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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