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British dancer Xander Parish on his historic Mariinsky Ballet role

29 July 2014 Last updated at 10:02 BST

Four years ago, Xander Parish became the first British dancer - male or female - to join the illustrious Mariinsky Ballet in Russia.

At the time, he was a member of the company at the Royal Ballet, frustrated by his lack of progress - "carrying spears" as a member of the corps de ballet.

But the deputy director of the Mariinsky, Yuri Fateyev, saw something in his performance that suggested greater things - and invited him to join the St Petersburg company, former home to Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Never having danced a solo, Parish was intimidated by the offer but, after some gentle persuasion, flew to Russia to take up his place.

This week, the 28-year-old returns to the UK to star in three ballets at the Covent Garden - as Romeo, Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake and George Balanchine's Apollo.

Rebecca Jones reports.