Ballet star Sergei Polunin walks out of production for 2nd time

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Ballet star Sergei Polunin walks out of production for 2nd time

LONDON - Ukrainian ballet star Sergei Polunin, who dramatically quit Britain’s Royal Ballet last year, has dropped out as the lead of a London performance just days before the show was due to start.

Polunin, who at 21 was the youngest dancer to be made a principal with the Royal Ballet, was tagged as ballet’s wild child after walking out of the company in January 2012 just a week before he was due to dance in “The Dream.”

Within months, however, the tattooed dancer returned to the stage, performing with Moscow’s Stanislavsky Ballet, as a guest dancer with the Royal Ballet in London in February and he was due to take the lead role at the London Coliseum next week.

But on Thursday, director and choreographer Peter Schaufuss said Polunin, 23, would no longer be performing in the U.K. premiere of “Midnight Express” due to “unforeseen circumstances.”

The ballet that Schaufuss first choreographed in 2000 is based on the 1977 memoir by Billy Hayes about being jailed in Turkey for drug smuggling. The book was also made into a film, which won a Best Writing Academy Award for Oliver Stone.

Schaufuss said the role of Hayes would be played by Johan Christensen, who was rehearsing with Polunin at the London Coliseum where the show runs from April 9 to 14.

Schaufuss later told the London newspaper the Evening Standard that Polunin had failed to turn up for rehearsals on Wednesday and was not returning calls. He said he was “hugely disappointed” and worried about the young star whom he believed had put his party lifestyle behind him.

After Polunin quit the Royal Ballet last year, he told reporters that he found rehearsing “very boring” and wanted to give up ballet by the age of 26 as it was so gruelling.

A spokeswoman for the show was unable to give any further details about Polunin’s departure.

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