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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

‘We can’t remain indifferent’: Russian star ballerina Olga Smirnova leaves Bolshoi Ballet

written by Oscar Holland, CNN

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

The move was followed by a St. Petersburg-born ballerina condemning the conflict, saying that “a line has been drawn.”

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

Smirnova joined the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet in 2011 before landing a lead role in the performances of “Swan Lake” and “Giselle”. She has since toured internationally with the troupe and has appeared as a guest star for the American Ballet Theater and the Vienna State Ballet.

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

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

“It’s sad that people are dying, that people are losing a roof over their heads or forced to leave their homes. And who would have thought a few weeks ago that all this would happen? We’re not at the epicenter of an earthquake. There may be military conflicts, but we cannot remain indifferent to this global catastrophe.”

Olga Smirnova performs in “How-nosette et compagnie” (Nutcracker & Co) created by French dancer and choreographer, Jean-Christophe Maillot, in Monaco in 2015. Credit: Valerie Hache/AFP/Getty Images

In a statement, the Dutch National Ballet’s artistic director, Ted Brandson, described Smirnova as an “extraordinary dancer whom I greatly admire.”

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

The announcement came a week after two other Bolshoi members – Brazilian soloist David Motta Soares and Italian lead dancer Jacopo Tisi – both announced they were resigning. Explaining his decision via Instagram, Tisci said that Russia’s actions made him “unable to continue his career in Moscow”, adding that “any war cannot be justified. “
Bolshoi Theater music director Tugan Sokhiev also resigned earlier this month amid mounting pressure to condemn the attack. In a lengthy statement, he also announced his resignation from the Toulouse Capital National Orchestra, saying that the call for him to speak left him “an impossible choice to choose between my dear Russian and beloved French musicians”.
One of the oldest ballet companies in the world, the Bolshoi is one of Russia’s most prestigious cultural institutions, though it has longstanding ties to the Russian state.
As a result, the UK’s Royal Opera House has canceled a residency by the troupe 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 backing Russian President Vladimir Putin means it will freeze its relationship with the Bolshoi. Both institutions are currently scheduled to stage a co-production of Wagner’s “Lohengrin” next year.

Top Image Caption: Dancer Olga Smirnova during a gala concert by Russia’s Svetlanov State Academic Symphony Orchestra and Sveshnikov State Academic Russian Choir on the historic stage of the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow.

World Nation News Desk
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