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BWW Interview: Austin McCormick Talks Company XIV and His Scintillating Production of NUTCRACKER ROUGE


COMPANY XIV will be presenting a revival of "Nutcracker Rouge," a sparkling reimagining of the beloved Nutcracker tale told with erotic, sensual and opulent flair at The Minetta Lane Theatre. The show will play a limited 8-week engagement from November 25th to January 17th, with opening night scheduled for December 2nd.

"Nutcracker Rouge" is conceived, directed and choreographed by Drama Desk Award nominee Austin McCormick. His work is known for its unique mash- up of classical texts, dance, music, circus, opera, fashion and sumptuous design.

I recently caught Mr. McCormick's world premiere of "Cinderella" and was fascinated by his work. It was the first time I'd seen one of his productions and was entranced by his unique storytelling through dance and much more! From the clever and outrageous costumes (that barely cover the multi- talented performers) right down to the atmospheric setting throughout the theatre space. It's all one delicious and delirious artistic confection.

I asked Mr. McCormick about his upcoming revival of "Nutcracker Rouge."

Hi Austin,

Austin McCormick. Photo courtesy of Company XIV

First of all, congratulations on the premiere of CINDERELLA! The reviews were pretty darn good too! How did that feel?

It was very exciting for us to share a brand new show. I'm always thrilled when reviews are positive and articulate because it encourages people who aren't familiar with the company to come and experience the show.

Tell me a little about the revival of NUTCRACKER ROUGE. What's the toughest part in putting it all together?

I have the best time working on NUTCRACKER ROUGE every year. It's so fun to re-imagine the show and incorporate new guest artists. We have some very special new additions to the show this year!

The artists of Company XIV are so talented and interested in making the world of the shows beautiful and captivating. It makes my job all the more pleasurable. The toughest part for the cast is probably all of their speedy and spectacular costume changes.

Laura Careless. Photo: Joshua Flannigan

The juxtaposition of classical music and eroticism in your work is captivating yet it's titillating without being overtly sexual. What motivates you to consider the erotic factor in your pieces?

I'm always interested in seducing the audience into the environment of the show. In NUTCRACKER ROUGE the Kingdom of Sweets is a decadent fantasy world where Marie-Claire is experiencing a sensual awakening. All of these sweet experiences prepare her for her transformation to the Sugar Plum Fairy.

You obviously have a great relationship with your designers. The costumes, sets, and lights work together so seamlessly. How involved are you in the process with your designers?

I work with costume/set designer Zane Pihlstrom and lighting designer Jeanette Yew. They are both fantastically creative and have been working with me for a long time. We work in a collaborative environment and can finish each other's sentences at this point. They are endlessly dedicated and hard working.

Is there a specific type of dancer/performer you look for when auditioning for this show? Talent aside, is there a certain persona you gravitate towards?

The most important quality XIV performers possess is an intense and deep connection to their pleasure. Everyone in Company XIV is classically trained and interested in pushing their skill sets and challenging their artistry.

Cast members of Nutcracker Rouge. Photo: Joshua Flannigan

They sure are a talented and versatile bunch. What type of specialty acts do you plan to include in this year's show?

If I tell you, I'd have to kill you. All I can say is some favorite sweets are back and there are some dazzling new additions including circus, twins and lots of glitter.

That sounds intriguing! Do you have a favorite piece in the show?

My favorite piece changes depending on my mood. This year's "Champagne" section starring Marcy Richardson is to die for. The final pas de deux between Laura Careless and Steven Trumon Gray is probably my favorite piece of choreography. They are incredible artists and leave everything they have on the stage.

When did you begin to develop your unique style and craftsmanship?

I began fusing Baroque court dance with contemporary movement while I was making choreography as a student at Juilliard. That's really where I decided I wanted to pursue a life as a director/choreographer.

Is there a teacher or person in your life that was instrumental in supporting your dreams and visions?

My biggest supporter is and has always been my mother. She has the most amazing taste and really influenced my sensibility and artistic perspectives. From a very young age, she always encouraged me to be exactly who I am. She believes that anything is possible and has been endlessly supportive of my Company XIV dreams.

Thank you, Austin. I can't wait to see how the visions of sugar plums danced in your head while creating this year's production of NUTCRACKER ROUGE.

Performances are Tuesdays - Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 5pm. Visit Ticketmaster or call 1-800-745-3000.
The cast of NUTCRACKER ROUGE includes Hilly Bodin, Laura Careless, Lea Helle, Jakob Karr, Nicholas Katen, Ross Katen, Malik Kitchen, Mark Osmundsen, Davon Rainey, Marcy Richardson, Steven Trumon Gray, Brett Umlauf, Nicole von Arx and Shelly Watson.

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