Sergei Vladimirovich Polunin

I was born in Kherson in southern Ukraine where I also joined several gymnastic schools from the age of 4 till I was 8 years old. I was aiming to win a gold medal in the Olympics, but life had something else in store for me. I often danced in my spare time and it was my mother who saw the potential in me and thought that I could pursue a career as a dancer. My mother and I soon moved to Kiev so that I could attend the State Ballet School.

Since we didn’t have enough money, so my father went to Portugal to work as a builder and my grandmother worked for a family in Greece. My coach along with my mother made a video of my dance performance when I was 11 years old and sent it to the Royal Ballet School and my training was sponsored by the Nureyev Foundation.

The Royal Ballet School looked after me, but I felt lost there. I wasn’t happy after a while and I did not know how to express all my frustration. I walked out because I knew that is things took turn for the worse, I could be thrown out. I had spent thirteen years of my life in London and it was my home, but I was not a citizen. I was afraid of being thrown out by the director if he ever got angry. “When I walked out, I think I was trying to make the worst things happen to me, the thing that I was most scared of, so that I wouldn’t be frightened anymore.”

I wanted to be a part of a movie or a musical, but I was always afraid and my fear was holding me back. The struggle was not over because quitting brought with it the blow that I could not dance in the United Kingdom anymore. I returned to Russia and spent 18 months putting back the broken fragments of my life because I was determined not to give up and redeem myself as a dancer and return to UK to prove my worth.