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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Born To Dance
by Betty Jo Tucker

Ukranian-born Sergei Poluninís devotion to ballet dancing gets the royal treatment in Dancer, a compelling documentary directed by Steven Cantor (Chasing Tyson). Using video clips of Sergei from his childhood on through his later dance training and performances, the film convinces us of the manís extraordinary talent. Candid interviews with family members help us understand Sergeiís commitment to his art as well as their unselfish -- but unusual -- support for his career. And Sergeiís own comments reveal his feelings about the sacrifices heís made to become one of the best male ballet dancers of his generation.

Jumping so high, touching the sky,

this ballet star evokes a sigh.

We donít know where his gift comes from.

But heís got talent -- and then some.


As a young child, he loved to dance.

His special moves did all entrance.

So off to training he must go.

When family leaves, he feels so low.


"Dancer" shows how hard it can be

as a star before twenty-three

and to give up all other things

for dancing and the fame it brings.  


A prison of sorts is ballet.

It hurts your body in a way,

yet keeps you wanting strength and grace

to dance with power any place.

Sergei earned fame at a very young age. He was accepted into the Royal Ballet School in London and ended up as an admired principal dancer for ballets performed not just in London but also in Moscow as well as back in the Ukraine and in other international venues. For me, the short clips of Sergei in these magnificent ballet performances are worth the price of admission. Frankly, I would have preferred more -- and longer -- clips of Sergei dancing instead of so much emphasis on personal/family problems. 

When Sergi decides to quit dancing, we want to yell ďNo!Ē at the screen. And when he performs his famous last dance, ďTake Me to the Church,Ē he takes our breath away. That entire dance was posted on the internet, and it went viral. People all over the world were inspired by watching his video. Toddlers even began practicing Sergeiís moves in front of the TV set.

So why did Sergei want to quit dancing -- and did he go through with it? Youíll have to see Dancer to find out.

Also, if you enjoy films about ballet, here are some other titles to consider: Ballets Russes, Maoís Last Dancer, The Company, Only When I Dance, Center Stage, and First Position. 

(Released by Sundance Selects; not rated by MPAA.)

For more information about Dancer, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes web site.

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