Dance of the Cactus

“It’s a cactus ballet,” I explained, when questioned about my evening plans to take in what New York has to offer. Apparently, it wasn’t a good enough answer. So, I tried again.

“It’s titled Opus Cactus. So it probably has a cactus, or cacti. And it’s definitely a ballet. The New York Times said so.”

My questioner mulled it over, and tried to clarify; “So it’s people dressed as cacti?”

“Maybe?” I offered.

“So, it’s people dressed as cacti just sitting with the sun on them?” was the prompt follow up.

“Entirely possible,” I confirmed.

“I’m afraid you might be disappointed,” they offered, gently.

“That’s why I only paid enough to get the cheap seats,” I agreed.

In the end, it didn’t matter what I paid – I didn’t see anything from my cheap seats. When the usher checked my ticket, he told me to find an empty seat and enjoy the show from there. And so I did.

Momix’s Opus Cactus starts off as tumbleweed enactment, or so I assume given the glowing green balls that tumble across the otherwise dark stage. Presumably, the tumbleweeds’ perfect tumbles, spins, and bounces are being performed by the ballerinas and ballerinos whose work is seen through the rest of the evening’s performances. But that opacity – the questions of what and who is on the stage – is repeated throughout the night. The dancers portray gila monsters, an ostrich, and snakes. The impersonations are uncanny, but even if they weren’t, those are the names of individual pieces. Despite some more ambiguous names, I believe I also saw birds fly, the sun and moon, and a cactus bloom. Throughout it all, the dancers were powerful in their grace. The thrumming music would fit a nature documentary. Dances are modern, a mix of traditional ballet movement and gravity-defying gymnastics. It’s weird and magnetic, not unlike the desert.