Born in Havana in 1973, Carlos trained at the National Ballet School of Havana in Cuba. After winning a succession of awards, including the Prix de Lausanne in 1990, he went on to dance professionally with the world’s most prestigious companies, with London’s Royal Ballet becoming his home. Carlos retired from classical ballet in 2016, after 28 years, having performed almost every classical role from Spartacus to Romeo.
Carlos created many award-winning shows throughout his ballet career including Tocororo and Carlos Acosta and Friends of The Royal Ballet. He also choreographed the Royal Ballet productions of Don Quixote and Carmen, plus the latest Guys and Dolls production for the West End. He has also written two books, including a work of fiction Pig’s Foot, and his honest and heartfelt autobiography No Way Home.
Yuli, a film inspired by his life, premiered at the San Sebastian, Havana and Berlin Film Festivals to critical acclaim before its premiere and general release in April 2019.
The culture and history of Carlos’s homeland have been important influences throughout his career and will continue to be so following his establishment of his own dance company, Acosta Danza, in 2016. The company tours the world with its vibrant combination of classical and contemporary, fused with Cuban elements of dance. In 2017 Carlos opened his first Dance Academy through the Carlos Acosta International Dance Foundation. The Foundation gives young dancers the same opportunities that he himself benefited from, by providing a three-year dance training programme, free at the point of delivery in an inspirational setting.
Carlos’s extraordinary contribution to dance continues to this day and he was recognised in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List in 2014 when he was awarded a CBE. In 2018 Carlos received the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award from the Royal Academy of Dance in recognition of his standing as one of the most influential figures in Dance today and in 2019 the Critics’ Circle bestowed Carlos with their Annual Award for Outstanding Services to the Arts.
His athleticism, his sheer joy in dancing, as well as his tremendous ability to convey emotion, inspired a generation of dancers across the globe. His very touching story and the obstacles he has overcome speak for themselves.
Carlos Acosta became Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet in January 2020.