Runaway dancer Sergei Polunin, who's developed a bad-boy reputation because of his sudden departures from several productions ahead of their debuts, has vowed to return to London this summer.


Young dance star Sergei Polunin, seen in Sleeping Beauty in 2011, has developed a bad-boy reputation in part because of his sudden departures shortly before two ballet debuts. (Johan Persson/Royal Opera House/Associated Press)

Polunin, 23, is slated to appear in Coppélia with Russia's Stanislavsky Ballet during a six-performance run at London's Coliseum in July.

"I'm delighted to have another opportunity to dance at the Coliseum," he told reporters on Tuesday. "Coppélia is one of my favourite ballets and I will be there."

The company is staging the Roland Petit version of the comic ballet, which revolves around a young man named Franz who falls in love with a beautiful, life-like dancing doll named Coppélia. Polunin previously performed the role in Moscow last year.

Thrilling young dancer

The Ukrainian dance prodigy — the youngest individual ever promoted to principal dancer by London's Royal Ballet — has thrilled audiences and drawn comparisons to a young Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov.

In April, he made headlines when he failed to turn up for rehearsals in London just days ahead of the debut of the new ballet Midnight Express at the Coliseum. The production's director-choreographer Peter Schaufuss was unable to contact him.

Days later, he turned up in Moscow, where a spokesperson for another company with which Polunin dances said he was "alive and well."

He has blamed undisclosed "health issues" for his disappearance.

The April incident came after Polunin's unexpected exit from the Royal Ballet in 2012, just a week before he was to tackle a high-profile lead role in The Dream.

Some in the dance community have questioned Polunin's health and state of mind after his sudden departures. At times, the dancer himself has expressed a dislike for rehearsing and said he wanted to give up the grueling world of ballet in a few years.