Momix Comes Up to Bat at the Joyce
Reiter, Susan, Dance Magazine
NEW YORK CITY--"I never really saw myself as just a choreographer," observes Moses Pendleton, the artistic director of Momix dance company, which returns to the Joyce Theater in New York City from December 13 to January 1. Pendleton comes up with the terms "visualist" and "fantasist" when discussing his work. Momix's Joyce Theater program will offer a mixed bill; the full-length Passion (1991), set to a score by Peter Gabriel; and a major new work on the theme of baseball.
The baseball premiere, still untitled at press time, had its origins in 1992 as a twenty-minute work commissioned for the opening of the Scottsdale Center for the Arts, in the Arizona city where the San Francisco Giants are based for spring training. In preparing the piece, the Momix dancers worked out with the ball players ("We got dressed in the manager's dressing room," Pendleton recalls) and drew on baseball movements for the choreography. Known for original and imaginative work with props, Momix found a multitude of possibilities in the "three icons" of baseball--bat, ball, and glove. Pendleton felt that the first version of the piece represented "a couple of innings" and saw the potential for extending it to the equivalent of a complete game.
His choice of baseball as a theme for the Joyce season turned out to be especially timely, given the 1994 ballplayers' strike and the historical perspective provided by Ken Burns's massive PBS series on the subject. "It's an interesting time to be working on this, because the sport itself is being redefined," he remarks.
Speaking while in the midst of rehearsals for the new work, Pendleton describes his approach as "taking the spirit, the essence of the game, and redefining it." He envisions the completed work with a structure that parallels the baseball season. He mentions a "dark" section that suggests the strike and its effects and also alludes to broader possibilities. "It's open to fantasy, and it will be interesting to see how surreal you can get with it." The sound collage he is preparing will include the national anthem, as well as other, less likely elements, and Pendleton has collected weeks' worth of baseball headlines from the back pages that he hopes to incorporate into the work as slide projections.
Momix, which is now fourteen years old, tours a great deal, much of the time in Europe. These days the eleven-member troupe splits itself in half so that one contingent can perform on tour while the other remains back home, in Washington, Connecticut, to work on new material. …