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ABT 2018 Whipped Cream


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1 hour ago, canbelto said:

Color me shocked. I always thought what made Petipa ballets great was the choreography, not the costumes or scenery.

ETA: I find the parade of costumes in those aforementioned Petipa ballets to be the weakest parts of the ballets. The best part of La Bayadere, for instance, is The Kingdom of the Shades when the costumes are just simple white tutus. 

As always, some choose to simplify others’ words. It’s actually possible to love the designs and choreography at the same time. Shocker!

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I actually loved the sets and costumes and processsions (least boring part of Whipped Cream). I flew up to see The Boys in the Band and Carousel and added Whipped Cream as an after thought. I mainly went for the artwork and enjoyed the art. However, even watered down, sweeter Mark Ryden still had a definite progressive edge to it. I think millennials with nose rings, tattoos, and purple hair would love the sets and costumes. I have always been friends with progressives so I am not making fun of them, btw. However, that is the main reason I find it a little strange to view the sets as Imperial Russian in style. I view them as cutesy punk rock! LOL

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38 minutes ago, Birdsall said:

...I find it a little strange to view the sets as Imperial Russian in style.

To clarify, the point I, for one, was making was not about style but effect. Obviously the style is quite different. That was in fact part of my point: Imperial Russian style cannot have the same effect in the modern era as it did then. Ratmansky and Ryden created, to my mind, a comparable effect using a very different style.

And looking at the particular designs used in the procession (which are shown in the first image, titled "Princess Praline and Her Entourage," on this page — click on the image to enlarge), I'm not sure why their appeal should be limited to "millennials with nose rings, tattoos, and purple hair" (though I know that's a stereotypical exaggeration of one part of Ryden's typical audience — and of one group that might love the designs for one particular reason). I've witnessed the procession having a strong impact on children, 30-somethings, 60-somethings, and others.

Edited by nanushka
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Nanushka, I am speaking in general, not to one particular posting or comment, so hope I am not making you feel defensive (you don't sound it and probably just adding the conversation but just making it clear). I wasn't responding specifically to your post, but you are right. The Ryden designs definitely appeal to all ages and all types. Art can appeal to all types. I have a painting by the tattoo artist Pooch hanging in my dining room (of all places), and that seems totally out of character for someone like me (51 year old librarian with zero tattoos who still wears a sport coat to every ballet or opera), but I have a soft spot for alternative art, etc. I was just saying that I can picture the art loving "punk" types (not really sure what the new term would be) loving the artwork of Whipped Cream. Others like me can enjoy and like it as well. However, for me personally, it is the opposite of "imperial"........it is leaning more toward avant garde, so I think Canbelto's comparison to the Ballets Russes is more like how I would compare it.  I don't have children but wonder if some moments would actually scare children (the big eye that blinks, for example, or the huge syringes that the nurses dance with). The children near me didn't seem to flinch or be bothered (the one behind me fell asleep), and the age old Grimm's Fairytales are actually very gruesome also if you read the originals. So maybe it doesn't scare children. Just wondering.

I love the intent......current biggest choreographer of today's ballet world joins with a contemporary artist to create a new ballet that is fun for children (something needed to build young audiences).......I just don't think the finished product achieves what it sets out to do, but that is my opinion, and it sounds like plenty of people (including children like it). I liked Ratmansky's Fairy's Kiss much better in which it told the plight of the artist often choosing art over his own love or life.......for me it was touching and showed the anguish of the artist. Whipped Cream, in stark contrast, has nothing to say except you get a belly ache from too many sweets, but go ahead and eat them anyway and you'll be happy. I mean, what is the point? For me personally the artwork (sets and costumes) had a lot more substance than the story. It is like if you open up a children's picture book, and the paintings for each page are amazing and thought-provoking, but the story is just "meh" or simply lousy. It is very disappointing. Ratmansky's choreography is nice, but compared to other works he has done it doesn't seem very inventive or exciting to me. So for me even the choreography (nothing bad) is nothing to rave about. I actually enjoy his Humpbacked Horse (and Fairy's Kiss as I mentioned). It is almost as if Ratmansky intended this as a private joke and told a close friend, "I am going to create a totally superficial work but cover it up with lots of fluff and see if people eat it up and don't realize what a complete piece of fluff it is!".......sort of like he was just looking for a big paycheck so he could have more time to think up and do his more inventive work later.

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3 hours ago, canbelto said:

Color me shocked. I always thought what made Petipa ballets great was the choreography, not the costumes or scenery.

ETA: I find the parade of costumes in those aforementioned Petipa ballets to be the weakest parts of the ballets. The best part of La Bayadere, for instance, is The Kingdom of the Shades when the costumes are just simple white tutus. 

