Step into the fantastic world of the unconscious as Dance St. Louis presents the innovative dancer-illusionists of 35-year-old internationally lauded company MOMIX, staging an astonishing new show, “Alchemia,” on Jan. 29 and 30 at the Touhill Performing Arts Center. MOMIX founder and artistic director Moses Pendleton recently gave LN insight into this creative concoction with a “golden goal.”
Describe what audiences can expect from “Alchemia.”
Expect the unexpected – a series of images and interactions that are beautiful and strange and magical.
What inspired this show?
I always have been fascinated by the idea of metamorphosis. I see the natural world as a scene of continuous transformation – I see the human form connected to the forms of plants and animals and even minerals. I came to realize that alchemy is really the great metaphor for dreams of transformation, including of the inner self. Like so many others before me – from ancient times, I plunged myself into alchemical studies, and the studio became a kind of laboratory for me. Alchemy, which is the art of transforming base metals into gold, is above all a process – involving manipulation of the elements of air, earth, water and fire. It’s a quest – a creative journey toward a golden goal.
Tell us about the dancers.
There are 10 – though you may think there are more – highly trained dancers in an illusionist set. The illusions come from lighting, props and costumes. The dancers are probably able to enter the nonhuman realm more easily than most performers who dance. Their improvisational inventiveness helped create the show.
Describe some of the imagery in store for this show.
We use lighting to sculpt imagery. The props and costumes are extensions of the body into space. There are almost 30 different musical tracks, from chanting and drumming, to excerpts from Ennio Morricone’s score for “The Mission,” to the natural sounds of Atlantis sinking slowly beneath the waves. All these elements serve to combine the body with things beyond the body to create a multisensory spectacle.
What is involved in preparing for the show?
It took a year of research and six months of rehearsal. The critical part came when we put all the elements together in a typically alchemical way: mix, apply heat, distill.
How is this show unique among live performances?
The MOMIX trademark is fantasy. We offer beautiful hallucinations, extraordinary dancers and a touch of humor. It’s a theater of dreams.
When: 8 p.m. Jan. 29; 2 and 8 p.m. Jan. 30
Where: Touhill Performing Arts Center
Tickets: $30 to $50
Information: 314-534-6622, dancestlouis.org