I’m not going to say a word. First – take a look at this. Then we’ll talk.
Just when you think that an Austin McCormick experience can’t get any more divine, any more sensual, or any more stunningly wicked, he whips up another tray of tempting treats which enthrall and delight you into a dumbfounded trance. Ahhh, Austin. You know what you and Company XIV have done to me. You’ve spoiled me for every other dance company in New York City. So yes, while others are flocking to (yawn) New York City Ballet to take in another predictable performance of George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker” or pandering to Tinseltown’s “let’s get another take” and “we’ll fix that in the editing room” Black Swan – those who want the opportunity to have an amazing, mesmerizing, transcendent night of decadence, dance and debauchery will come to 303 Bond and let their senses be delighted.
Nutcracker Rouge begins with a party, a beautifully set table with lush libations, in a setting that’s draped and lit and designed to entrance. If you’ve been to the 303 Bond Street theatre before you may, at first, not even recognize it, for it’s been reconfigured to create an entirely different ambiance, and that alone gives those who have been there before a little thrill of the unknown.
Soon enough the party becomes performance art as “guests” (well, the obviously best dressed guests – gorgeously costumed in designs by Zane Pihlstrom) begin to move and dance and further create the illusion. Suddenly the audience itself become part of the story – acting as the party guests, and the beauty that surrounds you in crystal, wood, velvet and brocade is no longer just a festive pre-show reception but now the actual stage. The experience is heightened with Gina Scherr’s dramatic lighting design that almost acts as a transporter – and suddenly, under a flurry of bubbles, the full performance space is revealed and you’re escorted to your seat by the loveliest of attendants.
This is a different Nutcracker – one for adults, where the party favors and sweets and confections are for a more developed sensibility – candy is dandy . . . liquor is quicker . . . but a blindfold, a trapeze, a whip, thigh high boots, well – that’s Nutcracker Rouge. And they’re just getting started.
Jeff Takacs as Drosselmeyer takes the reigns (some times even literally) as writer, re-imaginer and host – and leads the audience, as well as his god-daughter Marie-Claire (Laura Careless) through the Kingdom of the Sweets: a land of infinite enchantment, populated by bodies that contort in carnal splendor. We are lead through the threesomes, foursomes and moresomes that are at once rough and delicate – the scenes that conjure and sate every configuration and predilection. From a trio of Cherries to the duo of Licorice Boys who are deliciously decked out from their heels to their tiny black thongs and very thorough wax jobs to the sweetness of Turkish Delights, the seduction of chocolate, the sugar plum who emerges from a cake, women who participate in a frenzied Can Can there is a constant seduction of each other – and of us.
But Nutcracker Rouge is more than just delightful naughtiness – if it were just that you could find this at any burlesque show in the downtown scene and fulfill the same desire for flirty suggestiveness. No, served up with all this heightened erotica is Austin McCormick’s unparalleled, precise, breathtaking choreography that the exquisite dancers of Company XIV actualize with passion that is far beyond mere titillation. McCormick and Takacs create a world of fantasy and beauty, but beneath the crisp candy-apple coating lies the definition of uncompromising excellence on the part of everyone involved, and it is this exquisiteness that will truly capture your spirit.
So, leave the kids at home** and come let your senses be dazzled by all that this world has to offer.
~~~**The show contains partial nudity – no one under 16 years old will be admitted. . Nutcracker Rouge choreographed and directed by Austin McCormick written by Jeff Takacs Performed by Company XIV – featuring Marisol Cabrera, Laura Careless, Sean Gannon, Yeva Glover, Michael Hodge, Mina Lawton, David Martinez, Delphina Parenti, and Marla Phelan. . Performances are Fridays – Sundays at 8pm until January 9, 2011 (No shows December 24 – 26) . Company XIV Theatre Space located at 303 Bond Street (between Union & Sackett in Carroll Gardens) Tickets are $30 and $25 for students and seniors. Special New Year’s Eve $40 ticket includes post-show champagne party with the company. To purchase tickets and for more information click here or call 1-800-838-3006. . Company XIV is donating 50% of the show’s proceeds to the Ali Forney Center in New York City.