Soft-shoe shuf­fle in Is­ling­ton

MYPER­FECT WEEK­END Car­los Acosta, the ac­claimed Cuban bal­let dancer, likes lie-ins and lazy days – with no lift­ing

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - Living -

At the mo­ment I’m work­ing on two bal­lets, so on Satur­days I’m of­ten re­hears­ing at the Royal Opera House. I’ve lived in Lon­don for 10 years. When I first got here, I was de­pressed and lonely, but af­ter a cou­ple of years ev­ery­thing got much eas­ier.

I grew up in Ha­vana and I miss the sun and the beach ter­ri­bly. I love the hu­mid­ity of the trop­ics and the early morn­ing when the sun is about to come up and ev­ery­thing is quiet. Ev­ery­one helps ev­ery­one else in Cuba and life is very slow, un­like Lon­don or New York. Peo­ple have plenty of time to so­cialise. They can have cof­fee on their ter­races and talk about books, while their chil­dren can play foot­ball and base­ball in the streets with­out fear of be­ing at­tacked.

I live in Is­ling­ton in a house with wooden floor­boards and big so­fas. It’s dark­ish and cosy, and there’s a gar­den and roof ter­race. If I’m not re­hears­ing, I’ll wake up at about 10.30 and go out for break­fast with my girl­friend, Char­lotte Hol­land, at Gi­raffe off Up­per Street. I’ll have scram­bled eggs with smoked salmon, toast, fruit, cof­fee and juice. We eat out a lot and also like Sofra in Ex­mouth Mar­ket. I know the man­ager there and al­ways or­der the mixed grill.

Char­lotte and I have been to­gether for two years and we make a re­ally good team. We met at a bar­be­cue thrown by the pro­ducer of To­cororo, the dance I cre­ated, but only started dat­ing a year later. She’s not a dancer, but she re­ally looks af­ter me.

Af­ter break­fast, we might go to Borders book­shop in An­gel to look for new DVDs. I like films that cheer me up and are silly. Wed­ding Crash­ers made me laugh and I also loved Be­com­ing Jane. Some­times we shop for furniture for our house. There’s an an­tique shop just op­po­site Gi­raffe that I re­ally like. Oc­ca­sion­ally we’ll go to Tate Mod­ern, the Royal Academy or the Bri­tish Mu­seum. I was sad to miss the Louise Bour­geois ex­hi­bi­tion. I love her bronzes.

On Satur­day nights, we might go to the Grou­cho or Floridita, the Cuban restau­rant on War­dour Street. Floridita has a live Cuban band and you can dance salsa. I didn’t have to teach my girl­friend — she knew how to dance it al­ready. I like the food there. I’ll have moros y cris­tianos [brown rice with black beans] and to­stones [fried plan­tains] and we’ll drink mo­ji­tos.

On Sun­days, I like to lie in re­ally late. When I wake up, I’ll have por­ridge with honey and cof­fee or tea, ei­ther Earl Grey or fruit. I’ll make calls to Cuba and speak to my mother and fa­ther to see how ev­ery­thing is go­ing. I’m very close to both of them. Now I have suc­cess, I’ve been able to buy them each a house.

If it isn’t rain­ing, we might meet up with friends nearby, but I pre­fer not to have a plan. It’s good to be sur­prised and just see what comes up. Some­times I don’t do any­thing at the week­end ex­cept lie on the couch watch­ing movies and flick­ing the TV chan­nels.

I don’t hang out with other dancers and I don’t have lots of friends. That’s just the way it is. I know a lot of peo­ple, but it’s not the same thing, is it? I could prob­a­bly count the num­ber of friends I have on one hand, but I don’t think you need that many.

On Sun­days, my girl­friend might cook. It’s not a rou­tine, you know, but it might be curry, rice with ginger, pasta or fish. She’s into all this diet stuff — the good carbs and the bad. I try to fol­low her ad­vice.

At the week­end, my body re­ally needs time to re­cover and heal. I go to the gym, but just to use the sauna and steam bath. I like to re­ally re­lax there. Most of the time my life is ex­er­cise only, so why would I get on a tread­mill or lift weights? I’m lift­ing women all the time. In­ter­view by Casilda Grigg

Car­los Acosta will be per­form­ing Car­los in Cuba, and with guest artists from the Royal Bal­let, as part of the Spring Dance at the Lon­don Coli­seum sea­son, which runs from March 12-April 12. Tick­ets from 0870 145 0200 or

Time to re­lax: ‘At the week­end, my body re­ally needs time to re­cover and heal,’ says Car­los Acosta

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