If the body is a temple, then Julian MacKay is a fortress of strength. His streamlined motions flow with an astounding mix of youthful presentation and Russian ballet history. A silk ribbon - a romantic reflection towards the fluidity of the dance; purposefully wrapping itself through his fingers. Poised limbs are lean and powerful, dominating the London landscape with their tantalising shapes. He is simultaneously shackled and liberated by his freedom of expression; it is about taming the surge of human ecstasy with grace. From his interview feature in Issue 11, “Imagined Songs”, photographer Sophie Mayanne provides you with an extended editorial captures the young talent in an expressive and intimate series. Stylist Lulu Wentworth plays with the deconstruction of the classic ballet garment; keeping the colours light to focus on the softness and vulnerability of the art form. Leaping between the studio and the North London rooftop, the strict silhouette of his body sparks against heavy rain and the elements are tamed in wild kicks and leaps.
As the first American to earn a full Russian diploma from the prestigious Bolshoi Academy in Moscow, Julian has crafted his skill based on the knowledge of generations before him; “very famous teachers have gone to that same exact school, sat in that same room and put the same sweat, blood and tears”. It’s clear that he has grasped the concept of hard-work - after all, ballet was not introduced to Russia to entertain - it was to cultivate a new world of discipline. Now, with a leading position at the Mikhailovsky Theatre and nine premiers under his wings; Julian is becoming a swan to remember.
For him, the connection between dancer and performance is a pure, untouchable unity. That beautiful urge to create radiates out as he emphasises his love of building a partnership on stage; “it’s you and someone else creating a story”. Julian is truly unique, thriving underneath the weight of his hectic regime; “I like pressure, and try to challenge myself to the point of discomfort”. Through the waves of his success, he still has that aura of a humble boy from Montana. It’s in the gentle details, like the fact he spoilt the full Boys by Girls team with chocolates carried all the way from Russia, or his spare time spent skateboarding (or yo-yoing in his early days of childhood). From teenage boy to elegant swan of the stage; it’s that magical metamorphosis that keeps tradition alive.
To read the full interview with Julian, make sure to get yourself a copy of the latest print issue, which is available in stockists worldwide.