Dispute threatens to end Carlos Acosta's ballet school dream

Posted: 08-Oct-15 09:33

The School of Ballet architect Vittorio Garatti stands between Carlos Acosta and his dream of restoring one of Cuba's architectural gems. Nearing his retirement as a ballet dancer, Acosta wants to leave a legacy and a place where young Cubans can get a chance to shine.

Dispute threatens to end Carlos Acosta's ballet school dream

Mention Cuban ballet in the UK and probably the first name can spring to mind is Carlos Acosta. This is a man who with Alicia Alonso (and few others) put his country on the performance arts map, refining his craft on the biggest stages across the globe.

He has even been called “the best male dancer of his generation”, a title which few will argue against. What makes Acosta shine even brighter among his peers is the humble background he emerged from.

His dream is to revamp the School of Ballet designed by Italian architectural guru Vittorio Garatti to be one of the National Art Schools (ENA) envisioned by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in the post-revolution days. Renowned for its stunning Catalan vaults, it is one of the most striking feats of architecture even by today’s standards.

However, in the last decades due expensive restoration needed and the the insufficient funds of the government, the school have been left to decay. Acosta’s noble goal was to offer Cuba an international dance school while restoring a national monument. You could see the passion burning in his eyes as he explained his dream to respected interviewer David Frost. But his noble vision soon hit a snag, one raised by the building’s architect himself.

Garatti feels he has been locked out of Acosta’s grand project. He is of the view that the dancer wants to steal his baby and turn it into a private enterprise. Personal ambition is clearly present in Acosta’s desire to leave a legacy in the form of a non-profit arts school that is self-sustaining. But so is the urge to give a leg-up to Cuba’s fledgling ballet dancers.

"I want to leave a legacy, something that benefits the next generation of artists."

Carlos said. You can understand the sense of urgency in the ballet great’s desire to implement the project. At 42, his passion for the form of dance he loves most has not waned an iota, but he knows that his body will soon give way. Last year he announced that he will be giving up classical ballet in 2016.

But even if Garatti were to abandon his stance, Acosta’s dance school would be faced with an even bigger obstacle; funds. At least $9.5 million is required to complete renovations, money that will need to be raised almost from scratch. We can only hope these challenges will be addressed soon so that Cuban ballet can continue its grow.


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