Eliza: An Adaption of a Christmas Carol is a modern, pandemic-inspired and feminist-based rendition of the classic holiday story that will captivate viewers in a way Dickens never has.
The locally-shot film was the idea of Passion and Performance adult dance studio owner Rachel Paish, who refused to let COVID-19 restrictions stop her class from creating a final production. Trading in the show stage for various locations around Greater Victoria, and keeping her class cohort-based and physically distanced, Paish was able to display her students’ talent while adhering to health guidelines.
“There’s something very special about performance. When people are going through lots of stress or self doubt, getting those affirmations is really valuable,” Paish said. “We try really hard to make the average human a rock star.”
Set to the tune of Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift and Cher, the film is a mesmerizing mix of light-hearted and seductive dance numbers that take viewers through the story of Eliza Scrooge, a self-centred tech mogul who learns the value of kindness and community.
It’s a lesson that isn’t lost on Cindy Foggit – Eliza – who said the community that Passion and Performance has provided saved her life. Foggit, 43, was born in B.C. but spent much of her life in South Africa before moving to Victoria 10 years ago. Arriving with no friends and no family, Foggit said she felt incredibly isolated before discovering the dance studio.
“It became a bit of a family for me,” she said. This year, juggling schooling her two young children at home with her own work, the studio again saved Foggit from a dark place. “Things were really difficult for a little while. It allowed me an escape.”
Dance provides more than just a mental outlet for Foggit, though, who also has scoliosis. “Without the ability to physically move my body, I can become almost immobile,” she said.
This is one of the draws of Passion and Performance – it prides itself on being inclusive and diverse. The cast of Eliza includes two dancers who have had severe brain injuries, multiple people who have never danced before and a woman in her 60s.
“I was always really intimidated not being a dancer. But, from that one show, I could see how inclusive and body positive and fun it is,” Sarah Otoupal, 41, said recalling the first time she saw a Passion and Performance show three years ago.
Otoupal said she doesn’t have the “traditional” dancer’s body and loves that she is teaching her two young children that age and body type should never limit them from trying something new. “Mom is gonna go shake her booty,” she said with a laugh.
Eliza is available for rent at vod.passionandperformance.com and is rated PG-13.
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