MOMIX ALICE Review- Dance Illusionists Extraordinnaire

MOMIX ALICE; photo by Sharen Bradford
Spread the love

Nineteenth century English logician, puzzler, poet, author, photographer and mathematician, Charles Lutwidge Dodson, known by his penname, Lewis Carroll, is especially remembered for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking Glass. These 2 volumes have been beloved by generations of children and adults alike and made into cartoons, plays and movies that inspire vivid appreciation.

However, it would be nearly impossible to find a more creative accounting than the one by the internationally lauded dance illusion company MOMIX, who brought their wildly innovative dance concert ALICE to Chicago’s Auditorium Theater for one night only on March 10, 2024, presenting a surround sound kaleidoscope of viscerally thrilling vignettes inspired by the fanciful stories. 

Twenty-two separate wonderful segments featured the 8 principal MOMIX superstar athletes in a stunning array of clever costumery, dream inducing props, credulity expanding projections- the whole a testament to the power of imagination and athleticism. Set off by an array of compelling music, much of it highly percussive, with eerie, mystical, witty, and funky sounds, the performance was a thoroughly delightful sensory experience. Particularly apt was Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit, sung in the powerful throaty contralto of Grace Slick to the last dance, Go Ask Alice.

MOMIX ALICE; Garden of Molar Bears and Other Creatures; photo by Equilibre Monaco

All the scenery and imagery hark back to Carroll’s original vision, adding masterful expansions on the dreams and the gentle nightmares as well. Characters who have slipped from memory back into the veiled land of childhood storybooks- for this reviewer 6 decades past- emerge again as Carroll himself swings Alice on a ladder/seesaw into the realms of hallucination as they become a living propeller. People are shaped like animals; sea creatures dominate the landscape. In The Tweedles, adults wear oversized and subtly garish sideways-tilted baby masks, and enormous cards form the backdrop over and over, while mirrors reflect divergent versions of selves. All the Alices are puppets, all the mysterious lovely ponytailed girls become tall, taller, tallest or shrink low after they slide down the rabbit hole. 

In one of the memorable pieces, Trip of Rabbits gave off vapors of black humor while the slightly malignant bunnies formed the stuff of night terrors. In another, Advice From a Blue Caterpillar, the hookah pipe-smoking creature breaks apart into exercise/balance balls; the dancers dribble them with one hand, then twohanded, lean on them, double them up. 

MOMIX ALICE; Queen of Diamonds; Photo by Equilibre Monaco

It’s fascinating to watch and realize that what you are seeing is not sleight of hand or mistake of eye, but dance technique carried to its ultimate form of expression, graced by art. For example, in Lobster Quadrille, fabulous black and red hoop skirts are pulled up over the head to form heart-shaped carapaces, then can be released down to swirl and flourish around impossibly graceful feminine forms.

In the Q and A at the end of the evening, several of the performers congenially discussed the steps involved in the creation of the show, emphasizing that it was a collaborative process with MOMIX Artistic Director Moses Pendleton welcoming their collective input as the initial concept is shaped into danceworks that evolve over time. In Pendleton’s words, “As with every MOMIX production, you never quite know what you are going to get. Hopefully, audiences will be taken on a journey that is magical, mysterious, fun, eccentric and much more…We see ALICE as an invitation to invent”. 

MOMIX ALICE; Caterpillar; photo by Equilibre Monaco

Special kudos to Associate Director Cynthia Quinn, Lighting Designer Michael Korsch, Video Designer Woodrow F. Dick, Costume Designers Phoebe Katzin and Beryl Taylor, and Puppet Designer Michael Curry for the amazing crawling creepy huge spider.


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.