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Sergei Goes To Cuba 2009

Sergei Goes To Cuba 2009

The Royal Ballet in Cuba A Memorable Dance Event

By: Pedro Quiroga Jimenez / Photos by Ismael Francisco and Royal Ballet Archives, on: Theatre & Performing Arts
May 2009
The Royal Ballet in Cuba A Memorable Dance Event

The Cuban public’s expectations were more than satisfied in July with the London Royal Ballet’s five memorable performances notable for choreographic diversity and the long awaited performances by Spanish Tamara Rojo and Cuban Carlos Acosta.

Rojo and Acosta, leading members of the famous British company, treated the audiences to virtuoso performances of the pas de deux of Le Corsaire for three emotional and ovation laden nights at Havana Gran Teatro.

The ensemble’s contemporaneousness shone in Chroma, by choreographer Wayne McGregor, who tests the physical efforts of each dancer in a game that lays bare the theory of knowledge about the human body. The cleanliness in technique and visible expressive force of each of the performers demonstrated the intensity of a spectacle marked by suggestive breaks from the classical line.

The light and pleasing divertimentos harvested another round of applause.

Alina Cojocaru and José Mart in showed their acting talent in the pas de deux, Voices of Spring, in which they effortlessly execute a sense of movement defying gravity, as in a waltz.

Roberta Márquez and Edward Watson performed Romeo and Jul iet’s balcony scene, choreographed by Kenneth MacMillan, who sets Shakespeare’s plot among the top 20th Century classics with the imposing score by Prokofiev.

Another pas de deux, Farewell, allowed Mara Galeazzi’s intense arabesques and Thiago Soares’s leaps and turns to not only express love, but a diatribe against destiny.

Thais, a pas de deux interpreted by Leanne Benjamín and David Makhatel, responded to the musical lyricism that inspired Massenet’s opera, saturated with an ethereal and romantic humour conceived by the late choreographer Frederick Ashton. Ashton’s 1976 A Month in the Country, a free adaptation of Russian novelist Ivan Turgueniev’s play, placed Zenaida Janowsky in the leading role on the Havana stage.

A highlight of the program was the homage paid to Cuba’s Prima Ballerina Assoluta Alicia Alonso by both Cuban and British dancers.

Tamara Rojo, Spanish prima ballerina and Principal Dancer with the Royal Ballet, was precise, secure and demonstrated a technique she owes in great measure to the Cuban school, during her performance with Cuban dancer Joel Carreño in the pas de deux of Act III of Don Quixote.

Cuban National Ballet’s prima ballerina, Viengsay Valdés, roused enthusiasm with her customary balance and fouettes in the pas de deux The Black Swan, accompanied by Brazil ian Thiago Soares.

Johan Kobborg’s choreography of Les Lutins (the musicians) was pleasant and brief performed by Alina Cojocaru, Steven McRae and Sergei Polunin.

To close the season in Cuba, the Royal Ballet performed the dramatic Manon at the Karl Marx Theatre, the largest in the island, seating 5,000. Manon, one of the most enduring titles in its repertoire, debates greed and personal pride, love and disloyalty, morality and resentment.

The Royal Ballet, together with artistic director Dame Monica Mason, returned to England with a feeling common to Cubans: as she said, having shared a moment memorable in every sense.

Something In The Way He Moves

Something In The Way He Moves

Sergei Polunin / Сергей Полунин “Something” in the way he moves.


Sergei Polunin is a Ukrainian ballet dancer famous for his “once every hundred years” talent, his incredulous elevation, his impeccable technique, and glorious dramatic range.  He brought an unprecedented new awareness to ballet when he danced in Hozier’s viral video ”Take Me To Church.”  He starred in Diesel’s “Make Love Not Walls” campaign, and is a much sought after model and actor.  He has appeared in such films as Murder On The Orient Express, Dancer (a documentary of his life), White Crow, and Red Sparrow.

Please consider subscribing to my Youtube channel:  https://www.youtube.com/c/PamBoehmeSimon?sub_confirmation=1

and “like” my playlist “Sergei Polunin, Graceful Beast” if you were pleased.

For additional videos and more, visit my fan site at https://sergeipoluningracefulbeast.com

This is a ballet | балет iMovie by Pam Boehme Simon.

Thank you for watching.

Sergei And His Giselles

Sergei And His Giselles

“Sergei And His Giselles” featuring Sergei Polunin / Сергей Полунин with Svetlana Zakharova, Roberta Marquez, Natalia Somova (please forgive the misspelling of Miss Somova’s last name in the video credits), Diana Vishneva, Kristina Shapran, and Natalia Osipova.

The ballet Giselle was first performed in 1841 with Italian ballerina Carlotta Grisi as Giselle. Staged by Marius Petipa with music composed by Adolph Adam, and choreographed by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, it was an instant success.

The ballet is about a peasant girl named Giselle, who dies of a broken heart after discovering her lover is betrothed to another. The Wilis, a group of supernatural women who dance men to death, summon Giselle from her grave. They target her lover for death, but Giselle’s great love frees him from their grasp.

The Wilis are particularly haunting characters. They are the spirits of virgin girls that died before they married. These creatures were very popular in Romantic era ballets. Led by Myrtha, the Queen of the Wilis, they gain their power in numbers as they effortlessly move through dramatic patterns and synchronized movements, and control the stage with their long tulle dresses and stoic expressions.

