‘A Broken Key’ strings together different themes

Reviewed by Sarah Kuras

While a piano played softly, out of the dark stepped three dancers. Each of them wove in and out of the music while a fourth dancer sat at a piano bench,  mimicking the motions of a pianist.

So began A Broken Key, the dance performance featured this past weekend at Binghamton University’s Anderson Center for the Performing Arts.

The 10 Binghamton University student dancers shone brightly on the stage, with expressive moves, lifts, balancing acts and high levels of skill. The performance was a blend of ballet and modern styles.

Through 10 different pieces with different themes, director/choreographer JoEllen Kuhlman lived up to her promise to create a unique, visually interesting and extremely athletic performance. Kuhlman’s selection of music included recognizable songs from different genres such as Adele’s “If I Find Someone Like You,” and Barber’s “Adagio for Strings,” and with them she created pieces with themes such as love, jealousy, redemption, new beginnings and celebrations.

While these themes wove throughout the performance in the different songs, there was no clear story line, and the audience was left to create its own interpretation of the show. The first piece set the scene, displaying each dancer’s skill and mystery about the show. The second piece, “Key of Perpetuality,” was a celebration and wedding scene between Jared Douglas and Jenna Thomsen, but at the final moment, revealed a plot twist: a bridesmaid sat alone crying as the company exited stage left. The next piece, my favorite by far, was the expressive “Key of Reticence” to Adele’s “If I Find Someone Like You” in which the newlywed couple sat front stage left, happily talking, while the jealous friend (Nicole Dlug) expressed her anger, jealousy and hope through dance and her new boyfriend (Saihou Sissoho) poured his heart out to her. At the end, the new lover carried her offstage, defeated. After a short ballet break, the jealous friend returned to try to win back the groom.

The second act opened with a continuation of themes from the first act, as the jealous friend let go of her envious feelings and had a rebirth. Finally, everyone celebrated in a Spanish-inspired dance number.

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