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The Body Beautiful 

Momix, a troupe of dance-illusionists

Wednesday, Apr 11 2001
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No one can call Momix, the troupe of dance-illusionists founded by choreographer Moses Pendleton, dance purists. Not that anyone would be disappointed by the company's technical expertise -- its members are more than capable of executing the perfect pirouette or the quintessential arabesque. But the inimitable collective has always pursued another artistic objective: to express the power and unlimited possibilities (or so it would seem with this group) of the human body.

The potential of the human form is nothing new to Artistic Director Pendleton, who has been pushing the limits of physicality since founding Momix in 1981. With the troupe, Pendleton has established a captivating body of work that brings together inventive movement, theatricality, surreal imagery, and special effects. Using unorthodox props, he imbues his pieces with joy and a whimsical sense of humor. Dancers appear dressed as human baseballs and prancing beer cans -- a refreshing change from the work of cerebral choreographers who take themselves too seriously.

This weekend, in a rare Bay Area appearance, Pendleton and his dancer/gymnasts explode the boundaries separating dance and performance with "Momix in Orbit," which examines how the body moves through space. Aerodynamic dancers defy the rules of gravity in pieces like Sputnik, in which a woman sits inside a large, spinning bowl. Poles extending from the bowl support other dancers, who use them to fly through the air. In Millennium Skiva, dancers strapped into boots and skis tilt and swivel at impossible angles, as if they were skiing down steep slopes. Finally, a single dancer tries to represent the forces of the universe -- time, tension, and, once again, gravity -- by moving inside a giant hula hoop, effortlessly rotating the circle up and down her body with a slight swivel of her hips in Orbit. True to form, Pendleton and his cohorts make the impossible seem possible, expanding our own potential both physically and creatively.

About The Author

Lisa Hom

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