REVIEW: Carlos Acosta: A Celebration, Royal Albert Hall

Covering all aspects of his career, this performance  celebrating Carlos Acosta’s thirty years in dance was mesmerising from beginning to end. 

3 Carlos Acosta - A Celebration at the Royal Albert Hall 2 to 5 October 2018 Credit Tristram Kenton
Carlos Acosta and Acosta Danza in Rooster by Christopher Bruce part of Carlos Acosta-A Celebration-Royal Albert Hall.  ©Tristram Kenton. 

From the quiet and understated performance of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Mermaid all the way through to Carlos Acosta’s passionate and dramatic interpretation of Carmen, this celebration of the dancer and choreographer’s rich and varied career successfully keeps the audience immersed in his talent in all forms from beginning to end.

The programme opens with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s beautifully mystical and fluid ‘Mermaid’ that is exquisitely performed by Acosta and Marta Ortega. Not only does Fabiana Piccioli’s lighting beautifully enhance and accentuates the choreography, but the piece as a whole is a strong example of Acosta’s light footedness and gracefulness as a performer. While he shows his strength as a performer, it is the way in which he allows Marta Ortega to take centre stage and defers to her – he is a strong presence but doesn’t allow it to take away from her performance.

Meanwhile, the second piece to be performed Alrededor No Hay Nada has a very different vibe to it. Using the voices of poets in the background, it is a darker and more intense piece with its choreography by Goyo Montero. All of the cast are sharp and edgy with their performances, with the piece showcasing the talent of Carlos Acosta’s Acosta Danza Company perfectly. But unlike Mermaid, it is difficult piece to engage with, feeling slightly disjointed in places due to the speed and variety of ideas showcased in it. Despite this however, there are some really beautiful shapes created by the dancers throughout that are wonderful to see.

The third piece in the first half also concentrates on the talent that Carlos Acosta has been nurturing within his dance company in the most playful and enjoyable piece of the evening. Choreographed by Christopher Bruce, Rooster is a celebration of some of The Rolling Stones’ of most memorable tracks – through some nifty and stylish footwork. Throughout the performance it is easy to tell that the dancers are all enjoying themselves and it leaves the audience on a high. It is bold, colourful and confidently performed.

But it is Acosta’s interpretation of Carmen that most impresses. The way in which he uses his choreography to enhance the drama and the passion within this ultimately tragic story is impressive – even more so considering the electrifying chemistry between Laura Rodriguez as Carmen and Javier Rojas as Don Jose. Rodriguez is passionate and fiery Carmen, enhancing the choreography to great effect to add even more personality, which makes a nice contrast to the way in which Rojas interprets Don Jose’s passion and jealousy.

Overall, this was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate Acosta’s contribution to dance in all forms whether it is as a performer, choreographer or searching for and encouraging new talent to emerge. An exhilarating and enjoyable evening.

By Emma Clarendon

Carlos Acosta: A Celebration will perform at the Royal Albert Hall until the 5th October. For more information visit:

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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