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Dance Essentials: Carlos Acosta’s Cubanía

A quick introduction to the great Cuban dancer’s vibrant homage to his homeland.

By Rachel Thomas (Former Content Producer (Ballet))

20 July 2015 at 11.15am | Comment on this article

Carlos Acosta: Dancer and Choreographer

Royal Ballet Principal Guest Artist Carlos Acosta is one of the most acclaimed ballet dancers of his generation. He has also choreographed, produced and curated shows across Europe – including Don Quixote and his forthcoming Carmen for The Royal Ballet. For Cubanía, first performed at the Royal Opera House in 2014 and revived this summer, Acosta invites a range of choreographers and dancers to perform in a thrilling mixed programme alongside his own Tocoroco Suite – making a vibrant homage to the culture and dance traditions of his homeland, Cuba.

The Journey from Cuba

One of Acosta’s aims when he devised Cubanía was ‘to bring together some of the Cuban artists I have worked with over the years, many of whom have travelled a long way on the journey with me’. Among these artists are dancers Alexander Varona and Verónica Corveas, choreographer Miguel Altunaga and leading Cuban dance ensemble Danza Contemporánea de Cuba. The works in Cubanía include a combination of revivals of previous collaborations and pieces created especially for Cubanía.

A Contemporary Collection

The first half of the Cubanía programme is a unique fusion of Cuban and contemporary dance, comprising four short pieces. Acosta himself performs two duets – Altunaga’s dynamic Derrumbe and Edwaard Liang’s fluid, organic Sight Unseen – with contemporary dancer Pieter Symonds and Royal Ballet Principal Zenaida Yanowsky respectively. In between these works, Varona dances a hypnotic solo, Flux, by Russell Maliphant, and George Cespedes’s Ecuación – a striking group work for four dancers and a ten-foot metal cube – is performed by Danza Contemporánea de Cuba.

A Cuban Tale

Acosta’s semi-autobiographical Tocororo Suite forms the second part of his diverse programme for Cubanía. This miniature narrative work about a ballet dancer’s encounter with a gang of Cuban dancers brings the bustling, party atmosphere of the streets of Havana to the Royal Opera House, combining thrilling group dances from Danza Contemporánea de Cuba with solos from Corveas and Varonas, and a starring role for Acosta himself.

Musical Medley

In addition to many of his regular dance collaborators who are involved in Cubanía, Acosta has also included in the show a wide variety of his favourite music and musicians. Alongside his lively Cuban House Band, who perform onstage in Tocororo, the evening features solos from Cuban violinist Omar Puente and an appearance by Pegasus – a London chamber choir who have previously appeared worked with Acosta on his productions at the Coliseum.

Cubanía runs 27 July–2 August 2015. Tickets are still available.

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