Medellin

3 Days in Medellìn: A Travel Guide

 Medellìn is a beacon of culture and officially one of my most favorite cities ever: the people are generous, enthusiastic and welcoming, the mountains are captivating, the food and coffee is incredible, and the city is incredibly clean and proud.  This city, once famed for it’s violent and storied past, has transformed itself into a star-attraction in a country that has everything going for it.

Medellìn was named the 2013 “City of the Year” by the nonprofit Urban Land Institute for it’s transformation and quick turn-around.  Utilizing revitalized civic spaces, green parks, libraries, art galleries and the creation of a world-class metro system and infastructure that connects the city’s poorest neighborhoods with its center through innovative solutions such as giant escalators and cable cars, Medellìn is now a world-class travel destination thanks to its dedication to the inclusion of all it’s inhabitants.  For those of you who think it’s dangerous: Medellìn isn’t even to be found on the list of the top 50 most dangerous cities in the world anymore, though you will find New Orleans, Baltimore and Detroit on there.

Medellìn is called the “city of eternal spring” by it’s people for it’s permanently pleasant weather.  The people are called Paisas and they are a proud, hopeful culture that loves to talk.  They will serenade you with stories about their city, their past, and their future.  Their pace is a bit slower and they aren’t in a rush.  They are beautiful: everyone in this city is attractive and they dress well.  They have inquisitive natures and they want to talk to you: although we found that Colombians, overall, were incredibly welcoming and generous, this was even more apparent in Medellìn where every person we encountered wanted to know where we were from and why we decided to visit their city. 

Here’s some of my favorite images from our stay and my recommendations on what to do with 3 days in Medellìn.

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STAY: The areas surrounding El Poblado are the most popular with tourists.  This includes the neighborhoods of Manila, which is where we stayed, and Parque Lleras.  The streets are safe to walk at all hours of the day and filled with hip and stylish restaurants and coffee shops.  You can get an entire apartment to yourself for $45-60/nt on Airbnb.  We stayed in a charming apartment in Manila and Al Alma Cafe and Hija Mia both within walking distance.

If Airbnb isn’t your thing, there’s a wealth of mid-range hotels and budget hostels in the area.  If I’d had to pick one, you probably would have found me at the Art Hotel.  If your budget is higher, I’d head to The Charlee Lifestyle Hotel.

EAT:  Medellìn is filled with heavier and more traditional (read: arepas and empanadas) dining options than Cartagena and after a week of travel and eating out, we were ready for some variety and comfort food.

  • Cafe Zorba was our standout favorite in this city. It could have been that two weeks of travel and seafood left us craving fresh salads and something different, or it could just be that it’s exceptional in both it’s food and it’s atmosphere.  Although the cafe is large, it feels warm and cozy thanks to it’s open air upstairs patio filled with small lamps, comfortable pillow topped benches and modest tables that encourage whispered jokes and intimate laughter.  Make sure you order at least one pizza – their brick oven thin crust pies come out crispy and is certainly where they excel.
  • Although we went looking for a vegetarian restaurant that no longer existed, we ended up at the endlessly charming Peruvian fusion restaurant Tal Qual.  Themed around art, the walls are filled with color.  The restaurant is split into a number of small alcoves and rooms that makes it feel both bustling and intimate simultaneously.  Don’t skip the meat skewers or one of their pasta dishes.
  • We should have also eaten at El Cielo, but we didn’t have another three hour dinner experience in us and after a week of eating out already and the incredible eating experiences we had in Cartagena, we weren’t clamoring for food.  El Cielo has made press for it’s gastronomic creativity and is featured on most Best Of lists for both Latin and South America.  If you’re jealous of that time I went to Alinea, this is the budget option.

