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January 6, 2014

Nutcracker Rouge Keeps Davon Rainey (Painfully) on His Toes

by Jesse North
PS Davon Rainey thumb

Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet The Nutcracker has been given a burlesque makeover at the Minetta Lane Theater off-Broadway with Nutcracker Rouge. Created by Company XIV, this eye-popping dance piece has been splashed with baroque drapings (sets and costumes by Zane Pihlstrom) and puts the audience inside a setting that would be a mouthwatering Vanity Fair photo shoot. Director and choreographer Austin McCormick sets his cast of talented dancers loose on the stage, acting with feverishly sexual flare and singing in smoldering cabaret style, some songs as modern as “Material Girl.”

Photo: Phillip Van Nostrand

Photo: Phillip Van Nostrand

Davon Rainey stands out as a featured dancer in the show, which runs through January 12. Classically trained in dance at Juilliard, the Memphis native has been developing work with Company XIV for years, along with director McCormick, whom he met at Juilliard. Rainey makes his first entrance clad in terrifyingly high heels, reminiscent of footwear seen in Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” music video, that put him completely on point. Rainey tears his way through the show, displaying precise movement and a pumped-up attitude that joyously swings between sexual predator and playful sprite. Rainey sat down with Stage Rush to talk about stepping into those painful shoes, getting inspired by his corset, and “not holding anything back” in Nutcracker Rouge.

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