Friday, 3 March 2017

Sergei Polunin

There is a difference between appreciation of excellence and the cult of celebrity. The former is to be encouraged but not the latter.  The distinction between the two is not always clear. Sometimes the former leads to the latter. Rarely, if ever, does it work the other way round.

I have seen Sergei Polunin only once since I started this blog. That was at the gala for the Yorkshire Ballet Summer School on 29 Sept 2013 (see  More Things I do for my Art - Autumn Gala of Dance and Song 30 Sept 2013). Polunin had jetted in from Moscow earlier in the day to perform a solo at the gala and had a taxi was waiting in Rosebury Avenue to whisk him back to Heathrow for his return flight. I didn't write anything about his performance at the time.  I remember a lot of jumps and turns and the loud applause at the end.

The reason I have not seen Polunin since that gala is that he has not been very visible on this country.   In Dancer which I saw yesterday at the Huddersfield Odeon, there were shots of his winning a TV competition in Moscow in 2012 called Bolshoi Ballet though I think "bolshoi" (which I understand to mean "big" in Russian) was used in its descriptive sense rather than to suggest a connection with the famous Moscow ballet company and of his performing with the Stanislavsky Ballet in Moscow, at the Novosibirsk Opera House and in Hawaii where he made the video "Take Me to Church" by Hozier, which was directed by David LaChapelle.

I enjoyed Dancer and I warmed towards him in a question and answer session which followed the screening of the film and a live performance by Polunin of Take me to Church on the stage of the London Palladium. I particularly liked two of his answers - one which revealed a sense of internationalism and a hate of visas and the other a hint that his relationship with the Royal Ballet was improving and that we might one day see him in Covent Garden again.

I had a question for the question and answer session but it was not picked up by the interviewer:
The reason I asked that question was that the film opened with shots of Polunin's birthplace in Ukraine. The landscape reminded me of the countryside around Newark on Trent. He had trained locally and was then whisked off to White Lodge at age 13. The move to London would have been startling enough for a kid from the East Midlands. How much more traumatic for a child who had to master a new language and to accustom himself to quite different social norms.

It is true that Russia is not Ukraine but it is Slavonic and Russia is the country where he has spent much of his time since leaving the Royal Ballet. Maybe his career would have been smoother, possibly we would have seen more of him in the world's opera houses and, most importantly, perhaps this extraordinarily gifted artist would have been happier, and he trained and made his career in Moscow or St Petersburg.

While at the Royal Ballet School Polunin made friends with Jade Hale-Christofi. He had partnered Sarah Kundi in Dépouillage which I described in Sarah Kundi and Jade Hale-Christophi dancing in the same Ballet again 18 July 2014 as "to my mind one of the most beautiful clips on the internet." Christofi, who had worked with Polunin on Take me to Church, was a major contributor to Dancer.  It was good to hear him speak.

Finally. the current London Ballet Circle newsletter notes that the film will be launched on DVD on 24 April 2017 and contains some very interesting information and links about the making of the film and Polunin generally.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful review! Than you. Could you please share more of what he said about his future in dance? We are interested in his dance projects. Me personally I am not pro-movies idea he had in mind, so I hope he will stick to dance and leave movies to others who are not the greatest ballet dancers in the world...