Paris Opéra Ballet Revokes Sergei Polunin's Invitation to Guest Star

Sergei Polunin, whose recent homophobic and sexist Instagram posts have sparked international outrage, will not be appearing with the Paris Opéra Ballet as previously announced.

POB artistic director Aurélie Dupont sent an internal email to company staff and dancers on Sunday, explaining that she did not share Polunin's values and that the Russian-based dancer would not be guesting with the company during the upcoming run of Rudolf Nureyev's Swan Lake in February.


This decision comes in response to numerous complaints, including those expressed by POB dancers online and during management meetings. French ballet fans have also been eager to weigh in on the controversy. Some argue that the POB is largely financed by the French federal government and that Polunin does not reflect "French law or values."

Other balletgoers who had hoped to catch a glimpse of the international star expressed disappointment. But even Polunin's talent has been called into question by some commenters who speculate that without a home company, the dancer isn't preparing for performances well and can't be relied upon to produce the same results that first delighted audiences at The Royal Ballet.

POB has not yet named a replacement for Polunin in the role of Prince Siegfried. However, a cast of accomplished étoile dancers that will appear in the production has been announced on the company's website. For the time being, the list does not specify the role each dancer will perform.

Dupont's decision to stage Swan Lake without Polunin is yet another sign that the ballet world is changing. Numerous international companies are currently striving to create a respectful and healthy working environment for all dancers. If being uninvited by the POB is any indication, Polunin will increasingly struggle to find collaborators who are willing to accept his erratic behavior and hateful outbursts.

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André M. Zachery, Courtesy Kate Ladenheim

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