DRINK:

  • Drinks with a view: head up to the top of the Envy Rooftop Bar to where bartenders fun and tropical cocktails like watermelon basil margaritas while DJ’s spin tunes to accompany one of the best views in Medellìn.
  • Bonhomia is a great place to park yourself for a late afternoon snack and a drink.  The huge patio of outdoor seating and bright lights is attractive and offers great street views while you feast on platters of house-made charcuterie.  There’s a large wine list that also offers half bottles.
  • Viva Italia! had the best wine list we found in the area and although you are welcome to stash yourself on their 2nd story patio and watch the locals cruise by in their fancy shoes, they also offer all their bottles for sale in this hybrid Italian Restaraunt meets wine bar.
  • Established in 2008, 3 Cordilleras offers five craft brews in a happy hour like setting every day after 5 PM.  For about $5, you get 5 beers (beers, not tastings) and an explanation in rapidly spoken spanish about the history of the brewery and the brewing process.  We opted to skip the tour and just stick with the beers.
  • Downtown’s historic Salon Malaga is like stepping back into a time machine.  The walls are covered in memorabilia and old jukeboxes litter the floor.  The tables are filled with locals during the day who stop in to chat and drink tinto.  If you’re lucky, they have a selection of 3 Cordilleras craft brews on hand, but they stock up on Thursdays for the weekend crowds and were mostly sold out the day we were there.

EXPLORE

  • Real City Walking Tour’s free tour of the downtown area of Medellìn is a must do for every traveler.  I’d reccomend doing it on your first day in the city as their expansive four hour tour provides you with scope on the area, it’s troubled history and the Paisa culture.  The tour occurs twice a day and reservations are required.
  • Wander the lush pathways of the Botanical Garden, which feature, in addition to other things, 40 acres of exotic orchids. The entry is free.  When you’re ready for a break, stop for lunch at In Situ, where contemporary dishes are served up while you gaze out through wide open doors that leave you feeling as if you’re in the garden itself.
  • Head to the Plaza Minorista to sample Colombia’s wide range of tropical fruits.  Although you can do this by joining any number of organized tours, there’s really no reason why you can’t go on your own, as we did.  The Colombian people are incredibly kind, generous and inquisitive and they are more than ecstatic to see tourists, and gringos especially, wandering their stalls.  They were eager to chat with us, asking where we were from and why we were there and each vendor we purchased from explained the fruit and cut it open for us to sample.  Our favorite was the pitahaya, similar to an Asian dragon fruit.
  • Ride the cable car.  Medellìn’s people are incredibly proud of their metro system and in fact, it was the cleanest metro system I’ve ever seen in the world.  There wasn’t a speck of trash to be found, people never ate or drank on the subway and the cars themselves were in pristine condition.  As part of a social and economic development strategy to help revitalize the poorer areas of the city, Medellìn installed cable cars to provide connectivity to it’s massive hills.  The views are tremendous and you can get off at various stops and explore the barrios all for less than $2.

WHAT NOT TO DO

  • A Pablo Escobar Tour.  Paisas do not like this man and they do not want him immortalized or paid tribute to.  In fact, during our walking tour of the downtown area, he was the man-who-was-not-named and in discussion, we used code names to reference him as to not incite anger from nearby locals who cannot speak English and may have misinterpreted our discussion as praising him.  Escobar brought years of pain, violence and fear to this city and the memories are both recent and tragic.
Napa Girls Weekend

Napa Vacation Photographer | Sonoma | Published at TrueBlu

This was the best job ever.

I had so much fun with these ladies.

How about more people hire me to photograph their day wine tasting?   Please and thank you.

Big thanks to Trueblu who agrees that these girls know how to vacation properly.  You can also follow Trueblue on Facebook, Pinterst, Instagram and Twitter.

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B-52s and KC and the Sunshine Band | Tahoe Concert Photography

Photographing the B-52’s and KC and the Sunshine Band was one of the more exciting things I’ve ever done in my life.  So colorful!  So dance-filled!  So energetic!

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The B-52’s just celebrated their 35 anniversary as a band.  Can you believe that?  Kate is older than my mother and let me tell you, she is still rockin’ the love shack.  While it took a little while for Fred to loosen up on stage, by the end of the set he was movin’ and a groovin’ with the best of them.  I haven’t danced that much since my birthday party!

_DSC0798The Montbleu Outdoor Events Center was the perfect venue for their show as well.  I’m loving their set up: a huge grass filled lawn with plenty of room for all the patrons to dance and move about (no chairs!) and even better, Lagunitas on tap!

