Who Is Sergei Polunin? His 'So You Think You Can Dance' Performance Will Leave You Breathless

In the dance-filled finale of So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation, it was understandable that the contestants and their All-Stars needed to take a break from performing. And that's why ballet dancer Sergei Polunin took the stage on So You Think You Can Dance during the Sept. 12 episode. If his performance to "Diane and Acteon" from La Esmeralda was the first time that you've see Polunin dance, then you're in luck since he can continue to amaze you from the comfort of your own home, thanks to YouTube. With over 15 million views, Polunin's dance to "Take Me To Church" by Hozier made him an Internet star and a unique, but fitting choice for the So You Think You Can Dance season finale.

While the kid competitors of So You Think You Can Dance got to take a breather, judge Nigel Lythgoe was left out of breath by Polunin's powerful performance. This tattooed, bad boy of ballet (anyone else reminded of Cooper Nielson — aka Ethan Stiefel — from Center Stage?) rapidly rose to ballet success as a principal dancer for the Royal Ballet at age 19, but quit only a couple years later. The massively talented dancer from Ukraine was profiled by Julie Kavanagh in 2012 after he left the British ballet company and now he has a documentary about his life, entitled Dancer, which will be released in New York and on video on demand on Friday, Sept. 16. So even though he is only 26 years old, he is much bigger than just a YouTube sensation.

David LaChapelle Studio on YouTube

Although Polunin hasn't necessarily had the most kid-friendly reputation in the past for his partying, all of the contestants of So You Think You Can Dance — regardless of age — can look up to Polunin for his sheer talent. After being regarded as a quitter, he is a success story and has seemingly found happiness in both his professional and personal life as he dates fellow ballet dancer Natalia Osipova.

The style of ballet doesn't often get the attention it deserves on So You Think You Can Dance, so I was thrilled to see Polunin perform on the series — not only because of the caliber of his dancing, but also because of his background. His story made him oddly suited for the finale of The Next Generation season since he's definitely got a comeback story that can inspire non-dancers and dancers alike.

Image: Adam Rose/FOX