Salmonfest newcomers light up the night

  • Photo by Megan Pacer/Peninsula Clarion A ballet dancer perfoms with Quixotic on Sunday, Aug. 7, 2016 at Salmonfest in Ninilchik, Alaska. Quixotic is a cirque nouveau that blends live music with dance, lights and other performance art.
  • Quixotic fire artist Ken Hill shows off his skills during Quixotic's performance at Salmonfest in the early hours of Sunday, August 7. Multiple performers' acts included fire, despite the night's wet weather.
  • A Quixotic ballet dancer twists her body to the violin music played during the group's performance at Salmonfest in the early hours of Sunday, August 7. Quixotic incorporates different styles of dance and music as part of their unique performance style.
  • Quixotic dancer Mikey Bravo performs a series of acrobatic dance moves at Salmonfest in the early hours of Sunday, August 7. Quixotic incorporates different styles of dance as part of their unique performance style.
  • Quixotic aerialist and dancer Megan Stockman hangs from a spinning hoop suspended over the stage at Salmonfest in the early hours of Sunday, August 7. Quixotic uses dance and aerial acts as part of their unique performance style.

Ninilchik’s annual Salmonfest draws some unique characters from far and wide. This year was no exception when it came to a new performance group all the way from Missouri.

Saturday’s headliner Trampled by Turtles was a lively crowd pleaser that kept people dancing well into the night, despite the rain and copious amounts of mud. They were followed by the Kansas City, Missouri based cirque nouveau group Quixotic, which combines live music with dance, aerial acts, fire performances and digital elements like light.

The group had to switch stages shortly before the performance due to the rain.

“We decided to wait until 5 p.m. to make the call, and at 5 p.m. it was raining,” said violinist and composer Shane Borth.

The less-than-ideal weather couldn’t stop the eclectic group, which lit up the smaller stage in the educational area until 2 a.m. Sunday. While scaled down from Quixotic’s usual shows, the performance still included elements of fire, aerial work and dance.

The change of stage location forced aerialist Megan Stockman to re-choreograph her routine on Saturday to adjust for the change in equipment, including a shorter strap to hold her lyr, or aerial hoop.

“I changed three sections, which is three-quarters of the act. I have a large vocabulary of things I can do, so its fun to put in other stuff I’ve been working on,” Stockman said. “Luckily everybody here is flexible and adaptive here.”

Even the higher humidity because of the rain was a factor in Quixotic’s performance since the group had to ensure their equipment was not slippery. Stockman performed the dual loop with Sammy Sunshyne, an act that can be tricky in humid conditions.

“With partner work it can be sweaty. Thankfully my partner doesn’t sweat too much,” Stockman said.

The group has performed at music festivals before, Borth said, and have about 30 shows over the next few months. To make the Salmonfest show happen, Quixotic members carefully packed the larger pieces equipment they would need and shipped it out two to three weeks prior to the festival. Other items, they took with them in their luggage on the plane.

“It’s always interesting trying to get the fire props through airports,” Stockman said. “We have to put a note what its is for and we always see a note saying, ‘TSA inspected this item.’”

Quixotic picks and chooses elements from its major shows to share with music lovers.

“I thought it went insanely well for in the rain,” he said. “I mean, seriously, none of the sound was here, none of the lights were here, so for people to build it in like … 7 hours before the show, that’s nuts.”

Quixotic’s performers were surprised by the Salmonfest’s audience tolerance for the rain, which changed in intensity as the night drew on.

“The hospitality is on point here,” Stockman said. “The audience sitting in pouring rain to watch a show, there’s good people here.”

The mix of folk elements, like Borth’s violin, with digital and electronic elements is a growing crowd pleaser that appears at more and more of the festivals Quixotic plays, Borth said.

“We play a lot of festivals where you’ll see … bands that blend the two arts together, but also have a stage where it’s all folk (and) bluegrass, and they have another stage where it’s all electronic music,” he said. “So you can do them both, man, people love both for sure.”

Quixotic is sticking around the Kenai Peninsula to teach aerial workshops and host open gym sessions to practice the techinques taught in the workshops in Homer – Quixotic executive producer Mica Thomas’ hometown – at Homer Council on the Arts on August 9-11 and 13.

Quixotic-taught class prices range from $200-$375, however scholarships are available. For more information, visit homerart.org/events.

Anna Frost is a reporter for the Homer News. Anna Frost can be reached at anna.frost@homernews.com. Megan Pacer is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion. Megan Pacer can be reached at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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