In this monthly feature, Juliana Zaharevich highlights a figure in the arts who inspires her
Image(s): Explore Dance
My muse is… Moses Pendleton
He is… the founder and artistic director of MOMIX, a modern dance company based in Washington, Connecticut. Before founding MOMIX in 1980, he was a co-founder of and performer with Pilobolus Dance Theatre, which began at Dartmouth College in 1971. He is an internationally renowned choreographer and performer and has worked with such organizations as the Paris Opera, the Deutsch Opera Berlin, and the Winter Olympics, both at Lake Placid in 1980 and Sochi in 2014. He has also worked in film and television on a wide variety of projects. These include the feature film Fx2, Moses Pendleton Presents Moses Pendleton for ABC Arts, and the music videos with Prince, among many others.
I first learned about him when… I attended MOMIX’s performance of Lunar Sea at the Warner Theatre in Torrington, Connecticut at the age of five.
I am obsessed because… MOMIX’s stunning choreography (of which Pendleton is the primary creator) is elegantly emphasized in its seeming effortlessness by its genius use of all formal aspects of the theatre - lighting, costuming, and props. Some pieces, such as “Tuu” from Classics, feature dancers in minimal costuming, without props, and a general wash for lighting. The emphasis is purely on the movement, the incredible strength, and the raw power of the human body. In contrast are pieces like “Skiva” from Classics, where two performers are dressed in black bodysuits, boots, and skis. These surrealist ideas question the range of motion and movement possible within odd, yet playful constraints. Further works such as “Marigolds” and “Undecided?... Triceratops”, both from Botanica, seem to respond to the curiosity of how nature itself would move, as flowers and triceratops skeletons come to life on the stage. The result is nothing short of dream-like - the theatrical equivalent of Dali and Reidon’s wildest imaginings. It is illusionistic, even psychedelic, in its depiction of our world at its most whimsical.
My favorite works by him are… “Pole Dance” from Opus Cactus, “Aqua Flora” from Botanica (co-choreographed and originally performed by Cynthia Quinn, MOMIX co-director), and “Table Talk” from Classics. Each of these has a seemingly simple prop and costume design in comparison to some other projects but utilizes the materials presented in an imaginative way that strikes nothing short of awe in the audience.
The work by him you absolutely have to check out is… Moses Pendleton Presents Moses Pendleton, a self-narrated autobiographic film that explores the creative process and the vital ways in which theatre expresses reality, or surreality. It received over ten international awards, including a Cine Golden Eagle award and Sundance Special Jury Award. If you do get the change to see MOMIX perform any of their repertoires live, it is guaranteed to be an unforgettable evening of artistic genius, displaying nothing less than all the joy and beauty of life itself.
If you are interested to learn more, a more complete list of Mr. Pendleton’s works, achievements, and awards can be found here: