Entertainment & Arts

Ballet star Carlos Acosta admits O2 Arena challenges

Carlos Acosta
Image caption Acosta said the production at the O2 was an attempt to attract new audiences

Ballet star Carlos Acosta has admitted there will be challenges staging Romeo and Juliet at the O2.

Acosta bellieves the huge London arena is "not ideal", saying: "You lose the intimacy that Romeo and Juliet needs, you have to rely on cameras."

But the Cuban dancer, who plays Romeo, said it was something The Royal Ballet "needs to do".

"There is a new audience that we need to educate as to what ballet is, how wonderful it is," said the dancer.

"The company is looking good, casting is strong and the excitement is going to be there," Acosta told BBC Arts editor Will Gompertz.

The 38-year-old will perform in front of a nightly audience of up to 12,000 people at the arena.

In spite of "all the things that work against us in that particular venue, they will be able to appreciate what ballet is - colourful, special... and want to follow it more. That is what it is all about," he added.

It is hoped staging the production at the O2 will attract people who may not have thought about a night at the ballet before.

For its 2009/10 ballet season, just 22% of audiences at the Royal Opera House were under 36 years of age, while just over half lived within 10 miles of the central London venue.

Image caption Tamara Rojo stars opposite Carlos Acosta in Romeo and Juliet

"This is an attempt to attract new audiences, to educate the audience of the future," said Acosta, who grew up breakdancing on the streets of Havana.

"Hopefully there is a much younger crowd that [will] come to the O2, a diversified crowd.

"It is not about segregation... dance is for everybody."

In Cuba, he added, "they treat it [ballet] like you imagine the final of the World Cup... it's massive, it's on TV, it's everywhere and it's not a bit elitist."

Romeo and Juliet will be the first time the ballet company has performed in a UK arena.

Announcing the production last year, company director Dame Monica Mason said she was "thrilled" about the production being shown in such a huge venue as it would "introduce our work to so many new people".

Also featuring Tamara Rojo, Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg dancing the principal roles, the ballet will run from 17-19 June.

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