Carlos Acosta has gathered the best of the London ballet clique for his 40th birthday celebrations at the London Coliseum. The program is a selection of thrilling vignettes from the stunning neo-classical simplicity of Balanchine’s Apollo, through the poetic and sombre depths of Gloria and Requiem and marvellously modern Tryst, to the shimmering delights and cheeky hip thrusts of George Balanchine’s Rubies.
Carlos Acosta and Marianela Nunez in Sheherezade Photo: Tristram Kenton
The music makes the evening as much as the dance, with Robert Clark on solo grand piano and James Potter on cello.
Highlights of the performance include Melissa Hamilton’s devastatingly beautiful Dying Swan. Her feathered tutu, wilting, graceful arms, delicate wrists and haunting downcast movements as she heaves herself onto point finishes with a heart wrenching flutter. Yuhui Choe brings a charming sparkle to Frederick Ashton’s Rhapsody, partnered by Ricardo Cervera, as twinkling as the tiny diamante studs on her white dress.
There are orchestral interludes while the curtain is down, to the tune of Antonin Dvorak’s Slavonic Dance in C and Tchaikovsky’s Sweet Dreams from Album for the Young.
But this is Carlos’ night. The Cuban dancer comes alive in Scheherezade, showcasing the rowdy strength and soaring jumps that he is known for, perfectly partnered by Marianela Nunez’s wily seductions, beautifully extended leaps and hyper-mobile lines. Nunez plays a charming Diana to his Actaeon, rapturous and excitable, as Acosta’s rough grace powers on.
Acosta demonstrates his flair for dark drama of Macmillan’s Mayerling, before the pinnacle of the evening - the Capoeira infused Memoria, set to pulsating Mexican electronica artist Murcof, that delivers on all fronts.