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MOMIX Magical Hits & Classics Program at the Joyce Theater

by Bonnie Rosenstock
August 25, 2018
The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Avenue (at the corner of 19th Street)
New York, NY 10011
212-242-0800
MOMIX returned to The Joyce Theater (July 21-August 12) for another jaw-dropping, eye-popping spectacle, which delighted the multi-generational audience. The company of dance/illusionists, as they prefer to be called, under the creative genius of founder/artistic director Moses Pendleton, presented a self-titled production featuring 14 hits and classics from their extensive repertory and included the New York City premiere of three new works, created for the company’s 35th anniversary a few years back.

MOMIX productions are a paean to the beauty of the human form and nature, brought to life with wondrous lighting effects, extravagant costumes, incredible props and first-rate music. Pendleton, a co-founder of the groundbreaking Pilobolus Dance Theater in 1971, which he left to form the innovative MOMIX in 1980, explained, “MOMIX's aesthetic is to make contact, to have the human make contact with the non-human — the plant and animal and the mineral, and seeing what connections the human form has, both emotionally and physically.”

For the New York City program there were several sections. “It's kind of like an album with several singles — side A, side B,” Pendleton continued. “There is not an overall story so much as an impression, and you don't know what's coming next.”

The three new pieces were all very different, representing the various aesthetics that Pendleton constructs. “Daddy Long Legs,” was a straightforward dance with a gimmick. It featured a comic trio of male gauchos (cowboys) from the Argentine Pampas who each danced balanced on one very tall pole, which emerged from their right pant leg. The movements required extreme dexterity and equilibrium for walking, turning, leaning and dancing with each other. One of the performers’ shoes slid out of his pant leg, and he had to carry it with him for a while until he tossed it. Not part of the performance, but stuff happens.

The illusions of “Light Reins” included rods of shifting lights that produced startling patterns, which reflected on the quintet of dancers. “Paper Trails,” my favorite of the three, was a marvelous but disorienting piece that used black and white lights, patterns, streams of light and paper as sculpture and costume. The performers whirled themselves into large sheets of paper. At the end, one of the women rose to the top in her paper outfit, like a giant flower. Really impressive.

It was very difficult to choose which repertory piece was my favorite because I changed my mind every time another was performed. However, for dance fabulousness, I have to cite foremost “Tuu,” a duet performed by the magnificent Jonathan Eden and Sarah Nachbauer, in which they stayed interconnected and slowly moved as one, like a giant insect or a reflection, with gorgeous lifts and breathtaking balancing. The consummate Ms. Nachbauer also performed a solo, “Echoes of Narcissus,” in which she opened and closed into astonishing shapes like a kaleidoscope or a reflecting pond. Another duo, Heather Magee and Jason Williams, became part of a many-faceted moving metal sculpture, from which they rode and swung. Jason Williams also performed a solo “Table Talk,” a feat of athleticism and grace.

“Marigolds” was pure fun for a quintet of samba-dancing women, whose bright orange flower costumes went through several transformations. First, all you saw was a giant orange flower, with the dancers hidden on their knees. When they stood, their orangeness exploded into exotic giant bird-like creatures. The finale, the orange bloom shimmied down to their legs and became part of a beautifully layered dance outfit.

The finale, “If You Need Some Body” for seven dancers, incorporated life-size dummies as dance partners, which were manipulated over heads, under skirts and into many other zany positions. The mesmerizing two-hour show passed quickly, leaving the audience wanting more. They’ll be back and so will we.
Dreamcatcher - Heather Magee Spilka, Jason Williams.

Dreamcatcher - Heather Magee Spilka, Jason Williams.

Photo © & courtesy of Max Pucciariello


Marigolds

Marigolds

Photo © & courtesy of Max Pucciariello


Pleiades

Pleiades

Photo © & courtesy of Max Pucciariello


Echoes of Narcissus - Sarah Nachbauer

Echoes of Narcissus - Sarah Nachbauer

Photo © & courtesy of Charles Azzopardi


Light Reigns

Light Reigns

Photo © & courtesy of Charles Azzopardi


Spawning

Spawning

Photo © & courtesy of Eddy Fernandez


Table Talk- Jason Williams

Table Talk- Jason Williams

Photo © & courtesy of Photographer Unknown

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