Sue Lawley's castaway is the dancer Carlos Acosta. Carlos Acosta is one of the greatest ballet dancers of his generation. He is the first black principal dancer at Covent Garden. Tocororo, the show about his own life, that he wrote, choreographed and starred in, broke box office records at Sadlers Wells and in his homeland of Cuba he is a national hero.
But his extraordinary success has followed an even more remarkable journey from the impoverished back streets of Havana. He was the youngest of 11 children and, as a boy, his only ambition was to be a footballer. At the age of nine, his father sent him to ballet school - inspired not by art, but by the promise of free school meals and the hope that his increasingly delinquent son would be brought into line by the strict regime. Carlos hated it, was bullied by his friends and was twice expelled.
The first time, his father persuaded the school to take him back, the second, his father found another ballet school and secured Carlos a place there as a boarder. It was only there, at the age of 13, that he had an epiphany. Seeing the Cuban National Ballet perform he decided he did want to follow that path. At the age of 16 he travelled for the first time to Europe, he won four major dance competitions in one year and his career as an international ballet dancer was launched.
[Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]
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