Top Russian Ballet Star Condemns War, Leaves Country

A leading Russian ballet dancer quit the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow and is leaving the country for the Netherlands after denouncing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Olga Smirnova will start dancing with the Dutch National Ballet “immediately,” the company announced on Wednesday.

Smirnova, 30, who had been the Bolshoi’s prima ballerina since 2016 and whose grandfather was Ukrainian, posted an emotional message on the Telegram app, The Guardian reported.

“I have to be honest and say that I am against war with all the fibers of my soul,” she said, according to a transcript provided by the Dutch National Ballet.

Olga Smirnova in the Bolshoi Ballet’s production of

She added: “I never thought I would be ashamed of Russia, I have always been proud of talented Russian people, of our cultural and athletic achievements. But now I feel that a line has been drawn that separates the before and the after.”

Victor Caixeta, a Brazil-born ballet dancer who had been dancing with the Mariinsky Ballet in St. Petersburg, will also be leaving Russia and joining the Dutch National Ballet.

Both will be “welcomed with open arms,” the company said.

Olga Smirnova and Denis Rodkin in the Bolshoi Ballet's production of

Olga Smirnova and Denis Rodkin in the Bolshoi Ballet’s production of

Smirnova joins other figures in the Russian ballet world who have condemned the war. Alexei Ratmansky, the former artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet, and Diana Vishneva, former principal dancer with the Mariinsky Ballet, have been vocal on social media about their opposition to the invasion, the BBC reported.

“I am against the war in Ukraine, I am for the people, for the peaceful sky above your heads,” Ratmansky posted on Facebook.

Smirnova had been scheduled to dance the lead role in Swan Lake on Saturday at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater, according to her website. That performance is now canceled.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.


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