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.

Latest Posts


Clockwise from top left: Photo by Loreto Jamlig, Courtesy Ladies of Hip-Hop; Wikimedia Commons; Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet; Natasha Razina, Courtesy State Academic Mariinsky Theatre; Photo by Will Mayer for Better Half Productions, Courtesy ABT

The 10 Biggest Dance Stories of 2019

What were the dance moments that defined 2019? The stories that kept us talking, week after week? According to our top-clicked articles of the year, they ranged from explorations of dance medicine and dance history, takedowns of Lara Spencer and companies who still charge dancers to audition, and, of course, our list of expert tips on how to succeed in dance today.

We compiled our 10 biggest hits of the year, and broke down why we think they struck a chord:

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS
Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Nichols

I Am a Black Dancer Who Was Dressed Up in Blackface to Perform in La Bayadère

On Instagram this week, Misty Copeland reposted a picture of two Russian ballerinas covered head to toe in black, exposing the Bolshoi's practice of using blackface in the classical ballet La Bayadère. The post has already received over 60,000 likes and 2,000 comments, starting a long overdue conversation.

Comments have been pouring in from every angle imaginable: from history lessons on black face, to people outside of the ballet world expressing disbelief that this happens in 2019, to castigations of Copeland for exposing these young girls to the line of fire for what is ultimately the Bolshoi's costuming choice, to the accusations that the girls—no matter their cultural competence—should have known better.

I am a black dancer, and in 2003, when I was 11 years old, I was dressed up in blackface to perform in the Mariinsky Ballet's production of La Bayadère.

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS

Here's the First Trailer for the "In the Heights" Movie

Lights up on Washington Heights—because the trailer for the movie adaptation of the hit Broadway musical In the Heights has arrived. It's our first look into Lin-Manuel Miranda's latest venture into film—because LMM isn't stopping at three Tony awards, a Grammy award, and an Emmy.

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS
contest
Enter Our Video Contest