DANCER SERGEI POLUNIN SEEMS A CHARACTER CREATED BY DOSTOEVSKIJ: TREMENDOUSLY BEAUTIFUL - SO AS TO BE DEFINED BY THE TELEGRAPH "THE JAMES DEAN OF WORLD BALLET" - HE STOPPED DANCING AT A PROFESSIONAL LEVEL IN 2012, BUT HAS NEVER CEASED TO BE TALKED ABOUT.
In 2010 Sergei was appointed principal dancer of the London’s Royal Ballet: just nineteen years old, he became the youngest principal dancer in the history of the theatre. It was a success come after a life of hardship, as told by Polunin himself: “My parents were poor, my mother encouraged me to become an athlete commanding hardest workouts, and when I passed from sports to dance she wanted a school that would guarantee me a future. So from Kherson, my hometown, we moved to Kiev. We lived in a room, she divorced, the sacrifices were tremendous. I was 13 years old when, thanks to a scholarship from the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation, I entered the Royal Ballet School in London.”
Acclaimed worldwide, in April 2015 he enchanted the Scala of Milan, dancing Giselle. The combination of his regal bearing – emblem of the old Russian school – and his damned charm, has pushed his success far beyond the elitist boundaries of ballet. In 2013 Carine Roitfeld – former editor of Vogue Paris – immortalized him in her Fashion Book: with a body looking like a statue covered in tattoos – an unusual particular for a classical dancer – the performer is a work of art itself. Polunin’s tattoos include the faces of James Dean and the Joker, and an eagle with two heads. The eagle tattooed on the hand is not a random tattoo, but has a precise meaning (as also mentioned by Siberian writer Nicolai Lilin in his “Storie sulla pelle”): it is a symbol of the Russian State dating back to the 15th century, used by the tsar Peter the Great.
As a representation of power and anger against the USSR, communist regime. Besides Roitfeld, also Bruce Weber and David LaChapelle wanted to work with Polunin: the first one has directed him for Dior Homme, the second one has captured him in a clip, where Sergei is dancing to the tune of “Take Me to Church”. Moreover, in 2016 Polunin was the protagonist of the documentary “Dancer” by Steven Cantor, which was named Best Documentary at the British Independent Film Awards. The mémoire – in addition to telling the dancer’s rise – shows his personal drama, made of loneliness, cocaine and self-harm. Next March, the dancer will return to enchant the audience, when – as the protagonist of a series of performances entitled “Project Polunin” at the Wells Theatre in London – he will create a dramatic spectacle that only a rebellious and disturbed artist, moved by a real Dostoevskij’s demon, is able to create.
Text by Cinzia Maiello