Ballet star Carlos Acosta moves in more contemporary direction for On Before
'I wanted to convey something that actually speaks to the audience’
He has danced with some of the most important classical ballet companies in the world, but when it came to building his own show, Carlos Acosta knew it was time for a change.
Rather than showing off the high leaps he was famous for at the Royal Ballet, the Cuban dancer headed into a more contemporary direction, employing the skills of choreographers such as Russell Maliphant and Kim Brandstrup to create works for him. ‘You can’t do those high jumps forever, they kill your body,’ says Acosta. ‘And I’m at the stage in my career where I need to be careful, because I don’t want to be injured. But also, the classical ballet repertoire doesn’t stretch me anymore. I did all that with Paris Opera Ballet, the Bolshoi, Kirov, you name it, and I don’t want to keep repeating myself. There are so many different ways to express love and regret, and I wanted to convey something that actually speaks to the audience.’
The result is On Before, an evening of duets with Royal Ballet principal dancer, Zenaida Yanowsky, centring on the doomed relationship between a man and a woman. Acosta’s classical technique is still firmly entrenched in his body, but his decision to use modern choreography and a live chorus will give the show a different dimension. Just don’t go along expecting to see those high leaps. ‘It’s my evening – it’s my idea and I directed it,’ says Acosta. ‘I’m really pleased with it and what we convey. But the audiences who enjoy the show the most are the ones who don’t come along with any preconceptions.’
Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Fri 26 & Sat 27 Apr.