Sheila Alonzo was born in the Philippines and raised in Israel / Palestine. She holds a Bachelor degree in Political Science from Florida and a scholarship recipient of a UNESCO Master program in Peace, Conflict and International Development from Spain. She co-founded a non-profit organization in Austria and co-organized a youth workshop in New York on non-violent movements in the U.S. Central to Sheila’s research, examining methodologies for social transformation, was a book called “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by educator Paulo Freire. Her case studies included the Landless Farmers Movement in Brazil, and a small but ambitious co-op radio in the Grand Canaries empowering marginalized Muslim men and women through literacy programs in western Sahara. After her final semester in Spain, Sheila and her children, moved to Victoria. She stumbled upon Puente Theatre through the Sympo-sium, “Sharing the Legacy: Embracing Diversity and the Practice of Inclusive Theatre in a Changing Society”. Sheila has always been passionate about art and curious about science. Most of her academic career had been dedicated to the social sciences and now, she wants to bring more art into her life. It is interesting how her last academic presentation took an accidental turn to performance art using classroom as stage with props from home, to explore the topic of gender, power and conflict. Currently, Sheila volunteers as an art editor for a community newspaper.
DEREK FORD IS A PASSIONATE STORYTELLER
Derek’s dedication to the crafts of photography and video is evident through his keen ability to create engaging imagery and striking portraiture on the most challenging of assignments. Distinguished by creativity and expertise, Derek’s work evokes truth and emotion with every frame.
With gratitude Derek supports arts and community-oriented organizations which offer emergency shelter, supportive housing, integrated health care and other human support services.
Jam Hamidi is a photographer and video-grapher who lives and works in Victoria. Of Iranian decent, he is the son of the Iranian modern painter Javad Hamidi who fled from the Iranian revolution in the early 70s to Montreal with his young family. Jam’s polaroid camera made the trip and soon got involved documenting the burgeoning art scene of the 80’s Montreal. Jam has extensively collaborated with the new wave bands Men Without Hats, Voivod, Dough-boys, and many others. Examples of his vinyl art, posters, and videos can be found online. Jam has worked with Julie Nesrallah and his videography of her famous Carmen on Tap performances can be found on Youtube. With time, and the move to the West Coast in 2000, Jam has turned his attention to performance art. He is the resident photographer for the Blue Bridge Theatre and has photographed each performance for last eight years for promotional and also archival material. He has worked with every dance choreographer in Victoria and was involved in the early years of Ballet Victoria working with Les Grands Ballets’ Jacqueline Sloan. Jam has been the resident photographer at William Head On Stage (WHOS) for the past ten years. He is currently involved in archiving and preserving the history of Canada’s longest-running prison theatre company through the restoration of original storyboards.
Dolores was born in Sweden and grew up in Argentina and the Canary Islands. She holds a PhD in Education and studied Ethnology and Mediation in Germany. Throughout her student years she was a member of an experimental children’s theatre group and conducted her research in Nahua villages in Mexico. For many years she was an instructor at the University of Victoria and a liaison between the Faculty of Education and the local Tribal School. Dolores is a storyteller and interested in the history of Indigenous Peoples, human rights, and colonialism.
I first came to know Mercedes and Judd through the Dia de los Muertos celebration. It astounded me. The work, passion, drive, history and devotion they put into every aspect of this event. Who were they and how was it I was just meeting them? I volunteered to help out in any way that was needed as my good friend Diana Nielsen was already on the Board of Directors of Puente Theatre, and the artistry of face painting for the event, and a good friend to Puente’s leaders, it opened up something inside of me. I too am of Hispanic descent, my two parents having come to Canada in 1959 from Colombia. Although I was born Canadian, there is something in your blood that cannot be denied when being around other Latinos. So, I jumped at the opportunity to join the Board of Directors in 2020.
My personal history of the arts is working in the film industry in Toronto from 1989-2006. I had studied at Concordia University in Montreal and left with a BFA in Film Production and Theory in 1986, and moved to Toronto to get film work. When I moved to Victoria in 2007 it was study Acupuncture and am I happy to have made that change in home and lifestyle. But one thing that never changed is my interest and hunger for art and culture. Being a part of Puente Theatre is a great pleasure for these reasons!
Kathleen (she/her/they/them) lives, colla-borates, and creates new work on the territories of the WSÁNEĆ, Lekwungen & Wyomilth people. Kathleen’s interests and experience are in site-specific outdoor performance, shadow and object puppetry, clown and reviving old stories. Kathleen has a BFA in Theatre from the University of Victoria and studied at the Banff Puppet Theatre Intensive in 2012. In 2013, Kathleen joined SNAFU Dance Theatre as Co-Artistic Director and has directed the premiere and workshop productions of many new works including "Calling Home: Stories from Military Families" (SNAFU, Belfry Incuba-tor), "Little Orange Man" , "Kitt & Jane", "Interstellar Elder" (SNAFU), and "I Have Seen Beautiful Jim Key" (Intrepid Theatre). In 2015, Kathleen co-directed the smash-hit-remount of "Lieutenant Nun", a site-specific spectacle where the audience moves through an old battlement, pageant style. In 2013, Kathleen joined the artistic team at William Head Prison as a facilitator, workshop leader, assistant director, projection designer, writer and performer for "Time Waits for No One: A Prison Play" (2014) and "HERE: A Captive Odyssey" (2015) and "The Crossroads: A Prison Cabaret" alongside a team of incarcerated particpants and outside artists. Kathleen directed and devised "Sleeping Giants" (2016) and "The Emerald City Project" (2019). Kathleen also teaches play-building to kids ranging from 3 to 13.
