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Documentaries: Dancer (Sergei Polunin)

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love_ballet

I'm cross posting this from our Ballet Alert! forum:

 

The Utah Film Center presented the world premiere of "Dancer" tonight in Salt Lake City. It was an engrossing documentary about a tortured soul. The movie incorporates a lot of footage of Polunin as a child / young dancer that was wonderful. The film showed how close Polunin came to truly quitting dance altogether - the "Take Me To Church" video was meant to be his last dance. Only when it went viral did he reconsider. Director Steven Cantor did a post-film Q&A and discussed that especially the many responses from children, young dancers who were inspired by that video, played a big part in continuing to dance. Cantor doesn't expect that Polunin will join a company any time soon (if ever) but will mostly guest. He also (in the Q&A) described Polunin as someone who was very gentle with young dancers, and hoped he would eventually teach.

There is a sad mood to a large part of the film. The fact that his family split up to finance his dance training had a profound impact on him. Polunin has remained mostly injury free, but at one point in the film he said that he wished he were injured so he wouldn't have the choice to dance anymore. I found that heartbreaking. The film really leads one to question whether it is all worth it (even as it ends on a somewhat positive note). I read in a NY Times article that Polunin said that watching the film the first time made him really sad, but that it was all true.

The film is only 85 minutes long, but it felt much longer - in a good way. I felt completely immersed in Sergei Polunin's life and highly recommend this documentary.

One note added for this forum: there is one very brief, funny, frolicking scene that includes nudity, not at all sexual in nature, and nothing I would have ever worried about with my kids at any age - but some parents may want to know. It was actually the director's favorite scene in the movie, as it shows how Polunin felt unburdened after a pivotal moment in his career.

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5uptown

I went to see this film in the theater with my preteen son (who is a ballet student). We both really loved it-- though his enjoyment was mostly focused on the incredible talent that is obvious watching footage of Polunin from his early childhood and onwards. I found the story quite dark about the toll that raising a prodigy takes on his family, and also on him. It certainly made me feel fortunate that I am not faced with the kinds of choices that his parents had to make, and it highlights the importance of family and adult guidance and love in the life of a young dancer.

 

In terms of watching it with a younger dancer-- there is discussion of drug use and heavy drinking, and footage of minors drinking and smoking, as well as the brief nudity mentioned above. And Polunin has a very complicated relationship to his talent and profession. I knew a little of that going in and discussed it both before and afterwards with my son.

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