Last month, principal dancer, Sergei Polunin, resigned from the Royal Ballet.
Having been promoted to principal at age 19, an unprecedented feat, he was now leaving the company at age 22. His Twitter bio currently reads, “Principal dancer of …?”
The controversy over his leaving was that there really wasn’t any. He just quit.
The interesting part of the story for me isn’t so much the story itself but the commentary the BBC correspondent gave on the radio.
She offered that Mr. Polunin now has two choices, both of which have pluses and minuses:
- He could simply be a traveling star - dropping in on various companies all over the world, performing as the lead.
- He could join another company somewhere else.
The reporter commented that while trotting the globe as a drop-in principal was certainly attractive, perhaps the pros of rejoining a company might, in fact, be greater.
When you’re a part of company, a family, if you will, the artist has more room to grow. Because of the safety inherent in the day-in-day-out routine, the artist can take more risks.
I’ve wrestled with this idea for sometime now.
In my former life as an actor, I played the role of the traveling performer.
Drop in. Do a show. Leave. Repeat.
As I settle into my role as a creative director within a community of people I’m committing myself to, I’m realizing the power of the reporter’s second suggestion.
When you commit to a group of people, it’s a lot like a good marriage - the strength of the bond over time allows you to take bigger jumps, to stretch, to risk.
If you’re considering quitting the ballet, I can relate. It might be precisely what you should do.
However, just be sure you aren’t bailing because you think being the star somewhere else is going to be more risky than simply staying exactly where you are.