Questo sito non supporta completamente il tuo browser. Ti consigliamo di utilizzare Edge, Chrome, Safari o Firefox.

All that Glitters

When they said glitter, I immediately thought—no,” photographer Karolina Kuras was somewhat wary of truckloads of glitter entering her Toronto studio for a photoshoot with Brent Parolin, second soloist of the National Ballet of Canada. And yet, the results are nothing less than, well, sparkling. Makeup and styling by Ashley Readings.

Brent Parolin. Photograph by Karolina Kuras

subscribe to the latest in dance

“Uncommonly intelligent, substantial coverage.”

  • Weekly articles from the world of dance
  • Wide diversity of reviews, interviews, articles & more
  • Support for quality art journalism

Already a paid subscriber? Login

So, how does it feel to be covered head to toe in glitter? “It felt a little crispy once it dried,” Parolin says, speaking by phone on a recent afternoon, “but overall, I felt like a Greek god, like a bronze idol or something!”

Even as a child, Parolin was not afraid to shine. Dancing around his living room in his home in Prince George, British Columbia, was a cue for his mother to send him to dance class. He started ballet lessons aged 6, and continued dancing recreationally into his teens. At 14 years of age, he auditioned for Canada's National Ballet School, and was accepted. He moved to Toronto to study dance full time, and dreamed of being onstage with the National Ballet of Canada.

Upon graduation, he auditioned for the National Ballet, alas Parolin was turned down. Undaunted, the young dancer set his sights on Europe joining the Stuttgart Ballet under Artistic Director Reid Anderson.

“It was exciting—it was a brand new beginning. A new group of people, a different language, a different culture.” Not only did Parolin have a new milieu to get used to, but the change of pace that comes with the demands of being a professional dancer in a company.

“School is more regimented; there's more structure in how they want build a young mind, and a young body to develop within a piece. In a company you have maybe two weeks to a month to create a new piece. So that was a big change,” Parolin recalls. Surrounded by a group of dancers from all over the world, the Canadian quickly found his footing, ultimately dancing with the company for nine years.

From the diverse repertoire he performed with Stuttgart Ballet, John Neumeier's “Lady of the Camellias” struck a chord with Parolin: “I danced Des Grieux, the alter ego of Armand, the man in love. I find the choreography stunning.“ After Alexandre Dumas famous novel, “Lady of the Camellias” weaves in Manon and Des Grieux, characters familiar from “Manon” as counterpoint, and is set to a lush score by Frédéric Chopin.

“Yantra,” Wayne McGregor's 2010 creation for Stuttgart Ballet was another highlight for Parolin. “Just to be part of that process, to be in the room working with Wayne was incredible,” Parolin says, “there was a nice physicality to the piece, just pushing your body to the limits of what it can do: where you're going through every single muscle, every bone, every joint is being contorted, and you're kind of feeling the stage and the people around you.

“With music from Esa-Pekka [Salonen], you're being driven, like Stravinsky—something that pushes you to the limits of comfort, and almost to the edge of reason.”

“Seoul, Macao, Seville, London, Madrid, Tokyo, Moscow—” Parolin can't remember them all. “I'd seen a lot of the world dancing ballet,” he says, and, “nine years is a long time in a short career.” After the better part of a decade abroad, Parolin made the decision to return to Canada.

In 2014, Parolin joined the National Ballet as a corps dancer, being promoted to second soloist a year later. “Canada itself was a big part of my reason for returning,” he says. ”Also I wanted to start thinking about the future. Not just being a dancer, but teaching, and how to develop future dancers. I have a strong desire to teach in the future.”

Since returning to Toronto, Parolin has had the opportunity to teach at the very school where he trained, Canada's National Ballet School. “It's been a great learning experience, working with choreographers and the students there.” His mantra, believe it or not, is work harder.

“I want to let the kids know that it's such a short career, and a short time to learn, so take advantage of everything right now. Once you're in a company, priorities change.” Parolin speaks from experience: “The company looks at the piece as a whole; the school looks at the individual as a prodigy, to develop as a dancer.” To young dancers, Parolin says, “I want to sent that message—to take advantage of it now.”

Penelope Ford

Penelope is the founding editor of Fjord Review, international magazine of dance and ballet. Penelope graduated from Law and Arts with majors in philosophy and languages from the University of Melbourne, Australia, before turning to the world of dance. She lives in Italy.



Common Language
INTERVIEWS | Candice Thompson

Common Language

Pre-pandemic, queerness and ballet were two terms not often put together. So, when choreographer Adriana Pierce started bringing a community of queer-identifying people together on Zoom—cis women, trans people of all genders, and nonbinary dancers—it felt like a watershed moment for many of them. 

Continua a leggere
Living Doll
REVIEWS | Rachel Howard

Living Doll

Watching Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Coppélia,” which the Seattle company generously released as a digital stream for distant fans, you could easily fall down two historically rewarding rabbit holes.

Continua a leggere
Hammer Time
REVIEWS | Gracia Haby

Hammer Time

There was a series of warnings that led up to the moment it all fell apart, but no-one listened. Everything appeared to follow a linear trajectory, an illuminated, diagonal path that led straight to the suspended glass orb at the foot of the stage. 

Continua a leggere
A Fourth Jewel
REVIEWS | Victoria Looseleaf

A Fourth Jewel

If, as George Balanchine once so famously pronounced, “Ballet is woman,” then director and choreographer Lincoln Jones showed off the gals in his troupe, American Contemporary Ballet (ACB), to great effect in his world premiere, “Sapphires.”

Continua a leggere
Good Subscription Agency