Magical Momix

    It is pure indulgence for the eyes when nature is transformed into interpretive art. The southwestern Sonoran Desert of Arizona becomes a sensual and artistic illusion in “”Opus Cactus,”” a contemporary dance by the phenomenal dance group Momix. The mélange of Joshua Starbuck’s lighting design and the dancers’ circus-like techniques give the audience a delightful experience of potent visual sensations. “”Opus Cactus”” is an open window through which to view the bountiful and beautiful mysteries of the desert in the form of imaginative dance.

    Courtesy of University Events Office
    Animal magnetism: Lively dancers from the dance troupe Momix exude energy and passion as they perform artistic representations and interpretations of the Sonoran Desert. This unique dance experience comes to UCSD’s Mandeville Auditorium on Oct. 17.

    The performance almost literally takes the many different and interesting life forms found within the cosmic ground of the southwestern desert and places them upon Momix’s stage in the form of astonishing human physical talent.

    The dancers are, to say the least, mesmerizing as an ensemble from a variety of backgrounds in ballet, acrobatics, gymnastics and modern dance. Among these performers is Kara Oculato, a classically trained dancer who defies biological limitations of the human body. She and the other “”Opus Cactus”” dancers disguise themselves as dream-like images of desert plants and animals, all of which are products of the choreographer Moses Pendleton.

    The 1998 recipient of the Connecticut Commission on the Arts’ Governor’s Award and the magic brain behind many successful dance orchestrations, Pendleton has received great admiration for this new contemporary art piece. He put together an array of “”dancer-illusionists”” on a simple stage to represent and bring forth the beauty of a desert clearly hidden behind its own vastness.

    With snakes slithering across the stage, Gila monsters ferociously roaming about the background and tumbleweeds lightly tumbling, “”Opus Cactus”” imitates the life forms of the southwestern desert with ease and success, thanks to the dazzling costume work of Phoebe Katzin, sculptural art of Alan Boeding and clever puppetry of Michael Curry.

    A performance of two parts and a total of 19 segments, “”Opus Cactus”” gives Momix a chance to give the audience what it does best ‹ transform fantasy into reality.

    In one of the segments, the purely Momix-esque duet “”Dream Catcher”” enacts a surreal dream of the nightly stars positioned within the background of the Sonoran Desert in which they expel away bad dreams in search of good ones. Another fiery sequence is “”Sundance,”” in which four women (dancers Kori Darling, Nicole Loizides, Kara Oculato and Cynthia Quinn) incorporate large taut fans attached to their costumes into a smooth dance. Momix surprises the audience with how very simple (and sometimes even plain) props can bring forth intricately woven dances.

    Among these segments, “”Opus Cactus”” embeds many ritual dances, including fire dancing and spinning poles.

    Dark silhouettes against bright skies, grand statuesque cactuses and sexy slithering snakes in the dances all encompass a sense of sensuality Momix found in the desert.

    Known for its ingenuity and glamorizing of natural physical wonders, Momix does it again with its musical soundtrack. “”Opus Cactus”” is set to this variety of New Age, classical, traditional and modern music. An eclectic medley of music from different backgrounds, the soundtrack consists of music from Johann Sebastian Bach, Brian Eno, Douglas Spotted Eagle, an Australian aboriginal group and Dead Can Dance. The specifics of the music do not matter, however, since the focus should be on the entirety of the contemporary dance.

    The imagination of Momix, via Moses Pendleton and his crew, has no boundaries. Simplicity can transform into natural intricacy, plain props into elaborate dancing tools, and natural human bodies into bending works of art.

    Fortunately, Momix is coming back to UCSD with “”Opus Cactus”” to dazzle its guests with its explosion of colors, music, beauty and, more importantly, dance. Be prepared to settle down to a corporeal celebration of the Sonoran Desert and all its natural beauty.

    This theatrical dance performance is split into 19 segments and will take place at Mandeville Auditorium on Oct. 17 at 7:30 p.m. General admission tickets are $25, $15 for students, and $24 for faculty, staff and senior citizens.

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