Tuesday, May 28

Carlos Acosta’s On Before – Festival Theatre

Carlos Acosta, one of the greatest classical dancers of the modern age, with a career that took him from the backstreets of Havana to the most famous stages in the world, is back in Scotland with his signature show On Before. On February 16th, audiences at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre were transported into Acosta’s world – an electric journey through the depths of human emotion and expression. Born from personal experience and his own artistic vision, the show traces back to a pivotal moment in Acosta’s life in 2010. Conceived as a homage to his late mother, it represents Acosta’s most intimate and deeply personal work. Shaped by collaborations with renowned choreographers worldwide, the show’s evolution reflects Acosta’s commitment to his craft. As the curtains rise, the audience is invited on a journey immersing them in a world where every step, every gesture, is infused with meaning.

From the moment the curtains rise, “On Before” captivates with its multifaceted exploration of human relationships, underscored by a diverse musical tapestry ranging from Handel to the compositions of Cuban contemporary artist Omar Puente. Each piece, meticulously choreographed by luminaries like Russell Maliphant and Kim Brandstrup, weaves seamlessly into the fabric of Acosta’s narrative, offering glimpses into the complexities of life and the inevitability of death.

Returning to the stage after an extended hiatus, Acosta’s presence is nothing short of magnetic, his every movement imbued with a raw intensity that resonates deeply with audiences. Alongside him dances Laura Rodríguez, a luminary in her own right and an original member of Acosta Danza, the Cuban dance company founded by Acosta himself. Together, they navigate the emotional landscape of “On Before” with grace and precision, seamlessly transitioning between classical elegance and contemporary expression.

Standout moments abound throughout the performance, with Acosta delivering a tour de force in Russell Maliphant’s “Two,” his movements sharp and statuesque, while Rodríguez mesmerizes in Kim Brandstrup’s “Footnote to Ashton,” infusing the choreography with a gravitas that lingers long after the final bow. Raúl Reinoso’s new duet, “Nosotros,” serves as a poignant reflection on the intricacies of human connection, expertly showcasing the dancers’ versatility and artistry.

As the evening draws to a close, Edinburgh Festival Theatre’s stage is transformed into a tableau of sorrow and solace, with the haunting strains of Morten Lauridsen’s “O Magnum Mysterium” enveloping the audience in a cocoon of melancholy. It is here, amidst the echoes of grief and remembrance, that Acosta’s vision truly crystallizes, a testament to the enduring power of art to transcend the boundaries of time and space.

In revisiting “On Before” for a regional tour in 2024, Acosta reaffirms his status as a luminary of the dance world, his enduring dedication to his craft serving as an inspiration to all who witness his performances. With each graceful movement, each poignant gesture, he invites us into his world, a world suffused with passion, pain, and ultimately, profound beauty.

Reviewer: Nazaret Ranea

Reviewed: 16th February 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.