Sergei Polunin became the Royal Ballet's youngest ever principal. Urban rebel, iconoclast and airborne angel, Sergei is transforming the shape of ballet as we know it.
Blessed with astonishing power and poise, Sergei Polunin took the dance world by storm and became the Royal ballet’s youngest ever principal. At the peak of his success, aged 25, he walked away, driven to the brink of self-destruction by stardom - his talent more a burden than a gift. Here is an unprecedented look into the life of a complex young man who has made ballet go viral. Urban rebel, iconoclast, airborne angel, Sergei is transforming the shape of ballet as we know it. But virtuosity comes with a high price. How can you be free to be yourself when you are ballet’s hottest property?
Sergei Polunin trained at the Kyiv State Choreographic School, before joining the Royal Ballet School aged 13 on a scholarship from the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation. He became a first soloist at the Royal Ballet in 2009 and was promoted to Principal in 2010, aged 19. Sergei left the Royal Ballet in 2012 to dance as a Principal for the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theatre and as Guest Soloist with Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre. At present, he performs all over the world with leading ballet companies. His Royal Ballet roles included Dances at a Gathering and Rhapsody, Solor and Bronze Idol (La Bayadère), Des Grieux (Manon), Hans-Peter/Nutcracker and the Prince (The Nutcracker), Prince Florimund (The Sleeping Beauty), Prince (Cinderella) and Lensky (Onegin). He created the role of Jack/Knave in Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and returned to the Company as a Guest Artist in 2013 to dance Armand (Marguerite and Armand) with Tamara Rojo. In 2011 he danced the Slave Master at the Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary performances at Royal Albert Hall. Roles with the Stanislavsky Ballet included Prince Siegfried (Swan Lake), Albrecht (Giselle), Frantz (Coppélia), Basil (Don Quixote), Solor and Crown Prince Rudolf (Mayerling). His other projects include two music videos directed by David La Chapelle; There Must be More to Life Than This and Hozier’s Take Me to Church (which has been viewed over 17 million times on Youtube), as well as Can I Make the Music Fly?, a short film directed by Bruce Weber for Dior. He is also the subject of a forthcoming biographical documentary, Dancer (due for UK release in 2017), directed by Steven Cantor. His awards include the Prix de Lausanne, the Sixth Lifar International Ballet Competition, Young British Dancer of the Year, the Youth America Grand Prix, Critics’ Circle Outstanding Male Performance (Classical and Rising Star) and nominations for Critics’ Circle Best Male Dancer and a Golden Mask.