Part of this approach appears to stem from his spiritual beliefs, on which Sergei speaks softly, thoughtfully, and philosophically. “For a big part of my life I believed in religion,” he says. “Now I am spiritual, definitely. I believe in something – energies – I don’t know what it is. I believe in life, in following the universe and the signs we need to get to that higher state of consciousness. We need to go there.” He loves yoga, and says that will be his form of movement when his body gives up and he can no longer dance. But for now his body is fine – “it’s just the breathing, you feel like you’re dying from not having enough oxygen.” Pain is something Sergei likes to steer clear of, which is why he hasn’t had any new tattoos in a few years (last count was roughly 17): “I don’t want to go through the pain! I’m not done, but the pain stops me.” I tell him there is an entire YouTube video dedicated to his tattoos and he laughs. “Actually just yesterday I was thinking about how there’s this whole world going on,” he says. “ I don’t know.” What about the label “Bad Boy of Ballet”? “It’s weird,” he sighs. “The name is stupid I think. But whatever… I don’t identify myself with it, but it’s stuck and is impossible to get rid of.”
Sergei is a self-proclaimed over-thinker: “But that’s just to work out the puzzle of how to connect things and how to make them right. You have to think think think and then things will reveal themselves.” And he likes to act at the same rapid pace. “There’s no point in wasting time. My heart is always open, I feel it straight away and I’m ready to go! Sometimes it takes people longer to get used to things and they’re like – time has to pass and I’m like no, why? Why does time have to pass, let’s do it straight away! But sometimes time does need to pass, so you have to find a good balance.”
Balance is definitely something he seems to have found. Although he can’t currently call anywhere “home” – “I like living out of a suitcase, it’s like living different lives,” – he is, significantly, happy. “It used to be that I felt the most alive when I was dancing, that I only felt normal when I was dancing and I felt lost the rest of the time – I’d be like, who I am? So I found myself, which is good. Now I feel alive a lot of the time, so dance is just a plus.” Does he feel like he’s lived a lot of lives, I ask. “Not a lot but one definitely. And I feel like times goes really slow. People are like – “I met you a year ago” and I feel like it was 20 years at least.
Sergei doesn’t regret or resent playing out his struggles in the public eye. “It’s important to show. In this culture everybody is hiding everything. People think, ‘Oh there is a perfect world’ and it gives you the wrong vision of life. And it makes you think that your life is not good. But everybody has the same problems, you know?” This was his intention with Dancer. “I wanted to show that every country has life – across the world from Russia to the UK to Africa it’s all the same. Everyone connects in a different way, with their own experience, but it’s just about showing what life is, because lots of people don’t talk about what life is and in school nobody talks about what life is. [Nowadays] everything is to do with distraction – TV, games, phone – from life and from reality.”
“Anybody can be anything and anybody they want to be, if they just listen to themselves. The problem is that after school people stop believing in themselves and start to get jobs and families and then that’s it, life has passed. Straight away you have to be the way you want to be, and if you fail then at least you tried to do something that you believed in.”