Sergei Polunin Returns to Israel with “Rasputin”

Sergei Polunin – Rasputin/Photo: Luca Vantusso

Dance superstar Sergei Polunin will be returning to Israel for one performance only with a new work: Rasputin. The performance will take place on Thursday, May 7, 2020, at the Caesarea Amphitheatre.

Polunin first performed in Israel in September 2019, in a two-part program that included Sacre, a solo piece by Japanese choreographer Yuka Oishi, inspired by Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, and the historic dance to that work created in 1913 by Vaslav Nijinsky. Following the success of those performances, Polunin returns to perform in a new work choreographed by Yuka Oishi: Rasputin, set to a score composed by Kirill Richter.

Sergei Polunin – Rasputin/Photo: Luca Vantusso

The set design by Otto Bubeníček features an enormous chess board, with large chess pieces, upon which Polunin and the dancers depict the life story of the controversial monk. The infamous historical figure Grigori Rasputin (1869 – 1916) was a self-proclaimed holy man who won the confidence of Tsar Nicholas II, and his wife Alexandra, working as a healer to their son Alexei, who suffered from hemophilia. Rasputin was assassinated in 1916 by those who opposed his influence. The image of the chess board reflects the power conflicts that surrounded Rasputin, both external and internal.

Polunin himself is no stranger to drama and controversy. He took the dance world by storm, becoming the Royal Ballet’s youngest ever principal in 2010 when he was just 20 years old. He then made waves again, when after two intensive years, he resigned from the prestigious dance company. His statements (most recently on Instagram regarding masculinity) and actions (he has a tattoo of Vladimir Putin) have generated extensive commentary. Polunin is a sensational dancer in every way, his talents inviting comparison to the most famous male dancers of all time – Vaslav Nijinsky and Mikhail Baryshnikov. In his years as a freelance dancer, Polunin has also appeared in several films: Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express (2017), performing opposite Jennifer Lawrence in Red Sparrow (2018), and in the role of Yuri Soloviev in White Crow (2018), Ralph Fiennes’ biopic on Rudolf Nureyev. Beyond the dance world, he is perhaps best known for his spectacular performance to Hozier’s Take Me To Church, in a video directed by David Chapelle, garnered over 27 million views on YouTube, introducing him to the world at large.

Polunin was the protagonist of the documentary film Dancer, by Steve Cantor, which premiered in Israel at the Docaviv 2017 film festival, with Polunin present for the screening. The documentary depicts the dramatic rise and fall of an incredibly talented young man, and the slow recovery. Interviews with Polunin, his family and friends are augmented by breath-taking dance sequences. The film makes it abundantly clear that not only is Polunin gifted with the stature, flexibility, and tensile strength necessary to a classical ballet dancer, he possesses that elusive quality of magnetic presence, an ability to radiate strong emotions that resonates throughout the theatre, in the most nuanced gestures as well as in dramatic leaps. It is almost heartbreaking to see him as a child of eight, in a free-style dance, joyful, exuberant, and mesmerizing to watch. (from the Midnight East film review)

Performances of Rasputin will take place on May 7, 2020 at the Caesarea Amphitheater, at 21:00. Ticket prices range from 355 NIS – 705 NIS, and may be ordered online from Bravo: The performance of Rasputin in Israel is produced by YM Productions, Stardust Entertainment and Standard.