Carlos Acosta celebrates a Classical Selection at the London Coliseum
As Cuban-born ballet star Carlos Acosta presents his 40th birthday showcase Classical Selection for its final performance at the London Coliseum, it’s safe to say not a single audience member believes this youthful powerhouse is anywhere near 40 years of age. Acosta brings together eight of The Royal Ballet’s finest to help him celebrate his most beloved and challenging 20th century pieces.
Framed by lone pianist Robert Clark, Acosta opens with Marianela Nuñez for MacMillan’s Winter Dreams pas de deux, their unbreakable chemistry setting the precedent for the rest of the evening, both in standard and in the dark, melancholic theme. A stunning solo by Melissa Hamilton as the beautiful, forlorn Dying Swan follows, with the addition of cellist James Porter augmenting the poignant simplicity of the stage setup.
As well as a birthday showcase, Classical Selection doubles as a farewell for Australian-born ballerina Leanne Benjamin, who recently retired from The Royal Ballet. She is, of course, undeniably beautiful alongside Nehemiah Kish in an extract from Manon. However, the pair admittedly lack the easy chemistry of Acosta and Nuñez,
The closer for the first act unquestionably steals the show, with Acosta and Nuñez further proving they were made to dance together in Vaganova’s Diana and Actaeon pas de deux. The sheer technical precision shown through Acosta’s indomitable strength screams confidence and masculinity as he leaps what seems like miles in the air, not to mention Nuñez’s infallible line and enviable, effortless grace. Their exultant faces as they bow suggest it was as much a joy to perform as it was to watch and their sincerity leaves each member of the roaring crowd with a smile on their face and a lump in their throat.
The sombre theme continues throughout the second act, lead by the wretchedly tragic Mayerling, with Acosta perfectly capturing the hopelessness and dejection felt by Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary. Joined by Benjamin and Ricardo Cervera, Rudolf’s inner torment leads ultimately to a desperate double suicide (complete with real gunshots) and a sense of agony and self-destruction that, through the trio’s painfully emotive performance, leaps from the stage.
The collection is brought to a fitting close by an earthy, contemporary solo that brings Acosta back to his Cuban roots. Memoria by Cuban choreographer Miguel Altunaga steps away from the classical sensibilities of the rest of Classical Selection and places Acosta where he should be: at its very heart.
For further information about Carlos Acosta and future performances visit here.
Watch Carlos Acosta performing Diana and Actaeon here: