Billed as Carlos Acosta with Guest Artists from the Royal Ballet, the latest occupants of the Coliseum are indeed that. And none too interestingly so. But the title does not convey just how cheese-paring is the event – which I saw on Tuesday – or how unenterprising. It repeats that compilation of the too familiar and the recent and flimsy that Acosta offered at Sadler’s Wells two years ago, with the trick of dancers trudging on to a stage at its barest, there to stretch and get into costume, and, as the evening ends, trailing off again, illusion and excitement dispelled.

The Coliseum presentation, as at the Wells, is cursory, but a damn sight more expensive for the punters. There is no scenery, with a couple of items destroyed by being played against a pitch-black scrim (a duet from La Sylphide went for nothing, and not just because it was danced as if by rote). Acosta dances, doing what his fans expect with his usual dash and flash. Tamara Rojo joins him for the Diana and Actaeon pas de deux, witty in her bravura – her fouettés, played so that she turns to each point of the compass, are a merry thing. (Acosta also partners Lauren Cuthbertson in a sober-sided view of the Agon duet.)

Sarah Lamb, her sylphide already doomed by the presentation, offers us her Dying Swan. For ornithologists curious about the cause of this tiresome fowl’s demise, I report that Lamb believes it to be pernicious anaemia: I have never seen a more lethargic bird.

In the second half of this affair we are treated to choreographic snippets of singular awfulness. Ben Stevenson’s End of Time was about Caroline Duprot and Martin Harvey being the last two people left on earth – a better fate than involvement in this flaccid tag-wrestling. Lamb, chief victim of the event, had to dance while the nasal banalities of Edith Piaf regretting nothing whined on and on. Two pieces of peach-fed tosh (the impertinent Margot and Rudy by Liam Scarlett and the inexcusable Nisi Dominus by Will Tuckett) took their frightful toll on innocent performers, and the evening ended with eight of the nine dancers romping through Hispanic flummery to even more Massenet. I thought the whole affair gimcrack, opportunistic, and a denial of the Royal Ballet dancers’ artistry.

Tel 0870 145 0200

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