Posted on Jul 22, 2013
4 out of 5
On Saturday, July 20th, Quixotic flexed its youth muscles in “Tormenta Quixotica” to the delight of the anticipatory audience. Don’t let the fact that it’s the Quixotic School of Performing Arts fool you; the students at Quixotic are not messing around. But while Kansas City has come to expect near-perfection from Quixotic over the last handful of years, there were two major weaknesses in this show: the technical setup and the performance quality of the dancers. That, however, shouldn’t keep anybody from coming to see this company which operates almost-strictly on the spectacle of lights, costumes, and aerial tricks.
From a technical standpoint, this show didn’t try as hard as it usually does to wow its audience. The lighting designer (Daniel Parks) emphasizes moments and harnesses atmosphere and feeling like usual, but not with the same zest as is a pinnacle for Quixotic. The presence of the Stage Manager (Elena Sherman) was entirely felt. The constant set-moving assignments and switching of equipment were well-organized … but annoying to the audience. However, when it’s the Fringe, convenience has to take a back seat to technical capability; there are only so many places on the grid from which people can hang safely. The costumes by Erica Sword and Lisa Choules are intriguing while managing to stay age-appropriate. A couple of the students’ makeup is awful as compared to others’. But that’s what you get when the mothers of the students take over makeup application. Altogether, the technical aspects seemed overwhelming for both the performers and the technicians. Too many pulleys, too many mats, too much to focus on just to produce a safe show. But no one died or got injured (as far as the audience knows), so we’ll count this one as a win.
As far as the actual performance goes, the audience remains in awe of what is going on at the studios of Quixotic. Beautifully-composed and talented dancers keep popping out of that place like jack-in-the-boxes. However, composed and talented don’t always equal a stellar show; sadly, that was the case this time. The aerial talent far surpasses the dance talent; unprepared group dances and lots of unsure and scared little faces litter the stage on Saturday night. The opening number is pretty deplorable; it is a rare event for everyone to be on the same count at the same time, and half of the dancers’ faces have “this is only my 3rd time doing this” written all over them. Even when the dancers manage to do the correct choreography at the correct time, their faces remain dead as door-nails. Librarians have more facial life than some of these dancers have. If the choreographers are saying “Look mad” as their instruction, then the choreographers are doing the dancers and the show a great disservice.
That being said, moments of jaw-dropping expertise make the audience forget all about the dead-pan expressions of the dancers. Ashley Greer is a little starlet during her Trapeze solo, but her impressiveness comes to a stand-still during her somewhat monotonous Hand Balancing routine. Still, though; she’s allowed to be a little monotonous -- she was only just born a couple years ago, after all. The Group Tissu and Trapeze trio are stressful to watch as the dancers struggle to keep up with both the music and their fellow dancers; the choreography for the Group Tissu may be a bit too hard for them, but they, literally, rise to the occasion. Lynn Bryun is an absolutely gorgeous and astounding Lyra artist as she performs with extreme diligence, care, and training; this girl has long legs and the strength to control them. Both Ashley Prohaska (on the Corde Lisse) and Liv Morrow (on the Straps) easily make the money to see this show well-spent. It really is quite inappropriate how flexible and strong Morrow is. The Corde Lisse routine is truly a human vs. rope story, and Prohaska wins hands-down; don’t punch this girl in the stomach -- you might break something. One last honorable mention for performance is “Butterfly,” the group Lyra, choreographed by Jenny and Kate: a lovely and successfully-accomplished feat of strength and teamwork.
A note about choreography and rehearsals must be addressed; when a company has its own studio, there really shouldn’t be any excuse for having performers who are backstage leading the onstage performers in their choreography because they have gotten lost. This happens with a small number of pieces -- the contortion number being the most obvious. The first piece of choreography to actually look good on its dancers is the group dance number choreographed by Lauren W. and Kate following the Lyra solo. That’s five numbers into the show! That is a long time to wait to see well-rehearsed choreography…at a dance show.
Overall, obviously, getting to see any Quixotic show, even one which features dead-faced dancers who get lost sometimes, is a great opportunity for such a small cost. These are the future stars of Quixotic, and Kansas City is excited to see them flourish in the future. Hopefully, they get a little more confident because they perform at KC Ballet Bolender Center all week!