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Acosta is Critics' Circle winner

Published: 10 May 2019
Reporter: Vera Liber

Carlos Acosta CBE has been awarded The Critics’ Circle Award 2018 for Services to the Arts.

Acosta was presented with the award—an engraved crystal rose bowl—by Mark Shenton, President of the Critics Circle, at a celebration lunch at the National Liberal Club attended by critics from across all fields of the arts.

The annual award, the Critics Circle’s highest honour, was created in 1988 and the first person to receive it was Sir Peter Hall. There have only been two previous recipients from the field of dance: Dame Alicia Markova in 2000 and Sir Matthew Bourne in 2016.

Chair of the Dance Section, Graham Watts, said Acosta had been a trailblazer all his career, and his achievements now included becoming the first person of colour to receive the Award for Services to the Arts, adding, “I doubt that Carlos ever set out to be a trailblazer. But, in almost everything that he has done, Carlos—a man who is himself innately humble—has been a true pioneer.”

Born in Havana, the youngest of 11 children in an impoverished family, Acosta went on to train at the National Ballet School of Cuba, winning the Prix de Lausanne at the age of 16. He was a Principal with the Royal Ballet for 17 years and danced all the major classical and many contemporary roles, from Spartacus to Romeo. He retired from classical ballet in 2016 after 28 years and has recently been appointed Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet from January 2020.

Acosta responded to his award, “I am very humbled today.”