Acosta Danza: Evolution

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

Mary Brennan

four stars

In November 2017, Acosta Danza brought Debut, the company’s first ever mixed bill, to Edinburgh. This latest programme is tagged Evolution - it’s an appropriate description, highlighting how Acosta Danza is expanding its repertoire, building in more elements of visually striking staging, without losing any of the Cuban energies and cultural legacy that Acosta has placed at the heart of this enterprise. That intention comes centre-stage with Satori, a new choreography created by company member Raúl Reinoso. In Zen Buddhism, this word encompasses spiritual illumination. Onstage, Reinoso shades the path to enlightenment with nuances of Cuba’s own melting-pot traditions and indeed struggles.There are folklorique influences in music and movement, as well as bravura pointework by a talismanic ‘guide’, the formidably poised Zeleydi Crespo - the encounters unfolding under a billowing canopy of blue cloth that physically brings everything together in symbolic unity.

Swedish choreographer Pontus Lidberg brings an ‘outside eye’ to one of Cuba’s most significant genres: the rumba. In Paysage, Soudain, La Nuit it becomes the leitmotif to youthful flirtations, confrontations, laddish camraderie and occasional loners who meet in the fields at twilight. It’s light-hearted, yet full of insightful details that the company deliver with a (seemingly) artless easy grace and charm . Meanwhile, out in the forest - depicted on a gorgeous back-cloth - Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Faun is stirring into wakefulness... Carlos Luis Blanco brought a lithe, even acrobatic sinuousity to the role, exquisitely matched by Zeleydi Crespo as the long-limbed partner who slinks and intertwines in a coupling that is feral, earthy and yet as mystical as Debussy’s original score. Finally - Rooster. And he’s surely sloping, cock of the walk, in downtown Havana. Acosta himself leads the pack in Christopher Bruce’s abidingly crowd-pleasing response to Rolling Stones classics. He’s sly, sexy, brilliant, but his company are also in their element - the girls are perfect minxes, the lads are wannabe swaggerers, the timing and the humour is spot-on... wow!