Dance Review








Lunar Sea




Conceived and Directed by Moses Pendleton

Associate Director - Cynthia Quinn

Peacock Theatre

7 – 25 October 2008




A review by Mary Couzens for EXTRA! EXTRA!


It is a rare thing when one happens upon a performance so original and innovative that it simply defies description.  However, Momix’s Lunar Sea is one such show.

The company’s Artistic Director Moses Pendleton co-founded Momix, named for a brand of cow feed, in his native dairy farm state of Vermont in 1981. Since then, the company has gone on to tour the world, winning a multitude of awards in the process. Pendleton’s first company, co- founded with a college friend in the early ‘70’s had been comically called Pilobolus, after a fungus which thrives in barnyards. An interesting thing about former English major Pendleton was that he literally stumbled into dance ‘by accident’ as a form of therapy for a skiing injury.

Pendleton describes the activities of his troupe of ‘movement illusionists’ thusly: ‘Momix is not any one particular thing. It’s not about dance, but there is dance in it. It’s not about circus, but it has elements of circus and gymnastics.  It’s visual theatre that goes beyond the movement of the body to create pictures from other worlds – animal, plant, mineral.’ 

Lunar Sea wonderfully paints ‘pictures’ from all of the worlds and/or mediums mentioned above, and more, as it inspires the imagination of the viewer to fill in its luminous blanks. Having experienced and relished this description defying show, I would say it is an elemental, softy sharpening shake up of the senses, albeit, a gently, awe-springing, i.e. ‘how did they do that?’ one. It’s starkly beautiful, smile generating, dream-like images are destined to take up residence in your memory, unexpectedly flashing onto centre stage in your subconscious daydreams and, nocturnal ramblings for a long time to come. Having seen hundreds of shows of all descriptions over the past decade, I must admit that I’ve never seen or experienced anything even remotely like it before.

During the course of its first act – ‘Sea of Tranquillity’, co-commissioned by the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and The Nutmeg Conservatory for The Arts in Torrington, CT, U.S.A. its performers alternately float, levitate, swim, morph from one shape to another, literally turn into stars and vanish into thin air, among many other ‘movement illusions,’ in the anti-glow of black a.k.a. UV lighting. Act Two – ‘Bay of Seething’, Conceived and directed by Moses Pendleton, features some of the most physically passionate movement oriented moments between a male and female dancer that I have ever witnessed onstage, anywhere, as well as ‘spiders’ humorously giving birth, devouring one another and growing new legs. There are also segments reminiscent of 1940’s swimming star Esther Williams’ group pool dancing, albeit much more surreal, as they are crossed with ‘now you see it, now you don’t’ slight of hand, achieved via dancers’ entire bodies. By now I’m sure that you understand what I mean when I say this show is ‘indescribable!’

Lunar Sea is fittingly set to music of the imagination, as its mind expanding soundtrack draws on some of the visionaries of ambient music: Harold Budd, Bass Meditation, Apollo Nova, David Roberts, Phil Thornton with Mandragora, Stefan Lundaahi as Omnimotion, Eastern Dub Tactik, Hans Zimmer and others. Such music allows for individual mental projections and imaginatively avoids pigeonholing, which is apt as the movements of the show’s performers are nearly as ambient and certainly just as ambiguous as their musical accompaniment.

In actual fact, everything about Lunar Sea is refreshingly and wonderfully ambiguous, from its double jointed, amazingly agile dancers, (named below) through to its highly imaginative costumes by Phoebe Katzin, Moses Pendleton and Cynthia Quinn which further enable the mesmerising illusions being created, Moses Pendleton’s gravity defying choreography, the lovely, ghost like puppetry of Michael Curry, hypnotically creative Lighting Design by Joshua Starbuck and Moses Pendleton and appropriately kaleidoscopic video projections, also by Moses Pendleton being projected onto an opaque screen covering the front of the stage as the ensemble weaves their heady spell over their enthralled audience.  However, the true magic of Lunar Sea originates from the captivatingly sublime mix of all of the above.



Tsarra Bequette
Jennifer Chicheportiche
Simona Di Tucci
Jonathan Eden
Donatello Iacobellis
Rob Laqui
Danielle McFall
Sarah Nachbauer
Christopher Patterson
Cassandra Taylor



Portugal Street, London WC2

Tuesday 7  - Saturday 25 October 2008

Press Night : Wednesday 8 October 7.30pm
(No performance Wednesday 15 October)

Tuesday – Sunday at 7.30pm
Saturday & Sunday matinees at 2.30pm

Schools Discount Performances: Wednesdays & Thursdays

Ticket office: 0844 412 4322                  

Tickets: £10 - £36
(Transaction charges apply for telephone, postal and online bookings)

Running Time: approx 1 hour 50 minutes including interval



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