Today is the final performance of MOMIX’s Botanica. Sensational and bright (with colors), with awe-inspiring intentions, Botanica is like one of those motivational posters from the ‘90s, set in motion.
- Max Pucciariello/MOMIX
MOMIX, the brainchild of choreographer Moses Pendleton, is brought to us by White Bird and has been in business (unlike a lot of dance companies, MOMIX is a for-profit organization) for over 30 years. They started in 1981, and, as already hinted at, the '80s and '90s definitely left their mark on the troupe.
The show is called Botanica, it’s not totally about nature or plants, really. It’s a lot more about illusions (a theme of the '90s—think magic eye craze ), MOMIX hinges on fancy props (credit to Portland’s Michael Curry) and costumes; they have lots of tricks up their sleeves. Some tricks include: Isolated human fists that glow in the dark and transform into baseballs being tossed across the stage; a body that looks like a kaleidoscopic, rolling on a slanted mirror; a puppet triceratops—that either devours or molests a female dancer (still unclear on that).
Of the big clients (see Hanes and Target) that MOMIX has worked for, the most telling is IMAX (they were featured in one of IMAX's first movies, from 1993, Imagine)—the visuals are impressive, nifty, and immersive, but not super affecting.
The show opens with sheets stretched across the stage, that ripple like water. Slowly dancers press against the sheets, emerging from below the sheets. In a later segment, a woman does dervish-like spins with a beaded headdress; as she spins the headdress distorts into ovals and circles, like a spirograph personified. Observe:
In other, more creepy spinning segments, a woman in a ragged dress crawls and twirls across the stage in a frenzied manner. A realtime video of her dancing projects behind her on a screen—this incited a twinge of terror, as I flashbacked to a ghost episode of Unsolved Mysteries—the projection had that trademark Unsolved Mysteries-ghost-blue, and a similar whispy video quality (I mean this. See—very distinct).
At the end of Botanica, you do feel a little thrill; the awe is there. The show is truly fantastical, and a general crowd-pleaser; on opening night, it received a full standing ovation. However you might just wish that it had a little more weight.* To see for yourself, get tickets here.
*By contrast, earlier White Bird shows this season had major gravitas; MOMIX seems an arguably nice balance to the company’s season.