Ballet rebel may be kicked out of UK after losing his work permit
Ukrainian who quit Royal Ballet faces uncertain future after losing right to dance in Britain
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Thursday 02 February 2012
Sergei Polunin, the rising star of the Royal Ballet who sensationally quit last week, will no longer be able to dance in the UK after his work permit was revoked.
The news places serious doubt over whether the 22-year-old star, pictured below, will be able to perform at the gala evening staged by the English National Ballet next month.
Polunin, who has been compared to the ballet great Rudolf Nureyev, is believed to have told the Royal Ballet that he intended to quit dancing altogether, saying the pressure was "enormous".
He was made the company's youngest-ever principal dancer at the age of 19 after arriving in Britain from his native Ukraine just six years earlier.
His work permit for the UK was conditional on his employment at the Royal Ballet and a spokesman confirmed yesterday that "having resigned, Sergei no longer has the right to work in the UK".
After he walked out the company was legally obligated to inform the UK Border Agency, who rescinded his work permit. The Government body would not comment on Polunin's case.
Last Tuesday during rehearsals for The Dream, which opened at Covent Garden last night, Polunin told Royal Ballet director Dame Monica Mason that he wanted to leave. Dame Monica spoke of her "shock" at his decision last week and said she had tried desperately to change his mind.
It is understood that executives at his former company did help smooth the path to Polunin dancing at Sadler's Wells several days later. He appeared in a show called Men in Motion produced by another Royal Ballet rebel, Ivan Putrov.
The English National Ballet is working to resolve the issue surrounding Polunin's appearance next month. The artistic director, Wayne Eagling, also hopes to get Polunin interested in a more permanent position, and has offered him the opportunity to train with them. However, the ENB cannot offer the salaries of the Royal Ballet.
Polunin has given few clues to his future plans and theories range from his joining a rival company in the US or Russia, to his working full-time at the tattoo parlour he co-owns in North London.
The dancer himself suggested he had not decided. He was thought to have become frustrated that he could not make guest performances elsewhere and has spoken out about how dancers in the ballet world are treated.
Polunin has taken to commenting Twitter. On the eve of his decision, he wrote on the social networking site: "Just have to go through one night!!! then will make my next moves"; and he changed his biography to "Principal Dancer of ?".
He added: "Nights... that is when everything happens!!!" He followed this with the bizarre message: "If you want to give pleasure to people, become a hooker. If you want to have pleasure get one or two for breakfast, finish with three for lunch."
One ballet insider said of his departure last week: "In career terms it doesn't sound like a brilliant decision. He was given a lot of backing by the Royal Ballet and he was their biggest star."
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