Janet Castillo, Natasha Powell and Catalyst the Company: 2011 Toronto Fringe Dance Interviews

Catalyst the Company (photo by Kareem Ajani)


With dancers and creators from a wide range of styles and experiences, Catalyst the Company presents The 5th Element in this years Fringe Festival, working through earth, water, fire, air towards something more personal and unique: what is your element? Company directors and dancers Janet Castillo and Natasha Powell answered a few questions. Their collective answers are “CC”.

LR: Catalyst the Company has a lot of industry/commercial experience; what made you decide to do the Fringe?

CC: As performers and choreographers, we’ve been lucky enough to bring to life the visions of many people leading the industry/commercial world.  After years of doing so, we returned to Toronto and felt creatively stagnant and started talking about our own stories, obstacles, and experiences on our path.

We wanted a platform to share these stories and to show how incredibly diverse we were.  Through that, The 5th Element was born and was premiered last May. The Fringe Festival was a perfect opportunity to re-mount the show for a larger audience and to shine light on the talented performers we have at home (right here) in Toronto. We continue to be involved in the industry/commercial world, but know that we have a responsibility to create works that reflect our own voices and the voices of this city.

LR: What is your show all about?

CC: The show is all about finding your own Element – Your own unique gift in the world.  Each of our dancers is unique and has come together to build this show. The 5th Element takes audiences on a journey across the elements of life (Earth, Water, Fire, Air), while celebrating the multi-cultural and diversity of Toronto through dance, music, and spoken word.  We mash up the freshest mix of urban, classical, and cultural dance to create a new movement in of itself.

LR: How have you adapted the four elements into dance?

CC: Through the rumblings of the earth, to the emotional depths of the rain, to the burning heat of the fire, to the flying freedom of the air…(from our press release).

EARTH – Representing “the heartbeat” of the show, this element showcases the organic and pulsing rhythm of house, latin, tribal, and hula dance as the performers are called to their mission.

WATER – Representing “the obstacle”, this element showcases the emotional depths of movement in contemporary, soul, and ballet as the performers courageously face their own personal battles.

FIRE  – Representing ‘the burning heat”, this element showcases the bold, fresh, and in-your-face energy of hip hop, martial-arts and flamenco-inspired movement as performers are filled with passion and the determination to fight back.

AIR – Representing “the flying freedom”, this element showcases the uplifting and moving hybrid of contact improvisation, jazz, ballet, and more as performers find clarity in their gifts and set forth into the future to inspire change.

LR:  And the 5th element?

CC: The 5th Element is a new movement in itself. It’s un-definable, infinite, and always transforming. It’s when we take all the elements and selflessly bring them all together. In the original company, there were 5 of us and we each represented a different element.  We created pieces by doing a lot of improvisation and experimenting with our styles. We’ve been told that the movement in our show is truly hybrid in its form (without feeling too manufactured or contrived), and combined with our costumes and storytelling, it has inspired audiences to new heights in their own lives.

LR: What do you hope audiences will experience in seeing The 5th Element?

CC: We hope that they will be inspired to find what their own Element is, and to go out and share it with the world! We truly believe that as Catalysts, we are here to boldly ignite others to feel what we feel as artists and to spread the movement to as many people as possible. We want people to feel the range of their raw emotions from passion, to struggle, to seduction, to excitement and elevation.  Quite simply…we want to make the world dance…even if it’s just in the rhythm of their hearts.


The 5th Element

Catalyst the Company

Director: Janet L. Castillo & Natasha Powell

Choreographer: Janet L. Castillo, Natasha Powell, Tiff Mak

Genre: Family, Dance

Venue 3 Bathurst Street Theatre

60 min.

Wed, July 6 10:30 PM 303

Sat, July 9 11:00 PM 319

Mon, July 11 4:45 PM 328

Wed, July 13 9:15 PM 343

Thu, July 14 1:45 PM 346

Fri, July 15 Noon 352

Sat, July 16 7:30 PM 363

All individual Fringe tickets are $10 at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $10+$1 convenience fee)

Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows.