Carlos Acosta doesn’t currently perform with the company that bears his name, but it embodies everything he hoped to put out into the world with its launch in 2016: taking Cuban choreography around the globe with a set of gifted dancers whose versatile bodies speak in multiple languages of ballet, contemporary, urban, African and Latin dance.
Their hybrid abilities and Cuban pride are seen most overtly in De Punta a Cabo, created by Alexis Fernández and Yaday Ponce. The execution is primary coloured, dancing on pointe along Havana’s sea wall, but there’s something intoxicating about these dancers and you’re gradually absorbed into their night-out vibes. Their talents are more dexterously demonstrated in Pontus Lidberg’s Paysage, Soudain, la Nuit, where the Swedish choreographer soaks up some Cuban influences with minimal cliche. You can see the classicism in the precision of placings, Raul Reinoso’s leg beautifully extended a la seconde, but also their facility in contemporary language, especially Mario Sergio Elías’s easy elasticity; then there’s Latin footwork sewn into the fabric of the choreography. It’s well crafted and quietly mesmerising.
Talking of mesmerising, there’s Zeleidy Crespo, dancing Impronta, a solo by Spanish choreographer María Rovira. You can see her taking pleasure in her rich physicality in the moment and yet channelling something bigger; she is the percussive beat of the music as well as perfectly calibrated architectural angles. Crespo’s long limbs carve some finessed shapes in the opener Liberto, choreographed by Reinoso. It draws on Cuba’s history of slavery, but really focuses on the dynamic between the two dancers, Crespo and Elías, the pair folding their forms in complex origami.
It’s the first of two new pieces in the programme, both of which feel underdeveloped compared with a more established dance-maker like Lidberg. The second is Hybrid, by Norge Cedeno and Thais Suárez, which picks up on some similar themes to Liberto: struggle and uprising, subjugation and freedom, with 12 solider-like dancers on a red-drenched stage. Still, choreographers cannot grow if their work doesn’t get a chance to see the light. The identity of the company is strong and the dancers are well worth watching.