Momix lives!

The renowned dance troupe returns to Herzliya with a retrospective production of repertory highlights.

Dance troupe returns to Herzliya (photo credit: JOHN KANE)
Dance troupe returns to Herzliya
(photo credit: JOHN KANE)
Forty years ago, Moses Pendleton and his colleagues presided over a small yet significant “big bang.” They brought together bodies, particles, thoughts, ideas, feelings and inspiration and allowed them to collide and combust. That interaction created the dance company Momix. As in any chemical reaction, the coming together of these elements changed each one of them and produced a great amount of energy, which has carried the company from its beginnings through decades of growth and continues to feed the fire that is Momix.
It was with this energy in mind that the company created Viva Momix, a retrospective production of repertory highlights. The show will be presented later this month as part of the Herzliya Performing Arts Center’s dance program.
Pendleton, now 70-years-old, loves surprises. In fact, allowing room for surprises has been of utmost importance in his direction of Momix from day one.
“When we founded Momix in 1980, I was not thinking that far into the future,” he says. “And to be honest, I still don’t! Both then and now, the expectations were to expect the inevitable surprises that happen in life and to work through them to put into positive perspectives. It amazes me to look back and think that we created this ‘organism’ of Momix nearly 40 years ago and it is still living, breathing and creating today, which is a welcome surprise.”
When he speaks of the company, Pendleton often references nature. The work is also driven by a deep appreciation and observation of nature. In all of Momix’s creations, the body is approached as a tool to emulate what is seen outside, the human form is used to mirror flowers, animals and natural phenomena, often fostering a sense of pleasing disorientation in the audience.
“I’ve always been interested in seeing how the human relates to the non-human [plant, animal, mineral, etc.]. This has emerged throughout the years in works such as Botanica, Alchemia, and Opus Cactus,” explains Pendleton. “I continue to be interested in seeing the connection of the human form to the non-human, such as turning a woman into a marigold through the use of costumes and props or creating rock sculptures out of bodies melded together. Music is also an important inspiration. I tend to think more clearly while in motion. Taking long walks in the country, Bose surround-sound in the ears. An MP3 player in hand… ‘Moses wired in the wilderness.’ In a way, I’m fishing for ideas using synesthesia. Sound helps the brain see the pictures. Some of which may be productively used later on in the dance studio.”
What has set Momix apart from other companies over the years is the creative team’s ability to endlessly push the boundaries of what is possible on stage. Momix’s productions never cease to amaze and to present the audience with an ever-evolving menu of optical illusions.
“The interest in nature stems from my upbringing on a dairy farm in northern Vermont, so those roots are there to stay. However, that’s not to say that we haven’t modernized at the same time. As technology has developed substantially since the early Momix days, we now have much more to play with in terms of lights, illusions, videography and other technical effects. I would say that the concepts and ideas are still there from the beginning though now we have different kinds of ways to realize them.”
Recently, Pendleton has encountered some health problems, which have given him a new perspective on his work. “Maintaining my physical condition is probably the biggest challenge [‘Stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive,’ as the song goes],” he says. “The challenge is to evolve, and metamorphize as the situation calls. Go with the flow, or the flower, in my case. I believe the process and whole idea of creativity in general is dependent one critical element, and that is energy. Whatever we needed to do, from the beginning up until now, revolved around creating and sustaining our life force and energy whether inside or outside of the studio. Our process has always been somewhat alchemical; taking ideas that come in from various sources, putting them together into the dance astudio [retort] and spin [mix] them into something golden.”
But, in spite of challenges, health or otherwise, Pendleton believes strongly in using the rocks in our path as steppingstones to the future. “Yesterday’s accomplishments [or lack thereof] are always today’s inspirations!
Momix will perform at the Herzliya Performing Arts Center on November 19-23. For more information, visit