Ukrainian-born Sergei Polunin was once one of the most dazzlingly talented ballet dancers in the world. Aged 20, he became the Royal Ballet's youngest ever principal dancer; but since his tempestuous walkout mid-season and mid-rehearsal in 2012, he has spent quite a lot of time working hard to justify the cliched soubriquet of 'the bad boy of ballet.'
Hard drugs, a profusion of tattoos, bombastic and controversial statements on social media, including a spot of homophobia, and a very public admiration for Russia's strongman president Vladimir Putin, a life-size tattoo of whose face adorned the dancer's chest, guaranteed continued publicity – sadly more for the stunts than for his dancing, which inevitably suffered.
Now, at 31 years old, having become a husband and father, Polunin appears to have mellowed and his social media posts are now given to gnomic statements about peace and love, as well as promoting his various appearances as an international freelance dancer.
All this is well known, as is his oft-repeated early life story of a poor childhood in the Russian-speaking part of Ukraine, and the sacrifices made by his parents to promote his dancing career (he claims not to have wanted one), eventually leading to divorce, which, he says, had a deep impact on his young psyche.
Presumably, the talk part of An Evening with Sergei Polunin, a one-off event at the Palladium Theatre, will revisit those days, his brief time at the Royal Ballet and his attempts since to forge a career as a Hollywood actor (unsuccessful so far, bar a couple of bit parts in a few, mostly forgettable movies), his collaboration with David LaChapelle in the prodigiously popular video of Take Me To Church, his dabbling with fashion, and his plans for the future.
Polunin will also dance. He will perform two solos, Ravel's Bolero, choreographed by Royal Ballet-trained former dancer and choreographer Ross Freddie Ray; and Paradiso from the three-part Dante Metanoia dedicated to Dante’s 700 anniversary, which premiered at the Ravenna Festival in September. Choreography is by the Czech Jiří Bubeníček.
The event marks the launch of his new photo autobiographical book, Free: A Life in Images and Words.
|What||An Evening with Sergei Polunin, Palladium|
|Where||London Palladium, Argyll Street, London, W1F 7TF | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Oxford Circus (underground)|
On 15 Oct 21, 19:30. Dur.: TBC
|Website||Click here to book|