Sergei Polunin to Guest With POB, Despite Homophobic Comments

If you follow Sergei Polunin on Instagram, you've probably noticed that lately something has been...off.

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.

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TaraMarie Perri in tree pose at Storm King Art Center. Photo by Sophie Kuller, Courtesy Perri

5 Self-Soothing Exercises You Can Do to Calm Your Anxiety

Physical stillness can be one of the hardest things to master in dance. But stillness in the bigger sense—like when your career and life are on hold—goes against every dancers' natural instincts.

"Dancers are less comfortable with stillness and change than most," says TaraMarie Perri, founder and director of Perri Institute for Mind and Body and Mind Body Dancer. "Through daily discipline, we are trained to move through space and are attracted to forward momentum. Simply put, dancers are far more comfortable when they have a sense of control over the movements and when life is 'in action.' "

To regain that sense of control, and soothe some of the anxiety most of us are feeling right now, it helps to do what we know best: Get back into our bodies. Certain movements and shapes can help ground us, calm our nervous system and bring us into the present.

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