CULTURE BREAK - ABT'S Latest Confection
A year before the Dempanic, American Ballet Theater mounted a new production, "Whipped Cream." The title is a giveaway, but for those not versed in the dance world, "Whipped Cream" showcased about 100 dancers ensconced in various unwieldy candy and pastry costumes, which made actual terpsichorean expression impossible.
The sycophantic press, anxious to retain access to the company, lauded it as a seminal moment in ballet history.
To quote so many who actually saw the performance, "It sucked."
Now, post Dempanic, ABT premiered "Like Water for Chocolate," based on the flaccid 1992 film, which was based on the incomprehensible novel by Laura Esquivel.
This reviewer spends part of the calendar year in Manhattan. That NYC borough is the home of the self-important, virtue-signaling Liberal. During the various intermissions, there was so much outward obsequiousness towards Mexico, I had to stick my head out the front doors of the Metropolitan Opera House into Lincoln Center Plaza and inquire if the country had finally rid itself of murderous drug cartels, corrupt "elected" officials, and complete dependence on shedding its citizenry to the United States.
No such luck.
To the actual ballet.
A three-act ambition, it's best my readers understand it from a cinematic POV.
The first act, an insomnia-curing set up is out of the Steven Soderbergh handbook. Envelop the audience in a shroud of mystery and confusion; illuminate not quite enough characters to make the plot comprehensible; and insist no one express themselves clearly.
Act Two is Tim Burton. A kinetic explosion of color and shock. A thirty minute exhausting display of dance brilliance brought center stage by the efforts of Roman Zhurbin and Isadora Loyola. A the denouement, a costumed Mama Elena (Claire Davison) in an outfit reminiscent of Fruma Sarah in "Fiddler on the Roof" appears, trundles across the stage and releases two Ninjas from underneath her Old Woman and the Shoe dress. The male lead collapses. The female lead faints.
The final act is Baz Luhrmann, a visual indulgence replete with fires from Hell, a grappling hook to fly the performers, and spontaneous human combustion.
Lost in all this Hollywood narcissism is the art form known as dance. With the exception of the Act II group numbers, led by the aforementioned Zhurbin and Loyola, if any of the performers (Including the still incredible, but retiring, Hernan Cornejo) broke the proverbial sweat it happened before or after the show.
"Like Water for Chocolate" is, at its core, "Romeo and Juliet," but with a dash of habanero. The cultural relevance and adherence to the costumes (Save for Mama Elena) is admirable. The nod to marriage fiestas also a stalwart effort by ABT.
But, geez, Christopher Wheeldon, let the dancers dance.
That's why people go to the Ballet.