Birmingham Royal Ballet has appointed Carlos Acosta as its new director. He will take up the role in January 2020. The Cuban dance star, who leaped to prominence from difficult beginnings, will likely infuse BRB with his own unique experiences.
Born in Havana, Acosta was the youngest of 11 children, and despite an economically disadvantaged upbringing, went on to train at the National Ballet School of Cuba. He won the Prix de Lausanne aged 16, and then enjoyed a 30-year dance career with many of the world’s leading ballet companies, including a stint as principal of London’s Royal Ballet for 17 years.
Other prizes to his name include an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance, a Prix Benois de la Danse, an Outstanding Achievement Award at the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards and the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award from The Royal Academy of Dance in recognition of his standing as one of the most influential figures in dance today.
Following his retirement from the Royal Ballet, he founded Cuban dance company Acosta Danza and established his own dance academy in Havana which opened the doors to its first students in September 2017.
In statement, Acosta said: “It is a tremendous honour and privilege to have been appointed to lead Birmingham Royal Ballet. I am a great admirer of its heritage and of what David Bintley has done to establish it as one of the country’s leading classical ballet companies, following on from the wonderful foundations laid down by Sir Peter Wright. My ambition is to build on its classical traditions, to expand its repertoire and to reach out to new and more diverse audiences. I want to define what it is to be a world leading classical ballet company in the 21st century.”
His appointment was the result of open competition and extensive international search by BRB Board and professional dance and recruitment team. Current director, David Bintley, will stand down at the end of the current season in July 2019.
Nicholas Serota, chair of Arts Council England, added: “We’re delighted to welcome Carlos Acosta as the new director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, with his wealth of experience and knowledge from the international world of dance.”
Acosta will work alongside BRB’s chief executive, Caroline Miller, who was appointed on a permanent basis in December 2018.