One of Sarah’s surprises for her birthday was that after an evening of fine dining at The Frog and the Peach, I had gotten us tickets to Momix. This was a total surprise because neither one of us had ever heard of Momix. I wanted to so something fun for us, and this show was being performed on her birthday weekend. The write-up at the State Theatre made Momix seem weird, interesting and very cool. So, even though we’d never heard of them, it seemed worth the risk.
A rose waited for us at our seats (A date night package for us). The curtain went up and the music started and we were blown away from that moment on.
We decided the best description of Momix is as kind of dancey version of the Peking Acrobats (they do show up a lot in my posts). I’ve never really seen modern dance on any grand scale, so I hesitate to call this modern dance, but what else can it be? The music (none of it original) was primarily world/ambient (Dead Can Dance was a band I recognized). And the men and women of the troupe performed nontraditional dances to it.
Okay, but what’s this about acrobats?
Well, the dances were more about showcasing the body–in its beauty, in its strength and in its grace. And it was amazing to watch. Our favorite piece, called “Tuu,” featured a man and a woman. She began the dance wrapped around his neck (by her knee?!) and proceeded to uncurl herself into amazing positions, all while he himself balanced and did wonderfully graceful moves. And here’s the difference between a dancer and an acrobats–these dancers never wavered, never wiggled, never seemed for a second that they were uncomfortable–they were beyond graceful. So at one point when he did a hand stand and she id a handstand on his back, it was fluid and amazing. I mean, look at that picture.
There was also a solo act in which one of the male dancers performed amazing feats of strength all based around a table. When he held himself up parallel to the floor with his arms in some crazy position, the room was speechless–until the dancer looked at us and nodded, letting us know that this was an applause-worthy moment.
But not every piece was as intense as that, The opening number saw all ten members waving what looked like swimming pool noodles. But they simply never stopped moving them. The strength and endurance to perform this beautifully dance was mind-blowing–and a great entrance.
Some other amazing dances included one where the five women started out like ruffled creatures on the floor. As the dance progressed the ruffles moved down their body (I’m sure it was a simple dress design, but it was so amazing–to see the ruffles go from their heads to their waists and eventually to their ankles all while they danced on stage. Another fun dance saw the women on giant balls–they bounced, they hid behind the balls, the interacted with each other–very cool.
There was also a solo dance by a woman who had what I assume was a dress made of strings (she looked like a jellyfish). And most of the dance she spun and the strings all spun around her head sticking out like rays of light. It was mesmerizing.
The most surprising dance came when they brought a giant (ten foot by twenty I’d guess) asymmetrical sculpture which the two dancers climbed on and around and ultimately rolled around the stage on. The precision was astonishing.
There were even some humorous dances. One involved projection screens as the two dancers combined to create a shadow dancer who could do amazing things. Shadow puppets were ever this cool. And the final dance (set to Bach) had the dancers partnered up with a mannequin. They leapt and bounded around stage throwing these dummies as part of the routine–sometimes the dummies were tucked into the men’s tutus, while the women’s were mostly independent–but they way they swung them around was frantic and hilarious but also amazing to watch.
Another amazing highlight was called “Geese.” Black lit from the front, all you could see were the dancers’ arms as they moved and pivoted their hands and shoulders into the shape of geese flying. It was stunning–so simple and yet so effective. But the confounding thing is that they appeared to be parallel to the ground–you were looking at the tops of their heads. How is that possible What kind of crazy prop did they use?
Sex is often a part of dance, and that was true here. Although really the only sexually charged dance was one with four women and three men. The prop was a cushion with three poles sticking out of it The men and women danced around the poles (to the music of Dead Can Dance). It had a Middle Eastern feel to it. There were a few moments where the eroticism was really quite charged. Although really the most amazing sight was when two of them men sat at either side of the stage and stayed in a kind of situp/crunch position (knees up, head crunched in) for what had to have been two or three minutes. And this is where they were not shaking or wavering at all. They were not the focus of the scene either, but they were amazing.
And speaking of poles. The men with the poles performed a dance with the poles–climbing on them, springing through the air graceful as gazelles. It was breathtaking.
There were so many wow moments. It was an incredible show.
Incidentally, the show was called Momix Remix because the show contained favorite dances from the company’s twenty-five year history (!). I guess in some ways there’s no way this show could have been a disappointment. But I have to wonder if each regular show follows a theme throughout it. Like they have shows called “Botanica” “Lunar Sea” “Passion”? Does that mean the shows are stylistically similar? I assume so. That kind of continuity would be neat to see, but it was not missed in any way.
The show was amazing and I would absolutely see them again when they come back around. I would even see Remix again as according to the website there are dances that we didn’t see. This was certainly the best surprise I’ve ever given.
These few photos don’t do it justice. Check out their website and be blown away!
[UPDATED September 19, 2014]
According to a PDF of the program that I just found, these were the pieces that night: