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MOMIX is a theatrical dance company that has achieved worldwide acclaim for their artistic illusionist styles and energetic music-filled performances. On June 27, the company will return to New York City to perform their beloved show titled "Opus Cactus" which celebrates the iconic landscape of the American Southwest. Complete with grandiose sets and outlandish costumes, MOMIX performances are multimedia experiences that hold appeal for a wide range of ages.

Artistic Director Moses Pendleton is a Vermont-born award-winning choreographer, dancer, and photographer who has worked in theater, opera, ballet, television, and film.

For over forty years, Moses has been one of America's most innovative choreographers who, in 1971, co-founded the ground-breaking Pilobolus Dance Theater. In 1980, he established MOMIX and had been the artistic director of the company ever since.

Moses recently discussed his experiences in the theater --especially working with MOMIX--in an exclusive Interview.

Choreography

Blasting News (BN): How did you get interested in dance and when did you become a choreographer?

Moses Pendleton (MP): I was training to be an Olympic skier, not a dancer. But I broke a leg, which led me to take a dance class to help rehabilitate it. Most of the men in the class were athletes (this was at Dartmouth, which was all-male in those days). Our teacher had us create our own choreography, and three of us came up with a style that you might call moving group sculpture.

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We made the athletic aesthetic. Our dance, called “Pilobolus,” was a hit at a festival in New York, so we kept on going. This was not long after Woodstock – heady times. We warmed up a rock concert for Frank Zappa, and he called us the “theater of the very far out.” That’s how it all began. And in a strange twist, I did make it to the Winter Olympics after all, contributing choreography to the Closing Ceremony at Lake Placid in 1980 and to the Opening Ceremony at Sochi in 2014.

BN: What inspired you to start MOMIX, why did you choose that name, and how many shows have you put on to date?

MP: After ten years of collective choreography with Pilobolus, I was ready to work on my own. MOMIX is ‘a mix by Moses,’ and was the name of a solo I danced to “Rapper’s Delight,” but it was also the name of a high-protein supplement that I fed to the veal calves on the dairy farm in Vermont where I grew up, a performance-enhancing drug, you might say. But the inspiration for MOMIX is all natural. Natural ingredients, alchemical methods.

The company has been performing original work all over the world continuously since 1980.

BN: How would you describe the themes and styles of your performances?

MP: MOMIX is very physical, but also very visual. It’s imagery in motion. There’s humor; there’s beauty, there’s surreal. There’s a lot of metamorphosis, illusion, surprise, a lot of imagery drawn from nature and translated into the forms of the human body. The titles of some of our shows will give you an idea of our themes: “Passion,” “Botanica,” “Baseball,” “Alchemia,” “In Orbit,” and of course, “Opus Cactus.”

BN: You are known for outlandish props and costumes, so who do you work with to create these visually appealing aspects?

MP: A lot of it is DIY, but we’ve also worked with Michael Curry of “Lion King” fame and sculptor Alan Boeding to create props that extend the body’s range of motion. We design the costumes and fabrics with Phoebe Katzen. Lighting and music are also major elements in our shows, which are the result of creative collaboration among dancers, designers, Cynthia Quinn--who is the Associate Director of MOMIX--and me.

Theater

BN: Can you please tell us a bit about the upcoming show, "Opus Cactus" and how is it inspired by the Southwest and what can audiences expect?

MP: I still remember the first time I stepped out into the Sonora Desert on a moonlit night. I found myself in the company of Saguaro cacti. The desert cast a spell on me, and I’ve tried to bring that vision to the stage with dancers who become not just cacti but lizards, wrens, fire dancers, and more. The culture and in particular music of the Native American Southwest also shaped my approach to this piece.

BN: What was the process like to get this performance on stage and what were some of the most challenging aspects of developing and completing this production?

MP: I developed the initial ideas with the dancers of the Arizona Ballet, which commissioned a short work from me seventeen years ago. Then I took those ideas back to my home studio and developed the piece in a more MOMIX idiom. I wanted to find an approach that could convey the mystery of the desert night. That’s a very elusive feeling, a dreamy world that has to be composed delicately, with all the elements of theater coming together to produce a kind of beautiful hallucination.

BN: What kinds of projects do you hope MOMIX will be working on in ten years and would you like to mention any additional information?

MP: I see an MOMIX Without Borders--not that we’ve ever had them since imagination has no limits. I’ve been deeply into photography in recent years, and I’ve increasingly combined projected images with other lighting effects in our shows. But I believe in live theater and the collective experience of performers and audience. Live theater, and living choreographers!

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To learn more about MOMIX, visit their official website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. To purchase tickets to the show, visit the official website of the Joyce Theater.