Paris Opéra Ballet Revokes Sergei Polunin's Invitation to Guest Star

Sergei Polunin, whose recent homophobic and sexist Instagram posts have sparked international outrage, will not be appearing with the Paris Opéra Ballet as previously announced.

POB artistic director Aurélie Dupont sent an internal email to company staff and dancers on Sunday, explaining that she did not share Polunin's values and that the Russian-based dancer would not be guesting with the company during the upcoming run of Rudolf Nureyev's Swan Lake in February.


This decision comes in response to numerous complaints, including those expressed by POB dancers online and during management meetings. French ballet fans have also been eager to weigh in on the controversy. Some argue that the POB is largely financed by the French federal government and that Polunin does not reflect "French law or values."

Other balletgoers who had hoped to catch a glimpse of the international star expressed disappointment. But even Polunin's talent has been called into question by some commenters who speculate that without a home company, the dancer isn't preparing for performances well and can't be relied upon to produce the same results that first delighted audiences at the Royal Opera Ballet.

POB has not yet named a replacement for Polunin in the role of Prince Siegfried. However, a cast of accomplished étoile dancers that will appear in the production has been announced on the company's website. For the time being, the list does not specify the role each dancer will perform.

Dupont's decision to stage Swan Lake without Polunin is yet another sign that the ballet world is changing. Numerous international companies are currently striving to create a respectful and healthy working environment for all dancers. If being uninvited by the POB is any indication, Polunin will increasingly struggle to find collaborators who are willing to accept his erratic behavior and hateful outbursts.

Latest Posts


Laurent Liotardo (post-production by Nik Pate), Courtesy ENB

Catch English National Ballet’s Rising Stars in the Emerging Dancer Competition Livestream

The coronavirus pandemic may have postponed English National Ballet's annual Emerging Dancer competition last spring, but the show must go on—digitally! You can still watch ENB's best and brightest talent during the competition's livestream, taking place on September 22 at 7:20 pm BST (that's 2:20 pm ET). Now in its 11th year, the competition for the Emerging Dancer Award will be broadcast live from the company's East London production studio for the first time. Tickets are available for $6.99 per device and will remain available to view on demand until September 29.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
From left: Alaina Broyles, Courtesy Werner; Courtesy Underwood

Gaynor Minden's Latest Dancer Lineup Features a Body-Positivity Activist and Its First Guy

Pointe shoe brand Gaynor Minden recently welcomed 32 young dancers to its coveted roster of Gaynor Girls. But this year, the company included two applicants who push the boundaries of what it means to dance on pointe. While both Mason Simon Underwood and Colleen Werner are longtime GM wearers, they stand out from the rest of this year's group: Underwood is the first ever Gaynor Guy, and Werner is a body-positivity activist.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Dylan Giles, Courtesy Festival Ballet Providence

Festival Ballet Providence's New Leap Year Program Gives Dancers Facing a Gap Year a Place to Grow

A new training program at Festival Ballet Providence called Leap Year is welcoming pre-professional and professional dancers who don't have a studio or company to dance for this season.

The endeavor is the brainchild of Kathleen Breen Combes, FBP's executive and artistic director. "I kept getting these emails of dancers saying they just need a place to train this year," says Combes. "I thought, What if we could provide a space for dancers to get stronger, experiment and try new things in a nonjudgmental and no-pressure environment?"

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks