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Carlos Acosta's Cubania at the Royal Opera House


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For me this one was a bit of a mixed bag.

 

I liked the 3&4th pieces in the first half, and enjoyed some of the amazingly energetic dancing in the 2nd half and the juxtaposition of classical dancing vs 'Cuban club dancing', though I felt there was a missed opportunity to do more than just play them against each other. Didn't feel like buying a programme and there were no cast lists, so I can only refer to the pieces by their order

 

The 1st piece was danced by Acosta and Pieter Symonds, and it seemed to be about domestic violence, or a very domineering and fractured relationship. And folding cloths. The dancing was as good as expected from dancers of that caliber, but I could not get truly interested in the movement and story. It also included an overlong electric guitar solo that set my teeth on edge, so that didn't help.

 

The 2nd piece was a male solo by one of the Cuban dancers, it had moments of very interesting movements and I'd love to see the dancer in something else, but the piece itself consistent largely of writhing on the floor and if I never see it again, I'd be quite happy.

 

The 3rd piece started with 4 dancers, coming in one after the other and performing a sequence of movements without any music in a cube constructed of bars. It was amazing to realise that the ROH audience can actually be quiet for several consecutive minutes, but more importantly, the absence of music seemed to make me focus on the movement for the sake of movement. Once the music started, the dancers really came to live. All dancing was done inside the 'cage', with anything from 1-4 dancers weaving in and out of the 'dance floor'. Some of the movement, especially the ones for all 4 dancers were mesmerising.

 

The 4th piece was danced by Acosta and Zen Yanowsky, it started with the two dancers surrounded by members of a choir, who then moved to the back of the stage to sing a very moving piece (sadly I have no idea what it was). The second part of the piece was set against some violin music that was less successful, but the choreography and dancing throughout was definitely the highlight of the evening for me. Zen did shamelessly steal the show occasionally, but I guess she can't help being awesome.

 

The last piece was fun, though a bit too long and maybe a tad self-indulgent, but if I were a very successful ballet dancer and had the opportunity to put on a 'revenge ballet' as a HAH! to my early detractors, I'd totally go for it.

 

Then my worst nightmare came true and the audience fell into a demented bout of 'rhythmic clapping' at the curtain call in response to some charming Cuban hip wriggling. I suffer from a preternatural hatred of any forms of clapping along, so I had to flee the auditorium in undignified haste.

Edited by Coated
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Foteini Christofilopoulou was at the photo call - here are some sample photos from DanceTabs:

14525051120_309b4b1959_z.jpg
Derrumbe - Carlos Acosta & Pieter Symonds
© Foteini Christofilopoulou. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

14525073658_970d4fc1bb_z.jpg
Derrumbe - Carlos Acosta & Pieter Symonds
© Foteini Christofilopoulou. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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Set from DanceTabs: Derrumbe (from Carlos Acosta's Cubanía bill)
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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Zen did shamelessly steal the show occasionally, but I guess she can't help being awesome.

 

 

How true!!  I had thought this item might have been a reprise of the piece danced to Morten Lauridsen's O Magnum Mysterium, the one saving grace of the last Acosta show that I attended some years ago, and in which there was a brief moment of hers that I remember still when, as a relatively new mother, she interpreted the line 'iacentem in praesepio' - but I see that it was something else, Sight Unseen by Edwaard Liang, danced to one of Arvo Part's compositions.  I'm delighted to hear that she made it her own.

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Not for me I'm afraid, although my experience wasn't helped by the fact I'd stupidly booked lower slips, which are terrible seats which only let you see half the stage.  No dance performance is enhanced by only seeing 50% of it!

 

Anyway...the bits I could see fit into the category of "generic modern dance" for me.  Rather bog-standard modern choreography, with the obligatory tuneless "edgy" soundtrack.  There was one piece which briefly had the choir on stage, which I quite liked, before it moved on to a less successful violin solo.  

 

It's the sort of thing I see at Sadlers Wells quite often (with better and cheaper seats).  I think the disappointment came from wrong expectations - I did rather expect a show called Cubania created by Carlos Acosta to feature a lot of Cuban flavour and possibly some ballet.  It was closer in tone and style to a Russell Maliphant mixed bill, and so didn't really live up to expectations for me. 

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Interesting FT review which, I fear, summed up my own reservations at a first night viewing of Cubania [and certainly those of the woman standing next to me] and, more crucially/specifically, my concerns for the creative construction of the upcoming RB CARMEN.  Heart dropping in the extreme.  

Edited by Bruce Wall
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