Carlos Acosta is a ballet legend. Born to an impoverished family in Cuba, as a kid Carlos was always getting into trouble. He hung around a gang of boys who loved break-dancing as much as they loved bad behavior, so his father enrolled him in ballet school to keep him off the streets. Despite often skipping class, it was obvious to those around him that Carlos had a gift for dancing. At the age of 16, he won a gold medal at the Prix de Lausanne and at 19 he was offered the position of principal dancer at English National Ballet.
I really enjoyed this autobiography, even though I felt that Acosta complained too much. It was clear that he felt forced into this world, and resented a profession that took him away from his family. As a mother of a male dancer, it’s difficult not to judge Acosta as a man who clearly does not understand how truly fortunate he is. Most dancers do not have the gifts that he does. They also train away from home and give up a lot to be dancers. While dancing gave him a career, being a star gave him the means to earn a very good living – a living that most dancers will never have. Most working dancers in the Western world make very little money, and yet THEY are fortunate just to have a job contract. This legend retired from Royal Ballet and dancing last October. He is still young, has wealth and fame. He can go anywhere now and his name will open doors everywhere in the dance world. For Carlos Acosta, dancing is his passport to freedom, even if he doesn’t realize it yet.
4 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2008
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