Royal Albert Hall, London
October 2, 2018
As a ballet dancer with appeal to a wider public, Carlos Acosta is a rare bird. He brought sunshine to an austere Royal Opera House where he reigned for nearly two decades and there was never a performance where you didn’t feel that he was enjoying dancing and was pleased you were there to share it with him. And the roar of approval from the well filled Royal Albert Hall shows his message hasn’t changed.
Cuba produces magnificent dancers and Acosta has selected the cream for his company, Acosta Danza. Rooster, the brilliant meeting of Christopher Bruce and the Rolling Stones, is a perfect match for their talents. Cuban macho plus confident girl power is tempered with self-deprecating irony and dance bubbling at boiling point. Acosta, in vivid pink shirt is in his element and while he is possibly in danger of being outdanced by the younger men, his charisma still has unmatched potency: a gesture, a sideways glance and the audience eat out of his hand. Bruce captures so well the attitude of the ‘60s when teenagers flexed their muscles and took centre stage. The Cuban dancers, living in the moment, embraced it fully and seasoning with added Latin spice.
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Mermaid is another good choice for this versatile company. Marta Ortega dances the mythical creature, vulnerable and out of her comfort zone. The movement quality and exquisitely entwining arms as Acosta supports and carries her suggest the other worldly and both are well served by Woojae Park’s imaginative score. However, the configuration of the Royal Albert Hall, the unraked arena seating suitable for a music concert, left many, including me, unable to see any floorwork or even much of the legs and feet.
Goyo Montero’s Alrededor no hay nada, is a strikingly original piece of choreography. Movement phrases are separated by darkness and silence as the dance is delivered in skilfully structured bite-size chunks related to the Spanish text. The partnering work is aggressive, as bodies are thrown and caught, but contained by a steely intensity and an unwritten code semaphored between dancers. The dancers perform with fierce commitment, only loosening up slightly in the jazz finale.
Acosta’s Carmen is a trimmed down presentation of the Royal Ballet version with a make shift set. However, there is nothing short-changed about the dancing. Laura Rodriguez, in the title role has a fierce ballet technique that never fudges a move or position and remarkable stamina that sustains her through a marathon run of pas de deux. Costumed most of the time in a sexy black lace camisole, she is the heartless seducer of the naive Don Jose, played by Javier Rojas, a fine dancer and partner. Sadly, so much of this talent and energy goes for nothing as the ballet is in desperate need of direction and inventive choreography. But the audience knew what they wanted and Acosta as Escamillio proved again that his star quality continues to shine.
Carlos Acosta – A Celebration continues at the Royal Albert Hall to October 5, 2018. Visit www.royalalberthall.com for details and tickets.