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Jane S

Polunin resigns from RB

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A large wealthy company such as The Royal Ballet should never have allowed itself to get into the position of being so dependent on a single dancer.

 

I don't think Royal Ballet is so "wealthy" of talent to close the door for a dancer as Polunin is. I'm not indulgent: I think he did some things in a very unpleasant way and also said a good number of silly ones. But he is young and seems also often ill advised by interested people.

I think a second chance is mandatory and I hope that he and the company will find a better way to work together. No excuses for Sergei's mistake, but also for Royal Ballet management ones: let's close that page and open a new one.

Good luck!

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I'm very surprised by this news, especially after his comment in the press last week about his visa. A large wealthy company such as The Royal Ballet should never have allowed itself to get into the position of being so dependent on a single dancer.

 

I don't think it is (or was) so. IMO there have been a number of management mistakes made over the past couple of seasons but nothing suggests that the RB was dependant on one single dancer.

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As far as I could see SP was cast in the leading role in every production this season, which seemed to be part of the problem as far as he was concerned in that it did not give him as much time as he wanted to guest elsewhere or even to have a bit of a break. I have noticed that many of the other principals seem to have breaks in their schedules when they are dancing elsewhere or doing other things. If the RB had not been so dependent (I said "so dependent" not "dependent" above) on SP then why did they have to bring in Marcelo Gomes (whom I personally enjoyed seeing)? IMO they should have rehearsed three casts for The Dream anyway

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As far as I could see SP was cast in the leading role in every production this season, which seemed to be part of the problem as far as he was concerned in that it did not give him as much time as he wanted to guest elsewhere or even to have a bit of a break. I have noticed that many of the other principals seem to have breaks in their schedules when they are dancing elsewhere or doing other things. If the RB had not been so dependent (I said "so dependent" not "dependent" above) on SP then why did they have to bring in Marcelo Gomes (whom I personally enjoyed seeing)? IMO they should have rehearsed three casts for The Dream anyway

 

I don't think that "so dependent" is right either. Barring the Dream (for which there were covers - why a cover wasn't used then is another matter), there has been no issue with a replacement for Polunin in his scheduled roles. Personally speaking I think Bonelli on Saturday night was much better than I imagined Polunin would have been.

 

A number of other principals were also cast in a very large number of leading roles this season: Pennefather, McRae (and, subject to his operation, Bonelli), Rojo, Nunez, Lamb. Very interesting to note that Polunin was not cast in Prince of the Pagodas.

 

As I saw it, Polunin was being shown off and given a number of opportunities not often available to young dancers. This is something which should have been for the mutual benefit of the company and the dancer.

 

Also interesting to note that Lamb was scheduled to be first night cast for three full-lengths in a row at the beginning of the season.

 

My understanding is that there were covers for Dream. Why a cover was not used is a different matter.

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I am only really thinking of the men. There are or were 10 male principals (one of whom is a guest) - you have only mentioned three- plus a large number of experienced male soloists. IMO SP was overburdened because of his exceptional physical qualities (good height coupled with great technique) and the publicity surrounding the emergence of such a talented male dancer at such a young age (and RBS trained as well). It seems to me that there may have been a lack of communication between SP and the RB in that the RB thought that they were keeping him happy by giving him so many roles whereas he wanted fewer and more time off. There are still the issues of SP not liking the daily discipline of classes and rehearsals and, if his comment to the press last week truly reflects what he feels, his lack of enthusiasm for partnering the ballerinas, which may explain why IMO there was little chemistry between him and Rojo when they performed together at the Pavlova gala last week. It's hard to know how those issues can be resolved

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I've just read a review in The Times of Romeo and Juliet - it was very complimentary about Melissa Hamilton but mentioned that she will only dance Juliet once this season. How do RB expect dancers to develop roles if they only dance them once every few months. It seems a total lack of planning that some dancers are overburdened and others don't dance enough.

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I've just read a review in The Times of Romeo and Juliet - it was very complimentary about Melissa Hamilton but mentioned that she will only dance Juliet once this season. How do RB expect dancers to develop roles if they only dance them once every few months. It seems a total lack of planning that some dancers are overburdened and others don't dance enough.

