Black Star, Other Fetishized

Carlos Acosta, ballet’s new cosmopolitanism, and desire in the age of institutional diversity

Authored by: Lester Tomé

The Routledge Companion to Dance Studies

Print publication date:  November  2019
Online publication date:  October  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138234581
eBook ISBN: 9781315306551
Adobe ISBN:


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Since the seventeenth century, dancers moving across courts, empires, nation-states, continents, and geopolitical blocs have articulated varied conceptions of cosmopolitanism in ballet. Afro-Cuban dancer Carlos Acosta exemplified ballet’s newest expression of cosmopolitanism, which references diasporic multiculturalism in a context of globalization, during his tenure in London’s Royal Ballet (1998–2016). 1 The distinctive feature of this new cosmopolitanism is the presence of the subaltern subject—deemed a racial and cultural other—in troupes across Western Europe and North America. Acosta has been among several Latin American and Asian dancers (from Cuba, Argentina, Brazil, China, Japan, South Korea, and other locations) who in recent years have occupied visible positions in ensembles such as the Royal Ballet and American Ballet Theatre.

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