This content is not available in your region

Bolshoi star Olga Smirnova quits Russian troupe over Ukraine invasion

Olga Smirnova speaks to the ballet director of the Bolshoi Theater Makhar Vaziev during a rehearsal in the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow in 2019
Olga Smirnova speaks to the ballet director of the Bolshoi Theater Makhar Vaziev during a rehearsal in the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow in 2019   -   Copyright  Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP   -  
By Euronews  with AFP

One of Russia's Bolshoi Ballet's star ballerinas, Olga Smirnova, has left the prestigious troupe to join the Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam, becoming the first Russian dancer to officially take refuge in another company since the invasion of Ukraine.

"Smirnova has been very clear in her recent denunciation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which makes her work in her native country untenable," the Dutch National Ballet said in a statement Wednesday.

The prima ballerina used her inaugural Telegram post to expound upon her decision. 

"The point is not even that probably every second Russian has relatives or friends living in Ukraine, not that my grandfather is Ukrainian, and I am a quarter Ukrainian, but that we continue to live in the 20th century, although nominally in XXI."

Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP
Olga Smirnova and Semion Chudin perform the Adagio from the Taming of the Shrew in 2015Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

"I never thought that I would be ashamed of Russia," the post continued.

"I have always been proud of the talented Russian people, our cultural and sporting achievements. But now the line is drawn on the before and after. And it hurts that people are dying, while others are deprived of a roof over their heads or forced to leave their homes."

The Dutch National Ballet added:

"Smirnova chose to settle in the Netherlands because a collaboration with Dutch National Ballet has long been on her wish list."

Her first appearance with her new company will be in the ballet classic Raymonda, which premieres on 3 April.