Thursday, 10 December 2015

Carlos Acosta's A Classical Selection

A Classical Selection, Carlos Acosta and friends, London Coliseum - reviewed on 8th December

A Classical Selection is Carlos Acosta's stylish swansong before he retires from the ballet world. In a diverse array of repertoire celebrating his remarkable career, he's accompanied by eight dancers from the Royal Ballet - including both well-known principals such as Zenaida Yanowsky and younger, rising corps de ballet members.

Marianela Nunez and Carlos Acosta 
in Diana and Actaeon pas de deux
Photo: Johan Persson
At 42, Acosta freely admits that he's "not doing the steps as brilliantly" as when he was younger. But he excels in the evening's bravura tricks, pirouetting and leaping spectacularly in a thoroughly sparkling Diana and Actaeon pas de deux alongside (an equally radiant) Marianela Nuñez. He also perfectly demonstrates what he describes as being "in a different artistic league" to his younger self. Ben Van Cauwenbergh's Les Bourgeois solo is a gala staple with its humorous drunkeness and dynamic jumps, but Acosta takes it to another level with crisp gestures conveying the choreography's narrative with real clarity.

Acosta's other performances are less memorable. An extract from George Balanchine's Agon is technically pleasing but doesn't inspire, and in the evening's finale - Georges Garcia's Majisimo - the eight-strong cast lacks synchronicity.

Repertoire by Acosta's Royal Ballet co-stars is generally strong, but it's Yuhui Choe who shines brightest. She's charming and delicate in the title role of La Sylphide (Act II pas de deux) and contrastingly striking and powerful in Van Cauwenbergh's Je ne regrette rien.

What is most interesting in A Classical Selection, however, is Acosta's inclusion of a dancer rest area - consisting of two sofas and a barre - at the back of the stage. Hidden by a curtain during performances, the area comes into view between repertoire and at the end of the show. We see dancers stretching, adjusting their costumes, changing shoes and drinking water in an intimate portrayal of life backstage.

It's as if Acosta wants to show the joy he experiences not only when performing but also in these quieter moments with his ballet dancing family. As he moves onto pastures new, it's clear that he'll be very much missed by both his colleagues and audiences alike.

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