The ticket sales and distribution company London Theatre Direct has announced that it will stop selling tickets to Sergei Polunin’s London Palladium shows. A press release says,
London Theatre Direct formally announce today that they will be halting ticket sales for Sergei Polunin’s upcoming mixed dance programme at the London Palladium. The decision comes after the Ukrainian ballerino’s series of hateful comments made last year came to our attention. Polunin’s homophobic and sexist remarks, as well as his violent fat shaming against the clinically overweight, go against LTD’s core values of diversity, acceptance, and equality.
Polunin’s run of two, new mixed programmes sees Programme 1 (28 – 30 May) with three one-act ballets, and Programme 2 (31 May – 1 June) which features the world premiere of Rasputin. His former Royal Ballet colleague Johan Kobborg will appear in both programmes.
London Theatre Direct’s chosen charity is The Make A Difference Trust, known as TheatreMAD (previously, West End Cares), “the ongoing response by the UK theatre industry to HIV and AIDS” founded in 2008. The company is currently selling tickets to Natalia Osipova: Pure Dance at Sadler’s Wells in October, and programmes by the San Francisco Ballet, The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Ballet Preljocaj as well as Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes at Sadler’s Wells over the Christmas period.
The company’s decision comes after other organisations have decided to distance themselves from Polunin:
In December 2018, Ukrainian-born Russian dancer Sergei Polunin posted a series of hateful comments on Instagram in which he promoted anti-gay violence and violence against plus-size people. The ballerino was eventually dropped from appearing in Swan Lake last February for the Paris Opera Ballet and has also lost a series of modelling and acting jobs, a TED Talks gig, and various sponsorships. There are now calls from gay rights groups for the star to be dropped from appearing in Romeo and Juliet in Verona this summer.
After these recent calls to action, online ticket retailer London Theatre Direct have followed suit and made the conscious decision to refrain from selling tickets for Sergei Polunin at the West End’s London Palladium.
Tickets for performances start at £23.50 rising to £409.50. Seats priced at £184.50 will get you a signed poster thrown in, and seats priced at the whopping £409.50 will “entitle the customer to a Meet and Greet with Sergei”.
We at London Theatre Direct support a zero tolerance policy on hate speech and it is our firm belief that this sort of behaviour belongs nowhere near the West End stage or in the entertainment business.
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.