Although still appearing ethereal, watching the Wilis sweep the stage creates an eerie mood that builds as the ballet continues and they enclose on Albrecht. They are ruthless and hateful of men because they have all died of a broken heart. Giselle finds forgiveness in her heart for Albrecht, but she knows the Wilis will not do the same. Their goal is clear and they are relentless on their quest.

The Wilis are one of the most iconic characters in Giselle. They leave an imprint in the viewers mind as they dominate the second act.

Please subscribe if you like my video: https://www.youtube.com/c/PamBoehmeSi… and thank you for watching. Please feel free to share! Visit my blog at http://kindergiggle.blog for additional videos and more.

Sergei Polunin is a Ukrainian ballet dancer famous for his “once every hundred years” talent, his incredulous elevation, his impeccable technique, and glorious dramatic range. He brought an unprecedented new awareness to ballet when he danced in Hozier’s viral video ”Take Me To Church.” He starred in Diesel’s “Make Love Not Walls” campaign, and is a much sought after model and actor. He has appeared in such films as Murder On The Orient Express, Dancer (a documentary of his life), White Crow, and Red Sparrow.

Please consider subscribing to my Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/PamBoehmeSi… and “like” my playlist “Sergei Polunin, Graceful Beast” if you were pleased.

For additional videos and more, visit my fan site at https://sergeipoluningracefulbeast.com

This is a ballet | балет iMovie by Pam Boehme Simon.

Thank you for watching.

The Royal Ballet: Sylvia, A Review

The Royal Ballet: Sylvia, A Review

The Royal Ballet: Sylvia, A Review

4/5 Stars

Royal Opera House, London
Judith Mackrell

Monday, 8 Nov 2010

sergei in sylvia
Debut lovers … Lauren Cuthbertson (Sylvia) and Sergei Polunin (Arminta) in The Royal Ballet’s Sylvia. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

The lovers in Ashton’s Sylvia barely get to dance together until the final act. And in the case of Lauren Cuthbertson and Sergei Polunin – both making their debuts this season – that’s no bad thing. As a partnership their chemistry doesn’t really click – but in this particular ballet it doesn’t prevent either of them flourishing as individual performers.

The pleasure of watching Cuthbertson lies partly in her unpredictability. Aspects of her dancing are almost old fashioned: the neat straight lines of her technique; the detailed regard she has for style. But she can also be startlingly reckless. She goes full tilt at every challenge, practically leaping over the orchestra pit in her opening jumps, fizzing through the third act pizzicato variation with giggling speeds. In her acting, Cuthbertson never hides behind the easy, text-book gesture. She makes you feel the prickle of fear down Sylvia’s spine when she senses the threat of the predatory Orion. When she believes she has killed Aminta, her body appears to shrink with grief.

Polunin is cast in another mould: Russian on a grand scale. But he also dances with a detailed musical intelligence, shaping and finessing the big steps as succinctly as the little ones. Aminta can easily be sidelined as the ineffectual pretty boy waiting for fate to deliver Sylvia into his arms; Polunin gives the role romantic gravitas by the force of his technique. As a partner he needs to mature, however. While he and Cuthbertson can act a good love affair, in the grand and sexy imagery of the final pas de deux we are too aware of the mechanics, and the difficulty of the partnering. Otherwise theirs is a very promising debut, and it comes with some fine ensemble playing. The assorted naiads and fauns are excellent; Akane Takada is an unfeasibly witty, winsome goat.

If You Fall, I Will Catch You

If You Fall, I Will Catch You

“If You Fall, I Will Catch You” Sergei & Natalia.  They are ballet superstars and real life companions.  The two met in Milan in 2015 when Sergei stepped in for an injured partner.  While performing “Giselle” they fell in love.  The pair have been close ever since.

Choreography: “Silent Echo” by Russell Maliphant

Alternative Music: “Hachiko” by The Kyoto Connection with permission under license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/


If you fall, I’ve got your back…

The pair support each other as friends and professionals.  Sergei Polunin & Natalia Osipova are there for each other.  Literally and figuratively.  Onstage and off.   Out and about, attending events, bouncing ideas around at rehearsals, joining in on performances.  The stunning couple have a special bond without a doubt.


I you fall sergei polunin natalia osipova kiss
Sergei & Natalia


If you fall sergei polunin natalia osipova
Sergei & Natalia

Who Is Sergei?

Sergei Polunin is a Ukrainian ballet dancer.  Famous for his “once every hundred years” talent, he has incredulous elevation and impeccable technique.  From an early age, he displayed glorious dramatic range.  Home video of him as a tiny boy improving to Pavarotti are very foretelling.

Ballet gained an unprecedented new awareness when he danced in Hozier’s viral video ”Take Me To Church.”  People who never would have never paid any attention to ballet began to watch.  He is generally attributed with bringing ballet to the modern common man.  Classical, yet cutting edge, Sergei starred in Diesel’s “Make Love Not Walls” campaign and has put his mark on many other promotions.

Sergei is a much sought after model and actor. Fashion designers love his breathtaking physique and brooding good looks.  He has garnered only positive reviews for his acting.  His appearances include Murder On The Orient Express, Dancer, White Crow, and Red Sparrow.


If you enjoyed this, please consider subscribing to my Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/PamBoehmeSimon

For additional videos and more, visit my fan site at https://sergeipoluningracefulbeast.com or my blog at https://pamboehmesimon.com

January 1, 2018 Interview

January 1, 2018 Interview

What do Kolobok and Sergei have in common?

