top of page


Dance moves us through tough times

THURSDAY NOVEMBER 18 at 1:00pm EDT / 6:00pm in the UK

Guest Speakers: Norma Araiza, Dr Richard Coaten and Aaloka Mehndiratta

Norma Araiza 

Norma Papalotl Araiza is a multi disciplinary performer/choreographer/instructor of Yoeme (Yaqui) descend, originally from Mexico.  She has studied different disciplines within the arts in order to find her own unique style that blends dance, theatre, vocals, percussion, and storytelling with cultural and traditional themes especially from her Indigenous background.

Araiza has studied with international theatre directors Jerzy Grotowski and Eugenio Barba, Butoh Master Natsu Nakajima, theatre group Tascabile di Bergamo from Italy, Kei Takei from New York, Pol Pelletier from Montreal, Charles Koroneho from New Zealand, among others.  She has performed extensively as a professional physical theatre actor and dancer throughout Mexico and Ontario, Toronto, Montreal, California, Rochester, Hungary, Colombia. She founded Creando Huecos Company in 1986 and co-founded Tolmec Dance Theatre in 1988 in Mexico City. She worked as an assistant director, choreographer, dance theatre performer, and researcher at the National University of Mexico in the Laboratory of Performing Arts for 4 years, and danced professionally in various independent, contemporary dance companies. She toured extensively throughout Mexico with the Children's Theatre Company “Pácatelas” until she came to Canada.  At present Araiza is artistic director of Tolmec Dance Theatre, an independent Toronto-based group working primarily with culturally specific themes through the medium of dance theatre. She is the co-artistic director of Vanguardia Dance Projects, a  collective presenting and promoting contemporary dance by Indigenous and Latin American artists, and also a member of an Indigenous collective of women artists called The Beautiful Canoe . She is greatly involved in community arts. 

She has completed her Master's Degree in Dance Ethnology at York University where she taught for several years, and graduated from the Expressive Arts Therapy Program at CREATE Institute (formerly ISIS-Canada). Araiza has a private practice as an RP, Expressive Arts Therapist, and involved in various creative projects. She has worked at Hospice Toronto for 14 years and taking time off at the moment.  Araiza has presented her work at many different venues in the Greater Toronto Area, and different parts of Ontario. She has collaborated in theatre projects with the Canadian Stage/Hour Company, L&L Productions, Inner Stage Theatre, Modern Times Theatre Productions, Leading Tone Arts Productions, among others, as a choreographer, actors’ coach and performer. She has also collaborated with Indigenous artists such as Alejandro Ronceria, Rulan Tangen with Dancing Earth, Kaha:we Dance Theatre with Santee Smith, Daystar/Rosalie Jones, William Kingfisher, Mayahuel Tecozautla, Monique Mojica.


Richard Coaten PhD BA (Hons) RDMP Churchill Fellow

Dancer, Dance Movement Psychotherapist, Researcher, Performer / Association for Dance Movement Psychotherapy (ADMP UK) delegate to European Association of Dance Movement Therapy (EADMT) / European conference organising committee EADMT: Berlin (2022), Athens (2018), Milan (2016) / Founder & Co-ordinator of Centre of Excellence in Movement Dance & Dementia 


I am a skilled registered Dance Movement Psychotherapist (RDMP) with the Association for Dance Movement Psychotherapy (ADMP UK) Ltd and currently its European Delegate to the European Association of Dance Movement Therapy (EADMT). I trained with Mary Fulkerson, Steve Paxton and other pioneering performers and dancers in the late 1970s at Dartington College of Arts in Devon, going on to take up work as a freelance community dance worker in a variety of settings and starting my work with older people running fitness classes in the North of England in the mid 1980s. This led on to working with people with memory problems and dementia in hospitals, day centres and care homes using movement, dance, music, reminiscence and song…yes, I sing!! It’s never really stopped.

For the past 16 years I have practiced as a DMP in the National Health Service (NHS) in a hospital in the North of England where I am based. I am also a freelance dance worker & arts & health specialist, having spent many years developing arts projects both in the NHS & the community. My special interests are in research, development & practice in the use of movement, music, dance, reminiscence and song with older people with dementia & their carers/care-staff. I have a doctorate from Roehampton University, London in DMP & dementia. I see myself as a ‘bridge-builder’ between arts therapies/arts & health & dementia care best practice. I have much experience in training care staff in arts-based skills including music, movement, dance, reminiscence & song. I have given many key-notes at conferences in Europe, the United States and Canada over the years & written papers for specialist arts/dementia journals and book chapters. 

Fundamentally, I use movement & dance in support of a holistic approach to wellbeing, revealing and celebrating ‘that which remains’, in the context of that which may be deteriorating. I am currently co-editing a new ‘Practical Handbook on Dementia’, to be published in 2022 by PCCS books here in the UK and am a Winston Churchill Fellow 2010. I spent a month in Canada that year that included visiting researcher colleagues and presenting my work in Toronto (Bay Crest, Mt Sinai Hospital, Reitman Centre), Vancouver (University of B.C.), Kamloops (Thompson Rivers University) and Penticton (Arts & Health Conference). I loved every minute of that time in Canada and having since visited Montreal for a dance and health conference a few years ago, have grown to love that part of the country as well.

Dr Richard Coaten 

Aaloka Mehndiratta 

Aaloka started learning Kathak - a classical dance form from the Northern Regions of India – from the age of four, in Pubjab, India. She has studied with several distinguished Gurus including Guru Govardhan Prasad, Guru Gyan Shankar, Guru Smt. Shobha Kauser, and Guru Smt. Maya Rao. Aaloka has pursued and explored Kathak, in its many interpretations in India, Canada, and the UK. She completed her Master’s Degree in Dance and Movement from Punjab University, Chandigarh, India.

Since the 1980s, Aaloka has created a number of Kathak style dance-dramas, including: Krishna Krishna Krishna (1980) and Worship & Celebration: A Journey of Kathak from Temples to Courts (1982). After arriving in Canada in 1981, Aaloka found herself immersed in learning Ballet, Modern Dance, Jazz, Bellydance, Eurythmy and Odissi.


In recent years, with her evolving spiritual and artistic vision, she has been increasingly drawn to using the Kathak style to render the mystical poetry of Amir Khusro, Bulleh Shah, Kabir and Warris Shah in new original forms of Sufi dancing for growing audiences in the spirit of universal and divine unity.


Aaloka utilises movement as a tool for uplifting, empowering and building the self-esteem of communities. Over the past twenty years, she has been a strong advocate of the power of arts education in her work as a teacher of ESL, early childhood education and children with exceptionalities. In addition, in 2009, Aaloka founded Malton Women Council (MWC) – a registered non-profit organization with the mandate to mentor, motivate and mobilize women. MWC is a highly respected organization, with over 100 active members to date.

photo by John Lauener

bottom of page