Founded in 1980, Momix is a company with a broad appeal and a distinctive style: a mix of dance and gymnastics, striking set-pieces, stage illusion and ingenious use of costume and equipment. Most recognisable of all is its constructionist choreography, dancers assembled into acrobatic apparatus or strange kinetic contraptions.
Together, they look like an oddly articulated ostrich, which stalks and peers before mutating slowly into segmented scorpions, or rolled-up beetles
Opus Cactus turns the Momix style to the theme of desert life, director Moses Pendleton inspired by exotic creatures, flora and saturated colours. Couples are moulded into outlandish symbiotic hybrids, the man leaning back as he walks, the woman clasping her legs behind his shoulders as she arches forward. Together, they look like an oddly articulated ostrich, which stalks and peers before mutating slowly into segmented scorpions, or rolled-up beetles. Four men form a many-legged gila monster, its grinning head crested with lurid flanges, its ridged spine waving as the caterpillar chain of bodies bunches and stretches. The dancers have to be beyond prudery, as faces press against crotches and feet into shaved armpits.
Many scenes are pictorial, others explore props. A couple cavort with a large skeletal metal frame, slipping through its strange curved ribcage as it tips and rolls between them. Three men use poles to vault and spiral, bounding through the air as easily as antelopes. Dancers hidden in darkness roll and toss fluorescent filigree balls so that they look like windblown tumbleweed.
It looks amazing, costumes shining in shafts of light or silhouetted against washes of hot colour. At its best, it inspires wonder. But each scene is built around a single idea, and the repetition of motifs can be predictable. The score, a touristy assortment of world music, is easy on the ear but undemanding. Opus Cactus is glossy and entertaining; if only it were more transporting.