writers on dancing

The DanceView Times, New York edition

Cirque du MOMIX

The Joyce Theater
October 7-10, 2003
(MOMIX performed at The Joyce September 23-October 12, 2003)

By Meital Waibsnaider
Copyright ©2003 by Meital Waibsnaider

Moses Pendleton, Artistic Director of MOMIX, is no minimalist.  His 75-miniute long Passion, set to Peter Gabriel’s score for Martin Scorsese’s film The Last Temptation of Christ, exploded in a video, music, costume and prop extravaganza. From behind a gauze-like screen that hung for the entire production, Pendleton’s acrobatic dancers performed twenty-one pieces, each corresponding to Gabriel’s expansive and mostly wordless songs. Constantly changing images on the ever-present screen made it torturous to decipher the dancers’ movements. We saw that they often wore sleek unitards, over-sized capes or diaphanous cloths, and sometimes went barely-clad, but most details were lost behind the dimly lit screen and varying projected images, designed by Pendleton himself.

Throughout the program, trees, faces, Grecian statues, Buddhas, baby’s legs, ecclesiastical and secular shots—essentially everything on God’s green earth—flashed before our eyes. Accordingly, only the picture of our bulging planet, which concluded the slideshow, proved sufficiently all-inclusive to wrap things up. If only the sightline to the dancers had been as clear as the projected images.

The circus aspect of Passion, however, shone through clearly when harnesses, rhythmic gymnastic ribbons, and the kind of brute-strength partnering typically reserved for bodybuilding masters abounded. A section where long, flexible poles carried by five dancers transformed from walking sticks into a single orb when the dancers united their individual poles accentuated Pendleton’s crowd-pleasing, yet silly, theatrics.

Vignettes with storylines mingled side-by-side with more abstract offerings, which often neglected to correspond to the song titles outlined in the program, but instead displayed the dancers’ diverse acrobatic skills. One storyline vignette in particular depicted Jesus’s crucifixion in a quite literal fashion. As two women in red cloaks thrashed about on their harnesses, a man with a beautifully sculpted body hung from a central trapeze that stretched to accommodate his changing positions, which included Christ’s final pose on the cross.

Gabriel’s rhythmic score propelled the show’s momentum and, regardless of the pauses between songs, added much-needed elements of emotional depth and structural cohesiveness. Pendleton’s talented dancers, fiercely committed to producing a worthwhile performance, also did all they could to make Passion succeed, despite its nonsensical pairings of movement, music and plot. What a delight to finally see these glorious dancers when the dividing screen fell to the floor during curtain calls.

Originally published:
Volume 1, Number 3
October 13, 2003

Copyright ©2003 by Meital Waibsnaider



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The Autumn DanceView is out:

New York City Ballet's Spring 2003 season reviewed by Gia Kourlas

An interview with the Kirov Ballet's Daria Pavlenko by Marc Haegeman

Reviews of San Francisco Ballet (by Rita Felciano) and Paris Opera Ballet (by Carol Pardo)

The ballet tradition at the Metropolitan Opera (by Elaine Machleder)

Reports from London (Jane Simpson) and the Bay Area (Rita Felciano).

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last updated on October 7, 2003