Christina Sears-Etter

Momix Quick Review

February 28, 2016




by: Christina Sears-Etter, MFA. All rights reserved.

June 26, 2014, Ann Arbor MI, USA

On Saturday June 21st I attended Momix’s Concert Work “Botanica” with

hundreds of other audience members at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival’s Annual

Season. I had attended Momix’s Concert once before, close to the time of its founding,

and was familiar with their style which I thought ( at the time,) was overly gimmick-

based and commercial. However, times have changed, as have I, and Momix has

continued to evolve. And Moses Pendelton’s company has withstood the test of time,

achieving 7 major shows, an international presence, and critical acclaim. The company

is a major source of employment for today’s contemporary movement performer.

Rivaled by, and compared to, Cirque du Soleil, and Pilobolus, the company in which

Artistic Director Moses Pendelton was a founding member, Momix remains a major

creative force in the American Dance Scene. Yet, none of the dancer-illusionist

performers are mentioned by name either on the program, or on the company’s website.

Who are these unknown artists who make the vision of these shows a reality? I got the

opportunity to speak with three of these artists and clarify the creative process of

Botanica, and was able to ask some questions about how the company operates. These

insights can be shared in a future post.

Without a doubt, Momix has been able to flourish as a for-profit enterprise, touring Arts

Centers and University Campuses, and establishing relationships with corporations

such as Hanes, Target and other businesses. The opulent and stunning shows evoke a

range of positive responses from participants.

One audience member, a papa who runs a video and photo company which catering to

the performing arts, remarked while scooping up his four year old that Botanica is “a

feast for the eyes.”

With photographic projections of the natural world, stunning costume and props,

extremely skilled and athletic dancers, the event “Botanica” is indeed a stunner. In this

post, I will write abut several of the most successful performance scenes. However,

must mention that a few of the scenes felt overly long and simple in their illusions. For

example the black-light and florescent “bugs”: a clever but overly extended celebration

of black light and the abstraction of neon costume accents and visual-effect movement.

At one point the dancers (how many? Who knows? No program accompanied

Botanica!) made a smiley face and then a frown-y face with their body parts. This was

early in the program, and presented a moment of potential discomfort for any audience

older than pre-school age. But the scene passed, and the show evolved, and I’ve

chosen to write about the most successful moments.

Orange puffball blossoms (Dahlias? Giant marigolds?) rotate and flirt agains a green

leafy projection on the cyclorama. The dancers begin on the floor, a colorful fantasia in

their stylized stillness and perfect illusion. This opening image invites the audience into

a fantastical journey. There are parallels to vaudeville here, but the company operates

within a strong artistic vision, and every aspect of the dancers’ performance is perfect.

Mr. Pendelton’s impact on Pilobolus is clear in several of these theatrical scenes. This

barrage of orange blossoms is broken up by a quintet of bees. Five men with abstracted

bee costumes enter facing front with a set of two rod props, each, quivering in the air at

a fast rate. The image of a swarm of bees is so convincing and enjoyable to watch. The

five men cavort, dip, spin and make petty plays for power in extremely short duets

employing contact and minute manipulations. The dancers’ display exemplary technique

in the material, which is tight, eccentric, and well, the bee’s knees! I’m not fond of bees

and this compelling little vignette made me a ready fan!

Again and again, Mr. Pendelton and his Company of Dance Artists treated us to

fantastical scenes, created with the highest level of theatricality. The image below

captures a scene of beautiful abstraction. One imagines the dancers to be sunflowers

on a hot summer afternoon. There were over 20 dance theatre scenes in Botanica, and

each stood alone, taking the audience on a wild ride. The extension of the body

through use of costume, props, brilliant lighting and sound design, made Botanica a

memorable and inspiring evening. The company is not performing again in North

America for quite awhile, judging from the dancers’ comments and the website calendar.

I urge any dance aficionado and fan to be sure to catch Momix at their next theatre


Photo Credit: Momix 2012.