NEW YORK—The unique theatrical dance-acrobatic company MOMIX is paying a long-overdue visit to New York, after many years’ absence.
Artistic director Moses Pendleton, credited with most of the choreography but assisted by the company, offers some of the company’s most popular pieces for a brief run at the Joyce Theater in New York’s Chelsea area. Also on display are three premieres, created for MOMIX’s 35th anniversary.
Not only does the splendid company of nine dancers have exemplary techniques, but, unusual in my opinion is that the women display a strength matching that of the males, yet retaining their feminine attributes.
Many display acrobatic skill. In fact, Pendleton refers to his company as “dance illusionists.”
Since space precludes mentioning all 17 pieces presented, I’ll name a few major works. “Tuu,” which has great dramatic intensity, displays the duo Jon Eden and Sarah Nachbauer intertwined intensely in their search for a satisfying relationship. Nachbauer has the skill to twirl on her buttocks with apparently no external impetus, a feat I’ve only seen performed by ice skaters.
“Marigolds” offers delightful costumes, as five women cavort under fulsome pink blossoms, mimicking the flower, except for the unusual element of five pairs of attractive legs extended from under the petals.
“Baths of Caracalla” presents five women skillfully waving about large scarf-like costume pieces, only to later strip down to scanty bathing suit-like garments. Here the strongly feminine and sensual elements of their personalities come to the fore.
MOMIX, noted for using spectacular lighting effects, unique and sometimes outrageous costumes and props shows this aptitude in presenting “Dream Catcher,” which boasts a remarkable set piece. This unique and attractive structure, designed and constructed by Alan Boeding, takes center stage and seems almost to serve as a third character alongside performers Heather Magee and Jason Williams. The couple pursues one another, wending their way along the sleek tube-like structure. They’re able to utilize their acrobatic skills, even causing the structure to often fall into new positions, creating set changes, with accompanying tensions.
Jason Williams performs “Table Talk” as if he is seeking to tame the inanimate piece of furniture. Sliding on it, leaping above it, crawling under it, precariously holding onto its edge, he ultimately masters it.
One of the premieres for this production is the comical “Daddy Long Legs,” in which three cowboy types, in cowboy gear, each with one elongated leg, strut about, compete, drink, and shoot, demonstrating their prowess in a way that is heightened (no pun intended) by their odd physical shape.
“Light Reigns,” the second premiere, features lighting which adds to the mystery of the piece. Performers, at times, handle long pole-like objects, finally bringing them together to form a unified whole.
About the third premiere, “Paper Trails,” Pendleton says in a press release: “We wanted to try for the effect of a 3D movie screen, to sculpt with light and with projected images, and to make moving paintings on crumpling paper.” Some of the costumes for this piece are nothing short of extraordinary.
The stars and planets are featured in “Pleiades.” Sarah Nachbauer performed an elegant solo in “Echoes of Narcissus,” lying against a mirrored stage floor.
Other pieces in the program include “Pole Dance,” “Snow Geese,” “Brainwave,” “Spawning,” “Man Fan,” and “Aqua Flora.”
The evening comes to a rousing close with the company cavorting with dummies in “If You Need Somebody.” The interesting feature is that sometimes the dummies are actually played by the human performers. Keep a close eye on this one.
With the performance I saw meriting a standing ovation, one would wish for a longer run than the date of Aug. 12 listed.
175 Eighth Ave.
Running Time: 2 hours (one intermission)
Closes: Aug. 12
Diana Barth writes for several theater publications, including New Millennium. She may be contacted at diabarth99gmail.com