A Ukrainian he may be, but Sergei Polunin is a great fan of Russia’s strongman President Vladimir Putin, so much so that he has added a tattoo of Putin’s face to the growing collection of ink that adorns his body.
The mercurial Ukrainian followed that with a series of barely coherent late night social media rants. A highly homophobic one, opening with the injunction ‘men of ballet, man up!’ led a shocked Paris Opera Ballet to withdraw an invitation for Polunin to star in its production of Swan Lake.
The next rant targeted fat people suggesting they should be slapped. Finally (that we’re aware of) Polunin pronounced ballet ‘boring’ and wondered how he had ended up involved with it.
It’s hard to decide, therefore, whether to continue to describe him as a ballet dancer – and a prodigiously gifted one at that – and to assess what his latest pronouncements might mean for his forthcoming show at the London Palladium.
Sergei Polunin has made no secret of his wish to pursue a lucrative career in Hollywood, though small appearances in three feature films so far (including Ralph Fiennes' forthcoming Nureyev biopic) don’t appear to have set the powers that be in LA on fire.
So, over the past year Polunin has built on the success of his video dancing to Hozier’s Take Me to Church (25 million Youtube views) with Tempo, a video collaboration with fashion photographer and director Rankin to music by Husky Loops.
Regardless of Polunin's Hollywood ambitions and his scorn for ballet, the details which are beginning to emerge about the composition of his London Palladium show indicate that it will be ballet-based.
There will be two different programmes: one taken entirely by a new work on Rasputin, the mad monk who dominated the family of Russia's last tsar, Nicholas II. The work has choreography by Hamburg Ballet-trained Yuka Oishi on a score by Russia's contemporary composer Kirill Richter. Polunin himself will dance the central role; other participants are still to be named.
The other programme for this Palladium residency is a triple bill. Yuka Oishi returns with two works, Paradox, on a score mixing Stravinsky and Chopin, and Sacré, described as a piece of tanztheater based on Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring.
The third work in the programme is Fraudulent Smile by the English dancer and choreographer Ross Freddie Ray set to music by KROKE. It will star Sergei Polunin and Johan Kobborg. The Dane Johan Kobborg was a Royal Ballet Principal until his retirement from full-time dancing, and has since directed a number of ballet companies, including the National Opera Ballet of Romania, where Ray was one of his dancers.
Tickets are on sale, with the top priced seats at £409.50 entitling the holder to a meet and greet with Polunin himself.
|What||Sergei Polunin, London Palladium Preview|
|Where||London Palladium, Argyll Street, London, W1F 7TF | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Oxford Circus (underground)|
28 May 19 – 01 Jun 19, 19:30 Sat mat 14:30 Dur.: 90 mins inc one interval
|Website||Click here to book|