my story

I have always loved to dance and find great joy and release there. My mother was a ballroom dance teacher and my father could also 'cut a rug.' Being the child of two parents of Ukrainian decent, I went to Ukrainian school in Vancouver and performed Ukrainian dances in festivals. As a young child I became involved in gymnastics through family friends and that was my passion and focus from ages 5-15. As a competitive gymnast I was lucky to have had dance training for many years with internationally acclaimed 'Circe De Soliel' choreographer Debra Brown who was a great inspiration to me. As a youth I wanted to be a choreographer. I was constantly putting on shows for family and getting my little brother and friends into strange outfits. Not much has changed!

my mom and I, Vancouver 1974 

dancing at the Fall Fare, Denman Island 1998 

In 1996 I moved to Denman Island and shortly after met Bronwyn Simons who had just moved from California where she had studied cabaret and ATS style belly dance. Between 1997-2001 I studied with Bronwyn and with visiting teachers, Lynette Harper and Rahma Haddad. For seven years I danced with the 'Mellissae' dance company under the direction of Bronwyn Simons, we were a group of 8-11 women ranging in ages from 18-85 years of age! 
 In 2000 I became pregnant and danced by son into the world.

  Performing with the Melissa Dance Co. at the 'Bar None'
Courtenay B.C. 2000, photo by Brian Grogan

In 2001 Bronwyn and I formed 'Amazon Dance' and over the following 3 years co-created 3 full length dance theatre productions (the later two in collaboration with modern dancer Anthea Browne); 'Anima Mundi' spirit of the world 2000-2001, 'Axis Mundi' the story of the witches in October 2003, and 'Prima Materia' dances to welcome Spring in March 2004.

photos below by Deanne Loubardeaus

Axis Mundi 2003, the Inquisition
choreography Cathy Stoyko, Anthea Browne and Bronwyn Simons
dancers above- Sheila Nopper, Ron Sakolsky, and Norah Johnston

 'Animal Spirits' Axis Mundi 2003
choreography, masks and costumes Cathy Stoyko

Anthea Brown, from Prima Materia 2004
choreography Bronwyn Simons with the dancers

These shows explored women's stories ancient and new using a combination of modern and Middle Eastern dance, with theatrical lighting, projections, costumes, masks, poetry and ritual elements.

Prima Materia 2004, Old Church Theatre, Courtenay B.C. 
Cathy Stoyko and Sharon Bayly 'The Coronation Ceremony' 
Performing 8 months pregnant with my daughter Lilly!

Shortly after the birth of my daughter I began running the Abbey, an arts venue in Cumberland B.C. in collaboration with Avigdor Shulmen. At the Abbey I presented world music concerts, cabaret productions, films, dance events and workshops. When my daughter was two, I began teaching regular weekly dance classes and mixed media art and mask making workshops.

the Abbey Arts Centre 2005, Cumberland B.C.
photo by Dwayne Rourke

Jesus Christ Super Star dancers, sing-a-long movie at the Abbey 2005

Giant puppet for Cumberland May Day celebration 2005

In Feb. 2007 I travelled to Rajashtan, India to study Odissi Indian classical dance and Rajasthani folk dance at the Shakti School of Dance. What a incredible 'dancefull' experience! While studying at the Shakti school I also had the opportunity to take workshops in; Persian, Tajik, Bhangra, and Flamenco/ Arabic fusion dances from visiting dancers. While in Rajasthan, I roomed at a small family run music school, the Saraswati Music School and in the evenings would study more dances there; light classical and Bollywood dance.

 Shakti dance school in Pushkar, Rajasthan 2007

Odissi dance with Guru Padma Cheran Dehury
Shakti School in the Old Rangjee Temple, Pushkar, Rajasthan

dancing with Anthea Browne, Nanaimo Infringing Dance Festival 2006

I love exploring new ways of moving and am grateful to have had the opportunity to study dance and collaborate with Anthea Brown. 
In 2007 and 2009 I had the opportunity to attended Marge Gillis' 'Dancing From the Inside Out' intensive on Cortez Island, B.C.  

 photo by Anastasia Avuncumouk 2007

Big Time Out Festival, Cumberland B.C. 
solo and group performances 2003-2013

Cumberland Solstice Celebration 2007

photo by Sarah Kerr
Big Time Out, Cumberland B.C 2008-2013

Studying and performing women's traditional dances with Helen Erikson's Anar Dance Theatre. I was part of her Seattle training project in 2009/10 and again in 2011/12. Over a 9 month period we would learn 6 different styles of dances and perform these dances at an annual recital and at Folk Life Festival and the Seattle Iranian Festival. 

Dancing with 'Anar', Helene Eriksen's Traditional Dance Theatre
Seattle training project 2009-2010

Helene Eriksen's Seattle Training Project 2011-12

In 2011, my former Melissa Dance Co. sister and friend Sheila Mackenzie invited me to teach Romani dance and Indian fusion belly dance at 'Dance Away Mexico', an annual retreat that she hosts in La Manzanilla Mexica. 
What an amazing experience and great opportunity to travel and dance! 
teaching at Dance Away Mexico 2011

Kami Liddle show, Victoria, B.C. July 2012

Performing with Orkestar Slivovica
Balkan Wedding Caravan Tour, Comox B.C. 2013

performing near Ephesus, Turkey 2013
'Awakening Artemis', women's sacred dance retreat
A project created by Farima Berenji and Nancy Rose Aktis

 Participating in an Odissi dance workshops and performance
with Ratna Roy on Cortes Island, B.C. 2013

Performing with my group, Arcana Dea Dance
Abbey Studio Hafla performance, Spring 2014

I am currently teaching classes and hosting workshops in Cumberland B.C. and performing regularly at communityevents solo and with Arcana Dea Dance. 

Much gratitude to all my teachers past and present and, to my supportive community of dancers and collaborators. 

Keep Dancing!