Innovative dance-illusionists Momix to perform at Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts


Momix, a dance troupe that combines artistry, illusion and acrobatics, will perform its latest work, "Opus Cactus," on Friday, Jan. 24 at 8 p.m. at Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. An "Art to Heart" question and answer session with the company will take place after the performance.

"Opus Cactus" was choreographed by Momix founder Moses Pendleton, who also co-founded Pilobolus Dance Theatre. Asked to create a piece for the Arizona Ballet, Mr. Pendleton immersed himself in the sights and sounds of the Southwest. In this production, he presents his vision of the flora and fauna of the region, most memorably in dancer Kara Oculato's solo "Cactus Wren," and "Gila Monster," which features Pi Keohavong as the head of a slithering four-man lizard.

"Opus Cactus" makes ample use of props, including a hammock that allows the dancer to sway not just side to side, but vertically and diagonally. "Dreamcatcher" includes a looping metal sculpture reminiscent of a tumbleweed on which dancers Brian Sanders and Craig Berman carom around the stage to the other-worldly sounds of an Australian didgeridoo.

The pieces show the artistic beauty and technical skill that's been a hallmark of Momix since its inception in 1981, as well as the cunning imagination that Mr. Pendleton infuses in all of his works.

Born on a Vermont dairy farm, Mr. Pendleton gained his earliest performing experiences exhibiting Holstein cows at the Caledonia County Fair. The 1967 Vermont State Cross-Country Ski Champion, he received his bachelor's degree in English literature from Dartmouth College in 1971, the same year he co-founded the Connecticut-based Pilobolus Dance Theatre. In the 1970s, Pilobolus won worldwide acclaim for its innovative blend of acrobatics and imagination. The company won the Berlin Critics Prize in 1975 and Pierre Cardin presented the group on Broadway in 1977.

Mr. Pendleton began working outside of Pilobolus in 1980 when he choreographed the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y. He also performed a solo called "Momix" at the Games, lending the name to the new company he created the following year.

Mr. Pendleton is in demand as a choreographer, having created and staged works for the Deutsche Opera, the Ballet de Nancy, the Vorbuhne-Zurich Theatre, the Romanian National Gymnastic Team and many others. He has also contributed choreography or danced solos for the Munich State Opera, the Metropolitan Opera and recording artist Prince's "Batdance" music video.

Deborah Sommers, the Quick Center's director of programming, said she was pleased to have Momix as part of the Quick Center's popular Dance America series.

"The Dance America series is one of the Quick Center's most successful series and every season we bring different aspects of dance to our audiences," Sommers said. "Presenting and supporting dance performances is important to me and, despite rising costs, securing them for our audiences has been a priority."

Tickets range in price from $25 to $40. For tickets, call the Quick Center box office at (203) 254-4010 or toll free at 1-877-ARTS-396.

Editors: Several photos are available via e-mail.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on November 14, 2002