Quixotic brings sense of wonder to McCain

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(Photo by Parker Robb | Collegian) A performer of the group Quixotic lets the differently-colored light flash and play off the sheets of her wings as she performs dance and acrobatics to beating music Friday evening at McCain Auditorium.

McCain Auditorium was full of color and light on Friday night.

Quixotic, a performing arts group based out of Kansas City, Mo., used a combination of performers, dancers and aerialists, as well as video and lighting technology, to bring an unconventionally exciting performance to K-State.

“Those attending can expect to have their senses tantalized by dance, aerial visuals and music, all working together to tell a story about Light and Shadow and how those two elements clash, mingle and merge, reveal and conceal the world around them,” said Shane Borth, principal violinist and composer for the group.

Quixotic was established eight years ago as a one-time production that would incorporate modern dance, original music, choreography and lighting into a series of separate, nonlinear scenes. Due to the success of their first show, Quixotic began to put on annual performances in 2006.

“When those shows were consistently standing room only, we realized that what we had was something people of all ages and backgrounds could love,” Borth said. “Each person in the audience can have a unique and personal experience at our show.”

The combination of different artistic expressions made for an engaging performance; choreographed parts for the dancers fell into sync with the visual effects that were displayed on a screen behind them. Some of the effects included running water, interactions between digitalized humans, and various shapes of different colors that moved in time with the dancers throughout their performances.

“We use cutting edge technology to help tell our story, and I believe today’s college-age students will be blown away by what we can do just in that realm,” Borth said.

One challenge arose in adapting the technology of the show so it could work in McCain.

“Every venue is different,” Borth said. “The height of the theater and size of the stage change how we need to rig our aerial points and position our dancers and props, but we always adapt and plan accordingly to avoid any major changes. Our amazing crew does its homework to ensure consistency.
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The unique presentation of the production made for a new experience for members in the audience whom, until now, had not seen or known much about Quixotic.

“What [I] knew was based off of what I looked up on the internet,” said Aleah Mahan, resident of Paxico, Kan. “It looked exciting.”

The visual aspects of the performance were accompanied by pre-recorded music tracks, as well as live performances from Borth and Onyay Pheori, another violinist and composer for Quixotic. Borth played various melodies on violin over the recordings. For this production, Pheori provided live vocals. The music covered a wide range of different genres, incorporating piano, synthesizer and drum samples into the tracks. These tracks, composed by Borth and Pheori, provided a distinct emotional direction for each of the scenes performed by the dancers throughout the show.

“I [was] excited for the music, based off of what I [had] read of it,” said Amanda Mansfield, resident from Wamego.

An interesting aspect of Quixotic’s performance came from the similarities between the performers and the audience members. Most of the dancers on stage were local performers, based out of the Kansas City area, and were similar in age to the student population in the audience.

“Our performers are very excited to be in front of a college-age audience,” Borth said. “Many are 20 to 25 years old, and it is cool we can connect with similar aged people. We think a younger audience will be moved by the physicality and beauty of our show.”

Borth said that, while Quixotic is a performing arts group, it is an experimental group as well. Ultimately, the goal of each performance is to find a way, through art, to emotionally engage with the audience in creative and groundbreaking ways.

“We hope people leave the theater with awe and wonder on their mind,” Borth said. “We hope they are moved to an emotion, whether it be happiness or sorrow, beauty or a sense of the bizarre, or even just inspired to pursue their own art or ideas.”

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