Alice by Momix is “a triumph of imagination, illusions, and special effects”

Lobster Quadrille. Photo by Equilibre Monaco

One of the most visionary choreographers, Moses Pendleton, has decided to adventure down the rabbit hole, into a magical world where the human body is continuously transformed and nothing is what it seems. In Alice, the Lewis Carroll novel is manipulated and reimagined through the vigorous and acrobatic language typical of Momix style. It is a triumph of imagination, illusions, and special effects, a mind-blowing show that is an endless metamorphosis where all dancers are protagonists.

Opening with the smoky question who are you? fluctuating over a Lewis Carroll image in the backdrop, the surreal concept expressed in Alice in Wonderland is only the starting point for an imaginary trip where all the bizarre creatures we encounter don’t necessarily belong to the original story. In Pendleton’s intentions, all dancers are immersed in the intriguing magical universe evoked by trippy colourful projections where nature is magnified, and a gallery of mysterious characters comes to life, including spiders, rabbits, and the inevitable Queen of Hearts.

Caterpillar. Photo by Equilibre Monaco
Caterpillar. Photo by Equilibre Monaco

The extensive use of props in Alice compensates the little choreography. Each stage material is intended to be an instrument to create dreams: from the gigantic blue balloons of acrobatic dancers to mobile surfaces, enchanting visual effects and creative lighting designs combined with step ladders, big red roses and floating performers – a successful mixture that grabs the spectator by the collar and unfolds a spectacular session of multiple stories that never fail to amaze. All Pendleton’s ingredients are there, the audience perception is constantly tricked by illusionistic gimmicks, one of the most effective scenes sees dancers holding giant mirrors, multiplying their image and looking like they’re defying gravity.

Costumes, curated by Phoebe Katzin, are the outstanding feature of the show, elaborate and weirdly wonderful piece of arts that turn into something different, like the long coral skirts that when pulled up transform dancers into clams and lobsters. The soundscape, a musical collage by various authors curated by Pendleton himself, plays as well a big part in the entire performance. In general, I would see a connection with the psychedelia of the 70′ and acid trips, especially in the colourful patterns and in the sometimes alienated-looking characters. A homage to that period that culminates with the final scene with Alice hanging above the stage, her massively long skirt is turned around and around, with Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit in the background. No other song would have been more appropriate for the curtain call.

Garden of Live Flowers. Photo by Equilibre Monaco
Garden of Live Flowers. Photo by Equilibre Monaco

After nearly 40 years of activity, Momix company still aims to impress, with savvy use of the multimedia, theatrical invention, stunning lights and sounds, their dance performances are unlike any other.

Alice is part of Danza in Rete Festival, a dance festival promoted by Fondazione Teatro Comunale Città di Vicenza and Fondazione Teatro Civico di Schio. Committed to promoting dance in all its ways, the Festival takes place between the cities of Vicenza and Schio, in theatres and outdoor spaces.

Reviewed at Teatro Comunale Città di Vicenza

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