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Although KC hasn’t aged quite as gracefully as Kate and Fred, KC and the Sunshine Band was still a killer show.  He was wonderfully self-deprecating, joking that once upon a time he was “today’s Justin Beiber.”  He had a full band backing him and 4 gorgeous ladies who kept the dance moves going through multiple costume changes.  It was the perfect warm-up for the B-52s: one song in and the entire audience was already shakin’ their groove thang.

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You can see all my photos from the B-52s set via this link and from KC and the Sunshine band via this link.  All of my photos from this summer’s outdoor concert series at both Montbleu and Harvey’s Lake Tahoe will be posted up on the Visit Lake Tahoe South page on facebook so head there to like them so you’ll get first looks!

KC Montage

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Live at Lakeview 2013!

“Good music, good vibes, good times!”

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Live at Lakeview, my favorite Tahoe South Summer Event returns this week and I am ecstatic.  I can’t wait to listen to great music, eat and drink, and watch the sun go down with the rest of my community.  This year, On Course Events hopes to create a series that is more interactive, has a bigger bike valet, more vendors, and a “festival feel.”   Also included in the event this summer is food vendors, which is fantastic!

Live at Lakeview is still looking for volunteers to keep the season rolling smoothly and the Lakeview Commons area spick and span.  One lucky volunteer will win a Riviera Standup Paddle Board (donated by South Tahoe SUP).  Available volunteer opportunities include Beach Cleanup Crew, which will meet Monday and Friday mornings, the Vibe Squad, Event Crew, Security and Photographers and Videographers. If you would like to help Live at Lakeview this summer, you may contact them directly at Liveatlakeview@gmail.com or head over to their facebook page.

Live at Lakeview kicks off this Thursday, June 20th at 4:30 PM with Jelly Bread and 4 Piece Puzzle.  I’m not stranger to 4 Piece Puzzle, which happens to be fronted by some friends of mine.

4 Piece Puzzle is rocks out with groove, funk, and soul. They know how to have a good time!

Jelly Bread, voted “Tahoe’s Band of the Year” but the Lake Tahoe Action in 2012, plays a blend of funk, soul and America.  While I’ve heard the buzz about them, I haven’t yet had the good fortune of seeing them live.   Jelly Bread, fronted by award-winning songwriter, vocalist, guitarist and lap steel player, Dave Berry, along side songwriter, vocalist and beast of a drummer, Cliff Porter, has had a busy year, touring the Western US and opening for the likes of Dumpstaphunk, Rusted Root, JJ Grey and Mofro and more.

Jelly Bread’s brand of funk and soul is thoroughly steeped in a Rock-Americana style and has been described as “musically delicious.”

As always, Live at Lakeview is a free community event.  Check out free music here at Tahoe South every Thursday from 4:30-8:30 PM at Lakeview Commons from June 20th-August 29th.

The proceeds of all sales of alcohol from the beer garden support the series and I encourage you to either imbibe in the garden or make a donation in one of the donation boxes around the Commons Area on the night you attend.

You can find my weekly wrap ups, photos and previews of the next concert all summer long here and on Tahoe South.

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The Valhalla Renaissance Faire

This year marked the 21st Anniversary of the Valhalla Renaissance Faire.  Despite the fact that I have lived in Tahoe for over seven years now, not only had I never attended but, I also have never been to a Renaissance Fair.  

I had previously scoffed at the idea of wandering around Camp Richardson amongst people dressed as pirates, scoundrels and knights but when I won tickets via the Valhalla Renaissance Faire facebook page, how could I say no?  We gathered a big group together to experience the event and I have to admit that I may be a convert: it was full of revelry, merriment and dare I say, fun.

Every year, over 8,000 visitors gather at the Valhalla Renaissance Fair and now I know why.  With the Queen of England, juggling jesters, pirates, lords and ladies and jousting presentations by the Imperial Knights, you don’t have to be a kid to find the entertainment value, though it is certainly a family friendly event.  There are 100s of crafts booths on site to shop from, games for kids to play and presentations of dance, song, plays, puppet shows and more.

And who can forget the best part: the turkey legs!!

