This year, Mocha Moves performed “MoMA: Museum of MochA.” Every set of the showcase was beautifully reminiscent of the artwork that inspired it and representative of the way that dance can tell stories. Mocha alumni served as MCs, introducing the appropriately named dance sets which alluded to historical paintings — “Girl with the Ratchet Earring,” “Venus de Mocha,” “The Mocha Lisa,” “Persistence of Memory,” and a flurry of other fun pieces.
Mocha Moves recreated one of Michael Jackson’s famous dramatic pauses within the first three minutes of the show, and boy, did the audience go wild! The energy in the crowd was through the roof — people shouted, “Make it naughty now!”, “Encore!”, and of course, individual dance team member names.
The dancers performed with structured movements and acrobatics throughout the show: there were roundhouse kicks, windmills, flares, and a moving handstand. I have to commend Mocha on their use of topography for their transitions. In one visual illusion, they mimicked the expanding and contracting motions of an octopus; in another, the bouncing bars of an equalizer. There was good use of varying spatial relationship between the dancers, and it’s easy to see that they are a tight-knit group on and off the stage.
Both the dancers and the MCs were very interactive with the viewers, eliciting responses whenever they shouted, “make some noise!” They called audience members to the stage for challenges and walked among the audience to pose questions and make jokes. There was a dance competition where participants faced off to different tracks of music.
“Expressionism” was a standout piece that told three separate stories all with the underlying theme of loss. The first story depicted the emotions that follow when a person receives bad news in the emergency room; the second was about a couple that is unable to endure a long-distance relationship; and the third depicted a guy caught between two girls but who ultimately loses them both. This dramatic set was choreographed by a Mocha alumna and the tragic themes of the piece were apparent when the emergency room wife tried to fly into the operating room to see her husband only to be caught mid air by another dancer. And let’s not forget another heart-wrenching set called the “Persistence of Memory,” which explored the significance of family. Following the mom and dad’s split, the brother and sister struggle to maintain their bond, but inevitably their relationship is strained, reminding us that divorce impacts the kids.
One of my favorite things about the MoMA dance show was the masterful coordination of dancers. With more than 10 dancers on a team, motions can become sloppy very quickly. Yet in this show, the unexpected exits and entrances of certain dancers did not disrupt the rhythm or synchrony onstage.
MoMA may be one of the few dance shows where the MCs were able to keep the energy of the audience matching that of the dancers. Throughout the entire show, which lasted more than two hours, the audience was pumped up and made to feel, ‘I want to get onstage and do that!’
Mocha Moves is a hot blend of richness. The diversity of this multiethnic, multinational, multicultural dance crew is reflected in the types of dance they do, ranging from dancehall and hip hop to salsa and ballet. As one Mocha alumnus said, “It’s nice when we can get together and be represented.”