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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Jason Samuels Smith, photographed by Jayme Thornton

Moving Forward by Looking Back: A Week at the L.A. Tap Festival Online

I turned to tap at the outset of the European lockdown as a meaningful escape from the anxiety of the pandemic. As a dance historian specialized in dance film, I've seen my fair share of tap on screen, but my own training remains elementary. While sheltering in place, my old hardwood floors beckoned. I wanted to dig deeper in order to better understand tap's origins and how the art form has evolved today. Not so easy to accomplish in France, especially from home.

Enter the L.A. Tap Fest's first online edition.

Alongside 100 other viewers peering out from our respective Zoom windows, I watch a performer tap out rhythms on a board in their living room. Advanced audio settings allow us to hear their feet. In the chat box, valuable resources are being shared and it's common to see questions like, "Can you post the link to that vaudeville book you mentioned?" Greetings and words of gratitude are also exchanged as participants trickle in and out from various times zones across the US and around the world.

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