Sam Urdang and Ashley Dragon are the resident circus skills performers with the Company XIV troop of dancers, singers, and comedians.
Company XIV performs their three signature productions perennially in their own custom decorated space in the hip neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn. The three productions are ‘Nutcracker Rouge,’ ‘Seven Sins,’ and ‘Queen Of Hearts’ (based on Alice in Wonderland). They are also currently working on new pieces as well.
The dancers are classically trained, many of them graduates of Juilliard school. Their ballet techniques are on a very high level, comparable to The New York City Ballet or the American Ballet Theater. Essentially they are a modern dance company with a strong emphasis on comedy, burlesque, voice, and circus. The shows they put on are superb, full of surprises, and not to be missed.
Sam Urdang is a self-taught juggler. He presents three separate routines using hats, clubs, and bartender props. With hats he kicks up to a head catch, throws behind the back and shoulder throws, juggles three in a cascade, and bounces them off his head. With clubs he juggles three and four in singles, doubles, triples and flats, does an occasional 360°, and Russian style side spins. In the bartender flair routine, he juggles bottles in multiplex and shoulder throws, manipulates shaker cups, and tosses and catches full jiggers of booze. He has a great attitude, all the while displaying an expression of joy and surprise at his own antics.
Ashley Dragon, besides being a classically trained ballerina, distinguishes herself as a Cyr wheel artist. She rolls around the stage with four, three, or two contact points. She does the ‘penny spin’ and returns to the stage roll. She releases the wheel, does an acrobatic stunt, and hops back on. She is extremely strong and flexible and has terrific high kicks.
There were also a number of aerial routines on silks and hoops. The most remarkable one was performed by Opera Gaga (that’s her name) who sang a magnificent opera aria while executing her routine on a waxing crescent moon shaped prop hanging from the rafters.
The shows loosely follow a theme or a story. The ‘Nutcracker Rouge’ mixes Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece with modern pop, ‘Queen of Hearts’ tells the story of a more nubile Alice, and ‘Seven Sins’ is about hedonism in all its glory.
No one is wearing very much in the way of clothes, in accordance with the burlesque sensibility of the productions, but what little costume does show is stitched to perfection, even if it’s only a tutu made of bananas. And some of the props are a riot, like the cake that Fifi jumps out of, or the giant martini glass that Bubbles fills up with champagne and then herself, followed by a full hilarious French Can-Can dance by the company.
Company XIV is directed by 36-year-old, Austin McCormick. Austin is a Juilliard graduate and twice nominated choreographer for the Drama Desk Award. Company XIV is located at 383 Troutman street Brooklyn, New York. Don’t miss their next show.