Sergei Polunin, the youngest male dancer ever to be made principle with the Royal Ballet, made a shock resignation from the company on Tuesday afternoon.

Ukrainian Polunin, 21, rose rapidly through the ranks after joining the Royal Ballet and was promoted to the top rank in 2010 when he was just 19.

Polunin gave no indication that he wanted to quit to prestigious company to any of the other performers, but did tweet on Monday: "Just have to go through one night!!! then will make my next moves."

He also sent a previous tweet on New Year's Eve saying how 2012 is "going to be controversial:)!!!!!!!"

Polunin was due to appear in the production of The Dream next week. There are now frantic arrangements being made to ensure the performance still goes ahead, with a replacement coming in for Polunin

"This has obviously come as a huge shock. Sergei is a wonderful dancer, and I have enjoyed watching him tremendously, both on stage and in the studio, over the past few years. I wish him every success in the future," said Dame Monica Mason, the director of the Royal Ballet.

Polunin arrived in the UK in 2003 when he was just 13, barely speaking any English. Four years later, he won the title Young British Dancer of the Year.

He has recently spoken of wanting a "life outside of ballet" and has talked about his desire to open a tattoo parlour.

"I have this idea to open a tattoo place," he said in an interview with the Independent.

"I'd like to create something classy, with open windows, maybe some celebrities coming in. It'll be 50-50 with this American guy who's a former gangster and learned tattooing in jail. I'm fascinated by that life."