May 18, 2022

Image credit: FMT

Ballerina Olga Smirnova flees Russia for the Netherlands after criticising the war

A famous Bolshoi prima ballerina is leaving the nation to join the Dutch National Ballet after publicly denouncing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Olga Smirnova, 30, said last week that she is “against this war with every fibre of my being” and that she has the support of other Russian ballerinas.

Smirnova will begin working with the Dutch National Ballet immediately, the Dutch National Ballet announced on Wednesday.

Ted Brandsen, the film’s director, called her an “excellent dancer.”

Smirnova’s grandfather was Ukrainian, and she considers herself to be “one-quarter Ukrainian.”

Smirnova stated earlier this month in an article: “I expect civilised societies to resolve political issues only through peaceful negotiations in a modern and enlightened world.”

I’ve never been ashamed of Russia; I’ve always been proud of our gifted people, as well as our cultural and sports achievements.

In a statement, Brandsen expressed his delight at her arrival. “Having her dance with our company in the Netherlands is a privilege,” he said, “even if the circumstances that led to her transfer are terribly painful.”

Her debut performance with the company will be in Raymonda, a ballet classic that will premiere in Amsterdam on April 3rd.

“Putin must halt this conflict immediately,” said choreographer and former dancer Alexei Ratmansky, 53, who grew up in Ukraine and commented on Facebook.

Ratmansky was the Bolshoi Ballet’s artistic director for four years until 2008, and when Russia invaded Ukraine last month, he cancelled a premiere at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre. He’s also been sharing anti-war comments from other ballet stars on social media. Vladimir Shklyarov, a principal dancer with the Mariinsky Ballet and a guest principal with the Royal Ballet, is among them.

“I am against the war in Ukraine, I am for the people, for the serene sky above your heads,” Shklyarov stated in a message uploaded to Ratmansky’s Facebook page.

Diana Vishneva, a 45-year-old former senior dancer with the Mariinsky Ballet and soloist at St Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre, said: “We voice our opposition to all forms of violence, including war. Our hearts are heavy with grief, regret, and words of support and sympathy”.