February 26, 2019 – Cordiner King, a Melbourne-based executive search firm, has placed the new director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB). Carlos Acosta, an internationally renowned dancer, will replace David Bintley, who is stepping down at the end of the current season in July. Mr. Acosta will take up his appointment in January of next year.
The hiring follows an open competition and extensive international search by the Birmingham Royal Ballet board, supported by an expert panel of leading figures in the dance world and Cordiner King. The new director will work alongside Caroline Miller, the company’s chief executive, who herself was appointed on a permanent basis just before Christmas.
“This is a great moment for Birmingham Royal Ballet,” said David Normington, chair of the Birmingham Royal Ballet. “We have secured the greatest male dancer of his generation to be our new director. I know he will bring us his legendary artistry, energy and charisma and enable us to connect with new audiences, particularly in Birmingham. It is a statement to the whole dance world that, building on David Bintley’s great legacy, Birmingham Royal Ballet intends to remain a major force for classical ballet in the U.K. and beyond.”
A Celebrated Career
Born in Havana, the youngest of eleven children in an impoverished family, Mr. Acosta trained at the National Ballet School of Cuba, winning the prestigious Prix de Lausanne at age 16. He went on to have a celebrated 30-year career in dance with many of the world’s leading ballet companies. He was a principal with the Royal Ballet for 17 years and danced all the major classical, and many contemporary roles. He is regarded as the greatest male dancer of his generation and, in many people’s eyes, one of the greatest dancers of all time.
Since retiring from the Royal Ballet, Mr. Acosta founded a Cuban dance company, Acosta Danza, and established his own dance academy in Havana, which opened in 2017. His 2007 autobiography No Way Home told the story of his progress from the poorest of beginnings in Cuba to world ballet star and became a U.K. bestseller. His many awards include an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance, a Prix Benois de la Danse, an Outstanding Achievement Award at the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards and the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award from the Royal Academy of Dance in recognition of his standing as one of the most influential figures in dance today.
“It is a tremendous honor and privilege to have been appointed to lead Birmingham Royal Ballet,” said Mr. Acosta. “I am a great admirer of its heritage and of what David Bintley has done to establish it as one of the country’s leading classical ballet companies, following on from the wonderful foundations laid down by Sir Peter Wright. My ambition is to build on its classical traditions, to expand its repertoire and to reach out to new and more diverse audiences. I want to define what it is to be a world leading classical ballet company in the 21st century.”
A Top Ballet Company
Nicholas Serota, chair of Arts Council England, welcomed Mr. Acosta to his new role. “BRB is an exceptional company, with an international reputation for the artistic quality of its work, and as Carlos takes to the helm, we’d like to pay tribute to the commitment, contribution and charisma of David Bintley, who leaves behind him an extraordinary legacy,” he said. “We look forward to seeing Carlos build on this legacy, and to the company continuing to delight audiences with their array of classical and ground-breaking ballets.”
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Birmingham Royal Ballet, based in England, is among the top three ballet companies in the U.K. The company has up to 60 permanent dancers and its own orchestra, the Royal Ballet Sinfonia. It is also home to the Jerwood Centre, a world-class facility for the prevention and treatment of dance injuries.
Cordiner King, founded in 1985, specializes in executive and non-executive director search within the higher education, government and independent schools sectors. Other areas of service include succession planning and research. The firm also has an office in Sydney. Cordiner King is a member of Panorama, an alliance of independent search firms with common specialties and focus areas. This alliance provides highly successful global search capacity covering all major time zones.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media