Jane Simpson

Sergei Polunin has resigned from the Royal Ballet

53 posts in this topic

I read it much the same way as aurora. He doesn't find the work interesting, nor rehearsing, nor partnering most women. (With Rojo, he finds an exception.) I don't read anything about the Royal Ballet in particular in what he says, unless they have an attendance requirement for company class.

His story isn't very different than many figure skaters, whose family made sacrifices for their training, and they continue to the highest ranks without loving it.

From an audience member's point of view, it's a shame he feels this way, but it's really up to him to decide what he wants to do when he wakes up in the morning, and, not surprisingly, crying isn't high on his list.

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I don't read anything about the Royal Ballet in particular in what he says, unless they have an attendance requirement for company class.

An implication about a threat related to his visa arose in an article.

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His story isn't very different than many figure skaters, whose family made sacrifices for their training, and they continue to the highest ranks without loving it.

Articles have not discussed his family's sacrifice, but rather, his family's demand that he make sacrifices to support them.

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I don't read anything about the Royal Ballet in particular in what he says, unless they have an attendance requirement for company class.

An implication about a threat related to his visa arose in an article.

According to articles published in Links, his original visa was specific to working for the Royal Ballet, just like H-1 visas in the US are sponsored by a company for a specific person for a specific job. Once he no longer worked for the Royal Ballet, his original visa was no longer valid, and since he resigned from the Royal Ballet, and they didn't cut him, they had nothing to do with his visa no longer being valid.

Sadler's Wells was responsible for helping him get his latest visa, which is a general work visa and doesn't tie him to a job or organization.

His story isn't very different than many figure skaters, whose family made sacrifices for their training, and they continue to the highest ranks without loving it.

Articles have not discussed his family's sacrifice, but rather, his family's demand that he make sacrifices to support them.

His family was separated, with his father working in England, to support his early training. Separating the family is usually considered a sacrifice.

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I was interested in the following:

Performing is the only time he really enjoys dancing, he says. Rehearsing is "very hard physical work and it can sometimes be very boring as well, learning stuff. You stop rehearsing at 8pm, by the time you come home it's 10 and then it's like: 'OK, I want to have at least six hours of normal life, just watching TV,' and the next morning it's just harder to wake up."

He says he wishes ballet companies would do a month of rehearsal and then 30 performances of the same show, "so you're just enjoying being on stage – not rehearse for a month then have one show, rehearse for another month and change the show. What's the point?"

"So you would repeat a show 30 times?" asks a baffled Putrov.

"I would not mind," says Polunin. "I would not mind just waking up, knowing I have seven hours before a show, doing [a dance] I already know, and then doing my own thing.

There aren't as many jobs like that for ballet dancers as there once were. Matthew Bourne's work for the West End comes to mind. Or Twyla Tharp's, for Broadway (not ballet but employing many ballet dancers).

I wonder whether some dancers in conventional companies might actually feel the same way. The fantasy of having time for a "normal life" must be seductive from time to time.

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My takeaway from the articles was this: How much was being a dancer ever his dream? The Guardian article states (accurately or not, I cannot say) that Polunin, "was pushed into dance by his parents in the hope that it would bring the family a better life."

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there is a long line of shooting star athletes who felt pushed into their sports - tennis, golf, football, ice skating, etc. Not surprised there are a few in Ballet too.

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My takeaway from the articles was this: How much was being a dancer ever his dream? The Guardian article states (accurately or not, I cannot say) that Polunin, "was pushed into dance by his parents in the hope that it would bring the family a better life."

I got the impression that he is a young man with very limited exposure to the world, and very limited education about the arts or other options open to him. The part about his attempts to self-tattoo were troubling as well. There's much more to this than we can really see.

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I can sort of understand the desire to perform - just perform - and not have to continually be working on something new and re-rehearsing things as one person or the other gets injured, etc.

It is a bit of exhaustion - mental, really - and the need to go "on autopilot" for a bit, perhaps. (thinking back to how I felt....)

Especially if one has spent much of one's life-up-until-now doing almost exclusively ballet, then at some point some of the dancers may start to think about what it is they could have "missed", and possibly want to make up for that.

Of course, I do not know this young man, so I cannot really speculate with any authority, except my own memories as a dancer and talking to those (my DD) who is now doing that.

This is very personal, and not everyone feels this way, of course.

-d-

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The fantasy of having time for a "normal life" must be seductive from time to time.

Especially when you have existed in such a hothouse atmosphere from a very early age. And while the Royal Ballet understandably wanted to make the most of such a box office attraction and also give him as many chances as possible, he had a pretty heavy workload for some one who has only been a member of the company for a comparatively short time.

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The fantasy of having time for a "normal life" must be seductive from time to time.

