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Carlos Acosta: 1973—: Dancer Biography

Had Early Troubles With Ballet Image, Rose To Fame In Ballet World, Surprised By Success

Carlos Acosta: 1973—: Dancer.

In one of the last, largely un-integrated bastions of high culture, Carlos Acosta has been hailed as ballet's next major star. The Cuban-born dancer, of mixed Spanish and African heritage, came to prominence in the early 1990s while still in his teens, and esteemed dance companies in both North America and Europe began offering him lead romantic roles over the next decade. After a stint in Houston, Acosta joined England's Royal Ballet in 1998. With his fabled grace and athleticism, he has earned comparisons to Mikhail Baryshnikov or Rudolf Nureyev. A writer for London's Independent newspaper described Acosta as "a dancer who slashes across space faster than anyone else, who lacerates the air with shapes so clear and sharp they seem to throw off sparks."

Born in 1973, Acosta was the eleventh and last child in an impoverished Havana family whose home was in one of the rougher quarters of that city. His father was a truck driver, and his mother often suffered from health problems. The island nation of Cuba had become a socialist state after the 1959 victory by Marxist guerrilla leader Fidel Castro, but remained overwhelmingly poor. Acosta grew up with no toys, sometimes went shoeless, and did not even have a birthday cake until he turned 23. The streets of his neighborhood provided plenty of entertainment, however, and he spent his time playing soccer, break-dancing, and raiding nearby mango groves with his friends. He was an overly energetic child, and Pedros Acosta, his father, felt that his youngest son would soon land in serious trouble. Dance training at one of the state-funded schools, his father decided, would teach the boy discipline and provide him with a free lunch every day.

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