Carlos Acosta's beginnings were humble (Acosta was the name of the plantation owner who employed his great grandfather as a slave) but his extraordinary talent was evident from a young age. His earliest dreams were of becoming a footballer but as a delinquent Havana schoolboy he found his earliest expression through break dancing, quickly developing into one the hottest contenders in the fiercely competitive street dance–offs, where dance was only a few degrees removed from the violence of the streets.
With Carlos constantly playing truant, his father, who saw ballet as his son's only chance of escape, enrolled him into The National Ballet School of Cuba. Unhappy and homesick, Carlos continued to cut class, get caught and receive punishment, in the form of beatings 'to within an inch of his life', brutal reminders of the path he was being forced to choose. With little money, his mother ill and his father unfairly imprisoned, ballet became increasingly Carlos's one chance to escape a life of hardship, uncertainty and struggle.
This magical memoir, however, is about more than Carlos's rise to stardom. It is the story of a childhood where food is scarce but love is abundant, where the smells of the Cuban streets and the souls of the people come alive to influence the young dancer's art. It is also about the internal struggles of a man who has to abandon his roots in his beloved Cuba, leaving behind many of the people he loved for a life of extreme self–discipline, constant displacement and brutal physical hardship. Carlos Acosta makes dance look effortless, but the grace, the power and the effortless charm have come a cost – this is the story of the price he has paid.