At Home With Momix's Moses Pendleton and Cynthia Quinn
PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED DECEMBER, 2016
Moses Pendleton is giving a sunset tour of the Litchfield County grounds that have been the setting for his family and dance company Momix, (and before that Pilobolus), for nearly 40 years.
The drying sunflowers on this crisp autumn afternoon sway with the wind at the top of the hill, which includes a 22-room Victorian home and Momix’s barn-turned-rehearsal studio across the quiet country divide of Bell Hill Road.
Pendleton eagerly points out visual possibilities for this assignment’s photographer on his eight acres of property: the “van Gogh-yellow” Adirondack chairs circling a clearing; the Hawthorn trees surrounding the house and said to ward off evil spirits; the gnarly milk thistle roots winding through fencing and the sprawling garden as wild and weedy as his rapid-fire stream-of-conscious commentary.
“It’s a very English approach to gardening,” he says as his Jack Russellterrier, Mojito, sprints with abandon and disappears down the hill and into the woods. “Just let the weeds become flowers and you’ll save a lot of labor, and aesthetically you’ll find some new things, too. It’s that old principle: ‘Let it be.’ ”
At 67, Pendleton still has the Beatleseque mantra, the imaginative eye and the elfish playfulness he had when I first met him in the late ’70s, first as a founding artistic director of Pilobolus, and a few years later, when he formed his own company, Momix, where he met his now-wife Cynthia Quinn, who danced with both companies.
Anchoring the history of both companies was the studio and Pendleton’s Washington, Conn., home, which was built around 1900, and according to Pendleton, was the summer home of grand dame Mrs. Edward “Sugar” Gillette. The three-story white house includes a towering Rapunzel-ready turret and a wraparound porch offering panoramic views of the countryside below.
Inside reveals a home that Miss Havisham could have comfortably shared with Gertrude Stein and Louise Bourgeois, if they were so inclined.