Diana Bridget Nielsen
Diana Nielsen is currently Head Makeup Artist and Scenic Artist at Pacific Opera Victoria. Employed for 8 years with the Opera’s art department, Diana also freelance paints and illustrates, freestyle writes raps, freedom dances funk, and sings the blues or shakin’ grooves. Diana is teacher trained in an improv vocal and music style developped by her mentor of 8 years, Bisia Belina. Together, they encourage singers to move in their bodies and voice to come from movement. Diana holds a BFA dance degree from Simon Fraser University and has many dance and theatrical performing experiences behind her in companies and as an independant performer/creator. Closest to her heart, a one woman touring show “From the Horse’s mouth” that Diana wrote and performed many times in Northern BC. A production which celebrates and connects the Wets’uwet’en First Nations culture and pioneering immigrant women. Diana is now a Hip Mama of 2 Hip Hop sons and can be found stand up paddle boarding when her sons are out skateboarding. She is currently writing a play in rhyme about love and the sea with the help of her sweet ukelele.
Treena Stubel is a dance theatre artist and choreographer. She has been creating original work for over twenty years and has presented at numerous festivals. Her choreography for theatre includes productions with Bard On The Beach, Blue Bridge Repertory, Atomic Vaudeville and Theatre SKAM. In 2009 she founded the Bounce Dance Cabaret to support new work by dance and physical theatre artists. She studied many different movement disciplines throughout Canada, the US and Europe, and holds a BFA in Theatre from The University of Victoria and an MFA in Lecoq Physical Theatre from The London International School of Performing Arts in London, UK.
Maura Camino Aparicio
Maura Camino is originally from Mexico. She has a background in Latin American History and Anthropology, and holds an AMI Montessori Primary Teacher Diploma/ECE with two specializations: Certificate in Promotion of Children's Literature and Certificate in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language. After many years working as an academic in Mexico and Argentina, she moved to Palo Alto, California, where she found a passion for and aptitude for working as a promoter of children's literature and Latin American culture. In her time there, she taught and supported a community network of families in literacy and Spanish language acquisition and promoted the use of second languages and networking play in building social cohesion in multicultural and diverse societies. In Vancouver, she ran several early literacy programs for families, preschools, and communities interested in and committed to fostering Spanish as a second language. She designed Spanish Story-telling and Music Programs that involved movement and crafts, providing an inspiring, caring, and fun environment ideal in establishing a solid foundation for bilingualism. Maura is very excited to be part of the Puente Board of Directors and of Puente's community, and she very much looks forward to help build a more inclusive and diverse society through this platform.
Katalina Guerrero was born in Cuernavaca, Mexico to a Mexican father and a Canadian mother. Prompted by a bicultural upbring-ing, Katalina has always had the inclination to explore her cultural roots in both countries. She was introduced to textile arts through the artisans of Oaxaca and Chiapas, Mexico, and spent valuable time around the Canadian West Coast learning traditional weaving, design, and tinting with natural dyes. She first undertook formal studies in fine arts at the Centro Morelense de las Artes and later enrolled in the textile arts program at Capilano University in Vancou-ver. She obtained her Fine Arts degree at the Emily Carr University, and her Diploma in Art Therapy from the Vancouver Art Therapy Institute. Katalina’s works are enriched by textile traditions, but she explores the material through the frame-work of contemporary art. Her use of textile techniques such as embroidery, dyes, and fabric collage evoke deep associations in the body and corporal experience of the viewer. Her artistic endeavors explore themes closely tied to identity. In her role as an art therapist, Katalina brings a multicultural and inclusive lens to her practice. She is passionate about helping people from all walks of life to use creative processes to improve their well-being. Katalina is guided by the conviction that creative expression has the capacity to change lives and connect people across cultures.
Jodi holds a degree in Fashion Design and has spent most of her career working in the arts as a seamstress, cutter or pattern maker. She has worked with The Vancouver Opera, The Playhouse, The Arts Club, Cirque Du Soleil, and many other smaller theatre and dance companies, spent eight years building costumes in the film industry, and owned her own business designing and making a line of organic clothing for children. Jodi has also worked in child and youth care through the Ministry of Family Services for children of drug addicted parents. She has studied Yoga, is a practitioner of Shiatsu and Jin Shin Do Acupressure, is extremely passionate about the great outdoors and healthy living. Currently, Jodi is working for the Department of National Defence as a Sailmaker.
Luis Mario Guerra Veliz
Visual Artist, Curator, Art Educator
Mario is a visual artist, curator and educator originally from Cuba. He has been living and working in Victoria BC for the last eightee years. Mario has a BA in Art History from the University of Havana (1995) and a Master’s in Art Education from the University of Victoria (UVic 2016). Mario’s past work has included curatorial work in Cuba and Canada, writing for publications, exhibitions and performance, including with Puente Theater and Onion Theatre Project. He has exhibited his work at Gallery 1580, Generator Studio, Errant Art Space, Xchanges Gallery, Deluge Gallery and the Robert Bateman Centre in Victoria BC. Currently, Mario works as an educator in the Greater Victoria School District.