While we were walking around the faire, we happened upon the Queen of England presenting the chosen “Mayors” of the Renaissance Faire.  Imagine my surprise to discover it was none other than my friend and Tahoe South Entertainer extraordinaire Alex Ramon of Illusion Fusion.   He, upon being asked the very serious question, “How do you keep a woman happy?” replied, “Magic!” and was named Mayor of the Even Days Only.  If you missed my interview with Alex before, you can read it on the Tahoe South Blog via this link.  He is an absolutely wonderful, fun and genuine person and his magic show is as entertaining as the Ren Faire!  I’m sure he’ll make an excellent Mayor of Even Days.  Ha!

Montage

Mark your calendar for next year: the Valhalla Renaissance Faire usually occurs the first two weekends of June every year.  It’s a perfect time to visit Tahoe South with your family: you can camp nearby in the Camp Richardson or Fallen Leaf Lake camp grounds, visit the beach, bike and play, and go to the Renaissance Fair all on the same weekend!

2013 COST: Adult $18, $13 for seniors, military, ages 13-17, $8 for children 6-12 Under 6 no charge.

You can check out all my photos from the event via this link.

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Amador County Wine Weekend

After America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride Week, I’m generally turned into mush.  It’s the busiest week of the year for my retail store and we do more business in a few days than we do all winter.  It’s super fun and intense but overwhelming and exhausting.

On Monday, I accidentally threw away all the petty cash receipts from the weekend and had to go dumpster diving.  That happened.

On Tuesday, when the three year old I nanny for started crying at the beach and pretty much fell apart, I almost started crying with him.  That happened.

I decided that I needed a mini-vacay.

When I suggested it to a few friends who have flexible (or no) schedules, an amazing plan came together: to head to Amador County and Plymouth, CA on a Girls’ Wine “Weekend” where we could wine taste, laze around, cook delish dinners and generally just relax at the vacation home of Anne’s family.  My “weekends” off are almost always mid-week days and this was the most wonderful weekend I’ve had in a long while.

It was perfect.

Amador Montage 2We drank way too much wine.  Wait, is there such a thing?

There is.  It equates to me falling asleep, in my clothes, at 9 PM, on top of the bed.

We drank the Grenache Rosé from Holly’s Hill Winery and the Sauvignon Blanc from Helwig.

We ate walnut blue cheese bread with our morning frittatas that was to die for from Andrae’s Bakery in Sutter Creek.

Amador Montage 1

Want your own Amador County wine weekend?

STAY:

PLAY:

  • The roads in Amador County are perfect for road biking so bring your bikes along and tour the wineries in the best way possible.  There is a limited amount of road routes available at this site, but from what I can tell, most of the roads we were on, including the main highways, would be amazing to ride on.

EAT:

  • Anne was waxing and waning over Taste where they have a rotating menu of seasonal ingrediants and you can get an appetizer and beverage pairing for $13 at Thirteen Dollar Thursdays at the Wine Bar.
  • Andrae’s Bakery is heaven from the tables of cookbooks outside the door to the breads, pastries and sweets that line the glass counter inside.  Make sure you pick up some of their specialty sea salts while you’re there.  I brought home a Medetarranian Blend to coat on grilled fish and chicken and the Durango Hickory Smoked Sea Salt for red meat.

DRINK:

  • Holly’s Hill is my most favorite winery of all time. It’s not on the fastest road to Amador, but you should totally take the long way to Plymouth and Sutter Creek vie El Dorado County and stop into Holly’s Hill. Their staff is unbeatable and their grounds are gorgeous.  Nearby Madroña Vineyards is also always a clear winner.  I love their zinfandel.
  • Helwig had beautiful grounds, snotty girls behind the counter, and wine that was a little too sweet for my taste, but I would totally go back for some of their summer concert series.  The winery itself is absolutely stunning with lots of deep stained woodwork and metals.
  • Cooper Vineyards is a favorite of Anne’s family. They love the owner, the grounds and the atmosphere and although we didn’t make it over there on this visit, it’s on my list for next time.
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Mammoth Ski Weekend

Can you believe I’ve been in California for seven years years now and I’ve never been to Mammoth Lakes to ski?  The horror!

When PSIA asked me to donate photobooths to their annual spring convention at Mammoth, I was more than happy to do it!  A few days spring skiing in sunny Mammoth Lakes and photobooth fun: I’d be crazy to say no!

