Intriguing, beautiful ‘Viva Momix’ opens Pittsburgh Dance Council season |

Intriguing, beautiful ‘Viva Momix’ opens Pittsburgh Dance Council season

Mark Kanny
Charles Paul Azzopardi
“Light Reigns” by Momix

To celebrate an anniversary, an artistic organization needs something at once special and also entirely characteristic of its identity. Pittsburgh Dance Council will kick off its 50th anniversary season with Momix, the highly innovative and internationally successful American modern dance company.

“Momix is visual, physical theater that doesn’t tell stories,” say founder and artistic director Moses Pendleton. “We present hopefully evocative vignettes that are kind of like a stream of surreal vaudeville acts that use light and shadows, props and costumes, and various kinds of music to elevate the audience. If people can walk out with a little less gravity in their step, then everyone’s happy.”

“Viva Momix” will open the Pittsburgh Dance Council season on Sept. 21 at Pittsburgh’s Byham Theater. Dance Council is part of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

Pendleton was 18 when co-founded the Pilobolus dance company in 1971. “We capitalized on our escapist attitudes,” he says. He formed his own troupe, Momix, in 1980.

“Viva Momix” was created for the company’s 35th birthday celebration, which was given at the Teatro Nazionale in Milan, Italy, where the company had made its debut. The show is a collection of excerpts from its six major productions plus some new pieces created for the occasion. Each piece has a beginning, a middle and an end, like a song Pendleton says, with the sequence of numbers arranged for overall flow, like a well-planned album of music.

Ideas are all around

When asked how he’s maintained his high level of creativity, Pendleton says, “You can never tell when you’ll be attacked by an idea.”

One of the new works, “Light Reigns,” was inspired by seeing a Christmas tree with streaming lights as he was skiing in Colorado. He imagined a very visual, strange and ethereal dance.

“Daddy Long Legs” is a comic trio with the dancers on short stilts and dressed up as gauchos performing to Argentine music. Pendleton says its quite virtuosic and calls for the men to do pirouettes on pointe.

The repertoire pieces include a famous quintet from “Botanica,” which Momix perform on the Dance Council season eight years ago. The dancers wear petticoats in orange stacked on themselves that look like large marigolds, and which change appearance as they move up and down on the bodies.

“The Dream Catcher” from “Cactus” is a large kinetic sculpture using the premise of a large wheel for a pas de deux. It employs black light, magic and illusion.

People often wonder where creative people get their ideas. The answer is not the same for all artists.

“Delving into the unconscious is for me a physical pursuit,” says Pendleton. “I try to create a state of non-thought and be wired when I walk in the wilderness. The ideas keep coming, like in a meditation. I do a lot of work on my bicycle, with my mp3 player hooked to my helmet. As I’m pedaling and getting endorphin rushes, I see many pictures which I try to describe verbally and then translate into dance theater forms.”

Mark Kanny is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

Categories: AandE | Music
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.