It’s only three years since Cuban ballet star Carlos Acosta premiered his Havana-based company, intending to create a troupe that could dance anything from ballet to hip-hop. So far, so good: Acosta Danza boasts fantastic dancers from diverse backgrounds and, while they remain individuals, they’re developing a strong company style that is vital, sensual, technically sharp and warmly human. Of course, everybody still wants to see Acosta dance, but I’ll come to that.
While you’re waiting, check out the entrancing Mario Sergio Elías, who is fast, supple and powerful; and Marta Ortega, an immensely musical dancer who brings graceful detail to even the smallest steps. The pair’s eyes meet across a golden wheat field in Pontus Lidberg’s Paysage, Soudain, la Nuit, a piece that glows with fresh early morning light and late afternoon summer sun. For all the versatility of the dancers, the works in this programme fall squarely into contemporary dance. Lidberg’s piece is built on a rumba by Cuban composer Leo Brouwer, and the dancers move in constant flow and canon, an ever-pulsing energy bubbling away.
As well as dancers, Acosta is nurturing choreographic talent, and a new piece, Satori, by company member Raúl Reinoso, is an impressionistic journey to spiritual enlightenment. It takes a roundabout way of getting there, through myriad ideas and images, from topless torsos emerging from a voluminous silk to a euphoric finale. There is a sense of mysticism, led by the striking Zeleidy Crespo, a shaven-headed goddess in pointe shoes. And most importantly, it feels unique to this company’s Cuban voice.
The dancers bring their own energy to Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s elastic-bodied duet Faun and to Christopher Bruce’s Rooster, from 1991, set to the songs of the Rolling Stones. There’s a chasm between the mannered sexual politics of Rooster and the antics of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. This is a formal work, exactingly technical, fast and full of steps, but the dancers fly through it and give it some red-blooded life. More to the point, here is Acosta, brimming with charisma. He’s still got the moves, the charm and a command of the stage. The man is irresistible.