I am impressed by the commercial success of American Ballet Theatre’s fantastic Whipped Cream. I had my doubts, but the Alexei Ratmansky work, which had its Met debut earlier in May, has been filling the Met Opera House. There were few empty seats Saturday evening, standing room only with seats filled in the fourth balcony side. Many young children turned out to the family friendly ballet, which clocks in at only 2 hours, similar to another family favorite, The Nutcracker. As I noted in my previous review, Whipped Cream is a decadent dish in which star of the show is not Ratmansky’s choreography but pop surrealist artist Mark Ryden’s imaginative costumes and sets, a breathtaking explosion of colors and fantasy characters.
Saturday evening, Daniil Simkin was The Boy who eats too much whipped cream. The sugar overdose leads to his bizarre fantasy through the dancing kingdom of sweets, to the horrible visit to the alcoholic doctor, to his rescue by dancing liquor bottles. Daniil was great in this role, playing the boy with abandon. He pulled out all of the stops with his trademark tricks such as lefty turns in second position with three turns in attitude (leg bent behind), various forms of jeté cloche, and his pirouettes to a double tour off one leg! All done with such ease.
Cassandra Trenary was the lovely Princess Praline who leads the procession to the main square ending. Her dancing was sweet as a peppermint with quick, assured pointe work and controlled fouettés. Christine Shevchenko was energetic as the lead vodka bottle. Gillian Murphy was Princess Tea Flower, featured in a pixie style solo while James Whiteside was Prince Coffee. Calvin Royal III stood out with a nice Prince Cocoa solo along with Arron Scott as Don Zucchero.
I’ve enjoyed Whipped Cream twice this season. Nice to see that it is a commercial success as the cash registers are ringing at ABT. I would think ABT will bring it back next season given the large investment in the production. It is similar to The Golden Cockerel, which debuted last year with spectacular sets and costumes. I prefer Whipped Cream as it has more dancing. It also provides a break from heavy melodramatics and death as seen in Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliette and Onegin. However, given the novelty nature of the work, I’m not sure how many more times I can see it.
Take a look at a fun New York Times interactive video which takes viewers through a day in the life of Whipped Cream from rehearsal to opening curtain.
Veronika Part Final Performance
Veronika Part will give her final ABT performance Saturday afternoon, according to The New York Times.
Similar to Xiomara Reyes and Michelle Wiles, this is a forced retirement as her contract for next year was not renewed by Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie. Sorry to see Veronika leaving. I’ve enjoyed watching her over the years. Look for Balletfocus coverage this weekend.