A gala screening of the documentary DANCER, supplemented by Sergei Polunin’s solo performance and followed by a debate with the artist.
One of the most exciting contemporary ballet dancers, Sergei Polunin has been dubbed by the critics the “James Dean of the ballet world” and the “most naturally gifted male ballet dancer of his generation”. The youngest soloist in the history of the Royal Ballet in London, he has been compared to the legendary dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov.
The Ukrainian prodigy, who has performed on the most prestigious stages worldwide, has been captured in a film made by the American director Steven Cantor and produced by Gabrielle Tana. The documentary, titled DANCER, will now be presented at the historical building of the National Theatre in Prague. It will be screened twice on 1 May 2017, at 4 pm and 8 pm.
The unique documentary DANCER portrays a truly remarkable person and a great artist alike. Endowed with astonishing strength and balance, Sergei Polunin took the world of dance by storm. At the peak of his glory, at the age of 21, he abandoned his rocketing career. On the verge of self-destruction, walking the tightrope of his talent, which at a certain point proved to be more of a burden than a gift.
Within the programme at the National Theatre, Sergei Polunin will perform in person – you can particularly look forward to seeing him dance the popular solo choreography Take Me to Church. In a debate following the performance, Polunin will talk about the film, about his life and career, as well as, most significantly, the Foundation he established upon realising that dance was his life mission and a great gift that can serve for good. The PROJECT POLUNIN aims to support professional dancers, with its objective being to create space for free creation, also providing legal and agency services, thus making it possible for young dancers to enhance their talent.
“I’m very glad that we have succeeded in getting the unique documentary, bearing the simple title DANCER, to the National Theatre, as we have, even more importantly, its protagonist in person. I consider Sergei Polunin a true phenomenon when it comes to his professional skills, as well as his considerable inner imbalance and turbulent life. Sergei himself and the film too bear witness to the fact that every coin has two sides and nothing in life is for free.”
(Petr Zuska, artistic director of the Czech National Ballet)
The debate at the National Theatre will be guided by Milosh Harajda, the producer of the Czech premiere screening of the film Dancer, who has for years closely collaborated with Polunin. He has also co-operated with the photographer David LaChapelle, who has made the title photograph for the movie. In 2011, Harajda presented LaChapelle’s works at the Gallery of the City of Bratislava and within a grand retrospective exhibition at the Rudolfinum in Prague. Over the long term, Harajda has worked with the renowned American photographer as a PR agent and creative consultant, and has been in charge of exhibition projects in Chile (Museo de Arte Contemporaneo), Peru (MAC Lima), Montevideo, Rome (Palazzo delle Esposizioni), Paris (Paris Foto) and Vienna (Galerie Östliche).
“Following a private pre-view in London, to which I was invited by the film producer Gabrielle Tana, I realised that Sergei’s story must also be seen by the audiences in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. While the public in London and New York City certainly appreciate the documentary’s artistic value, with regard to our history and geographic position, Dancer will touch the people here in a totally different way. I was lucky to have witnessed the onset of the journey of Sergei Polunin and David LaChapelle, and it was fascinating to observe how a single encounter at the Claridge’s hotel has led to a global sensation,” says Milosh Harajda.
SERGEI POLUNIN’S STORY
Sergei Vladimirovich Polunin was born on 20 November 1989 in Kherson, Ukraine. From the age of 4 to 8, he attended the local gymnastics academy and subsequently spent another four years at the Kyiv State Choreographic Institute. His mother moved with him to Kyiv while his father worked in Portugal to support them, and his grandmother left for Greece. When Sergei was 15, his parents divorced, which made a deep impact on him and even resulted in the loss of motivation to dance. He began drinking, skipped, had himself tattooed, took cocaine and even performed under the influence of drugs. The “bad boy of ballet” did not hide his addiction.
In 2009, he joined the Royal Ballet in London, and in 2010, at the age of 13, he became the company’s youngest principal dancer ever. After two successful years, in 2012, Polunin announced his resignation with immediate effect. In the summer of that year, he was invited to Russia by Igor Zelensky and was named a principal dancer with the Stanislavsky Music Theatre and the Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre.
Throughout his illustrious career, Polunin received a number of prestigious accolades, including the Prix de Lausanne and Youth America Grand Prix 2006, and in 2007 he was named Young British Dancer of the Year.
At the end of April 2013, it was reported that Polunin had walked out of the Schaufuss Ballet's rehearsal of Midnight Express just days before its opening night. He had announced his resolution to finish with dancing for good.
Nonetheless, in 2014, Polunin met the famed American photographer and music director David LaChapelle, and agreed to take part in his projects, including the dance video Take Me to Church, which soon after its release went viral and was watched by 17 million people. Virtually overnight, Polunin turned into a global celebrity.