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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 3 October 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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on 6 June 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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on 22 October 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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on 22 August 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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VINE VOICEon 31 December 2008
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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on 18 January 2015
This book has put me through so many emotions upon reading it.. Upset, shock, empathy and jubilation for the different moments of Carlos Acosta's life.. It was shocking in parts due to the realities of life in Cuba... And also comical with the stories of Opito and the breakdance gang and the 'Eat Mud' game and stealing mangoes.. Then there was the difficult relationship with his father, who pushed him into Ballet classes, calling it the 'parasol dance'.. I identified so many similarities with his life and mine.. The main difference was the abstract poverty that his family lived in.. I have known people with Schizophrenia and that experience was paralleled by the story of his sister Berta and Aunty and their struggle with this debilitating illness.. This book was honest and showed Carlos' own demons and simply put, missing his home comforts and having a talent that he sees as a blessing and a burden. Very good read and I would recommend it!
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on 17 June 2016
I stumbled across this book by accident but bought it because I had just been to see Carlos Acosta and was about to go to Cuba. I wasn't expecting much from it as there is no reason to believe that a fabulous dancer would also be a fabulous writer. But I was very pleasantly surprised. It was the best thing I read in advance of my trip to give me an insight into life in Cuba and it was also a fascinating account of the life of an artist. He has been described as the Reluctant Dancer and you can see why in the way his story unfolds. What you see is a man with a compelling talent, a deep love of family and homeland and an altogether very engaging individual who appears to speak with disarming honesty. Great read and I shall now move on to read his other books (not to mention continuing to follow his career, since he shows great talent as a choreographer as well!)
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on 21 February 2013
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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on 6 December 2012
I found it delightful and charming and enjoyed the way he talked about his life in Cuba and afterwards. I think he should write a sequal but relating more about his dancing, the ballets and his partners.
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on 27 February 2016
Carlos writes with such detail,intimate detail, and with such passion about his young life in Cuba.
I felt I had only just come to know what it takes to become a ballet dancer.
His love of family shines through, and his father's determination to keep his son on track, and not to look back.
Wonderful story telling,from a wonderful male dancer.
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