By Audrey Baran
November 5, 2015
Mornings are getting crisper and nights are getting colder here in the Queen City; summer is a distant memory, and the transition from Autumn to winter is surely coming. What a perfect time for MOMIX, a company of dancer-illusionists, to bring BOTANICA, a fantastical production depicting the changing of the seasons, to Charlotte’s Knight Theater November 19 and 20 at 8 p.m.
BOTANICA is a visual reflection of nature’s unfolding through dance, imagery, puppetry and music. One of MOMIX’s eight productions in rotation, BOTANICA is described as “an herbal remedy and natural aphrodisiac”. Over the course of an evening, seasons morph from winter back to fall through moving human sculptures, giant projected paintings, elaborate costumes and custom-made props. The sound score includes 25 pieces of music, ranging from samples of bird songs to classical Vivaldi. The dancing is organic, original, and not your average ballet. Remember that Hanes commercial with some uber-fit dancers in their underwear rolling around on exercise balls, seamlessly synchronized? Yeah, that’s MOMIX. Now in their thirty-fifth season, they are known around the world for their exquisite inventiveness and aesthetically beautiful productions. MOMIX combines human bodies to make non-human shapes, creating other worlds and guiding the viewer’s imagination on a fantastic voyage. The dancers are not just ballerinas, they also double as puppeteers, actors, shape-shifters, and, in a way, hallucinogen dealers.
For BOTANICA, Artistic Director Moses Pendleton says he was inspired by a garden of 10,000 sunflowers in Connecticut, where the company is based. Also one of the founding members of Pilobolus (the United State’s pioneering dance company in human sculpture and shadow work), Pendleton is one of the ties that bind the early post-modern work of Pilobolus to contemporary dance/theater productions, like BOTANICA. He combines the athleticism of Pilobolus with classical ballet technique, theatrical flair and technology to create an experience that is not only interesting and beautiful, but entertaining and accessible. In addition to international theater performances, MOMIX has worked in film and television, not shying away from the opportunity to bring dance into the American household. According to Pendleton, they “love to have an audience” but never compromise aesthetic interest. Keeping a dance company alive, and much less thriving, in this United State’s economy and cultural climate is no easy task, but somehow Pendleton has done it. MOMIX is “in the business of trying to stay alive”, and is one of the few for-profit dance companies in the States. They make incredible dances and they make good money. Nothing to sneeze at there!
While there is talk of this being the last tour of BOTANICA, Pendleton says to “never say never”. Some shows just lie dormant for a while; such is the case with “Opus Cactus” and “Alchemia”, which will come out of hibernation soon. They are also currently working on creating new productions in Italy and Dubai. MOMIX shows generally run for only three to four years, so you may want to make a dash to see BOTANICA before it goes to sleep, eternal or not. Just as flowers sprout, grow, wither and die, only for new life to emerge, the world of physical dance theater is on an ever-evolving cycle. Seasons change– catch MOMIX BOTANICA while you can!