Bri and I met up with Meghan Kelly, her husband, and a few of our other Tahoe friends for a mini Mammoth Ski trip.  While I may have not reached my goal of sixty days on mountain this ski season, but I at least ended it with one of my more memorable ski weekends to date.  Mammoth Lakes is a gorgeous place to visit and even more unbelievable from the top of the gondola!

Looking for the PSIA Photobooth Photos?

PSIA Spring Convention, Reno Tahoe Photobooth, Prom Photobooth, Ski Mammoth

The PSIA Flashback Prom Photobooth was a riot, once everyone got liquored up!

If you were in my photobooth at the event, your galleries will always remain here on my page in the 2013 tab of the Photobooth Gallery under Portfolio.

If you want to travel to Mammoth Lakes, here are my recommendations. 

STAY:  The Cinnamon Bear Inn is located just of Main Street in Mammoth Lakes and is so adorable it hurts.  Literally.  There are four poster beds with patchwork quilts and doilies.  It’s run by Pam and her husband, who personally cook and serve you a hot breakfast every morning and offer afternoon apres ski drinks and appetizers in the “lobby” which feels more like your own living room.  If you’re used to the Westin, this is not the place for you: it has it’s quirks (like slow draining tubs), but in my world, that’s all the more reason to love it.

EAT:

  • Old New York Deli and Bakery has bagels to die for.  Bagels like I haven’t ever found out west: crisp shells and doughy centers in all the best flavors, including salt, sourdough and egg!  Substitute cream cheese on your fried egg sunrise bagel sando in the morning and you’ll get the best of both worlds: New York style bagel and schmear meets breakfast sandwich.
  • Toomey’s is famous in California for it’s gourmet meals, served without an ounce of pretentiousness, in odd, quirky and unbecoming locations.   If you think it would be wonderful to eat a loaded seafood jumbalaya amidst baseball jerseys and collector metal lunchboxes from days gone by, don’t skip a meal here.
  • Stellar Brew has killer coffee and loaded sandwhiches, perfect for grabbing on your way to or from the mountain.

DRINK:

  • Get a growler filled and enjoy a tasting sampler of either some or all of the brews that Mammoth Brewery has going in their tasting room.   At $4-$6 (regular/seasonal) for tasting rounds, it’s hard to argue against spending an hour in here.
  • It’s happy hour every day from 4:00-5:30 pm at Whiskey Creek in both Mammoth and Bishop – save a fortune on Mammoth Brewery drafts and get half off bar menu items.

Mammoth Brewery, Mammoth Lakes, Visit Mammoth, Lauren Lindley, Reno Tahoe Photography, Travel Photography, Mammoth Travel Photography

PLAY:

  • Mammoth Mountain routinely opens earlier and remains open later than other California resorts.  It’s well known for it’s summer skiing.  You might want to get there soon – it’s brewing in the rumor mill that Vail Resorts is about to purchase Mammoth and they will probably ruin every ounce of personality this wonderful place has.  In the summer you can purchase day tickets to mountain bike from top to bottom.
  • Take a day off from the slopes and visit June Lakes, an absolutely stunning series of lakes and rivers set under towering peaks and next to a quaint mountain town.
June Lakes, Merry Fishman, Fly Fishing, CA fly fishing, Norther CA fishing, Mammoth Lakes,

Pat Kelly fishes in a stream near June Lake, CA.

  • Bishop, CA is one of the western US’s best epicenters for rock-climbing.  Make it a tri sport weekend: fish, bike and climb!

 

21 Days of Snowglobe: Day 3 Picks

Tahoe, Tahoe South, Snowglob

Snowglobe Music Festival is returning to Tahoe South for it’s second year and it’s not too late to join in on the fun. Three day passes and single day tickets are still on sale.

THE 21 DAYS of SNOWGLOBE: counting down to all things involving the fest, including insider tips, band interviews, event coverage and more! Day 18 of the 21 Days of Snowglobe brings you:

LAUREN’S PICKS – DAY 3

Welcome to Snowglobe! Festivals are my favorite way to discover new music, so be sure to catch a few of these lesser known acts before you ring in the New Year with the headliners Chromeo.

