The Sadler's Wells audience welcomed Carlos Acosta like an old friend, extending their embrace to his fledging company Acosta Danza in its UK debut. Based in Havana, Cuba, this intrepid group of dancers is rapidly forging an international reputation. Punching above their weight, they bring to London a programme of five contrasting works showcasing three choreographers from the Spanish-speaking world.

Carlos Acosta and Marta Ortega in Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui's <i>Mermaid</i> © Johan Persson
Carlos Acosta and Marta Ortega in Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui's Mermaid
© Johan Persson

Acosta chooses to open the evening with El cruce sobre el Niágara choreographed by Marianela Boán - a dark and brooding duet between dancers Carlos Luis Blanco and Alejandro Silva. We see every muscle and sinew of Blanco's body sculpting a series of drawn out postures. The sparseness and intensity of the choreography focuses our attention on the visceral strength of both men. Created in 1987, Boán's piece is a cultural marker in the development of Cuban contemporary dance; a fitting inclusion that resonates with Acosta's ambition to celebrate heritage and foster diversity.

Justin Peck's Belles Lettres is a neo-classical ballet. His nimble choreography of delicate lines is like dappled sunshine on a spring day. Mario Sergio Elías cuts a lone figure stranded in a sea of swirling couples. He dances with clarity and emotional nuance. His athleticism is tethered by a supple grace and intuitive musicality. Peck fills the stage with movement, it cascades over the dancers in a series of finely tuned pas de deux and ensemble sequences. Their communal precision and attention to detail is exacting, building to a sonorous climax.

Dancers of Acosta Danza in Justin Peck's <i>Belles Lettres</i> © Yuris Nórido
Dancers of Acosta Danza in Justin Peck's Belles Lettres
© Yuris Nórido

In Inponderable, dance maker Goyo Montero exploits the energy and schooling of the company. They work with the meticulousness of a corps de ballet but in a contemporary dance context. As its title suggests, the work is dense, shrouded in dry ice and lit using hand held torches. Montero's slick choreography is eaten up by the dancers. They devour it; a restless, hungry mass. With commissioned music based on the songs of folk singer Silvio Rodriguez, Montero touches on something distinctly Cuban offering a glimpse of the island's history and culture.

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui's Mermaid is much anticipated. Acosta dances in a duet with Marta Ortega. It is a perfectly formed vignette, tender and charming. In a striking red dress and swinging an empty wineglass, Ortega is tipsy. She teeters on pointe, losing and regaining her limbs. Her feet and hands flicker like a fish caught out of water. Acosta – the perfect gentleman – aids Ortega's physical deliberations. There's a ribbon of gentle humour that runs through the piece. Acosta and Ortega are like peas in a pod, well matched as dancers and actors and both are exquisite to watch.

Dancers of Acosta Danza in Marianela Boan's  <i>El cruce sobre el Niágara</i> © Andrew Lang
Dancers of Acosta Danza in Marianela Boan's El cruce sobre el Niágara
© Andrew Lang
Cleverly crafted and fast licked, Twelve, created by Jorge Crecis, rounds off the evening. Plastic bottles containing florescent glow sticks are thrown between the dancers. They tumble and slide, duck and weave; relentlessly keeping pace with an unending stream of airborne missiles. Bottle are hurled back and forth across the stage in an exchange of friendly fire. Deft team work and razor sharp hand-eye coordination have the audience on the edge of their seats. They work together like the well calibrated mechanism of an expensive Swiss watch. No-one misses a beat. Its showing off, and wonderfully so. This formidable crew thoroughly deserve 18 minutes of unabashed and frivolous attention seeking.

Acosta describes his company as a family. He can feel justly proud of his brood. Their debut is undoubtedly impressive, but happily my gut tells me it only scratches the surface of what Acosta can achieve with this collective of exceptional performers.