Sergei Polunin Walks Out Again

November 28, 2001

The “bad boy” of ballet is at it again: Sergei Polunin seems to have walked out on rehearsals for Peter Schauffuss’s highly-anticipated London production of Midnight Express. For those who have been following the 23-year-old dancer’s career, his latest move isn’t surprising. He abandoned The Royal Ballet last January just a week before he was supposed to star in The Dream. Polunin has since worked with the Stanislavsky Ballet in Moscow and he guested with The Royal last month. But, according to The Telegraph, he’s reportedly been acting depressed lately and telling friends that he once again feels like there’s too much pressure on his shoulders. He hasn’t been seen for three days, and buddies from the tattoo parlor he owns in North London say he plans to leave the country soon.

It will be interesting to see whether Polunin will attempt to return to the stage a third time after this latest stunt. At this point, he’s obviously a risky hire for companies. (Even just when he’s talking about his dance bag, he seems ready to bail at any moment: He told Pointe last fall, “I don’t like to be weighed down by anything when I’m going places—just like I don’t like anything weighing me down onstage.”) Yet noted London dance critic Graham Watts points out in The Independent that Polunin just performed a week ago in Moscow to rave reviews, and this might be a calculated artistic choice.

The only thing that’s certain is that audiences will be sure to flock to see Polunin’s outsized talent wherever he does show up.