Teatros del Canal

Madrid, Spain

December 2, 2009–January 10, 2010

Reviewed by Justine Bayod Espoz

Photo by Max Pucciarello, courtesy MOMIX.

Anyone familiar with MOMIX knows that what happens on stage is more about the surrealist imagery than the dancers and choreography. The sleekness of the big picture is what seems to matter here, and one walks in aware that MOMIX is more a performance company than a dance troupe. However, even when knowing what to expect, "Bothanica"—the company’s newest work of physical and visual illusion—is still disappointing.

Yes, the costumes are minimalist but beautiful, the lighting is superb, and some of the visual effects created with nothing more than long, limber bodies can spark a viewer’s interest. But for the most part, "Bothanica"’s four scenes—winter, spring, summer, and fall—amount to a production that doesn’t illicit any kind of excitement. Slow morphing plants and animals become particularly soporific when accompanied by a low-key soundtrack that lends nothing more than background noise to an otherwise unnecessarily silent world.

Much like the throngs of children seated around me, I quite enjoyed the show’s inclusion of puppetry, as a large triceratops skeleton, manipulated by a single man, carried a female dancer onstage. And the dervish style of twirling, performed by another female dancer equipped with a hoop from which strands of beads radiated and undulated depending on the positioning of her upper body, was enchanting. However, I found myself in many instances feeling as though I were watching a show created for audiences aged 10 and under, especially when the lights went out and the neon gloves and socks went on, leading to the irrelevant formation of such inane images as a giant smiley face.

I found myself quickly growing impatient with the hackneyed scenes of prancing bees, cutesy peek-a-boo flowers, and swaying trees. The few existing dance phrases were so weak that they seemed thrown in at the last minute. Even if Spanish audiences could overlook all of these weaknesses, there was no way to ignore "Bothanica"’s biggest flaw: the lack of synchronicity amongst the male dancers and a couple of the female dancers. For a world-renowned, professional company that charges big ticket prices, this kind of sloppiness is unforgivable.

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