film star Archives | Sergei Polunin

Tag: film star

Sergei Helps Make A Ballerina 2018

Sergei Helps Make A Ballerina 2018

Need To Turn A Hollywood Star Into a Ballerina? Call Kurt Froman

By Jennifer Stahl for Dance Magazine February 2018

Kurt Froman with Jennifer Lawrence, whom he coached for the upcoming film Red Sparrow
 How does someone go from a New York City Ballet corps member to training Hollywood A-listers like Natalie Portman, Rooney Mara and Jennifer Lawrence? By getting injured, says Kurt Froman.

When an ankle sprain left him sidelined a few years back, Froman was “sitting at home, depressed” when he sent his friend Benjamin Millepied an email asking what he was up to. It turned out that Millepied just been hired to choreograph some scenes for a movie, but had to be in Paris during pre-production. “He needed someone to teach two actors choreography and get them in shape,” says Froman. With nothing else on his plate, he said yes, and started prepping Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis for Black Swan.

Since then, one gig has led to another. Froman helped Rooney Mara get more comfortable in her body for some dance-y scenes in Terrence Malick’s Song to Song. Amazon hired him to train Christina Ricci to perform a short solo on pointe for its TV series “Z: The Beginning of Everything.”

His latest highprofile gig was training Jennifer Lawrence for the big-budget spy thriller Red Sparrow, in theaters March 2. He talked to Dance Magazine about what it takes to speed-learn ballet, how much these kinds of gigs pay and what he has to say to all the ballet-in-Hollywood haters.

Froman Had To Create A Believable Bolshoi Principal

With no prior dance training, Lawrence had to pass for a Bolshoi principal during a six-minute sequence Justin Peck was choreographing for the beginning of Red Sparrow. Although Isabella Boylston would be her dance double, Lawrence needed to be able to hit the right marks at the right time, with believable épaulement and port de bras for the visual effects to work.

“Jen had to know all six minutes of choreography, the rises and falls of the body, how to hold her arms correctly, how to be lifted by her partner [Sergei Polunin], how to do finger turns and spot her head,” Froman says. To make sure she hit the right steps at the right time, they filmed her under tempo at about 75 percent of the actual speed. But she impressed everyone involved by memorizing the full sequence.

Froman Teaches More Than Just Ballet Class

Froman and Lawrence worked together for three and a half months, four hours a day, five days a week. Before diving into Peck’s lightning-fast choreography, they’d start with 45 minutes at the barre each morning to help Lawrence learn the rules of ballet. “Also, for the character, it was helpful for her to have the discipline and get used to someone touching her and correcting her like ballet masters would,” says Froman. They worked with rotation disks to help her understand turnout, and did strength training to develop a ballet dancer’s deltoid muscles. (Lawrence also had a separate Pilates and fitness teacher.)

He Breaks Down All the Little Details

Training a Hollywood actor isn’t just about teaching them steps. Froman also has to break down things like the philosophy of ballet—why a certain angle is considered more beautiful than another—and how dancers hold and care for their bodies.

Froman showed Lawrence archival films of iconic Balanchine ballerinas like Merrill Ashley, Maria Tallchief and Melissa Hayden performing Firebird to explain the difference between this bird and Odette/Odile.

“The director, Francis Lawrence, also had me talk to her about things like how would a dancer sit—if she were sitting on a bed, would she be rubbing her feet, or doing a hamstring stretch? How would she walk down the street? Things that had to be carried throughout the film.”

The Paycheck Is Surprisingly…Ordinary

Froman says the pay for these projects varies based on who’s hiring him and what the budget is. But he hasn’t exactly hit the Hollywood jackpot. For Black Swan, he agreed to a flat fee that didn’t amount to much once he put in all the hours. Now he charges an hourly fee. “It’s adequate compensation,” he says, “but no more than what a personal trainer would get.”

Froman on the set of Black Swan. Photo via Vimeo

He’s Tapping An Undiscovered Market

Froman has realized that, beyond just training in ballet, there are many actors who simply want to be more comfortable in their bodies. “If they know there’s a dance scene, they want to feel capable and confident, they want to have options for what they can do in the moment.”

Froman Loves Helping Bring Ballet To The Masses

Although Hollywood sometimes gets flak from the dance world for misrepresenting the art form, Froman relishes the opportunity to reach a broad audience. “When I started dancing in Texas in the 80s, there wasn’t anything out there that I had as an example of what I wanted to do, except The Turning Point, which I would watch every day,” he says. “I’ve loved having a hand in this process, and feel lucky to pass on my art form.”

