Agon pas de deux – George Balanchine, music: Igor Stravinsky
Zenaida Yanowsky, Carlos Acosta
La Sylphide pas de deux – August Bournonville, music: Herman Løvenskjold
Yuhui Choe, Valentino Zucchetti
Winter Dreams pas de deux – Kenneth MacMillan, muic: Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky
Tierney Heap, Nehemiah Kish
The Dying Swan – Mikhail Fokine, music: Camille Saint-Saëns
Diana and Acteon pas de deux – Agrippina Vaganova, music: Riccardo Drigo
Marianela Nuñez, Carlos Acosta
End of Time pas de deux – Ben Stevenson, music: Sergei Rachmaninov
Anna Rose O’Sullivan, Nehemiah Kish
Je ne regrette rien – Ben Van Cauwenbergh, music: Edith Piaf
Les Bourgeois – Ben Van Cauwenbergh, music: Jacques Brell
Carmen pas de deux – Carlos Acosta, music: Georges Bizet
Tierney Heap, Valeri Hristov
Nisi Dominus – William Tuckett, music: Claudio Monteverdi
Majísimo – Georges García, music: Jules Massenet
Marianela Nuñez, Tierney Heap, Yuhui Choe, Anna Rose O’Sullivan, Carlos Acosta, Valeri Hristov, Nehemiah Kish, Fernando Montaño
Orchestra of English National Opera
Reviewed by: G. J. Dowler
Reviewed: 13 December, 2015
Venue: The Coliseum, London
After the horrors of his Carmen it is good to write something positive about Carlos Acosta, who is continuing to bow-out of the Classical Ballet world in a series of performances of a fragrant pot pourri of dance highlights. He assembled several of his chums from The Royal Ballet, and packed-out London’s Coliseum. Naturally, everyone wanted to see him one last time, and he did not disappoint, even if his appearances showed a sensible husbanding of resources: Balanchine’s spiky pas de deux from Agon, which requires judicious partnering but little that is too demanding, and the jolly Cuban 60s tosh that his Majísimo, which demands pose and attitude, and the jokey ’drunken’ solo Les Bourgeois. He saved his energy for a ripping performance of the Soviet warhorse pas de deux Diana and Acteon for which he donned the famous pelmet of material before launching himself into a series of trademark virtuoso jumps and tricks. Stirring stuff.
Acosta maintains his uncanny ability to connect with his audience, and they, we, cheered him not only for a satisfying two hours in the theatre but also all that he has contributed to British and world ballet; from Cuba via Texas to London, where he has made his home, he has been taken to our hearts.
It was also very good indeed to see Zenaida Yanowsky, one of The Royal Ballet’s invisible Principal dancers, simply not cast for months on end, and yet nearing the end of her career. Every performance therefore becomes precious both for her and for her audience, and in various appearances, she shows that she can hold a massive theatre with her unerring sense of it and drama; from the ice maiden Agon pas de deux, during which the most extreme demands are taken with un-flappable cool, to a superb Dying Swan, dismissed by many as outdated nonsense by some, still beloved by the audience, still the epitome of the ballerina in the collective consciousness.
William Tuckett’s odd, even trite, solo for her, Nisi Dominus, to a section from Monteverdi’s Vespers, was transcended by her artistry and so meant that a turn and a flick of the wrist carried weight and drew the eye.
A regular dance partner for Acosta, Marianela Nuñez seems never happier than exulting in virtuoso choreography, so Diana and she made for a perfect fit – she hurled herself into every trick, whipping into multiple pirouettes or diving into vertiginous positions from which she pulls out with a cheeky smile playing across her lips. Other items were more varied, although there was the added bonus, alas through injury, of seeing Valentino Zucchetti, a hugely promising young dancer at The Royal Ballet, in the La Sylphide pas de deux: jumps high and airy, footwork tight and precise.
Yuhui Choe missed some Bournonvillean nuance, but surprised with a sassy solo Je ne regrette rien. Nehemiah Kish and Anna Rose O’Sullivan were impressive, too, in the mottled body stocking of the End of Time pas de deux by Ben Stevenson, the choreographer having been Acosta’s director at Houston Ballet between 1993-1998.
This was a well-crafted evening, with a pleasing conceit of the backcloth rising at times to reveal dancers stretching and preparing themselves for the next number. Musical standards were very high with the Orchestra of ENO in fine form under Paul Murphy’s expert ballet baton.