By Josh Bootsma
UNIVERSITY PARK, Ill. (February 1, 2022) – Theatre-goers darkened the doors of Governors State University on Saturday for the first time in 2022, entering the university’s large theatre space to take their seats in the world of MOMIX. For those unsure of what they’d come to see on their way into the theatre, perhaps just as many were unsure of what they’d seen on their way out.
Governor State’s first performance of the year was VIVA MOMIX, a show that serves as a sampling of 40 years of inventive dance and physical beauty cooked up by MOMIX company director Moses Pendleton. Saturday’s performance pulled pieces from six different MOMIX works, and was a beautiful mixture of dance, acrobatics, art, light, and color.
Attending a show at Governors State
Governors State is located at 1 University Parkway in University Park, Illinois, a half-hour drive from Lansing. Parking at the location is free, and theatre-goers should park in West Lot 1 and East Lot 1, nearest to the front entrance of the university. A straight walk through the front doors towards the back of the building will lead to the Center for Performing Arts.
COVID precautions are in full force at Governors State, with patrons required to show either proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. A “negative test” is defined as a PCR test that’s been taken in the last 72 hours or an antigen test that’s been taken in the last six hours. GSU will not honor results from at-home antigen tests. “This proof of negative COVID-19 test alternative includes accommodations for people with a medical condition or closely held religious belief that prevents vaccination,” said Governors State. Masks are also required at all times for those older than two.
Tickets for GSU shows can be purchased online at govst.edu/BoxOffice or in-person at the Center’s Box Office. Tickets range in price from $15 to $60, depending on the performance.
VIVA MOMIX, as performed on Saturday, is hard to singularly describe. It was an ode to the beauty of dance, it pushed the limits of human physicality, and it melded props, costumes, lighting, and some intangibles in a way that created a truly unique experience for viewers.
The opening act “Dreamcatcher” featured two skilled acrobats weaving their way in, out, and around a rolling, perfectly balanced jungle gym. Other acts employed darkness to focus eyes on only certain illuminated parts of performer’s bodies. One act titled “Marigolds” featured women enveloped in red-orange plumes of fabric, an effect that evoked flowers, feather-dusters, exotic birds, and Grandma’s doilies all at once.
Few acts had their own story to tell, and the absence of an overarching narrative may have been distracting for some. Once acknowledged that VIVA MOMIX was not a story to follow, but rather a performative treat to be enjoyed, the show was even more enjoyable. Once MOMIX’s viewers had sat in their seats, no more was expected of them. The show simply happened to them. Eyes could intently watch the feats of the lissome performers onstage, but it was just as enjoyable to let the eyes wander, relax, and experience the wholeness of the performance.
As a sampling of acts from a variety of MOMIX works, the totality of VIVA MOMIX was not without its disjointed moments. To follow a florid act like “Baths of Caracalla” — which featured women using white fabric to create spinning and flowing images — with “Daddy Long Leg” — a cowboy-inspired romp around the stage — allowed each act to only have as much performative magic as was achieved on its own, and not as part of a fuller picture. With a sprinkling of different acts from different works (which did beautifully display the diverse beauty of MOMIX), VIVA MOMIX was less of an emotional or thematic exploration and more of a highlight reel — one that may have left audiences wanting to see Pendleton’s “Botanica” or “Opus Cactus” in their emotional and explorative wholes.
Next at Governors State
The next performance scheduled at GSU’s Center for Performing Arts is “25 Years of Broadway and Beyond” as performed by the GSU Dance Company. According to the GSU website, the show will, “pay tribute to groundbreaking Broadway musicals and the choreographers who made them sizzle. Selections include numbers from Cabaret, Dreams Girls, West Side Story, Aladdin, Chicago, Sweeney Todd, and more.”
Two performances, will be held: one on Friday, February 11 and the other on Saturday, February 12. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. performances are $15.
Next, on February 22, Governors State will host “Breach of Peace: Stories of the Freedom Riders of 1961” The description of the event from GSU’s website reads: “On May 24, 1961, 19-year-old Jean Thompson boarded a Trailways bus in Montgomery, Alabama, with 11 other young Freedom Riders bound for New Orleans — and history. Within three months, approximately 300 other riders took up the mantle to desegregate buses, following the path of the first brave few. Mobs assaulted many. Others were arrested shining a light on a brutal, segregated South. Breach of Peace is based on true accounts of surviving participants of the Freedom Rides as well as many other individuals involved in the early struggle for African-American equality. This one-man play is a living monument to those remarkable young men and women of various races, religions, and backgrounds who rose to face the dangers of fighting for just and equal treatment for all.”
Tickets for the sole 7:30 p.m. performance of “Breach of Peace” are $15.
Governors State University is located at 1 University Parkway.