At the age of 19 Sergei Polunin became the dance world’s brightest star.
He was appointed principal dancer at the Royal Ballet.
Then two years later he stunned everyone when he abruptly walked away from the prestigous role.
At 25, at the peak of his powers, he announced he was to quit dance to become an actor.
He claimed his talent had become a burden.
The documentary ‘Dancer’ looks into the extraordinary world of ballet’s bad boy.
“I want to move on with my life to different industries. So I wanted to capture ballet, you know, and then go to the movie industry. I thought the documentary will be just capturing the memory of my dancing career, “ he said of the documentary.
“Do it big, do it right, and do it with style” F. Astaire
sergeipolunin</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/aballetoflife?src=hash">#aballetoflife</a>; <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/dance?src=hash">#dance</a>; <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ballet?src=hash">#ballet</a>; <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/motivation?src=hash">#motivation</a>; <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/style?src=hash">#style</a> <a href="https://t.co/lM7hVddGAk">pic.twitter.com/lM7hVddGAk</a></p>— Harriet Mills (aballetoflife) October 12, 2016
His career took a new twist when his performance to Hozier’s ‘Take Me to Church’ was an absolute smash: “I actually wanted to film ‘Take Me to Church’ as my last dance and to move away. To stay in Hollywood and go to acting school. But when I was there, it was very emotional. I cried for nine hours. It was a long time filming and I had to sustain my level of emotion. I became empty and I had clear time to think what I want to do next, is it OK leaving dance behind?”
The film follows Polunin as he travels between the UK, the US, Russia, and his native Ukraine and offers a different view of the dance world. It shows a lot of what happens backstage, but it is much more than dance.
His family were poor and sacrificed much to pay for his lessons, his father found work in Portugal, his grandmother left for Greece.
Polunin says he felt trapped by the routine of big ballet productions: “As an artist, you have to create. In big companies, sometimes, you are just stuck doing the same things. It is important to explore. Artists are just as important as companies, as costumes, as sets and as choreographers. That’s why I am here to talk, like I want to say: ‘Dancers don’t let yourselves be abused, stand your ground’.”
Directed by Steven Cantor, ‘Dancer’ is doing the rounds at international film festivals. It won the audience award at the Warsaw Film Festival recently.