April 9, 2013 / 3:17 PM / 6 years ago

Runaway ballet star turns up in Moscow after fleeing London

LONDON (Reuters) - Sergei Polunin, the Royal Ballet prodigy dubbed the bad boy of dance, has turned up in Moscow after fleeing a London performance last week, a spokeswoman for his Russian ballet company said on Tuesday.

It was the second vanishing act by the 23-year-old Ukrainian who dramatically quit Britain’s Royal Ballet in January last year just a week before he was due to dance in “The Dream”.

In his latest exodus, Polunin stopped showing up for rehearsals for the UK premiere of “Midnight Express” a week before the show was to start with director Peter Schaufuss expressing concern for a star known for his party lifestyle.

But a spokeswoman for the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Theatre, where Polunin now dances, said on Tuesday that the star was fine and back in Moscow.

“He has not disappeared, he is in Moscow,” said the spokeswoman for the Moscow-based theatre, adding that he was “alive and well. Nothing happened”.

The reason for Polunin’s sudden departure remains unknown.

The heavily tattooed Polunin is a rising star in the ballet world, joining the Royal Ballet at the age of 13 and at 21, becoming the youngest dancer to be made a principal.

After quitting 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 grueling.

But he returned to the stage quickly, performing with Moscow’s Stanislavsky Ballet.

His lead role in “Midnight Express”, which opens at the London Coliseum on Tuesday, was taken by Johan Christensen who had been in rehearsals with Polunin.

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.

Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith and Ludmila Danilova in Moscow, Editing by Paul Casciato

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