Sergei Polunin is a breathtaking ballet talent who questions his existence and his commitment to dance just as he is about to become a legend.

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"Dancer" (2016 release; 85 min.) is a documentary about 'bad boy' ballet superstar Sergei Polunin. As the documentary opens, we are with Polunin in his dressing room, with "curtain in 20 min." being announced. We then watch him perform, and are in awe of his skills. The documentary then goes back in time, to "Kherson, southern Ukraine", as the movie informs us, where we see young Sergei do absolutely amazing things at a young age (watch the footage of 8 yr. old Sergei...). Before we know it, Sergei, now age 13, is training at the Royal ballet School in London. Couple of comments: this is the latest documentary from veteran film maker Steven Cantor. Here his subject is a highly skilled and talented ballet dancer who shot up through the ranks of the ballet world, only to discover that it's pretty lonely at the top, not to mention that the physical and psychological toll it takes on him may be more than he can handle. The British press had a field day with this guy, branding him the "bad boy" of ballet (and that is certainly what I remembered of Polunin). But when you see it in a larger context, it's pretty clear to me that Polunin wasn't much of a bad boy, but instead a lonely young man who comes of age in a brutally competitive environment, all the while terribly missing his family. There are some extraordinary moments in this all-access documentary. Let me just mention one to wet you appetite: late in the documentary, Polunin is dancing the lead role in Spartacus, and at the break we find him in his dressing room, recovering before the second half of the evening. Just watch... "Dancer" opened last weekend at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati. The Tuesday evening screening where I saw this at was attended poorly (only 2 people besides myself). Given the complete lack of marketing for this release, I can't say I was very surprised. Hopefully this is the type of release that will find a wider audience once it is available on DVD/Blu-ray. If you like ballet, I would readily recommend you seek this out, be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray.

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