Ballet dancer Sergei Polunin found himself at the center of a controversy this week.

On Saturday, the world-famous Paris Ballet Opera announced it would withdraw its invitation for the 29-year-old Ukrainian-born Russian dancer to play Siegfried in an upcoming performance of Swan Lake. The reason? Several sexist and anti-gay Instagram posts by Polunin were uncovered just two days after the Opera’s initial announcement.

Polunin — who is considered one of the world’s top male ballet dancers — is most famous for appearing in the music video for Hozier‘s 2013 song “Take Me To Church.” He has also made cameos in films like Murder on the Orient Express (2017) and Red Sparrow (2018).

Polunin, a former principal a the Royal Ballet in London, shared multiple posts on Instagram — where he has 170,000 followers — in which he voiced his disdain for homosexuals and for “females now trying to take on man role.” The dancer also said he wished he could hit overweight people because of their low discipline.


The dancer has also expressed his support for Russian President Vladimir Putin — whom he has a tattoo of on his chest — and for President Donald Trump. 

“Got strong feeling What if Vladimir Putin would become leader of the world,” Polunin wrote in one post. “I will pray for that because it would be ultimate win over evil. “I believe this will be the future and my energy will help him to do that.”

“Man up to all men who is doing ballet there is already ballerina on stage don’t need to be two,” Polunin wrote in yet another post.

Sexism and toxic masculinity have been particularly touchy subjects in the #MeToo era that saw many famous men fall from grace after sexual harassment revelations.


Aurélie Dupont, the artistic director of the Paris Opera Ballet, was among several people to condemn Polunin. French ballet dancer Adrian Couvez also blasted Polunin on Twitter.

“Such an embarrassment you are,” Couvez wrote. He added in French: “Honestly, to invite someone like this to Paris in 2019 is just impossible. Our company promotes values of respect and tolerance. This man has no business being by our side.”

The 2016 documentary Dancer chronicles Polunin’s humble upbringing and subsequent ballet career.


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