After months of anticipation, it’s finally here. Dancer, the long-awaited documentary of international ballet star Sergei Polunin, had its world premiere in Los Angeles September 9, and opens in New York and on demand this Friday, September 16. It will also play in selected cities across the country.
Through intimate childhood home videos, performance footage and in-depth interviews with his family, friends and even detractors, Dancer aims to unpack the complicated, controversial life of the former Royal Ballet star. As you may recall, Polunin made headlines several years ago for walking out on his principal contract at age 22—and for his very public, self-sabotaging behavior. But the movie also reveals his troubled home life, the enormous sacrifices his family made for him, and his inner turmoil over whether to continue dancing. In this clip, we see him spiraling out of control, exhausted and stifled by his heavy commitments with The Royal Ballet.
Now 26, things are changing for Polunin. He found a stabilizing force and mentor in Bavarian State Ballet director Igor Zelensky, whom he first worked with at the Stanislavsky Ballet. He’s also found love and an onstage partnership with Royal Ballet star Natalia Osipova. And he’s cultivating an international guest artist career that seems more in tune with his restless nature.
Dancer includes two specially commissioned ballets directed by David LaChapelle, including Polunin’s now famous solo to Hozier’s “Take Me to Church.” (Imagine the effect on a big screen!) Check local listings for theaters and on demand options in your area. If you are in New York City, both the IFC Film Center and the Film Society of Lincoln Center will be hosting Q&A sessions with Polunin and the film's director, Steven Cantor, on September 16 and 17.