Austin is a fellow classmate from the Juilliard School. We have known each other for over 10 years now. From the beginning, Austin always had an eye for beauty. In composition class, he stood out as a unique and interesting choreographer with a sense of style. He dared to use props or play with lights. But he also already had a unique, stylized movement vocabulary often consisting of baroque-influenced steps. Even then, his work borderlined on dance theater, sometimes using spoken word or poems instead of music. His women were always beautiful… and I am not just saying that because they were mostly naked… seductive costumes are common in his work…. Austin’s work was elegant, sexy, and daring… all in 10 minutes. That was then. Now, he has grown into a great artist, touring the world with his ballets and his beautiful Company XIV. And he is just getting started…
Austin does not only hold a BFA from the Juilliard School, he is also a graduate of The Conservatory of Baroque Dance. He is an alumnus of the Harid Conservatory and North Carolina School of the Arts. In addition to performing in his own work, McCormick has danced professionally with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet of New York and has taught and lectured on Baroque dance as a guest of the Korean Government in Seoul. Austin founded Company XIV In 2006. Soon after that, he acquired his space at 303 bond street, in Brooklyn, which not only serves as a home for the company, but is also a cool space for dance and theater. Today, Company XIV continues to garner critical acclaim in New York and internationally for their unique fusion of passionate choreography, eclectic music, opera, circus, burlesque, ballet, gender bending, high fashion costuming, theatrical staging and sumptuous design. The shows are cutting-edge, yet extravagantly classical. Taking his cue from theatre/dance/opera under the reign of French monarch Louis XIV, Austin creates a compelling 360-degree experience for audiences. The players of Company XIV are classically trained theatrical libertines, who tempt, delight and fully immerse their audiences in the experience of their performances, inviting them to be seduced and liberated!
Austin’s work has been presented at Washington’s Kennedy Center; in New York at La MaMa, Symphony Space, The Flea, Alvin Ailey Theater, Walter Reade Theater, and Mark Morris Dance Center; in the U.K., Mexico, Scotland, and Montreal. Recent projects include choreography and assistant direction for Eliogabalo at The BOX, Director and Choreographer for Orientale at Le Poisson Rouge for Gotham Chamber Opera, as well as choreography for Much Ado About Nothing for Theater for A New Audience. Upcoming projects include commissions for Houston Grand Opera, Canadian Opera Company, and the Juilliard School.
Austin won the Susan Braun award from Dance Films Association, OPERA America’s 2011 Robert L.B. Tobin Director-Designer Grant for New Directors in Opera, the 2010 New York Innovative Theatre Award for Best Choreography, and was nominated for innovative design at the Bessie Awards 2013. His films have toured throughout Europe and received a Grand Jury Prize nomination at Lincoln Center’s Dance on Camera Festival. Most recently, Company XIV’s Nutcracker Rouge has been nominated for two Drama Desk Awards! Austin is an artist to watch…my wife even said she saw company XIV on one of her popular gossip blogs!
Austin is not only a great artist, but also a great friend. I have such great memories like helping him with his first website and my wife and I working his first audition. I remember his mother’s amazing Herban Essentials wipes, which I always begged him for…and Austin hosting my bachelor party at his house in NYC which consisted of a few close friends and soul food. He was also one of the witnesses that signed my marriage license, which meant so much to my wife and I. Many years later and an ocean apart, these memories stay with me.
I am often inspired by my friends, which is a beautiful thing. Austin has followed his dreams…and I remember when that is all that they were. It is truly inspiring to see what he has created and achieved. Thank you Austin for your inspiration! I look forward to the future.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did you always want to do what you’re doing now?
Well, I used to put on my mothers high heels and make up dances and plays all day… So, I suppose I had two options- Drag Queen or Artistic Director of Company XIV.
Austin’s Favorite Things
Favorite Things to eat?
Anything insanely spicy. Cucumber Margaritas. Chocolate almond croissants.
All fairy-tales by the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault Fairy Tales, Any and All Poetry by Charles Bukowski. I’m currently reading Philosophy in the Boudoir by the Marquis de Sade…pretty wild.
All About Eve, The Bad Seed, Clue, Moulin Rouge.
Favorite Dance Piece or Show/Musical or both?
I admire choreographers and their collaborative dancers who develop a movement language- Forsythe, Naharin, Kylian, Bausch. My favorite classical ballets are La Bayadere, Le Corsaire, Les Sylphides and Paquita.
I like dancers who…
….have the courage to be unusual- it’s difficult to cultivate what is special about you in most training situations. It’s very impressive to me when dancers have a sense of identity, passion, and nerve. I am drawn to performers who are a contrasting combination of elegant and animalistic.
A dance piece should…
…acknowledge that audience members left their homes and paid money to watch it.
Something you like to do other than your current job?
I love to bake, I love making short films, I love fashion and costume design.
One of the happiest moments in your life?
Honestly, getting into Juilliard was a huge moment of happiness and achievement. I had only studied classical ballet up until the audition. Recently, my company did an extended sold out run in Manhattan and seeing hundreds of people experience the work we have been developing for years felt very exhilarating and exciting.
One of the most embarrassing moments in your professional career?
One time we were performing a piece at a very intimate venue in NYC, we had tech-ed the same day and set all of the lighting cues. The piece started and suddenly every light in the theater turned on at full, nothing we had set and rehearsed was happening. I jumped out of my chair and in front of a theater full of people stopped the show…. it was embarrassing
Who has been the most influential person/people in your life? or Career? and why?
My most influential early mentor was a dance historian and Baroque dance teacher named Regine Astier- under her guidance I learned this rare dance form that has shaped my artistic aesthetic and choreographic perspective. Studying under her was a tremendous gift. My parents have been a constant source of support both financially and emotionally, they are my biggest cheerleaders and it means a lot that they believe in my passion and dreams.
One of the hardest things about your job?
The hardest thing about being a director is probably the amount of psychological and emotional skill needed in dealing with performers on a daily basis. AND realizing how much mounting productions and creating costs!!!!!!!! AAAAHHHHHH!
Do you have any goals you still wish to achieve?
YES! My dream is to open a venue in Manhattan that combines food, alcohol, and high art.
Dear aspiring artists,
To anyone who creates work- MAKE THE WORK ON THE SCALE THAT YOU CAN MAKE IT, DON’T WAIT FOR THE PERFECT SCENARIO- IT“S NOT COMING. To Performers- DELIGHT IN WHAT YOU DO, EVEN IN THE GRUELING AND DIFFICULT TIMES, FIND THE PLEASURE.
For more information about Austin check out his website at: companyxiv.com or check out his Facebook Fanpage. Have you worked with Austin ? Or seen a performance of Company XIV? Share your stories in the comments below!