When you read the reviews of MOMIX, you see every description under the celestial bodies. The members of this dance troupe have been called magicians, illusionists, surrealists and acrobats. Their performances are called supernatural, stunning, seductive, brilliant, hilarious and inspirational. Almost as an afterthought, the shows are also called an amazing amount of fun. Words seem to come up short when some ink-stained wretch tries to describe what these people do for a living. What is it about this company that has had the fellowship of dance critics scratching their collective heads trying to find just the right superlative?
Moses Pendleton is the founder, director and choreographer of MOMIX. Earlier in his career, he was also co-founder, along with Jonathan Wolken, of '70s dance sensation Pilobolus. That troupe achieved worldwide acclaim for expanding the boundaries of contemporary dance with its use of acrobatics and humor. It built the sort of popular acceptance most struggling dance companies wouldn't dare dream of. In addition to the concert halls of the world, they found a home on Broadway and in several PBS specials.
When Pendleton moved on from Pilobolus after nearly a decade of touring, he began working as a choreographer and performer for hire for several other companies. The demand for his work was so far flung that he put in time with the Joffrey Ballet, Milan's La Scala and Berlin's Deutsche Opera. He also took the unusual step of working in the world of music video. His choreography has been seen in videos for Julian Lennon, Prince and Peter Gabriel. And back in 1980, the entire world was watching his work as choreographer and director of the closing ceremonies for the Lake Placid Winter Olympics. All of the above led to the mid-'80s founding of today's five-member company known as MOMIX.
MOMIX in Orbit
Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street
Performed at 8 p.m. Friday, February 18; 8 p.m. Saturday, February 19; and 7 p.m. Sunday, February 20. 480-994-2787 (SCA), 480-784-4444 (Ticketmaster).
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MOMIX in Orbit features new costumes and props created in collaboration with Michael Curry, famed for his work on the masks and puppets of the Broadway production of The Lion King. The production itself consists of several segments. Orbit involves an impossibly huge Hula-Hoop that never stops twirling around the dancer; Millennium Skiva asks the performers to dance gracefully while wearing downhill racing skis. Then there's the evening's centerpiece, Sputnik, which has been compared to a whacked-out combination of sculpture, dance and theme-park ride. It involves an oversize brass bowl, steel poles that could serve as weapons and a suspension of the law of gravity.