Milan’s Arcimboldi Theater has cancelled performances of the ballet “Rasputin – Dance Drama” starring Russian dancer Sergei Polunin, which had been scheduled for 28 and 29 January 2023.
Originally announced back in December 2019, the performance had been repeatedly postponed for various reasons, ranging from Covid-related restrictions to an injury suffered by the dancer, and has now been scrapped for good over the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
The cancellation was prompted by “pressure on social media and web mobilization of the past few weeks against the artist’s performance,” the theater said in a statement on Friday.
Among other things, the theater faced an online petition against Polunin’s performance, with the motion signed by nearly 2,300 people, who condemned the artist and his self-proclaimed “admiration” for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The decision to cancel the long-postponed performance “was not a matter of a cultural sphere decision, but of social responsibility,” the theater stressed, adding that in a “climate of tension and threats we consider it difficult to sustain our artistic choices.”
The theater claimed that it values “pacifism and tolerance,” and therefore hosted the Dance for Peace Gala, a charity event for Ukraine, back in April, as well as a Pussy Riot performance in September. Those who have already bought tickets for the axed performance are now eligible for a refund, the theater added.
Born in Ukraine, Polunin holds Russian, Ukrainian and Serbian citizenships, and spent his teen years at the academy of the British Royal Ballet in London. In early 2010s, the dancer moved to Russia, severing his ties with the Ukrainian scene and proclaiming his support for Putin.