Moses Pendleton, the founder of the MOMIX dance company, isn't trying to tell a traditional tale with his show "Botanica," coming to Eisenhower Auditorium on the Penn State University Park campus at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 12.
But he wants you to feel every bit of what's going on.
"['Botanica' is] the relationship of the human body, the human form, to the elements of nature," Pendleton said in a recent phone interview with the Mirror from his home in Connecticut. "It doesn't really tell a story, but hopefully it's evocative. ... It's not anything literal, but it hopes to make you feel a certain way."
The dance troupe MOMIX brings its wild visuals to Penn State Thursday.
"Botanica" features 10 "dancer/illusionists," as the show describes them - five male and five female - using props, lighting, multimedia pieces, puppetry and costumes to create a kind of living garden on stage through dance and acrobatics.
"There's four sections in the piece, and you have the feeling that you're walking through some sort of magical botanical garden," Pendleton said. "Each section has its own sort of musical curve. ... I have about 30 pieces of sounds that I put together, from bird sounds, to Vivaldi, to Peter Gabriel."
Pendleton, 64, was one of the Dartmouth College students who founded the modern dance troupe Pilobolus Dance Theater in 1971. He stayed with the group through 1980, performing on Broadway and choreographing the closing ceremonies of the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.
If you go
What: "Botanica," presented by MOMIX
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Eisenhower Auditorium, Penn State University Park campus
Tickets: $38 for adults, $15 for University Park students and $28 for those 18 and younger. Tickets available online at www.cpa.psu.edu, by calling
800-ARTS-TIX or in person at Eisenhower and the Bryce
In 1981, he founded MOMIX, serving as choreographer, dancer and artistic directer of the group, based out of Washington, Conn. MOMIX specializes in using props, costumes and more to create "illusions" through dance - in the case of "Botanica," the dancers "become" flowers, plants, trees and more.
The odd name of the troupe is a nod back to Pendleton's childhood, living on a dairy farm in Vermont.
"[MOMIX] was a milk supplement for veal calves, which I fed to my veal calves when I was a kid," he said, adding that the mix of feed relates to the dance company because, "it's the idea that it's a mix of various different kinds of styles that make up [the performances]."
In the more than 30 years of MOMIX, Pendleton has created six shows, as well as a sort of "greatest hits" show called "reMIX." Several divisions of MOMIX tour at one time, performing different shows; when he spoke to the Mirror, Pendleton said one of the company's groups had just returned from Melbourne, Australia, with 'Botanica," and another was just getting back from Italy with the troupe's newest show, "Alchemia."
"Botanica" premiered in 2009 and has toured worldwide since then. It should tour for a while yet, but Pendleton never really retires one of his works. Nor does he waste an idea.
"You gather material when you're working on a show, and if it doesn't work, you don't throw it away," he said. "You put it in the box and pull it out for the next show.
"We have several shows that we're not currently touring, but we never throw away the props."
"Botanica" may eventually be shelved, but MOMIX is staying busy.
"In December, we'll be doing 'Botanica' in Berlin, we'll be doing 'Alchemia' in Madrid and we'll be doing 'reMIX' - which is a compilation of pieces from past shows - in New York," Pendleton said.
With such a presitigious slate ahead of MOMIX, the Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State feels lucky to open the CPA 2013-14 season with the group.
"We're excited about it," said CPA Director of Marketing Laura Sullivan.
"Moses Pendleton is one of my personal favorites as far as choreographers go."
MOMIX last came to Penn State in 2009, touring the show "Lunar Sea." Sullivan said that, since then, the CPA always keeps an eye on what the dance troupe is doing and what they might be able to bring to Penn State.
"["Lunar Sea"] was popular, especially with families," she said. "MOMIX is a real family-friendly performance."
Families will be welcome at the event Penn State is holding in conjunction with the MOMIX performance: a free "movement workshop" that will be held 1 p.m. Sunday at the Penn State Arboretum at the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens. The workshop is for children ages 3 to 10 and their families and will be taught by Penn State dance instructors.
Participants, including parents and grandparents, should wear comfortable clothing. No prior movement or dance experience is required, and no pre-registration is needed.
In case of inclement weather, the workshop will be cancelled.
Mirror Staff Writer Keith Frederick is at 946-7466.