Acosta Danza to tour UK with fusion of classical and modern dance

Ballet superstar Carlos Acosta says Havana-based company ‘creates an energy’ by bringing different dance styles together

Carlos Acosta has spoken of his mission to break down barriers between the segregated worlds of classical and contemporary dance with his new Cuban company.

Acosta, who retired from the Royal Ballet last year and made his final classical appearance earlier this month, announced on Monday that Acosta Danza would tour the UK from September.

Half the Havana-based company’s dancers have a classical background, and half are from the world of contemporary dance.

“I think sometimes dance is very segregated,” Acosta said at the UK launch of his new company. “This is an experiment; not many people have done it before. When you create half the company from ballet and half from contemporary it creates an energy, it could be a bomb … it is like two different animals.”

Acosta, one of classical ballet’s true superstars who spent 17 years as a principal at Covent Garden, said his long-term aim was to have dancers able to switch naturally between, for example, hip hop, tango or classical.

He has definitely danced his last ballet but he is not a retired dancer, Acosta said, and will make a guest appearance as part of an inaugural season that will include work by the choreographers Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Goyo Montero and Marianela Boan.

The first UK performance will be in September at Sadler’s Wells in London, which has made Acosta Danza an international associate company. There will then be a tour taking in Salford, Birmingham, Brighton and Edinburgh, with further cities to be announced.

The announcement was made as Sadler’s Wells unveiled a spring/summer 2017 season that will include English National Ballet performing Pina Bausch’s The Rite of Spring, the first UK company given permission to perform what is regarded as an iconic work.

Carlos Acosta performing
Carlos Acosta performing. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

Other highlights include the UK premiere of a work by the French choreographer Boris Charmatz, made in response to the Paris attacks of 2015, which will be performed late at night in an outdoor location to be announced.

Sadler’s Wells also published its annual report, showing a 10% year on year increase in audience figures, with 830 performances being presented worldwide to nearly 650,000 people.

But the cloud on that horizon is what impact Brexit could have on dance, an artform that is particularly international.

Alistair Spalding, Sadler’s Wells’ artistic director and chief executive, said the weak pound was already having a direct effect in that it was having to pay more to the many international companies it has on its stage.

What happens to artistic freedom of movement remains to be seen. “We are trying to work with the government to see how we can make the transition as smooth as possible,” said Spalding.

“I see it as an opportunity to open up to the whole world and, from our point of view, make it as easy as possible for the exchange of artists from wherever they are in the world. That is an opportunity. The rest we will have to see.”


Mark Brown Arts correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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