DanceNorth East & YorkshireReview

Acosta Danza Evolution – Alhambra Theatre, Bradford

Reviewer: Beverley Waddington

Artistic Director: Carlos Acosta

Choreographer: Pontus Lidberg; Maria Rovira; Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui; Christopher Bruce

Music: Leo Brouwer & Stefan Levin; Jose V. Gavilondo; Claude Debussy & Nitin Sawhney; The Rolling Stones

At only four years old, Carlos Acosta’s extraordinary company are relatively new kids on the block but having been cherry picked to comprise the best dancers Cuba has on offer, Acosta Danza are already firmly established. Founded by Birmingham Royal Ballet’s recently appointed Director, Acosta’s vision was to create a company not only celebrating talent in terms of dance, but one that also incorporates mixed genres such as ballet, contemporary and hip hop.

The company’s latest mixed programme Evolution has been devised to showcase how the company has evolved since its conception in 2015. Adhering to Acosta’s vision, Evolution validates how the company have become adept in combining a myriad of different elements. A masterpiece of juxtapositions, it demonstrates a sensitivity alongside strength, a fragility with power and contemporary dance performed to the Rolling Stones.

Beginning with Paysage, Soudain, la nuit, classically trained bodies interpret a contemporary piece based on rumba with technical precision and a sense of joy. Gradually multiplying, the dancers enter the stage one by one, building into an ensemble. The stark contrast between twilight and dawn are marked by effective and sensitive lighting by Patrik Bogardh, reflecting off the nude tones worn by the dancers.  Paysage, Soudain, la nuit is the most representative of the company’s Cuban roots, mainly due to its evocative traditional Cuban music. A perfect antecedent for the rest of the evening.

Impronta is a beguiling solo piece created specifically for Acosta Danza by Spanish choreographer Maria Rovira. Although a simplicity is gained from using just one dancer, Pedro Benitez’s lighting and projection onto the flowing blue dress is mesmerising as it creates the effect of ripples in water, accentuating the fluidity of the movement. A reworking of Nijinsky’s L’apres-midi d’un faune, Faun is the most classical in terms of music, featuring the original score by Debussy but is distinctively acrobatic in style, performed by the supremely talented Zeleidy Crespo and Carlos Luis Blanco. As they preen and writhe, teasing each other, their sensual movements are danced with a swanlike elegance, seamlessly as one.

Carlos Acosta treats the audience to a guest appearance in the final piece in the repertoire, the exhilarating Rooster. Very much from a ‘leave them on a high’ stance it is joyously uplifting – much welcomed escapism in a current climate of panic and uncertainty. Choreographed by Christopher Bruce it is influenced by the soundtrack of his youth and set to songs from the Rolling Stones. It humorously depicts a language between men and women during courtship in an era of suits and ties. Part rooster, part Mick Jagger, Acosta struts and befittingly depicts a legend. Notorious for his gravity defying leaps at the peak of his career, he proves he’s still got it. Carlos Acosta is an icon himself.

Runs until 14th March 2020

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