Star Russian dancer quits Bolshoi over war

Star Russian dancer quits Bolshoi over war

Star Russian dancer quits Bolshoi over war

Prima ballerina Olga Smirnova has quit the Bolshoi in Moscow to join the Dutch National Ballet, it was announced on March 16 making her the first Russian to quit the fabled company over the war in Ukraine.

“Smirnova was outspoken in her recent denouncement of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which is making it untenable for her to work in her native country,” the Dutch company said in a statement.

Smirnova is one of the biggest stars of the Bolshoi and had already expressed her opposition to the war on messaging app Telegram earlier this month.

“I am against war with all the fibers of my soul,” she wrote.

“It is not only about every other Russian perhaps having relatives or friends living in Ukraine, or about my grandfather being Ukrainian... It is that we continue to live as if this were the 20th century.”

Several foreigners have quit their positions in Russia since the invasion, but Smirnova is by far the biggest local star to leave.

“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,” she wrote on Telegram.

“We cannot remain indifferent to this global catastrophe,” she added.

Smirnova said the Dutch National Ballet would be “a good fit” and that she had been considering a move even before the conflict.

“It is a privilege to have her dance with our company in the Netherlands -- even if the circumstances that drove this move are incredibly sad,” said its director Ted Brandsen in the statement.