Xander Parish: The first British dancer ever asked to join the Mariinsky.

Xander Parish in Chopiniana with Anastasia Kolegova

Xander Parish in Rapunzel, filmed in the Royal Opera House Clore Studio

Xander Parish rehearsing with Frolova at the Mariinsky

Luke Jennings writes about  “Xander Parish: the Brit who ran off to join the Mariinsky Ballet “. 2 August 2011

“A British dancer has emerged from the shadows of the Royal Ballet to star in the legendary Russian company’s Chopiniana – and it’s a scandal he wasn’t identified before.

The current Covent Garden season by the Mariinsky Ballet has been a fine opportunity to see Russia’s leading company up close. But not everyone is Russian. Last week a British dancer, Xander Parish, performed the lead role of the Poet in the Mariinsky Ballet Chopiniana, the opening work in a triple bill of ballets by Mikhail Fokine. The 25-year-old Hull-born dancer joined the legendary St. Petersburg company in January last year – the first Briton ever to do so. Before that, he had been a member of the Royal Ballet, where he had languished in the corps de ballet for five seasons, growing increasingly frustrated as advancement passed him by.

The event that changed his life was the visit to London, in 2007, of a Mariinsky teacher named Yuri Fateyev. The Russian noted the young dancer’s enthusiasm and talent, and when he was appointed artistic director of the Mariinsky less than a year later, invited Parish to join the company. After some hesitation, Parish agreed, and within months was dancing solo roles in the famous blue-green Mariinsky theatre, on whose hallowed stage Vaslav Nijinsky, Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov, amongst others, had launched their careers.

Parish unquestionably has what it takes to make a star dancer: a fine physique, dark good looks, an elegant line, beautifully arched feet. On Friday’s opening night of Chopiniana, though, he looked nervous. And not surprisingly – it’s a lethally exposed role. In his years with the Royal, Parish had never been permitted to dance a single solo; now, effectively, he had to carry a 35-minute ballet […] His partnering of Maria Shirinkina was strong and confident. But his solo dancing searched for a structure and a musical coherence it never quite found. Watching the great contemporary Mariinsky interpreters of the role – Daniil Korsuntsev, Igor Kolb – you see them working with gravity. Grounded as if by powerful magnets, their tread is cat-like, their response to the music gravely deliberate.

Male dancing at the Royal favours speed, wit and a flighty lyricism. It’s a very different style, which is what makes Parish’s journey such a fascinating one. Right now, he has not quite shed the old, not quite assumed the new. But time is on his side, and so is Yuri Fateyev. Great things, surely, await Xander Parish”.

A facebook page with wonderful photos and films of Xander Parish can be found here .


One Comment so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Joan M,

    Xander Parish is the real classical ballet dancer with beauty, grace and perfect execution. It is no wonder he was overlooked. Not surprising he graces the Mariinsky Stage as did Nijinsky, Baryshnikov and Nureyev. Artistic beauty always emerges in spite of company politics.

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