That's usually the way of it when relatively junior members of the company (Hamilton is a Soloist) first take principal roles. It must be very frustrating for them, but even more so for more senior members at the sub-Principal level who are overtaken in this way and haven't had such an opportunity. If Hamilton had another performance, given that none of the seven other Juliets this season (all Principals) has more than two, who would you leave out? Her time will come.

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How do RB expect dancers to develop roles if they only dance them once every few months. It seems a total lack of planning that some dancers are overburdened and others don't dance enough.

Seems to me that it hasn't been lack of planning that's been the problem this season. You had a situation last autumn where virtually all the Auroras/Florimunds were also doubling up in the Manons, while other principals who have danced one or both roles in the past were doing neither. And the problem in your first sentence is just as valid for principals: you get - usually, and if you're lucky - two bites at a role per season, and then the ballet may not be back for 2 or 3 years. So your first performance each time is probably a matter of getting your head round how you did the role 3 years ago, and then your second one you might actually be able to develop a bit. And then 2 or 3 years later the cycle simply repeats itself. It's no way to really improve and deepen your interpretation. But it was ever thus at the RB - for the 23 years I've been going there and even way before, from what I gather from more "historical" publications I've read. And realistically, it seems that for most full-length ballets the market can't take more than a couple of performances by each pairing, unless a certain Cuban is involved - and he isn't much any more.

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There are still the issues of SP not liking the daily discipline of classes and rehearsals and, if his comment to the press last week truly reflects what he feels, his lack of enthusiasm for partnering the ballerinas, which may explain why IMO there was little chemistry between him and Rojo when they performed together at the Pavlova gala last week. It's hard to know how those issues can be resolved

 

Actually Rojo was the only ballerina he specifically mentioned as being someone he enjoyed working with.

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Where did people read that Sergei was gonna be doing his originally scheduled La Sylphide? That's the one I want to watch then! :P

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Does the RB just have too many senior dancers? Leaving Polunin aside, I've wondered whether the dancers feel that they dance too much or too little. Some do a lot of dancing etc. elsewhere. I doubt that those dancers would like a heavier workload at the RB. I have seen American commentators complaining about how little the principals dance at ABT but many of them are pursuing other projects elsewhere (one even has his own ballet company).

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Actually Rojo was the only ballerina he specifically mentioned as being someone he enjoyed working with.

 

...and I suspect that she, and also another experienced colleague, played a role in Sergei "reconcilation" with Royal Ballet...and the roles that Sergei is taking this year and the next seem to confirm my idea.

I'm really happy to now that Tamara has an eye on Sergei and that he likes to dance with her, that makes me much more confident in Sergei's future as a dancer. They can be a great partnership, as they demontrated in Marguerite and Armand, and they need each other.

 

I'm really looking forward Sergei's James: it could be something to remember. And if it was Kobborg to take him back for it, thanks to Johan!

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... has a feature on Sergei Polunin. Blink and you might miss it - but they might be using one of my photos (claims a vague attachment to <15secs of fame)

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I really hope that SP does dance with the RB again in some capacity. Guesting might work well for all concerned. In the meantime, I hope that the Men in Motion programme goes well tonight. If anyone goes to see it I'd be interested to know what s/he thinks of it as I probably won't see it having already booked for so much this month.

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BBC2 'Newsnight' has just shown a brief interview with Polunin after rehearsals at Sadler's Wells. Nothing really new since the recent newspaper interviews - he was feeling diminished as an artist, has pushed the 'Delete' button, probably won't be dancing in 5/6 years time, and so forth.

 

It will presumably be available on BBC iPlayer for a week before too long - at about 40 minutes into the programme.

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Where did people read that Sergei was gonna be doing his originally scheduled La Sylphide? That's the one I want to watch then! :P

It's rumour. It may turn out to be true for all I know but as of now it's only rumour.

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It's rumour. It may turn out to be true for all I know but as of now it's only rumour.

Thanks. I've booked tickets today for both his 2 originally scheduled La Sylphide so I hope its true!

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Well done Dave. But I have to say this media frenzy really is becoming a little ridiculous. Good publicity, of course, though.

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Petulant is the word that sprung to my mind. If he really is so eager to 'move on' then I think he should just get on with it ... and if he REALLY wanted to go quietly - as he himself - perhaps he should refuse all requests for interviews simply stating the he wants the memory of his work in ballet to be remembered for itself. Of course, everyone sends him their best interests and, of course, all will look forward to reading with interest as to his his future pursuits. The card - seemingly now signed by the world - has now been handed and out the door he smiling can go unto new adventures.

