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Watch: Carlos Acosta – 'Ballet productions are constant works in progress'

The Cuban ballet superstar speaks about his production of Don Quixote and offers cautionary words for young dancers lured by fame.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

7 April 2014 at 5.18pm | 2 Comments

Carlos Acosta was the focus of a recent ROH Insights event.

'It's very hard to choreograph and dance at the same time – especially a three-act ballet! I learned from Don Quixote that we need time, but it's a work in progress', Carlos told presenter Alan Titchmarsh of amending works right up to (and even after) the curtain rising. 'Even Kenneth MacMillan, when he created Manon, would see it from the front and say "that's not working" or "it's a little slow". It's then adjusted until finally you get the definitive version.'

'I studied every production of Don Quixote that had been made, with a critical eye. I tried to see what works, what was lacking and what I could bring. These classic ballets, they have been created so long ago and what was funny then may not be funny now. It needs to be made accessible so people have a strong connection.'

Carlos also spoke of growing up in an impoverished district of Havana, the youngest of eleven children: 'My father fought for every penny so if you asked him for something you had to beg. I was always restless and liked football and baseball, I'd been expelled from school and I saw the National Ballet of Cuba perform. They had such powerful leaps and I thought 'Wow! This is wonderful – I want to lift women with one hand!'.

Other topics covered at the Insight included his views on younger dancers, fame and discipline; his love for Kenneth MacMillan's ballets such as Manon and Romeo and Juliet; and how he believes ballet can stay relevant.

Find out more about upcoming ROH Insights events.

Don Quixote runs 25 November 2014–22 January 2015. Tickets are still available.

The production is generously supported by the Friends of Covent Garden.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

7 April 2014 at 5.18pm

This article has been categorised Ballet and tagged Alan Titchmarsh, by Carlos Acosta, Carlos Acosta, Don Quixote, insights, interview, Kenneth MacMillan, Manon, Production, Romeo and Juliet, The Judas Tree

This article has 2 comments

  1. Elena R responded on 8 April 2014 at 2:57pm Reply

    As much I like Carlos as a dancer, I find it difficult to believe that studying Don Quixote in Mariinksy and Bolshoi production he came up with such a disappointing version. Don Quixote is my favourite classical ballet and I never miss it when Mariinsky or Bolshoi or Michailovsky (last year) bring it to London. I was so looking forward to it in ROH and I can't even describe the extend of my disappointment with the version produced. Should not there be some Art Committee consisting of world class ballet experts and critics in the RoH before so much money is invested in the production which is frankly a disgrace to classical ballet Marius Petipa choreography.

    • Sheila South responded on 9 August 2014 at 10:29am

      It is interesting to read another perspective that is so extremely opposite to my own. I adored Carlos Acosta's Don Quixote and have booked this season to see it again another three times. I have just watched his Insights interview and agree with his statement that 'it is a work in progress.' He dances and choreographs at the same time and I find him just amazing. So talented and yet so gracious - I have yet to see him take a bow on his own. Cubania was wonderful and I saw all three performances. I look forward to Don Quixote and seeing Carlos perform again, it is a privilege to watch this gifted artist.

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