Especially when you have existed in such a hothouse atomsphere from a very early age. And while the Royal Ballet understandably wanted to make the most of such a box office attraction and also give him as many chances as possible, he had a pretty heavy workload for some one who has only been a member of the company for a comparatively short time.

You are absolutely right and what I would consider his pairing with female dancers of lesser technical abilities in certain major roles, has been a source of frustration to me and possibly was also for Mr Polunin.

When you consider that currently the most outstanding female dancers of the Royal Ballet l received either all their training or formative training in schools with a superior method to the Royal Ballet school, it seems no wonder therefore, that he mentions Tamara Rojo as a favourite partner.

Currently the Royal ballet is pushing Lauren Cuthbertson in ballerina roles whom Polunin has partnered and who in my opinion, is of a senior soloist level and not what I would personally call a star.

I feel that Polunin has had to dance with dancers who were overparted in principal roles, which for some one with his talent and passion, I am now considering that this may have been one of the reasons why he felt he had to leave the company..

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I feel that Polunin has had to dance with dancers who were overparted in principal roles, which for some one with his talent and passion, I am now considering that this may have been one of the reasons why he felt he had to leave the company..

Is that fair though? Polunin, for all his praises and gifts, was a very, very new principal. Has he earned the right to dictate his partners? IMO, no. Perhaps some of the more seasoned female principals at the RB didn't want to dance with him because he doesn't like rehearsing very much and only enjoys male solos? Getting a say in what and with whom you dance is a privilege you earn in a ballet company (and is a luxury of large ballet companies who can afford for their dancers to be picky). I agree that Cuthbertson is perhaps not all the RB is touting her to be (though I can only make this conjecture via video), but that she is a team player is apparent and sometimes being a team player is more important to the daily workings of a ballet company when it comes to scheduling and opportunity.

IMO, it's completely self-centered to act as though the only people who can bring something to you and to the ballet overall and who are worthwhile to dance with are those who are the most brilliant (technically, dramatically, etc).

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I've seen Cuthbertson dance, and if there's disappointment with her in London, please send her here.

I wouldn't call Polunin an experienced partner. Rehearsals are where dancers figure out partnering issues.

It's very possible that Cuthbertson and Polunin are not a match as a partnership. I'm not sure the Royal Ballet is particularly sensitive to partnerships, after seeing the Ansanelli and Makhateli one, which Mason and Co. thought was a good idea for some reason.

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I feel that Polunin has had to dance with dancers who were overparted in principal roles, which for some one with his talent and passion, I am now considering that this may have been one of the reasons why he felt he had to leave the company..

Is that fair though? Polunin, for all his praises and gifts, was a very, very new principal. Has he earned the right to dictate his partners? IMO, no. Perhaps some of the more seasoned female principals at the RB didn't want to dance with him because he doesn't like rehearsing very much and only enjoys male solos? Getting a say in what and with whom you dance is a privilege you earn in a ballet company (and is a luxury of large ballet companies who can afford for their dancers to be picky). I agree that Cuthbertson is perhaps not all the RB is touting her to be (though I can only make this conjecture via video), but that she is a team player is apparent and sometimes being a team player is more important to the daily workings of a ballet company when it comes to scheduling and opportunity.

IMO, it's completely self-centered to act as though the only people who can bring something to you and to the ballet overall and who are worthwhile to dance with are those who are the most brilliant (technically, dramatically, etc).

Did he say anything critical about quality of dancer? Maybe they were just not getting along for other reasons. I fail to see how this is sexist, either, as I am reading in various places on the internet.

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I don't read anything about the Royal Ballet in particular in what he says, unless they have an attendance requirement for company class.

An implication about a threat related to his visa arose in an article.

According to articles published in Links, his original visa was specific to working for the Royal Ballet, just like H-1 visas in the US are sponsored by a company for a specific person for a specific job. Once he no longer worked for the Royal Ballet, his original visa was no longer valid, and since he resigned from the Royal Ballet, and they didn't cut him, they had nothing to do with his visa no longer being valid.

Sadler's Wells was responsible for helping him get his latest visa, which is a general work visa and doesn't tie him to a job or organization.

His story isn't very different than many figure skaters, whose family made sacrifices for their training, and they continue to the highest ranks without loving it.

Articles have not discussed his family's sacrifice, but rather, his family's demand that he make sacrifices to support them.

His family was separated, with his father working in England, to support his early training. Separating the family is usually considered a sacrifice.

As miliosr quotes: "Polunin, 'was pushed into dance by his parents in the hope that it would bring the family a better life.'" I don't recall whether the article discussed the father moving to work due to his dance requirements or for the family's financial situation generally, and I did not mean to discount his family's sacrifices. I was focused on various articles I have read, which have always discussed the obligations of Polunin and the sacrifices asked of him.

