“Will Carlos dance?” asked the gentleman next to me. Acosta Danza is such a rare thing – a dance troupe where the star draw doesn’t perform or choreograph, but instead lurks on letterhead and adds glamour by proxy.
Carlos Acosta was not on stage – on June 50, dance days are less frequent now. He founded this company in 2015 as a showcase for Cuban contemporary dance talent—as outstanding as the country’s famous ballet artists—and these stunning commissions and scorching hot dancers can speak for themselves.
The 10 dancers with their burning energy are outstanding. Everything is danced at full throttle – why tremble when you can swing, why bend when you can bend in half? Acosta puts together five difficult pieces across the spectrum of test dance styles and perfects each one.
The evening begins with a European premiere: a performance by emerging American choreographer Micaela Taylor. His style is built on sudden, graphically drawn movements – protruding jaws and fast-moving hips, all alike rapid light changes and a jingling industrial score.
There are some very sharp moments: crouching duos, sizzling community formations, or five men holding their hearts as if they were in love as the two women just coughed and kept moving. Despite all the arresting moves, the relentless crunch paradoxically lets the tension drop—even so, it’s a powerful opening.
In Faun by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, a fiery riff on L’après-midi d’un faune, Debussy’s original music was interrupted by new music by Nitin Sawhney as two innocent bodies explore how their bodies work in a speckled woodland.
The dancers throw themselves into his clear tongue. The rugged Alejandro Silva threatens to topple when he extends a leg or pushes his torso back, moving quickly and with surprising weight. Zeleidy Crespo similarly pushes aside her curvaceous arms and complex footwork—the sniffing couple dove between each other’s legs like turtles or spin on their bellies. A wonderfully sweaty, horny nipper.
After the break, three more dance languages. In Spanish choreographer Juanjo Arqués’ loose-legged Portal, dancers hold lanterns to shine a light on their colleagues’ solos and face any challenge with daring confidence. A cello plays the agonizing intimacies of Nosotros, written by Beatriz García and Raúl Reinoso. A pair of needs, boredom, and addiction are entangled in one another: almost a breakup ballet is the most classic piece on the bill.
At the close of the evening, Madrid’s Goyo Montero’s Alrededor no hay nada is a short, poignant sequence of harshly etched cameos set to the accentuated vocalization of Joaquín Sabina’s poems. With a craving for superscript, I couldn’t handle the interaction between the text and the rotating Jacknife movement. But even if some things don’t translate, these great dancers speak directly to the heart.
Linbury Theatre, to January 30; roh.org.uk