Dancer in the dark

Monumental Pictures

For many who have tried it, ballet is defined as a frivolous hobby to be indulged in when one’s still believing in princesses and left as a distant memory soon enough. For ballet dancer Sergei Polunin, it was survival. His world was not tutus and bright lights but a cold gym in one of the poorest areas of Ukraine, still left in ruins by the fall of the Soviet Union. Taking part in gymnastics was a common activity for children, and from there it was decided whether they continued or went onto ballet classes. When Polunin explains that his exceptional flexibility saw him pushed into the latter, it feels less of a celebration and instead as though his fate has been sealed.

Steven Cantor’s documentary Dancer (out around Australia December 1 via. Vendetta Films) begins Polunin’s story much later, however. In 2015, the 25-year-old was ready to leave dancing behind forever. While still…

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