Ballet News World Exclusive : Venus Villa & Yonah Acosta reach for the stars

April 5, 2011

Ballet News

Recently I caught up with Ballet News favourite Venus Villa, who was rehearsing with Carlos Acosta’s nephew Yonah Acosta. Yonah recently completed his training in Cuba and has joined English National Ballet as a First Artist.  His technique and partnering are already well defined, and I reviewed his first performance for the company, in Suite en Blanc by saying “Yonah Acosta makes his assured debut with the company (he is a First Artist), and his entrechats, his feet, the height of his jumps and the speed of his turns – even though they are not yet honed for performance – will fair take your breath away.” Photographer Bex Singleton and I prepared for lift-off !

dancer laughing in the studio

What made this rehearsal literally spell-binding was the presence of Yonah’s uncle, Carlos Acosta, who took the rehearsal.  Many of you will have seen Carlos dance in virtuoso roles such as Spartacus and Le Corsaire, but here Venus & Yonah are being coached in Diana and Actaeon, and they could have no finer teacher.

dancer on very high jump

dancer in very high jump

The story goes that Actaeon spies Diana (godess of the hunt) while she is bathing with her nymphs, and she’s none too pleased about it.  She turns him into a deer and subsequently he is attacked by his own animals and killed. The famous pas de deux divertissement is often performed at galas and is based on a pas de deux from Esmeralda, by Petipa.

two dancers in a pas de deux

But back to our rehearsal.  Venus and Yonah were invited to dance at a gala in Russia; the GALA OF INTERNATIONAL BALLET STARS DANCE OPEN at the Grand Concert Hall Oktyabrsky in St Petersburg.

poster for a ballet gala in Russia

Our stars danced on the same evening as : Anette Delgado, Alejandro Virelles – National Ballet of Cuba, Jurgita Dronina, Cédric Ygnace – Dutch National Ballet, Ashley Bouder – New York City Ballet, Denis Matvienko, Viktoria Tereshkina, Elena Evseeva, Yury Smekalov – Mariinsky Theatre, Sue Jin Kang & Jason Reilly – Stuttgart Ballet, Natalia Osipova, Ivan Vasiliev – Bolshoy Theatre, Isabelle Ciaravola – Paris Opera Ballet, Marcelo Gomes – American Ballet Theater, Alina Cojocaru, Sergey Polunin, Steven McRae – Royal Ballet Covent Garden, Lucia Laccara – Bavarian State Ballet & Semen Chudin –Thatre named after Stanislavsky-Danchenko. 

Rehearsing in their free time, the pair embarked on a gruelling schedule with the aim of perfecting the ballet in time for the gala. For Venus & Yonah, the priviledge of having Carlos as their teacher was always evident; their intense concentration alternated with bursts of laughter – the perfect recipe for success.  No shouting, rudeness or bullying with Carlos; just a quiet determination to perfect every last nuance.  And how Venus & Yonah excelled under Carlos’ tutelage!

dancer in arabesque

dancer in high jump on pointe in dance wear

dancer in arabesque

You can see from these images what a great partnership Venus & Yonah are already : can you imagine what they will become ?

They are both fearless and trusting but also the have the Cuban warmth, speed and attack that makes watching them so exciting.

two dancers in a ballet studio wearing dance wear ballet shoes pointe shoes

two dancers on a pas de deux

two dancers embrace

You can see my favourite part of the ballet in this next photograph – when they were dancing this section, Carlos could be heard over the music, saying “listen for the bells.” I heard them !  It’s hard to be perfectly syncronised with your partner when you can’t look in the mirror to check your position, but Venus & Yonah are so well matched that they make it look easy.

two dancers listen for the bells

Carlos encouraged Venus & Yonah to run through sections and went over the corrections afterwards. They listened intently as he demonstrated the exact position and gave them insights into the ballet and how they should react to one another. As you can tell from the story, Diana isn’t keen on men, and so Carlos was very keen to make sure that Venus (as Diana) didn’t act in a flirtacious way towards Yonah (as Actaeon). Quite hard, for a pair of Cubans !

two dancers in a pas de deux

two dancers in a pas de deux

two dancers in ballet dance wear

two dancers in the ballet studio

two dancers in the studio

I’m very happy to report that the gala went very well and the audience was thrilled with their performance. After the show, Yonah was awarded the prize of the most virtuoso male dancer.  I am so proud of them both.

Yonah Acosta

two dancers in lift

two dnacers in rehearsal

Yonah Acosta

Venus Villa

Venus Villa on pointe

Venus Villa

two dancers rehearse

Yonah Acosta

Venus Villa rehearsing

Venus Villa rehearsing

Finally, Venus and Yonah reached for the ceiling !

Yonah Acosta jumps high

Venus Villa in a jete

With thanks to Carlos Acosta.

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10 Responses to “Ballet News World Exclusive : Venus Villa & Yonah Acosta reach for the stars”

  1. May Says:

    We wanna see them dance this in Britain – not just in London but all over the country!! How brilliant they look in the photos. And congratulations to Yonah on his prize!

  2. Couture Carrie Says:

    Amazing pics, darling ~ wow!


  3. Rachel @ Inspiration in Italy Says:

    Beautiful and so inspiring. By the way, your comments always make me smile but lately they have been extra wonderful! Thank you. 🙂

  4. miranda Says:

    thank you for this -the article and in aprticular the pics are fascinating. I cannot wait to see them dance! What an accolade for Yonah to get that prize in such exalted company- thats a line up of MAJOR talent. Its also interesting to note your comments on the coaching style, since it seems to be the exception rather than the norm – I always wondered whether its really necessary to be so nasty to get the best out of people. Anyway beautiful pics etc thank you and good luck to Yonah and Venus

  5. Thais Says:

    Beautiful article and photos, they both look stunning. I hope to see them more dancing around England, all the best to them !!!!

  6. anita rivera Says:

    Dearest journalist, thank you for coming to visit with me! How kind….Anita

  7. Blond Duck Says:

    I bet they’re pure magic on stage.

  8. Audrey Allure Says:

    Wow, beautiful photos!

  9. Ballet News Says:

    Danza Espana said : “they have a brilliant future”

  10. Brenda Says:

    Beautiful post! Ballet is so elegant and graceful. These dancers are stunning. My daughter and I love attending the ballet.

    Thank you for visit.. it’s nice to meet new friends.

    Wishing you a lovely weekend! xoxo, B