Fashion ‘n’ Motion continues to improve

Fashion ‘n’ Motion may not resemble a professional show – but it’s essentially about something different.

For these dancers, every jeté, split and pirouette is a labour of love. The annual volunteer dance showcase, which was performed last weekend, is based around a charity, with proceeds from ticket sales as well as from supplementary charity events throughout the year going to a good cause.

This year, charity awareness executive Kathleen French decided that the show would raise funds for the Canadian Diabetes Association.

“This year we really wanted to get a charity that everyone can relate to,” said French. “I don’t know anyone yet who hasn’t had a friend who has [diabetes], had a family member who had it or they themselves had diabetes. We really need to start focusing on it, cracking down on it and trying to help.”

French felt it was more important than ever to have the cast constantly reminded of why they were dancing. “The whole point was I wanted everyone around here to know about it, to not just know what the charity was but to know about it.”

Charity representatives were part of the audience, and in her address to the audience French revealed sobering statistics on the disease, including the fact that a Canadian is diagnosed with diabetes every four to eight minutes.

The performers seemed inspired the entire time not only by the charity, but by the unifying theme of the show, “Breakthrough.”

“The theme ‘Breakthrough’ means overcoming everyday struggles that everyone faces,” said Fashion ‘n’ Motion president Ian Watson.

During the opening video segment of the performance, the choreographers and executives presented a video about their own personal breakthroughs — a touching addition to the show.

Watson, who viewed his own personal breakthrough as overcoming poverty, began as a street-trained dancer and only started his formal training as a Fashion ‘n’ Motion performer in his first year of university.

Now as president, he’s had the joy of watching others grow. “We have a smaller cast this year,” said Watson, “But we definitely have all the passion and all the enthusiasm that we need to make this show phenomenal.”

One of those enthusiastic performers was Dani Dickinson, who took to the stage for the first time after a five-year hiatus from dance.

Dickinson viewed dancing again as a personal breakthrough. “It’s kind of a big deal to be able to do even little things again, like the first time you hit a double pirouette again or the first time you land a jump again. Those little things are a giant breakthrough in the moment.”

The inclusivity of Fashion ‘n’ Motion made it possible for dancers of all levels, from seasoned former competitors to novice first-timers. The choreographers did a fantastic job of showcasing the unique talents of each individual without holding anyone back or challenging them too much.

In terms of originality, performance quality and the finesse of the numbers, the show has improved every year, with this year’s show reaching new heights.

The show saw a plethora of new genres of dance being integrated into the show, once dominated almost entirely by jazz, lyrical and hiphop.

Standout scenes included Ricky Tang’s powerful mostly-male hip-hop scene, Lauryn Lovie’s precise and dynamic contemporary jazz scene and first-year student Maria Parado’s captivating samba scene.

Parado herself was impossible to ignore while onstage, with a contagious smile and energy that was unparallelled by almost everyone around her.

The show had only one slight downfall; while the numbers and song selection were certainly enjoyable for the entire audience, seeing upbeat number after upbeat number as well as modelling scenes and transitions accompanied by top 40, the show felt one-dimensional at times.

Scenes which broke this trend were contemporary pieces courtesy of Holly-Anne Eilander, whose co-ed scene depicted the struggles of an unstable romantic relationship through lyrical waltzing, and Taryn DeCicco, who composed a dark modern dance telling the story of post-war shellshock.

The lack of variety in tone was only a small complaint of an otherwise highly entertaining show that plays to the tastes of the university audience.

Most importantly, Fashion ‘n’ Motion was a truly spectacular display of showmanship, determination and passion.

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