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Sergei Polunin: The Fragile Balance, a Film by Jem Goulding….

September 22, 2013
Sergei Polunin's first rehearsal in Siberia. Picture: Viktor Dmitriyev, Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre

Sergei Polunin’s first rehearsal in Siberia. Picture: Viktor Dmitriyev, Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre

Leaving Ukraine at the tender age of 13 to join London’s Royal Ballet School, Sergei Polunin became the youngest-ever principal dancer in the history of the Royal Ballet at 19, earning him comparisons to 20th century greats Mikhail Baryshnikov and Rudolf Nureyev.

In this touching portrait by artist and director Jem Goulding, Polunin reflects on early triumphs, autonomy and “playing with journalists” while performing at Moscow’s Stanislavsky Theatre. Known for his visceral, adrenaline-charged technique and emotive style, the dance prodigy is making a return to ballet since his controversial departure from London’s Royal supertroupe last year.

Goulding assembled footage from a week spent with Polunin on and off the stage in Moscow, where he is currently under the mentorship of Igor Zelensky, the artistic director of the Stanislavsky Ballet. “Sergei was in the middle of an intense rehearsal schedule for his tour of Coppelia, and I sat in on rehearsals every day,” explains the filmmaker, “though I always planned to catch him outside of ballet; sometimes we would be at a restaurant, other times he was fresh out of the shower after training, and tired.”

Shooting on Super 8 and her 16mm Bolex camera, Goulding depicts a seldom seen side of Polunin: From candid moments in Red Square to a spontaneous tour of the Bolshoi. “Sergei is an adrenaline junkie, a thrill-seeker and fearless in many ways,” she adds, “even if some of it comes from youthful naivety, it’s still compelling.”

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From → Ballet, Video

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