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American Ballet Theatre Has a World Premiere

Photo Curtesy of ABT

Photo Curtesy of ABT

Katie Brubaker, A&E editor (inside)

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A world class ballet company, a famed artist, and an innovative choreographer have come together to illustrate a tale that is not only beautiful, comedic and historical, but beyond sweet.

The world premiere of American Ballet Theatre’s “Whipped Cream” was performed at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa from Wednesday the 15th of March to Sunday the 19th. The tale of Whipped Cream begins in an extravagant sweet shop in Vienna. A little boy finds himself locked in the store and begins to eat, and he chooses not to stop until his sugar intake begins to hit dangerous levels.

As he continues to gorge on the sweet contents of the shop, he begins to have sugar-induced hallucinations. His mind begins to conjure up visions and he sees the various treats come to life. They then start to dance around him. 

Also, let it be known: this is not simple run-of-the-mill ballet choreography; these steps were arranged by Alexi Ratmansky.

Mr. Ratmansky is a world renown choreographer that has been named the artist in residence at the American Ballet Theatre company in New York City. While his combinations are extremely complex and occasionally diverge from classical ballet, the overall dance presented was both exciting and exquisite to watch.

At the end of the first act, a mountain of whipped cream is brought upon the stage and company members dressed head-to-toe in white tulle begin their way down on a slide built into the whipped cream extravaganza. From this display, a roar from the audience erupted into childish glee that came from adults and children alike.

The set is a child’s wonderland with a large city with bright light and color, various sweet shops, and fun little touches around every corner.”

Before the curtain rose on the second act, the orchestra began and the crowd applauded in excitement for the appearance of the principal dancers. However, instead of the curtain opening to the beautiful and ornate sets and costumes seen in the first act, the little boy is presented lying down in a hospital bed.

He lays tossing and turning under the yellowy light of his room as the doctor, who is adorned in a overly-large prop head, walks in the room to check on him. Following the doctor are several nurses who carry syringes. And since the set, prop, and costume design are under the control of Mark Ryden, of course the syringes had to be several feet long and wide.

Mark Ryden is an American painter who has been named “the father of pop-surrealism” by Interview Magazine and has become increasingly popular over the years.

After the doctor and nurses leave the scene and the boy has been tucked in, the child’s hallucinations begin to creep into the psych ward. Creatures and treats such as snow yack, long necked piggy, parfait boy, and cake ladies begin to surround him.

After this point the female principal comes on and dances with the boy who is also a principal dancer with the company. Once they have finished a variety of complicated and very impressive ballet steps, they are applauded and all leave the stage.

To help the child escape, a troop of three liquors intoxicate the doctor and nurses. This aspect of the ballet was interesting because it blurred reality along with the child’s hallucinated dreams. While the alcohol was part of the boy’s subconscious, it was still a plausible turn of events.

The liquors included two boys and one girl that are apart of the corps de ballet. The rankings in a professional company start at the corps, then the soloists, and lastly the principals. While these dancers were part of the corps de ballet, their technique and overall performance was not only impressive, but entertaining.

Once the boy has slipped away from the mental institution, he finds his way back to his dream world. Here he meets all of the treats, the yacks, the long necked piggy, and his princess. The set is a child’s wonderland with a large city with bright light and color, various sweet shops, and fun little touches around every corner.

The ballet ends with the entirety of the cast dancing and the little boy being crowned the king of his beautiful, hallucinated kingdom.

These dark undertones to a story that appears completely innocent and essentially sweet is what makes Whipped Cream not just unique and interesting, but rather comedic in an ironic, twisted way. Whatever it is, at the end of the performance there was an enormous roar and a standing ovation from practically every seat.

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