The man who shocked the dance world when he left the Royal Ballet at 22 admits he cried his way through a new documentary.

When Sergei Polunin quit London’s Royal Ballet in January 2012, the dance world was stunned. A prodigiously gifted dancer, he had joined the Company in 2007 after graduating from the Royal Ballet School, and had soared through the ranks, becoming the youngest Principal Artist in the Company’s history in 2010, aged just 19. Two years later, he walked out.

Sergei Polunin in the documentary Dancer

As rumours of Polunin’s unhappiness and disillusionment with ballet swirled, not to mention his tweets about drugs, parties and co-owning a tattoo parlour in north London, the press had a field day, dubbing him “the bad boy of ballet”. In interviews since then, the Ukrainian-born dancer has said that he was “sort of sabotaging myself” ( The New York Times) and “trying to make the worst thing happen to me, the thing I was most scared of, so that I wouldn’t be frightened anymore” ( The Guardian).

Now a new documentary called Dancer, takes a sympathetic look at his spectacular rise and equally...