MOMIX presented "Alice," Moses Pendleton’s dance-illusionist extravaganza inspired by Lewis Carroll’s "Alice in Wonderland" at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami Dade on Sunday, Feb. 5. "Alice" is a surrealistic tale filled with short prop-and - costume driven vignettes.
"Act 1: Down the Rabbit Hole" begins with a projection of a river and manicured landscape. The first of four Alices sits on a horizontally suspended ladder reading a book with her character’s name printed on it. As she reads, the ladder begins to spin aided by another dancer. Her feet graze the floor as the ladder turns. So begins her journey down the rabbit hole.
The various vignettes display an assortment of psychedelic images with the Alices entering and exiting the stage, often with a look of wonder and incredibility as the collective she encounter a herd of rabbits "A Trip of Rabbits," The Cheshire Cat whose eyes swirl until the swirls evolve into a spiral pulling us in.
"The Tweedles" pairs Bollywood music with four dancers in oversized white cut-out baby masks. The combination elicits laughter especially when two "babies" perform a series of hip swings.
"The Mad Hatters" appear in oversized yellow and red hats which at times seem to engulf them. The hats are used as props to disappear into and cartwheel over. As the mad hatters exit the stage, one hat is left behind spinning as one of the Alices appears.
The next three vignettes consist of a profusion of queens: "The Queen of Diamonds,” “The Queens of Clubs Versus The Queen of Spades,” and "The Mad Queen of Hearts.”
The Queen of Diamonds appears from above as she spinns her way unto the stage. She performs an aerial dance that includes an impressive number of mid-air leaps.
The Queens of Clubs Versus The Queen of Spades pit each queen against the other. They appear as formable enemies each standing tall and straight between two dancers lying prone and traversing the stage on rolling platforms. It’s a mildly ominous rivalry ending without a clear winner.
The Mad Queen of Hearts lives up to her reputation. Dressed in a red bell-styled dress and with her hair pointing out in every direction, she travels across the stage as a diminutive figure in an apparent state of agitation which boils over in a gut-wrenching scream.
"Cracked Mirrors" is the most trippy piece in the program and involves reflective props and the use of lighting. They come together to create disorientation. Four dancers perform a duet with their reflected image, which creates a strange but intriguing dance.
"Act II: Through the Looking Glass" begins with four girls with umbrellas enjoying some time on the beach. "There is Another Shore" is calmness in the midst of a state of busyness. As the dancers drift off the stage, one of the Alices rolls from the sea and then is transported "Into the Woods.” Between trees with overhanging branches, two couples perform duets with lots of lifts and overhead formations of the dancer’s legs.
In “Looking Through Stained Glass" the dancers' costumes create a cathedral stain glass effect. Three dancers ( with an Alice on either side of the stage ) carry out a meditative tableau that is almost spiritual.
“Go Ask Alice" is set to the song "White Rabbit" with words and music by Grace Slick of the band Jefferson Airplane. Two Alices handle the wide skirt of a central Alice as she grows to an astonishing height. Her skirt takes on a psychedelic pattern as Grace Slick’s music rounds out a program filled with the powerful imagery created by Moses Pendleton.
MOMIX, based in Washington, Conn., is a company composed of dancer-illusionists who have been presenting works for more than 40 years. With a cast of only eight dancers, MOMIX's "Alice" created a world that plays with your mind as you journey with the Alices down the rabbit hole and through the looking glass.