Moses Pendleton, founder/director of Momix, is a complex artist known for crafting fantastical voyages out of the human form that straddle the line between spectacular art and circusy entertainment. Often his use of larger-than-life props, jokes and stunning backdrops become gimmicks diminishing his ultra-athletic and acrobatic dancers' artistry. Wednesday night's The Best of Momix was a combination of overkill, sheer joy and the sublime.
Momix is fun. It's a great show for kids. It opened with a giant marionette and included "Moonbeams," a quartette of women in Ester Williams costumes, cavorting on Bosu balls, and "Gila Monster," an ingenious creature made up of four men.
When it works, Pendleton's combination of mixed-media and movement is quite beautiful. In "Aqua Flora," Nicole Loizides precisely spun like a Whirling Dervish wearing a tent-like piece that fanned down from a circular band over her head, from which string-like strips of wood fell vertically around her ceaselessly spinning body, revolving about her like the ride at the fair with swings that fly out in response to centrifugal force. She became a butterfly, a bird, a swan, swirling in shadows of dappled light, simple and lovely, finding herself in the confines of circular motion.
Heather McGee blew me away in "Zaar," dancing with the kind of streamer used by rhythmic gymnasts. Unlike her Olympian counterparts, who annoyingly add rigid technical dance moves to their routines, McGee passionately shaped the streamer into vertical circles around her kneeling body. In red, lit in red, against a black backdrop, every contour of her arched, curved and contracted torso was evident, evoking deep passion as she became one with her mystical wand.
In "Tuu," a man and a woman stayed mostly intertwined, conveying our collective search for trust, love and truth. Despite criticisms that Momix dancers do not express emotion, the dancers here were purely committed. I turned to my friend's teen-aged dancer daughter, trying to explain that being in a dance like "Tuu" is the highest form of physical intimacy for a dancer. As deep as sex. As gratifying. Artists find ways to express our humanness. If we're lucky we get to be witness. If we're luckier, we get to partake.
Overall, the show was too long, the pieces short and many. There are only so many images the human brain can absorb in one sitting. For Moses Pendleton, there is no less is more. A shame.