Photo by John Robb Photography
Ishra is a multi-dimensional dancer and is one of the first pioneers of Belly Dance Fusion in Canada. She began her Raqs Sharqi (popularly referred to as Belly Dance) journey in 1994, with her biggest preliminary influences being Yasmina Ramzy and Farideh Balk, then proceeded to teach dance for over 25 years. She is also a multi-disciplinary artist, she earned her Classical Piano teaching certificate from The Royal Conservatory of Music and attended York University for Theatre Acting. She is a determined and resilient, single mother of four.
Ishra is a lover of dance and movement. She has taken classes in many dance disciplines with people of the culture and with teachers/masters who have relayed their deep respect for their practices. The dance styles that resonate with her the most are ones that are found in the historical heritage of the Philippines, her country of birth, which includes Filipino, Polynesian, Arabic, South Asian and Spanish Flamenco dance. Growing up in North America, she also adds to her personal dance storyline with influences from House, Dancehall and Twerk.
As a performer, she is known for her intense, compelling performances often conveying strong imagery and spirituality. Through her wide breadth of dance study and consistent practice, she is a strong improviser and especially loves to dance with live bands, flowing with ease to whatever the band offers. Performances with live bands include the twice Juno-nominated Eccodek, award-winning Light of East Ensemble and Juneyt Yetkiner, internationally acclaimed Adrian Raso, as well as opening for Sean Paul and Akon.
As a teacher, Ishra is very warm and inclusive. She is a proud technique geek and backs it up with drills upon drills to build a strong movement foundation. Her choreographies are innovative and often embody archetypes of Gods and Goddesses, historical figures and mythological creatures. She believes in embodying the Divine Feminine in all her forms, the light and the dark, the reverent and the irreverent.
Ishra is a voracious student in her pursuit of dance knowledge. She is certified in Sedona Soulfire’s Elemental Alchemy and is also a certified Kelani Fitness Instructor (Polynesian-based dance fitness).
Below is a list of teachers and masters Ishra has taken workshops and/or studied extensively with:
MENAHT (Middle Eastern, North African, Hellenic and Turkic music and dance):
Yasmina Ramzy, Ferideh Balk, Hadia, Selma, Dr. George Sawa, Badia Star, Suhaila Salimpour, Tito Seif, Yousry Sharif, Melissa Gamal, Sahar Samara, Nawal Doucette, Karim Nagi, Florence, Hosam Elmansy
Fusion Dance (Transcultural Fusion Dance):
John Compton, Rachel Brice, Mardi Love, Zoe Jakes, Donna Mejia, Silvia Salamanca, Michelle Sorenson, April Rose, Valizan (ATS), Inga Petermann, Audra Simmons, Angela Josephine, Cult of Yess, Marina D. Ray, Kali Maat
Esmeralda Enrique, Caluda Aguirre, Irene Alvarez, Lourdes Recio, Carmen Rasero, Felipe Mato
Niloufer, Sedona Soulfire, Meera, Kodagoda, Paromita Kar, Priyanka
Ioana Aboumitri, Lisa Chang, Rina Brenner, Leolani Gallardo, Glen Cruz, Grace Blanco
Crista Aguinaldo, Master in Escrima Jason Shute (Filipino Martial Arts)
Winter Rose, Nyla, Siyobin Blanco
Nico Kaburia, Eddie Rivera
Ballet with Crystal Reia
Modern dance at Toronto Dance Theatre
Jazz with Monica Hildebrand
Waacking with Gabrielle O’Hara
Krumping with John Kelly Bastian
Movement at York University with Paula Thompson