Review: Carlos Acosta and friends from the Royal Ballet at London Coliseum

Performance: 1 Apr 08
Reviewed by Libby Costello - Thursday 3 April 2008

Iconic images, pacey pirouettes and electric elevation came from the performance of Carlos Acosta and Friends from the Royal Ballet. The magical moments came thick and fast as both the dancers and the chosen exerts proved themselves to be world class. With a programme ranging from Balanchine to Stevenson, there really was something for every balletic taste.

The cast proved their worth and astounded the audience with a series of spectacles. It took one leap from Acosta for the audience to burst into applause, although his later entrance, clad only in a loincloth, really sent the temperature rising.

Embedded within a rich programme of extravagance and splendour, came the evenings jewel in the crown. *The Dying Swan* personified simplicity, made up of only tiny bourrées and arm gestures. Danced effortlessly by Sarah Lamb, this solo provided breath-taking beauty with Michel Fokine’s choreography. Having claimed its place in history, Lamb brought the fleeting images to life at the Coliseum. The performance demonstrated Lamb’s ability to portray feeling and emotion even with her back to the audience; a totally contrasting quality compared with her girly light-hearted performance in Bournonvilles’ La Sylphide.

For pure emotion Macmillan’s Winter Dreams raised the bar. Even on a stark stage (the backdrop from all excerpts) this piece warmed the space. Drawn from Chekhov’s Three Sisters, this excerpt displayed Masha and Vershinin’s pas de deux of longing and desire. Mara Galeazzi and Martin Harvey provided the strongest partnership of the whole evening, with the couple expressing their love through every graceful limb.

Acosta and Tamara Rojo’s Diana and Actaeon pas de deux played to both their strengths, providing Acosta’s stunning leaps and Rojo’s celebrated spins for the audiences’ delight. The precision outweighed the dancers joy, with Acosta bringing more to the stage with the drunken solo *Les Bourgeois* by Van Cauwenbergh. This solo allowed a different side to shine, as his comic acting abilities gained hearty laughs.

The tango infused pas de deux choreographed to Astor Piazzolla’s classic score presented Rojo with her chance to shine. The snappy duet, with its limb entwining phrases – cut short by brief pauses in classical tango holds – brought Rojo in and out of José Martin’s arms in a sexy black number.

With a minimal set (traditional wooden chairs and tables implying an Argentinean Tango café), the duo were also provided with a few on stage audience members, most notably Acosta in a walk on role.

An evening with Acosta is never quite complete without a Cuban work. Majisimo, a work for eight dancers, ended the night on a high. Designed to display virtuosity this work hit the right note, with a healthy amount of one up manship and friendly competition between the dancers.

Although the costumes for each excerpt had been provided by the Royal Opera House, there was a slight lack of drama in these exquisite solos and duets. This could have been the lack of set, or that the pieces were taken out of context. Whatever the reason for this loss of dramatic tension, no audience member could claim that the movement on offer was anything but divine.

What’s On