Carlos Acosta CBE

Carlos Acosta CBE

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Ballet Great

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Carlos Acosta is one of the greatest ballet dancers of all time, alongside Nureyev and Baryshnikov. One of 11 children born into poverty in back street Havana, his father hoped dance might provide the discipline to keep him away from trouble. He rose to become Principal Guest Artist at The Royal Ballet and has since realised his dream of setting up a company in Cuba. Reaching beyond dance enthusiasts, Carlos encourages all delegates to harness their strengths.


Carlos Acosta is arguably one of the greatest ballet dancers of all time; his name is mentioned alongside greats like Nureyev and Baryshnikov. His story is an inspiring tale of achievement, dedication and success against the odds coming from abject poverty to the rarified heights of the world’s great stages.

Born into an impoverished Havana family of eleven children, Carlos and his young sister had to support their family and their ill mother. He knew he could either accept his lot and continue to struggle, or focus on something and work to become the best at it. An outgoing child, Carlos’ father thought that dance, a Cuban obsession, might provide the discipline to keep him out of trouble and he was enrolled at a state ballet school. Carlos had found his niche, and proved one of the school’s best students.

Carlos’ grace, precision and athleticism marked him out above his contemporaries and he was soon performing lead roles in America and Europe and winning international awards. Performing the great leading roles in the canon, Carlos was recruited by the English National Ballet, before returning to Cuba as principal dancer at the National Ballet of Cuba. He then joined the Houston Ballet before settling back in the UK at The Royal Ballet where he confirmed his reputation as the greatest dancer of his generation.

Carlos’ reputation and background has allowed him to break out of the traditional confines of ballet, working in film and TV and attracting audiences often not familiar with the form. He is the author of a volume of memoir,
No Way Home and a novel Pig Foot. He continues to perform around the world, runs his own foundation and works to broaden interest in ballet.

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