Twenty-five-year old Sergei Vladimirovich Polunin, an acclaimed Ukrainian dancer, has been a regular in the ballet circuit for quite some time now. While he was initially a part of the British Royal Ballet, Polunin presently works as the principal dancer for the companies Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre and Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Academic Music Theatre. Sergei’s forte as a ballet artiste has earned him many admirers, but his moves to the tunes of ‘Take Me to Church’ won more accolades than any other performance. Irish singer, Andrew Hozier-Byrne, more popularly known as Hozier, has lent his vocals to the Grammy nominated song, ‘Take Me to Church’. The single speaks about celebrating love in whatever form it exists, even if it is a manifestation of homosexuality, and how the Catholic Church condemns it. One of the few black ballet performers, Jade Hale-Christofi turned this melancholic rock song into an extraordinary mélange of sound and movement. The dancer choreographed the song, keeping Polunin in mind, and the final video was directed and shot by American photographer, David LaChapelle.
The visual interpretation opens with Polunin sitting on his knees, looking dejected and frustrated. Clothed in nothing but a pair of nude tights, the emotive artiste is bang on track from the very first line that is being sung. The empty white space, which is naturally illuminated by mellow sunlight, adds to the mood of the track. Each step that this astounding dancer moves to seems to enhance the heartrending lyrics, touching the deepest corners of the viewer’s heart. The magic however starts from when Hozier sings, Take me to church I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies… It is from this moment that even the ballet recital takes off, with Polunin performing leap after leap, forcing you to hold your breath till he finally comes to a halt. Sergei makes Hale-Christofi’s choreography his own, as he performs the arabesque, en pointe, releve, plie, pirouette, tombés and sautés to perfection.
They say the measure of a good dancer is not in how the moves are executed, but in how the feelings are expressed. What Sergei seems to be feeling while he sways to the melody, seems to be contagious. Breaking all boundaries that social and religious doctrines set for us, the song and dance routine will leave you feeling restless and overwhelmed at the end of it all. If you found this video touching, please do share with friends and family.