Carlos Acosta gives a masterclass | behind the scenes reportage

August 6, 2012

Backstage

Carlos Acosta gives a masterclass | behind the scenes reportage

Carlos Acosta and dancer in pas de deux

Carlos Acosta and Roberta Marquez

In May this year Carlos Acosta recorded a masterclass with legendary broadcaster Michael Parkinson, for Sky Arts. Ballet News was invited to watch the recording and I’m taking you with me !

The premise of the interview series is that Parkinson talks to a select few individuals who are leaders in their field. Parkinson revealed that the series was his idea, to see the best and ask them how they got to be the best. Interestingly, I never heard him ask that question.  Acosta has long been at the top of his game as a guest artist of The Royal Ballet and a ‘national treasure’ in his homeland of Cuba.

Recording ballet segments as well as the chat requires a lot of patience if you’re in the audience; a one hour show takes three times as long to record – and Acosta’s masterclass has also been filmed in 3D. There are a lot of technical issues as well – one camera broke – and a lot of instructions for the audience on when to clap and how enthusiastically. The process of filming is planned meticulously; nothing is spontaneous no matter how it looks in the final programme.

Acosta danced three times; the solo from Don Quixote which he has danced so many times before, the Pas de Deux from Kenneth MacMillan’s  Mayerling which he danced with fellow Royal Ballet Principal Roberta Marquez, and a contemporary piece that he’s danced in his own shows. The first two pieces were danced twice – dancers are never totally happy with their performance – and none were in costume.

Parkinson’s style is to gently probe, and as ever Acosta answered his questions with the stories you’ve heard so many times before. They didn’t cover any new ground besides Acosta’s new project in Cuba – an arts centre – but Parkinson didn’t dwell too much on Acosta’s well-known background and much was assumed.

Acosta was dressed casually in dark-coloured warm-ups with the ubiquitous towel draped over his shoulders between takes.

It’s a relaxed interview; you won’t learn anything new but it’s a fun way to spend an hour.

Michael Parkinson’s Masterclass with Carlos Acosta is on Tuesday 20 November at 9pm Sky Arts 1 HD

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