Premieres, Coliseum, London
Eonnagata, Sadler's Wells, London
Giselle, Royal Opera House, London

Overstretched Acosta is the Richard Branson of ballet

Economic cutbacks have not yet affected dance programming and audiences have evidently thrown caution to the wind, dancing their money away while the world collapses.

They have been packing the Royal Opera House's Bolshoi season, despite outrageous prices, and Eonnagata at Sadler's Wells played to near-full houses. But the empty seats around us at the Coliseum for Carlos Acosta, all-conquering wonderboy of ballet, were a puzzle. Did the absentees, somehow, know something we didn't?

We all love – well, I do – Carlos Acosta, for his Cuban rags-to-riches story and brilliance as a human comet, scorching the world's best ballet stages. He's now also the author of a well-received autobiography, a film actor and is at risk of becoming the Richard Branson of artistic endeavour. With Premieres, his latest London show, he is director, choreographer and performer, dancing opposite the Royal Ballet principal Zenaida Yanowsky.

It was admirable to want to showcase the work of lesser known choreographers, such as his Cuban compatriot George Céspedes. It was enterprising to incorporate the visual projections of Simon Elliott and his digital and video artists, and a live choir. It was interesting to try to transform this mix into a seamless spectacle, one number segueing into the next, but less satisfying when you're wondering which part you are actually watching because everything looks the same.

From an overture of digital imagery showing dripping liquid, you enter a wet, gloomy world, linked by the uncertain thread of a fraught relationship embodied by Acosta and Yan-owsky. (What water has to do with this remains a mystery.) They dance over-extended solos and duets within small planes of light surrounded by darkness, their vocabulary a uniform blend of modern, classical and gestural. For all the means employed and energy expended, the evening feels short of material and long on weirdly obscure titles such as Finding Himself & Ghost of the Memory and unpleasantly distorted video images of Yanowsky and Acosta (with more water) that might have been fun to create but contribute little of overt relevance. You feel you are living through a long deep slump, hoping for an upbeat ending. And then you find that in fact you are heading for a pothole, with the drearily mournful finale O Magnum Mysterium, a fusion of singing (the Pegasus Choir) and movement (Acosta and Yanowsky).

The high point is Russell Maliphant's mesmerising Two, a solo originally made for Sylvie Guillem, and slightly reworked for Acosta who brings a weightier, Michelangelesque quality. The stage remains darkened, with just a square of light, but here the lighting is by Michael Hulls, master sculptor of chiaroscuro. Acosta's flowing, repeated motifs, punctuated by sudden emphases, gradually accelerate until his limbs blur stroboscopically, the effect heightened by Andy Cowton's score.

Russell Maliphant ... now there's a choreographer. In Eonnagata, briefly back at Sadler's Wells after an international tour, he was part of a team of big hitters: the theatre artist Robert Lepage and ballerina Sylvie Guillem, with Hulls's lighting and costumes by the late Alexander McQueen. Based on the true story of an 18th-century cross-dressing fencer and spy, Eonnagata was always interesting, even if it didn't achieve its stated aim of going deeper than anecdote. An honourable failure, with exquisite performances.

Over at the Bolshoi, London's favourite summer ballerina, Natalia Osipova, took on the definitive role of the romantic ballet, Giselle, the peasant girl who dies on discovering her suitor's deception. As the living Giselle, she cast a powerful spell with her charm and fragility, before heart-wrenchingly losing her reason; as Giselle's ghost, her extraordinary jump, freezing in impossible airborne positions, not only gave her a spectral ethereality, but a jolting, inhuman strangeness. Giselle was generously and excitingly twinned with Balanchine's Serenade. The dancers swept across the stage in billowing waves, the Bolshoi orchestra refreshed Tchaikovsky's music by playing of a sublime vividness. After evenings like that, other companies fade into mediocrity.

Carlos Acosta ( 0871 911 0200), to 7 Aug; Bolshoi (020-7304 4000), to 8 Aug

Next Week:

Nadine Meisner hotfoots it to Sadler's Wells for Argentina's Tanguera

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Armie Hammer in the new film of ‘The Lone Ranger’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

    Tribal gathering

    Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
    Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

    Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

    Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
    10 best trays

    Get carried away with 10 best trays

    Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
    Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
    How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

    Heavy weather

    What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
    World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

    World Bodypainting Festival 2015

    Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
    alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

    Don't call us nerds

    Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
    How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

    How to find gold

    Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
    Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

    Not born in the USA

    Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
    10 best balsamic vinegars

    10 best balsamic vinegars

    Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
    Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
    Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

    Greece referendum

    Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
    Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

    7/7 bombings anniversary

    Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?