In Easy Ardour, Sergei Polunin performs a Russian diplomat who takes benefit of his work journeys to Paris to conduct a hot-blooded affair with a single mom (Laetitia Dosch). He says he was pleased to be shot bare and full-frontal by director Danielle Arbid. “I noticed her ardour, and that’s what catches my consideration. Once I see that impulse, I need to assist your desires come true.”
The movie represents a big second in Polunin’s transition from ballet famous person to display screen actor. Beforehand, the 31-year-old felt like he had been solid solely in roles that performed on his place within the dance world. In Crimson Sparrow, he performed the previous dance accomplice of intelligence recruit Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence) and he appeared as Yuri Soloviev in Ralph Fiennes’ Rudolf Nureyev biopic The White Crow.
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Once I recommend that his Rely Rudolph in Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express didn’t dance, he retorts: “My character’s background was a dancer, so it made it simpler. To be sincere, I’ve solely finished motion pictures the place I’m a dancer.”
So Easy Ardour represented a refreshing problem. Born in Ukraine, Polunin used his expertise of residing in Moscow to tell the position.
“He’s a spy and really Russian. Loads of Russians cover feelings. We don’t smile. A lady is a lady, a person is a person. Individuals open up later – you need to be very near an individual so that you can smile at them.”
As he says this, Polunin’s expression doesn’t change. We’re sitting on reverse sides of a desk on a lodge terrace in San Sebastian, however his penetrating eyes and chiselled bones are undiminished by social distancing. He’s in black tie, prepared for the premiere of Easy Ardour later this afternoon.
It has been fairly the last decade. On the age of 19, the world was at Polunin’s ft. He was the Royal Ballet’s youngest-ever principal dancer. His years rising up in Kherson and Kiev, and his transfer along with his mom to London, aged 13, to affix the Royal Ballet Faculty, have been captured within the 2016 documentary Dancer, which particulars a lifetime of fixed calls for and sacrifice. In early 2014, aged 21, he shocked the world – and enhanced his dangerous boy of ballet repute – by quitting the corporate.
I reached the highest, then I realised not a lot had modified
“I reached the highest, then I realised not a lot has modified,” he says. “There have been 10, 11 hours within the studio, six days per week, touring, one month off a 12 months, and solely a tiny bit of cash. I believed the world have to be a lot greater than this, let me see what’s on the market.”
The affords got here flooding in, however he determined to go to Russia, the place his repute meant little. “Once I went to Moscow, I used to be like a no one. I bought put on this little lodge. There was nothing in it. And no one talked to me about something. I believed, I don’t care; I’m going to begin firstly.”
The dangerous press got here for the primary time. “In case you’re not mature sufficient, or don’t have folks round you, you begin to consider it. You assume, ‘OK, in case you assume I’m dangerous, I’m going to be actually dangerous.’ That may be a mistake since you lose your self.” So he give up the ballet world – or so he thought.
In 2015, what was speculated to be his swansong, dancing within the music video to Hozier’s “Take Me to Church”, shot by David LaChappelle, grew to become a viral hit. It’s a rare efficiency – although to not Polunin. “Once I first watched it, I used to be actually upset as a result of I knew I may have finished higher.”
By 2017, he was able to make his official return to the dance world, this time on his personal phrases. He arrange his personal firm, Polunin Ink. Initially, the ballet world appeared resistant and critiques have been combined.
“The trade will throw you out. I give up the system, however to be sincere, I didn’t know what to do for a very long time, so I rejoined the system. However now I’m making a parallel system to work with large establishments. As quickly as I did that, all people retains you out. I understood. Once I was a part of the system, anybody who’s completely different, I didn’t like them.”
Two years later, in 2019, Polunin self-destructed once more, when he made a sequence of outrageous and offensive feedback, together with fat-shaming and homophobic slurs on Instagram. He was dropped by the Paris Opera Ballet, however didn’t apologise, though he did delete the posts in query.
I probe him for indicators of contrition. He argues that he believes feedback during which folks revoke their social media views are empty. “Seventeen seconds of apology wipes out the whole lot you mentioned,” he says. “However an individual who goes on Instagram and says they’re sorry most likely doesn’t imply it. That’s self-serving. It’s magic phrases. Individuals, for some purpose, want that. I don’t consider in that.”
He says he has no drawback apologising to folks straight. “A public apology is so unreal; you don’t know who you might be apologising to. It’s one thing that, in my head, I’m making an attempt to work out why it’s necessary.
“It was the identical after I was a child; if I believed I didn’t do one thing mistaken, I didn’t apologise to my mom for days.”
In Could, coronavirus allowing, Polunin will make his London debut as Romeo, alongside ballerina Alina Cojocaru in choreographer Johan Kobborg’s new model of Romeo & Juliet on the Royal Albert Corridor.
He arrives not a lot because the insurgent, extra as the brand new institution – though there are nonetheless the numerous notorious tattoos to mark him out: Vladimir Putin on his chest, swastika-like symbols on his abdomen and, on his face, a chook flying in the direction of his left eye.
Quickly, he tells me, they are going to be no extra. “I’m eradicating all my tattoos. I’m type of clearing face, purifying the tattoos, a bit. To me now, they’re infantile. I’ve handed the time of getting tattoos.”
The change got here when he had a son early final 12 months, with the Russian ice-skater Elena Ilinykh. The tattoos now not mirror the persona he’s making an attempt to current to the world. When his physique was first inked, it was a mark of revolt. “You couldn’t work in some workplaces, or the Royal Ballet; it was freedom of alternative for me.”
Having them eliminated is an excruciatingly painful course of. “I did the ‘Church’ elimination the opposite day [he has DLCH for David LaChapelle across his knuckles]. “I sweated a lot,” he says. “After, I felt recent and new. It’s a protracted course of, nevertheless it’s an excellent course of.”
‘Easy Ardour’ is on Curzon Residence Cinema from Friday 5 February; ‘Romeo & Juliet’ is at the Royal Albert Hall, London, on 6 Could (020 7589 8212)