Premiere Plus

The Cuban born Carlos Acosta (born 2 June 1973) of mixed Spanish and African heritage and long-limbed Royal Ballet Principal Zenaida Yanowsky (born 23 December 1975, Lyon, France) descended from Russian aristocrats (last seen as a stylish Utah longhorn ram in David Bintley‘s 1988 ballet Still Life at the Penguin Café in March Royal Triple Bill) are going to be seen in an intriguing mix of modern and classical ballet. What I saw from the works to be presented looked very nice.

Darcey Bussell, curtain call for Theme and Variations

Darcey Bussell and Carlos Acosta during the curtain call for the ballet Theme and Variations.

In 1992 and 1993 he was a member of the National Ballet of Cuba under the artistic director Alicia Alonso, rising to principal dancer in 1994. Since 1998 he became a permanent member of The Royal Ballet and was promoted to Principal Guest Artist in 2003, a rank which reduced his commitment to the Royal Ballet, enabling him to concentrate on a growing schedule of international guest appearances and tours which he’ll did well out of it.

Premieres Plus combines Carlos Acosta his outstanding classical technique, which could recently also be wondered by 45000 spectators at the O2 where he gave a marvelous performance of McMillans Romeo and Julia, with some of the most celebrated works of recent years. The night includes Russell Maliphant’s masterpiece “Two”, originally created for Sylvie Guillem.

Will Tuckett’s “On Before”, originally created for the Ballet Boyz’s Billy Trevett and Royal Ballet principal Zenaida Yanowsky, and now performed for the first time by Carlos and Zenaida to John Adams’s masterwork “Christian Zeal & Activity”.

Those who did not have had the chance to see him perform should perhaps hurry. Because Acosta has pain in his hips and has had repeated surgeries on his right ankle. He also uttered already that it could be that his time to retire has been looking around the corner. Now aged 38 and living in London, he feels he has “maybe three more years” before he will retire.

“I still think I have what it takes, but sometimes it’s difficult to know when it’s the right time, I think I still have the quality people like – but it’s not very far away now.”

“Ballet has been like being married for 30 years, and then for some reason life takes you on different paths, but you still have the memories of the woman you love – that’s me and ballet.”

This morning he also said he was really “out” after he had done his manage at the O2 on June the 17th. The stage being so huge and demanding so much of the body to cover it all. “you have five scenes and you dance almost until you drop dead.”

The crippling physical effort of becoming a ballet dancer, the slog, the agony of injuries, the rivalries and bitchiness are vividly evoked in Acosta’s fascinating story “No Way Home” which is published by Harper Collins. Despite terrible home-sickness, loneliness and low self-esteem, Acosta won every possible student medal and award. Snapped up by various ballet companies, he travelled to Europe.

Cover of

Cover via Amazon

The Book will be available for order via the website at a reduced price of £17.99 (including standard UK first class delivery). They shall have 50 signed copies of the book for those who get their orders in early (first come first served basis). (Please check at Carlos’ site)

If you wish to see Carlos in person, he will be signing copies of his autobiography – No Way Home – at Hatchards Bookshop, 187 Piccadilly, London W1 between 1 and 2pm on Tuesday 9th October, and at the Royal Opera House Shop in Covent Garden, London WC2 between 3.30 and 4.30 on Saturday 13th October.

For those out of London, Carlos will also be appearing at the Cheltenham Literary Festival on Sunday 14th October in conversation with A C Grayling at 4pm and will be signing copies of his Book afterwards. For full details of the Cheltenham Literary Festival go to

On top of many prices he can write Cuba’s National Dance Prize on his palmares, in recognition of his fruitful career, and for being “a genuine example of an artist who loves the revolution” – in the words of the president of the jury which awarded the prize.

When he retires he and his British fiancée plan to move to Cuba, and he may start his own dance company. The choreographic parts he did himself , which I saw, looked borrowed from other contemporary choreographers, but he made nice choices.

Written 2011 July 12

Carlos Acosta in Requiem

'Now, how shall I end chapter 3?' … Acosta has been writing between performances, here in Requiem at the Royal Opera House. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

2012 February update

  • Carlos Acosta: from the ballet to the galley proof (
    Carlos Acosta is more accustomed to en pointe than penpoint, but the world-renowned Cuban ballet dancer has written his first novel in between performances around the world.
  • Romeo and Juliet, Royal Opera House, Seven magazine review (
    Tamara Rojo and Carlos Acosta have been cast together as Shakespeare’s lovers for six years now, and while the fit is as perfect as ever, there’s something slightly ‘‘married’’ about the great pas de deux, which offered none of the grabby desperation one sees in the thrilling early days of a partnership.
    Acosta partnered beautifully but his playing only really caught fire during the fight scenes. And although he leaps as softly as ever, his dancing has a slightly energy-efficient look to it.
  • The Dream/Song of the Earth – review (
    MacMillan’s genius in Song of the Earth is to choreograph on a grand, tragic scale and in small, human detail alike. On Wednesday night, the opening male ensemble was unforgivably ragged, suggesting momentarily that the Royal had lost this ballet. But then an alchemical reaction took place on stage: the dancing found a heart-stopping clarity, from the pin-wheeling lifts and playful Chinoiserie of the third song, to the austere geometric logic of the large ensembles. The two male leads developed a harrowing dramatic opposition: Rupert Pennefather as the sweet hopeful lover, Carlos Acosta a half benign but implacable Messenger of Death. And caught between them, Tamara Rojo carried the entire ballet in her body, moving from delicate girlishness to fierce anguish, and finally to a totemic image of resignation.

About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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