Home news Sergei Polunin: The Wagner question, very small variant

Sergei Polunin: The Wagner question, very small variant

It gives up YouTube a four-minute movie that has sent a good 26 million earthlings over the past four years, I've seen clearly too often in recent times. The video contains a number of addictive elements: a dramatically burrowing earwig song (by Irish singer Hozier), an over-perfect light and sun aesthetic (by American artist David LaChapelle) and, undoubtedly, the main ingredient: a very beautiful, tattooed and almost naked man , who is aesthetically pleasing to himself, displaying ballet jumps and pirouettes of shattering lightness and precision: Sergei Polunin.

Catherine Newmark lives in Berlin and works as a cultural journalist specializing in film, philosophy and humanities. She is author and editor of Deutschlandradio Kultur and "Philosophie Magazin" as well as editor of "10 nach 8".

The Ukrainian-born, now also a Russian passport-possessing dancer has triggered in the last two months, scandals after Skandälchen: by homophobic (or at least a roughly reactionary male image springing up) statements on Instagram; by the public veneration of Vladimir Putin, whom he refers to as the "figure of light" and whose face he has added to the already impressive tattoo collection on his upper body; through the suddenly groundbreaking realization that the fat tattoo wheel surrounding his belly button is in fact a Kolovrat symbol around his navel, a favorite in the neo-Nazi scene. An invitation as a guest dancer at the Paris Opera was withdrawn in January as a result of public and internal protest; a similar in Munich not.

The general indignation and the vociferous demands that someone with Polunins both written in the world standing (although his Instagram account has now gone offline) and physically visible opinions no longer occur, I have been very busy in recent weeks. Most of all, because I've found out on my own that they absolutely do not diminish my almost physical enjoyment in watching his dance. I find it understandable that his Ukrainian fellow citizens resent Putin's admiration and acceptance of Russian citizenship, and it would surprise me if he were to appear in Kiev or Odessa in the foreseeable future. But what, I wonder, should a Western audience not involved in the conflict handle the political views of a dancer? It has been so far that I have looked at Sergei Polunin not because of any political comments, but because of his jumps.

I belong to the undoubtedly very manageable group of people who are interested in the classical ballet, and be it against their will. Somehow the ballet lessons of my childhood, which were rather arduous and unsuccessful, saved something in my adult life, a fascination for this most artificial of all art forms, which, despite all intellectual reservations, can not be completely eradicated. So far as a mother, I have successfully resisted the fact that my own daughters live out their ballet wishes inspired by pink princess fantasies – I am now too suspicious of the unnatural disciplining of the body and the cultivation of delicacy. But at the same time I still follow the events of the great ballet companies of this world at least from the corner of my eye almost to this day. Breathless, I have seen the Russian miracle couple Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev storm the stages of the world; and as Sergei Polunin's spectacular career set in, I enthusiastically consumed shaky cell phone conversions on YouTube.

I did not ask for his private views at the time – and when he said goodbye to the London Royal Ballet at the latest from 2012, the year he started bang by storm, he began to inform the public and publicly his dissatisfied bad boy image It seemed to me that it was a not-so-awakened teenage rebellion against the circumstances he had not been able to afford in the crucial years of disciplined education. That somehow a malaise of the world was articulated a little later with someone who had so much success so young, I found somehow human.

Something about the tight ballet world made him visibly unhappy at the time, and that has not really improved in the years since. Polunin seems to be looking for something beyond Swan Lake and Co. – glory, maybe, or just acknowledgment – and he likes to play. His increasingly numerous tattoos are a nuisance and must be painstakingly masked on stage, but apart from that he usually gives the impression of a thoroughly friendly, tender and sensitive (albeit somewhat lost) soul and his colleagues like him quite obviously and his provocations seem generally not too serious.


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