Carlos Acosta’s “Carmen” at Sadler’s Wells: A Lively and Passionate Reimagining

Carmen by Acosta, , Choreography - Carlos Acosta, Assembly assistant - Clotilde Peón, Yaday Ponce and Marta Ortega, Music - Georges Bizet and Rodión Shchedrín, Costume Design - Tim Hatley, Lightning- Peter Mumford, Video Designer - Nina Dunn, Sadlers Wells, London, Credit: Johan Persson

London – Carlos Acosta’s “Carmen” at Sadler’s Wells is a masterful reimagining that breathes new life into the classic tale of love, jealousy, and fate. Premiering in the UK from July 2nd to 6th, 2024, this production by Acosta Danza, a Sadler’s Wells International Associate Company, offers a vibrant and visceral experience that captures the essence of the timeless story.

The original novella by Prosper Mérimée, published in 1845, has inspired countless adaptations. Acosta’s “Carmen” expands on a one-act ballet he created for the Royal Ballet in 2015, set to Rodion Shchedrin’s orchestration of Bizet’s opera score. Now transformed into a full-length evening performance, it incorporates additional Cuban music, providing a lively spirit that is perfectly suited to the dancers of Acosta Danza.

Carlos Acosta, renowned for his illustrious career with the Royal Ballet and now the director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, performs in his adaptation, taking on the role of The Bull. This character symbolizes fate and destiny, an ominous presence that looms over the narrative, guiding the characters toward their inevitable tragic end. Acosta’s portrayal of The Bull, a dark figure adorned in a horned headdress, adds a powerful new dimension to the story. His performance, particularly in the gladiatorial pas de deux with Carmen, evokes the sense of a bullfight with fate, highlighting the impending doom in Carmen’s life.

Yaoqian Shang, Javier Rojas, and Lachlan Monaghan, guest dancers from the Birmingham Royal Ballet, take on the roles of Carmen, Don José, and Escamillo, respectively. They join Acosta Danza Principal dancers Laura Rodriguez, Enrique Corrales, and Alejandro Silva, creating a fusion of talent that brings both technical precision and emotional depth to the stage.

Laura Rodriguez’s portrayal of Carmen is mesmerizing. She embodies a spirit of impulse and freedom, dancing with a carefree abandon that perfectly captures the character’s essence. Her chemistry with Javier Rojas’s Don José is charged with intensity, depicting a love that quickly spirals into jealousy and violence. Rojas delivers a powerful performance, showing Don José’s transformation from a love-struck soldier to a man consumed by jealous rage. Lachlan Monaghan’s Escamillo brings vibrant energy, portraying the charismatic toreador who captures Carmen’s fleeting affection.

The production’s set, designed by Tim Hatley, is minimalist yet evocative, with a giant glowing ring representing a solar eclipse serving as the centerpiece. This stripped-back set focuses attention on the dancers and their movements, enhancing the dramatic tension without overpowering the narrative. Nina Dunn’s new projections further contribute to the atmospheric setting, creating a vivid backdrop for the unfolding drama.

Acosta’s choreography is a dynamic blend of classical ballet, flamenco, and contemporary dance. This eclectic mix results in visually striking performances that are both innovative and true to the story’s roots. The best scenes involve the ensemble, such as the lively tavern scene at the opening of Act II, where dancers slap a rhythm on the table with giddy whoops, creating a flamenco-Cuban-ballet-contemporary mashup. This burst of energy, speed, and cheekiness showcases the dancers’ versatility and the infectious sense of celebration that permeates the production.

The impressive performances, inject emotional depth that make the story engaging and impactful. The lovers’ pas de deux, is a touching moment that brilliantly showcase the famous whirlwind romance, aligning with Carmen’s character,
who lives and loves with a fiery intensity that ultimately leads to her tragic end.

A scene from Carlos At 50 @ Royal Opera House. Carlos Acosta returns to the Royal Opera House this summer to celebrate his 50th Birthday.
(Opening Night 26-07-2023)
©Tristram Kenton 07-23

Carlos Acosta’s “Carmen” is part of Sadler’s Wells’ year-round Ballet with Attitude programme, which continues to push the boundaries of traditional ballet. The production’s running time is 1 hour and 40 minutes, with a 35-minute first act, a 20-minute interval, and a 45-minute second act.

Carlos Acosta expressed his gratitude to Sadler’s Wells for presenting his full-length version of “Carmen” for the
first time and highlighted his excitement about performing The Bull. Sadler’s Wells Artistic Director and Co-Chief Executive, Sir Alistair Spalding CBE, praised Acosta Danza’s return and the premiere of Acosta’s choreography in its complete form.

Carlos Acosta’s “Carmen” at Sadler’s Wells is a must-see for dance enthusiasts and newcomers alike. It masterfully blends tradition and innovation, offering a fresh perspective on a beloved classic through the lens of one of the world’s most celebrated dancers. This production is a testament to Acosta’s creative vision and the extraordinary talent of his company, Acosta Danza.

Acosta Danza

Carlos Acosta’s Carmen
Sadler’s Wells Theatre

Tuesday 2 July – Saturday 6 July
Tickets: 020 7863 8000 or

Articolo precedenteSister Act: A Joyous Celebration of Soul and Laughter
Prossimo articoloMesmerising Rendition of Swan Lake at the Royal Albert Hall
Francesca Lombardo is a freelance journalist. She holds a Master's degree in journalism from the LCC of London and her articles has been published by the Financial Times, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph, The Herald, Sunday Express, Daily Express, Irish Independent, The Sunday Business Post, A Place in the Sun, Ryanair Magazine, Easyjet Magazine, CNBC magazine, Voyager magazine, Portugal Magazine, Travel Trade Gazette, House Hunter in the sun, Homes Worldwide and to Italian outlets, Repubblica, D Repubblica, L'Espresso, Il Venerdì, Vogue, Vogue Uomo, Vogue Casa, GQ, Il Sole 24 Ore, F Magazine, TU Style, La Stampa, "A", Gioia. Francesca Lombardo has trained at the business desks of the Sunday Times, Daily Mail and Daily Express. She has authored a children's book series titled Beatrice and the London Bus. website:

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