Sergei Polunin, the Ukrainian prodigy who stunned the dance world by walking out on the Royal Ballet, is to return to the UK for a brutal show "as far away from Swan Lake as you can get".
The 22-year-old, who was made the Royal Ballet's youngest principal dancer at 19, quit Covent Garden in January, blaming pressure, boredom and the desire to seek a normal life. But now it has been confirmed that next April he will play the lead in Midnight Express, a ballet called a "visceral celebration of balletic ability", based on the true-life book by Billy Hayes about an American's experience in Turkish prison after a drug-smuggling conviction.
Polunin said: "I'm proud to be returning to the UK in a show I can genuinely say I believe in... It's exactly the kind of work I want to be making, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it."