By: Paulanne Simmons
Louis XIV, also known as "Le Roi Soleil," ("The Sun King" ) and Louis le Grand (Louis the Great), ruled over France by d
ivine right. He also dictated style by divine taste. And as his reign was during the height of the Baroque era and later as the era was sliding into the Rococo, that meant ornate design, overstatement, and a lighthearted, often naughty spirit.
Animated by Louis and his court at Versailles, Company XIV, under the inspired leadership of director/choreographer Austin McCormick, creates sumptuous extravaganzas of dance, song and music. Not surprisingly, the company has a fondness for the color red, and with Nutcracker Rouge and Le Serpent Rouge already under it belt, the company has gone one this year to Rococo Rouge, which is making its premiere at its new home, an intimate theater-lounge on Lafayette Street.
The ensemble cast of Rococo Rouge includes many talented actors who sing, dance and show off their beautiful bodies, often covered with nothing more than corsets, codpieces and feathers. Garter belts abound.
Although Rococo Rouge owes it’s artistic conceit to Louis XIV, it’s not likely he would recognize much of what he saw onstage. Yes, there is much of his beloved ballet and opera, but the show also makes vigorous nods to pop culture, standard French ballads from the likes of Edith Piaf and gender bending costumes that go far beyond the pow
dered wigs Louis had fashioned to cover his balding head.
There’s a lascivious strip to Peggy Lee’s "Is That All There Is?" a spicy version of the Habanera or "L’amour est un oiseau rebelle" (Love is a rebellious bird), circus acts and a Can-can worthy of any French music hall. While from time to time a mistress of ceremonies makes her way among the tables and onto the stage, encouraging both the audience and the actors to break the bounds of propriety.
Rococo Rouge at 428 Lafayette Street, companyxiv.com.