Olga Smirnova leaves the Bolshoi Ballet for the Russian invasion of Ukraine

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Olga Smirnova leaves the Bolshoi Ballet for the Russian invasion of Ukraine


Written by Oscar Holland, CNN

One of the stars of Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet, Olga Smirnova, left the company for the Russian invasion of Ukraine and will instead dance for the Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam.

The move comes after the St. Petersburg dancer denounced the conflict, saying “a line has been drawn”.

In a statement released Wednesday, the Dutch National Ballet said Smirnova was “welcomed with open arms”. She is expected to make her debut there with her staging of “Raymonda,” which premieres in early April.

Smirnova joined the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet in 2011, before taking on starring roles in the performances of “Swan Lake” and “Giselle”, among others. She has since toured internationally with the troupe and appeared as a guest performer for the American Ballet Theater and the Vienna State Ballet.

Smirnova, whose grandfather is Ukrainian, wrote on Telegram that she was “against war with all the fibers of my soul”.

“I never thought I would be ashamed of Russia,” he wrote in the statement, which was later republished by the Dutch National Ballet. “I have always been proud of the talent of the Russians, of our cultural and athletic achievements. But now I feel that a line has been drawn between the before and the after.

“It hurts that people die, that people lose their roof over their heads or are forced to flee their homes. And who would have thought a few weeks ago that this would all happen? We may not be at the epicenter of the military conflict, but not we can remain indifferent to this global catastrophe “.

Olga Smirnova performs in the

Olga Smirnova performs in the “Casse-Noisette et Compagnie” (Nutcracker and company), a creation of the French dancer and choreographer Jean-Christophe Maillot, in Munich in 2015. Credit: Valery Hache / AFP / Getty Images

In a statement, the artistic director of the Dutch National Ballet, Ted Brandsen, described Smirnova as an “exceptional dancer who I admire very much”.

“It is a privilege to have her dance with our company in the Netherlands, even if the circumstances that have guided this move are incredibly sad,” he added.

The announcement comes just over a week after two other Bolshoi members – Brazilian soloist David Motta Soares and Italian principal dancer Jacopo Tissi – both announced their resignations. Explaining his decision via Instagram, Tissi said Russia’s actions left him “unable to continue my career in Moscow”, adding that “no war can be justified.”
The music director of the Bolshoi Theater, Tugan Sokhiev, also resigned earlier this month, due to mounting pressure to condemn the invasion. In a lengthy statement, he also announced his resignation from the National Orchestra of the Capitol de Toulouse, saying requests to speak openly left him “the impossible option of choosing between my beloved Russian and beloved French musicians”.
One of the oldest ballet companies in the world, the Bolshoi is among Russia’s most prestigious cultural institutions, although it has long-standing links with the Russian state.
As a result, the UK’s Royal Opera House canceled a troupe’s residence scheduled for this summer, according to a statement provided to CNN.
Elsewhere, the New York Metropolitan Opera’s decision to stop working with any Russian artist or organization that supports Russian President Vladimir Putin means it will likely freeze its relations with the Bolshoi. The two institutions are currently scheduled to stage a co-production of Wagner’s “Lohengrin” next year.

Caption of the image above: the dancer Olga Smirnova during a gala concert of the Svetlanov State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia and the Sveshnikov Russian State Academic Choir at the historical stage of the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow.


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