Carlos Acosta: A Classical Selection review – high-wire fun

Coliseum, London
The virtuoso dance star approaches his final farewell with an evening of short works

Only rarely does a male ballet dancer truly capture the public’s imagination. When it happens, as it happened with Carlos Acosta – and before him Nureyev, Nijinsky and others – it’s only partly about virtuosity. It’s also a matter of historical timing. Nijinsky and Nureyev enthralled the west with their exotic sensuality at moments in time, a half-century apart, when prevailing models of masculinity were overwhelmingly conservative. Acosta, by contrast, arrived on the scene in the 1990s, in a world saturated with postmodern, hyper-referential versions of maleness, from which the dance stage was not exempt. He went straight to the top, cutting through the bullshit as he went.

He was different. He came from Cuba, from a tough background. He was non-white. There was no haughty androgyny, no pseudo-aristocratic posturing. He just walked on stage, taking calm possession of the space, and you sank back in your seat, knowing that everything was going to be fine. Where it had become fashionable, post-Nureyev, to make bravura dancing look difficult, Acosta made it look easy. Pirouettes were sustained, serene and frictionless, to the end of the phrase. A jeté was an unhurried arc, proprietorially cleaving the air. This assurance conveyed itself to his partners, of whom he was flirtatiously solicitous. More than any dancer before or since, Acosta made ballet cool.

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Source: Guardian Dance News

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