Sergei Polunin’s much-delayed show, Rasputin has been cancelled… again. First scheduled for April 2020 it was moved to July 2020, then October 2020, then June 2021, then February 2022, and finally to April 2022, with reasons related to Covid safety, according to the organisers.
Now the shows on 9 and 10 April 2022 have been cancelled because Polunin has had an operation on his Achilles tendon. During a gala of the Stars of Russian Ballet in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, on 3 March, he damaged the tendon on his right foot and has been forced to cancel his upcoming commitments for force majeure.
Gianmario Longoni, artistic director of the Teatro degli Arcimboldi – one of the largest theatres in Milan – said,
We tried to contact Polunin several times in recent days to ask for a statement – requested by the press – which publicly defined his position regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He replied that he was stunned and upset by the events. Then there was a blackout in communications.
Yesterday, Polunin was in touch and sent this message:
Dear Italian Friends,
It is with deepest regret that I will be unable to perform at Teatro Arcimboldi in Milan on 9 and 10th of April. This is due to my health, as I have ruptured my achilles tendon, which will make it impossible for me to dance for a few months. I apologise to all those who have bought tickets to the show, but we are working together with the Teatro Arcimboldi to confirm another date later in the year, when I will be able to perform again. Italy holds a very special place in my heart, and I can not wait to perform again.
With love, Sergei.
The theatre sent out a press release saying,
A great artist and a man of peace, the dancer is experiencing great suffering because of the current situation, aggravated by his recent injury.
Last Friday his organisation sent us the diagnosis from the Novosibirsk hospital with the x-rays attesting to the injury to his foot. We were told that Sergei is now in Dubai for surgery and that until January he does not feel like making new commitments.
This represents enormous damage for the Arcimboldi Theatre. We will move Rasputin to next year, a show that was originally supposed to come to Milan in April 2020 but had been postponed due to the pandemic.
We are organising a charity gala of dance for peace in support of Ukraine on 7 April.
Another Polunin event, An Evening with Sergei Polunin on 1 June, has been cancelled and will not be reprogrammed; Rasputin is now due to be performed on 28 and 29 January 2023.
In recent days, Polunin’s entourage reported that he was devastated by the news of the fall to the Russian troops of the city of Kherson in the south of Ukraine, which is where he was born and where he took his first dance steps.
The Italian dance critic Valeria Crippa asks whether his Achilles tendon injury could be the umpteenth act of self-harm of the dancer “accustomed to inflicting painful wounds on his skin”.
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.