Thursday 4 July 2024

Dance: Raging bull

Acosta Danza
Carlos Acosta’s Carmen
choreography Carlos Acosta • music Georges Bizet
with Laura Rodríguez, Alejandro Silva, Enrique Corrales, Carlos Acosta, Denzel Francis, Raúl Reinoso,
Zeleidy Crespo, Patricia Torres, Daniela Francia, Adria Díaz, Jennifer Suárez, Amisaday Naara, Frank Isaac,
Leandro Fernández, Brandy Martinez, Elizabeth Tablada,
Brian Ernesto, Chay Deivis, Liana Taly
sets and costumes Tim Hatley • lighting Peter Mumford
Sadler's Wells, London • 2-6.Jul.24

Expanding on his one-act production, Carlos Acosta creates a full-length ballet based on Georges Bizet's 1875 opera Carmen, infusing the action with Cuban flavours to create a thoroughly mesmerising romantic thriller. Inventive and colourful, this is the story told with humour, intensity and big emotions. And it's also very, very sexy thanks to the talented young performers, Acosta's expressively physical choreography and Tim Hatley's terrific costumes.

After a prologue introduces a demonic bull (Acosta) who is pulling the strings and recounting the story, things kick off with a flurry of burlesque in a bar, as dancing soldiers strip down to their underpants, much to the delight of the women around them. Carmen (Laura Rodriguez) engages in a witty to and fro with officer Don José (Alejandro Silva), which escalates to passion after Carmen is arrested and put under José's watch. Her skills at seduction allow her to escape, and then her head is turned by handsome toreador Escamillo (Enrique Corrales), although she rejects his advances. Carmen is just playing with both José and Escamillo, but they clash over their infatuation with her.

Each element works together gorgeously to convey this narrative and the internal wranglings of the characters. The costumes are particularly vivid, catching colours and lights in striking ways that wash the stage in shades of red and black. With clever touches, the set is dominated by an enormous circle in which video projections create both earthy backdrops and otherworldly glimpses of what beyond. And Acosta's bull towers over everything.

The dancing itself is simply transcendent, performed to perfection by gifted dancers who infuse personality and passion into each movement. Soaring, spinning and striking spine-tingling poses, this multi-ethnic cast has real power, bringing each encounter to life with an earthy honesty that extends from fingers to toes. As a result, the intense internal battles going on within each of the characters is clearly visible, expressed with a lyrical fluidity that rattles our bones.

Bizet's familiar music is given a Latin twist that adds a wonderful spark of additional energy. Delicate ballet numbers morph into brutal fights, as a series of solos and duets allow the dancers to deploy their physical strength in ways that reveal deep yearnings and intentions. This is hugely involving theatre, haunting and moving as the feisty Carmen and her besotted men circle around each other, unaware that there's a menacing force beyond them controlling their destiny. Essential.

For more info, SADLER'S WELLS >

photos by Johan Persson & Cristina Lanandez • 2.Jul.24

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