Experiencing Momix always reminds me of Harrison Bergeron, the protagonist in Kurt Vonnegut’s classic short story of the same name.
Bergeron is an athlete and a dancer in a future world where equality is absolutely enforced by a Handicapper General. Smart folks are dumbed down with sonic implants that prevent sequential thought, handsome people are hideously masked, and the talented and agile are burdened with weights to assure that they will leap no higher and pirouette no more beautifully than do the dull and clumsy.
One day, Bergeron sheds his bonds and liberates a partner. Shorn of constraint, and almost transcending gravity, the pair sails and soars in a dance more kin to light and sound than to flesh and bone. With weight-trained muscles set free; they leap and kiss the ceiling 30 feet overhead; leap and kiss each other suspended in the ether of liberation; leap from prohibition into the possible, until the authorities gun them down.
Momix, a dance company led by director and founder Moses Pendleton, long ago slipped the grip of gravity — both that inexorable function of planetary mass, and the less tangible (if more binding) constraints of mental habit.
The definition of dance itself is up for grabs when Momix takes the stage: Puppetry, robotics, architecture, geodesics and magic come into play, coupled with the supplest grace and acrobatic acumen to be found in any professional dance company.
Yes, I am a Momix fan, though I came to this place as a deep-dyed Pilobolus fan. No surprise there, given that Pendleton is a co-founder of that world-renowned company as well.
But I am not, I herewith cautiously admit, a baseball fan. Bo-ring. And, for me, the sports connection tinged the troupe’s upcoming Diana Wortham Theatre performance with a shred of doubt. Baseball? Momix? Dancing about baseball? Oh, dear.
I’m happy to report that reviews from across the country are helping to erase my doubt. In fact, Lewis Segall, writing in The Los Angeles Times, suggests that Pendleton may have reached his zenith in this production.
Observes John Coulbourn in the Toronto Sun: “Witty, naughty, sexy and often irreverent, it is still obviously an homage from someone who worships joyfully, slavishly and often at the altar of the major leagues. Influences are many, from cereal boxes to Botticelli and Michelangelo, all of them bent to the glory of this game.”
As one who grew up reading cereal boxes (as well as Vonnegut) cover to cover, and ever an admirer of Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” (or, as some of us like to call it: “Venus on the Half-shell”), I am stoked.
Momix in Orbit, last season’s offering at Diana Wortham, remains stellar in my memory. And Passion, a co-creation of Pendleton and musician Peter Gabriel, includes the most artfully sensuous dance passages I have ever seen.
So, hell yes, I’m ready to play ball. I’m ready for Momix to leap like a right-fielder for a fly against the wall, to swing when it’s low and outside, and to blast it out of the park. I’m certain this troupe can clear the bases, because, as Vonnegut wrote in that other context, “They leaped like deer on the moon.”
Momix: Baseball shows at 8 p.m. at Diana Wortham Theatre on Tuesday, Feb. 24 and Wednesday, Feb. 25. Tickets cost $30/general, $28/seniors and students, $10/children. For information and reservations, call 257-4530.