Carlos Acosta CBE has been awarded the 2018 Critics Circle Award for Services to the Arts.

Hailed as the greatest male dancer of his generation and, in many people’s eyes, one of the greatest dancers of all time, Carlos was presented with the award - an engraved crystal rose bowl - by Mark Shenton, President of the Critics Circle, at a celebration lunch at the National Liberal Club attended by critics from across all fields of the arts.

The annual award, the Critics Circle’s highest honour, was created in 1988 and the first person to receive it was Sir Peter Hall. There have only been two previous recipients from the field of Dance - Dame Alicia Markova in 2000 and Sir Matthew Bourne in 2016.

Chair of the Dance Section, Graham Watts, said Carlos had been a trailblazer all his career, and his achievements now included becoming the first person of colour to receive the Award for Services to the Arts. “I doubt that Carlos ever set out to be a trailblazer. But, in almost everything that he has done, Carlos – a man who is himself innately humble – has been a true pioneer.”

Carlos said he was overwhelmed to receive the award and he wished to thank the London critics for their part in supporting his career. “I am very humbled today.”

Born in Havana, the youngest of 11 children in an impoverished family, Carlos went on to train at the National Ballet School of Cuba, winning the prestigious Prix de Lausanne at the age of 16, before enjoying 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, from Spartacus to Romeo. He is the greatest male dancer of his generation and, in many people’s eyes, one of the greatest dancers of all time. Carlos retired from classical ballet in 2016, after 28 years, and has recently been appointed as the new Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet. He will take up his appointment in January 2020.

The Critics Circle Award for Services to the Arts is voted for by more than 500 members of the Critics’ Circle across its six sections - Music, Dance, Film, Drama, Visual Arts and Literary criticism. Each section proposes a nominee from its field of the arts and then a final vote is held of all members.

Last year it was presented to the artist, David Hockney. Previous winners include Dame Maggie Smith, Sir Nicholas Hytner, Sir Richard Eyre, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Helen Mirren, Tom Stoppard, Alan Bennett, Ken Loach.and Stephen Sondheim.

The Critics’ Circle was founded in 1913 and is the oldest critics’ organisation in the world.