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":
Such an embarrassment you are @SergeiPolunin_ Franchement @operadeparis inviter un type pareil en 2019 à Paris, c'… https://t.co/pFJmIwJWXB— Adrien Couvez (@Adrien Couvez)1547123784.0
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.