Art on the High Wire

Creative collaboration and athletic artistry, an interview with Anthony Magliano

Ten years ago Anthony Magliano set out to combine his love of music and performance art with his passion for collaboration. In the process, he and his colleagues created something unique: Quixotic. A combination of dance, music, fashion, projection mapping and aerial acrobatics, Quixotic is like nothing you’ve ever seen. In the past 10 years, Quixotic has grown from an annual event to a high-end events entertainment and performance art group—always with collaboration at its core. With Magliano at the helm as artistic director, the group has staged performances everywhere from Alaska to China and organized custom events for big names like Garmin, Samsung, IBM and Hallmark. We recently sat down with Magliano to discuss Quixotic’s past and take a look toward its future.

Kansas City Spaces: How did Quixotic get started, and how has it changed over the years?

Anthony Magliano: I love performance art and music, integrating a lot of arts together and immersing myself in entertainment. I’ve always been collaborative, too. Always thinking “How do I work with other friends of mine to do projects together?” When Quixotic started, it was a combination of a handful of Kansas City ballet dancers who were off-season mixed with other people from the theater, fashion and music communities.

In the first three years, Quixotic was more of an event. We would come up with a theme and concept, and have 16 to 20 collaborators work on it. It was a group project, and every year we got better at what we did. By the fourth year we started getting phone calls asking us to do specialty events. I wanted to start adding more aerial acrobatics and more contemporary circus elements, and it kind of transformed a bit from the original project.

I think the turning point was when we were invited by Mike Lundgren at VML to do TEDxKC. And then we were invited to do the big TED conference in Long Beach, California, and after that it changed our world quite a bit. We started getting a lot of national and international exposure. We started getting phone calls to do events out of town.

When people think of Quixotic, they know about the aerial performers and the dancers. But we have this whole other side, which is creating really unique events for people. I would say we’re not an event production company but an event entertainment company. People know we can come up with unique ideas and unique ways for guests to have an experience, and I think that’s where we stand out. It’s art and science working really close at hand. We can come up with out-of-the-box thinking, but we can also execute those ideas.

KCS: This year marks Quixotic’s 10th anniversary. Looking back, what do you think has been your biggest accomplishment in the last decade?

Art_QA_Anthony-Magliano1AM: Last year Union Station asked us if we’d be interested in coming up with a creative way to celebrate their 100-year anniversary. We all collaborated and came up with a way to tell the history of the building using the architecture of the building as a canvas for video projection mapping. This project was the first of its kind for us. It was also the largest scale project we’ve done in regards to the amount of hours put into it and the technical and the creative. But the outcome was such a success. We all had goose bumps seeing the end result. That was one of our proudest moments.

This year we were also invited to work with Cirque du Soleil on a collaboration called One Night for One Drop. That was quite an honor. These guys are the leader in circus art. Although we’re very much in the same category, we’re a boutique entity on a much smaller scale, so for them to recognize our brand and our own style was quite an honor.

KCS: What do you envision for the future of Quixotic?

AM: We want to continue to be integrated into the Kansas City arts community and collaborate with other amazing organizations here. We also want to grow a little and continue to give opportunities and careers for Kansas City artists. That’s a goal: to be another entity that employs artists in Kansas City and gives them great opportunities to perform not just here in Kansas City but outside Kansas City as well.

We also want to get more involved in community outreach. Once a quarter we’re opening up our studio and trying to bring in groups for community outreach days. We recently worked with the Boys and Girls Club. We had 80 to 90 kids come to the studio where Quixotic artists conducted workshops on dance, drums and work on the aerial apparatus and trapeze. We wanted the kids to see behind-the-scenes on how we train. There’s kind of a cool appeal to our work because what we do is arts and athletics combined. It’s a good way to stay in shape, but you can also be creative while doing it.