  • Poolside: Sierra Tent, 5:45-6:45. Disco influenced indie pop so melodic and chill that you can actually imagine playing it poolside. With an umbrella in your drink. For fans of: POP ETC, TOPS, Grizzly Bear, Goldroom.
  • Royal Teeth: Main Stage, 7:15-8:15. New Orleans based Royal Teeth has delicious and dreamy pop hooks with full choruses. The band claims their music is made for “adventures.” For fans of: Generationals, Atlas Genius, Real Estate.
  • Nobody Beats the Drum: Sierra Tent, 8:30-9:43. The Dutch Dance Music trio of NBTD has been creating quite the ruckus on their non-stop tour of North America this year. Their show, which features the sounds of electro, hiphop and breakbeat, is set to intense visuals on a 9 screen installation. Check out my interview with Jori Collignon for more on the group. For fans of: Hybrid, Machine Drum, Opencloud.

COMING UP:

  • Reviews and photos! See you there!

WHAT YOU MISSED:

21 Days of Snowglobe: An Introduction to Quixotic Fusion

Tahoe, Tahoe South, Snowglobe

Snowglobe Music Festival is returning to Tahoe South for it’s second year and it’s not too late to join in on the fun. Three day passes and single day tickets are still on sale.

THE 21 DAYS of SNOWGLOBE: counting down to all things involving the fest, including insider tips, band interviews, event coverage and more! We took two days off to celebrate the holidays so here we are at Day 15 of the 21 Days of Snowglobe with:

QUIXOTIC FUSION

Quixotic Fusion is an impressive and complex collaboration between dance, film aerial arts, music and fashion.  The Kansas City Based Performing Arts Group creates performances and installations that both engage and challenge the audience.  In seven years, Quixotic has grown from a renegade group that took over abandoned warehouses to invent performances spaces, to a touring show with a community school.  Under the tutelage and the artistic direction of Anthony Magliano, a graphic designer, percussionist and composer, and Mica Thomas, whose proficiency in stage lighting earned him a master’s in Lighting Design at Penn State University, Quixotic has gained traction in the performing arts and is well known for their creative experimentation.  Words really do their performances, described by the Kansas City Star as a “feast of musical and visual delights,” no justice and after sitting down and speaking with Quixotic Dancer and Aerialist Megan Stockman last week, I simply cannot wait to experience them in person.

Thank you to Megan who took the time out of her day of lessons and rehearsals to chat with me about Quixotic’s program.  Megan’s background is in ballet, modern, contemporary and aerial performance. She has training with many different schools such as Alvin Ailey, American Dance Center, Kansas City Ballet and University of Missouri-Kansas City. She has also received the opportunity to work with and assist world-renowned choreographers Tokyo Kevin Inouye and Sonya Tayeh.

Megan Stockman and Devan Smith of Quixotic Fusion.  Photo: Brad Austin

Lauren: Tell me a little bit about your training and history and how you became involved with the company.  

Megan: I started working with the company about three and a half years ago.  I was a dance student at the College Conservatory [University of Missouri-Kansas City] and I really liked it however I wasn’t getting all my needs as an artist met.  One day Quixotic performed at UKC and I was really inspired and it was exactly what I was looking for and envisioning in my head.  It was so strange that it was right there in the palm of my hand.  I introduced myself to the director and started working with the company and got thrown into aerial and it all took off from there.  I have a very diverse background in dance: I enjoy a lot of different styles.  I have ballet training. I also went to Alvin Ailey.  I’ve learned a lot of African dancing, capoeira.  I do hip hop, ballroom and have a little bit of every style under my belt.  However, contemporary ballet is my foundation.  That’s me in a bubble.

We all live in Kansas City.  We have quite a few artists in residency here and we have a small studio here that we started working out of a year and a half ago but before that we were literally just working out of an old warehouse that had really low ceilings so aerial was really difficult to practice.  We had no heat so you had to layer up.  We had no water so you had to make sure that you go to the bathroom before you go to practice.

L: I read that when they started seven years ago they would basically go to owners of old abandoned warehouses and offer to clean it up and just host renegade shows?

