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Carlos Acosta (Salford)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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In the programme for Premiers Plus, Carlos Acosta boldly declares “I don’t care about failure... to fulfil myself as an artist is to try and take risks”. Well, this show is a fine example of how risk can be fulfilling for the audience as well as the artist.

A re-working of last year’s ‘Premiers’ this new show combines some of the most celebrated dance works of recent years with new pieces choreographed especially for these performances. Starring Royal Ballet Principal Zenaida Yanowsky alongside artistic director Acosta, the performance is a master-class in stamina, with the two dancing the whole show between them in a series of impressive solos and duets.

Predictably for dancers of their pedigree, Acosta and Yanowsky are wonderful. Acosta’s famous strength and vital masculinity are as prominent as ever, his limbs darting about with just as much dynamism as sparkler on bonfire night. Yanowsky is brilliantly versatile, flipping with ease between eeriness and romance, androgyny and femininity as the different works demand it. In a medium that can seem mysterious to the uninitiated, the pair and the works are refreshingly engaging and exciting.

Innovative from the outset, Yuri Yanowsky’s ‘Sirin’ is memorable for its downright creepiness, Acosta and George Cespedes’ ‘Hand Duets’ is dreamlike in its fluidity and Simon Elliot’s ‘Falling Deep Inside’ surprises with its arresting film sequence. The final number features a live choir performing a haunting number that does something good to your insides.

The design is daringly simple, at once unobtrusive yet present. Chris Davey’s lighting is pared down and atmospheric, demonstrating a high level of skill and courage in allowing dance to be the absolute focus of the piece.

Accessible, exhilarating and moving, Premiers Plus is brief and brave enough entertain a wider audience than just the dance aficionados. Outed in the programme as a rehabilitated mango-thief (one of his main pursuits as a child in Cuba, apparently) it would seem that Acosta has always been unafraid of risk. A spirit that this production embodies perfectly.

- Sara Cocker


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