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Acosta Danza_Satori_Photo Enrique Smith Soto (2)

This week the Cuban-based Acosta Danza ignite the stage of Sadler’s Wells with their exhilarating performance of Evolution. The company was created and directed by the world-renowned Carlos Acosta, who makes a guest appearance in the last of four wonderfully contrasting movements.

The opening piece Satori, choreographed by Raúl Reinoso, draws on the Zen Buddhist concept of spiritual illumination. The ominously dark set reveals a partially illuminated sheet which wraps and twists around the restless, writhing bodies of the dancers. Zeleidy Crespo takes centre stage, undulating through sequences with astounding grace and power. Accentuating the intensity of the performance is a thrumming score from Pepe Gavilondo, which seamlessly combines electronic, acoustic and folk sounds. The music is met by rhythmically throbbing lights, which plunge the audience into darkness before unveiling blinding, split-second flashes of sensually contorted bodies. This abstract journey through movement is nothing short of electrifying.

 

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The second work Paysage, Soudain, la nuit feels lighter, with playful choreography from Pontus Lidberg. Performers wander dreamily through gold-lit corn fields which stretch the length of the stage, regularly jolted from their pensiveness by impulsive, childlike games. Duos of dancers take turns chasing, ducking and weaving through the group, who shake and bump across the floor in unison. Music from Leo Brouwer and Stefan Levin is at once beautifully simplistic and pleasingly hypnotic, with delicate guitar counterpoints entwining as fluidly as the dancers themselves. This twilit celebration of youth emanates a warm, joyful innocence.

 

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Faun had the audience spellbound. With innovative contemporary choreography from Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, this experimental work is set deep in the violet-hued woodlands. In the midst of this wilderness appears Carlos Luis Blanco, soon joined by Zeleidy Crespo in an encounter which is fierce as it is inquisitive. The narrative takes on a mythical air, their lithe bodies exploring and testing each other, moving as one with impressive feats of strength before diving apart erratically. Set to Debussy with additional music from Nitin Sawhney, the score is at once primeval and modern, heightening the mysticism of this deeply instinctual, sensual and bewildering piece.

 

carlos acosta

 

Worlds apart but no less impressive is Christopher Bruce’s closing work Rooster, which sees the much-anticipated arrival of Carlos Acosta. Perhaps playing with our heightened expectations, Acosta slides unceremoniously onto the stage in an exaggerated, head-jerking (and very funny) rendition of a preening cockerel. This comical battle of the sexes pays homage to the incredible soundtrack of the 60s and 70s, set to music by the Rolling Stones. Puffed up chests and inflated egos propel the brightly-clad male dancers across the stage, posturing before the ironic amusement of the onlooking women. Female dancers respond by whipping and teasing with fluffy red scarves, leaving a spray of feathers in their wake. Strutting and clucking across the stage with an irresistible swagger, Acosta is hard to take your eyes off and ends the night with a bold, memorable flourish.

 

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Evolution plays at Sadler’s Wells, London, from 18 – 23 November 2019, and returns to tour across the UK in March 2020. Some dancers pictured differ from names given. 

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