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No Way Home: A Cuban Dancer's Story [Hardcover]

Carlos Acosta
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Oct 2007

The rags-to-riches story of one of the world’s greatest dancers, from his difficult childhood, living in poverty in the backstreets of Cuba, to his astronomical rise to international stardom.

In 1980, Carlos Acosta was just another Cuban kid of humble origins, the youngest son in a poor family named after the planter who had owned his great-great-grandfather. With few options and an independent spirit, Carlos spent his days on the streets, dreaming of a career in football.

But even at a young age, Carlos had extraordinary talent. At nine, he was skipping school to win break-dancing competitions as the youngest member of a street-gang for whom dance contests were only a step away from violence. When Carlos’s father enrolled him in ballet school, he hoped not only to nurture his son’s talent, but also to curb his wildness. Years of loneliness, conflict and crippling physical effort followed, but today the Havana street-kid is an international star.

This magical memoir is about more than Carlos’s rise to stardom, however. It is the story of a childhood where food is scarce but love is abundant, where the soul of Cuba comes alive to influence a dancer’s art. It is also about a man forced to leave behind his homeland and loved ones for a life of self-discipline, displacement and brutal physical hardship. Carlos Acosta makes dance look effortless, but the grace, strength and charm have come at a cost – here, in his own words, is the story of the price he paid.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress; First Edition edition (1 Oct 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007250770
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007250776
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.8 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 464,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘Carlos Acosta's trajectory from street urchin to superstar is another astonishing example of the transcendent power of dance. In this brutally honest account of his struggle to reconcile two conflicting worlds, we discover the source of inner conflict that has alchemized into passionate intensity on stage and made him one of ballet's most thrillingly charismatic performers.’ Julie Kavanagh

‘Warm and funny.’ The Economist

‘The dazzling Carlos Acosta is the Cuban Billy Elliot, a poor kid who triumphed over prejudice and humble origins … Frankly, you couldn't make it up … The crippling physical effort of becoming a ballet dancer, the slog, the agony of injuries, the rivalries and bitchiness are vividly evoked in Acosta's fascinating story.’ Daily Mail

'The life of the ballet dancer Carlos Acosta has all the hallmarks of a bestseller…in “No Way Home” Acosta's voice is instantly likeable, and you follow his discovery of the trappings of the west and his quest to make his name at the Royal Ballet with a mixture of wonder, respect and, crucially, affection.'

‘From the atmospheric depiction of his poor childhood in Havana to his domination of the world of dance, this is a truly inspiring tale.’ Sunday Telegraph

From the Publisher

Carlos Acosta makes dance look effortless, but the grace, strength and charm have come at a cost - here, in his own words, is the story of the price he paid

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vibrant and dazzling 3 Oct 2007
Carlos Acosta's memoir is as vibrant and dazzling as his dancing. Telling the story of his incredible journey from breakdancing urchin on the streets of Havana to prince at the Royal Opera House, this is much more than a book about ballet, it is the lyrical and moving tale of a boy's gift, his father's ambition, and the price he pays for fame. With sensual descriptions that evoke the scents and rhythms of Havana, at times, the book feels more like a magical realist novel than an autobiography. Sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking, always charming - a totally engrossing read.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring story 6 Jun 2009
This is a fascinating story of Acosta's journey to ballet stardom, from his early days as a breakdancing ruffian in Cuba. This is what lies behind those tremendous balletic leaps ... the injuries, the pain, the years of sweat, the struggles with his father, the loneliness of a young man far from family and home. Acosta comes across as tremendously likeable - and you hope,when the dancing career is over, he will find personal happiness and a way home, at last.
Considering he isn't a professional writer, this is far better written than many autobiographies - though his editor should have been tougher on repetitiveness, especially towards the end.
But it's a compelling human story, even for readers who aren't particularly interested in dance.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyed this book ... 22 Oct 2007
This is a very inspiring story for anyone, whether you are a ballet fan or not, from his childhood stories set in Havana to his loneliness & struggles later in life, it is interesting & endearing, I could not put the book down, it is written very well, and I would certainly recommend this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest and Touching 22 Aug 2011
I found this book to be unusually honest. I've read many autobiographies, but Carlos's personal story really touched me.
It seems incredible that a boy from such a humble background, and with no particular inclination to dance, apart from Street Dancing, has come so far. His love for his family shines through. I loved the photos - they really added to the intimate feel of the book.
Carlos is STILL an amazing dancer (despite what someone has written here). He even managed to project his personality in the hell that is the vast O2 stadium! That personality comes across in the writing (though obviously he had to have an English translation) You can still hear his 'voice'.

Highly Recommended for ballet lovers and non-ballet lovers, as a great story of our times.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars half way through 16 Aug 2010
i am half way through the book and i love it. very heart felt and the beginning of the book the description of his childhood and parents is amazing.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By theTramp VINE VOICE
Interesting, page turning and amusing. I knew little of Acosta before I read this book and I'm not sure that I know that much about him now, except that he's straight, very very straight - who knew that a dancers greatest concern is not becoming too aroused with their partners?! (He's very keen to reassure readers that he likes women, not men, no homosexuality here thank you very much! Which is part of the fun of the book.) Acosta comes across as a likeable scamp whose modesty is, I suspect, a relatively new addition to his personality. As with many autobiographies what is left out is often as revealing as what's included. He's led an extremely interesting life, a cuban ballet dancer from a tough background who wanted nothing more than to be a footballer... to tell you more would be to ruin the fun and you don't need to be a ballet enthusiast or an Acosta enthusiast to enjoy this, I certainly wasn't when I read it, but I will be looking him up on a stage near me soon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just wonderful 15 Jun 2013
By C. Bell
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What an inspiration Carlos is. It just proves with hard work and of course the skill just what can be achieved
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fabulous read!! 21 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Because I hold Carlos Acosta in such high regard, I loved how he traced his life from one of having nothing to one of having it all, without compromising his love for his family and his Island country. He exudes charm and passion for his art without being pompous and 'hey, look at me now'. What a lovely man.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Would we were like him!
Carlos must surely be one of the best examples of a superb physique. This energy & vitaliyy come over in the book
Published 17 days ago by valhalla
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
I couldn't put this book down, what a gripping life story. Also an insight into Cuban life in the 70's for ordinary folk.
Published 23 days ago by RW
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderfull
His childhood quite evocative.
He brings himself & his world to life
Published 25 days ago by trinity boy
4.0 out of 5 stars Behind the scenes
If you had no idea of the dedication and commitment that goes into the making of a star, this is the place to start. Read more
Published 26 days ago by jeannie france-hayhurst
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning
Loved the rags to riches story. Life in Cuba compared to the rest of the world was so interesting. Saw Carlos dance only a few months ago - amazing!!
Published 28 days ago by MRS DIANE MERSON-JONES
5.0 out of 5 stars A splendid read
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this account of Acosta's rise to fame from poverty. He comes across as a warm human being as well as having become a world famous ballet star through... Read more
Published 29 days ago by P. Eaves
5.0 out of 5 stars No way home
I have only just received this and haven't got much further than looking at the photos. If the book is anything like Carlos Acosta's spectacular dancing, I am in for a treat.
Published 2 months ago by ALISON
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing story!
I have always been intrigued by Carlos Acosta but didn't know much about him, apart from him being from Cuba. Read more
Published 2 months ago by LadyK
5.0 out of 5 stars Book for Wife
As above.
18 more words required.
14 more words required.
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finished at last!
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars No Way Home
It's a good story but he's not a great writer. However it has made me want to see him dance, which I am planning to do.
Published 4 months ago by Frances Leach
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