Mad and marvelous Momix

November 14, 2004|JENNIFER BRUMMETT

Steven Marshall bubbles over with enthusiasm for his job as a dancer with Momix. The Long Island native has been with the company for a year and a half, joining after the group's founder, Moses Pendleton, asked him to give Momix a try.

"I started dancing at (a conservatory in Connecticut)," says Marshall. "At the same time, Moses Pendleton's daughter, Quinn, was attending. She was a ballet partner.

"I knew about Momix since I joined dance school at 14. I grew up with Momix."

Eventually, Pendleton asked Marshall to stop by his studio and try out some of the unique dancing that is Momix. Soon thereafter, an opening came about on the tour, and because Marshall knew the choreography, he was asked to join.

"So I packed up and went off on tour," he notes. "Joining Momix caught me off guard. My aspiration when I was really little was to be a world-traveling dancer. I didn't think it would come as soon as 18 years old. That caught me off guard.


"I'm living my dream right now. It is totally amazing and I'm really enjoying it. I'm planning to keep on dancing and seeing how far this would go. I am enjoying my time in Momix."

Company of "dancer-illusionists"

Momix is a company of "dancer-illusionists" under Pendleton's direction. It has been lauded for its ability to conjure surrealistic images using props, light, shadow, humor and the human body.

Pendleton co-founded Pilobolus Dance Theatre in 1971. He choreographed the closing ceremonies at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid and performed his solo "Momix" then. It became the name of the dance company he founded the following year.

Momix is a touring company that does not have one permanent stage that it dances on, Marshall says. "All the company does is tour, mostly internationally," he adds. "Momix has been all over Europe, and is really popular in Spain and Italy. ... It may have maybe up to three dance troupes in three different areas at one time.

Momix will perform "Opus Cactus" Tuesday, which Marshall describes as a "very, very, very unique show." "It's colorful," he notes.

"There are a lot of illusions using lights and stuff, and a lot of visuals of, like, the desert and all desert images. It is really, really quite fascinating."

A favorite moment for him in "Opus Cactus" is a piece titled "Men's Poles."

"Each of us is holding one nine-foot-long aluminum pole, and we vault around the stage with didgeridoo music," explains Marshall who has been on the road less than a month. "It's really amazing. We're basically just vaulting around, flying through the air."

Unique choreography

Marshall says the company's choreography is unique, in part because it is not a specific type of dance. "There are a lot of gymnastics and it is really athletic. It is really quite different. I'm classically trained in ballet, and it's not really ballet, although it uses ballet elements.

"We use a lot of props and a lot of partnering. We have (partners) on our shoulders and we have to move around. (The challenge is) building up the strength and endurance. It takes, really, a lot of practice and hard work. And we have to work really hard to adjust to props."

Despite the hard work and grueling schedule, Marshall loves the choreography. He says he likes being able travel throughout the world. "It is quite incredible, the places you go and see," he notes. "Being in this company brings you so much experience.

"The show is just really such a beautiful show. I'm so proud to be part of the company and this dance troupe. Words can't put how happy I am to show this form of art to people. When someone comes and sits down (at a performance), it is a moment they won't forget. The first time I saw Momix, it took my breath away. ... It was an experience - it really was."

Marshall recommends Momix's Tuesday performance at Centre College because of its uniqueness.

"And really, on a broad scale, it is for all ages, for anyone with any type of interest in the arts. It falls in common with every single art form - all the illusions, all the comedy. It probably is one of most entertaining shows I've seen and performed in."

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