Bonus Track: “Take Me to Church”
One of the saddest documentaries I’ve ever seen is “Dancer,” which I watched yesterday. It’s about Sergei Polunin, who is probably the most gifted ballet dancer I’ve ever seen. If you saw the 25th Anniversary Phantom of the Opera, you’ve seen him in the “Hannibal” and “Poor Fool, He Makes Me Laugh” sequences. He was dancing principal roles at age 16; he really is that brilliant.
He came from a deeply impoverished part of the Ukraine. He started dancing at age 4 and felt immense pressure to keep doing it until a couple of years ago, when he straight-up quit. He burned out. He had no childhood. He found himself self-medicating … and still pushing himself to try to help his family. He came to resent something he had loved and was brilliant at doing.
Sergei will be 30 years old this year. He made this video to be his farewell … his last-ever dance. It went viral, and he has started doing a couple of performances per year since that happened.
Knowing that it was a farewell makes this video look very different to me. At first I thought it was beautiful (which it is); now I see the anguish.