Cuban dancer Carlos Acosta can spot a dancer's nationality by their style, and reads SHORTLISTS the classics on holiday.
“THE BEST HOLIDAY I EVER HAD WAS AGED eight, when my father’s employer took us away. Every family who worked for him was invited, picked up from home by bus and driven about 20 minutes from the centre of Havana to a white-sand beach called Santa Monica. We ate traditional homemade food and I breakdanced in the sand while the adults played dominoes.
“I try to get to know the locals and avoid the tourist traps to find out about the culture. You bring your background into everything you do, and that includes dance. Classical repertoire is just steps, how you make them different for yourself is everything you bring to them culturally. The Russians, for example, are very competitive, very academic and true to their legacy. Ballerinas there are absolutely incredible – it’s like a factory line, producing women with legs up to their ears. They are also incredibly committed. They never rest, and are working every day of the week.
“The French are very stylish, very proud of their company, which is one of the best in the world. The dancers all have hyper-extended feet and a very high arch. You really won’t find one French dancer without this feature.
Actually, I proposed to my ex-girlfriend on the Eiffel Tower. We were both dancers in the Houston Ballet and we came to England together. But while I was accepted to the Royal Ballet, she was not. For a while she was dancing in Scotland and we travelled between the two cities, but she injured her knee and went back home. No, we didn’t manage to stay friends. It hurt too much.
“I’m writing a novel at the moment, and I like reading the classics when I travel – The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye. At the moment, I’m reading 2666, the last novel by Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño, who lived for some time in Barcelona. I really like that city – the Gaudi architecture is amazing and there’s lots of adventure to be had, as well as a big arts scene and lots of bars and restaurants. Yes, dancers do eat, especially on holiday.” INTERVIEW: LUCILLE HOWE
SEE CARLOS ACOSTA PERFORMING AT LONDON’S COLISEUM, 28 JULY–7 AUGUST, www.SADLERSWELLS.COM FLY TO BARCELONA (EL PRAT, GIRONA AND REUS), LONDON (GATWICK, LUTON AND STANSTED) AND PARIS (BEAUVAIS AND VATRY) FROM ACROSS THE RYANAIR NETWORK. VISIT www.RYANAIR.COM