M: We would just take over: spend about a week in the warehouse, fix it up, make it look pretty like this beautiful installment.  One thing that Quixotic is really good at is installments, which we don’t get to do as much as we like to so we’re hoping to keep growing the company and continue to do installments.  You need performances and not just dance on a stage: we’re all about the collaborative process and creating an experience for our audience.

Quixotic Fusion – Photography by Mike Strong

L: How many full time artists are on the paid staff at the company?

M: That I can’t answer because we’re not for profit, so while I work full time that doesn’t mean that you’re going to get this much money.  You put yourself out there in order to make money.  I teach a lot of private lessons in order to get by and I love teaching.

L: Do you teach through the school or on the side on your own?

M: We have a whole school here and our school is really growing.  We just did a really special student showcase yesterday and announced that our school will have it’s own performing arts troupe.  There will be a performing arts troupe of  Quixotic people.  Our school has such a wide range of ages.

L: Tell me a little bit about how that came about and what the relationship is between the school and the performing arts troupe?

M: When we first developed the school we wanted to share what we do.  it’s a great thing to be able to give your talents to other people and and share that locally and create a community of artists.  Then we thought maybe this could pay our rent and we could stay in this building instead of working out of warehouses with no water and heat.  Now our school is able to pay our rent and that helps out a lot because we have somewhere to practice.  Right now the school is growing and really picking up: we have classes in here from the morning all the way into the night.   We also have rehearsals in here.  We’re all in here together and it’s a really great vibe when you come.  Everyone is really nice and all the students are really open to learning and all of the performers help the students.  It’s neat to have our school right there with our company because we are able to feed off each other, help each other and they [the students] inspire us every day.

L: So I’ve watched a little bit of the performances online and they are so complex and so big and so huge it’s mind blowing what you guys are doing and when I think of places with really modern performing arts I can’t say that I would have ever thought Kansas City.

M: Yeah, it’s kind of random and I think that’s what is so neat about our group.  When you are here, there’s something about not having influences all around you.  We are inspired from many other companies however when you are secluded you are really able to concentrate on just your singular group performance, your concept, and not get ideas from a group next door.  When you’re in a big melting pot, I feel as if performance arts groups are really sharing a lot of ideas and not only are you sharing ideas but you’re sharing the same costume designers, the same make up artists and in Kansas City we are really able to just buckle down on our concept and our installment.

Quixotic Fusion’s eso:terra, a performance ensemble

L: I feel like that says a lot about the group itself: that it came out of a need to create a certain type of community and something that was lacking that people wanted to invent.

M: We have some really amazing companies in Kansas City: we have the Kansas City Symphony, the Kansas City Ballet and what first happened was a couple of the Kansas City Ballet Dancers got together, Anthony Magliano and some musicians, and they all got together and were like, “During the summer, during our time off, let’s do something different.  I don’t want to do just ballet this summer, I want to do more unique dance.  Let’s put this with it, let’s put music with it, let’s put projections with it.”  Our artistic director is also a graphic designer and he does amazing work with computer graphics.  “So, let’s put this with with dance and see what happens.”  It turned out to be a really neat cohesive unit and it’s a random mix but it blends seamlessly.

L: Tell me about the design process and how a project goes from conception to final project?

M: It’s definitely all over the place at first.  We experiment a lot.  We have experimentation nights where we throw different materials together, different projections together, different lighting, different costumes.  It starts with experimentation.   Then we collaborate and talk all together:  what was successful, what was not and decide to explore one concept.  From there we turn it into a piece from a show: from there we adapt things, due to the venue, due to whatever kind of budget we have.  Sometimes we’re on a really tight budget and we have to get creative with our materials.  We recycle things and use lighting.  Lighting is a big thing with our group because it really enhances our dance, the projections, and the props.  It really magnifies what we’re trying to show.   Just as in a museum the lighting is so important on each piece, we have so many different pieces in the show.  So it starts with experimentation and then we move on to collaborating and talking through it and then really adapt it to a show to make it fit and conceptualize it to a story, a theme, an emotion.

L: Did you tour with the group this summer?

