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Botanical Journey

The weather outside is still that of an oppressive winter, so the best way to escape from the chill may be to change the season.  The Momix performing company will do just that.  The “Botanica” show, arriving at the UC Davis Mondavi Center on the 29th and 30th of January, promises to take the audience on an excursion through the four seasons, moving the seated individual from the world they know into the dazzling world of nature.  I had a chance to interview the genius mind that started it all, Moses Pendleton, and here’s what he had to say.

So, Mr. Pendleton, do you do for the show?

I’m the director.  I put the show together for one thing, but obviously, with Momix, it’s not only dance.  It’s like a movie for live theater.  There’s uses of multimedia, sound tracks, props, etc. The soundtrack has 30-40 pieces of music.  They’re music that I’ve arranged over time.  It’s a classical music collage.  It feels like one score, hopefully (laughs).

What is the Botanica show like?

It’s a physical visual theater performed in dance and collaborative dances.  There are elements of it that set it to be more than just a modern dance.  Botanica, and Momix in general, have special costumes and props that are extensions of the human body and can go beyond what people can do.  The Botanica show will have 35-40 dancers along with multiple technicians.  It’s supposed to give a message of humans making contact with nature and animals.  The theme of the show is like going into a magical botanical garden.  The show should take you through the four seasons, starting in the dead of winter, flowing into spring, summer, then fall.  There’s no real story, but lots of action!  It’s very imaginative and filled with optical illusions.  It’s sensual, with the body as a principal.  You can try to figure out what everything means.

Our puppets and props are made by Michael Curry [The designer of the costumes on Broadway’s Lion King production].  In the show you can see humans making contact, visually, with our world.  It’s very beautiful and quite entertaining.

How did you come up with Momix?

Believe it or not, it’s actually our 30th anniversary season!  The original inspiration for the name “Momix” was from a milk supplement for calves.  It was called “Mo” and then it became a mix, I stitched it together with music.  Mix was an 80’s term.  It’s because Momix is not just dance, but uses dance and acrobatic and physical theater and lighting and sound and sets and props to create a good mix.

Were there any inspirations?

Yes.  I grow sunflowers and I’m based in the country, so I had the idea “nature nurtures” ever since I was a farmboy.  [Botanica is] Drawn from the natural world, trees, and forms of nature.  I spend a lot of time in gardens, might as well use it.  I tried to translate it into form.  Botanica is not an urban idea, it’s more of a rural one.  It’s a feeling, a connection, to the world of flowers and the secret life of trees and essential life for bees.  Whimsical and funny.  It has a lot of strange and mysterious stuff that’s hopefully engaging!

Where have you performed before?

We have 6 different shows across the globe.  Currently there are 2 in Europe and 1 in the US, the one that’ll be going to your campus [UC Davis].  We’ve been in the US, China, Hong Kong, Cairo, Moscow, Spain, and even Australia.  We just finished our 6 week tour of Brazil.  We haven’t been to Africa yet, but there’s talk of going to South Africa.  We even have a regular season on the moon (laughs).

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’ve seen the show a thousand times and I highly recommend it.  2 green thumbs up!  Come sit back and let Momix take you on a bit of a trip and if you walk out with a little less gravity in your step I’d say we did it well.

The shows will be on Saturday, January 29th, at 8PM and Sunday, January 30th, at 3PM.  Tickets start at $12.50 for Students and $25 for regular admission.  They can be purchased at http://www.mondaviarts.org/.  Their last show in Davis was back in October of 2008, so make sure you catch the show now, before it’s too late!

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