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Carlos Acosta: 1973—: Dancer

Rose To Fame In Ballet World

In 1991 Acosta was offered a slot with the English National Ballet, but a bone spur injury in his ankle hampered his performance time in London. After surgery in Cuba, he joined the National Ballet of Cuba for its 1992-93 season. While on a tour of Spain, Acosta was approached by Ben Stevenson, director and choreographer of the Houston Ballet, and Stevenson offered Acosta—just twenty years old—to join what was one of leading companies in the United States. Acosta made his debut in Houston in November of 1993. Stevenson became an important mentor to Acosta, working with him to develop his repertoire in several lead roles, and the novice dancer thrived under the tutelage and came into his prime. He appeared in Don Quixote, Dracula, and The Nutcracker, and traveled to Europe for special guest performances.

Invited for a stint as principal dancer in fall of 1997 season with London's Royal Ballet, Acosta was slightly disappointed that he did not dance as much as he had hoped. After appearing in just eleven performances in one three-month span, he reflected in an interview with Houston Chronicle writer Molly Glentzer that the London scene was a far different one from the nurturing corps de ballet environment in Houston under Stevenson. "Who said ballet is easy?" Acosta reflected. "And sometimes it's not fair. You find there's a lot of politics. They don't give you the right part sometimes. But you keep pushing. You just have to show the right attitude." Still, Acosta did make enough of an impression on international balletomanes that some began deeming him the next Baryshnikov or Nureyev, perhaps the best known male ballet dancers of the twentieth century. In a 1997 article, Dance writer Putnam asserted that Acosta "has polish, power, and ease when launching himself into the air with apparently no preparation, tossing off yet-to-be-named steps that leave audiences dazzled. His turns are marvels, both for their number of revolutions and their control: After speeding up at will, he often slows the ending in an insolent display of cool."

As his repertoire widened, Acosta also won praise for his acting abilities. A fellow dancer, Paloma Herrera, told WWD's Robert Haskell that Acosta's "presence is unbelievable when he goes onstage. He has a very powerful personality, but at the same time his dancing is clean and pure, so there's a wonderful contrast. As a ballerina, you feel very secure with him." Acosta has said that his biggest fear is dropping a ballerina during one of their lifts, and reportedly does a thousand push-ups daily in order to maintain the necessary upper-body strength.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: (Hugo) Alvar (Henrik) Aalto (1898–1976) Biography to Miguel Angel Asturias (1899–1974) BiographyCarlos Acosta: 1973—: Dancer Biography - Had Early Troubles With Ballet Image, Rose To Fame In Ballet World, Surprised By Success