When Sergej Polunin Goes to Church
The video of Sergej Polunin dancing on Hozier’s Take Me to Church is well known for a couple of years now. Even so, I have never really looked at it, like really really, until I saw the documentary Dancer.
I have always regarded ballet, dancing – generally put, as the best way to exchange energy with the universe: it’s like you give something to the people watching you, may it be ridicule or unearthly grace, and you get that feeling of completion in return.
Not just a ballet dancer …
When it comes to Sergej it’s all about unearthly grace. After having watched him performing I cannot not watch him. It’s bigger than me and almost impossible to put into words. He doesn’t dance, he takes emotions and puts them into gestures, he gives grace a new meaning.
It is incredibly sad how the world keeps putting people like him in boxes – he is a classic ballet dancer, so he must do this and that. Role must be played, disregarding his wishes. Sergej is known as the bad boy of ballet. With 19 he became the youngest ever Royal Ballet’s principal. He left the job after 2 years and retreated to Russia. Not even a year later, he quit that too.
All the trouble happened because of the world’s love for labels and him failing to live up to the expectations set beforehand by “experts”. “Oh, such a raw talent, unforgivable to waste.” I heard somewhere.
… but a true artist
But no. People like him, true artists, they never seize to seek, to experiment, to live through all their senses. Especially when you have your entire childhood paraded in front of you, but you are too busy being broken into ballet. This is what happened with him – ballet was just a trophy he was being pushed at first. The way I see it, it just so happened he was actually good and talented at it. This was a lucky case.
Therefore it should be no wonder that his talent has become his cage, whose boundaries he keeps on pushing. Discovery and experimentation have already become cliches when we speak of artists.
… and a human being
This “let me out of here” attitude he has been proliferating is visible when he speaks, the way he looks, patiently trying to explain his actions to the media hosts, uncomfortably answering rigid questions about his drug abuse or, what has been catalogued as, his child-like behavior.
People like him are true works of art. They don’t possess an outrageous talent, they are that talent. And in everything they do they put that talent at work: may it be ballet, modern dancing, or simply talking and posing for a camera.
Here is some nice material:
Take Me to Church – the mesmerizing LaChapelle video, Sergej Polunin in all his perfection
Deleted scene from the Dancer – this is a more human Sergej; you see him making small mistakes and you think, he is a normal person after all.
A BBC interview with Sergej Polunin – see him justifying his relationship with ballet.