Les goûts de … Xander Parish

Bienvenue dans notre nouvelle rubrique « Les goûts de … » qui s’intéressera, comme son nom l’indique, aux goûts musicaux de personnalités diverses : danseurs, acteurs, journalistes ou même, pourquoi pas, femmes et hommes politiques !

Pour ce premier rendez-vous, nous sommes fiers de donner la parole – en anglais ! – au jeune et talentueux Xander Parish. Le danseur anglais, membre depuis 2010 du prestigieux Ballet du Mariinsky à Saint-Pétersbourg, nous parle , en vrac, de Valery Gergiev, Liszt, Queen et Benjamin Millepied.

How often do you listen to music (except for work) and what role does music play in your life ?

Within my life music plays a very big role but that is mainly because of my profession in ballet. In my opinion ballet wouldn’t be ballet without music. Other than at work I often have music on around my flat and especially in the morning as I make and eat my breakfast.

What kind of listener are you : for example, do you use streaming apps like Spotify or do you prefer CDs, do you prefer to listen to single tracks or playlists etc. ?

I’m not fussy- my iTunes library on my laptop of course but also through the internet, in fact Vkontakti which is a Russian kind of Facebook lets you stream music. If I’m streaming music I tend to be more track specific to find what I like or find new things.

Do you like Opera ? What were your best opera experiences and who are your favourite singers or conductors ?

I’m not well educated in Operas which is a shame really seeing that I’ve now been working in two of the world’s most famous Opera Houses (I wouldn’t call the historic Mariinsky Theatre an Opera House but I think our new Mariinsky II could certainly count!). It’s actually on my list of things I would like to do because I’m familiar with a lot of the music from Operas which is very beautiful.

My favourite singer has to be in the Mariinsky Theatre but not in the position you would expect. The deputy director of the ballet company (Sonya Yadchenko) has a voice that could rival many in the opera company and she is often heard singing walking up and down the stairwells of the old theatre as she goes about her work! I’ve had the privilege of dancing shows conducted by the Maestro himself, Valery Gergiev, which is exciting and always an honour. I also have 2 friends in the Mariinsky who are conductors, Gavriel Heine and Christian Knapp both from the USA and it’s always a pleasure to get to work with them when they conduct the ballet !

Could you name musical works (classical or not) which you like to dance to ? And why ?

From Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet to Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, I have a lot of favourite pieces ! I’m currently preparing for my debut in Ashton’s Marguerite and Armand to Franz Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B Minor and I adore this music. It’s wonderful to perform to beautiful music I find especially when the ballet has a story as the emotions are amplified by the connection of the music and dancing and it is easier to act when the music is singing the emotions to you.

Saying that, there are also ballets without a story such as Balanchine’s Serenade to Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings -just simply dance and music with such a stunning result. Actually I love to dance Balanchine’s pieces because his choreography is so musical. It is as if the steps couldn’t be for any other music and the music couldn’t be for any other steps! Apollo is one of these, one of his famous collaborations with Stravinsky and another of my favourites.

Apart from classical music and opera, what kind of music do you listen to ? Who are your favourite singers or bands ?

I like a variety of singers – Van Morrison, Al Green, Tom Odell, Rod Stewart and bands from Muse & The Eagles to Electric Guest or I Am Arrows. I also listen to Christian music including Hillsong albums, The Sing Team, Tim Hughes & Chris Tomlin.

Could you name 3 songs or pieces of music that are unforgettable to you ?

I grew up watching Gene Kelly movies (at the time I wasn’t so in to them but my sister loved them!) so a lot of that music like « Singing in the Rain » I associate with my childhood. Actually on the theme of American classics one of my favourite teachers called David Peden used Gershwin, in particular ‘I’ll build a stairway to paradise’ often in our ballet classes which has stuck with me, in fact I can still remember some of the combinations!

Queen’s « We Will Rock You » & « Bohemian Rhapsody » featured a lot in the time when my class was graduating from lower school. « Rolling in the Deep » always reminds of when I was in Cuba for nearly a month rehabbing from a bad injury a few years ago & it was played on the TV of a restaurant I would eat in and kind of became the anthem of that time for me.

When will we have the chance to see you dancing in Paris or in France ?

I can only hope sometime soon ! I have a postcard of the Palais Garnier on the wall in my kitchen and it’s one of my dreams to one day dance in that beautiful theatre! Not many theatres can rival the magic, beauty & history of the Mariinsky but the Palais Garnier is certainly one of those!

Would you like to work with French dancers or choreographers ?

Of course ! I have already had the privilege of working with Benjamin Millepied when his ballet Without was staged at the Mariinsky a few years ago. We are actually reviving it again for a tour to New York in January which is good news as it’s a fun piece to perform. I hope he will come back to the Mariinsky and work with us again although now he must be very busy directing the Paris Opera Ballet ! I have also worked a bit with Angelin Preljocaj when I danced in the corps de ballet of Le Parc when it was first staged at the Mariinsky. It’s a beautiful ballet and I’d love to perform the main duets one day.

Photos : www.xanderparish.com

Les goûts de … Xander Parish
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