Entertainment & Arts

Dancer Sergei Polunin is 'in Moscow and OK' says Tamara Rojo

Tamara Rojo
Image caption Rojo is former principal dancer at the Royal Ballet

The English National Ballet's artistic director has said missing Ukrainian dancer Sergei Polunin is "in Moscow and is OK", following his sudden departure from a London show.

Polunin left Midnight Express days before its UK premiere. Last year, he unexpectedly quit the Royal Ballet.

Tamara Rojo told the BBC: "Sergei is an amazing artist and a complicated man.

"Sometimes the price people have to pay for that level of artistry is that it is not consistent or predictable."

Last week, Peter Schaufuss, the production's director and choreographer, said Polunin failed to turn up for rehearsals.

Schaufuss said he was "hugely disappointed," adding: "I saw him on Tuesday evening and he said he really wanted to dance.

Rojo, who was appointed to her role in April last year, danced with Polunin at the Royal Ballet as part of her farewell performances.

She told Radio 4's Front Row host John Wilson: "I haven't had the chance to discuss this particular situation with him.

"In the past he has been lost, just because he had such an amazing talent".


Polunin announced in January last year that he was quitting the Royal Ballet, having joined the company in 2007 and being promoted to principal at the age of 19.

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Media captionMissing dancer Sergei Polunin: Director Peter Schaufuss says he is "really worried"

In an interview with Newsnight, he said: "You live the life of a dancer. It is not your job, it is your life, and you have to love it so much to be able to take it every day for six days a week, sometimes seven.

"In a way I did feel that the artist in me was dying a little bit and I wasn't giving as much of myself and putting as much creativity into it as I could, as I should."

Rojo said the dancer had been forced to cope with outside pressure since a very young age.

"He felt that everyone, society and his parents and his colleagues - myself as well - had told him, 'If you have this gift, you have to perform,'" she explained.

"And he was like, 'No I don't actually have to, I can throw it away if that's my wish'.

"I think he's past that now, he's happy with being a dancer but I think he's always going to be complicated because he's more intelligent than he is educated".

Image caption Osipova has performed as a guest dancer in the UK

After Polunin graduated from a gymnastics school in Kiev, he joined the British Royal Ballet School at the age of 13.

Rojo went on to say "maybe we concentrate too much on creating beautiful bodies and not in creating prepared minds to deal with that kind of talent".

The artistic director also hinted that she hoped to work with Polunin in the near future.

"I hope so, he wants to come," she said. "There are some plans but with Sergei you can never publish them because you never know, so I will be very careful before I announce them."

Meanwhile, the Royal Ballet has secured Russian "superstar" ballerina Natalia Osipova from the Mikahilovsky Ballet in St Petersburg, Russia, where she is currently a principal.

Her first performance will be in Romeo and Juliet opposite Cuban dancer Carlos Acosta.

Kevin O'Hare, director of the Royal Ballet said the 26-year-old had "greatly enjoyed her guest performances" with the company and was a "wonderful addition to our world class roster of principals".

You can hear Front Row's full interview with Tamara Rojo on the iPlayer.

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