It is a combination--Sleeping Beauty in practice costume would certainly not be as effective as the complete production.  Costumes are important for the overall look and effect of a piece--City Ballet did "Les Sylphides" in practice costumes for a while--it is certainly great choreography but it just looked flat.

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27 minutes ago, Birdsall said:

Nanushka, I am speaking in general, not to one particular posting or comment, so hope I am not making you feel defensive (you don't sound it and probably just adding the conversation but just making it clear).

You discern my intention correctly here, Birdsall. Indeed, just moving (what I find to be) an interesting discussion another step forward.

27 minutes ago, Birdsall said:

Whipped Cream, in stark contrast, has nothing to say except you get a belly ache from too many sweets, but go ahead and eat them anyway and you'll be happy. I mean, what is the point?

For me, the impact of this particular work has nothing at all to do with anything it "says" or any "point" it makes. Similarly, the absence of any really engaging or complex narrative is not at all problematic, in my mind. The work engages me in other ways.

Edited by nanushka
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I love the procession, which absolutely made me giddy with delight three performances in a row. But I did wish that Ratmansky had found ways for some of the procession figures to dance either by including one or two more danceable characters or letting, say, the pink Yak or some such have a silly little pas.  In the Bayadere parade we are seeing a procession of figures who are also about to perform and that makes it more theatrically meaningful.

And, as much as I find the ballet delightful without worrying, as Nanushka writes, about its “point”—outside “the pleasures of imagination” that is —I have also sometimes wondered if Whipped Cream is just on the verge of letting loose more serious meanings than may first seem the case though it never insists on them and that is sort of its point —to just let the audience “indulge.” But is the boy’s uncontrollable consumption of whipped cream so different from the doctor’s alcoholism?  It is as if the little boy who dreams of living happily ever after in the land of the sweets would IF he were to grow up, become the alcoholic Doctor—and the ballet’s excessive layers of loopy fantasy are all designed to obscure that....this to me helps explain the final image in which the tall, cone-shaped ancient fantasy figure who presides at the end of the ballet is played by a tiny child made up as an old man. I find that figure slightly grotesque....more withered toddler than ancient of days. And since, unlike Nutcracker, the boy never wakes up, the ballet refuses to become an allegory of growing up. It is a pure fantastical indulgence with hints of dread around the edges, but still an indirect image of how all encompassing —even dangerously all encompassing—fantasy is in this ballet which means it is keeping something OUT. (Like Ryden’s kitshy images of a small town America endlessly presided over by Abraham Lincoln.)

To put it more grimly: why doesn’t the child wake from his delirium? if he has really been carried away from his ordinary world never to return then isn’t he dead as far as the ordinary world is concerned? and Princess Praline an Erlkoenig figure however benign? Or perhaps it is about art as much as death and she is, after all, like the Fairy of Baiser de la fee even if in the mode of playful irony? (After all it is the chef who whips up a mock kingdom of the shades as he were a figure for the choreographer...or even a figure for Ratmansky, since what he creates is not a kingdom of shades but a bowl of  “whipped cream”?)  The ballet doesn't allow any of these possibilities to surface exactly—you can enjoy it as sheer visual ornament or pure desert-like indulgence with the only message beeing that you CAN have your cake and eat it too. That’s part of its irony. 

I don’t have any problem with a substantial work of art playing with fantasy shot through with the barest hints of (ignorable) anxiety in this way and even allowing those hints to dissipate. For that matter, I believe art has room for sheer imaginative indulgence (it had better!). If this was the only kind of ballet Ratmansky created then I would find him a less rich artist perhaps (though I would still admire this ballet), but it isn’t. I also find whole swathes of the choreography fantastic as well as fantastical —without which I would hardly find it a work that could be sat through repeatedly. And, as often with Ratmansky, I felt that the choreography helped me hear the music.

I agree that the whipped cream ensemble, after its witty entrance, is not quite the choreographic highlight one hopes for and structurally there are some oddities to the ballet as a whole (tied to the score I suppose) including the fact that the Princess Teaflower pas is a little long — however much I like the choreography and the almost decadently witty framing of the pas by the assymetrical ensemble. Even allowing for these problems, this is a ballet I would love to see again. 

Edited by Drew
typos/grammar
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2 hours ago, Drew said:

The ballet doesn't allow any of these possibilities to surface exactly—you can enjoy it as sheer visual ornament or pure desert-like indulgence with the only message beeing that you CAN have your cake and eat it too. Thats part of its irony. 

After I saw a couple of performances in DC, I was left with the following questions: 1. Where were the parents, or was this a group of orphans?  2. If the boy goes to live in this land of sweets and he indulges his appetites, wouldn't he be forced to take a few bites our of his new friends basically becoming a cannibal or vampire of sorts? By staying in Candyland the boy either starves or causes harm to those he now lives amongst.

