Sergei Polunin to Guest With POB, Despite Homophobic Comments
Though Polunin has long had a reputation for behaving inappropriately, in the last month his posts have been somewhat unhinged. In one, Polunin, who is Ukrainian, shows off his new tattoo of Vladimir Putin:
But his remarks about Putin ("What if Vladimir Putin would become leader of the world," "Thank you To Vladimir Putin for Keeping One World Order away from taking power over the world") are not the most disturbing of his recent posts.
A troubling tirade about gender and sexuality remains on his feed, and though it's hard to discern his point through his manic language, it is unquestionably homophobic, transphobic, misogynistic and violent:
The dance community has expressed concern for Polunin—who has in the past struggled with drug and alcohol addiction—since his Instagram took this dark turn. And it's true, something seems to be deeply wrong. But we shouldn't see Polunin's comments as just the latest antics from ballet's resident "bad boy"; they should be taken seriously.
Enter Paris Opéra Ballet: Just today, it was reported on Twitter that the company has invited Polunin to guest in their upcoming production of Swan Lake.
POB dancers have already expressed their dismay at the choice, coryphée Adrien Couvez stating on Twitter that "Our company promotes values of respect and tolerance. This man has nothing to do with us":
Are Polunin's comments not egregious enough to warrant blackballing? And did POB not consider that their dancers may not feel safe dancing with Polunin after these remarks?
Based on his history of walking out on performances (and what seems to be his current mental state), it is questionable whether Polunin will follow through with this guesting opportunity. But still, the offer shouldn't have been made in the first place.
Not only is Polunin not being ostracized for his remarks, but he has been given multiple opportunities since making them. Just last week, luxury fitness brand Equinox released a video featuring Polunin that they later removed from their Instagram page.
Why Polunin, and why now? There are countless other male dancers—who don't have unacceptable language clearly displayed on their Instagram feeds—who would excel in either of these opportunities.
It was a long time coming, but ballet's bad boy has finally become too bad for ballet. Ballet should treat him accordingly.
In the middle of one of New York City Center's cavernous studios, Misty Copeland takes a measured step backwards. The suggestion of a swan arm ripples before she turns downstage, chest and shoulders unfurling as her legs stretch into an open lunge. She piqués onto pointe, arms echoing the sinuous curve of her back attitude, then walks out of it, pausing to warily look over her shoulder. As the droning of Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto's mysterious "Attack/Transition" grows more insistent, her feet start to fly with a rapidity that seems to almost startle her.
And then she stops mid-phrase. Copeland's hands fall to her hips as she apologizes. Choreographer Kyle Abraham slides to the sound system to pause the music, giving Copeland a moment to remind herself of a recent change to the sequence.
"It's different when the sound's on!" he reassures her. "And it's a lot of changes."
The day before was the first time Abraham had seen Copeland dance the solo in its entirety, and the first moment they were in the studio together in a month. This is their last rehearsal, save for tech, before the premiere of Ash exactly one week later, as part of the opening night of City Center's Fall for Dance festival.
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
Dancers are understandably obsessed with food. In both an aesthetic and athletic profession, you know you're judged on your body shape, but you need proper fuel to perform your best. Meanwhile, you're inundated with questionable diet advice.
"My 'favorite' was the ABC diet," says registered dietitian nutritionist Kristin Koskinen, who trained in dance seriously but was convinced her body type wouldn't allow her to pursue it professionally. "On the first day you eat only foods starting with the letter A, on the second day only B, and so on."
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.