Posted 23 January 2010 - 12:47 PM
This story pretty much typifies exactly why the Royal is so artistically bankrupt and it's shameful commitment (or lack thereof) to nurturing and producing English dancers of excellence.
I never saw Parish dance, but then why would I have? He spent the best part of half a decade languishing in the background, carrying spears, floral garlands - doing not much of anything. And sadly his decision while proving already fruitful for him, is so typical of many a dancer graduating into Britain's "flagship" company from the RBS. The gamble of moving half way round the world, into an alien culture at a greatly reduced salary is often the only other option to standing in the background for 15-20 years in the corps for the sake of a salary.
You really do have to ask why is Mason so loathe to actually promote homegrown talent, to suggest that Parish doesn't have what it takes is specious, especially as his move is into the greatest classical ballet company in the World. Moreover, it's a sad indication that the Royal, founded on its superlative corps is no longer a company for corps dancers, neither is its rep. Mason either exports foreign stars and of the few English dancers she has supported, Cuthbertson, Watson & Pennefather, the men's deficiencies as classical soloists let alone principals is painfully clear as they struggle to execute classical enchainements with competency. Indeed Watson has pretty much given up the classical rep altogether.
While I understand the running costs of the Royal are huge and stars do draw in the punters, if that's the Royal's only raison d'etre, if it's so artistically uncommited to developing dancers within the classical rep, from within its own school - then really what is the point of its existence? In the recent visit to Cuba Jonothan Cope had to be drafted in to dance Beliav in Month in the Country after a five year retirement because the two principals it'd been taught to both were ill. Why couldn't third or fourth casts from the corps have been taught the role? Not least as this is the ethos of a classical company's existence, the passing on of the tradition of the company style to younger generations. Parish, tall, young, classically lined and technical would have made a brilliant foyle to Natalia Petrovna's combustible yearnings.
Parish's lack of promotion and support and his vindication of his unutilsed and ignored talent by the Mariinsky is yet another example, perhaps the most poignant one, that something is really wrong within the Royal's admin, with Mason's direction. The development of a homegrown principal of real technical ability and talent would have been such a coup for her administration and her inability to do so is just shocking, not only for the Royal's reputation as the cradle of the British school, but also an indictment that perhaps her eyes aren't on the ball.