Internationally acclaimed Momix presented Botanica for their debut performance at Ravinia Festival. Moses Pendleton understands the description and beauty of the natural world. The choreography shows a willingness to listen to that world, and the strength to share a message of its conservation. Botanica is an experience of the natural and supernatural elements of creation, earth, air, water and matter. The highly proficient ensemble with support of an inventive technical team presented an evening of lights, illusion, puppetry, and sheer physical beauty to the Chicago community.
Moses Pendleton, the artistic director of Momix, was one of the original four founders of Pilobolus. In 1981 Moses created Momix and to this day he grows as an artist, photographer, gardener, and teacher providing an organic style of movement for professional dancers that live to perform. The organics of the movement is the strength of this work. The connection between the props and or fabrics and the movement quality and intention of the dancers. They are not dancing as flowers, they are the flowers folding and unfolding to the touch of the sun and the wind. Moses is still committed to his “type” of female dancer. She is 5’2″-5’4″, 90-110 pounds, long lines, beautiful feet and an ability to manage props, garments and fellow dancers under the most distressing of elements such as costuming, darkness, shadows, fabrics and puppetry. The dancers are strong, have pure technique, dedication to gravity, an understanding of weight transferring, and the ideal timing of release.
The ensemble presents the height of their bodies as they stand on a partners shoulders, hands, thighs, and another dancers shoulders. The choreography lived with the beauty of nature pouring from the shoulders and the back. Three strong images and movement phrases come to mind. The appearance of flower petals draped over one’s back and flowing in various directions as if by the wind, dancers standing on their shoulders during assisted lifts and propelling their feet forward and down towards the earth, only to return standing on their shoulders again 5 feet off the ground, and the folding of the body in a backward arch to the floor in repetition and cannon.
The strength of Moses’s vision is his return to the procreation and creation of life, the sensuality of beings and the connection to each other. Moses explains the work in his own words, “Our work consists of a series of evocative images that extend the body in another dimension.” This communion is between evolution and the physical performance of the dancers in combination with the technical aspects of the show. The performance did leave you with a feeling of another dimension, not always harmonious, not also safe, but full with variety and beauty.