Thursday, 26 January 2012
An Ukrainian Defection
The surprise announcement, which sent shockwaves through the ballet world (not least because mid-season departures are virtually unheard of), came after Polunin handed his resignation to Dame Monica Mason, the company’s director, on Tuesday afternoon.
"This has obviously come as a huge shock”, Mason said. “Sergei is a wonderful dancer and I have enjoyed watching him tremendously, both on stage and in the studio, over the past few years. I wish him every success in the future."
Certainly, there have been clues to the dancer’s unravelling in his recent Twitter feed. On one occasion, he posted a picture of himself, beer in hand, at 9.30am, while in another he jokingly asks his followers for advice on where to buy heroin – hardly the sort of behaviour one would expect from a performer of Polunin’s calibre.
However, a quick study of Polunin’s background reveals the extent to which he was pressurized into ballet, and goes a long way towards explaining his ‘shock’ resignation.
In an interview with The Guardian last year, he said, "I would have liked to behave badly, to play football. I loved sport. But all my family were working for me to succeed. My mother had moved to Kiev to be with me. There was no chance of me failing."
Given this background, his recent actions become understandable – they could easily be interpreted as an act of rebellion against the enormous constraints placed on him from a very young age. However, whatever his reasons, let’s just hope that this crisis is short-lived and Polunin finds the will to return to dancing – because if he were to hang up his ballet shoes for good, the world would be a much poorer place indeed.