Carlos Acosta – A celebration - review
Royal Albert Hall

Words by: Isaac Tomiczek | Published: 04-Oct-2018 6:45 AM

From top to toe it wows

A Celebration indeed, Carlos Acosta’s production is a journey through his transition from classical to contemporary dance and the result is as mesmerizing and mighty as the surroundings. The Royal Albert Hall is a venue full of pomp and eye popping lure so it is the perfect place to stage something filled with plenty of verve and wonder.

Supported by his dance company, Acosta Danza, who together are some of Cuba’s best dancers, described by Acosta as “young, passionate and accomplished dancers of phenomenal prowess” their involvement elevates and enthralls.

Opening with Mermaid, a haunting and hallucinatory two hander choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui with music composed and performed by Woojae Park, the stage is illuminated by spotlights and attention is focused fully on the two dancers, Acosta himself and the hypnotic Marta Ortega, a dancer who contorts and curves her body into shapes and poses that would make a pretzels jaw drop. As the piece proceeds and raindrops emerge from the rafters, the sounds of Park’s instrument, the geomungo are as potent a piece of performance as the dance.

It is a great opening. The production then continues with three more pieces; Alrededor No Hay Nada, Rooster and Carmen.

Alrededor No Hay Nada serves as an introduction to Acosta Danza and makes clever use of monochrome, as the male dancers dressed in black, move between the shadows and the female dancers, wearing lighter shades, catch the eye as they move in synch expertly in pairs and solos. Goyo Montero’s choreography is some of the nights finest and feels like a perfect fusion of the classical and contemporary styles Acosta extols in his programme notes.

Rooster is probably the night’s most jaunty peace for the audience, particularly those of a certain age. Filled with a number of The Rolling Stones classics it feels like a riff on West Side Story and golden age of musicals. Taking its name from the Stones “Little Red Rooster” I counted Paint It Black, Ruby Tuesday, Sympathy For The Devil, Lady Jane and Play With Fire amongst this celebration. Performed by Acosta Danza, with Acosta himself appearing throughout. The piece is brought beautifully to light by Marian Bruce’s costumes, colourful suit and tie combos for the male dancers and fancy, frilly dresses for the females. From top to toe it wows.

It is a brilliant blend of searing drama, style, sensuality and supreme emotion

Chris Bruce’s choreography is a homage to the classic songs of his teens and twenties, morphed in to a battle of the sexes as the males posture like preening cockerels symbolizing the style and chauvinism of young men whilst the women watch with ironic amusement. I noticed many older heads bopping in the crowd and I was fully toe tapping and captivated. The energy is magnificent and it leaves the audience on a high heading into the interval.

Finally the last hour is Acosta’s own adaptation of Carmen, which uses a sparse and powerful setting to lay the themes of the story bare. It is a brilliant blend of searing drama, style, sensuality and supreme emotion. It is a hugely satisfying and show-stopping finale, which leaves the audiences appetite for excitement and entertainment very much sated. This was indeed a Celebration.

NEED TO KNOW: Carlos Acosta performs at the Royal Albert Hall until 5 October 2018 | book tickets

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