M: I did – we were all over the place this summer!  We were in Colorado, Whistler (Canada), Squaw Valley near Lake Tahoe, Vermont.  We performed at Electric Forest.  We were on the main stage this year and we had two shows.  It was an amazing experience and the staff took good care of us.  It was a really great summer to get that out there and share what we do to the world and the country.  Now we are hoping to do that again next summer.

L: The Quixotic Troupe is very large.  You only take part of that group on tour?

M: We have a lot of artists at home though that are still working on what we’re doing as we travel.  We have people back at home at the school in the studio: our costume designers are still at work.  So when we go out of town at first it’s a little bit smaller but it’s still a really big cast but depending on the show we have about 20-30 people touring with us.

L: What are the challenges of taking it on tour?

M: The challenges are being an athlete and being in a van and being in tight proximity.  The heat is a hard one, for me as an athlete.  As far as our costumes go, those are hard to travel with because we’ll be in the forest and we get dirt on the costume and then you have to magically find washers.  There are a lot of different challenges.

L: I’m an athlete and I know all too well that sometimes when you’re traveling you go a little stir crazy.  Your used to the endorphins and release from exercise and you get cranky on travel days. 

M: Some festivals don’t have the healthiest food too so I’ll pack my own food for some of the festivals.  Wanderlust festival is so great because they have all my diet there.

L: What show are you guys bringing to Snowglobe?

M: At Snowglobe we don’t have a set show.  It’s not like what we’ve done in the past with a 60 minute performance.  At Snowglobe we’re going to do a lot of ambient performances.  They are going to be a little bit more of a surprise.  We’re going to aerial, dance, fire, stilt walkers, intense costuming and extreme makeup design.  You’ll know our look because we are black, white and gray.  We try to stick to those colors for lighting purposes.  They catch light really well and blends everything better because there is so much going on.  There are going to be a lot of pop up performances.  We’ll be ambiance.

Quixotic Fusion – Photography by Mike Strong

L: You are a non-profit. If people like what they see at Snowglobe and want to contribute to the program, how do they do that?

M: If people want to contribute to our program they can go our website: there is a link on there to donate. You can always contact our artistic directors Mica Thomas and Anthony Magliano and they can organize it all and make sure that your funds get to the right place.

L: We are excited to host you guys here and ring in the New Year with you.  What is on the agenda for Quixotic for 2013?  What are your big goals?

M: We have a lot of cool and exciting things, however we haven’t released our dates yet.  A lot of things are still getting confirmed so I don’t want to reveal too much.  One thing I can tell you is that we’re doing a performance at Envision Festival in Costa Rica in February, we’re stoked on that one.  It will be good to get away from Kansas in the middle of the winter.  Our goals: we would really like to keep traveling both in and out of the country and keep doing festivals, shows and installations.  We have a lot of cool things in the works so keep an eye out for us.  We’ll be doing a really unique installment in Kansas City in April at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art: we did this show about three and a half years and we’re bringing the show back but making it bigger and better.  This is where we premier wall dancing with projections.  We have an 80 foot wall with dancers that high interacting with projections on a harness.  It’s one of my favorites.

L: I feel like festivals are a really great way to find new fans.  Do you feel like you came away from the summer with a lot of new exposure?

M: Even just on Facebook we went from 7,000 fans to around 11,000.  Quite a bit more fan base through just media.  In Kansas City especially, I’ll go outside of Kansas City and when I used to go out there nobody even had a clue what Quixotic was or even a trace and now people are like, “Woah!  You work with Quixotic!”  and I’m like, “What!  You know who we are?  That’s amazing!”  More people are hearing about us and I think performing at festivals is a great way because you’re able to share your work with a lot of people at one time and they are able to talk all weekend about performances that they enjoyed.  It’s a great way to share.

L: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me and I look forward to seeing you guys at the show.

M: Thank you for the opportunity.  I will see you at Snowglobe!

FOR MORE ON QUIXOTIC FUSION:

QUIXOTIC FUSION will be providing ambiance and pop up shows all around Snowglobe on Saturday, December 29th and Sunday, December 30th. Keep an eye out for their performances which will include aerials, fire, dance, stilt walking and more.

COMING UP:

  • Who to see at the fest, reviews and photos! See you there!

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