Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers

"Poor" principal dancer?


Recommended Posts

  • Replies 36
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • Ballerinamom2girls


  • vrsfanatic


  • Redbookish


  • rosetwirl


He was raised in a 'bubble' due to his talent and, obviously, was not encouraged to develop his own person. (We encourage raising good citizens who dance, not 'dancers".  Here's a sample of raising only a 'dancer'.)  He is still so very immature.  But his experiences are his experiences. He may eventually develop perspective and insight.  Right now, he still apparently believes everything happened TO him, not that he was part and parcel of it.  A very sad existence.


Link to comment
  • Administrators

I really don't think I want to see this film. :(  Very sad. He never grew up, and obviously believes that just because he is a top dancer the world owes him. It can be quite dangerous being a prodigy and no education in terms of being a 'real person' and an adult. "Only a dancer", as dancemaven said. (Sounds like that should be the title of the movie.) Hopefully  Osipova will help him become a person. 

Link to comment

Without knowing salary I would not comment on his budgeting skills. Dance maven makes a good point about raising good citizens who dance. I was impressed by the thread of how much do you do for your dk in terms of letting them of their chores to do dance. Very little seemed to be the response. Time management, self care,cooking, shopping  and budgeting are important skills to learn if they are to succeed. A significant number of students drop out of university in the UK in the first couple of months as they are having to learn those skills on top of making new friends and coping with coursework. 

Link to comment

He has now suggested dancers ought to be assigned agents in the same way as professional footballers, giving them guidance and representing their financial interests.

Unfortunately, few dancers could afford an actual agent on today's salaries at the typical company. Arts funding would have to change dramatically probably worldwide, along with ticket sales, merchandising, TV, etc to compare it to other endeavors with an athletic component. 

He went into dance with his "eyes wide shut." There was no back up plan for a career ending injury. Sounds like there was no networking, to say nothing of the skills in money management, etc that others have already discussed. 


Link to comment

Interestingly enough, he is now listed, once again as Guest Principal Dancer of the Royal Ballet. I am both surprised in the sense of the negative comments he made, very publicly about and against the Royal (granted it was while the company was run by Monica Mason and he has not worked with Kevin O'Hare) that they were willing to take him back, and at the same time not surprised given how much they invested in him and genuinely seem to care about this 'prodigal son'. I can only hope and pray that this might give him a sense of purpose and responsibility again. Obviously Osipova has a good bit of Sway both over him and with the company. But getting him onstage in a healthy mindset dancing with someone he obviously cares about seems like a win win. He reminds me a bit of the male version of Gelsey Kirkland and it has always made me wonder 'what if' she had gotten back onstage in her mid to late thirties in a better place just what kind of art and beauty it would have left a legacy of. Maybe we will be more fortunate with Polunin.

Link to comment

I think we need to cut Mr Polunin a little bit of slack! Even Soloists with the Royal Ballet aren't paid a huge amount, and London is one of the most expensive cities in the world in which to live. 

Link to comment

We can't really ever know, I think ...

Link to comment

I saw the documentary on an airplane recently. Thank you American Airlines for including ballet in your selections!

The film focuses on so many things that went wrong in this talented young man's life. I agree, let's cut him some slack. He left his family at 14, lived in a dormintory and protected situation until 18 years old. He had been coddled his entire time at RBS and did not learn life skills. His splintered family spoke no English so he was left to fend for himself. He had no advocates.

On a positive note, the film shows how he needed to grow up in order to handle the talent he had. He seems to have found his mentor and seems to be on the right path. In the end, if he can remain focused, he should be a wonderful artist.

Link to comment

I also saw this film and I thought it was a very interesting story about a very young man grappling with growing up and taking responsibility for his own life after having had a fractured upbringing as a child prodigy, where every choice was made for him and with one singleminded goal. It seems to me that he made some very publicly bad decisions, which had pretty negative consequences for him. But he was very young, and I absolutely cut him some slack. I have heard some recent interviews with Mr Polunin, and we saw him perform when he was in New York City last fall. It sounds like he has really gained a lot more clarity and direction in his life, and I truly hope he can continue to develop as an artist and a person.


And yes, it sounds like his expectations were unrealistic for what life would be like when he "made it" as a principal dancer, but he was so young, and had lived in such a sheltered/isolated world. As the parent of a young dancer, it certainly made me consider again the importance of parents and other adults having a strong guiding role with our adolescent children, even if they become "professionals" at such a young age.

Link to comment
On April 9, 2017 at 11:25 AM, MelissaGA said:

Unfortunately, few dancers could afford an actual agent on today's salaries at the typical company. 


Unless I'm missing something, agents work off a commission based on percentage of the earnings for each job they secure for their client. A good agent doesn't charge an upfront fee so I wouldn't have thought the cost was preventing dancers having agents.

Link to comment

I also felt some sympathy for him after reading this article. Most performers in other fields besides dance who achieve such a high level DO earn a great deal more money than Polunin probably did at The Royal Ballet. This phenomenon has been discussed at length here on BT, how ballet dancers are paid so little considering the cost in money, years, and self-sacrifice for their training. When I take into account his age at that time and the prior life he had led, like a prince who would someday sit on the throne, I'm not at all surprised at his reaction to the reality of life as a ballet dancer.  I'm glad he has found a mentor to guide him.  

My impression of the ballet world is that the company leaders hold all the cards, and the dancers tip-toe around (pun intended), scared to death to lose their contract, rank, role or whatever. Heaven forbid a dancer be too assertive with their needs or wants!  After all, there are ten more willing to take their place! I actually find it refreshing to hear of a dancer not being afraid to ruffle a few feathers. Of course it would be a male, who has far more clout than a female dancer!  Still, there is a culture in ballet that requires dancers to just "go with the flow no matter what," because they are so lucky just to do what they love.  Many of us buy into that thinking because we so want to our dk's to succeed. 

On the other hand, if Polunin would have made the kind of money and had the kind of freedom he desired at the time, it could have been far worse, as demonstrated by many a Hollywood or rock star! 

Link to comment

I guess I just assumed that at one of the top companies in the world that they would be paid a living wage.  I could be wrong.

Link to comment

Certainly a living wage would have been paid; however, most other performers at the pinnacle of their profession would be paid much more than a living wage.

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...