 

Sergei Eyes Cinema, Magazine Article Sept 2017

Sergei Eyes Cinema, Magazine Article Sept 2017

THE BALLET PRODIGY SETTING HIS SIGHTS ON CINEMA

 

TEXT – Jessica Hundley
PHOTOGRAPHY – Collier Schorr
STYLING – Alister Mackie

 

Sergei Polunin had soared to the scorching heavens of ballet. But, tormented by its suffocating strictures, he walked away from the world of dance aged just 24. Now the fiery performer is ready to rise again

 

Sergei Polunin seems like a creature from another time, an era of fairytale, when the thin silk that separates myth from reality was at its most fragile. It’s as if he has stepped directly through the veil, from a place where darkness is lit by flames and hooves echo across cobblestone.

He seems completely out of place, here, in Los Angeles, in midsummer 2017. He moves like a pale ghost through the sunburnt crowds hunched over their phones along Hollywood Boulevard. Tightly muscled, tall but still delicate somehow, he exudes a romantic, Byronic kind of elegance. He’s beautiful, but in the way of silent movie leading men – Valentino, Keaton – a face of angles and extremes.

 

It is only when he finally sits down in a red leather booth in the city’s oldest restaurant (Musso and Frank, circa 1919) that he seems to have arrived in the kind of present that suits him. A tuxedoed waiter takes his order; the wood table glows with polish, there are fine linens, real silver. Polunin smiles, looks around and nods approvingly. Then he takes a breath and, in softly accented English, begins to tell his story.

“It started with Take Me to Church,” he says quietly, “suddenly, people’s whole approach, their whole behaviour changed. I realised that maybe… that I can possibly change something. That I shouldn’t be a weak person who quits. And I realised that something might be done that – if I quit – is not going to be done. So that’s how it all began.”

For those who don’t know who Polunin is, there’s a simple introduction. Go to YouTube, type in his name and step back in wonder. At last tally, there were 20,860,577 views of a video, directed by photographer David Chapelle and backed by Hozier: Take Me to Church captures Polunin’s last dance, his farewell (at age 24) to ballet, an art he’d studied since the age of four, an art to which (as he tells it) he had sacrificed both his childhood and his family. In the video, Polunin takes traditional ballet and turns it into catharsis. He seems to hover in the air, to float, to fly. His body is lean, nearly naked, covered in tattoos. His face shows a mix of emotion: vulnerability, frustration and, finally, elation. It’s intoxicating to watch.

“It started with Take Me To Church… Suddenly people’s whole approach, Their whole behavior changed.” – Sergei Polunin

In the 2016 documentary Dancer, Polunin’s story is chronicled in all its mythic rise-and-fall glory. It goes something like this: born in relative poverty in the Ukraine, he was crowned a ballet prodigy soon after he took his first steps. His mother, father and grandmother did everything in their power to put him in the best schools, offer him the best possibilities. This meant separation, his parents’ eventual divorce, Polunin on his own in London as a pre-teen onward. The long time top student at the prestigious Royal Ballet Academy, at age 19 was selected as the youngest principal dancer ever of the Royal Ballet. He was feted and celebrated, critiqued and acclaimed. His rebellions were tabloid fodder. His victories were breathtaking. To watch Polunin dance is to be awed. But it was all too much, a fast build to a dramatic end.

On 24th January 2012, just two years after joining the company, Polunin announced his resignation, claiming loudly that, “the artist in me was dying”. There was a sojourn to Russia, a series of demeaning TV competitions, and eventual tutelage under renowned artistic director Igor Zelensky. There was success and there was turmoil. Finally in 2014, Polunin decided to call it officially quits. He met up with Chapelle in a sundrenched Hawaiian church to film Take Me to Church and to take what was to be his final bow.

Except it wasn’t.

ballet prodigy setting sights

“Take Me to Church gave me the opportunity to experience collaboration,” Polunin explains. “I was like, ‘Oh, that’s what it is. That’s how it should feel.’ And suddenly, I wanted everybody to experience that. I wanted to create movies about dance, and create more pieces like that because I realised that it’s very, very important to crossover, to share ballet with everyone.”

Instead of ending his career, the video ignited it. Polunin found a whole new audience, the vast world watching from their computer screens. The piece went viral – and so did Polunin. “I had quit ballet, but I realised that was weak of me. That what I needed to do was share ballet,” he says.

Polunin became an overnight internet sensation. The comments poured in, people from all over the globe confessing their admiration, thanking him for the inspiration. He and Chapelle had touched something deep. And Polunin began to rethink his retirement. “I started to see that the ballet establishment had to be broken. Ballet is stuck. It’s the only art form which didn’t evolve and it lost a few things – because the best directors, best musicians, they work where the biggest output is, where you can reach bigger audiences. Ballet is very closed and it’s for elitists – it shouldn’t be like that. I think everybody should enjoy it.”

