|"Millennium Skiva" was one of 14 short works performed by Momix last night at the Cutler Majestic Theatre. (don perdue)|
Momix artistic director Moses Pendleton's movement pieces (they are less dances than visual acrobatics) are each something of a one-note song. That's not to say they can't stun with their illusions or make you laugh with delight when, say, a jagged blue line morphs into five pairs of winged arms ("Bay of Seething") or a man's silhouette shrinks to a likeness of high-pitched Mr. Bill (remember the old "Saturday Night Live" animation?), smashing with a characteristic splat! to the ground ("E.C.").
But alas, of the 14 short works spanning the troupe's 25-plus years presented in last night's show at the Cutler Majestic Theatre, few went beyond the manipulation of a prop - a Hula hoop here, a bouncy rubber ball there - and into the realm of actual choreography, rich with dynamics, geometric structure, and movement phrases that add up to meaning.
We got not so much art as eye candy.
Granted, spun out by Momix's talented performers, some of those confections were mesmerizing. In "Orbit," Nicole Loizides whipped a giant hoop from around her waist to her raised wrists smooth as butter, while simultaneously traversing the stage in steps and lunges. Samuel Beckman, Todd Burnsed, and Steven Marshall, in "Pole Dance," jammed giant poles into the ground, their legs shooting out sideways or their torsos sent flying like flags billowing in the breeze.
Danielle Arico, in "Zaar," explored the myriad permutations of a flung ribbon: now it spiraled overhead, now it descended to her ankles, now she zigzagged it in near-violent cursive strokes. It's possible that Pendleton was making an allusion to the early moderns with the device, as he may have been with the spinning hoop in "Orbit," but I doubt it. The pieces were too straight, too earnest; they were missing the ironic commentary that would have shown Pendleton was reflecting back in time.
"Gila Dance" constructed a huge orange and black snake out of four men linked and slithering on the ground, each one taking his impulse from the man preceding him. "White Widow" balanced a woman in a rope sling, her pointe shoe providing the impulse to send her spinning. "The Wind Up," a whirlwind of a piece for a woman and a golden globe, conjured up the meditative spinning dances of Laura Dean, but then swirled to a literally dizzying pace, breaking the spell - and the historical allusion.
"SPUTNIK (Fellow Traveler)" posited onstage a peculiar rite: A woman sat in a kind of truncated cauldron. Three couples stuck long poles into the dish, then proceeded to hang on while they ran, flew, and embraced. It was an eye-rolling exercise. What was the point?
Yet "Millennium Skiva" and "Bay of Seething" saved the day. The first featured Burnsed and Loizides, all in silver, each atop a pair of silver skis secured by silver ski boots. The couple leaned forward to the breaking point, the place where their bodies and the skis met forming angles of perhaps just 30 degrees. One pitched into an arabesque, a ski parallel to the ground. Another fairly did a flip. They moved with the weight and texture of balls of mercury, each rebounding off the other.
"Bay of Seething," sweat-inducing as the title might sound, was a black-lit alarming-yet-whimsical romp for five. Images of duck heads transmogrified into parallel lines, which in turn became dancing capital M's or opening and closing mouths. Unlike the concert as a whole, it truly showed the best of Momix.