by PATRICIA O’DELL | photos courtesy of QUIXOTIC
While many Kansas Citians have seen the artistic collaboration of Quixotic at events around town, some are unaware of the reach and scope of the performance company’s work. For the first time since its inception, the company will be offering regular shows near the Crossroads district.
Quixotic calls Kansas City home. The performance group began in 2005 as an annual creative collaboration to provide an outlet for local ballet dancers and stage professionals to work in the off season.
“We did one show a year in abandoned buildings,” says executive producer Mica Thomas, who managed production at the beginning. “We’d clean up the space and figure out a way to run power and put on a show. It was fun and people loved it.”
The community response was positive and Thomas, in conjunction with founder Anthony Magliano, began producing regular shows. About three years into the project people began approaching them to perform at events.
“They’d say, ‘We could give you $500.’ It was only $500, but that made it a paid gig.”
In 2011, they received a call from Mike Lundgren, director of innovation strategy at VML. He introduced the group to TEDx.
“That was a game-changer,” says Thomas.
The exposure from the TEDx performance led to international bookings. Suddenly, this group of local technicians and performers was traveling to Spain, China, India, and the Middle East. The bigger opportunities and bigger budgets allowed for a broader scope of work. They began to explore aerial performance, projections, and animation.
“We know that in Kansas City most people have seen us at Crossroads or the West Bottoms, the Nelson – and we love that, but I don’t think they know we’re doing video mapping for the Smithsonian.”
The company went from one performance a year to employing 15 to 20 people in a residency with a regular show in Miami, which is a riff on cabaret. It’s been remarkably successful.
While Kansas City has always been supportive of Quixotic, the group has performed some of its bigger, more complex material away from home. That is about to change. The group has two new projects launching in the fall. They are bringing Quixotic to Kansas City in a bigger way.
“Our first project is with the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens,” says Hilary Rambeau, producer. “I know when some people think about Quixotic, they think about sitting down and watching a show. This is going to be a like a luminary walk, but times a thousand. It’s about a mile and a half path through the grounds with innovative installments, musicians, and aerialists.”
The group is excited to perform for people who might not have seen them in the heart of the city.
“This is a great way for us to get to Johnson County and have something that is for everyone. We think there may be a lot of people who don’t know who we are in this part of the city,” Magniano says.
The group is equally excited about a collaboration closer to Crossroads.
“So, we opened the show in Miami and it was supposed to run for two months,” Thomas says. “We’ve been down there for two and a half years. We’re ready to bring our performers back – and some of our new Miami family – and do a show here in Kansas City two nights a week.”
Quixotic will be performing in the Heartland Theatre at Crown Center.
“It’s going to be a very unique experience,” says Magliano. “It’s a classic cabaret format – edgy – it’s a late-night experience with an allstar cast of artists, many of whom have been with us for years.”
But it’s not only the relationship to the performers that is at the new show’s foundation, but the connection to the city, as well.
“We’re putting a Kansas City spin on it,” Magliano says. “This will be more jazz inspired than the show in Miami. Next year is the 100th anniversary of Prohibition. We want it to reflect that speakeasy vibe.”
The group sees this new concept as an exciting addition to Kansas City’s nightlife.
“Whether it’s people in from out of town as tourists or on business, or people who are taking friends for the third or fourth time – which was our experience in Miami – we really think this is going to add something unique and special to Crown Center, Crossroads, and downtown,” says Magliano.
“It’s amazing that just a few years ago Anthony and Mica were just trying to create opportunities for artists to perform full time,” Rambeau says. “Then there were ballet dancers, musicians, and technical designers. Now we have 15 to 20 people whose primary income is performing with us in Miami while still creating experiences for more than 90 clients a year with our Kansas City cast.”
“That’s been the goal the whole time,” Magliano says. “Consistent work for people in the arts.”