Xander Parish has certainly come back in style.
Born and trained in Britain, he was stuck in The Royal Ballet’s corps until St Petersburg’s world-famous Mariinsky Ballet snapped him up. With his long limbs, strong technique and assured stage presence, Parish is proving the Mariinsky right.
In George Balanchine’s Apollo, he dances with clean elegance and an eye for the ballet’s edge. Created in 1928 to Stravinsky’s score, Apollo took ballet forwards into a new age: there’s a twist of jazz to its classicism.
Parish has pure line and a high jump, but he’s good in the quirky details too – the young god walking on his heels, or swinging an arm like a Pete Townshend guitar hero.
His co-stars soften the ballet. As the Muses, Kristina Shapran, Nadzhda Gonchar and Alisa Sodoleva dance romantically behind the beat instead of boldly on top of it.
After the modernism of Apollo, Balanchine’s 1962 A Midsummer Night’s Dream seems wispily retro, with a story told in rambling, repetitive mime.
The best bit is the gorgeous duet that pops up in the divertissement, entirely unrelated to the plot. Kimin Kim and Nadezhda Batoeva are radiant in the floating lifts and dreamy phrasing.
Mariinsky season continues until 16 August