Sergei Polunin, London Palladium, review: banal, peculiar and barely a ballet at all

Sergei Polunin in Fraudulent Smile
Sergei Polunin in Fraudulent Smile Credit: Alexey Kerkis

“Ballet is ready to evolve and integrate into mass culture,” read the words emblazoned in capital letters across the back sleeve of the program for Ukranian dancer Sergei Polunin’s return to the British stage.

Since he abruptly walked out of the Royal Ballet in 2012, two years after being promoted to Principal at the age of 20, Polunin’s expressed desire has been to forge a new creative relationship with the art form and to engage a contemporary audience. The opening show in his London Palladium residency suggests that the chances of his achieving either of these things are still some way off.

At the time that he resigned from the Royal Ballet, Polunin, a sensation who had been dubbed the new...

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