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Dance Review

Momix's Energy Makes All Its Oldies Seem New Again

May 08, 1999|VICTORIA LOOSELEAF | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Is it a bird? A plane? No, it's Super Momix, the indefatigable dance company that blew into the Irvine Barclay Theatre on Thursday with a 10-part program of golden oldies. Of course, under Moses Pendleton's inspired artistic direction, everything old is new again, or so it would seem, as each work crackles with clarity, precision and awesome physical power.

Amazing grace also characterizes many a Momix piece, especially when made on the women. The previously reviewed "Orbit," choreographed by Erin Elliott and Pendleton, again took off, this time with spitfire Charlaine Katsuyoshi brandishing the hoop. A kinetic tour de force, the dancer undulates within a whirling hoop as she furiously moves around the stage.

Katsuyoshi joined Suzanne Lampl and Claire Kaplan in 1986's "Spawning," a portrait of erotic sea nymphs bobbing about with balloons, to the music of Peter Gabriel.

In "The Wind-Up," an excerpt from Pendleton and Cynthia Quinn's evening-length "Baseball," Kaplan proved a solo prestidigitator of the highest sort: Spinning at incredible speeds, she created a beautiful blur, passing a globe from hand to hand or wielding it victoriously above her head. A more languorous Kaplan was suspended from a harness in 1990's aerial dance, "White Widow," another Pendleton-Quinn number, replete with no-arm cartwheels and sumptuous backbends.

Lampl worked her whimsy with the crowd-pleasing "Medusa," in which she maneuvered an umbrella under a wig-topped piece of billowing fabric in this 1985 Pendleton-Quinn creation.

Not to be outdone, the men pursue a gymnastic agenda: "Jonas et Latude" (1996), performed by Tim Acito and Brian Simerson, is a comical take on the prison bunk bed. With sound effects and Vivaldi as backdrop, they bounce, swing and shake the rafters of their steel cot environment.

Acito does an upright breast-stroke while sliding on the floor, in obsessive control, wearing plastic socks in 1996's "Underwater Study #5." "Tuu," a Shiva-like duet, features lotus positions and mighty partnering, in which Acito and Lampl create a commanding tableau of entwined limbs.

In "Skiva," Acito takes to the slopes with Katsuyoshi, the duo leaning out from skis in Pendleton's mind-bending notion of gravity.

The finale, "E.C." as always, delighted with Pendleton's ingenious shadow play, as the company's bodies morph from sunflowers and spiders to newborn babes and clouds. There are several circuses currently in town also presenting splendid sideshow-like acts; Momix, however, is the only troupe that continues to offer a concentrated blend of the superhuman and lyrical with the artistic.

* Momix repeats this program today, 2 and 8 p.m., Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive (949) 854-4646. $12.50-$25.

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