Debut marks the first outing of the company in the UK, where Acosta graced the Covent Garden stage for 17 wonderful years. As a statement of intent, it is utterly convincing. It says, loud and clear, ‘look at us! we can do anything with verve, technique and wondrous joie de vivre.’
A dozen dancers make up Acosta Danza: all young, beautiful, technically accomplished and very versatile. And barely a year after the company was formed in Havana, following Acosta’s retirement from the ballet stage, they are already extremely cohesive, their esprit de corps plain to see.
The programme for Debut is designed to showcase all those qualities. It brings together five pieces from as many international choreographers, including New York City Ballet’s Justin Peck, and Sadler’s Wells Associate Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, whose works are the pick of the bunch.
Peck’s Belles-Lettres was created for NYCB. Choreographed for four couples and a singleton on César Franck’s lyrical score, it is a joyous flowing Romantic piece underpinned by rigorous classical ballet technique, with the women on pointe, all long, yearning arms, pliant backs and weightless lifts. The dancers take to it with effortless technical assurance and emotional abandon. Add to that warm lighting and eye-catching intricately patterned white and turquoise costumes and you have an absolutely delightful 18 minutes.
Belles-Lettres, photo Yuris Nórido
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Mermaid is a totally different proposition. Inspired by the tale of the mermaid who abandons the sea when she falls in love with a human, Cherkaoui uses pointe shoes to illustrate the discomfort of a fish out of water, dancer Marta Ortega deeply expressive and stunning in a dark red dress by none other than award-winning fashion designer Hussein Chalayan.
Ortega’s partner in Mermaid is Carlos Acosta himself, in a cameo appearance proving – as if proof were needed! – that his stage presence remains as magnetic as ever; and that, now in his mid-forties, he can still dance along with the best.
The remaining three pieces are a mixed bunch. The evening opens with El Cruce Sobre El Niágara (The Crossing over Niagara) by Cuban contemporary choreographer Marianela Boán, who draws her inspiration from the crossing of the Niagara Falls by the French tight-rope walker Charles Blondin.
Blondin once did the crossing with a man on his back, and this provides Boán with a starting point for a mesmerisingly slow and breathtakingly erotic meditation on the human body under strain, its two male dancers, black and white, bodies perfectly sculpted, seemingly naked, moving in dreamlike harmony. It’s beautiful, if a tad too long.
El Cruce Sobre El Niágara, photo Andrew Lang
Imponderable, by the Spanish choreographer Goyo Montero, is a piece for 12 dancers inspired by the Cuban folk music of Silvio Rodríguez. It’s a conceptual abstract work, set on a stage atmospherically lit by three banks of powerful spotlights, the black-clad dancers immersed in large quantities of dry ice – the mists of time? – and in the final section carrying small torches which acquire their own choreography as the stage lights dim.
The final piece, Twelve, is an extravaganza by choreographer Jorge Crecis, also from Spain. It requires little in the way of actual dancing and an almost superhuman lot in terms of energy, skill, coordination and split-second precision. It most consists of dancers throwing and catching green plastic bottles in ever more intricate formations, at ever faster rhythms.
In short, this is an ambitious programme, one that doesn’t quite gel but serves its purpose as a calling card. As Acosta Danza goes on, its repertoire is sure to become more cohesive, more its own. For now, though, this is an impressive Debut indeed.
|Acosta Danza, Debut Review
|Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP
27 Sep 17 – 30 Sep 17, 19:30 Dur.: 2 hours 15 mins including one interval. Sat. mat. 14:30
|click here to book via Sadler's Wells website