Momix celebrates anniversary of 40 years

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The company of dancer-illusionists, Momix, hits the stage of Smith Theatre with their extravagant modern dance performance “Viva Momix.”

Kicking off this season of all-star performances that will be held at the Noorda Center for Performing Arts was the world-renowned company of self-described “dancer-illusionists,” Momix. Celebrating 40 years of imaginative and surreal modern dance concerts, Momix was created by Moses Pendelton in 1981 after he left another famed dance company he helped found called Pilobolus. Their latest show entitled “Viva Momix” consists of an amalgamation of sequences from their various other shows.

Introducing Momix to the stage of the Smith Theatre was UVU associate professor of dance Jamie Johnson who herself served on Momix as Dance Captain before teaching at UVU. Her connection to the dance company gave UVU students the rare privilege of working directly with the dancers of this company to experience a masterclass in the performing arts. It is great opportunities like this that allow UVU students to thrive.

The description of dancer-illusionist is apt for Momix which utilized lighting and costume design to express the beauty of nature and metamorphosis. There were almost as many lighting designers as dancers credited on the program. It was this dedication to production which made Momix such an incredible event in which to participate. Particular sequences which stood out for those reasons were “Paper Trails,” a long-time classic of Momix’s whose use of lighting caused projected images to come to life – and “Aqua Flora” and “Man Fan” which both used costumes that seemed to defy physics. 

As impressive as the lighting and costumes were, it was only to highlight the roles of the dancers. It might even be appropriate to describe Momix as a circus performance as much as dance due to the level of gymnastic and acrobatic stunts which took place. With “Pole Dance” three male performers propelled themself around with wooden shafts in a stunning display of masculinity and strength and in “If You Need Somebody” the whole cast participated in a fun and rowdy dance in which mannequins were brought to life causing laughter and cheers throughout the audience.

Along with displays of athletic prowess, there were many of beauty and grace. At no other moment was that more evident than during “Echoes of Narcissus” in which a single performer contorts their form upon a mirror. Originally inspired and performed by Russian ballerina Diana Vishneva, Pendleton wished to multiply the fluidity of her arms and legs. Now performed by Seah Hagan, it was at once sensuous and unsettling. There were audible gasps by the audience at the end when Hagan seemingly dissolved into her own image and vanished.

In an interview with Blasting News, Pendleton described his purpose as being, “I would like to subtract. To take away — like chips of marble from the block — or to concentrate a substance alchemically by reducing it into some highly distilled essence.”

“Viva Momix” certainly accomplished this objective as it took the strange and sometimes surreal aspects of nature and distilled them down into an expression of beauty.