“Bound in Before” uses dance in a new way

Written By Rosalie Anthony, Staff Writer

First love is often an emotional subject. Thinking back to that time may bring up feelings of happiness, sadness or nostalgia. The dance theater show Bound in Before,” which ran the weekends of December 6-8, and 13-15 in the PNC Theatre of the Pittsburgh Playhouse, explores this idea with creativity and innovation. 

“It is unlike anything that I have done before, and I’m sure if you asked any of my cast mates, they would say the same thing and [it’s unlike] anything that the world has ever seen before,” Michaela Kuehni, a senior dance major and dance captain explained, “Just being able to dive into the character you’re given… even Mikey and Claire, you fall in love with them because you get to watch them grow up, literally, and then you get to grow up with them throughout 85 minutes… You get to live a life in 85 minutes and that’s really special.” 

Bound in Before was conceived and written by Point Park University’s Conservatory of Performing Arts (COPA) own, Kiesha Lalama and her son Jacob John White. It takes audiences into Mickey McWilliams and Claire Henderson’s love story, played by senior dance major Tyler Kerbel and senior dance major Ashley Green, respectively.

Starting from elementary school, growing into middle school, high school, and eventually adulthood, this show connects audiences of all ages and walks of life. According to Lalama, dance theatre is “storytelling. 

It’s all rooted in the storytelling, so I think that when you’re going to create art, I actually feel like the number one responsible thing we have to do is address our audience and lean into the audience, instead of asking them what they think it’s about by providing them with an experience when they hit the theatre,” Lalama said. 

 Steven Breese, dean of COPA and artistic director of the Pittsburgh Playhouse, introduced the show enthusiastically.  

“I want to reach mass audiences,” Lalama said. I want to make sure when they leave the theatre, they have some kind of fulfillment and that we provoke feeling and emotion inside them. I think starting, there needs to be something relatable.”   

A major part of getting the story across was the dancers’ acting and facial expressions.  

“My favorite part is definitely the acting,” Matthew Saggiomo said, a sophomore dance major who plays one of the main characters, Kirk. “We don’t get a lot of opportunities like this to be so open and explore in ways I’ve never really been able to explore in dance, so that’s been a fun process and experience.” 

The music for the entire show was original and Point Park University students had an opportunity to audition and sing on the soundtrack.  

Jason Call, composer and lyricist, gave some insight about the recording. 

 “They all got time in the studio, which most of them had never been in a recording studio, because it’s a soundtrack we created, an hour and twenty-minute soundtrack,” Call said. I was so impressed by the students and they sound fantastic on all the songs. It made me proud of my songs, I love hearing my music come to life.”  

“The recording process was really exciting,” sophomore musical theatre major Taylor Olsen said. “Getting to be in a professional recording studio with two of my peers was so much fun and such an amazing experience to have during my training at Point Park.”  

Cast members also discussed scenes in the show that they found to be resonating. 

“I really love the Halloween scene, flashlight tag,” Jackson Gormley, a junior dance major, said. “I think it’s so fun and different for us to come out in these 80s-inspired costumes which will really resonate with our parents and other adults in the audience, but it’s also really cool to go into the flashlight tag and see all the scenic elements and the lighting.”  

“I would have to say prom [is my favorite part of the show],” junior dance major Allyse Kish said.Because it’s one of the only times in the show when we’re on stage together and it is very high energy and a lot of fun and just get to let go and have fun on stage.”