Viva Momix showcases the best of Momix's innovative repertoire

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Viva Momix | Momix | DanceHouse | Vancouver Playhouse April 12 – 13, 2019

Impressive acrobatics, innovative props, and a playful sense of humour make Moses Pendleton’s Viva Momix a spectacular show that goes from strength to strength. While there is no narrative or theme connecting all the acts, the pace, variety, and virtuosity of this “best of” collection of 17 numbers, covering more than three decades of work, was enough to keep the audience mesmerized.  

Despite the lack of cohesive narrative, there were a few recurring themes due to the fact that some of the pieces came from the same shows. For example the flowers of Botanica were featured in, “Marigolds” with bright orange full skirts and “Man Fan” with a giant fan-like flower petal worn on the dancer’s back.

Awe-inspiring acrobatics were on display in “Tuu,” a stunning duet full of lifts and balances; and “Dream Catcher,” a duet using a unique metal structure that rolled around the stage and became a third partner. The artistry and control of Heather Magee and Jason Williams was breathtaking. “Pole Dance” was a stunning display of strength as three male dancers used long wooden poles to balance and propel themselves around the stage.

Momix is also known for their use of props and illusion. Many of the pieces involved large props that became extensions of the dancers’ bodies and visual representations of the reverberations of their movements. In the opening number, “Pleiades,” three dancers manipulate large x-shaped rods that bounce and pulse and spin creating effects that look like antennas, windmills, or propellers.

Other pieces were based on optical illusion, including “Snow Geese” which used black light to highlight only the dancers’ arms, creating fluttering, floating bird-like imagery. In “Echoes of Narcissus,” Jennifer Chicheportiche lays on an inclined mirror, creating a beautifully symmetrical illusion.

While many pieces were impressive from purely physical perspective, others were compelling for their sense of humour. In “Daddy Long Leg,” five dancers lope around the stage wearing one stilt. Dressed as cowboys, their lop-sided swagger fit the bill as they performed balances and spins while having fun with the character. “If You Need Some Body” was the perfect note to end on as it had the audience in fits of laugher watching the dancers manipulate dummies in tutus, dance with their limp partners, and toss their flailing bodies around the stage. The pure silliness and clownish fun was refreshing and not often seen in contemporary dance.  

Amidst all this virtuosity, “Paper Trails,” created for Momix’s 35th anniversary, is the piece that really won me over. Combining projections of words, scribbles, and stark lines, as the dancers used rolls of paper to cover the stage, roll themselves up and create beautiful paper sculptures, it was as if a newspaper had come to life.

Packed with the best of this company’s innovative, virtuosic repertoire, Viva Momix was constantly riveting as the inventive lighting, costumes, props, and music – all combined to create immersive fantasy worlds.

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