Top Ballet Dancer Dazzles With Some Help From His Friends

Carlos Acosta: A Classical Selection ★★★★★

By Sam Smith Last edited 22 months ago
Top Ballet Dancer Dazzles With Some Help From His Friends Carlos Acosta: A Classical Selection 5

Cuban ballet dancer Carlos Acosta is one of the preeminent dancers of his generation. Having appeared on the London stage for 26 years, the 42-year old is now retiring but not before giving his audiences some final treats.

His last performances on the Royal Opera House’s main stage featured his newly choreographed version of Carmen (you can catch it on Christmas Day on BBC 4) and his final performances for the Royal Ballet will be next January in the smaller Linbury Studio. In between, however, he is presenting Carlos Acosta: A Classical Selection at the Coliseum, showcasing excerpts from iconic ballets, a few new and ‘alternative’ works, and some of the greatest performers in the world.

Acosta handpicked the eight dancers, all members of the Royal Ballet, who grace the stage with him. He appears enough times himself so that people will not feel short changed, but he certainly does not hog the limelight as he gives everyone in the cast ample opportunity to shine. All of the dancers could execute virtually anything thrown at them to a very high standard, but the programming really enables the unique strengths and styles of each to come to the fore.

In the Agon pas de deux Zenaida Yanowsky can maximise on the physicality yet shapeliness of her movement, while her Dying Swan is both rhythmic and tender. In the Act II pas de deux from La Sylphide, Yuhui Choe reveals elegant pulsations and Valeri Hristov demonstrates a brilliant light athleticism, while in the Farewell pas de deux from Winter Dreams, Tierney Heap and Thiago Soares offer a winning combination of expressiveness and sensitivity. In the Diana and Actaeon pas de deux many of the shapes and movements required of the dancers are unorthodox, and the skill is to make them look natural and yet interesting still. This is exactly what Acosta and his partner Marianela Nuñez succeed in doing, and with Acosta helping Nuñez to execute fouettés in virtually double time the first half ends on a high.

The evening is presented as if to suggest that the dancers are stepping out from the rehearsal studio to perform their routines, so that between the numbers we see them getting changed and warming up. In the second half, however, some of the routines are performed as they might be in a bar with guests sitting at tables, as befitting the dances that now encompass a wider variety of styles. To see a ‘tango’ (A Buenos Aires choreographed by Gustavo Mollajoli) performed with the technique and approach that only world class ballet dancers (Nuñez and Soares) could bring to it proves highly satisfying. There is fun too as Acosta dances a drunken routine (Les Bourgeois choreographed by Ben Van Cauwenbergh), even attempting to light up halfway through it.

The final piece, Majisimo choreographed by Georges Garcia, is something of a showpiece ballet, but even in its group sections the dancers’ individual talents and techniques are able to come to the fore. Acosta’s own unique attributes are no exception to this rule, and they certainly stand out, even against a backdrop of incredible dancing all round.

Until 13 December at the London Coliseum, Saint Martin’s Lane, Charing Cross, WC2N 4ES. For further details and tickets (£14-£90) visit the London Coliseum website. Londonist saw this ballet on a complimentary ticket.

Last Updated 11 December 2015