Joined by eight other dancers from the Royal Ballet, this celebration of Carlos Acosta’s career showcased much more than the man himself. Ranging from Principals to Artists this rich and talent supporting cast made for an evening that was relentlessly high in quality.
Acosta’s Classical Selection was much like a Christmas chocolate box with many to choose from, some more enjoyable than others but still overall an impressive and pleasurable experience. The programme was held together by an unobtrusive but interesting narrative. We see the dancers arriving for rehearsal at a typically unglamorous location containing a ballet barre at the back of the stage. It’s all very A Chorus Line as they enter in warm up gear and legwarmers. We watch them silently get ready before the curtain goes down again and the evening proper commences. As each performance finishes we revisit the rehearsal space and see the dancers congratulate each other creating a likeable sense of camaraderie amongst this mini-company.
With the whole cast of such a high calibre, performance preferences are simply down to personal taste, Yuhui Choe and Valeri Hristov‘s La Sylphide was danced daintily and with great control from both but I found Choe’s portrayal of the Sylph a little too sugar coated and safe, as pretty as it was although she did capture the ethereal presence of the forest fairy with ease.
Another wonderful highlight was Zenaida Yanowsky’s melancholic Dying Swan. Yanowsky’s wild yet poised swan embodied Odette’s pain perfectly, she is beautiful with her long limbs this role was the perfect match.
Nunez and Acosta’s Diana and Actaeon pas de deux was undeniably the highlight of Act One, if not the entire evening. Acosta’s athleticism in the jumps he is renowned for were quite remarkable up close combined with Nunez technical precision and energy the audience was quick to show its appreciation.
Act Two deviated from the more traditional ballets in favour of more unique and original numbers showcasing the individual dancer’s personalities. Yuhui Choe showed a different side from her early Sylph with a defiant number to je ne regrette rien. Her small frame was strong and commanding in her attach with kicks and jumps; feisty and likeable throughout.
Nunez also returned to the stage with Thiago Soares for a tango style ballet number with mixed results. It failed to show off Nunez to be the superstar she is but Soares strength in the lifts created enabled the piece to flow and it’s impossible not to be taken with Astor Piazzolla’s famous score.
As the evening comes to an end the dancers take a slow walk back to their changing area and the high of the performance and rush of adrenaline is soon dispersed as they change out of their costumes into far more low key plain clothes, Yanowsky standing out from the crowd in her pink hoodie. Acosta is predictably the last to toss his bag over his shoulder and unhurriedly exit from the stage. It’s a bittersweet moment in what is a wonderfully diverse evening showing these Royal Ballet stars to their greatest strengths and although Acosta will be greatly missed, there will undoubtedly be no lack of talent after his departure.
First pubished on LondonTheatre1.com