The dance critic Edwin Denby as soon as wrote, “Daily life is wonderfully full of things to see.” That commentary got here to thoughts on Thursday throughout Momix’s “Alice,” a banal and busy 85-minute spectacle now at the Joyce Theater. Not that something significantly wondrous was happening; fairly the alternative. At that time within the present, the considered merely stepping open air into town night time — to have a look at site visitors, or the sundown, or individuals within the streets — was extra attractive than any fantasy depicted onstage.
Known 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. Aside from recurring appearances by a number of Alices, who’ve a tendency to float out and in trying misplaced, not a lot holds these scenes collectively; they learn as interchangeable components. If you’re on the lookout for any critical 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 magnificence that on reflection feels refreshing. Against 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 ebook emblazoned together with her character’s identify. 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 frequently land nearer to the mundane or vaguely offensive. Among many creatures and caricatures, we encounter a herd of feral rabbits, event for the night time’s most athletic dancing (a lot of 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 lengthen the physique.
Projected backdrops, harking back to low-res display savers, attempt to transport us. We’re on the seashore; now we’re within the jungle. The high-energy soundtrack, an overstuffed and peripatetic playlist, appears intent on conjuring some unspecific sense of “the exotic.” A scene referred to as “The Tweedles,” which pairs Bollywood music with bobbling white child masks, goals to be amusing; it comes off as clumsy and careless. The most genuinely trippy scene is the shadowy “Cracked Mirrors,” through which reflective props and spidery lighting work collectively, together with the dancers, to disorient.
“Alice” is bodily demanding, and the small forged 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 through 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 function. The viewers gasped; it appeared painful. The fallen performer managed to scramble again up and into the wings, and thankfully, a publicist for the corporate mentioned, wasn’t injured.
Still, the incident revealed the hazards of such a work, and underscored a nagging query: When surprise can come to us in so many kinds, is “Alice” actually well worth the danger?
Through July 24 on the Joyce Theater; joyce.org.