The fact that he can fill the Albert Hall on the strength of his name, gives some indication of the love Londoners have for the irrepressible Carlos Accosta. You would be hard pushed to name a single other male dancer who could do the same. ‘Carlos Acosta’ a celebration of his thirty years in dance is a chance to see the man himself (this is a bonus as he officially retired in 2017) along with Acosta Danza – his company of young Cuban dancers in a passionate night of contemporary and classical dance.

Born into poverty, Acosta made his way from the streets of Havana, into the renowned Cuban ballet system before finding his way out into International fame, including many years with the Royal Ballet. His story (well worth reading in his memoir ‘No way Home’) can’t fail to capture the imagination but of course it was his extraordinary dancing that opened doors along the way and wooed audiences across Europe and the USA.

Acosta opens the show in a stunning two hander with Marta Ortega. ‘Mermaid’, choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui with music composed and performed Woojae Park is a work of delicious delicacy. Unable to stand, Ortega glides and slips through Acosta’s fingers like running water. Two figures in a pool of light, we are drawn into a duet of acute intimacy at the heart of the vast Albert Hall.

Next up is ‘Alrededor No Hay Nada’, choreographed by Goyo Montero and originally designed for the Ballet Nacional de Cuba. It is challenging though fascinating contemporary piece for an English speaking audience, set to the voices of Spanish speaking poets such as Joaquin Sabina and Vinicius de Moraes instead of music. Highly stylised in monochrome, the ensemble never stop moving as they fold and break, interlock and dissolve with exquisite precision.

‘Rooster’ choreographed by Christopher Bruce closes the first half and sees Acosta return in comic mood as he jerks onto the stage in preening rooster style before executing some dazzling turns. Surrounded by his young company of guys and girls, they flirt and toy with each other in a 60’s style battle of the sexes. Set to the soundtrack of songs recorded by the Rolling Stones, including Little Red Rooster, Lady Jane, Paint it Black and Play with Fire, it’s a delightful crowd pleaser.

The second half of the night is dedicated to a mini ‘Carmen’, choreographed by Carlos Acosta for the Royal Ballet. Bizet’s rich melodies have been arranged by Rodion Shchedrin, and are performed beautifully from a raised platform by a full orchestra. Laura Rodriguez is a powerful, seductive force in the title role as she dances beneath the blood red moon and Acosta’s physical strength and presence perfectly suits the Toreador.

It was a bold decision to combine such contrasting pieces in one night, but this was a crowd who came to applaud the next phase of the Acosta story in all it’s forms. Carlos Acosta has recently returned to Cuba after many years away and has opened a dance academy to give other talented young people the opportunities he enjoyed. If the Costa Danza are an indication of the potential in Cuba, no doubt there will many more stars heading our way.