Acosta Danza Evolution made its European premiere with two dates at the Norwich Theatre Royal on the 28th and 29th of October. I was lucky enough to see the first date and was blown away by the company.

Acosta Danza Evolution is a series of four dances by iconic ballet dancer Carlos Acosta’s company, Acosta Danza. The company was established in 2015 to showcase and develop young talent emerging from Cuba, fusing both traditional and contemporary forms of dance.

In Evolution, four dances were performed: Satori, choreographed by Raúl Reinoso; Paysage, Soudain, La Nuit, choreographed by Pontus Lidberg; Faun, choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui; and Rooster, choreographed by Christopher Bruce, assisted choreography by Steven Brett.

The strength of the production lay in the variety provided. The audience was taken from a mysterious spiritual contemporary to a celebration of Cuban youth culture in the space of two hours. The music was incredibly varied, from classical Debussy to The Rolling Stones, meaning there was something for everyone. The variety provided the ability for the

audience to be taken from stunned awe in the beginning to audible laughter by the final piece.

For me, the standout dance was the first, Satori. Satori held Zeleydi Crespo as the principal dancer, playing a goddess-like figure, with the company around her aiding in an exploration of spirituality. Crespo was phenomenal. Not only in the incredible command of her body in achieving unbelievable positions and lifts, but she managed to present herself as something otherworldly in the contortion of her arms and expression of movements.

Satori was also aided by its staging. The production, outside of the dancers, was staged with one piece of cloth and lights, which, though minimal, almost acted as another dancer on stage. The cloth, which first appeared small skirts for the dancers grew over the course of the production to become a massive backdrop that swallowed the dancers in the finale, adding to the sense of overwhelming magnificence the audience were left with at the end. I felt as though I couldn’t clap enough to convey how affected I was by it.

Acosta danced in the final piece, Rooster, and was met with rapturous applause and a standing ovation from the audience. Besides his incredible control of dance, what blew me away from Acosta’s performance was his clear characterisation; he was deft at manipulating audience response in whichever way he chose, causing them to burst out laughing at a simple turn of his head.

I left the theatre amazed by the capabilities of the human body and delighted by how art can capture such universal expressions, even when from a company from half the world away. The dancers, though moving beautifully as a collective, each had their own individualism, and I loved that each time you focused on a different dancer, you could learn something new. Acosta Danza Evolution was a celebration of evolution in every sense of the word – of life, of culture, of art and of emotion.