NORMA ARAIZA is a Mexican performer, choreographer and instructor from an indigenous background from the Yoeme Nation in Sonora, Mexico.

She has studied different disciplines within the arts in order to find her own unique style that blends dance, theatre, vocals, percussion, and Tai Chi Chuan 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 groups Tascabile di Bergamo, Pipo Delbono Company - both from Italy, and Kei Takei from New York, among others.

She has performed extensively as a professional actor and dancer throughout Mexico, California, Ontario, Montreal, Hungary and Colombia. She founded Creando Huecos Company in 1986 and co-founded Tolmec Dance Theatre in 1988 in Mexico City. While in Mexico, she was an assistant director, choreographer, dance theatre performer, and researcher at the National University of Mexico in the Laboratory of Performing Arts.

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 also a member of various collectives working and promoting dance theatre events, Latin American artists, and cultural events. She is also greatly involved in community arts.

She has completed her Master's Degree in Dance Ethnology at York University where she had taught for several years, and graduated from the Expressive Arts Therapy Program at ISIS-Canada.

Norma is currently working at Hospice Toronto as a facilitator and head of the Expressive Arts Therapy Program. She is a member of CADA, Dance Ontario, and Dancer Transition Resource Centre, and she has also been a member of the Dance Committee at the Toronto Arts Council, and a jury member at the Ontario Arts Council.

Araiza has also collaborated in theatre projects with 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. Araiza has been a recipient of various grants from the Ontario Arts Council, The Ministry of Culture through the Ontario Quebec Cultural Exchange, The Toronto Arts Council, and The Laidlaw Foundation.




Tolmec Dance Theatre was founded in Mexico City in 1987 within the National University of Mexico in the Laboratory of Performing Arts. Since 1989 it made its home in Toronto, Canada. Its mandate is to look for the origins of the human being within the activity of dance and theatre. It searches for the original impulses, which have a heritage and come out in the creative process in a conscious manner.


The fundamental principals of Tolmec Dance Theatre are based on the research that Norma Araiza and other colleagues of the Laboratory of Performing Arts did for two years and transformed into “representational art” (dance theatre performances with an anthropological view). These fundamentals can be seen in the work of Jerzy Grotowski and Eugenio Barba international theatre directors who have had a major influence in Araiza’s work.

For Araiza, the process is the most important element in the creation of a dance theatre piece. She sees the interpreter as an individual who has a history, background, feelings, desires, barriers, and inhibitions, always reflecting in the creative process. Artist and individual are one, affected and enriched by each other.

Repetition, another element in the creative process, is very important because with it, one can get a state of perception different from every day life. It is to have an open window to the primary impulses and to our interior consciousness. With that, the artist has enough material to use as a starting point for the creation of a choreography that comes from within. It is authentic and honest because it reflects the artist’s own life.

To be welcoming to other disciplines other than dance and theatre is a very important element for Araiza’s creative process and, ultimately, the outcome of that process. The use of music and visual arts enriches the expression of dance and theatre, and embracing a multidisciplinary approach, gives Araiza the opportunity to become closer to the “origins” when the arts were not separated, but integrated with each other.