Based on the classic story of Greek mythology, “Orpheus” tells the tale of Orpheus and his wife Eurydice. Binghamton University Mainstage productions staged the story this weekend — in dance.
In the Greek myth, Eurydice is sent to the underworld and Orpheus must retrieve her. In the fashion of Sodom and Gomorrah, Orpheus is told by Hades that he can leave with Eurydice only if he does not look back to see that she is OK. Of course, Orpheus does just that, and loses her forever.
And while Orpheus suffers a great loss, there were only things to gain from attending the performance. Masterfully crafted and beautifully executed, watching Orpheus reminded me how professional university productions can be. The play was entirely choreographed by Andy Horowitz, JoEllen Kuhlman, Samuel Elikem Nyamuame and Stephanie Surowka-Sanders. James Burns, the chair of the music department, created the music.
The highlight of the show was definitely the wedding scene. It’s important to mention that an interesting twist was brought to the stage. While the story of Orpheus stayed true to the original, the setting was different. Here, the audience was transported to a village in Africa. The band, clearly visible behind the dancers, played live music. There was no set, but there didn’t need to be. The stage was taken up by a strong presence of energy and spirit. The dances incorporated traditional dances of acrobatic, African, ballet, modern and jazz, according to the theatre department website, and despite the mix of different styles, they flowed together with grace and ease.
The costumes added to the experience, with gray and black tones, flowing skirts and patterned pieces. While a theme was evident, each outfit varied, reminding us that each dancer was a separate character.
If you didn’t get the chance to see the show, this is a reminder for next year. Do not underestimate BU’s dance department. There is culture to be seen at BU, and while “Orpheus” is over, next year’s production is yet to come.