May 19-21, 2023 Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center continued its 20th season with the delightful Moses Pendleton’s MOMIX at The Ahmanson Theatre. The newest version of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” is a feast of creativity in a way only Pendleton, Founder & Artistic Director can do. He is brilliantly supported by Cynthia Quinn, Associate Director, and his company of dancer-illusionists Heather Conn, Nathaniel Davis, Derek Elliott Jr., Seah Hagan, Aurelie Garcia, Elise Pacicco, Jade Primicias and Adam Ross, his magical team. Adapted from Lewis Carroll’s Book, they tell a fantastical tale in only the way MOMIX can, juxtaposing reality with playful fantasy. This beautiful, wacky, wonderful work pulls one out of the doldrums and lifts the spirit, which is, after all, what the job of art is all about.

MOMIX: Alice - Photo by Sharen Bradford

MOMIX: Alice – Photo by Sharen Bradford

On the opening curtain there is a rendering of Lewis Carol with the smokey words “Who… are… you?” floating from his lips. And thus it begins…  Curtain up! Alice is sitting suspended in midair…reading a book on a Summer’s day and the mind rushes to find out how this is happening.

And so it goes for the entire performance of delightful apparitions of holographic design, not unlike an LSD trip that blurs and swirls. Soon Alice, danced by Seah Hagan, is floating and gliding through the air, her diaphanous white dress and blond tresses flying behind her, her lovely extended legs leaping without hitting the floor.

MOMIX: Alice - Photo by Sharen Bradford

MOMIX: Alice – Photo by Sharen Bradford

It is a trip, and Pendleton goes on to prove it, as Alice not only grows but doubles and triples, as she runs into characters that could only be thought up in ones dreams or nightmares. The doors shrink and grow, bodies appear and disappear. And each scene has its own delightful aspect of color, creature and illusion, overwhelming the audience’s senses with “now you see it, now you don’t.” It delights with “poofs” of Alice emerging then dropping down several rabbit holes with dresses billowing and disappearing.

Pendleton’s musical choices range from Des Chapeaux dans les Lapins by OdezenneAlix Calliet, Jacques Cormary, and Matthia Lucchini SDRM, to Cracked Mirrors and Stopped Clocks, Womb Duvet by Origamibiro – Tom Hill, Andy Tytherleigh, and The Joy of Box Music to The Lobster Quadrille by Franz Ferdinand-Alexander Huntley, Nick McCarthy, Paul Thomson, and Robert Hardy…and more. As the music supports the projections, all become holographic and we are transported into a world of the mind and spirit.

MOMIX: Alice - Photo by Sharen Bradford

MOMIX: Alice – Photo by Sharen Bradford

The dancers are exquisite, joyous, and stunning technically, with a wonderful physicality, and senses of humor as their tongue-in-cheek actions and magic seduce the delighted audience. They create a menagerie of characters, Rabbits, Mad Hatter, Baby Martians that demand the audience’s attention. The Queen of Diamonds is delightfully seductive, while the Red Queen (Seah Hagan) “flies” and tangos into twirls, spins and leaps. The LSD look-alike Lighting Design by Michael Korsch as supervised by Woodrow F. Dick III, brings each scene alive with one more dream that mesmerizes. The “cracked mirror” episode, using body images at different angles as reflected from the mirror handlers, is curious and grabs ones interest in the House of Mirrors.

MOMIX: Alice - Photo by Equilibre Monaco

MOMIX: Alice – Photo by Equilibre Monaco

The Ball-ography is also both unique and intriguing and tends to become its own form of busby Berkeleyesque multiplication onstage with projected images, finally awash with blue balls and  bodies everywhere interacting with each other. The characters are unique, heavenly things, with Rabbits ears enhancing the heads on bodies, rhythmically and spatially reaching and withdrawing, circling and crouching together.

This work is truly a feast of joyful imagination. It brought the audience to its feet and left all walking out of the theatre feeling unencumbered by the woes of the world. This is a trip you definitely want to make.

For more information about MOMIX, please visit their website.

For more information about The Music Center, please visit their website.

Written by Joanne DiVito for LA Dance Chronicle.

Featured image: MOMIX: Alice – Photo by Sharen Bradford