Five years ago when the Homer News checked in with Mica Thomas, the Homer-grown theater artist, he spoke of the work he’s been doing with Quixotic, a Kansas City, Mo., performance troupe. Thomas, the group’s associate artistic director, said Quixotic had been trying to build up its foundation so it could easily go on tour, maybe even to Alaska.
“I’d love to,” he said in 2009 of the prospect of touring in his home state. “I think it would be really fun to bring it up here.”
Next week, that dream comes true. As Henry David Thoreau said, “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
Quixotic’s Homer visit starts Monday with public workshops Oct. 14 and 15 in aerial silks — the art of moving from hanging fabric — and contemporary and ballet dance. Workshops are $30 for two nights of instruction. Intro to aerial silks is 6 p.m. and intermediate aerial silks is at 7:15 p.m., both at the Mariner Theatre. Contemporary dance is at 6 p.m. and ballet is at 7:30 p.m. at the Green Room, Homer High. Dance classes are for intermediate levels. Register at homerart.org or call 235-4288.
Next Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m., Quixotic presents performances in the Mariner. (See below for details.) Quixotic also performs Oct. 12 at the Atwood Concert Hall in Anchorage and Oct. 20 in the Hering Auditorium in Fairbanks.
For the past two years, Quixotic’s schedule has been crazy, Thomas, 35, said in a phone interview last week. It has done shows in China and India, participated in the TED conference last year, opened for the rock group Moby, and performed at the Wanderlust music-art festival and the Envision electronic music festival in Costa Rica — from 100 to 200 performances a year.
“We’ve been running around quite a bit,” he said. “It’s been pretty fun.”
Quixotic combines music, dance, circus acts, animated videos, fashion, costuming, sound and lighting — Thomas’ specialty — into a grand fusion of performance art. Taking all that on tour to Alaska has been a challenge, Thomas said.
“How do you fit a Quixotic show on the plane?” he said. “That is really what this has come down to.”
Fortunately, a big part of Quixotic involves video animation that becomes an extension of live performance. Quixotic’s technical crew talked to computer and video projection manufacturers about how to do a road version, Thomas said.
“Luckily, one of the biggest things is our projections group,” he said. “Once you get those core elements up there, you can create.”
Quixotic’s musicians of several violinists and drummers and its dancers don’t just move on stage. Animations “come shooting out of the drum, they come shooting out of the performers,” Thomas said.
In some pieces, a film of a dancer is projected along with a live dancer.
“It’s an interesting conversation with the live performers and the animated performers and all the components coming together,” Thomas said. “A dancer can make a big gesture, but then you add animation that continues that gesture across the stage and then it becomes bigger than life.”
Like Cirque de Soleil and Circus Circus, Quixotic combines music and circus acts like aerial silks, hand balancing and the roué cyr, a large metal wheel that artists move in. Quixotic goes beyond circus arts, though.
“It’s very about the flow,” Thomas said. “This aerials act is a dance piece in the air. This hand balancer is like a different form of movement that can be interpreted in a different way. All those things come together, mesh together.”
That might also describe how Quixotic came to Homer. Thomas, the son of Gary Thomas and Gail Radcliffe, started out in Pier One Youth Theatre, teaching at summer camps and doing lighting. A 1997 Homer High School graduate, he got his bachelor of fine arts from Southern Oregon University, Ashland, and his master of fine arts at Pennsylvania State College. He worked with the Kansas City Ballet and joined Quixotic in 2005.
Sallie Rediske, an arts volunteer, encouraged the Homer Council on the Arts to bring Thomas and Quixotic to Homer, said HCOA director Gail Edgerly. The idea of a Homer artist going to the Lower 48 and starting a career and bringing him back to perform seemed like the perfect thing to, Edgerly said.
“We’re bringing Homer-grown talent back,” she said. “This is what’s possible here. I’m hoping it will inspire the kids and it will affirm to the art community the importance of the arts and encouraging it.”
Usually, HCOA brings national acts to Homer when other Alaska cities take the lead, but in this case, HCOA became the lead presenter. A National Endowment for the Arts grant gave HCOA the impetus to bring up Quixotic, along with other grants and fundraisers.
“I have an amazing committee that has been raising money for a year. Their efforts and commitment to this process have made it work,” Edgerly said. “It’s huge to be the lead presenter and get others to come on with you.”
It’s a tour Thomas said he’s looking forward to.
“We’re pretty stoked,” he said. “I’m pretty excited, to be honest, to bring it back home.”
For videos of Quixotic, visit its web page at quixoticfusion.com.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When: 7 p.m. Oct. 17, 18
WHERE: Mariner Theatre
$20—Oct. 17 only,
$30 HCOA members,
$40 general admission,
$45 at the door (all tickets)
On sale at homerart.org or the Homer Bookstore
Also performing at the Mariner for Lower Kenai Peninsula School assemblies Oct. 14-16
Artistic Director/Founder: Anthony Magliano
Associate Artistic Director: Mica Thomas
Performers: Brittany Duskin, Christen Edwards, David Matz, Andrey Moraru, Laura Jones, Megan Stockman, Lauren Winstead
Live Musicians: Shane Borth, Onyay Pheori, Kyle Vasquez
Choreography: Robert Dekkers, Travis Guerin & Cast
Technical Staff: Daniel Barickman, Matt Bennett, Kyle Vasquez, Josh Inman
Music Composition and Sound Design Team: David Block, Shane Borth, Anthony Magliano, Onyay Pheori, Noel Selders, Wala
Visual Design Team: David Humenczuk, Stephen Goldblatt, Tyler Keith, Anthony Magliano, Drew Shantyfelt
Costume Design: Lisa Choules, Eriko Higuchi (Echo), Erica Sword
Lighting Design: Teva McMillan, Mica Thomas
Assistant Lighting Design: Greg Casparian