Review: Acosta Danza at the Theatre Royal "Dance, but not as we know it"

PUBLISHED: 14:01 01 June 2018 | UPDATED: 15:42 01 June 2018

Acosta Danza presents Twelve. Photo: Johan Persson

Acosta Danza presents Twelve. Photo: Johan Persson


I'll be the first to admit, when I heard of Acosta Danza I was sceptical about another company emerging behind a big name in the classical ballet world.

Acosta Danza presents Mermaid. Photo: Johan PerssonAcosta Danza presents Mermaid. Photo: Johan Persson

Rambert have dominated the contemporary dance scene for decades, with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre providing fierce and original competition.

Going into the Theatre Royal performance I wondered how this new Cuban company could carve out their own space in an ever-populating genre, or whether they’d fade into the interesting but mediocre ether, like many before them.

But truly, it as though Carlos Acosta has watched companies across the globe place themselves along a line from classical to contemporary, has stepped clean over it, and settled himself in a patch of Cuban originality.

And on his journey, Acosta has sculpted a new breed of dancer.

Acosta Danza presents Imponderable. Photo: Johan PerssonAcosta Danza presents Imponderable. Photo: Johan Persson

Although the company of twenty or so dancers has only been together since September, they move with the synergy of one organism.

The male dancers, who hold the company together, have a strength unparalleled to anything I’ve witnessed.

In the first of the five pieces, Carlos Luis Blanco and Mario Sergio Elias finished with one sat on the shoulders of the other, and the pair took a pirouetting tour of the stage with their arms outstretched.

As the spins came to an end with their backs to the audience, you could see their spines move as one to absorb the momentum they had created. And in a split second, they had righted themselves and were perfectly still once more.

Carlos Acosta. Photo: Andrej UspenskiCarlos Acosta. Photo: Andrej Uspenski

This is just one example of the astounding strength and technique the company exhibited.

Marta Ortega took the audience’s breath away in the third instalment ‘Mermaid’ of the debut show, where she was joined by the Artistic Director himself.

It’s a testament to her talent that at times she eclipsed her partner, the former Royal Ballet Principle.

She made pointe shoes look like part of her feet, as opposed to a means to an end (as we see in so many traditional ballerinas), and managed to draw herself up onto full-height toes from lying flat on her back.

Acosta Danza presents Belles Lettres. Photo: Johan PerssonAcosta Danza presents Belles Lettres. Photo: Johan Persson

The choreography throughout constantly questioned the ‘rules’ of the art.

It’s as though each of the five guest choreographers of the show asked: “Why shouldn’t we try and get up onto pointe backwards? Why shouldn’t a woman be able to lift her partner?”

It was terrifying, and yet awe-inspiring to watch.

Whether you are a dance fan or not, this is a performance of human strength and elegance you cannot miss out on.

Acosta Danza will reshape dance as we know it, and I’d suggest seeing them before it’s near-impossible to do so.

To read more about Acosta Danza, click here.


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