Western Mail

Former Royal Ballet principal Carlos Acosta talks to Diane Parkes about his latest show and the ideas behind it

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When ballet superstar Carlos Acosta was planning the new show for his company Acosta Danza there was only one possible name.

He called it Evolution because he believes it will show audiences just how much his company has grown since he founded it four years ago.

The former Royal Ballet principal, who was born and grew up in Cuba, created Acosta Danza in 2015 to promote young talent and showcase performers from his home country.

Since then the company has become hugely popular in Cuba, the UK and beyond.

“I had this great idea to create a company which didn’t look like any other company out there. The journey was always going to be hard and it needed a whole team of people who really believed in the idea,” says Carlos.

“But I have managed to do it and I learnt a lot from it. I learnt that everything is possible.

“We called our first tour Debut because we were still in our early stages.

“But now we have a company which is more mature and with more repertory which means we can create a programme like Evolution.

“We have been evolving from that very first tour and I want to share that. With this programme, I know that we can do that.

“If you have the right energy and you convey your idea to people who believe in it, you can do wonders. That is what tells me to keep dreaming big.”

Carlos has always dreamed big. As a young boy growing up in hardship in the Cuban capital of Havana, he dreamed of being a football player but his father sent him to ballet school to keep him off the streets and to instil some discipline.

Initially reluctant to dance,

Carlos’ talent impressed teachers and he went on to win a host of awards including the prestigiou­s Prix de Lausanne. After performing with renowned companies around the globe, he joined the Royal Ballet in in 1998 becoming Principal Guest Artist in 2003. It was on retiring in 2016 that he created Acosta Danza, returning to Cuba to find his performers.

“When I audition dancers, I am looking for strong personalit­ies, great commitment and great technique, whether contempora­ry or classical,” he says.

“The dancers come from various different background­s and companies so I was looking to create a foundation on which to build.

“At the beginning I didn’t know how it would turn out because we started from zero but everything has turned out just fine!”

It is a journey which continues. In 2017 Carlos opened the Carlos Acosta Dance Academy in Havana to train young dancers.

“We have 51 kids in the academy at the moment. We have a special programme for talented kids from disadvanta­ged background­s and we have children from other countries including

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