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Sweet Surprises | Company XIV

Yes, I admit it. For those of you who know me well and to those who may not know me at all:

I’m a bit of a smarty-pants.

I’m completely aware of my ailment and I really do take steps to improve on this know-it-all attitude. So when I’m proven wrong – I mean, like terribly wrong – I am happy to admit my mistake and rejoice that I am overcoming my condition.  In this case I’m referring to my experience at Company XIV’s show called “Rococo Rouge” (and since I’ve studied, worked, performed in various dance forms my whole life, I’m a particularly hard critic and smart-ass when it comes to dance-based performances).

My tango student and theatre buddy Edward insisted that I go see this show, describing it as a great variety show that includes dance, burlesque, trapeze, circus, singing, live music… he gets so excited telling me about it that I’m cringing on the inside, “ugh, I don’t like variety shows, it always means that they try to stick too many things together and the overall product ends up mediocre.”  Besides, this is someone I go to see Macbeth, Pina Bausch and Alan Cumming with… not variety shows.  So ok, here we go, are you ready Edward?  I was wrong !

This is truly a well crafted show of very talented (I should say multi-talented) dancers, singers and one gifted director/choreographer Austin McCormick. I am not a theatre critic, but imagine a show that opens with a high caliber baroque opera scene and slides into a rendition of Iggy’s ‘Fancy’ like it’s the natural and sensical progression of the show. This melding of time periods and styles happens throughout the evening and it’s never jarring… you just think, “yes of course you would do a french version of ‘Royals’ and then Britney Spears and then “Drunken Love.”  Obviously…

It does help that the singers are impressive and the fact they are also very strong technical dancers and the choreography challenging and elaborate… well: the 10,000 hours theory to becoming an expert at just one skill be damned. There’s a ballerina on pointe who also does the Lyra, an actress|dancer who performs on the Cyr wheel, a pole dancer… you get the idea.  It is actually a REAL variety show, as was intended.

A few of my favorites: the costumes are fantastically divine and deserve mention. Clearly custom-made and a lot of thought and care went into their development. The crooning voice of Katrina Cunningham will make you find new appreciation for the overplayed “Drunken Love” and las but not least, I love that they finished the show with a cancan. Not an overly choreographed cancan like many would be tempted to do today, but one where legs are flying and it’s a frolicking wild good time. So much so that a dancer fell on her bumm, got up laughed it off and kept running with the group. I just saw a real cancan for the first time. I don’t even know if it’s historically accurate and I don’t even care, because this company made me believe it was the real thing.

Well played, players.  Looking forward to your Nutcracker.

If you’re in the city by mid-November, you should get tickets to this show, enjoy great drinks and have a merry intro to your holiday season:

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