23-year-old Sergei Polunin is being sued for failing to show for Peter Schaufuss’ production of Midnight Express in April. The box office was forced to give refunds, bookings slumped because the star name had dropped out, and publicity material had to be reprinted.
According to the Daily Mail, although Polunin and his mentor Igor Zelensky, who also withdrew, provided medical certificates (though the condition that they were both suffering from has not been disclosed), they refused to be examined by an independent doctor.
Now a lawsuit, filed on behalf of the producers of the Peter Schaufuss Ballet, are suing him for £400,000. Polunin is infamous for his wild lifestyle, and has admitted in the past to drug use and alcohol abuse, and self-abuse with razors.
In an interview with The Times in February, Polunin said,
I did try cocaine, but it was more of an experiment than an addiction. Though the shows were great, because coke gives you unlimited energy. But Igor Zelensky has been teaching me to get that energy from within myself and not to put my energy into clubbing; to put it into performance and enjoy the adrenalin you get from it.
His wild boy image has also been magnified because of his collection of tattoos, almost unheard of in ballet where performers can be required to dance almost naked, giving him the task of covering them with makeup when they are visible. He’s already said that he regrets having had so many done.
The lawsuit states that he and Zelensky “engaged in intensive and potentially debilitating social activity”.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.