There are two sides to Carlos Acosta: international ballet star and Cuban dancer. After last week’s classical showcase, this week’s programme focuses on his other love, Cuba, and again it is held together by the quality of the dancing.
First, and most familiar, is the Don Quixote pas de deux, in the version performed by the National Ballet of Cuba. Acosta, both awesome and effortless, unwittingly overpowers petite Yolanda Correa, who could do with being more assertive. Next is La Ecuación, a piece by George Céspedes for the Danza Contemporánea de Cuba. Acosta does not feature at all, but you begin to sense shared stylistic roots: like Acosta, the four limber dancers perform with an African-Latin mix of pliancy with attack, flow with rhythm. As the title suggests, it is a kind of choreographic equation. The calculus happens in the simple addition and subtraction of dancers (one plus two, three minus one, and so on), and also in the swirling geometry of their phrases as they flip over, around and against each other like living denominators, brackets and dividers.
Even better is Céspedes’ El Peso de Una Isla for the whole company of 12 dancers, into which Acosta blends unobtrusively. With a distinctly urban vibe, it seamlessly hybridises hip-hop with jazz, African dance with acrobatics and street dance. It is dazzling. Partnerships coalesce and disperse in an energetic stream of choreographic invention.
Compared with this, the mix of ballet, popular African-Cuban dance and musical theatre in Acosta’s vaguely autobiographical Tocororo Suite seems hokey. Ballet-bound Acosta gets into the groove through the love of swishy Verónica Corveas, thus displacing Alexander Verona – a kind of Havana Huggy Bear – as the strutting alpha male. Still, it shows that while Acosta’s heart is in ballet, his hips can go elsewhere; fans will be happy.