Be it advertising, politics or popular culture, excessive repetition is accepted as the path to creating a brand, but to create an icon nothing beats a strategic artistic reference. Take Toulouse Lautrec whose posters and portraits of the Moulin Rouge performers and patrons captured the boisterous, bawdy, exuberant excess of the demi-monde of fin de siècle France and catapulted that Montmartre nightclub to a status perpetually celebrated in art, literature, film. And now, the famous Paris nightclub that gave birth to the Can Can has its own ballet, and Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet brings Moulin Rouge — The Ballet to town for its SoCal premiere. The Canadian ballet troupe and choreographer Jorden Morris unabashedly set out to create an audience pleaser and the ballet’s popularity since its 2009 premiere reflects their success. Critics praised the company’s strong dancers and the choreography, but some found the endeavor, particularly the plot, short on the spiciness expected from the namesake. In a nice nod to Toulouse Lautrec, the artist whose art celebrated the Moulin Rouge, is a character in this ballet, mentoring an aspiring young artist in his art and in his ardor for a Moulin Rouge dancer. Of course, that dancer is also being pursued by the nightclub’s owner, giving rise to the dramatic conflict in the plot. Could Andy Warhol inspire the next ballet with Campbell Soup Can — The Ballet? Cal State Northridge Valley Performing Arts Center, 18111 Nordhoff St.; Sat., Feb. 18, 8 p.m.; $40-$85;

Sat., Feb. 18, 8 p.m., 2012

LA Weekly