The Mesmerizing Dance-Gymnastics-Music-Art of Quixotic Fusion

The Kansas City-based performing arts group is about to break out on an international stage.


Quixotic Fusion

On a midsummer night in the Ozark mountains, at last year's Wakarusa Music and Arts festival, something strange emerged from the darkness. Around midnight, just after My Morning Jacket played the main stage and right before a set by techno-king Bassnectar, fans saw a burst of pure, white light. A stage appeared. The crowd was blasted by music. Cavernous drums, bass, and eerie fiddle echoed to the stars like some primitive call to prayer.

Two women in scant, white, gauzy costumes appeared, as though conjured by the sound. Bathed in light turning from pink to purple, to baby blue, surrounded by green lasers splintered into endless shards by mirror tiles, the dancers climbed onto a silver contraption nicknamed "the blender," that's somewhere between a cage and metal pretzel. The structure was lifted by wires, and the women started climbing and posing on it, dangerously high above the musicians.

Just then, a festival fan wandered up, newly bought beer in his hand. In his early 20s, with stringy blonde hair and mouth agape, he walked to the soundboard. For a moment, he stared at the wild scene on stage where the dancers were twirling faster. Roiling, writhing, they built momentum as the band thundered towards crescendo. The fan turned to the mixing board crew and asked loudly of no one in particular, "What is this?"

That's odd. Normally at music festivals people will walk up and ask, "Who is this?" As in "Who is this band or musician playing?" For Quixotic Fusion, though, the question was different. This fan not only didn't know who he was watching. He didn't even know what it was.

That's because Quixotic Fusion isn't a band, though they usually perform with live musicians. They aren't a dance troupe either, despite having a fully trained company on hand. Quixotic certainly is no circus, though any given performance might include circus arts, from fire jugglers to contortionists. Quixotic Fusion, aptly named, is just that. They are a curious mix—an odd concoction of music, dance, aerial acrobatics, costuming, lighting effects, and street performance. Based in Kansas City, Missouri, Quixotic Fusion has also gone from being a mere lark for art's sake to becoming a well-respected regional arts organization in less than ten years.

Now the group is about to go global. Virtually, anyway. Last month, Quixotic was given Silicon Valley's unofficial stamp of genius. They were invited to perform at TED, the elaborate annual speakers' conference held in Long Beach, California, and broadcast on Feb. 29 via web stream to TEDx events around the world.

In 2004, Quixotic's founder, Anthony Magliano, was a rising star in the art department at Bernstein-Rein, a Kansas City advertising agency. Magliano and Noel Selders, a composer and multi-instrumentalist, had been making music together since their school days. With KC's art scene booming, they wanted to jump in.

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Hampton Stevens is a writer based in Kansas City, Missouri. His work has appeared in The Atlantic, ESPN the Magazine, Playboy, Gawker, Maxim, and many more publications.

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