The performance that was most fun to see last weekend during the fifth annual Columbia Festival of the Arts had to be Momix at Wilde Lake High School. This company of three women and two men is the brainchild of Pilobus' co-creator and hyper-creative personality Moses Pendleton.
Momix is a company of illusionists. Each dancer stretches the limits of physicality -- whether by sheer strength, solid balance or amazing fluidity of movements. Company members Cynthia Quinn, Rebecca Stenn, Annie Way, Jim Cappelletti and Karl Baaumann seem more than human.
But it was not the troupe's highly evident physical talents alone that made the audience stand up and cheer Saturday night.
Mr. Pendleton's quirky and imaginative dances are to dance what Gary Larsen's "Far Side" cartoons are to the comics: a witty, educated and off-the-wall observation of the mundane. The illusion is that Momix makes it all look so obvious and easy.
Momix presented a program of 13 dances Saturday night, most of which were choreographed by or in collaboration with Mr. Pendleton. "Spawning," featuring Ms. Way, Ms. Stenn and Ms. Quinn, was one of the delights of the first half of the evening. Balancing large, pale helium-filled balloons on their backs, each woman was like the mythic Atlas. In fact, it was the metamorphosis of the dancers in relation to this object that was so appealing. At one moment they were astride the balloons bounding across the space in mock race.
At the conclusion, the women lay on the floor and released their balloons which floated out of sight.
"Momix," Mr. Pendleton's signature solo, was given a fine performance by Mr. Cappelletti. The blending of popular dance styles and the obvious phallic implications of Mr. Cappelletti's walking stick made the audience laugh and applaud.
"Kiss Off Spider Woman" performed by Ms. Way and "Bird in My Dreams" danced by Ms. Quinn demonstrated the amazing physical flexibility of the women. "Venus Envy" and "Medusa" drew their tongue-in-cheek imagery from the clam shells and jelly-fish, "White Widow" was haunting and Gothic.
"Circle Walker," choreographed by Alan Boeding, placed Mr. Cappelletti inside Mr. Boeding's large gyroscope sculpture. Standing inside the twin arced piece, the performer at first looked like Leonardo da Vinci's famous illustration of man, then he turned cyborg or robo-dancer. Increasing speed, the sculpture moved across the space, while Mr. Cappelletti moved through and around the piece. Small wonder the audience oohed and aahed with delight.