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BWW REVIEW: !Adelante, Cuba! Festival Presents Acosta Danza

BWW REVIEW: !Adelante, Cuba!  Festival Presents Acosta Danza

Acosta Danza , Carlos Acosta (acclaimed former principal dancer of both American Ballet Theatre and the Royal Ballet), Director, is performing at New York City Center through Friday, April 27, 2018. The !Adelante, Cuba! Festival continues through Saturday, April 28 with an evening of Afro Cuban music. The opening night of Acosta Danza was on April 25th and I was fortunate to be in attendance. Five pieces were performed.

The curtain opened on a dim stage, revealing five couples at the back of the stage exuding a decidedly Latin flavor, opening Alrededor no hay nada (Around there's nothing). This piece, focused on what is inside a person rather than the outer trappings. The dancers moved to the rhythm of About Poems from Joaquin Sabina and Vinicius De Moraes. The spoken Spanish language poetry, whether or not one understood the language, gave a strong background for the dancers and the audience to follow. Generally, I prefer music, but this worked for me. The lighting and costume design by Goyo Montero included bare legs and bowler hats. The beautifully sculpted muscles of the renowned Cuban ballet and dance training were visible. Also visible were the individual personalities of the dancers all of whom possessed fine technique. I was particularly affected by the pas de deux executed by extraordinary performers, Carlos Luis Blanco and Liliana Menendez. Each has a strong personality and they come together to create a strong duo.

The second piece was a treat with a guest appearance by Acosta. What fun to see that this accomplished dancer is still performing and can still execute brilliantly at the age of 44! He danced an unusual pas de deux, Mermaid, choreography by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui to music by Woojae Park and Cherkaoui, with final music by Eric Satie. Acosta and Marta Ortega danced a relationship in which Ortega began as a drunk, on the floor. Acosta, in character, lifted her up and supported her beyond her inebriated state. It was both drama and ballet.

El Cruce sobre el Niagara is a duo for two strong men, on this night performed by the magnetic Blanco and Alejandro Silva, dressed in G-strings (costumes by Leandro Soto). Marianela Boan choreographed this work to the music of Olivier Messiaen. The first solo was a slow-motion show stopper for Blanco, who looked like an anatomy lesson. When Silva rose to dance his solo, the movement was rather frenetic. Dancing together, the two performed with an intensity and spirit that filled the theater.

The following ballet was another pas de deux, Nosotros, choreography by Raul Reinoso and music by Jose Victor Gavilondo Peon, with marvelous musicians, pianist Peon and cellist Cicely Parnas, on stage. The beautiful Menendez, dressed in red, including shorts and socks was breathtaking and well-partnered by Mario Sergio Elias.

The final offering of the evening was Twelve. This work, concept and direction by Jorge Crecis to music by Vincenzo Lamagna, was surprising. Twelve dancers threw liter water bottles with a neon bar in each (which lit up in dim lighting) to each other across the stage without a miss, throughout the work. It all appeared choreographed and somewhat acrobatic. The energy was high, and they kept the attention of the audience riveted on the action. Consequently, the performance ended with excitement.

Photo credit: Johan Persson

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