Carlos Acosta, ballet dancer of international fame and perhaps London’s most beloved Cuban, retires from ballet in 2016. While he plans to move into contemporary dance (look out for the rise of his new Cuban company, Acosta Danza), no dance fan should miss a final chance to see him in works that have marked his career as one of the greatest dancers of his generation.
It's a night about memories, illustrating the key stages of Acosta long and illustrious career. No, that fabled leap doesn't reach its old heights but Acosta can still command the stage and his audience's rapt attention.
Carlos Acosta: Royal Ballet
friends join him on stage
Galas of this kind, taking snippets from great works, often risk falling a little flat. And the cavernous Albert Hall is not natural space for ballet, particularly a show on a small scale like this one.
But on stage there's enough passion to carry the moment.
On a night of devotion to Acosta, it's the three Royal Ballet ballerinas who inject some real electricity into proceedings. Sarah Lamb performs Dying Swan with arms like flowing water and Laura Morera exudes drama with every fibre of her being as Manon. Marianela Nuñez, who partners Acosta for most of the evening, is a picture of flawless grace in Don Quixote and Macmillan's Winter Dreams.
Acosta has always been generous with opportunities for young dancers, and this programme sees the return of a Cuban dancer who played the young Carlos in his autobiographical extravaganza, Tocororo. Luiz Valle has a jump that even a young Acosta might have been proud of; and here performs a steamy pas-de-deux with the Cuban ballerina Gabriela Lugo in an extract from Fokine'sScheherazade.
Other morsels on offer included Balanchine's Rubies, an extract from Macmillan's Mayerling, and Ashton's Rhapsody danced by the Royal Ballet soloists Yuhui Choe and Valentino Zucchetti.
Nostalgia might have been the dominant emotion for Acosta, but his eyes are firmly on the future as he ends the evening with a performance of Memoria, a contemporary creation by Rambert's Miguel Altunaga, another fellow Cuban. Slick and powerful, it's a reminder that the icon bows out only to enter a new arena.
In the final scene, Acosta packs up his dance shoes and changes back into warm-ups. On the first night, the quiet was broken by an impassioned shout from the gods, 'Thank you Carlos!' Enough to break Acosta's stage mask into tears, and sum up the feeling of the whole audience.
Read our interview with Carlos Acosta here
|What||Carlos Acosta: Classical Farewell review|
|Where||Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AP | MAP|
|Nearest tube||South Kensington (underground)|
03 Oct 16 – 07 Oct 16, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Website||Click here to book via the Royal Albert Hall website|