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Carlos Acosta - A Classical Farewell Review

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Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
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Cuban Star Kicks Up His Heels at Birmingham Hippodrome
There was a lot of love in the room for the ageing "rock star" of ballet Carlos Acosta, but what's not to like about an acclaimed dancer who shares the spotlight with rising talent on his own farewell tour?

Carlos Acosta, farewell tour, Birmingham hippodrome
Cuban dancer Carlos Acosta performed at Birmingham Hippodrome

Starring at Birmingham Hippodrome as part of International Dance Festival Birmingham 2016, the Cuban revered as the greatest dancer of his generation showed off just enough of his skills to keep the audience happy.

Instead of being a show centred around the legendary man, Carlos Acosta - A classical farewell was more of a showcase of exceptional ballet featuring the star along with seven extremely talented young Cuban dancers.

Charmingly, the production creates the impression that the audience has a sneak peek of the dancers backstage warming up around a bar between each dance. They each take their turn on stage to perform a selection of fantastic classic pas de deux from Swan Lake, La Sylphide and the like during the first half as anticipation builds for Acosta's entrance. And what an entrance it is.

Carlos Acosta, farewell tour, Birmingham hippodrome
There was a lot of warmth towards likeable Carlos Acosta

Left until the final dance before the interval, he appears with a shimmering, muscular bare torso and much much more on show, dressed in only a tiny shroud for his performance in the pas de deux from Diana & Actaeon.

While the younger male dancers have athletism and youth in their armour, Acosta in comparison stands out as the master for his sheer technical ability and precision in achieving such difficult moves. He seems to float on air during his leaps and has such a relaxed air while pulling off exceptionally hard choreography with style.

After the interval, the routines have a slightly more modern edge and cosmopolitan flavour as the scenes move to Buenos Aires. The opening End Of Time pas de deux to the music of Rachmaninoff's Sonata In G Minor is breathtakingly beautiful, danced by Deborah Sanchez and Enrique Corrales.

Next up is a dance cleverly combining tango moves with ballet, while Edith Piaf's Je ne regrette rien provides an emotional soundtrack to a distinctive solo by dancer Ely Regina Hernandez.

Carlos Acosta, Birmingham hippodrome, farewell tour. Luis Valle
Younger talented dancers like Laura Rodriguez and Luis Valle shared the stage with Acosta

Acosta takes centre stage once again for a character driven solo in Les Bourgeois, where he pretends to be charmingly drunk while he practically skips across the stage with joy.

He'll return once more for the big finale of Majisimo with the whole cast, featuring music from Jules Massenet's ballet Le Cid, when he gives a glimpse of the Acosta that gained such a name for himself around the world. It's a satisfying close to the night.

But while the night belongs to Acosta, it also highlights the up and coming talent that will soon replace him after his retirement. Among the group of dancers is one in particular who stood out as a mini Carlos.

Luis Valle shows a similar flair to Acosta and dazzled in the first half during Winter Dreams pas de deux as well as later on in the Carmen pas de deux. So, I'd watch this space for more on Mr Valle if I were you.

Valle was just one of an extremely impressive cast in this show co-produced by Sadler's Wells and Valid Productions in association with Como No that continues at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday.

Granted, Acosta is ageing and hence this farewell tour, but he's selected a fine cast to exemplify the best that ballet can offer and he's not frightened for them to share the limelight alongside him. Maybe that's why Acosta attracts so much warmth from the crowd. It could also be that despite not being at his youthful, physical peak, his exquisite dancing still creates joy.

Rating: 10/10
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Why? See the best dancer of his generation
When: May 5- 7
Phone: 0844 338 5000
Where: Birmingham Hippodrome
Cost: From 15
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