This classical farewell is, it would appear, the final farewell. Acosta’s celebrity in the dance world is, even in popular culture, so immeasurable he has managed to drag out his goodbyes for nearly a year now. It’s all with great affection from his appreciative audience of course, and in this classical gala at the Royal Albert Hall, Acosta showcases a softer, even more humble side than those seen in the fast paced, more energetic “Classical Selection” from last year at the London Coliseum.
Here he is wonderfully supported by an array of guests artists, most of whom could carry off their own celebratory gala. The jewel in the crown of this irresistible selection is the grand pas de deux from Don Quixote. Acosta (as Basilio) is a pillar of strength to the picture-perfect elegance of Marianela Nunez as Kitri. Both dancers possess such admirable control here and the precision of each jump and lift never wavers. The piece is a wonderfully high-spirited way to bring Act One to a close.
It was preceeded by an enticing pas de deux featuring Gabriela Lugo and Luis Valle in Fokine’s Scheherazade. The pair are fluid and passionate, Valle (as the Golden Slave here) has some mightily impressive jettes and leaps on him leaving a ripple of audience appreciation around the vast Albert Hall. The underlying chemistry between these two made for engaging viewing.
Other highlights from Act One included a gracefully danced Dying Swan by Sarah Lamb. Her poise working well with the emotive score.
Although it was a treat to see such a variety of pieces alongside one another, the staging and prop handling seemed clunky and unnatural. True, there may have been no smooth way of getting a four poster bed onto the stage for the Manon Bedroom pas de deux but for the audience it was far from seamless.
Act Two is largely a more melancholy selection, opening with Acosta and Laura Morera in the final pas de deux from Kenneth MacMillan’s Mayerling. The MacMillan theme continues as there are also exerts from Gloria and Requiem, accompanied by the Pegasus Chamber Choir which made for an atmospheric, if sombre experience.
Slightly out of place then, it would seem, was the energetic and physically demanding Rubies pas de deux, quirkily danced by Sarah Lamb and Valentino Zucchetti who bring a brilliantly, playful and fun quality to syncopated rhythms of Balanchine’s work. Lamb’s striking ruby costume glittered bright under the stark spotlights of the Albert Hall stage making for visually eye catching content and costuming.
The evening is closed in contemporary fashion with Memoria, choreographed by Miguel Altunaga. It is much more up tempo than the rest of the programme, denoting the direction Acosta will now follow, although this is the farewell he will not stop dancing. It’s a relentlessly energetic piece with a pulsating rhythm that builds well with the help of some distinct red spotlighting that envelopes Acosta throughout. It’s a dynamic piece that leaves no room to breathe. Acosta was visibly emotional at the curtain call and understandably so, he works hard in this programme and it not only showcases himself but his richly talented supporting artists. Although this is the final farewell one expects this will not be the last we see of this ballet super star, onstage or off.