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Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Curated by Carlos at Sadler’s Wells

Sadler’s Wells was packed for Birmingham Royal Ballet. The evening had the stardust of Acosta’s name scattered all over it.

Alessandra Ferri and Carlos Acosta perform the world premiere of a new duet - pas de deux by Goyo Montero as part of Birmingham Royal Ballet's Curated by Carlos. Copyright JOHAN PERSSON
Alessandra Ferri and Carlos Acosta perform the world premiere of a new duet – pas de deux by Goyo Montero as part of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Curated by Carlos. Copyright JOHAN PERSSON

The first work in Curated by Acosta was about home. About building a home, building cities, building Birmingham. About migrants leaving one home and making a new one in another country, this country. The pain of leaving old love behind as those you meet as friends turn into roots. . ‘You have to risk everything to gain something’.

Performed by an ensemble of eleven dancers in jeans and jackets. The stage started off dark with some scattered rectangular boxes and poles. Voices described the sadness of leaving, the struggles of starting again, the viciousness of racism.

The piece gains in stature, becoming poignant as the musicians above the stage and in the orchestra below perform, as the prop boxes are turned on their sides to describe the tiny accommodation these people will occupy in the city they are building. Reminding simultaneity of real-life migrant journeys, in trucks where some die, shipping containers, the squalor that is often endured in order to build a new life. When the ensemble of dancers turns into an inclusive flock of strongly muscled migratory birds the dance becomes powerful and glorious.

The second work is called Imminent. It’s not about climate change specifically but this hovers in the distance as a broad theme warning about choice and polarity. An ensemble of 16 dancers describe careless joy in desert light, a bright antidote to the darkness of a damp November night in London outside.

This dancing takes place in front of a massive wall of ancient rock in which a door opens with an alluring light shining from beyond. The mood darkens as the music by Paul Englishby warns of a trap. Dancers approach the rock’s opening, hand in hand, this is a mutual fate. Going where perhaps they shouldn’t, they form a procession casting shadows in blue, following the lure. And yet there are others who do resist, they stand together in the dark. Imminent is a very satisfactory and beautiful piece choreographed by Daniela Cardim.

The third part of the evening is a work called Chacona. Most of it is dynamic, taking place in darkness interspersed by light and requires fast-paced agility from the ensemble of classical dancers applying contemporary techniques to the very demanding choreography of Goto Montero.

Added onto Chacona as a prelude for the first time on 4th November was a stunning pas de deux performed by Carlos Acosta and Alessandra Ferri. The dance was sombre and grand in scale and intent, its magnificence complemented by Jonathan Higgins playing Bach on an amplified piano. What was described was the pain of separation and isolation of those repeatedly drawn back together but to part again. It was very moving and a great pleasure to watch.

To ask whether the new beautiful pas de deux now opening the work complements or distracts from the rest of Chacona might be churlish but perhaps the magnificent sensitivity of the pas de deux reduces inclination for the sometimes easy humour and fevered pace of the dance that comes after. But how fabulous the music is accompanying the rest of Chacona as the resonating guitar of Tom Ellis recalls the warm call of flamenco and the violin of Robert Gibbs. This is a work that requires the audience to be adaptable to what else comes that is amazing whether they are ready for it or not.

Curated by Acosta is an evening of terrific dance.

4 stars

Review by Marian  Kennedy

Birmingham Royal Ballet presents a tantalising triple bill, including two recently premiered works and the World premiere of a new pas de deux created especially for Carlos Acosta and Alessandra Ferri.

City of a Thousand Trades is a love letter to Birmingham, commissioned by Acosta to celebrate the city’s richly diverse heritage and melting pot of cultures. The ballet is brought to stage by Havana-born choreographer Miguel Altunaga, and dramaturg and co-Director Madeleine Kludje from Birmingham Repertory Theatre, with music by Mathias Coppens, inspired by the city’s soundscape.

Brazilian / British choreographer Daniela Cardim’s Imminent has been created with a team of international talent, including renowned composer Paul Englishby. Imminent explores the sensation of knowing that something isn’t right, even though the world around us seems to be flowing harmoniously. We need to resist the status quo and find the strength to see opportunities in paths unknown, embracing both the fear and the hope.

Chacona is a powerful ensemble piece for 16 dancers set to music by J.S. Bach, played on stage by violin, guitar and piano. Created by Spanish choreographer Goyo Montero (Nuremberg Ballet / Acosta Danza) Sadler’s Wells presents a brand new production featuring an exclusive pas de deux performed by Carlos Acosta and guest artist Alessandra Ferri.

Live music performed by Birmingham Royal Ballet’s acclaimed orchestra, the Royal Ballet Sinfonia.



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