'Anything is possible' - Former Royal Ballet principal dancer Carlos Acosta's message to up and coming stars
Video report by ITV News Presenter Julie Etchingham
On the eve of World Ballet Day, the man hailed as the greatest dancer of his generation wants up and coming stars, particularly those who do not see themselves represented in the art form, to know that "anything is possible".
During his 17 years at the Royal Ballet, Carlos Acosta was the first black principal dancer, in an art form which is overwhelmingly white.
When asked by ITV News what advice he would give to young, black boys who wanted to enter the world of ballet, but often did not see themselves reflected in it, the 45-year-old explained that "anything is possible, it's all how much you're willing to work hard enough to nurture your talent, and you have to turn yourself into this bright star that is hard to ignore".
An inability to limit himself is evident in Acosta's own life, which like many of the ballets he has danced in, has the storyline of fairy tales.
Born into poverty in the backstreets of Havana, ballet proved not only an escape, but also a route to global stardom.
"I always said the best present I ever had was being poor because I learned not to take anything for granted, to actually fight for what I wanted," the dancer explains.
"I knew that only I could turn my life around and I didn't want to be poor anymore."
After retiring from the Royal Ballet at the end of 2015, Acosta has had a career as an international guest artist, appearing in the US, Russia, the Netherlands, Chile, Argentina, Greece, Japan, Italy, Germany and France, but now he's back in London, celebrating 30 years in dance and performing with artists from a school he set up in Cuba as a thank you to his homeland.
"I'm very, very excited," Acosta said at the prospect of performing again in London.
"We have a terrific show, it ranges from contemporary into classical."
Compared by many to ballet greats such as Rudolf Nureyev, Acosta explained his lifelong love of ballet, which he calls his refuge and best friend.
Despite retiring almost three years ago, Acosta shows no signs of hanging up his slippers just yet.
"Ballet is addictive. When you are out there and it's just you and the audience, it's such a something.
"You cannot put this into words. It's amazing, it's addictive, it's very hard to let go."