You might think that it’s apt to have watched ballet legend Carlos Acosta’s company on the most #TutuTuesday ever (22/2/22) – but in this mixed programme of new and existing contemporary works, there isn’t a tutu in sight.
Acosta Danza: 100% Cuban gets off to a pulsating start with Liberto, a new work created by company dancer Raúl Reinoso. This duet moves from sharp, convulsive pop and lock movements set to a percussive beat – their otherworldliness cleverly emphasised by flickering white light – to slow, tender partnership work. It finishes with an unusual passage where one of the dancers becomes entangled in a net before freeing themselves, reflecting the title of the work.
Also premiering in the UK is the dystopian, futuristic Hybrid, by Cuban choreographer Norge Cedeno. Ten dancers in grey bodysuits, lit in vivid red, move in unison to a drum and bass soundtrack, staring down the audience and performing some stunning group lifts. Ropes feature heavily: as part of costumes, suspended from the ceiling to support movements, and tied around the dancers’ waists in a moment reminiscent of Rambert’s Draw From Within.
Paysage, soudain, la nuit is a more conventionally balletic work. Comparisons can be made with Jerome Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering in its ebb and flow of dancers from the stage, its pastoral setting and Pontus Lidberg’s light, joyful and free-flowing choreography. The final section, set in a blue-tinted night, feels less bucolic and more funky – the dancers’ bouncing shuffle to the beat is definitely a step you’ll want to try yourself at home.
Impronta, the night’s only solo piece, showcases the incredible stage presence and remarkable physicality of dancer Zeleidy Crespo. Flamenco influences in the choreography are recognisable in the way Crespo uses the swirling blue silk skirt of her costume to accent her movements.
The standout piece of the programme is Alexis Fernandez’s De Punta a Cabo, which is set in front of a filmed backdrop of Havana and really encapsulates the youthful Cuban spirit of the company. Its combination of street, samba and ballet – we actually see three dancers perform in pointe shoes – feels like something genuinely new. A spirit of fun runs high, evoked by a dance off, acrobatic tricks, and a final ensemble samba party that brings the house down; it almost feels like a contemporary musical number in its energetic reaching out to the audience.
Overall, this programme of works is a true celebration of the talent, spirit and versatility of this young company, who must be making their Artistic Director very proud indeed.