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Carlos Acosta: A Celebration review at Royal Albert Hall – ‘immaculately danced’

Carlos Acosta and Acosta Danza in Rooster. part of Carlos Acosta-A Celebration at Royal Albert Hall. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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Carlos Acosta may have retired from classical ballet but he is still restlessly inventive.

Following the disappointing debut of his dance version of Carmen at the Royal Ballet he has reworked and revised it into a piece that now fizzes with erotic energy. Plucking gestural ideas from Kenneth MacMillan and Yury Grigorovich (with a mischievous nod to the Chippendales) he welds them into a coherent narrative that his Cuban company Acosta Danza can really get their feet into.

And what a company! As Carmen Laura Rodriguez recalls the young Tamara Rojo in a performance that is as intelligent as it is uninhibited. Everywhere you look there are exciting individuals, not least Acosta himself, posing and preening magnificently as the torero Escamillo, and Javier Rojas’ Don Jose, the Romantic to Carmen’s Realist.

The fleeting rapture of innocence recaptured is perfectly conveyed in the bedroom pas de deux that looks like a variation of Manon. The presence of a Minotaur-like bull whose two phallic horns symbolise Carmen’s two suitors is deliciously lethal. The evening opens with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Mermaid in which Acosta displays his upper body strength and confident partnering by assisting Marta Ortega’s inebriated fish-out-of-water through a series of slippery moves accompanied by oriental music that eventually segues into the clean simplicity of Satie.

Goyo Montero’s Alrededor No Hay Nada allows the company to show off a sublime jazz-like synergy in an ensemble piece conducted to spoken poetry that at times resembles a slowed-down tango choreographed by Bob Fosse.  And Christopher Bruce’s glorious Rooster gets a rambunctious workout as Acosta and his boys strut like cockerels to evoke a twisted, sneering courtliness propelled by a set of Rolling Stones’ classics. A very satisfying night.

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Carlos Acosta’s superbly revised Carmen is the highlight of a vivid and immaculately danced evening