Moses Pendleton, Founder & Artistic Director of MOMIX, is a man with a vision. From his historic home in Litchfield, Connecticut, complete with a horse barn-turned-dance studio and endless sunflower fields—weeded by his company members, just because—it’s east to see why the artistic vision behind MOMIX: Opus Cactus is so much more than “choreography.”
Botanica, Alchemia, and now Opus Cactus—all of Pendleton’s major MOMIX works focus on the natural. Botanica on the four season, Alchemia on the four classic elements (earth, air, fire, water), and Opus Cactus on the desert as an ecosystem all its own. “There’s a level of the surreal and dream, and making the connection with the plant, animal, and mineral,” mused Pendleton in an Unlocking Litchfield, an article more like a photo story that delves deep into the mind of Pendleton and his wife Cynthia Quinn, coincidentally MOMIX Associate Director and former dancer. It’s worth taking a look at, to see just how much of Pendleton’s work is influenced by nature in many-varied forms.
“There’s a lot of notion about what is and what isn’t choreography,” Pendleton asserts. As a professionally-trained skier, Pendleton turned to dance as a form of therapy his freshman year at Dartmouth after a soccer accident shattered his leg. Realizing that creating his own moves was more than just a hobby, he and his blue-jean clad Dartmouth peers collaborated on a piece that opened a Frank Zappa concert and solidified his career.
To Pendleton, choreography is something else entirely. “It’s organization—for me—of visual material, so that you may not be seeing dance choreography. You might not see a dancer going through choreographic patterns, but you might sense some kind of musical phrasing or various pictures arranged in certain ways that could be a dance of multimedia, or whatever it is. It’s got to be a musical experience. That’s really the only qualification.”
MOMIX: Opus Cactus brings this alternative look at choreography into the forefront. Fresh and energetic, this is Pendleton’s vision of the American Southwest, complete with cacti, slithering lizards and fire dancers. “MOMIX is not just a dance company, it’s not a group of acrobats or actors, it’s not a ballet company,” says Pendleton. “[T]hey are dancers and we attach a great deal of weight to stagecraft and lighting and temperatures in the theater. Hopefully, it’s a mix that’s intriguing and interesting for an audience.”
Experience Pendleton’s astounding choreography April 18, with MOMIX: Opus Cactus.