At Theatre Erindale last Friday night, the UTM dance group Rhythm treated a packed house to their original show Fireproof. The show was a lot like a musical, only instead of breaking out into song, the cast broke out into choreographed dance routines. Despite the fact that numerous other events were happening on campus at the same time, the show came close to selling out.
The play’s plot centred on the character Dalon (Paul Rodriguez), mistaken for a blind man by the beautiful Sophie (Anshita Khanna) due to the sunglasses and cane he uses. Instead of correcting the situation, Dalon pretends to be blind throughout the play, with Sophie’s friends cluing in as the play progresses. Eventually a Phantom of the Opera–type plot unfolds as Dalon is revealed to have been wearing glasses and holding a cane when first meeting Sophie because his eyes were disfigured in a fire that killed his entire family, leaving him with a suitcase full of emotional baggage.
Although there was a lot going on with the plot, with Sophie also dealing with her best friend dating her ex-boyfriend Ethan (Sada Kasimova and Richard Rooney respectively) and Dalon suffering from anger and possessiveness, the major themes of the play still came through clear. The only part of the plot I didn’t enjoy was when Sophie decided to forgive Dalon at the end of the play and “look past his darkness”, despite the fact that he had been physically abusive to her. It was an unsettling aspect of the plot given that hope to change a troubled person is sometimes misplaced and can prolong abusive relationships in reality.
Where Rhythm excelled in this performance was the creativity and energy they brought to every single one of their dance routines. My favourite routine was choreographed to “Pump It” by the Black Eyed Peas and featured Dalon and Ethan engaging in a dance fight with lots of stunts and jumps. The rest of the dancers in that performance were staged as onlookers trying to break up the fight, which they managed to do while showcasing their own impressive dance skills at the same time.
The soundtrack had a great mix of songs that fit the plot well, with the performances set to Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love” and Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” garnering excitement from the audience. By the end of the show, I was tired of sitting in my seat and just wanted to break into a spontaneous dance number myself. Rhythm was also great at bringing the audience into their performances with several emotionally charged scenes, including a memorable solo performance by Rodriguez.
The day before the show, when asked how she was feeling about the upcoming performance, dancer and first-year linguistics student Brianna Ansara said that she was feeling nervous but mostly excited to show everyone what a talented group Rhythm is. She also added that she was most looking forward to the amazing dance numbers the group had planned.
From my point of view, none of the dancers appeared nervous at all. In fact, most of them looked right at home on the stage, a surprising fact given that several members of Rhythm have absolutely no background in dance. Rodriguez, who also serves as Rhythm’s co-president, added that Rhythm’s final performance of the year is designed to give the dancers a “taste of professionalism” by holding it in Theatre Erindale.
Fellow co-president Anshita Khanna explains that they love to “create stories through dance”, and that that’s the motivation behind the all the hours of rehearsal the group puts into each performance. Rhythm ended their performance season on a high note with a passion-filled theatrical production that kept me on the edge of my seat. MMMM