Last night saw the official launch of the Carlos Acosta International Dance Foundation at a fund-raising gala dinner at the Royal Opera House,Covent Garden, hosted by Sir David Tang.

The Carlos Acosta International Dance Foundation aims to create a legacy of dance for future generations through the creation of Carlos Acosta Arts Centres around the world. The centres will be places where choreographers and dancers can come to express talents which might not otherwise be seen, where they will be taught and encouraged to push boundaries. By attracting some of the world’s most talented performers, the centres will raise both the awareness and quality of dance to new levels. In order to achieve this vision, the Foundation has approached the architect Lord Foster to develop a concept to refurbish and restore the Cuban School of  Ballet, which forms part of the Schools of Art complex in Havana built in the 1960s and 1970s.

Significant as one of the very few architectural works to date from the period immediately following the Cuban Revolution, the school buildings were constructed entirely from local materials, using local skills. This project will continue that tradition. The existing buildings will be restored and new interventions carefully articulated to differentiate between the two chapters in the life of the school. It will be a special venue, beyond the typical tourist itinerary of old Havana– a new artistic and architectural destination that will open up a different, important aspect of Cuban history.

Carlos Acosta said:

‘I want to provide a platform and focus for young people to explore hidden talents, develop their skills and help them make positive choices in life. The Carlos Acosta Centre for Dance will be a place where they can realise their dreams. In turn, it will provide a world stage for these talents to be seen and enjoyed by all.’

Lord Foster said:

‘I am pleased to be able to help Carlos Acosta in his ambitious project to transform the lives of young people in Cuba by harnessing the power of dance. The Carlos Acosta Centre for Dance will complete the legacy of the Art Schools campus in Havana to inspire future generations of performers. Our approach has been to first establish the feasibility study of restoring the school buildings by Vittorio Garatti, with their extraordinarily beautiful Catalan vaults and domes.’

Sir David Tang said:

‘This whole project requires the support of a great cross-section of people from across the world, not only in terms of funding, but also in that spirit of making a difference to so many of those, especially of the younger generation, who would not otherwise have had the chance of clutching that straw of difference in their lives. I hope to be able to play a part in lending my full support to this project, for this is a project not only for Cuba, but for the world.’