“Dance is important. It’s that language that everybody understands. It’s a powerful tool to open people’s minds.” – Sergei Polunin

Since the Take Me to Church phenomenon, Sergei has formed his own foundation, the Polunin Project, with an aim to bring ballet to the masses. “It’s a spiritual-like experience,” he says of ballet, “and it’s possible I think to transfer that. I’ve been trying to bring dance closer to people, to wider audiences. That’s why we created this project, to move, in any way possible, dance forward. So we have the photographers, the music people to collaborate and to create art. And as well I want to create movies about dance. I think it’s very, very important to crossover. Ultimately, my vision is ballet has to open up to agents, to managers, to TV, to videos, to Netflix, to YouTube. Because I don’t see why people who cannot afford a ticket can’t watch it at home. You watch sport at home. Once a week to watch ballet would be, I think… transcendent.”

ballet prodigy setting sights

Despite this enthusiasm for dance, Polunin is still very much the rebel when it comes to defying the ballet establishment. His much talked about exit from the Royal Ballet still obviously hits a raw nerve. He bristles when talking about his experiences with the more conservative aspects of the art. His voice grows lower, tense. “Dancers work 11 hours a day, six times a week. When I was working as a principal dancer that was the hardest I ever, ever worked. And you will finish your career after 10 years.” Polunin points to his head, smirking, “because after 10 years you might start thinking. And realising that it is maybe the worst job to be in. The money is low. Crew get more money. Musicians get unions. And everywhere dancers get treated with the least respect. I still haven’t worked it out. The approach to dancers is like to kids. I never see stage people talk to musicians that way. But with dancers it’s okay to do that.”

Polunin checks himself and softens. “But ballet itself – it’s important. Dance is important, a language that everybody understands. It’s a powerful tool to open people’s minds. It’s some subconscious thing, a connection we all have. Kids dance before walking. It’s our truest nature of being. It’s true spirit.” He pauses. “And then, slowly and slowly, as we grow older, we get more and more baggage and life changes you. We are more scared of things, more fearful. So how to eliminate that? We have to go back to how we were as a kid, because that’s our truest nature. And with ballet, that is how I’m trying to come back to this state of mind. Because that’s the purest state. Tribes dance. Every country has a national dance. In the clubs we dance, we dance at weddings. Dance is a language. It’s a language that we need, like music, to survive.”

This is how Polunin talks, at 27 years old. In part because he was raised in ballet, amid structure, discipline, beauty and philosophy. He grew up, matured, became a man, within an older art. A more refined one. And despite his issues with the constrictions, the rules, the exhaustion, and the exploitation, ballet has formed and shaped him – not just his body, but also his mind, his way of thinking and being.

The dedication he has to share dance with the world, is also a reflection of the stubborn perseverance he learned from many years and countless hours committed to his craft. It is because of this perseverance that, today, Polunin is not just surviving, he’s thriving. He’s dancing all over the globe, performing just the past evening for thousands at Los Angeles’ legendary Hollywood Bowl. And now he’s moved into acting as well – he’ll be appearing in not one, but four upcoming films, among them the spy thriller Red Sparrow with Jennifer Lawrence, the Agatha Christie classic Murder on the Orient Express and in the highly anticipated biopic of legendary ballet bad boy Rudolf Nureyev, White Crow. Directed by Ralph Fiennes, the latter film was rumoured to star Polunin as his infamous predecessor, but today Polunin quietly explains there have been some changes in casting. He will say only that, “I’ll do whatever they need me to do for the film, the very best I can do it.”

“I’m learning a completely new skill and that’s very exciting,” he says of acting, “and acting is not just acting. You learn about yourself. That’s what I think is special about it. Before I thought acting was like, ‘Oh, I learned a new skill.’ But no. It requires a much deeper understanding of existence and of being human, what it is to be human. You are really searching through your own memories – you have to really know who you are. Going into childhood memory.”

I’m prepared to destroy everything I have to have the opportunity to feel free.” – Sergei Polunin

What Polunin also seems to enjoy about acting is the collaborative nature of it, the family of artists necessary to make a film. “What I really loved is being together,” he admits. “It’s working with others. It’s not like you’re by yourself doing something. You are a team. You’re one with the camera, you’re one with the director, you’re one with your co-worker, so it’s like you are creating together. You feel like you are a part of something, rather than doing it all by yourself.” He pauses and thinks for a moment.

