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11 mai 2006

Momix Channels the Circus and Other Sources of Movements

Hard-core dance audiences may mutter all they like about Cirque de Soleil on leaving "Passion" which opened the Momix season at the Joyce Theater on Tuesday night.

There are resemblances. "Passion" is as much stretched and curled athletic bodies as anything resembling traditional dance, though no one but a highly trained dancer could pull it off. Even more, the full-evening piece is a series of images from a museum tour, brought to life.

Djassi Johnson of Momix performing in "Passion" a sequence of 21 vignettes by Moses Pendleton, at the Joyce Theater.

But Moses Pendleton, who conceived and directed the suite of 21 vignettes, has a brilliant eye and mind. And it is a shock to see that the cast is a mere five tireless men and women — Djassi Johnson, Suzanne Lampl, Yasmine Lee, Steven Marshall and Brian Simerson — rather than the 20 or so performers who seemed to fill the stage.

The dancers perform behind projections, also created by Mr. Pendleton, that flow by on a front scrim, ranging from his signature sunflowers and clouds, ice floes and outright abstractions to ghostly, vaulting architecture. Kitty Daly's costumes enhance the effects with creations like pale blue puffballs, keening Renaissance women and individuals with suspiciously angling legs who turn into two people. The seamless whole is completed perfectly by Peter Gabriel's score, most of it from Martin Scorsese's film "The Last Temptation of Christ."

The pyramid sequence, in which a man sitting inside the structure is joined by a priestlike figure who materializes behind him, has a positively Jungian feel. Another sequence occurs behind an eerie painted corridor, an arcade along which sits a long row of sculptured-looking figures resembling ancient Egyptian tomb carvings. And there are images that are simply pretty and fun, among them hoops and bumbling, scurrying upright worms.

Momix will perform "Passion" through Sunday and"Lunar Sea" from Tuesday through May 28, at the Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue, at 19th Street, Chelsea; (212) 242-0800 or

Photographs by Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

Members of Momix dance in the "Troubled" segment of "Passion."

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