Curated by Carlos – Sadler’s Wells Digital Stage

Reviewer: Helen Tope

Choreographers: Gogo Montero / Daniela Cardim / Miguel Altunaga

Presented as part of Sadler’s Wells Digital Stage programme, Curated by Carlos is a triple bill of new work, spearheaded by Birmingham Royal Ballet’s director, Carlos Acosta.

Curated is a blend of classical and contemporary dance, with pieces choreographed by Gogo Montero (Chacona), Daniela Cardim (Imminent) and Miguel Altunaga (City of a Thousand Trades). The big draw is a brand new duet featuring Acosta himself and acclaimed ballerina, Alessandra Ferri. Appearing as part of Chacona, the two dance to the music of J.S Bach. As you might expect, they perform with the sensuous ease of experience. Acosta and Ferri’s movement echoing Bach’s steady, virtuosic melody.

Chacona (a Spanish dance with Latin American origins) then merges into a group number with dancers snaking across the floor. Montero’s intricate patterns give the impression of dancers moving as one, but with disparate personalities emerging. It’s a lively, playful opener.

Imminent and City of a Thousand Trades link together, addressing real-life concerns. Moving away from the tightly-synchronised Chacona, Daniela Cardim’s Imminent is lyrical and expressive. Each dancer – dwarfed by a huge cliff-face behind them – fills their allocated space. The music by Paul Englishby is dream-like, as the dancers interact in perpetual harmony.

Cardim’s ballet looks at the impact of climate change – as the russet glow projected on the cliff face begins to cool, a crack appears in the cliff. One of the dancers is intrigued enough to get close. She is pulled away by her partner, but the draw of the light is too much. One by one, the dancers realise their lives are being irretrievably changed by their environment. In interview, Cardim saw Imminent as positive: change can mean opportunity “if enough people choose to act”.

Choreographed by Miguel Altunaga, with Madeleine Kludje as dramaturg, the title City of a Thousand Trades refers to the name given to Birmingham during the Industrial Revolution. We shift from the abstraction of Imminent into something more grounded. Dancers appear in casual dress. Large concrete blocks surround them, with metal poles laying on the ground. The dancers begin to construct an industrial landscape.. But unlike the joyful interaction of Chacona, here the lines are briefer, heavier. The Orwellian aspect is compounded by a voice-over where individual dancers articulate how it feels to not belong, moving away from home to find work. The voices tell us what they traded for work: time with their family, relationships. Kludje and Altunaga remind us that capitalism doesn’t demand, it expects.

As A Thousand Trades concludes, there is a sense of seeking balance that permeates all three dances. Acosta incorporates elements of his own biography – the Latin-American roots of Chacona, the conflicted range of emotions around leaving home and building a life and career elsewhere. While there is some resolution, Curated by Carlos leaves enough gaps for us to project our own feelings about climate, home and purpose.

Impressionistic, but with a point of view, Acosta’s ability to frame new work in a meaningful way is the real star of the show.

Available here until 18 November 2021

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New work framed in a meaningful way

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The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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