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
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
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.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week