All photos by Dasa Wharton
Carlos Acosta's new company launched with energy and panache. Following his retirement from classical ballet, the star looked back to his native Cuba to create a company with both contemporary and ballet training. Under the title Debut, this programme is a calling card that lays out Acosta Danza's identity.
What's delightful is that they already look like a company. The 14 dancers bring a sense of unity and individual personality, while the repertory balances Cuban roots and a sense of adventure. – Zoë Anderson, The Independent
The evening opens with El cruce sobre el Niágara (The Crossing Over Niagara), choreographed by Marianela Boán. The piece is based on Alonso Alegría's play about the 19th-century tightrope walker Blondin, who carries a friend over the Niagara Falls on his back. In Boán's piece, the two men, danced with tense poise by Carlos Luis Blanco and Alejandro Silva and set to music by Olivier Messiaen, prepare for the dizzying feat. Physical balance must be mastered, but there's also a power balance to be negotiated and the work becomes a meditation on human trust. The costumes could be subtler. “Man-thongs,” my guest whispered, concerning Leandra Soto's barely there designs. – Luke Jennings, Observer
Justin Peck's Belles-Lettres, originally made for New York City Ballet and here reworked for the Cubans, is a winsome and romantic classical ballet (the women are on pointe) that gives energetic expression to the heightened emotions of nine dancers (four duetting couples and one outsider male) set to recorded piano music by Franck. The attack in the performances and the joy in Peck's uplifting writing make this a winner. – Debra Craine, The Times
Goyo Montero's Imponderable is one of those high-concept, prop-heavy pieces with head-scratchingly baffling programme notes that tend to set alarm-bells ringing. Apparently about the creative process, and unfolding on a starkly lit, stripped-back stage, it ricochets violently between light and dark, with the nine dancers dousing each other in smoke and pointing torches at each other. “Impenetrable” might be a more fitting title, and in honesty I enjoyed it more when I caught it earlier in the year, in a far more intimate setting. Still, its brazen theatricality and the dancers' unselfconscious commitment keep you watching, and one or two of the ensemble passages really catch fire. – Mark Monahan, The Telegraph
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui's Mermaid is a fine, offbeat duet with Acosta attempting to keep a very drunk girl (Marta Ortega) on her feet to the live musical accompaniment of Woojae Park's Korean zither-like geomungo. The rubbery steps, the dripping water and the unexpected soundscape elevate the piece beyond its simple idea to exert a lithe fascination and bittersweet charm. – Neil Norman, The Stage
[The evening also featured Jorge Crecis's Twelve]
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.