On Tuesday, September 24 2002, Slow Food celebrated a passionate marriage of food and dance when 100 members attended Opus Cactus, a performance by the Momix Dance Company at the Joyce theater in NYC, followed later by a dinner at Beppe Restaurant. Opus Cactus is a superb depiction of the scalding red colors and hot temperatures of the Sonora desert and its flora, fauna and strange creatures. Millions of beautiful words are dancing in my mind and this makes it difficult to express how such subtle movements can bring about such strong emotions. Wonder defies explanation—and so do Momix. As a fan of Momix since I saw them perform with David Bowie in 1987 in Milan, you can imagine how excited I was to share the body-bending, magical and absolutely fascinating spectacle with our members.
After the show, choreographer Moses Pendleton and the dancers joined Slow Food at Beppe where chef Cesare Casella gave us the chance to ‘consume’ the American Southwest thanks to. The menu of the night included: Tuscan cowboy ribs, pulled pork panini, fried chicken, salsiccia hot dogs served with spicy chili onions, and seven bean salad Southwestern style. The whole menu came from local sustainable small family farms. The wine, including Danzante (a collaborative effort between Robert Mondavi and Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi) was generously donated by Robert Mondavi Winery. Guests sat at comfortable dark wood, country-style tables and had the opportunity to congratulate and talk with the performers and Pendleton. The atmosphere at the restaurant was really fun and weird at the same time—especially for me, since I had to make a speech in front of more than 100 people! Once I’d finished, I finally had the time to relax with everyone and ponder the many relations between the performance that night and Slow Food.
If Opus Cactus were a meal, it would be a slow meal. The most frequent reaction I heard from members throughout the evening was awe at how strong the performers’ bodies are. ‘How can the human body do such things?’, they asked. What makes their unbelievable athletic feats slow is that their bodies are developed naturally, unlike those of so many record-breaking athletes in this day and age. Like the food Slow Food supports, the Momix dancers are not genetically modified! They exemplify the most awesome achievements the human body can attain organically, simply through hard work, exercise, practice and passion.
If Momix’s movements on stage could be compared to something in the food world, I would suggest the most perfect and simple fruit. Albeit profoundly complex, both manage to appear elemental and beautiful—seamless even. The final on-stage product conceals years of process, collaboration, and interdependence among the dancers. Yet what the audience sees is so pure and uncomplicated, with even the most subtle moves being repeated over and over. This is not unlike what happens when the sun, wind, land and water combine to produce the most succulent peach or the sweetest tomato. The greatest artistic achievements are the ones that appear the simplest. These are the experiences that transport one into a charged space of pleasure and enjoyment and whimsy, improving quality of life by nourishing the soul, the mind and the heart. To achieve this state of bliss, a Momix ticket costs $40, whereas Slow Food membership costs $60!
And just to take this train of thought to its final destination, much like Slow Food’s Ark of Taste, which protect foods and drinks in danger of extinction, Momix should be boarded onto an Ark of Dance because they are one of only two for-profit dance companies left in the United States! They deserve our support for upholding slow values in dance and believing that the public will support them.
Momix perform all around the States! So keep your eyes open!
Serena Martins, anative of Bra (Italy), works at the Slow Food USA office in New York