It does, however, need much more rigour and taste in its choice of choreographers.
The best new piece by far in Evolution, a programme of four diverse works, is Paysage, Soudain, la nuit from the young and immensely talented Swedish choreographer Pontus Lidberg.
Cleverly building on Cuban culture and relying on a rumba-inspired score where a seminal work from Cuban composer Leo Brouwer was reworked by Sweden’s Stefan Levin, Lidberg created a delightful celebration of Cuban youth.
An installation by the Cuban artist Elizabet Cerviño ran along the back of the stage, resembling a wheat field. Patrik Bogårdh’s lighting, subtly moving through the hours of the night from twilight to dawn created a sense of tropical warmth. And Karen Young’s light-coloured, simple costumes enhanced the airy grace of the dancers.
The steps built on the loose-limbed, sinuous movement of Cuba’s traditional dance, the rumba, coloured by the easy-going, humourous nature of Cuban culture, sweeping the dancers along in fluid groupings that evolved from the full cast of 10 to one single woman who seemed to be nurturing a dreamy secret.
Paysage, Soudain, la nuit is by turns playful, innocent and elegiac, and you watch it with a smile of sheer pleasure.
Also eminently suited to the Cuban culture from which these dancers emerged is Christopher Bruce’s 1991 crowd pleaser, Rooster. An affectionate look at the 60s, Rooster is set to a collection of early Rolling Stones hits and used to be a much-loved staple of Rambert’s repertoire until it was dropped last year.
It was astute of Acosta to acquire the piece for his company, who relish its mixture of sass, acrobatics and unadulterated joie de vivre.
Carlos Acosta himself dances a full role in Rooster, proving age has not much withered his explosive technique nor his love of dance. He first takes to the stage to the strains of Little Red Rooster, his cock of the walk strut providing wry amusement to a couple of girls observing him upstage.
If Rooster, running through hits such as Paint It Black, Play with Fire and Lady Jane, culminating in Sympathy for the Devil illustrates the macho posturing of young men of the time, it also makes plain the women’s ironic view of their antics.
Blending contemporary dance technique with moves from popular dance such as the twist and rock 'n' roll, Rooster is a small jewel of a ballet, its riotous surface belying a meticulous crafted structure; and Acosta Danza make it look as much fun to dance as it is to watch.
Rooster was preceded by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Faun, created in 2009 as part of a celebration of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, taking its inspiration from Nijinksy’s own, pionerering L’Après-Midi d’un Faun set to the eponymous Debussy composition.
It’s a duet where the excellent Carlos Luis Blanco is the forest faun, whose restlessness is partly assuaged by the appearance of a nymph, the striking, long-legged, immensely expressive Zeleidy Crespo. Their animal coupling is part battle, part seduction, and both dance it beautifully.
The less said about Evolution’s opening piece, Satori, the better. Signed by company dancer Raul Reinoso, it’s a farrago of effects built around bumbling ‘choreography,’ perhaps better described as Tricks R Us, and not even Zeleidy Crespo’s arresting presence as a symbolic figure (though a symbol of what is unfathomable) can rescue it.
Acosta’s desire to give Cuban artists opportunities is commendable; staging such a work, though, is not the way to do it.
|What||Acosta Danza, Evolution review|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
18 Nov 19 – 23 Nov 19, 19:30 Thu & Sat mats 14:30 Dur.: 2 hours 5 mins inc two intervals
|Price||£15-£85 (+booking fee)|
|Website||Click here to book|