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Page 3 Profile: Sergei Polunin, ballet dancer

Back doing what he does best?

Not exactly. A year ago, the talented dancer made headlines when he quit the Royal Ballet, walking out of the company that had made him their youngest male principal dancer. Since then, the 23-year-old Ukrainian has travelled between companies and become a star in Russia by winning a Strictly Come Dancing-style show. Now he has done another runner. He failed to show up at rehearsals on Wednesday despite being due to take the stage at the London Coliseum in the lead role of Midnight Express next week.

Why did he vanish?

A source close to the dancer said it was purely down to "artistic differences". Others, however, seemed worried. Peter Schaufuss, the ballet's director and choreographer, said: "I'm just devastated and I'm concerned about his welfare. I had no reason to think anything was wrong because rehearsals were going very well and Sergei was perfect for the role." The last time he saw Polunin was Tuesday evening. "We were talking and he said he wanted to dance and he would come to rehearsals at 1pm the following day. Since then we haven't had any response from him. He didn't show up."

Where is he?

He is believed to still be in London as he had not, as of yesterday afternoon, checked out of his hotel. The last time he went on the run, he spent his days in a north London tattoo parlour he still co-owns, and rumours began to circulate about his lifestyle. Schaufuss said: "I asked him in November, because I had heard all the rumours, if he was clean [from drugs] and he said: 'Of course'." In interviews, the dancer talked about struggling with the pressure of being a dancer, as well as being bored to tears by rehearsals.

What happens now with the production?

It has been announced that Polunin will not be dancing "due to unforeseen circumstances".

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