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Carlos Acosta: Premieres

Published 30 July 2010

It is clear from the moment the curtain rises at the London Coliseum that the great Cuban dancer Carlos Acosta has created a starkly contemporary, surreal show that leans as much on digital imagery as dance.

The atmosphere is dark and slightly disturbing. An impressive projection conjures a pub in the rain at night; Acosta is seen in its windows, before he ventures into the darkness and suddenly finds himself in some sort of vast kitchen. Someone is breathing heavily – is it him? – while, behind, we see a group of people, backlit into silhouettes, and then they are gone.

Acosta and French dancer Zenaida Yanowsky occupy this world through two dances – though they seem barely dances, more choreographed movement – caught in this dissonant, frenetic atmosphere. An outfit from Havana provides an electronica soundtrack, while rain intermittently rears its head in a visual and aural backdrop.

It is only in the third piece, Russell Maliphant’s Two, where Acosta’s skill seems more obviously evident. Resembling a Greek god with his finely honed torso on display, he performs this almost tribal choreography in a square of light, making his limbs seem like lasers as they cut through the darkness.

The themes of the first half continue in the second, for the most part, bar Yanowsky’s solo dance to Kim Brandstrup’s Footnote To Ashton. This strikes a discordant note in the show; its beautiful but distinctly more classical and balletic movements seem out of place next to the other, starkly contemporary pieces.

Following a high-concept video of the two dancers which returns the show to the theme of water, the pair are back with Edwaard Liang’s Sight Unseen, a graceful, flowing pas de deux. Hand Duets, a new piece by George Céspedes and Acosta, segues into the finale, when the Pegasus Choir, revealed as the backlit people standing ominously to the rear of the stage, accompany the dancers in voice. Acosta and Yanowsky, performing their own choreography, show their extreme athleticism as they make deceptively difficult moves seem easy and graceful. Against the choir’s harmonious vocals, the pair create an uplifting, rousing end to an otherwise dark, surreal evening.

CB

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