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Did he say anything critical about quality of dancer? Maybe they were just not getting along for other reasons. I fail to see how this is sexist, either, as I am reading in various places on the internet.

A particular dancer? no, not in those two interviews. He simply said he didn't like female dancing, didn't find it interesting, didnt want to watch it or think he should have to listen to his partners because of this. (I'm paraphrasing, I read these when they first were posted, but that was definitely the jist)

Take that as sexist if you like, or not. If I was a female dancer it wouldn't endear him to me. It might in fact go a long way towards "not getting along."

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Does anyone have a guess as to what they think about about him still performing in the YAGP Gala (if this has been asked already, forgive me)

(Maybe I should have posted this under the Gala category?)

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I'm rather hoping the gap in the RB ranks will be filled by the excellent Brian Maloney, he is certainly good enough.

Brian Maloney was given a big break to showcase his talent in La Fille Mal Gardee partnering Choe. Unfortunately, he was not good enough for the role of Colas.

I am really thinking of Royal Ballet getting another import to fill in an item in the principal slot. I'm hoping for a Russian coming from Bolshoi or Mariinsky. Personally I wanted Shklyarov. haha.

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I'm glad he's going to continue to share his talent

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it's marvelous, but he will still have to rehearse and keep to a schedule at least some of the time!! good luck to him though, maybe he will like it better there. talented kid.

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My favorite ballerina ever, a ballerina who inspired me with more passion for ballet than any other, was--or I might rather say is--Gelsey Kirkland; so, as one can imagine, I'm not at all inclined to hold a dancer's demons 'against' him (or her). And Polunin evidently has them. I also mostly agree with Leonid's suggestion, made in another thread about Polunin, that companies should be extra flexible in dealing with the extra talented. But I have to admit that, after reading Kavanaugh's piece, I continue to be a bit skeptical that there was any (realistic) way to keep him at the Royal -- whatever mistakes Mason made and whatever her faults may or may not have been as an artistic director.

I couldn't help noticing too that the 'straw that broke the camel's back' at the Royal was a rehearsal with Cojocaru...The article implies Cojocaru is not herself easy to work--by all accounts neither is Polunin and...uh...neither was Kirkland--but the episode does suggest that even pairing Polunin with the best of the best ballerinas did not solve his problems with partnerships at the Royal. (This last issue was raised earlier in the discussion concerning the complex of motives that may have caused him to leave the company.)

The article indicates a potential happy ending at the Stanislavsky where Zelensky seems to be both a mentor and a rather clever boss (setting up a contract in which particular plums Polunin wants depend on his behaving a certain way). Though Kavanaugh is decidedly skeptical re the potential partnership with Shapran.

Still, I write entirely as an outsider to any real experience of Polunin's talent. And I am rather curious what Royal Ballet watchers and admirers of Polunin thought about the Kavanaugh article ...

Edited to add that Kavanaugh represents Polunin as saying that certain things he said at the time of his departure from the Royal were deliberate mystifications, which also makes it all the more difficult to evaluate anything he says about himself in this interview or anywhere else.

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What a complex character he is, rumours about him were doing the rounds in London ballet circles before he left and it seems those rumours, specifically about being in it for the money, were true. He was of course growing up in the Ukraine at a very difficult time and hardship in the formative years proves a great spur in later life. Nureyev suffered dreadful privations as a child in the war years and finished up a multi millionaire, but Nureyev was performing at a time when there was far more money in the arts than there is today. There seems to be an element of self destructiveness in Polunin's personality and that should be a cause for concern, there is also a significant degree of immaturity and he comes across as a young man with a lot of growing up to do.

I was cheered by the reference that he has a good relationship with Kevin O'Hare and hope that he can eventually get back to the RB even if infrequently, as his loss has been a severe blow to the company: it has few glittering gems these days and to lose one of those few was a catastrophe.

Slightly off topic, but a dance writer unaware of Zelensky's physical appearance rather worried me, shouldn't someone writing about the art of ballet be familiar with all the art's most famous performers?

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I couldn't help noticing too that the 'straw that broke the camel's back' at the Royal was a rehearsal with Cojocaru...The article implies Cojocaru is not herself easy to work--by all accounts neither is Polunin and...uh...neither was Kirkland--but the episode does suggest that even pairing Polunin with the best of the best ballerinas did not solve his problems with partnerships at the Royal.

That tidbit in the story about working with Cojocaru in The Dream explains why Marcelo Gomes was brought in as a substitute. It seemed odd to me at the time to bring him in for just one performance. Gomes has a reputation as being a great partner, including as a last-minute substitute, and he knew the role from his performances with ABT. It's interesting that Royal Ballet did not have any male substitutes on their own roster:

http://www.roh.org.uk/news/marcelo-gomes-to-dance-role-of-oberon-in-the-dream-on-9-february

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