sat 25/05/2024

Acosta Danza, Sadler's Wells review - a dose of Cuban sun | reviews, news & interviews

Acosta Danza, Sadler's Wells review - a dose of Cuban sun

Acosta Danza, Sadler's Wells review - a dose of Cuban sun

Carlos Acosta's Cuban troupe are looking fine on their second time out

In the pink: Carlos Acosta leads the company in 'Rooster', by Christopher Brucephoto: Johan Persson

Second album, second novel, second tour programme – the follow-up is always tricky. But the timing couldn’t be better for Acosta Danza, the Havana-based dance company which made its UK debut in 2017. These 20 young Cubans, handpicked by Carlos Acosta and bursting with talent, can’t know how badly the UK needs a shot of their sunny optimism right now.

As before, the mode is eclectic, with a focus on the vibrant mishmash that is Cuban culture. Curiously, though, it doesn’t always arrive direct from the source. The strongest Latin American vibe on the programme comes courtesy of choreographer Pontus Lidberg, a Swede. Paysage, soudain, la nuit takes its inspiration from the gentle, jalapeno-flavoured music of Cuban composer-guitarist Leo Brouwer and the folkloric dance form known as rumba – which has nothing to do with anything that might appear on Strictly. The piece plays out before a field of barley, glistening in sunlight then mysterious under the moon as 10 young people meet, flirt, fall asleep under the stars, wake up and flirt some more. One couple claim our attention, but this is no major love story. They dance together, then rejoin their friends, the group’s joyous steps – at root deliciously simple – leaving you longing to join in. This is one of those rare instances of art-house dance in which everyone smiles at one another, and you love this company for it.

Zeleidy Crespo and Carlos Luis Blanco in 'Faun'Faun (pictured right), a duet by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, has been seen before at Sadler’s Wells, having been made for the Ballet Russes centenary a few years back. But with this cast it looks quite different – more tropical, more langorous, more animalistic. Tall, serene Zeleidy Crespo and Carlos Luis Blanco, more panther than faun, are individually astonishing in their ecstatic stretches and contractions. Interlinked, they become a single eight-legged creature traversing a forest floor. Debussy’s lush L’Après-midi d’un faun and electronic interpolations by Nitin Sawhney make your hair stand on end.

Less memorable is the opener, Satori, from company member Raul Reinoso, which suffers from having too many ideas, startling though some of them are: bare-chested and -breasted dancers protruding through a stage-size tent of blue fabric, and later the reverse – dancing legs with torsos hidden. A programme note tells us this is all about the spiritual journey of Zen Buddhism. Yeah, right.

The closer, Rooster, Christopher Bruce’s sassy setting of early Rolling Stones hits, has fewer pretensions, despite its focus on the vanity of fashionable young men in the Swinging Sixties. Here the stage wattage gets a boost from the active participation of Carlos Acosta. He may have hung up his ballet pumps but his energy, precision and sheer charm is undiminished and his young company clearly love having him dance among them. They must enjoy it while they can. He takes up his new  post as Artistic Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet in January and this show will have to go on without him.

Carlos's young company clearly love having him dance among them. They must enjoy it while they can


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters