The dance critic Edwin Denby as soon as wrote, “Each day life is splendidly stuffed with issues to see.” That statement got here to thoughts on Thursday throughout Momix’s “Alice,” a banal and busy 85-minute spectacle now on the Joyce Theater. Not that something significantly wondrous was occurring; fairly the other. At that time within the present, the considered merely stepping open air into town evening — to take a look at site visitors, or the sundown, or individuals within the streets — was extra attractive than any fantasy depicted onstage.
Identified for its illusionist extravaganzas, Momix, which was based 42 years in the past by the choreographer Moses Pendleton, has turned to Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” as inspiration for its newest. Conceived and directed by Pendleton, the work churns by means of quick, prop-and-costume-driven vignettes — 22 of them — loosely derived from Carroll’s world. Except for recurring appearances by a number of Alices, who generally tend to float out and in wanting misplaced, not a lot holds these scenes collectively; they learn as interchangeable elements. In case you’re in search of any severe engagement with narrative or storytelling, this isn’t the rabbit gap for you.
The opening is about nearly as good because it will get, with a easy class that looking back feels refreshing. Towards a projection of a river and a lush inexperienced panorama, Jade Primicias (the primary of the Alices) sits on a horizontally suspended ladder, studying a e book emblazoned together with her character’s title. The ladder begins to spin (aided by one other performer), as her ft graze the ground in a light-weight bounding movement. Thus begins her descent.
From there, it’s an onslaught of makes an attempt at psychedelic imagery, which regularly land nearer to the mundane or vaguely offensive. Amongst many creatures and caricatures, we encounter a herd of feral rabbits, event for the evening’s most athletic dancing (numerous break up leaps); a trio of jovial suspender-clad Mad Hatters; and a plethora of queens, representing all playing-card fits. Acrobatic methods and lifts punctuate the orderly choreography, at occasions involving objects like train balls or rolling platforms. Costumes with lives of their very own distort and prolong the physique.
Projected backdrops, paying homage to low-res display savers, attempt to transport us. We’re on the seaside; now we’re within the jungle. The high-energy soundtrack, an overstuffed and peripatetic playlist, appears intent on conjuring some unspecific sense of “the unique.” A scene known as “The Tweedles,” which pairs Bollywood music with bobbling white child masks, goals to be amusing; it comes off as clumsy and careless. Probably the most genuinely trippy scene is the shadowy “Cracked Mirrors,” by which reflective props and spidery lighting work collectively, together with the dancers, to disorient.
“Alice” is bodily demanding, and the small solid of eight dancers deserves credit score for shouldering its heavy load, which, evidently, might be not simply strenuous however hazardous. On Thursday, throughout a scene by which cloaked figures skulk round with massive spherical protrusions on their backs — their faces and our bodies ensconced in elastic materials — one dancer fell off the stage, and never on goal. The viewers gasped; it appeared painful. The fallen performer managed to scramble again up and into the wings, and happily, a publicist for the corporate mentioned, wasn’t injured.
Nonetheless, the incident revealed the hazards of one of these work, and underscored a nagging query: When marvel can come to us in so many varieties, is “Alice” actually definitely worth the danger?
By means of July 24 on the Joyce Theater; joyce.org.