Fluffy snow yaks, dancing cupcakes and a slithering candy-cane worm. These, along with many more candy confections (and a creepy doctor with a massive head), make up the cast of characters in Alexei Ratmansky’s new full-length Whipped Cream at American Ballet Theatre. The company, which performed the
world premiere in California in March, is gearing up for the New York debut on May 22. Needless to say, there’s been lots of anticipation over pop-surrealist Mark Ryden’s fantastical costume and set designs.
In this video, the New York City–based PBS program “NYC-ARTS” goes behind the scenes with Ratmansky and two of the ballet’s stars, Daniil Simkin and Sarah Lane, to give an inside look at how Whipped Cream came together.
Ratmansky tells PBS that he was looking for a full-length spectacle that would involve the entire company and a cast of children. He was inspired by Richard Strauss’ 1924 score and libretto for Schlagobers, a ballet about a boy who overindulges on sweets at a Viennese pastry shop (and his resulting hallucinations). When Ratmansky saw a book of Ryden’s work, he was determined to bring the ballet back to life—and insisted that Ryden, who had never created for a theatrical production before, design it.
“When I saw the designs of Whipped Cream, my first thought was how is this going to be possible?” says Simkin, who plays the Boy. The program shows how much work went in to adjusting to the costumes—and the results look spectacular. Lane, who makes her entrance as Princess Praline atop the aforementioned snow yak, tells “NYC-ARTS” that being among all the characters onstage feels like a party. “It puts you into a different world, and it helps a lot to get into your character.”