Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Momix at the Joyce

I figured seeing Momix would be a weird and wonderful experience, but I didn't realize how weird and how wonderful. Perhaps that article I read that associated it with Cirque du Soleil threw me off a bit, because this was considerably different. As I watched the show this evening at the Joyce Theater with M., I kept coming up with different reactions: "This is crazy." "This is weird." "This is stunningly graceful." "This is spooky." "This is grotesque." "This is strange." "This is strangely funny." I'm serious: each new segment in the 90-minute program just added to the feeling that what I was watching was otherworldly. Yes, the ensemble's work is grounded in dance, and the show is running at a theater devoted to dance, but Momix is as much about illusion as they are about captivating movement of the body.

The work we saw, "Lunar Sea," really does make you feel like you're watching a dance on the moon. A transparent scrim stands at the front of the stage throughout the performance, and trippy, kaleidoscopic gradually changing images are projected onto that scrim. This slight blurring of the rest of the stage really allows the "dancer-illusionists" to employ unseen harnesses, wires, stairs, curtains, and scooters (I think) to produce stunning and at times seemingly weightless designs. Most of the evening's costumes were partially black and partially covered in white, luminescent fabric; the black was barely visible at all — it blends in with rest of the darkened stage — so the white is all you see. There are of course moments when you can see the harnesses or the different people in black working together to create the illusion of floating in air, but so often throughout the show, I was just dumbfounded, thinking, "How are they doing that?"

Besides their own bodies, the dancers use puppets the likes of which I've never seen before. They aren't anthropomorphic like you'd normally imagine puppets to be, but instead they create lit, geometric designs that bob and weave and twist and grow and shrink as if they were being controlled by a laser machine in a planetarium. That's one of the sentiments I kept coming back to: Here are visual spectacles that look like they had to have been produced by some computer somewhere, and yet it's all done with light and dark, people and costumes and practically invisible sets and physical puppetry. The tickets were a bit pricey, but by the end, I felt it was totally worth it: How often do you see something not quite like anything you've seen before?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am one of the dancers who performs Lunar Sea. At this point, I've performed the show 266 times since its creation (of which I helped). After doing it so many times one can really become jaded. It's grounding to hear an audience perspective point and know that people really are mystified and entertained by the images we work so hard to create. Thank you for your blog.
P.S.- Check out the website, I think you'll enjoy it.