The repertoire this season was handpicked from a smorgasbord of several previous programs, but also included a impressive new work called “Paper Trails.” More of that gem later.
MOMIX director Moses Pendleton’s choreography borders on the gimmicky, but somehow he morphs shtick into beauty (with a few exceptions) using every illusory stage trick at his command. Musical accompaniment tends toward the cinematic or classically orchestrated pop. Of the seventeen short works several stand out:
“Tuu,” a duet performed by Jonathan Eden and Sarah Nachbauer to eerily dark music by Martin Franklin, is an extended, sexy wrestling match between two on-again/off-again lovers who use each other for precarious balances, lifts and sculptural poses. At one point he manipulates her as she descends into a deep plié, turning her by twisting her head. A lighter view of romance was “Dream Catcher” in which Heather Magee and Jason Williams ride upon a large sculpture constructed of bent metal pipes. They roll the sculpture about the stage in amazing ways, rarely actually touching, just using each other’s expertise to manipulate the device to express their happiness.
Several facets of maleness are explored. “Pole Dance,” is well titled. Three men—Mr. Eden, Anthony Bocconi and Jason Stainback—are armed with long vaulting poles, using them to frame themselves and to bound about the stage with virility. “Table Talk” displays Mr. Williams’ extraordinary control as he hangs off a very steady table, winking at the audience in the middle of a difficult balance. In “Man Fan,” Mr. Eden smoothly crisscrosses the stage carrying a beautiful, billowing kite-like cape which floats high and undulates in a fantastic dance of its own. Three men turn into cartoonish cowboys, complete with one wooden leg each in “Daddy Long Legs,” probably the weakest work on the program.
The women have their turn, too. In “Marigolds” Jennifer Chicheportiche, Simona di Tucci, Heather Magee Spilka, Jocelyn Wallace and Ms. Nachbauer wear multi-layered pink confections that, moved up and down their bodies, transform the three ladies into ostriches, chic ballroom dancers and abstract shapes that hide their bodies in humorous ways. In “”Baths of Caracalla,” the four women shimmy to Latin rhythms as they shook their loose, white skirts in fanciful ways, producing one charming image after another.
Ms. Nachbauer, lying atop a mirrored structure, turns “Echoes of Narcissus” into a sensual study of self-involvement, the mirror echoing and exaggerating her ego. Ms. Chicheportiche is equally shown to advantage in “Aqua Flora.” Wearing a strange bonnet from which floor-length strings emanated, she whirls, dips, jumps, the strings flying out in all directions.
In “Paper Trails” vast amounts of paper, projections and agile, half-naked dancers create a dream world that somehow resonates with the subconscious with its surreal barrage of words, lights and movement.
The program ended with the boisterous “If You Need Somebody” danced to a Bach “Brandenburg Concerto.” The full company whirled, jumped, fell, skipped, all while holding full-size dummies that were tossed and caught with sparkling timing.
Ultra-violet light, complex costumes, nudity and brilliant lighting by a staff of designers plus ultra-professional stage management keep this show moving smoothly vigorously.
MOMIX: 2018 Season (through August 12, 2018)
Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 212-242-080 or visit http://www.joyce.org
Running time: two hours including one intermission