On an average day, Hagey Hall is filled with students walking from class to class through what is arguably an overcomplicated maze of hallways. But on Mar. 25, there was a buzz in the air and a feeling of excitement. Last-minute make-up fixes, words of encouragement, and glitter could be seen from the UW hip hop team as they rushed backstage. And as the audience slowly piled into the Humanities Theatre, there was an undeniable sense of curiosity as to what SOUL, presented by Fashion For Change (FC), would entail. But there was also a hint of anxiety throughout — this was their first in-person show since 2019, and there were more than a few people worried about pulling it off. However, when the lights dimmed to signal the start of the show it was clear — SOUL would be an experience no one would forget.
The show started with a video from the show’s charity partner Extend-A-Family Waterloo Region, which magnified, as Allison Gong, the Internal Relations Manager for FC put it, “the positive impact […] we can create.” The experience truly began once the video was done. Dancers lined the stage and took the audience on a journey through seven emotions: anger, joy, sadness, fear, greed, love, and resilience. There was an overarching theme of community throughout the performance, created through support for a local charity and an audience of students from all of the region’s post-secondary schools. Every sharp turn and crisp line was met with hoots, hollers, and roaring applause. The audience loudly chanted the words to every song and even cheered on one of the FC crew members who walked across the stage sweeping paper money used in one scene.
While the dancers and models brought each emotion to life through dance, it’s important not to forget the designers. From Christina Yoon, a University of Waterloo student who portrayed greed through climate change and created designs made from recycled materials, to Simon Xu, a former UW student who “wanted to try something out of my comfort zone” and made women’s wear for the first time, and Sarah Roberts, a McMaster student who noted that “it’s a real privilege to get to share our art with everyone,” the designs were a key feature throughout the performance.
When the show concluded, the excitement and buzz followed the audience as they left the theatre. As the performers were seen walking from room to room, no doubt trying to catch their breath after a truly amazing show, they were met with cheers and congratulations. Ekta Anand, a performer and model director for FC said after the show, “I feel so good […] I feel so fulfilled.” The President of FC and dancer, Sanjana Gandhi, who was beaming after the show, had a similar statement: “The last two hours have gone in a blur, but I’ll remember every minute of it.” And if you’re wondering what both the experience of watching SOUL and the experience of being an FC member is like, Gandhi summed it up perfectly, saying it was “[an] amazingly rewarding experience.”