Superstar ballet dancer praises royal visit to Cuba

The Prince of Wales’ visit to Cuba is a boost to Britain’s post-Brexit ambitions of finding new markets, the country’s superstar ballet dancer has said.

Carlos Acosta, who is artistic director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, said that as the Communist country of his birth continued to open up culturally and economically, it was time for the UK to also build bridges as it left the EU.

He met Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall after they began their historic trip to Cuba by touring the old quarter of Havana, where they were mobbed by press and the public in chaotic scenes.

Charles played the tourist when they stopped to listen to a traditional band and dropped a coin in their collection hat, while Camilla’s visit to the capital was sealed with a kiss – a peck on the hand from a street performer.

Acosta welcomed Charles and Camilla to his dance company, which is helping disadvantaged young people from across the region fulfil their potential.

Camilla and Charles in Old Havana
Charles puts a note in a hat as he watches musicians play in Old Havana (Jane Barlow/PA)

The dancer said about the visit – a first by members of the royal family: “I think it’s a big, big deal, especially with all the Brexit, the UK is looking for emerging markets and different partnerships and to sort of build bridges with other nations, and Cuba is doing the same, which is really great.

“From an artistic point of view, well for me it’s really wonderful that these two nations that are very important for my career and my life are coming together.”

Acosta was principal guest dancer for seventeen years with the Royal Ballet and performed many times in front of the prince.

Charles in Cuba
Charles turned down some churros (Jane Barlow/PA)

He added: “From the Cuban perspective it is a time for building bridges, to reach out to the world, and I think also for the UK they are doing the same with this inevitable Brexit going forward, so I think it’s just the perfect fit.

“I think Cuba has been open now consistently for a long time, it’s not happening with the rapidity most people like, but compare ten years ago to where we are now, there’s a sense of evolving – at a Cuban pace, but we’re getting there.”

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