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8 minutes ago, lmspear said:

If the boy goes to live in this land of sweets and he indulges his appetites, wouldn't he be forced to take a few bites our of his new friends basically becoming a cannibal or vampire of sorts? By staying in Candyland the boy either starves or causes harm to those he now lives amongst.

As it is a fantasy (even if one the boy never emerges from, within the scope of the narrative — which doesn't necessarily mean we must think that he never emerges from it), the rules of reality needn't apply.

In any case, the boy is given a big bowl of (inanimate) whipped cream at the end, so clearly within this particular fantasy there are both personified treats to interact with and non-personified treats to eat.

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12 hours ago, lmspear said:

After I saw a couple of performances in DC, I was left with the following questions: 1. Where were the parents, or was this a group of orphans?  2. If the boy goes to live in this land of sweets and he indulges his appetites, wouldn't he be forced to take a few bites our of his new friends basically becoming a cannibal or vampire of sorts? By staying in Candyland the boy either starves or causes harm to those he now lives amongst.

LOL  I love your questions! Maybe Ratmansky could do a Whipped Cream 2 (like a horror film sequel) and it could depict the End of the World (cannibalism)......Mark Ryden would have a field day! LOL   Maybe this ballet does have something to say afterall.....we are living in a time of decadence and excess and it can come to nothing good, but we will enjoy it all while it lasts!

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On 7/9/2018 at 6:58 PM, nanushka said:

As it is a fantasy (even if one the boy never emerges from, within the scope of the narrative — which doesn't necessarily mean we must think that he never emerges from it), the rules of reality needn't apply.

In any case, the boy is given a big bowl of (inanimate) whipped cream at the end, so clearly within this particular fantasy there are both personified treats to interact with and non-personified treats to eat.

I missed or forgot about that last bowl of whipped cream.  

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13 hours ago, Birdsall said:

LOL  I love your questions! Maybe Ratmansky could do a Whipped Cream 2 (like a horror film sequel) and it could depict the End of the World (cannibalism)......Mark Ryden would have a field day! LOL   Maybe this ballet does have something to say afterall.....we are living in a time of decadence and excess and it can come to nothing good, but we will enjoy it all while it lasts!

Birdsall, Your mind appears to bend in the same direction as mine.🍰

Maybe the boy's further adventures could be set at Halloween for an alternative to the Dracula ballets.  I haven't seen any of them and don't recall anyone here commenting on them with any enthusiasm.

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16 minutes ago, lmspear said:

I missed or forgot about that last bowl of whipped cream.  

A real highlight, especially as performed by Simkin, when he ends up sticking his whole face right in the bowl!

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A friend also mentioned that Simkin did that, and I totally missed it just like Imspear. I remember Simkin getting the crown and I guess I just thought it was over and was looking at all the various characters, because I totally missed the bowl of whipped cream at the end. Or maybe I was in sugar shock and in a coma......

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1 hour ago, Birdsall said:

A friend also mentioned that Simkin did that, and I totally missed it just like Imspear. I remember Simkin getting the crown and I guess I just thought it was over and was looking at all the various characters, because I totally missed the bowl of whipped cream at the end. Or maybe I was in sugar shock and in a coma......

If I recall correctly, I think it may be before he gets the crown (and even perhaps before his final big jumping solo). The pasty chef comes on again and gives him the bowl that he'd been whipping back in Act I.

Edited by nanushka
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3 hours ago, nanushka said:

If I recall correctly, I think it may be before he gets the crown (and even perhaps before his final big jumping solo). The pasty chef comes on again and gives him the bowl that he'd been whipping back in Act I.

Yes, it was very funny.  He had this huge bowl and just couldn't get enough of the whipped cream!

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The long-awaited medical perspective on Whipped Cream is here: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2725209

"The performance, presented from the perspective of a feverish child, portrays an antagonistic attending physician with an enormous head." 

"The boy, who learns that unhealthy choices have medical consequences, experiences iatrogenic hallucinations of anthropomorphic candies." 

Edited by FPF
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4 hours ago, FPF said:

The long-awaited medical perspective on Whipped Cream is here: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2725209

"The performance, presented from the perspective of a feverish child, portrays an antagonistic attending physician with an enormous head." 

"The boy, who learns that unhealthy choices have medical consequences, experiences iatrogenic hallucinations of anthropomorphic candies." 

Well, I'd never have imagined a physician might one day concoct a review of this wonderfully light, witty ballet citing its sinister anti-medical bias and its relevance to the anti-vaccine movement, and descriptive passages featuring medical terminology including "abdominal pain," "attending physician," "medical team," and "the patient has either been kidnapped or has left the hospital against medical advice."  This has to be the most surreal and hilarious ballet review I've ever read!  Perfect for the Mark Ryden production!  Thanks for the link, and thanks to the medical authors for the laughs (however unintentional on their part)! 

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