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Opus Cactus

Maria Smith | Friday, November 12, 2004

When you look at Moses Pendleton’s work, you wouldn’t think it all started showing dairy cows at the Celdonian County Fair.

The internationally famous choreographer has come a long way from his family farm in northern Vermont. Since he first started touring with dance company Pilobolus after graduating with a degree in English from Dartmouth College, Pendleton’s work has been featured all over the world, from Paris to Munich to New York. He has created choreography for ballets, operas and music videos among other projects.

Dance enthusiasts have another rare opportunity following on the heels of “Swan Lake” performed by the renowned Moscow Ballet at the Morris Performing Arts Center on Thursday night. On Saturday MOMIX, Pendleton’s famous dance company, will take the same stage with a performance that is unlike anything else in the world of dance.

The performance was arranged by the staff at the DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts. University-sponsored discounts have lowered student ticket prices to $7, far below what would normally be charged for a MOMIX performance.

The group characterizes the unique style for which Pendleton has become famous. Inventive costumes and creative use of choreography combine to create the effect that has brought the members of MOMIX the label of dancer-illusionists. MOMIX uses the full capacity of the human body in its dancing, but does not stop there. The group uses hammocks, trapezes, poles and other indescribable props to expand the possibilities of dance. Incorporated elements of gymnastics make the group one of the most athletic in the business. The inventive and technically excellent dance troupe has earned the praise of professional dancers and amateur fans alike.

“Opus Cactus,” the group’s newest touring performance, was inspired by the great saguaro cactus of the American southwest. The choreography is based on the unique flora and fauna of the desert. Dances pieces reflect tumbleweeds, lizards, rattlesnakes and desert blooms.

MOMIX was created in 1981, a year after Pendleton choreographed the closing ceremonies for the 1980 Winter Olympics. The group is named after Pendleton’s solo piece “Momix” which he also performed for the games.

Over the past 20 years the group has performed in more than 20 countries. The group’s more famous performances include “Bad Habits,” a show created to celebrate the opening of the San Francisco Giants’ new training park in 1992, and a performance featured in the 3-D IMAX film “Imagine.” “Bad Habits” was a forerunner for the full-length performance “Baseball,” one of the group’s famous touring performances.

“Opus Cactus” will be performed at the Morris Center for the Performing Arts at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets range from $22-$30. $7 rush seats are available for Notre Dame students.