You probably know Sergei Polunin as the "bad boy of ballet," the guy who made the dance world raise its collective eyebrows when he peaced out of his cushy principal contract with The Royal Ballet. No? Well, you definitely know him as the gorgeous man from the Hozier video that broke the internet a few months ago.
Polunin is amazing—and fascinating. What motivates an artist who reached the highest level of the traditional ballet world, only to abandon it? Where does his restlessness come from? Where does he see himself going? He's mysterious, and that mystery captivated film producer Gabrielle Tana when she met Polunin back in 2012.
Tana, who knows a good story when she sees it (she got an Oscar nom for her work on Philomena), decided to produce a documentary about Polunin's extraordinary life. The result, Dancer, follows Polunin as he hopscotches across the U.S., Britain, Russia and his native Ukraine. And it includes clips by David LaChapelle, who also masterminded that Hozier video.
We dance fans owe this movie a lot: It was basically the defibrillator that restarted Polunin's dance career. Apparently, that Hozier video was to be his farewell to all things ballet. But "thanks to the influence of Gabby and David," he told Variety, "I realized that I loved dance. They are so cool and influential, and they love dance, so I was like: 'It might be something I should come back to.' " (The whole Variety story is definitely worth a read.)
Dancer is about to get shopped around at the Toronto Film Festival; hopefully somebody will pick it up for distribution. In the meantime, take a look at this clip, which shows Polunin flying onstage as Spartacus—and, later, sweaty and exhausted in his dressing room.