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18 février 2006

Momix show may be as quirky as its founder

Dancer-choreographer Moses Pendleton, who helped found the ground-breaking Pilobolus dance company before creating his own troupe, grew up on a cow farm in New England.

The world of modern dance may as well have been in Borneo as far as the young student Pendleton was concerned. He figured he'd go to college, follow his dad's wishes and major in large-animal veterinary medicine. That, or become a professional snow bum.

"I was a downhill racer," said a very upbeat and playful Pendleton, 56, from his home in Vermont.
"That's all I wanted to do. Then I broke my leg (at age 18), and I took a dance class at Dartmouth as part of my therapy to recuperate. And that was how it all started. It was never planned. I owe it all to a broken leg. Life is just series of accidents."

Make that beautiful, eye-dazzling accidents in Pendleton's case.

On Monday night, Pendleton's Momix company will perform a dance concert called "Momix: Passion" as part of the Seven Days of Opening Nights arts festival. The "Passion" dances are set to the exotic, Middle East-inspired music Peter Gabriel wrote in 1989 as the soundtrack for the Martin Scorsese film
"The Last Temptation of Christ."

"I just loved that score when I first heard it, and I could close my eyes and see the dance," Pendleton said.
"(Gabriel) came to the premiere when we performed it in London. . . . He said the dance helped him re-hear the score. He heard it in a new way."

Then Pendleton steered the conversation back to one of his favorite topics - cows.

"You know Peter grew up on a dairy farm in England," Pendleton said.
"We had a long talk about Herefords and Holsteins over lunch at his house in Bath. We had mutual dairy interests."

The name Momix, by the way, was taken from a feed supplement given to, what else, cows. He even jokingly refers to himself as a "cow-oeographer" because early films of his work show him running through a field of cows wearing a sheet.

These days, Momix shows are high-tech, multi-media affairs that are part Cirque de Soleil and part Twyla Tharp and part trippy light show. Dancers are suspended from ropes. Slide shows keep the images coming.

"Sit in the back of the auditorium when you go to the show," Pendleton said.
"You can see more that way. The farther you get from Momix, the more you like it."

Momix is a global business. Pendleton keeps several shows out on the road in such locales as Las Vegas and Italy. He's always looking for new dancers.

"If you have any good dancers down there (in Florida) send them up to New York for our auditions in May," Pendleton said. "The only thing is that we don't say break a leg before shows."

Article published Feb 17, 2006 By Mark Hinson

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