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The ‘James Dean of Ballet’ Was Dropped From ‘Swan Lake’ for a Homophobic Instagram Post Editors' Picks

The ‘James Dean of Ballet’ Was Dropped From ‘Swan Lake’ for a Homophobic Instagram Post

Written by Stephan Horbelt on November 12, 2019
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He was supposed to star as Prince Siegfried in Paris Opera Ballet’s production of Swan Lake starting next month, but after a sexist, homophobic Instagram post just before the new year, renowned Ukrainian ballet dancer Sergei Polunin was dropped from the show entirely.

But, really, what do we expect from a guy who has a portrait of Vladimir Putin tattooed on his chest (seriously), would like Putin to become “leader of the world” and who has voiced his support for Donald Trump?

When Aurélie Dupont, artistic director of the Paris Opera Ballet, discovered the homophobic Instagram post of Sergei Polunin, she took action. In an email to the company, she wrote that while she recognized his talent as a dancer, Polunin’s public statement didn’t correspond to her values or to those of the Paris Opera Ballet.

His invitation to perform in Swan Lake was thus rescinded.

While the Instagram post by Sergei Polunin at issue is in broken English, its homophobic sentiment comes through very clearly:

Man up to all men who is doing ballet there is already ballerina on stage don’t need to be two. Man should be a man and woman should be a woman. Masculine and Feminine energies creates balance. That’s a reason you got balls. Same [thing] Outside ballet, Man what’s wrong with you? Females now trying take on the man role because you don’t fuck them and because you are an embarrassment. Man are wolfs man Are lions man are the leaders of there’s family you suppose to take care of everything! What happen? Stop being weak be a man be a warrior what’s wrong with you??? No respect for you, life will beat you down put you on your knees and wash you out. need a good slap to wake you up Unbelievable!!!

Sergei Polunin was called “the James Dean of the ballet world” by The Telegraph in 2012, a couple years after he became the London Royal Ballet’s youngest principal dancer at the age of 19.

Outside of ballet, he starred in the music video for the Hozier track “Take Me to Church” (below), directed by David LaChapelle and pre-Putin tattoo. Interestingly, the official video for that song concerns a gay couple escaping a homophobic mob.

Sergei Polunin has also appeared in two films that American audiences saw in theaters: Red Sparrow, starring Jennifer Lawrence, and the 2017 adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express.

Just today Polunin appeared to double-down on the sentiment of the post that got him uninvited from Swan Lake in Paris. He wrote on Instagram, “We can’t Make Female and Male energy flat or the same we will destroy the balance of nature and life I won’t let that happen.” And just hours ago he shared another’s post that reads, “No matter how tough things get, don’t forget to always stay true to yourself and what you believe!”

It does, indeed, look like Sergei Polunin is staying true to himself: a homophobe who has no place in the art of ballet.

What do you think of Sergei Polunin getting uninvited to perform in next month’s Paris production of Swan Lake?

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