DanceReviewSouth West

Evolution: Acosta Danza – Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

Reviewer: Barbara Michaels

Artistic Director: Carlos Acosta

Cuban sizzler Carlos Acosta created his own dance company, Acosta Danza, when he left the Royal Ballet Company, retiring from a meteoric dance career to form a company promoting young talent from his own country. Five years on it ticks all the boxes and more. Modern and contemporary dance are bonded together, with the occasional nod to classical ballet, under the banner of a programme title Evolution. The result? Electrifying.

Individual pieces range through the melodic and reflective to the rumbustious and sheer exuberant joy of living, the former being particularly in evidence in Paysage, Soudain, la nuit which opens the programme.  Described as ‘a celebration of youth’ Paysage can at times be quite hard work in terms of understanding, with its undercurrents of mysticism and sex coupled with sheer mind-blowing athleticism, set against a simple set of a strip of corn. Choreographed by the Swedish choreographer Pontus Lidberg, with a rumba-based score by Leo Brouwer coupled with African traditional contributed by Stefan Levin, the sinuously beautiful moves by this company of young dancers in a series of constantly changing formations, whirling arms and flicking feet quite take the breath away.

Impronta, specially created for Acosta Danza by Spanish choreographer Maria Rovira is showcased par excellence by the sheer magnetism of the performance of the talented Zeleidy Crespo. A whirling dervish in turquoise, Crespo raises interpretation to an almost religious fervour that transfixes with its beauty of line and amazing expertise.

In meditative mood, there is more familiar ground to tread with Faun, set to Debussy’s original score with additional music by Nitin Sawhney. Choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui differs from the classical LApres-mid-d’un Faune on which it is based in a cross-genre combination of wonderfully nuanced moves at times so intricate that it is not easy to define whose limbs are whose.  The heart of Cherkaoui’s take is an evocation through a dance of love and desire, set against a realistic backdrop of a green forest.  Lighting plays an important part here, and throughout the programme.

No apologies from Acosta – and rightly so -for saving what some may see as the best till last.  Those fortunate enough to have seen Acosta perform in his heyday will no doubt await the second half with bated breath, the reason being that the maestro himself makes an appearance in the immensely popular Rooster, choreographed by Christopher Bruce and set to the music of the Sixties and Seventies.  Something of a battle of the sexes, this, with the male dancers led by Acosta himself strutting rooster-style around the stage while the female hens, clad in black and red, dance to prove that their own persona.

Not only does the colourful finale encompass all the colour and vibrancy that is Cuba, but there is so much energy and pure joie de vivre here, coming to a peak as the great man bounds from the wings in a  grande jeté proving that, despite – as he tells us in the programme notes – the feats of former years when he soared seemingly effortlessly into the air now being behind him – he can still cut the mustard.  The boyish grin is still much in evidence, as is his unashamed delight at the tumultuous applause which greets the final curtain.

Now touring to Inverness, Bradford, Brighton, Canterbury, Salford Quays, Plymouth, Newcastle and Nottingham.

Reviewed on 7 March 2020 | Image: Contributed

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A magnetic sizzler!

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