Review: Carlos Acosta at the Royal Ballet

This new book celebrates his career with the Royal Ballet – with over 150 photographs of Acosta in rehearsal and performing some of the most iconic roles including Siegfried in Swan Lake and the Prince in The Nutcracker and on stage with the world's leading ballerinas such as Darcy Bussell.

What has been the key to Carlos's success? Firstly, his brilliance as a dancer. Male ballet stars such as Nureyev and Nijinsky had been white, aristocratic, aloof. When Carlos arrived in the UK in the ‘90s he changed the image of men in ballet completely, commanding the stage, making it look easy and exciting. More than any dancer before or since, Acosta made ballet cool. How many people have gone to see him with no previous particular interest in ballet?

Secondly, being Carlos. In all the many interviews with him in the UK media he has exuded a warm and honest charm. In a recent Guardian webchat he said: "I never felt I made it in ballet. And that has always been the key to my success. You're always learning." From the tributes to him in the book by he is clearly popular with his fellow dancers and directors as well as his public. He has also been a superb unofficial ambassador for Cuban culture reminding every interviewer "one of the most important achievements of the Cuban revolution (is that) not only they offer all children the opportunity to dance, learn sport, or whatever they decide but also it is absolutely free."

Now aged 42 Carlos is moving more into contemporary dance and choreographing and looking to give back – having inspired a new generation he is setting up his own dance company and centre in Cuba. The book is a great souvenir of Carlos's impact on ballet in the UK and a must for fans of dance and of the man himself.

Carlos Acosta at the Royal Ballet, Oberon Books, November 2015, 160 pages hardback

Buy the book here