He's The Greatest Dancer





I recently watched the amazing documentary about the Ukrainian ballet dancer Sergei Polunin, who became the Royal Ballet's youngest ever principle dancer at aged 20. Known as the "bad boy of ballet", the film tracks his life from his humble beginnings in the Ukraine, his meteoric rise within the Royal Ballet and to him ultimately walking away from it.

What the film brings into stark relief are the huge sacrifices families from Eastern Europe make to send their children to ballet school. Unlike in the West, where most ballet students come from fairly privileged or middle class backgrounds, in the likes of Russia and the Ukraine working class families give up everything to give their children a chance in the ballet world. In order to earn enough money to pay for Sergei's ballet education, his father had to take a job in Portugal and his grandmother went to Greece where they could earn higher wages to help pay for his career. As Sergei's mother tearfully recounts the moment she had to leave her only child behind in England, we realise that was the biggest sacrifice of all.


The footage of Sergei as a young dancer is mindblowing and you soon realise you are watching someone who was quite literally born to be a dancer. Frequently compared to Nureyev, his good looks and incredible physicality are mesmerising to watch. it is clear that Sergei is ill at ease with this life and his gift and so he parties, takes cocaine and stays out all night yet it's never explored as to why he was so self destructive. It could be that deep inside he just wanted to be a normal young person. His path had been determined for him from a very young age and perhaps he felt he had no control over that and eventually just had to break free on some level.

Even you aren't that into ballet, I highly recommend this film anyway as it's beautifully shot and just as a documentary it's engrossing and engaging.