Get to know one of the worlds most highly sought after Choreographers.
This past weekend I was lucky enough to have a chat with one of the worlds greatest choreographers Moses Pendleton. Pendleton is in Australia preparing the visual feast which is 'Botanica', staged by No Wallflowers in Dance and presented by The Arts Centre Melbourne.
TP | As one of the worlds most renowned choreographers, how did you first get into dance?
MP | By accident. I mean that literally. I broke a leg during ski training. I took a dance class to rehabilitate it, and I found the young female instructor more attractive than my ski coach. There were more athletes in the class than dancers. We leaned on each other for support, again literally, and evolved a group-sculptural style. Our teacher encouraged us to be original, since she figured we were never going to make it as conventional dancers. We choreographed a little piece, audiences liked it, and we turned professional right out of college, with no dance background as such. I’m not sure if I ever did get into dance, but I’ve been putting on shows since 1971.
TP | Momix has a distinct visual style. Can you elaborate on the company’s aesthetic and the term “dancer illusionist”?
Our show is as much about the visual as the kinetic. We create images, sculpture, it's not exactly traditional dance, but more of a visual, physical theater. The illusion comes because you’re not always sure what you’re seeing, which creates a kind of optical confusion. Is that a woman or a plant or an insect, or all three, at once or in succession? Metamorphosis, plant, animal, mineral, human, you never know. Some images might make you feel joy and surprise, others twist you into nightmare. In the show we try to be evocative. We leave it up to the viewer as to what they might or might not be seeing. I take my cues from the natural world. Nature by Nature is illusionistic and therefore to an extent, so is Momix.
TP | The company has some conceptually brilliant shows, such as Botanica and Baseball. Where do you get your inspiration from and what inspired Botanica in particular?
MP | Botanica literally grew out of my own life. I spend a lot of time in the company of plants. Their beauty, their forms, their life cycles, especially the annuals like sunflowers, they inspire me. The sex lives of flowers, pollination, nectar, the plundering of blossoms by the bees – now, if I could just get rid of these Japanese beetles, that’s where the nightmare comes in. I live as much of my life outdoors as I can, gardening, walking, taking photographs.
TP | Momix has toured extensively around the world. What has been your favourite city to perform in and why?
MP | Washington. That’s Washington, Connecticut, the old New England village where I live. I like to perform here. For one thing, it’s convenient (no air travel) though the local audiences are very demanding. When you perform for your neighbors, you know you have to face them at the post office the next day.
TP | What can Australian audiences expect from Botanica?
MP | As I often say, expect the unexpected. I would love to have the audience tour our garden. The next best thing is to bring the essence of this garden to the Australian stage with Botanica.
Arts Centre Melbourne presents
Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre
8pm Wednesday 7 – Saturday 10 August
2pm Saturday 10 – Sunday 11 AugustTickets from $50
For more information about Arts Centre Melbourne visit artscentremelbourne.com.au or phone
1300 182 183. Become a fan of Arts Centre Melbourne on facebook or follow @artscentremelb on Twitter.