The rags-to-riches story of one of the world's greatest dancers, from his difficult beginnings living in poverty in the backstreets of Cuba to his astronomical rise to international stardom. In 1980, Carlos Acosta was just another Cuban kid of humble origins, the youngest son in a poor family named after the planter who had owned his great-great-grandfather. With few options and an independent spirit, Carlos spent his days on the streets, dreaming of a career in football. But even at a young age, Carlos had extraordinary talent. At nine, he was skipping school to win break-dancing competitions as the youngest member of a street-gang for whom dance contests were only a step away from violence. When Carlos's father enrolled him in ballet school, he hoped not only to nuture his son's talent, but also to curb his wildness. Years of loneliness, conflict and crippling physical effort followed, but today the Havana street-kid is an international star. This magical memoir is about more than Carlos's rise to stardom, however. It is the story of a childhood where food is scarce but love is abundant, where the soul of Cuba comes alive to influence a dancer's art.
It is also about a man forced to leave behind his homeland and loved ones for a life of self-discipline, displacement and brutal physical hardship. Carlos Acosta makes dance look effortless, but the grace, strength and charm have come a cost - here, in his own words, is the story of the price he paid.
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(197mm x 130mm x 22mm)
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
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US Kirkus Review »
The bittersweet story of a Cuban ballet dancer's rise to international fame.Born in 1973 in a suburb of Havana, Acosta aspired to become a soccer star. His dream ended at age nine when his father Pedro, a stern disciplinarian, forced him to enroll in ballet school. An Afro-Cuban truck driver whose relationship with Acosta's fair-skinned mother had scandalized her family, as a youth Pedro had been ejected from a whites-only cinema while watching a silent film about ballet. In a debut memoir noteworthy for its candor, energy and colorful sketches of life in Cuba, Acosta depicts the grueling world of ballet against the backdrop of the challenges he confronted in a country undergoing major upheaval during the 1990s. Triggered by the collapse of the Soviet Union and resultant loss of economic aid, the era known in Cuba as the "Special Period" gave rise to massive food and gasoline shortages, daily power outages and a national despair that prompted thousands to flee the country on rough-hewn rafts. The winner at age 16 of a prestigious international ballet competition in Switzerland, Acosta was permitted by the Cuban government to perform as a guest artist with numerous dance companies, including the Houston Ballet. He writes poignantly that his elation about his career was deflated each time he boarded a plane and left his struggling family. Acosta's chronicle of his efforts to integrate his success as a black ballet dancer with his complex feelings about his country and ambivalence about a profession he didn't choose makes a lively, provocative read. Now based in London, he has been celebrated in recent years as the choreographer and lead dancer of Tocororo, a ballet inspired by the pain and passion of his upbringing in Cuba.A fresh, authentic account of art, adversity and family. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Carlos Acosta
Carlos Acosta was born in Cuba in 1973. He started dancing when he was nine. From 1989 to 1991 he performed throughout the world, guesting with companies including the Compagnia Teatro Nuovo di Torino in Italy. Soon afterwards, he was made a member of the National Ballet of Cuba, becoming Principal Dancer in 1994. In 1993, he made his American stage debut as the Prince in 'The Nutcracker' and in 1998 became the first black principal dancer at The Royal Ballet, Covent Garden. Over the years, Carlos has appeared as an international guest artist in the USA, Russia, Holland, Chile, Argentina, Greece, Japan, Italy, Germany and France. In 2003, Carlos was featured in 'The Reluctant Ballet Dancer', a programme in the Imagine series shown on BBC1.