From humble beginnings to international recognition as one of the world’s leading classical ballet dancers, Carlos Acosta is now preparing to retire from classical ballet with a final performance at the Royal Albert Hall. We look back on his remarkable career:

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Born into poverty in Havana in 1973, the youngest of 11 children, Acosta was trained at the National Ballet School of Cuba from the age of 9. An astonishing talent even in his early years, he left the island in 1989 to travel as a guest dancer with companies across the world. In 1990 he was awarded the prestigious Prix de Lausanne – at the age of just sixteen Carlos Acosta was already a hot topic in the ballet world.

He was invited to dance as a principal with the English National Ballet In 1991, and from there went to companies in Cuba, America and Russia, where he became the first foreigner to be a guest-principal with the Bolshoi. Acosta joined London’s Royal Ballet in 1998 and became a Principal Guest Artist in 2003.

Now widely regarded as the greatest male dancer of his generation, Acosta has expanded his talents beyond classical ballet dancing, having written, choreographed, developed and produced his own hugely popular and award-winning shows in London and throughout Europe in classical and contemporary styles, appeared in a feature film, and written a novel. In 2014 he was awarded a CBE for services to ballet.

Acosta at the Hall
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Surprisingly, Acosta first performed at the Royal Albert Hall at a fundraising event to support farmers following the ‘Foot and Mouth’ Crisis, on 18 April 2001.

This Farm Aid Appeal, in which he performed with fellow ballet dancer Tamara Rojo, was attended by royalty including attended by the HRH The Prince of Wales, HRH The Duke of Kent and His Grace the Duke of Westminster.

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Rojo and Acosta were reunited at Acosta’s second show at the Hall – the for the opening of Romeo & Juliet in-the-round at the Royal Albert Hall (11 – 22 June 2014).

This spectacular English National Ballet performance of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy of two star-crossed lovers was categorically commended by audiences and press alike.

Carlos Acosta will perform the final shows in his A Classical Farewell tour at the Royal Albert Hall, on 3 – 7 October 2016.

With his final performance at the Royal Ballet – a self-choreographed production of Carmen – having received a full 20 minutes of thunderous applause, the final retirement of Acosta’s ballet shoes here on 7 October will be one not to miss.