Monday, September 12, 2016


By José Alberto Hermosillo


“Billy Elliot” is a fictional character, 
Sergei Polunin, in the documentary “Dancer” is real. 

“Dancer” chronicles the life of the remarkable ballet performer whom the British media named “the bad boy of ballet,” Sergei Polunin. Polunin was also called “The New Nureyev of Ukraine.”

In Polunin’s early days, he had to learn a valuable lesson: “Dancers have to be tougher.”

His mother recalls his son's fervent passion for dancing since childhood and how he first learned gymnastics before moving into ballet. "Polunin wanted to be the best," his loving grandmother remembers.

To provide Sergei with the tuition funds to succeed in dance, his family separated and worked in different countries (Greece, Portugal, and Russia).

Polunin moved with his mom to Kyiv. The emotional toll of his journey pursuing his dreams worsened when he and his mother separated in London due to a visa problem.

19 Polunin became the Royal Ballet’s youngest principal dancer in history. His family never saw him on stage. 

Sergei was so demanding of himself that the pain in his body had to be mitigated with cocaine.  

Polunin's virtuoso recognition started in Ukraine when he moved to the U.K., Russia, and now it continues in the U.S.A.

While planning his last dance performance in Los Angeles, Polunin contacted the famous photographer David LaChapelle. After that, they went to Hawaii to shoot the music video “Take Me to Church.”

Sergei Polunin, "Take Me to Church" by Hozier, Directed by David LaChapelle

Sergei Polunin, in those four minutes of breathtaking performance, conquered the world and inspired thousands of fans who could not stop playing the clip repeatedly. 

The music video went viral in days, with more than 17 million views worldwide.

In the documentary “Dancer,” Sergei Polunin's sexuality was never disclosed, " as the story centers on his struggle, moves, skills, personality, and family.

“Dancer” took nine months to edit, yet there was still insufficient time to make the documentary flow with creativity and tighter structure.

The transitions of the film were rough. The story is linear, with flashbacks from different sources (video, cell phones, the internet, film, news, and TV shows). These were not properly trimmed and timed to keep the movie evenly in color and mood from beginning to end.

Some beautiful dancing shots were seemingly cut too soon, and other moments about his family were too long. The information was tilted to present Sergei's good image and family tides.
Director Steven Cantor, photo by Jose Hermosillo, copyrights Festival in LA, 2016
The director of this touching documentary, Steven Cantor, captured Sergei Polunin’s emotions, skills, and creativity with an open heart. 
Polunin’s awareness was to use his body and dancing moves to give people joy.

“Dancer” is an inspirational documentary about sacrifice and personal growth that deserves to be seen by a broader audience worldwide.

Copyright © Festival in LA 2016

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