After twenty-two years with the Royal Ballet, principal dancer Zenaida Yanowsky retired last month. The 41 year-old French-born Spanish ballerina’s last performance was in Australia as Paulina in THE WINTER’S TALE at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre as part of the Royal Ballet’s summer season in Brisbane. She joined the Covent Garden company in 1994 as a First Artist and was promoted to Principal in 2001, performing the leading roles in the classical and contemporary repertory. In 2005 Zenaida was voted Dancer of the Year by the readers of the magazine ‘Dance Europe’. I left this sketch for Zenaida to sign at the Royal Opera House stage door, which she kindly did.
Russian prima ballerina Diana Vishneva returned to the London stage this Summer in the Mariinsky Ballet’s season at the Royal Opera House. One of the world’s leading dancers, Diana has made guest appearances for all the major Ballet companies, including The Bolshoi, the American Ballet Theatre, the Paris Opera, Balet Teatroalla Scalia in Milan and Berlin’s Staatsoper Unter den Linden.
The Financial Times wrote, “From Vishneva’s formidable technique to her musicality, her exquisite purity of style and her sheer artistry, she cannot be beaten.” There were only two chances to see Diana during the Covent Garden run, one of them was the title role in Alexei Ratmansky’s ANNA KARENINA. The Telegraph’s Mark Monahan said she was, “more luminous than ever at 41”. After that performance Diana signed this drawing I left at the stage door.
The Ukrainian urban rebel, iconoclast and ballet prodigy Sergei Polunin is regularly acknowledged as the greatest dancer of his generation. His astonishing power and poise saw him become the Royal Ballet’s youngest principal at 19. At the peak of his success he rocked the arts establishment with his shock departure from the Company in 2012.
The ‘bad boy of ballet’ made the art form go viral, walked away, driven by stardom and self-destruction, his talent more a burden than a gift. How can you be free to be yourself when you are ballet’s ‘hottest property’?
He is now the subject of Oscar nominee Steven Cantor’s latest film DANCER, which premiered last month. It includes David LaChapelle’s 2015, video sensation TAKE ME TO THE CHURCH. Coinciding with the release of the documentary, Sergei performed PROJECT POLUNIN for five nights at London’s Sadler’s Wells where he signed and dedicated my sketch.