[ATTENDED: April 25, 2013] MOMIX Botancia
I didn’t realize that we attended a Momix show almost exactly one year ago. But that’s when it was. That show was called Remix, and it was a collection of great bits from Momix shows. This year’s show, Botanica, is an older show and there were bits of it in Remix. This gave me the most unique (for me) experience of seeing a dance troupe perform things that I had already seen! What was fun was that the dancers were (I believe) different and, it felt like perhaps the pieces were performed a little bit differently too.
One of the fun things about the show was how the pieces segued into one another–most routines didn’t end so much as meld into the next one (and you can see how picking pieces out for a Greatest Hits might require some restructuring).
We saw this show at the McCarter Theatre, where, once again we had the $20 seats (knocked down to $18 with a AAA discount!). For this show the seats were a bit of a hindrance because Momix is definitely about spectacle, and there were a few pieces where the spectacle was lost from our angle (which was a little below the stage and off to the right). On the plus side, being able to see the dancers up close (we were literally three rows from the stage) brought a new level of experience to the show that you don’t get when the performers are interchangeable (hey, that’s the sweaty guy, that’s the blonde lady, that’s the guy with the amazing muscles).
The show opened with a waving sheet which looked like snow. As the sheet began rippling dancers revealed themselves underneath and starting popping up, like flowers or dolphins or gravity defying skiers. It was very cool. Then a giant flower-like item came out on stage and women danced around it. There followed a wonderful sequence with black light paint as three performers with neon arms and legs made wonderful shapes–animals, faces, bodies–using their limbs. Our cheap seats hindered this piece somewhat.
Next was a woman who more or less rolled around on an incline. Again, this piece was greatly hindered for me by our view. Because while Sarah realized that she was on a mirrored surface and the reflections were making very cool shapes, I didn’t register this at all, and to me it felt like random writhings. Pity, because that image at the left is pretty frikkin cool.
Then there was a piece of amazing puppetry, as a man marched a triceratops out onto the stage. By which I mean…well, I think he was standing at the back legs and had puppeteer bars to maneuver the head and front legs. It was very cool mostly trying to figure out how he did it.
Then there was the piece called Marigolds, which we had seen in Remix. In my previous post I wrote:
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.
The women come out in these cool ruffled shapes (marigolds, apparently), poking their faces out of the ruffles. And as I said, they emerge and dance and as the piece progresses, the ruffles slowly descend their bodies. They begin as lush fluffy creatures and end like flamenco dancers, with a bit of ruffle around their ankles. Very clever. And very cool.
Of course, some pieces are just downright silly. Fun to watch and stare agog at but which don’t really seem to mean anything (even in a piece as thematic as this). Like the ones with the red background and all of the dancers with tubing on their arms. It was wonderful to watch (especially when they were against the bright red backdrop), but I have no idea what it was supposed to “mean.”
There were also a fun sequence where the women were dressed like sunflowers and they spun around, facing the sun. This was followed by a very cool “bee” dance, which the men did very well.
The Botanica theme was not always explicit although I really enjoyed the way the first half was spring moving into summer and the second half moved towards autumn, with tree branches with yellow leaves and a cool feeling throughout. As they switched into the fall, a man mimed the sound of a hawk calling (which was very cool) and then men on rollerblades zoomed and swooped across the floor. It was exciting and evocative.
As was the strangest piece (and my favorite) when the dancers came out with one member grasping the front dancer around the waist, so that they looked like a centaur. The person in front stood up while the person in back had his or her head down (and well hidden) giving them an amazingly animalistic appearance. What was more amazing was the way they moved in sync. When they began to trot and canter around the back legs kept up perfectly, and at times I forgot they were two people. It was very, very cool.
Another dance that was in Remix was called “Aqua Flora.” In it a woman spins. Last time I wrote:
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.
And no, it wasn’t a dress of strings, I’ll let the program explain it:
In this solo piece, the dancer spins round and round—more than a hundred times—keeping aloft a circular headdress of beaded strands. By changing speed, arm positions, and direction of her movements, she creates beautiful, undulating shapes that evoke flowers, insects, a rain shower, and other images from the natural world.
I may not have gotten all of that, but it was amazing to watch again. And this time our close up seats gave us very cool angles.
What was a particular delight for us was that their encore was the opening piece during our Remix show. Last time I wrote:
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.
I don’t have much to add to this. Except to say that it was a ton of fun to watch this from up close, where you could see the dancers smiling and really enjoying themselves. And why not, they’re waving swimming pool noodles around and creating amazing shapes. This may be one of my favorite Momix pieces–action packed, exciting, weird and unexpected. I could certainly watch this again and again. I feel like this time it ended in a different way than when we saw it in Remix. Of course, it’s been a year so maybe the ending was the same. Whatever the case, it was still amazing.
This show, Botanica, did not rely on the same kind of acrobatics and intense stamina as some of the pieces that blew my mind in Remix. And that’s fine, they don’t need to show off like that. Rather, this was about performance, beauty and fluidity.
I know that if Momix comes back around next year, whatever the show, we’ll get tickets. But I’ll splurge for slightly better seats next time.