Tuesday, May 29, 2012

THEATER: Judge Me Paris

Photo/Corey Tatarczuk

Perhaps the greatest compliment I can send Company XIV's way is that this exciting, dance-fusion troupe (under the expert leadership of Austin McCormick) continues to evolve with each new show. Though their latest, Judge Me Paris returns to the well of their 2009 Judgment of Paris, it now does so with the operatic sensibilities that were honed in 2009's Snow White and 2010's Le Cirque Ferrique (indeed, Brett Umlauf and Amber Youell are back as Pallas and Juno), with the classy eroticism mastered in 2010's near-perfect Nutcracker Rouge, and the stunning live cinematography that was utilized in 2011's Lover.Muse.Mockingbird.Whore. (There's live music, too, from the lingerie-and-wigs-clad members of SIREN Baroque: Antonia Nelson, Claire Smith, Kelly Savage, and Anneke Schaul-Yoder.)

Jeff Takacs, who often writes and narrates these shows, has developed a richly caustic tone, and his movement has grown ever more lithe, allowing him to do more with less. The same applies to Zane Pihlstrom's clever set design, which opens up the space (the dressing rooms are a visible part of the show) and then proceeds to frame the stage itself in neon-colored LEDs; likewise, Olivera Gajic's distressed corsets, polished leathers, and rich, flowing fabrics are always welcome.

And while I don't profess to be an expert at dance, the ensemble appears more than capable of the varied styles, from the baroque twirls of "Turn to Me" to the cool, slow, and inevitable temptations of Juno (if Venus in Fur were danced, this would be it); the balletic battle of Pallas Athena's shoves and thrusts; and the tender, feather-and-balloon-filled dance (set, brilliantly and anachronistically, to the Ink Spots' "I Don't Want To Set the World on Fire") with Venus (Brittany Palmer) . . . or the even tenderer a capella finale that fades out on the dance between long-time company members Sean Gannon and Lauren Careless (as Paris and Helen).

Perhaps an even greater compliment, then, is in the way the works of Company XIV remain impossible to set down and describe on the page: such transitory images are as slippery as they are beautifulDon't miss another chance to see them.

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