Quixotic is sexy. Quixotic is visceral. Quixotic is excess.
Quixotic can certainly put on a show.
The Kansas City-based performing ensemble has traveled internationally with its multimedia extravaganzas of dance, aerial acrobatics, video projections and live, original music. Quixotic celebrated its 10th anniversary on Saturday night with the presentation “Gravity of Center.”
Creative director/founder Anthony Magliano and executive producer Mica Thomas have gathered a dynamic team of artists. They’ve developed a huge local following, evidenced in the appreciative audience that filled the Lied Center of Kansas in Lawrence.
To connect this presentation of new and previous works, they created a narrative that followed a series of 16 events such as “Momentum,” “Inertia” or “Embody the Struggle” with personified characters of “Levity,” “Gravity” and “The Center” (dancers Beau Campbell, Lauren Winstead and Laura Jones Wallner, respectively) and “The Navigator” (violinist Shane Borth) in a sort of struggle/journey.
The program notes weren’t extensive enough to be much service, and the action on stage was unclear, leaving the concept heavy-handed, befuddling and ultimately unsuccessful.
For instance, “The Navigator” fiddled away on every scene, offering little purpose or few useful visual clues. His presence was a distraction from the beautiful dancers and exciting acrobatics, especially since the music itself was an unremarkable synthesized wash of sound pumped into the house at cranium-tingling volume.
Perhaps it would have been better to leave the cohesive expectations unspecified, to put more care into the structure of the overly busy transitions and allow the audience to absorb one moment before pushing on to the next one.
Of the five choreographers listed, it’s impossible to know who to commend and who to blame for the mixed quality of movement. There were inventive gestures and phrasing, but too often a piling-on of elements — strobe lights! drummers! projections! aerialists! a mirror ball! — proved distracting and marred the presentation through the mismanagement of an enviable amount of talent and resources.
The aerialists, though, were impressive, with sudden drops, spiraling flips and dizzying catches, as was the amazing strength and control of the hand balancer and the Cyr wheelist (a performer in a huge, man-sized gyroscopic hoop).
The video projections were stunning, as they usually are, especially the motion trail sequence, though Quixotic relies too heavily on this element to the detriment of others.
The audience loved the show and its glittery array of visual and physical feats, and offered an immediate standing ovation.