It's not often that a group appeals to both the jaded dancegoer and the person who's wandered into a concert by mistake, but Momix, a dance-mime-movement-magic show, accomplished this, and more, at its Saturday night performance at Tawes Theatre.
Five of the troupe's eight members, including company director Moses Pendleton, performed with Pilobolus, a more-than-dance company known for its movement sculptures, dance fantasies and manipulation of shape. Not only is this influence evident, but also just about everything from Merce Cunningham to Monty Python, all of which Momix has assimilated and transformed into something unique.
Momix's pieces are often collaboratively created, and none looks like another. The opening "Woomen" (for the most part, the titles are inscrutable) was a rambling mess, forgivable only because of the level of invention. Two primitive creatures (space cavemen?) invented fire (their wiggling toes), fenced and shot at each other with poles, turned the poles into spears into a reed through which one dancer could inflate the other, all accomplished at the pace of a Saturday morning cartoon. Presenting a contrast, "Skiva" explored the possibilities for continuous movement by dancers on skis, the two (Morleigh Steinberg and Alan Boeding) rocking back and forth, rising on the tips of the skis, undulating as though driven by tides.
Boeding is a sculptor as well as a dancer, and his "Circle Walker" used one of his sculptures, two half-circles placed at right angles, connected so the contraption can twist and turn, showing a different geometric design, depending on its direction. Boeding moved through and around his Circle, slowly, lovingly, with the skill of a gymnast.
Although everything Momix presented was imaginative, one aspect of its art is truly extraordinary. Technical director Kevin Dreyer's lighting designs, excellent throughout, were often at least half the show. In the finale, "E.C." ("E.T.'s" jive cousin), they took center stage, as Dreyer created shadows that grew and shrank, doubled, disappeared, turned man into woman into spider into hand -- it was a high-tech magic lantern show in which the dancers were the props.