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Carlos Acosta and the Danza Contemporanea de Cuba

‘Tocororo Suite’, ‘K2O's’, ‘Le Corsaire pdd’, ‘La Ecuacion’

July 2007
Salford, The Lowry

by Ian Palmer



© John Ross

'Tocororo' reviews

'La Ecuacion' reviews

'Corsaire' reviews

Acosta (dancer) in reviews

Valdes in reviews

Carlos Acosta company reviews

more Ian Palmer reviews

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Do you ever feel like clapping along to the ballet? With the exception of the finale to La Fille mal Gardée (where of course it is de rigeur) I have so far resisted the urge, but on Friday evening at the Lowry, I could feel those tell-tale twitches and spasms coming to my hands. By the end, some lily-livered members of the audience gave in to the temptation and some, so caught up in the spirit of St. Vitus, were actually dancing in the aisles! The event? Carlos Acosta of course, who is to the “Noughties” what Nureyev was to the Sixties, a “Pop Dancer” and no matter what he dances he will be applauded and wolf-whistled and paraded down the street.

It makes no odds that Tocororo is syrupy nonsense and its message – that classical ballet must bend to the will of the populist in order to survive – is suspect, for Acosta has a winning way, and the integrity of his performance (the way with his simple manner and effortless bravura, he can gain our sympathy) is never in doubt. In truth, this Tocororo Suite (which he was premiering for the Manchester International Festival) is better than the full evening work upon which it is based, because it comes at you full-throttle without any of the drags of the longer work. Alexander Varona, who was last at the Lowry in November with Russell Maliphant, gave a muscle perfect performance as the leader of the street-kids’ gang and Verónica Corveas was the seductive love-interest. As they did in London, the Danza Contemporánea de Cuba provided the back-up.

 


Carlos Acosta in the original Tocororo production
© John Ross


Earlier in the evening they had also provided two, somewhat studious, contemporary dance pieces. The first K2O’s was, so the blurb told us, about “putting your briefcase in order.” Cue one dancer bending down and another picking him up by his belt, placing him on a card table and ripping up sheets of paper. The second, La Ecuación, took place under a vast wire box and was about algebra. What I admired in these performances were not the pieces themselves, but the fusion of Cuban Streetdance culture with Grahamesque technique, and the supple, physical brilliance of their dancers.

But it was the Corsaire Pas de Deux that very nearly had me clapping, because with Acosta and the Cuban miracle that is Viengsay Valdes, it was circus time. Valdes dances on the very largest scale, contrasting her huge movement with brilliant speed and detailed technique. Her pointes are of steel and those effortless balances, held just that second longer, are amazing. Acosta, of course dances with animal force (though did I detect a touch of “give” in the knee joint during landings? - he has after all just been dancing Spartacus) and dashes off multiple tours and split jetés as it were his shopping list. He colours his variation with all those “tricks” we have come to expect – those barrel turns in which he adds an extra flip, which I first saw when he danced Ashton’s Rhapsody and now seem par for the course - and though he does not have the plastique that the great Farukh Ruzimatov used to have when he glittered through the role, Acosta’s magnetism, his blazing energy soar on a triumphant crest. I think, though cannot be certain, that this is the first time Valdes and Acosta have danced together in the UK, and I trust we shall see them again in full evening works. Circus is all-well-and-good, but we should be watching an art form, not a sideshow.


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