The 5th Element (Catalyst) 2011 Toronto Fringe Review

I love So You Think You Can Dance. There’s my confession for the day. I love the combination of movement and expression with passion, commitment, heart (and I’m starting to sound like Mary Murphy, but there will be no hot tamales in this review) that creates dance. I love expression through dance, so when I read about The 5th Element dance performance; I had to experience it for myself.

When I arrived tonight at the Bathurst Street Theatre, I stood at the back of a very long line waiting to get in. That tells you one thing – packed house. The word has gotten out that this show is not one to be missed. This was the biggest crowd I have seen so far for any Fringe show.

What I experienced along with everyone else is something I will not soon forget. The show is all about dance so forget about plot, script, complex story line and everything else that comes with a regular theatre show and simply allow yourself to be moved.

The 5th Element explores the four natural elements of earth, water, fire and air and how they equate to and reflect human nature. Combining various forms of dance (contemporary, cultural, urban, martial arts, etc.) we are taken on a visual ride that pulls at a wide range of emotion. Each dance is introduced with a passionate poem by spoken word artist Conely De Leon.

We start with earth, a primal piece that contains elements of contemporary dance, capoeira, African tribal, and even Polynesian hula. The accompanying music incorporates live drumming from the talents of Marko Bongo and Peter B. Kelly Voelkel.

Next up is water – a moodier down-tempo piece that feels almost painful, incorporating hip hop and funk elements. The song “Roads” by Portishead adds the perfect soundtrack.

Fire – an explosive nod to woman warriors using hard-cutting and sharp edged kung fu movements and a passionate flamenco solo. The power behind this act made it my favorite of the show. Prodigy’s song “Minefields” also helped.

Air closes the show – a joyous and uplifting performance inspired by the future, full of feather-light movements, high leaps and a full-cast celebration of freedom to the tune of  an orchestral version of Coldplay’s “Clocks” (Vitamin String Quartet).

I have no words to portray how I truly felt about the show except to say that I am ecstatic that I was able to be there. How do you describe something that is in essence the physical embodiment of beauty, power and expression? You don’t. You just take it in and feel with it, envelope yourself in the essence of dance – the 5th element.


The 5th Element is playing at the Bathurst Street Theatre (736 Bathurst St. at Bathurst and Bloor)


July 6 at 10:30 pm, July 9 at 11 pm, July 11 at 4:45 pm, July 13 at 9:15 pm, July 14 at 1:45 pm, July 15 12 pm, and July 16 at 7:30 pm.

– Individual Fringe tickets are available at the door for $10 ($5 for FringeKids), cash only.
– Late comers will not be permitted.
– Tickets are also available online at, by phone at 416-966-1062 or in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts (736 Bathurst St). Advance tickets are $11 – $10 + $1 convenience fee.
– Money saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows.

2 thoughts on “The 5th Element (Catalyst) 2011 Toronto Fringe Review”

  1. Small edit in your review. The poems aren’t performed by Natalina Poppe, but are written and performed by Conely de Leon.

    Otherwise, great review. I have to agree, this was recommended by a friend and I just saw this show to a packed house last night. It was fantastic! Definitely something I’d see again.

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