Acosta Danza, 100% Cuban

Sadler’s Wells, London
February 10, 2022

Acosta Danza’s London programme is exactly what it says on the tin: 100% Cuban. The fourteen dancers are all top quality, Cuban trained and versatile and the programme brims with life and love of dance. The show has broad-based audience appeal with not only plenty of virtuosity and competition, but also depth.

Liberto, a duet by Raul Reinoso makes a powerful statement. It succinctly captures in dance the Cuban heritage: the history of enslavement and the deep roots of African culture. The protagonists are exceptional. Mario Sergio Elias, a slave on the run, tumbles and scampers across the stage, his movement driven by his desperate desire for freedom. Zeleidy Crespo, known and loved from her previous visit, commands the stage with her presence. More than a love interest, she embodies the nurturing, healing qualities of Mother Africa, especially in the final moments when she appears robed like a goddess. Intriguing lighting by Yaron Abulafia shapes the stage and the soundscape of unearthly sounds balanced by rhythmic drumming create an immersive space.

Crespo also danced a captivating solo, Impronta, choreographed by Maria Rovira. Her silky turquoise dress wraps and enfolds her long limbs, adding a new dimension to the movements. She interprets her heritage in the mix of contemporary and African dance in a stunning solo, mesmerising to watch.

Paysage, Soudain, la nuit by Pontus Lidberg
Photo Johan Persson

Pontus Lidberg’s Paysage, Soudain, la nuit is a finely crafted work of contemporary dance. The solos and short duets give dance opportunities for individuals but it’s predominantly a group work, cleverly structured in constantly shifting shapes to delight and engage. An art installation, Vientos by Cuban Elizabet Carviño, offers a background of waist-high tufts of grass, complementing the theme of landscape and matching the laid-back mood, far from urban aggression. As light fades, the sub text of promising liaisons becomes more central, ending abruptly with the promise of new love. Riding Leo Brouwer’s gentle rhythms, it is a beautiful, top quality work.

In Hybrid, choreographers Norge Cedeño and Thais Suárez aim high to engage with life and the universe. Abulafia’s lighting again makes a positive contribution, washing the stage with violent colour and walkways slicing the stage. The outstanding design elements are complemented by the flying dreads of Yasser Domínguez, a fierce central character. The movements are athletic, treading innovative paths and maintaining a sense of purpose and upward striving. However, there were moments when challenges remained where editing and clarity would help.

The programme closed in beach party spirit with De Punta a Cabo by Alexis Fernandez (Maca) and Yaday Ponce. A photo projection of the company on a Havana beach backgrounds a lively dance competition on the stage. Gymnastic lifts and catches, sneaker virtuosity and even fouettés on pointe were all part of the mix to end on a happy note for a company who see dance as a way of life.

Acosta Danza continues on tour. Visit for dates and venues.