Carlos Acosta Retires From Royal Ballet

Ian Gavan, Courtesy ROH
After 17 years at The Royal Ballet, Carlos Acosta is ready to begin his next chapter. The principal dancer retired from the company last night after performing in his new production of Carmen, which he choreographed and starred in. According to The Telegraph, after receiving a 20-minute standing ovation last night, Acosta offered a few words of advice for the next generation of dancers. “Allow yourself to make mistakes, there is no such thing as failure," he said. "Be curious and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy because one day you will blink and realize that 70 years have gone by."

Acosta has been captivating audiences worldwide ever since he left his native Havana and won gold at the 1990 Prix de Lausanne. He danced with Houston Ballet and English National Ballet before joining the Royal. He's also published two books (his autobiography, and a novel called Pig's Foot) and produced his own shows (the most recent, Cubanía, premiered at the Royal over the summer).

So, what's next? Acosta plans to start a company of his own in Cuba, where he'll focus on developing new work that has a uniquely Cuban aesthetic, and explore more contemporary styles. He's also working to rebuild the ballet school at Havana's National Art School. As Cuba becomes more open to the influence of the outside world, he'll play a role in shaping the way dance is affected.

Luckily for us, many of his dazzling performances have been captured on film. If you're already missing seeing him onstage, here he is as Franz in The Royal Ballet's 2000 production of Coppélia:

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Sponsored by The Rock School
From left: Sarah Lapointe, Derek Dunn and Jeanette Kakareka. Courtesy The Rock School

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