence Ballet.
Zachary curated and presented ‘In Response: An Evening of Music and Dance I and II’ in 2019 and 2020. In Response is an evening for artist and audience to practice collective listening and openness. In 2017, Zachary developed Bodies in Space, Bodies in Contact (BISBIC). Focusing on refining sensitivity in three facets– within a dancers’ own body, between bodies in contact, and bodies in space– in order to explore new coordinations. BISBIC continues to be a source of artistic inspiration and is taught to professional dancers to develop partnering skills.
Zachary Cardwell is a Progressing Ballet Technique (PBT) certified teacher versed in ballet, modern, contemporary, partnering, and improvisation and has taught at Canada’s National Ballet School, Etobicoke School of the Arts and lead repertoire for the Arts Umbrella International Audition Tour.
Born in Ottawa, Ontario, Maclean Frey discovered his love for dance at the age of 3 in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. He furthered his studies at Miami City Ballet under the direction of Lourdes Lopez, where he received a classical ballet education. In 2014, he joined WESTSIDE Dance Project under the direction of Jessie Riley. During his time there, Maclean had the opportunity to perform works by Bryan Arias, Jermaine Spivey, Spenser Theberge, Barak Marshall, and Norbert De La Cruz III. In 2016, Maclean moved to New York City to pursue a BFA in dance, and he graduated with A Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from NYU. While in New York City Maclean danced the works of Wayne McGregor, Lar Lubovitch, Ori Flomin, Bobbi Jean Smith and Sidra Bell. Since then, Maclean has been teaching and dancing all over the world in countries such as Germany, the Czech Republic and France. Maclean moved to Pisa, Italy, in 2019, where he danced with imPerfect Dancers Company under the direction of Walter Matteini and Ina Broekx until 2021. Finding his way back to Ontario after ten years, Maclean continued diving into his own choreographic and teaching endeavours, creating his own work while getting his Masters in Teaching at the University of Toronto.
Sarah Di Iorio
Sarah Di Iorio received her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in 2018 from Toronto Metropolitan University. During her final year, she was selected to create two full length works that premiered in the University’s inaugural Springworks show. She was also the recipient of the Nadia Potts Scholarship Award. In the last few years since graduating, Sarah has performed with Red Sky Performance at the Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival, Festival Des Arts De Saint-Sauver, and toured with the company for six months throughout North America (2021/22). Other recent performances of hers include; a duet by Angela Blumberg for Din of Shadows (2022), performing as a soloist in Canadian Stage’s “Dance in High Park Series” (2020), and duetting in Little Pear Garden’s latest dance film “The 5 Elements” (2022). Sarah’s choreography has been seen professionally in the Fall for Dance North Festival (2018), ABD’s DaCo Residency (2022), Cawthra Parks Springfest Show (2019-2023), and Theatre Oculus’ Fringe Festival film “Venus and Adonis” (2021). She is incredibly excited to continue her journey with Little Pear Garden as they premiere and tour their newest full-length work, “Spectrum of Connection”!
Originally from Aurora, Ontario and raised in the hip hop / street dance culture of Toronto, Sebastian “Bash” Hirtenstein began dancing at the late age of twelve. A graduate of the School of Toronto Dance Theatre, he has performed with several companies throughout Ontario & Quebec, as well as the Middle East.
A graduate from the Shandong University of Arts in China, Lu majored in Dance Choreography and specialized in Chinese Classical Dance, Chinese Folk Dance, and Contemporary Dance.
During her time at the Shandong University of Arts, Lu was a performer at the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2012 The 3rd Asian Beach Games in Haiyang, China. Her passion for dance and choreography has earned her numerous accolades and awards both the provincial and national level in China. Aside from performing herself, Lu always enjoys teaching the fine art she loves to others and has been involved in dance instruction in one form or another for the past 8 years.
Aryana Malekzadeh is an independent dance artist and arts educator based in Toronto. She trained at The School of Toronto Dance Theatre and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours from York University, where she was awarded merit scholarships. Throughout her professional career Aryana has had the privilege of performing as a company member with Little Pear Garden Dance Company in ‘Spectrum of Connection’ at Dance Ontario DanceWeekend, Shannon Litzenberger’s remount of ‘World After Dark’ at Nuit Blanche, and Newton Moraes’ ‘Life Under My Skin. In addition to performing, she is also a faculty member at York University, where she pursues her passion of teaching and shares her learnings with her students. As a women’s and human rights activist, Aryana is inspired to create political art through the collaboration of movement and current sociopolitical issues.
Caitlin Meyer is a multidisciplinary dancer, teacher, and choreographer in the Tri-City area and GTA. Caitlin holds a BFA in Honours Psychology and a Minor in Marketing from University of Guelph. While attending University of Guelph, Caitlin was a company member of Gryphon’s Dance Pack, University of Guelph’s varsity competitive dance team. Caitlin also has a Choreography Certificate from Broadway Dance Centre. She was a YoungCreators Choreography Finalist in 2018 with her piece “That Day”, and has only become more sought after as a creative and educator since.
Lina Zhao holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree from Wilfrid Laurier University and a Public Relations Corporate Communication graduate certificate from Seneca College. From working with the public for over four years, Lina has been able to gain many hands-on experiences working with a breadth of people, developing interpersonal communication skills and problem-solving. With the love of arts at a young age, she brings her lifelong passion for the arts to the company.
Janice Li holds an Honours Bachelor of Visual Studies degree from Lingnan University in Hong Kong and an M.A. in Research in Film and Creative Writing from the University of Birmingham. From working in education, art, and culture for three years in Hong Kong, the Dominican Republic, and Canada, Janice has gained experience working with a breadth of people, developing interpersonal skills, organization skills, and problem-solving skills. She also gained the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) which is an asset for project coordination.
Nicole Decsey is a performer, choreographer, artistic director, arts critic, and dance instructor based in Mississauga and Toronto with a BFA in performance dance from Toronto Metropolitan University. After receiving her BFA and participating in many dance intensives across the country Nicole developed her own grassroots dance company: Nicole Decsey Dance Projects (NDDP), through which her latest work We Lost You A Long Time Ago premiered on February 25th 2023. Nicole has performed in multiple events and venues including corporate events, the Toronto Fringe Festival, Nuit Blanche Festival, and the iconic Dancemakers space in the Distillery District. Aside from her work as a performer and artistic director Nicole has worked as a crew member in lighting, costuming, and administrative positions. She is also a rehearsal director for Human Body Expression and a contributor to The Dance Current Magazine. Nicole is thrilled to be the rehearsal director for Little Pear Garden Productions newest full length work Spectrum.
Born in Orillia Ontario she loved performing from a young age. She was a dancer at Taps Performing Arts. Then she did community theatre performing at The Orillia Opera House. She moved to Toronto completed one year at Toronto Metropolitan University in Theatre Production. At University she gained backstage knowledge and collaborated on many creative team projects. She then went on to graduate from Humber College. At Humber she studied Film, TV, and Theatre. She collaborated on many student films. Post college She acted and directed on various films. One of the films “The Pawn” has been selected for the International Film Festival. Currently she is working as an Events Supervisor and Stage manager at Union Station. There she works with Performers from the Remix Project. In her role at Union she is collaborating with many artists and members of the public. This position has helped her become a stronger communicator, and given her more leadership experience. She is also working for The Casting Solutions. Recently she landed a modeling job with the client Hut8 Minning Corp. Previously she stage managed many children’s theater shows. Such as Charlie Brown and other original productions.