Austin McCormick Talks the Extraordinary New Season of Company XIV

In 2006, Austin McCormick created Company XIV, blending circus, Baroque dance, ballet, opera and live music to create something New York had never seen before. This fall, Company XIV moved into their first permanent performance space in Brooklyn and is beginning performances on their much-lauded holiday show, Nutcracker Rouge. I caught up with Austin to talk about the changes in store for the company and what’s next.

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Photos by Mark Shelby Perry

First off, let’s talk about your new space!

We are totally thrilled we finally found a permanent space in Bushwick. It’s a former immersive theatre space and we’ve done a few months of renovation to transform it into a Baroque Burlesque Cabaret theater. It’s a 200 seat theater, has a fantastic bar space and for the first time in company history, we can plan a long term season with multiple shows and longer contracts for artists. I’m really thrilled.

Nutcracker Rouge has become part of so many people’s annual holiday tradition in New York. How do you keep it fresh each year?

Part of the fun for me is incorporating new guest artists which changes the specialties and circus elements. Also having different types of singers changes the way the music translates. There’s a balance of keeping the old favorites in there and taking it into new directions as well. It’s a fun challenge to push the show forward.

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Photos by Mark Shelby Perry

What’s inspiring you these days?

With the new space, I’m thinking about ways to make it more immersive. I know that’s a buzzword in theatre right now but I’m looking for ways to make the performance feel like it’s spilling off the stage and into the whole space. I’m looking at the details of the theatre experience–the way the guests check in, the way they get their tickets, the way they order drinks at the bar–and I want to blur the lines between the front of house staff and the performers on stage. This is the first time we can experiment with it and it will be an ever evolving experience.

What have the past few years taught you about yourself as an artist?

The thing I’ve come away with in being a mobile company until now is really that our work is adaptable. I’ve found artistic confidence in that it doesn’t have to be a certain way, staged a certain way, or be in a space that’s a certain size. There’s a confidence in our company that we can show up and bring what we do to whatever space we are given.

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Photos by Mark Shelby Perry

What’s coming up for Company XIV?

We are opening Nutcracker Rouge on November 9th and after that, I have a variety show that will directly follow it. Then I’m going to totally revamp a show that was the second show I ever made with the company. It’s sort of my take on the creation story, on Adam and Eve, and I’m going to remix and revamp that for our new space. Then we are doing an opera collaboration with Opera Columbus in a production of Orpheus and Eurydice. After that, I’m back at the Met Opera next season choreographing there. So, I’m quite busy.

For tickets, head over to http://www.companyxiv.com

Interview by Ryan Brinson
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