MOMIX brings alchemical mix of dance and illusion to St. Louis

Moses Pendleton, founder and artistic director of MOMIX, does not have the typical background associated with a globally renowned choreographer.

Pendleton was born and raised on a farm in Vermont. Far from ballet academy, Pendleton spent his summers in Mount Hood, Ore., skiing with the Austrian ski team. This background in physical education and expression on the ski slope all contributed to Pendleton’s ultimate success with his first company, Pilobolus.

He also studied English at Dartmouth College, and combined his interest in writing and poetry with the aesthetics of athletics to eventually found MOMIX.

“All of these outside influences can tend to focus you and inform you in terms of what it is you may be doing in the dance-theater world,” Pendleton says.

Of all such outside elements, Pendleton, who considers himself to be very in touch with nature, draws a great deal of artistic energy from the elements.

“I’m very inspired, very nurtured, by nature and the outdoors,” he says. “Cold air and icy streams and fire and various things that I’m interested in and drawn to.”

Alas, Pendleton’s latest production, “Alchemia,” is aptly named, considering the ways in which he applies the core values of alchemy to his work as a choreographer. “Alchemia,” presented by Dance St. Louis, will be staged Friday and Saturday at the Touhill Performing Arts Center.

“I’ll often describe MOMIX in alchemical terms, in that you mix various disparate objects, sounds, props and images, and hopefully you go through some sort of transmutation or metamorphosis,” Pendleton says. “That’s kind of the concept of MOMIX, as a mix of these elements in an alchemical way.”

“Alchemia” doesn’t tell a story so much as it does captivate the audience with essences of intrigue, beauty, strangeness and magic. The true power of MOMIX lies in its use of lighting, props and set design to create a visual experience unlike any other modern dance troupe.

“We’re very visual theater,” Pendleton says. “I see my work as kind of initially as a sculpture or painter would see it. I try to put together bodies of images that will lend itself or relate to whatever scene we happen to be working on and then move it through time and space.”

MOMIX is entering its 36th year as a company, and this will be the troupe’s seventh visit to St. Louis.

“I’m happy to be back,” Pendleton says. “I’m a big fan of Michael Uthoff (Dance St. Louis artistic and executive director). I’ve known him for years, and he’s very supportive. The audience has always been very good, and we’ve always had a good time there. Everyone’s always enthusiastic about it.”

What MOMIX presents “Alchemia” • When 8 p.m. Jan. 29; 2 and 8 p.m. Jan. 30 • Where Touhill Performing Arts Center, 1 University Boulevard • How much $28-$50 • More info

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Alex SiegmanComment