“I want to be able to feel freedom. I never want to be owned by anything and be stuck with anything. It’s like this…” he reaches down and picks up a heavy silver knife in one hand, clutching it tight in his fist and pointing to it. “We think if we let go of a person, let them free, they’re going to disappear. But you don’t need to clench and suffocate people. It’s on many levels – on the parenting level, on working level, on friendship level, on a social level. It’s important to push that boundary. What I’ve found is that by letting go of a person, letting them free, he’s still yours, however, there is a still a feeling of freedom.”

Here Polunin stops and turns his fist over, opening his fingers up, slowly, dramatically. The knife rests gently on his open palm. Polunin smiles broadly. “It’s a feeling of freedom,” he says again, “that’s what’s important. That’s what I always fight for and I’m prepared to destroy everything I have to have that opportunity to feel free. Everybody wants to control or own. I’m against that. I felt like I was owned for so long. I was looking to feel freedom. When I quit Royal Ballet… it would be amazing if I could have stayed and found that feeling of freedom. But instead, I destroyed everything and went all the way down, to be able to climb up.”

Polunin shakes his head. He looks suddenly older, wiser: “For many years, I had a negativity in me, and I never used to be like that. It’s just that life takes a toll on you and then you start. And it’s comfortable. Being negative is very easy. Being bad is easier. It takes a lot of strength to be on a good path and that, for me, was a conscious decision. Let’s go up. Sometimes I went down and I just had to rebuild, build, build. Slowly regain. With Take Me to Church, kids were watching, were being inspired and I realised that this inspiration I was giving them, this positive message, was a stronger tool than trying to destroy things. I had to learn not to destroy because you’re hurting people around you. Even now I’m always on the verge of destroying things.”

Polunin trails off… a shadow passes his face. Then, he shakes it off, looks up and grins. And he is young again, joyful, the shadow gone.

Spend time with Polunin and you realise what defines him most is this earnestness – emotion and truthfulness always moving across the surface for all to see. Self-obsessed and self-aware, he speaks his mind, for better or for worse. He is 27 in 2017 – beautiful, famous, volatile and complex. And there is more to come. More dance, more art, more self-exploration. “You always have in life, different paths. And you choose,” he says, “But for me it is always choosing to be an artist before anything. Because what is more important than art? Without it, we’d be nothing. We’d have nothing. The artist – he creates a building, he designs a car, a rocket. The world needs an artist’s vision. Who would we be without the artists to design our clothes? Or make music? And the thing is, I think art is in everybody. It’s important for people to be creative. To sing, to dance. You need creativity because creativity gives you confidence. And confidence is very important, because it gives you spirit. If your spirit is not broken – nothing can take you down.”

Orient Express, Sergei Behind The Scenes

Orient Express, Sergei Behind The Scenes

‘Murder on the Orient Express’: See How They Shot on 65mm Film in New Featurette

      OCTOBER 17, 2017

murder-on-the-orient-express-kenneth-branagh-slice

20th Century Fox has released a new behind-the-scenes featurette for the upcoming murder mystery Murder on the Orient Express.  This short shows the lengths to which Kenneth Branagh went to ensure the full theatrical experience was captured as practically as possible. Based on the Agatha Christie novel of the same name, the film follows famous detective Hercule Poirot (Branagh) as he tries to solve the murder of one of the passengers aboard the Orient Express.

Branagh used the last four 65mm film cameras in the world to shoot Murder on the Orient Express. The director explains in this new featurette why he was so intent on shooting this particular movie on film. Branagh is one of celluloid’s big proponents, having shot his previous films on 35mm instead of digital. But it does look like it makes a pretty stunning difference.  One of the main reasons to see this movie (for me, anyway) is to enjoy Haris Zambarloukos’ stunning photography on the biggest screen possible.

Detail, detail, detail

You’ll also see in this featurette how Branagh shot a lot of the train scenes with an actual projector in the windows, not greenscreen, which is wonderfully old school. Murder on the Orient Express is a very contained story so it would have been easy to shoot this simply.  However, I love the lengths to which Branagh went to make this a truly cinematic experience.

Check out the behind-the-scenes Murder on the Orient Express featurette below. The film opens November 10th and also stars Tom Bateman, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, and Johnny Depp.  Also, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Marwan Kenzari, Olivia Colman, Lucy Boynton, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, and Sergei Polunin.

