In a shock move, Sergei Polunin, the Royal Ballet’s youngest male principal dancer, left the company yesterday.
His resignation, with immediate effect, took the Royal Ballet – and indeed the whole dance community – by surprise.
Frequently described as the greatest dancer of his generation, the 21-year-old Polunin appeared to be well on the way to a stratospheric career in one of the world’s great companies. Recent reviews of the dancer who was promoted to Principal at the age of just 19, have been as ecstatic as ever, drawing comparisons with dancers of the calibre of Mikhail Baryshnikov and Rudolf Nureyev.
A more relevant comparison, however, is with Ivan Putrov, another Ukrainian-born star of the Royal Ballet, also promoted to the rank of principal in his early 20s, who left the company unexpectedly in the summer of 2010.
Putrov went on to lead a full-length ballet specially written for him by the Pet Shop Boys, The Most Incredible Thing, which opened at Sadler’s Wells last year. Later this week Putrov returns to Sadler’s Wells, this time not just as a dancer but as the producer of Men In Motion, in which Polunin stars.
Speaking about the announcement, Dame Monica Mason, Director of the Royal Ballet, commented: “This has obviously come as a huge shock, Sergei is a wonderful dancer and I have enjoyed watching him tremendously, both on stage and in the studio, over the past few years. I wish him every success in the future.”
News on who will replace Polunin at forthcoming performances of Romeo And Juliet, The Dream/Song Of The Earth, Alice’s Adventure’s In Wonderland, La Fille Mal Gardee and the Royal Ballet’s Spring Mixed Bill are yet to be announced.