Turlyan premiere. Sergei Polunin about the death of classical ballet

The ballet dancer Sergei Polunin told Fokus about the road not upwards, but downwards, what he and the hero of the fairy tale Kolobok had in common, and about his desire to combine dance and theater

At four years – gymnastics in his native Kherson. At nine – moving with his mother to the capital and studying at the Kiev Choreographic School. To give Sergei a chance to break through, his father goes to work in Portugal and gets a gardener from a wealthy family, and the grandmother finds a job as a nurse in Greece. At the age of 13, the future world ballet star is sent to study in London. At 17 he joined the Royal Ballet Company, and at 19 he became the youngest principal in the history of the troupe.

In the conservative world of ballet, Polunin quickly gained fame as a violator of foundations. Outside the scene, the young star coped with stress through parties, alcohol, drugs and new tattoos. His then nicknames are The Bad Guy, James Dean of Ballet and the Embodiment of Jumping Outside the Line. The name of the premiere rebel began to appear not only in enthusiastic reviews, but also in the yellow press, who did not miss the opportunity to publish reports with details of his next “release.”

While society was wondering whether the search for young talent was a successful PR move, Polunin announced his departure from the Royal Ballet. When two years ago the Ukrainian decided to say goodbye to the stage, his swan song, With the track Take Me To Church, it scored 21 million views on YouTube. “Obviously, the laws of gravitation for Mr. Polunin act differently,” one of the commentators wrote. “He moves as if he has wings,” others agreed.


He was born in Kherson. He studied at the Kiev Choreography School. At the age of 19 he became the premiere of the London Royal Ballet. Since 2016, the invited soloist of the Bavarian Ballet, author and soloist Project Polunin.  In 2017, a Ukrainian documentary film “Dancer” on the career of 27-year-old Sergei Polunin.

Forward to the past, and Kolobok?

What kind of eyes do you now look at yourself, a 6-year-old boy on video, in a T-shirt and shorts? What would you like to say to this boy now?

– “I would say to him: “Be yourself, listen to yourself and your intuition.” Now I’m trying to restore the internal state in which I was then. This is the most correct perception of the world and the most organic state of man.

Recently I had an interesting event. For filming in the film, I for a while became a blonde. And then a couple of days ago, when I had my hair dyed black, I looked in the mirror and suddenly I saw myself as small. It’s great. We must not forget how you were in childhood.

By the way, before the age of 13 I was the same as in 6-7. But just at 13-14 years has changed, unfortunately. I forgot myself a little. And about 25 again began to recover.”

What happens to a person who by the age of 19, when his peers are just starting a career, is on a professional peak? Feeling like a superman?

– “It was disappointing: you are achieving what you were going for, but it does not give you the satisfaction that you expected. For me it was a road not up, but down.”

Did it ever occur to you that the family paid too high a price, putting everything on you?

– “Speaking about the fact that the family broke up, – yes, probably. But if one day I decide to give birth to a child, I will do everything so that he, like me, will get a chance.”

And the right to choose? 

– “Yes, it must be. The child knows what he wants, it’s already laid. Parents can reveal his talent, give the opportunity to try everything and help him see what he can.”

Speaking on stage in the framework of Project Polunin, you stopped masking your tattoos. In one of the interviews, they were called what you associate with free people.

–  “You achieve what you came for, but it does not give you the satisfaction you expected, for me it was not a way up, but down.”

– “At first it was so. In London, I was an immigrant with a work visa. One mistake my colleagues did not like or a fight in the street – and I would be kicked out of the country. The visa was extended for a year. Every time for a year.

I experienced constant pressure and an absolute sense of unfreedom. And yes, I could not do tattoos. In the ballet, this is not accepted. And in the offices, by and large, this was unacceptable. Probably, that’s why I liked the people they had. I thought: Here they are, free people who do not depend on their work, they have complete freedom. They do what they want.

When I filled the first tattoo, the leadership gathered the whole theater and officially banned them. Later tattoos became the norm, and David Beckham made them more popular.”

Two Plains

Which of the children’s fairy tales is closest to your story?

– “The Gingerbread Man,” remember “I left my grandmother and left grandfather. And *Kolobok, which is rolling somewhere ( laughs ).”

*Kolobok is the main character of an East Slavic national fairy tale with the same name, represented as a small yellow spherical being. The fairy tale is prevalent in Slavic regions in a number of variations.

He will not be eaten?

– “I do not know. But at some point Kolobok should stop running away. Which I did. All that I knew before was to destroy, leave and rebuild in a new place. I did it once, then again. And I realized that this is a habit. There is a risk to get carried away. Then I realized: you just need to create, build.”

There are at least two Sergei Polunin. One is called a “bad guy in the ballet”, they reproach him for sloppiness, hobby for alcohol and drugs, going beyond what is permissible. Second Polunin is shown in the film “Dancer”: a boy who submitted to the will of his mother, fulfilled the requirements of teachers, showed diligence, which eventually made him the premier of the Royal Ballet in London. Even the temporary break with the ballet, this second Polunin designed stylishly. Which of these two is the real you?

– “There was a time when I read the press and believed in it. And played along. You get used to the image and then forget who you are.

But in what way it was, I love to work, set a goal and achieve it. People are not always ready for this. Many people drop their hands: come what may. You say: “No, it’s probably wrong, let’s think about how to fix it.” And immediately you in the eyes of these people are bad. It is easier for them to decide that something is wrong with you, than to admit that the system can work incorrectly.”

kolobok is sergei polunin

These riotous little

What is the difference between Russian, Ukrainian and British ballet schools?

– “I think the Russian and Ukrainian schools are similar. The initial training in them is stronger than in the West. In ballet, the first four years are very important.”

– “it’s a machine. I was lucky, I had a talented teacher Eduard Borisovich Kostyukov here in the school (Kyiv State Choreographic School .- Focus ). He gave a good school. And after that, it was already easier for me to develop. And the dance was taught to me by Nikolai Danilovich Pryadchenko, the late teacher of the National Opera of Ukraine. He gave me an understanding of how to behave on stage, the artistic part. And with this education I went to the West.

The strength of Western educators is that they pay a lot of attention to acting. Their methodology was built around the Russian school, but with innovations. Which, in my opinion, made the school weaker. But the fact that they made the ballet theatrical, this is a plus. The game added a zest to their ballet. So I took the best and combined it into one: both the game and the pure dance.”

The world of ballet is small, and the competition is high. Over the years of work, you have probably come across not only with recognition and admiration, but also with envy. Was there a case that made you think: “Wow, if someone tries to annoy me so much, then I have already achieved something.”

– “There were no obvious signs of envy. But I remember that when I came to work in the theater, I naively believed that I could make friends with all. At least sincerely tried to do it. I was met rather coldly and firmly pushed. After that I decided to keep my distance. I maintained friendly relations, but I did not really make friends with any of my colleagues.”

What is happening today with the classical ballet? Is it more alive than dead, or vice versa?

–  “The ballet is more dead than alive.” And there is nothing very interesting there. The best managers, the best musicians do not go to work with the ballet – apparently, not a big enough audience for them. They prefer movies, games, musicals, other platforms, where there are more spectators. They say if Mozart were alive today, he would write musicals.

To attract the best people to the ballet, there must be a strong industry. The ballet must be shown on television, in cinemas. Good advertising is needed. Dancers should have agent managers who would popularize them themselves, not the theaters where they perform. Now this is not.

Compare opera and ballet. Opera music works with big labels, it’s a huge turnover of money. The opera part of the theater is very rich, very free. The musicians also have strong professional solidarity. Dancers do not have this. They are defenseless, like children. Dancers from school are used to: they tell you – you do it. Silently. They can not even object if they disagree with something. So taught. This, of course, is very convenient for the theater. But not for the industry. In order for it to grow, you need to unite and defend your rights.

The ballet age is short. Career – 10 years. People are changing. There are no those who would say: “Sorry, it will not work.”

Dancers “write off” to retire at 35 years. Does it frighten you?

–  “No, it does not.” I would like to combine the dance with the theater. Take Mikhail Baryshnikov. I do not know exactly how old he is. In sixty? (Baryshnikov is 69. – Focus ). He combines the dance with the theater. And it’s very interesting. We will get something with amazing energy. I will try to put on performances in a new genre. This will bring the dance to a new level and prolong the career of the dancers.”

You rushed to learn a new skill for yourself, in particular, cinema. In “Listen to the song of the wind,” Murakami has these words: “While you are learning something new, aging is not so painful.” Is not that the reason?

–  “When I left the Royal Ballet, I could say what would happen to me in 15 years.” Because there were examples, and history always repeats itself. I thought: “Yeah, I’ll have this and that, and they’ll do this to me and so on.” Is it nice for me? I realized that I had to find another way. Therefore, when I thought that I would leave the ballet, I asked myself: what could I do and want to do? What would make me happy? The answer came instantly: “Cinema“. I loved cinema from my childhood.”

One step before the end of a career

To put the last dance under Take me to church, being in excellent shape, remaining a favorite of spectators and having at least another ten years of ballet career in reserve, is a decisive act. In such situations, the choice of a song is not accidental. Which line from this composition of the Irish musician Hozier is the most important for you?

– “I do not know. In fact, for me, it’s not the lines that matter. I felt the song intuitively. Caught the emotion. And when I rehearsed, I did not dig into words. But the strongest – the first, with the phrase my lover. And the one in which “amen” is sung.”

In this song there are the words I was born sick, but I love it, command me to be well (“I was born sick, but I like it, but lead me to be healed”). Who or what prevented you from being healed of the ballet?

– “To attract the best people to the ballet, there must be a strong industry. Ballet needs to be shown on television, in cinemas.”

– “Feeling like I’m leaving something. That is, I could do something for people, and I leave them. It was like … ( pause )”

On betrayal?

– “It is possible and so to say. Only the feeling of guilt was not there. Rather regret. I regretted that I let down people who needed dance: spectators, dancers.

Then I had no idea that I could change anything. There were no options. It’s just a pity – before my Kiev teacher Nikolai Pryadchenko, before my parents too: I left them for a long time without support and information about what will happen to me next.

I knew that becoming an actor is a long way. And you can never be sure when you will be given a chance. Parents could not know for eight years what awaits me. It was complicated. And I realized that I could not leave it like that. Perhaps, you correctly noticed: such an act could seem to me a betrayal.”

You still feel responsible to your parents, teachers, spectators.  

– “Yes. But now I see that you can change a lot. And I know how.”

Second wind

On the way to the ballet Olympus, for many years you had to keep yourself in an iron grip. Is there a temptation to let go – just because you can afford it now?

– “Not interested. Now it all depends on me – I can rest at any time. But when you decide what to do, you do not choose rest. Such a strange psychology. The more freedom you have, the more work you gain. Well and when it is necessary to earn, then yes, you try to escape from it.

I can fly, move every day. I’m not tired. Because it is a new energy. And if I sit a week in one place, I start to get tired. He also annoys me when I am doing the same thing for a long time. The routine for me is death.”

Rehearsals are also routine.

– “Yes, that’s why I do not like to rehearse. I’ll keep it to a minimum. But again, I do not rehearse in the usual sense: I’m like, I’ll remember and show the spectator. That is, the first time I dance in public, before people.”

What does the average day of Sergei Polunin look like?

–  “The craziest day happened a week ago.” I have been shooting from 6am to 11pm. Even at this time I need to work out in the ballet class. That is, I did it in the afternoon or in the morning. Has slept, has woken up. They called me, I had to withdraw. I shot, the same day I flew from Serbia to Munich, rehearsed until three o’clock in the morning. I learned a new choreography for the ballet to dance the next day. I do not remember exactly what ballet was. After that, jumped into the car, nine hours I was taken to Serbia, we did not have time to shoot. We arrived at six in the morning, began 15-hour shooting.

This week is also not boring. Yesterday I went to bed at two o’clock in the morning, after hours of filming. I fell asleep at three, At four I woke up, and at seven we already went to the canal. A lot of things, but thanks to the fact that the team is good, everything is thought out, and I just have to gain strength and survive ( laughs ).”

In what language do you think?

– “If we talk about common topics, in English. But now I’m getting used to talking in Russian, so I switch. It takes one and a half to two days. As for the ballet, it works not verbal, but imaginative thinking. I feel music, choreography, partner. I do not think it’s important to know what her name is, what a character is, this is information for the viewer. If they want, they will read it. I rely on intuition.”

Today you do not look like a hostage to your own talent, whose life is dedicated exclusively to classical ballet. You have experience shooting in advertising, the first roles in the movie, Project Polunin. You started talking about your own foundation, which would support talented children. That you have to focus on several projects at the same time, fill you or, conversely, devastate?

– “Do more – more power. Your body produces as much energy as you need. If you do 50 things per day, you will be given energy for 50 things. If you do one – you have exactly that much energy and will allocate. Therefore, the bar should be set high.”

Music Glitch Can’t Stop Young Sergei

Music Glitch Can’t Stop Young Sergei


(Scroll down until you see the bold black text to read about Sergei at the 2006 YAGP Gala performance… 16 year old Sergei had to overcome more than just nerves).


Stars of Today and Tomorrow

Youth America Grand Prix Closing Night Gala
City Center
New York, NY
April 22, 2006

by Susan Reiter

“The Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow” was the title for the celebratory three-hour program (the first of two) that marked the culmination of this year’s Youth America Grand Prix. While there is no way to guarantee that the highly talented student dancers who performed on the first half of the evening will become the “stars of tomorrow,” the evening certainly did allow for some intriguing comparisons between the dance generations. One could see 14-year-old Jeffrey Cirio, from the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, navigate Albrecht’s Act Two solo from “Giselle” with more graceful phrasing and poetry than Artem Shpilevsky, who performed alongside Julie Kent in the evening’s second half, billed as “the stars of today.” Cirio, despite looking even younger than his age, already displays innate elegance and mature poise. Shpilevsky, despite his tall, handsome dark looks and attentive partnering of Kent (who danced with gossamer delicacy and utter conviction), lurched uneasily through the solo.

“Grand Pas Classique,” that Victor Gsovsky gala staple, showed up in both halves. The tall striking pair of Denis and Anastasia Matvyenko (of the Ukrainian National Opera Ballet) downplayed its excessive showiness and just let the choreography happen. She is a stunner, with beautiful feet, and she had a real triumph on this occasion. He was less at ease, having to make several small adjustments as he worked his way through his solo. Meanwhile, earlier in the evening, 18-year-old Ayano Tsuchiya (of the Setsuko Ichikawa Ballet) held her own in the variation from the same pas de deux, displaying considerable strength and inspiring rapturous screams from the very vocal young contingent in the balcony with her extended sequence balancing on one pointe.

Clearly, a large contingent of the student dancers who participated in the YAGP finals were seated up there and showing their enthusiasm vociferously — cheering on their favorites/friends from the week’s competition, and admiring their idols among the established stars. A high extension on the part of any ballerina was a guarantee of some loud cheering, but they did display approval for more sophisticated and refined feats as well. Even though the Grand Defilé that closed the student half of the program — ably staged and aptly choreographed for the various levels by Carlos dos Santos, Jr. – featured 250 of the dancers, that still left a good portion of the 700 (from 18 countries) who participated in this week’s YAGP finals to fill those seats and make themselves heard.

No specific prizes or medals were announced, but presumably those selected to perform were considered the most highly qualified in their specific ages groups. Two amazingly advanced eleven-year-olds were showcased early in the evening; Ryosuke Morimoto displayed great aplomb and a real sense of style in a jaunty variation from Petipa’s “Saturnela,” while a tiny pixie named Mariana Layn Prado was phenomenally precise, charming and in character as Columbine in the “Harlequinade” pas de deux with her lanky, sweetly attentive 15-year-old partner, Alberto Rodriguez Velazquez. It was somewhat disconcerting to see Prado taking on such refined toe work at such a young age, but she clearly has the chops, and if she’s not doing any harm to her still-growing body, her perfect-for-the-stage face and complete ease in performance should take her far.

There was a consistently high level of dancing among the male students, and the final two to perform were taken by two sixteen-year-olds who both are this year’s Grand Prix winners. (This is the YGAP’s top prize, and brings with it a one-year contract with the ABT Studio Company). Sergei Polunin (of the Royal Ballet School) did not let two false starts (due to technical music glitches) affect his performance of the “Nutcracker” variation, which he performed with gorgeous ballon and innate elegance.

Joseph Gorak, a student at Florida’s Orlando Ballet School, changed his mind about which solo he was performing, so his choice was announced quickly just before he came out. I did not catch the title or the choreographer, but it was a blithely casual, understated contemporary solo that allowed him to display his clear, unforced technical flair.

Among the female students, fourteen-year-old Shiori Kase of Japan gave a remarkably complete, musical performance of the bravura Black Swan variation, displaying exquisite line and a lovely aura of calm containment.

To introduce the “grown ups” — aka “The Stars of Today” — Dos Santos assembled a pleasant enough “Piece D’Occasion” that showcased six current members of ABT who are all alumni of YAGP. Wearing the elegant, jewel-colored costumes from “Bruch Violin Concerto,” Isabella Boylston, Melanie Hamrick, Hee Seo, Gray Davis, Matthew Golding and Bo Busby navigated their technical challenges graciously for the most part, with the men having a few slightly bumpy moments.

Two powerful duets broke away from the Petipa/Gsovsky tone of most of the evening and received deeply expressive performances. The clear hit of the evening was the “Shameless” duet from Twyla Tharp’s “Movin’ Out.” The climactic duet that resolves the tempestuous years-long relationship between the characters Brenda and Tony, it was performed by Karine Plantadit and Ian Carney, both of whom performed the roles in the Broadway cast. Plantadit opened with the brief, reflective solo to one of Billy Joel’s plaintive piano melodies, and her vivid, seemingly spontaneous performing immediately set a tone, even with the duet lacking the benefit of the dramatic arc that leads up to it in the show. Once Carney appeared, ruggedly handsome and full of trepidation as to what their encounter would bring, they swung into action, giving their all to Tharp’s lusciously sensual partnering, building to the newfound ecstasy to their new, mature connection. (Only at a gala would this duet be performed with some of Giselle’s lilies scattered in a downstage corner, a remnant from the Kent-Shpilevsky performance. In a lovely bit of in-character improvisation, Plantadit scooped up a stray flower as she performed her reflective solo, swirling it briefly on the ground and tossing it away, as though the gesture was an extension of her thoughts. That’s the mark of a committed, original performer, and one hopes the students took note.)

Edwaard Liang’s “Flight of Angels,” full of swooping lifts that express a yearning to break free from earthly limitations, nicely skirts around the potential clichés of this type of duet. As performed with poignant dignity by NYCB’s Wendy Whelan and Sebastien Marcovici, it was quietly sublime.

Along with Whelan and Kent, there was a third major ballerina of that generation performing at this gala, one we have seen all too rarely in New York of late. Darcey Bussell appeared, partnered by her Royal Ballet colleague David Makhateli, in the overwrought Act Three duet from Kenneth Macmillan’s “Manon.” The rapturous first-act duet, in which Manon and Des Grieux celebrate their newfound passion, is the usual choice for galas. The third-act one, coming when all is lost, has the ballerina being hauled around limply much of the time. But Bussell is always a marvel of clarity and luminously committed performing, and she gave it considerable dignity and gravitas.

Volume 4, No. 16
April 24, 2006

Susan Reiter

2013 BBC Radio 4 Interview with Sergei

2013 BBC Radio 4 Interview with Sergei

BBC Radio 4 Front Row’s John Wilson interviews ballet superstar Sergei Polunin

BBC Radio 4 Interview from 2013 with ballet dancer Sergei Polunin backstage before Coppelia at the London Coliseum marking a return one of his first returns since leaving the Royal Ballet.
Interviewer: John Wilson
radio 4 sergei polunin interview
Sergei Polunin as Frantz and Kristina Shapran as Swanilda in the Moscow Stanislavsky Ballet’s production of Roland Petit’s Coppelia at the London Coliseum.
Sergei Polunin is a Ukrainian ballet dancer famous for his “once every hundred years” talent, his incredulous elevation, his impeccable technique, and glorious dramatic range. He brought an unprecedented new awareness to ballet when he danced in Hozier’s viral video ”Take Me To Church.” He starred in Diesel’s “Make Love Not Walls” campaign, and is a much sought after model and actor. He has appeared in such films as Murder On The Orient Express, Dancer (a documentary of his life), White Crow, and Red Sparrow.
Please consider subscribing to my Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/PamBoehmeSi… and “like” my playlist “Sergei Polunin, Graceful Beast” if you were pleased.
For additional videos and more, visit my fan site at https://sergeipoluningracefulbeast.com
This is a ballet | балет iMovie by Pam Boehme Simon.
Thank you for watching.
“Passion De Deux” Natalia And Sergei

“Passion De Deux” Natalia And Sergei

Passion de deux: The explosive chemistry between Royal Ballet superstar Natalia Osipova and ‘bad boy’ dancer Sergei Polunin

passion de deux
Natalia Osipova with Sergei Polunin

My interview with Russian ballet star Natalia Osipova has not got off to the best of starts. 

So guarded is the darling of the Royal Ballet – who has now segued into modern dance with a risqué new show at Sadler’s Wells – about her love affair with Sergei Polunin, the brooding enfant terrible of dance, that I worry their relationship may be on the rocks.

Dubbed ‘the Brangelina of Ballet’, the two have been together for over a year now. They fell in love while dancing Giselle together in Milan, which sounds so sexy and romantic it makes me feel faint.

Their chemistry – on and off stage – seems quite explosive. I imagine they have fiery rows – and even more heated, er, reconciliations. But to my horror, Natalia says at first that she doesn’t ‘want to discuss our feelings for each other in public’. What?

The dancer, who turned 30 in May, is at pains to demonstrate how much she has grown since her relationship with Sergei began last summer – when, clearly in the throes of early passion, she made the gushing admission that they found it hard to be apart for more than two days.

Sergei – who left the Royal Ballet amid drama and allegations of drug-taking just before Natalia joined as a principal, giving their union a star-crossed twist – has said that he never wants to dance with anyone but Natalia again.

But the Natalia I encounter today – busily rehearsing a contemporary dance ensemble specially choreographed for her by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Russell Maliphant and Arthur Pita (Sergei dances the latter two works with her), which will return to Sadler’s Wells later this month after a successful summer run and then transfer to New York – is altogether more composed than she has seemed before.

passion de deux
Natalia and Sergei performing in new dance piece Silent Echo at Sadler’s Wells in June

Despite having made London her home since 2013, Moscow-born Natalia still struggles with the language. ‘This is my biggest challenge. I need to study English and to learn it properly, but there is never the time,’ she sighs.

With the help of a translator, she explains how she has evolved of late. ‘I am a highly emotional person, confident and bold, but ruled by my emotions. I am capable of a sort of madness. If I am feeling emotionally charged, I could buy a ticket and move to another continent!’ she exclaims.

‘I am too spontaneous sometimes. But now that I am 30 I think I am becoming more balanced and getting better at thinking before I speak or act.’

Even just the way Sergei says ‘good luck’ can make me feel much better

Perhaps we can rewind a few months for the sake of this interview, I joke. I am not sure my humour translates. She has previously admitted that, due to their similar temperaments, she and Sergei have been known to clash.

‘We are two strong characters and at times this creates friction, but you learn to make compromises and to find ways of not arguing with your partner,’ she explains. ‘Sergei is a very fiery and emotional person, but he is emotional in a different way to me. I can’t quite explain it. We are different people, of course…’ She trails off, and I get the sense she is wading through verbal quicksand here, resisting the Brangelina-isation of them as a couple, while glorying in the loved-up state she has found herself in.

She doesn’t care what others might make of their relationship, she says. ‘I am sure there were people who had something to say on the matter, but I am not concerned about it.’

And though she is a self-confessed hot-headed leading lady, Natalia reveals that, when dancing with Sergei, she enjoys letting him take control. ‘As a very strong person, I have always tended to take the lead, but with Sergei, it is he who leads.

‘That is the dynamic that works best for the two of us. As a female it’s an interesting feeling and state of mind when the male can take charge on stage. It has been something new for me and I like it.’

passion de deux
 Natalia and Sergei performing in Run Mary Run by Arthur Pita, specially commissioned for them, at Sadler’s Wells in June

‘We are at a different point in our relationship now. We are very solid and open with each other. We understand that work is work and we both have to make professional decisions. We wouldn’t restrict ourselves to only dancing with each other, because it wouldn’t be the best decision for our careers.’

But wouldn’t she feel jealous watching Sergei dance with another? ‘On a personal level, it would be bad to see him with someone else, but professionally, no,’ she insists. ‘I am very lucky that I am not and never have been a jealous person.’

This trait must have come in handy when Natalia’s relationship with her former boyfriend, Russian ballet star Ivan Vasiliev, broke up shortly before she moved to London and took up with Sergei.

The pair had been the golden couple of the Bolshoi, but rumour had it (supported by Vasiliev’s own admission) that he left her for a younger dancer – ballerina Maria Vinogradova, to whom he is now married. (This scandal was referred to as ‘the Bolshoi love triangle’.)

‘I don’t listen to any gossip,’ Natalia says curtly. ‘Ivan and I have a good relationship. We are in close touch. We don’t see each other often, as we live in different places, but when we do it is very warm and fine. We have danced together since we split and I would happily do so again.’

For the moment, though, Natalia remains focused on dancing with Sergei in the independent Sadler’s Wells production, which represents a departure for her as a classically trained ballerina.

Staged in three parts, it involves a lot of strutting and shimmying, with costumes that could not be more unlike the restrictive, conservative ones worn in ballet.

The pair entwine themselves seductively in distressed jeans and T-shirts, perfect for showing off Sergei’s extensive collection of tattoos. ‘The less I wear, the more comfortable I am, so I loved this costume,’ says Natalia.

‘It felt so much lighter and freer than ballet clothes. The best part has been working directly with brilliant choreographers and creating amazing poses together. My body has had to get used to using different muscles, but I am loving it.’

And how does she feel about her paramour’s tattoos? ‘Actually, I like them,’ she giggles. ‘I think they reflect his personality quite organically. I am not planning to get any myself,’ she adds hastily. ‘I don’t think they would be suitable on my body.’

Lovers on stage and off, dancing their hearts out in denim, and a male lead who could be described as ‘a bit of rough’… comparisons to my favourite film, Dirty Dancing, are impossible to ignore.

Does Natalia feel a bit like Jennifer Grey to Sergei’s Patrick Swayze? ‘I love that film. It’s very iconic, but for some reason I never made this association.’

Like Dirty Dancing, Natalia Osipova and Guests, as the performance is titled (I wonder how Sergei feels about that), is about love.

‘It is set in the 1960s and about two people who are in love; the male character dies and she continues loving him [in one scene she tries to pull him from the grave]. It is deeply romantic, about love that surpasses death – not just love, but loyalty; about a woman who thinks she’ll never be able to be with anyone else.’

As a very strong person I tend to take the lead, but with Sergei it is he who leads

Given that Natalia commissioned the three pieces – each one written for her by a top choreographer (such is her star quality, they presumably jumped at the chance) – I can’t help but think that this gives an insight into the depth of her feelings for Sergei.

Having initially said that she didn’t want to discuss him, Natalia has let the word ‘we’ creep into her speech when discussing the man with whom she has shared a stage and now a life and a home.

‘We love Japanese food,’ she says in response to my question about what she likes to eat. ‘We just like to go to small local restaurants, nowhere fancy.’

 On a perfect weekend, ‘we like to walk around the canals in our neighbourhood of Little Venice and maybe visit London Zoo. We spend as much time outdoors as we can. We like to lie in bed as long as possible first, though, to feel fresh. Ideally, I would lie in until about 11am.

‘We like to cook together, although I am not a very good cook. Sergei is much better than me. He cooks mostly.’

It all sounds very domestic. Do they want children? ‘I think that should be the aim for every woman. That’s my point of view,’ says Natalia, somewhat cryptically. ‘We know each other’s families very well now too; there are good relations between the families.’

It was, in fact, through family that the two came together. Natalia is exceptionally close to her parents, who still live in Moscow, and tries to visit as often as her schedule allows.

‘I feel a huge responsibility to make them proud and pay them back for the sacrifices they made to allow my ballet career to happen. They were not well off – my father is an engineer and my mother doesn’t work – but they always found a way to give me opportunities, whether it be taking me to the theatre or finding money for dance lessons.’

Initially, Natalia was not drawn to ballet. She started out as a gymnast and it was her parents – presciently spotting her greater potential for dance – who insisted that she make the transition. ‘I wasn’t happy about it at first,’ she recalls, ‘but gradually I got used to it, and now I am so happy that I made that change and so grateful that they insisted.’

When Natalia was due to appear in Giselle in Milan in 2015 and her partner fell ill, it was her mother’s idea that she contact Sergei to see if he might stand in, so she sent him an email.

passion de deux
 Natalia and Sergei in Run Mary Run

‘He had at the time gone off by himself.’ (In a strop, so it was said, after spiralling into unhappiness and cocaine use, to explore a freelance career as a dancer/actor/model.) ‘My mother had seen him dance and suggested he might be a good pairing for me in this role.

‘That’s how it all started. I knew of his excellent reputation as a dancer. And as to his other reputations…it was his dancing that I chose to focus on and that made me write to him,’ she says diplomatically.

And was it love at first sight? ‘Yes. From the first meeting there were very strong feelings. We both understood there was something special.’

This attraction was palpable – and their performance so widely acclaimed that they will reprise the roles in a production of Giselle in Munich this month.

‘It was very emotional dancing with Sergei that first time,’ Natalia reminisces. ‘We came together as individuals, with our own experiences, and something a bit magic happened. I think the audience could feel it. It was emotionally very charged. I think they had a great time watching us in that show. Giselle is so romantic and will always be my favourite ballet.’

Natalia leads a highly regimented life as a dancer, with long days of rehearsals and few breaks. She has, like most top ballerinas, been dogged by injury. ‘This is part of my professional life and something I have to live with, but my injuries aren’t giving me too much grief at the moment.’

Though only 5ft 5in tall, with tiny bones, she feels that her body is oaf-like by dancing standards. ‘It has been a challenge,’ she sighs. ‘I have to be very strict with what I eat. I have nothing made of flour and no sugar. I eat mostly salads.’


Fashion failsafe For a red-carpet event, it has to be Alexander McQueen.

Film to curl up in front of I love Francis Ford Coppola and The Godfather, and Sergei’s favourite actor is Mickey Rourke, so we try to watch anything he is in.

Plan B I would be a painter. I love getting my paints out and am thinking of doing a course soon.

Style inspiration I love the actresses from bygone French cinema; I particularly admire Fanny Ardant.

Listening to Elvis Presley, Ella Fitzgerald and Otis Redding. We have a record player and their songs sound best on vinyl.

Go-to countries Israel was beautiful and fascinating. And Beijing has pandas – my favourite animal – in the zoo. I missed rehearsals to look at them.

Last meal on earth Spaghetti – because that is what I have to deny myself as a dancer.

Alternative dance partner Carlos Acosta is a genius and it is the greatest honour to dance with him. When I first joined the Royal Ballet he took so much time to make me feel welcome. He has a magnetism and a talent that is unsurpassed. 

Having a man in her life who understands the sacrifices required of her must make things easier? ‘I don’t know any different because my boyfriends have only been from the dance world, and it seems to have worked out pretty well so far,’ she says coyly. ‘It’s a nice feeling to be with someone who understands.’

Natalia once said she found pre-performance nerves so bad that she wanted to run away. Having Sergei by her side makes a difference.

‘With age, I have got better at managing the nerves. Now I know how to not let it get to that point. I arrive at the theatre much earlier and spend some time on the stage, living the life of my character before the show. That is really helpful.

‘ It’s such an individual state, so even Sergei can’t always help me, but it is great when he’s there beside me. He can try to calm me down. Even just the way he says “good luck” can make me feel much better.’

When I ask if Sergei would consider a return to the Royal Ballet, as some have speculated he might (it would, after all, make sense with her there), Natalia will only say, ‘I can’t answer that. It is a question for him. But he is an outstanding dancer and I think it would be really interesting if he did decide to.’

Either way, the pair intend to partner on stage as much as possible – even if not exclusively. ‘We want to find a way to do more together,’ Natalia reveals, sounding for a moment a bit too smitten, and then correcting herself.

‘I mean, I would like to think that of course we are professionals, so we would dance our best with anyone. It shouldn’t make a difference, but…it is such a special feeling to dance with the person you love.’

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