Here’s the official synopsis for Murder on the Orient Express:

What starts out as a lavish train ride through Europe quickly unfolds into one of the most stylish, suspenseful and thrilling mysteries ever told. From the novel by best-selling author Agatha Christie, “Murder on the Orient Express” tells the tale of thirteen strangers stranded on a train. Everyone’s a suspect. One man must race against time.  He must attempt to solve the puzzle before the murderer strikes again. Kenneth Branagh directs and leads an all-star cast including- Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley and Josh Gad.

johnny-depp-murder-on-the-orient-express

daisy-ridley-murder-on-the-orient-express

 

michelle-pfeiffer-murder-on-the-orient-express

Images via 20th Century Fox

murder-on-the-orient-express-poster

“The Fallen” A Powerful Short Film, Sergei Will Break Your Heart

“The Fallen” A Powerful Short Film, Sergei Will Break Your Heart

Fallen in battle, a wounded soldier tries to outrun death, but the angel of mercy is waiting to bring him peace.

Starring Sergei Polunin and Jessica Gomes

Sergei Polunin / Сергей Полунин “The Fallen”
This is the third in a series of videos I’ve created from a film short (please see credits below). Sergei Polunin, phenomenal ballet star, portrays a young soldier wounded on the battleground. He awakens amid carnage and death. He rises, and runs. We see flashes of his life, of brilliance and hope, as he flees. An angelic figure is seen watching (waiting) for his arrival. She reaches out for him with open arms as he sprints across a bridge toward her. He smiles as his eyes meet hers, but he does not make it into the comfort of her caress. He succumbs to his wounds. We see him fall in life, a life of youth and promise cut tragically short. His lifeless body lies amid the wreckage where he first arose, and he now lies peacefully in the arms of the angel.

Original film: http://www.lachapellestudio.com/film/…
Actors: Sergei Polunin and Jessica Gomes
Director: David LaChapelle
Alternative Music: “The Seeker” by Kai Engel

I take no credit for any of the images seen here. I intend no copyright infringement. I only wish to explore, expose to others, and honor the amazing work of these other people.
All I’m good at here is manipulating pixels… lol.

Please subscribe to my channel to receive alerts when I put out a new video:
https://www.youtube.com/c/PamBoehmeSimon?sub_confirmation=1
and thank you for watching. Please feel free to share!
For additional videos and more, visit my blog at http://kindergiggle.blog or my fan site at https://sergeipoluningracefulbeast.com

A Ballet/балет iMovie iMade.

Dance Magazine Article July 3, 2017

Dance Magazine Article July 3, 2017

Everything Sergei Polunin is Working On, Because We Obviously Need to Know

Sergei Polunin has a penchant for unexpectedly bursting into the news.  DANCER, a feature-length documentary, has proved to be a sympathetic portrait of ballet’s favorite bad boy.   He’s been increasingly visible, popping up everywhere from “So You Think You Can Dance?” to Sadler’s Wells. So what’s the international star got next on his dance card?

Teaching a Master Class

Some very lucky ballet students will take a class with Polunin at Danceworks London on July 18. Currently sold out, interested students can add their names to a wait list.) Polunin teams up this spring with the studio for a scholarship to its summer dance program.  The Sergei Polunin Inspiration Scholarship, has since been awarded to two young dancers.

A Featured Role in a Major Hollywood Film

Don’t expect pirouettes. Murder on the Orient Express is a remake of the classic 1974 film based on the 1934 Agatha Christie murder mystery, here starring the venerable Sir Kenneth Branagh. You can glimpse Polunin looking rather haughty in the above trailer, in which his character is identified as “The Count.” He might not be dancing, but it should be pretty amazing to see him acting opposite such a heavy-hitting cast. In theaters this November.

Dancing with Jennifer Lawrence in Another Hollywood Flick

Okay, so do we know for sure that the above post is from rehearsals for Red Sparrow?  The new Soviet-era spy thriller starring Jennifer Lawrence?  No, but we’re fairly sure we’re correct.  Polunin is definitely attached to the film.  Justin Peck is almost definitely choreographing.  And, since Peck and Isabella Boylston posted on Instagram about being in Budapest while filming was happening there, it’s a safe bet that Boylston is Lawrence’s dance double. (Lawrence’s character is an ex-ballerina turned spy; we’re guessing that Polunin is her partner.) So yes, pirouettes are likely in this one. Red Sparrow is currently slated for release March 2018.

Filming One More Movie, This Time with Ralph Fiennes

The White Crow is a dramatization of Rudolf Nureyev’s defection to the West.  Ralph Fiennes is directing. Not sure who Polunin is playing, but he reportedly begins filming this summer.  He stars opposite Russian ballet dancer Oleg Ivenko (Nureyev) and French actress Adele Exarchopoulos (Clara Saint).

Author:   for Dance Magazine Jul 3 2017




%d bloggers like this: