Visual fallacy and fantasy executed by a troupe of dance illusionists charmed audience members Thursday, October 22, at the Granada Theater. MOMIX, led by Moses Pendleton, is a company known for its ability to tease the eye through lighting, visual effects, and themes relating to nature. Performing Pendleton’s latest creation, Alchemia, MOMIX explored the four elements: earth, wind, water, and fire.
The show began with blue and red flames projected across the curtain. It was raised to reveal white illuminated poles were staggered on stage. One by one male and female dancers dressed in red flowing garments entered; each performed sinuous, twisting movements as they quickly weaved in and out of the poles and each other.
Without quite knowing when and where, the dancers exited the stage leaving one woman alone lying on the floor like a small dying ember. She twitched and trembled as four male dancers emerged from the backdrop. Each one tried to help the squirming dancer, but each was burned by her touch. Eventually, all of the dancers returned to the stage to create a billowing fire by manipulating a large silk veil with metal poles.
After MOMIX’s fire sequence, the curtain fell to display a spaceship-like flower floating across the screen. When it rose again, the stage was dark save five skeletal figures that were illuminated by a black light and seemed to be levitating. Techno-like music filled the room and the figures began to run in place while bobbing their heads, swinging back and forth, and performing impressive backbends. It was like watching aliens at a dance party in outer space.
Later in the evening, there was a beautiful performance by the female dancers in white hoop skirts, which made them appear to drift effortlessly across the floor. The melodic, calm music paired with the dancers’ graceful movements and dark blue lighting put audience members into a dream-like state. The dancers manipulated the skirts into three-dimensional shapes creating visuals that were appealing to the eye.
A crowd favorite was a piece involving kaleidoscopic mirrors. The props gave the illusion of many dancers on stage appearing and disappearing simultaneously. The movements were interesting and grabbed the attention of spectators. At one point, the dancers dropped to the floor extending their legs into the air with a series of movements included crossing, bending, and stretching. The elongated limbs and angled mirrors produced alluring and seductive visuals like contortionists in a circus funhouse.
The impressive finale consisted of four dancers manipulating two large u-shaped sculptures. The scene was similar to an acrobatic performance; the dancers rocked the props back and forth, taking turns leaping on top or crawling inside. They played with gravity as they pushed and pulled the sculptures into interesting formations. At the end of this piece all the dancers returned to the stage for their final bows.
After a brief break, six dancers returned to the stage for a question and answer session. Audience members who stuck around gained insight into the creative development of Alchemia: “All of the music, visuals, lights, and props start in the mind of Moses,” one dancer shared. “He will film flowers and nature and use them as the projected backdrops you see in the performance.” Another dancer added, “He surrounds himself in art.”
The dancers also revealed what it takes to be a MOMIX dancer. “All MOMIX dancers are classically trained in ballet,” a female dancer explained. “But when we come into the studio, we never know what to expect.” One of the male dancers continued, “The creation process is fun. We come in and we just play. It’s a collaborative experience between director and dancer.”