Author: Clay Evans

MOMIX’ “Alice” is a trip

Multi-media, illusionist dance company summons the psychedelic spirit of Lewis Carroll

Moses Pendleton’sAlice,” performed by his famously illusionary, multi-media company, MOMIX, is an homage to three famous works: Lewis Carroll’s classic, psychedelic tales,Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass,” and Grace Slick’s trippy 1967 ode to their weirdness, “White Rabbit.”

Like the innocent blond girl who impulsively dives down a rabbit hole into Wonderland after a mere three paragraphs, MOMIX’s 90-minute extravaganza plunges quickly from reality — a static portrait of Carroll — into pleasant fantasy — a floating Alice reading a book on a summer’s day — and soon enough, a mind-bending swirl of phantasmagoria.

A visual spell

“You can see why I think “Alice” is a natural fit for MOMIX. We want to take this show into places we haven’t been before in terms of the fusion of dance, lighting, music, costumes, and projected imagery,” says Pendleton, who founded the company in 1981. “Our puns are visual, not verbal. It’s not modern dance; it’s MOMIX — under the spell of Lewis Carroll, who was under the spell of Alice — who was still learning to spell.”

Once down Pendleton’s own quirky rabbit hole, Alice is sometimes present, sometimes multiplied, sometimes absent; she can be large or small — or a spider. Over nearly two dozen fast-moving pieces, MOMIX’ acrobatic, versatile cast miraculously morphs into myriad, swiftly changing characters, from the Mad Hatter to the hookah-smoking blue caterpillar, the haughty Queen of Spades, and more, vividly clad in costumes ranging from nude tights and creepy bunny masks — shades of “Donnie Darko” — to red sneakers and blue-black unitards and Alice’s famous, sweetly innocent blue dress.

More than dance

As usual for MOMIX, the performers leap and spin and move through an eye-popping, brain-swirling dreamworld of kinetic, colorful props, puppets, towering projections, infinity-reflecting mirrors, and mind-twisting, occasionally eerie, video and animation.

“We’re less of a dance company than a physical, visual theater, using props and costumes to create fascinating pictures,” Pendleton says.

A drug-free trip

And of course, there’s the music, ranging from classical to Slick’s evocative — and, given the show, all but mandatory — rat-a-tat-snare-driven anthem and now almost totemic trippy lyrics:

When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead …
Remember what the Dormouse said:
Feed your head
Feed your head.

“Alice”  is itself a head-feeding extravaganza, a rush, a whirling, swirling hallucination, a kaleidoscope of illusion, movement, color, sound and sensation, courtesy of MOMIX and Moses Pendleton — a mind-bending trip, no pills or mushrooms required.  

MOMIX performs at Macky Auditorium on the Artist Series on Jan. 20, 2024.