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The words came to me from Sergei's own lips via his chief mentor and teacher at the school.He also said that he is going to do a Broadway musical (though he can't remember the name!!!) and that Ralph Fiennes has found him an acting coach.

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This was Jonathan Cope, in an interview for the Independent when he decided he'd like to be a dancer after all, after 2 years completely out of the ballet world. So maybe we'll see Polunin back one day, too.

 

It's not surprising that young principals find the pressure hard to take but there is one major difference here: a professional dancer normally gives notice and in Jonathan Cope's case he gave the Royal Ballet a whole season before departing. This must have helped not just the RB but also his partners including the fast-rising star, Darcey Bussell. I wonder how she would have felt had he 'done a Polunin' and walked out in September 89, prior to the first night of Macmillan's Prince of the Pagodas. Would her career have been materially affected? Luckily, he worked on for another 9 months and maybe this is why he was welcomed back later. The RB management may 'forgive and forget' but I doubt his fellow dancers will feel the same way about Polunin after his abrupt and graceless departure.

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The words came to me from Sergei's own lips via his chief mentor and teacher at the school.He also said that he is going to do a Broadway musical (though he can't remember the name!!!) and that Ralph Fiennes has found him an acting coach.

I completely accept the probity of the source. I hope it's true, but…

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It's almost certainly a generational thing, but I've stumbled across an alternative view to that of our protagonist here on the need and value of rehearsal from composer Rodion Shchedrin:

 

"However talented one may be, skipping rehearsals is an absolute taboo .......

And the older you become, the more rehearsal time you need. This is because the more professional you are, the more nuances you can work on.”

 

From the St Petersburg Times: http://www.sptimes.ru/index_bp.php?action_id=2&story_id=35318&section=4

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Re PoIunin: I think this is a case of too much, too soon. It works for some but not for others.

 

 

By the way, it always amazes me when one sees Plisetskaya offstage, with other people - like her husband - how petite she is. She was always so "large" on stage - she filled it so completely, its hard to remember she is really physically petite.

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Well, Ismene Brown on today's Arts Desk says: "There have been rumours that the problem child would be back at the Royal Ballet this summer to do his La Sylphide performances - yesterday I had it confirmed from the incoming director, Kevin O’Hare, that this isn’t so." (http://www.theartsdesk.com/dance/men-motion-ii-sadlers-wells-theatre?page=0,1)

 

Your guess is as good as mine.

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Re the Newsnight interview: I saw it with a friend who has no interest in ballet. The first thing she said on looking at his body language was that in her opinion he was "burnt out"

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Sergei never had to put up a fight to get there, compared to his RBS and RB colleagues. It was all handed out on a plate. He never experienced disappointment of not being cast, or being a cover, or being overlooked...It was all easily up for grabs for Sergei.

He danced... but probably never felt a real urge to dance. Talent alone clearly doesn't cut it.

Professional dancers thrive on the routine of daily class, rehearsals and performance. I understand he didn't. He said it himself: there was nothing left to wish for. So many dancers "survive" depressing years in the Corps de Ballet in the hope that one day they'll get out of the Corps and get a promotion. Sergei jumped the ranks and at 19 achieved what most dancers have to work for for many years.

Now that he is out there in the real world I hope he will experience, and understand, that things do not come easy in life.

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I don't know if this is the best place to post this but, after reading some of the reviews of Polunin's performances in Men in Motion, I have been wondering how freelance ballet dancers go about their business.

 

Firstly, how do they do classes? Do they do them at home, hire a studio and a coach, perhaps with others, or make arrangements to do classes with a friendly ballet company? How long does it take for a dancer to lose fitness and technique once s/he stops doing classes and rehearsing regularly?

 

Secondly, is it really possible to perform a piece (particularly a piece which the dancer has not danced before) to a high standard without a coach? I know there's youtube nowadays and of course fellow dancers can help but is this an adequate substitute? (I've also wondered how dancers prepare their gala pieces and where they get their costumes from.)

 

Thirdly, how long do you think a top ballet dancer can dance at the same or at a similar level once s/he has left the structure and discipline of a ballet company? Does it make a lot of difference if the dancer moves into more contemporary ballet?

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