MOMIX mesperizes audiences

By: Crystal Kouns

The colorful, awe- inspiring dance illusions of MOMIX “Botanica” roused a standing ovation from the audience Saturday night at Akron’s E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall.

The magical movements of “Botanica” were part of a collaborative effort by The University of Akron and DanceCleveland.

The University of Akron dance program began the collaboration of this event with DanceCleveland over two years ago. It was decided by both organizations that a multifaceted performance with non-traditional dance moves was ideal for their audience. Both organizations agreed that the MOMIX dance company would fit the bill.

MOMIX is a dance-illusionist company created by Moses Pendleton in 1981. Pendleton, who is also the choreographer and artistic director for MOMIX, is also known as America’s most innovative and widely performed choreographer and director for more than 40 years. Pendleton’s impressive resume includes a long list of film, television and photography credits.

“Botanica,” a show that demonstrates the graceful and realistic changing of the seasons, opens up with “The Dead of Winter,” in which a snowstorm was created by a huge white sheet that lay upon the stage floor. Unknown to the audience, dancers are hidden underneath. These dancers transform this ordinary white sheet into a blazing snowstorm by the mere use of their feet.

The audience’s attention is then quickly focused on “Loons Laugh in Darkness,” a comical reverse shadow-puppet scene. The dancers’ arms and legs are covered with bright, glowing green neon paint, and are used to create swans, smiley faces and a full dancing ballerina. This scene was sheer comedy for the eyes.

“I thought it was a really unique performance. I was blown away by how precise the dancers were. The dancers, the props and the lights all worked together,” senior Theater Arts major Sam Ost said.

Another memorable scene is “Riding Old Bones,” where the skeleton of a triceratops comes out on stage ridden by a beautiful young woman. The triceratops is obviously in love with this young woman because it quickly becomes jealous of her attraction toward the young man lying on stage. In his moment of jealousy, the triceratops swallows the beautiful young woman.

“Botanica” offers several tricks for the eyes. As the season changes to spring, “Romance with Ancient Stones” surprises audiences with immobile rocks on stage that magically begin to dance. “The Worm Turns” is an extremely sensual mirrored dance in which the dancer is moving in a worm-like manner upon a large mirrored floor. At first, it appears there are two dancers on the mirror, but this is all part of the illusion.

When the season changes into fall, “The Beaded Web” proves to be a stunning visual effect. A young woman emerges with a beaded curtain surrounding her like a birdcage, attached to her head. As she begins dancing, the curtain morphs into a silvery, spinning spider wed. The dancer beautifully and gracefully executes this illusion of nature’s transformation.

One of the most vivid of all the images in “Botanica,” is the female dancers who are dressed like bright, orange marigold blossoms. As they dance, their fluffy tutus fall from being around their upper bodies to dropping down to their waist to eventually dropping down to the floor. This dance is not only symbolic of the blossoming of the marigolds, but for also for girls who are maturing into womanhood.

“It was awesome. They are precise and strong dancers. I could feel their power sitting at the back of the house. The visual effects were spellbinding,” senior Theater Arts Major Daniel Ward said.

“Botanica” is a vibrant, lush show that proves to be extremely enjoyable, even to individuals who may dislike dance. This show, with its array of colors and continuing stream of illusions, could transform the opinion of any skeptic.