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Olga Smirnova leaves Russia for Netherlands after denouncing war

A leading Bolshoi prima ballerina, who recently denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is leaving the country to join Dutch National Ballet.

Olga Smirnova, 30, said last week she was “against this war with every fibre of my soul” and was supported by other Russian ballerinas.

The Dutch National Ballet confirmed on Wednesday that Smirnova will start with them immediately.




Its director Ted Brandsen described her as an “exceptional dancer”.

Smirnova has a Ukrainian grandfather and has described herself as “one-quarter Ukrainian”.

Writing earlier this month, Smirnova said: “In a modern and enlightened world, I expect civilized societies to resolve political matters only through peaceful negotiations.



“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. It hurts that people are dying, that people are losing the roofs over their heads or are forced to abandon their homes.

“And who would have thought a few weeks ago that all of this would happen? We may not be at the epicentre of the military conflict, but we cannot remain indifferent to this global catastrophe.”

Brandsen welcomed her arrival in a statement. “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,” he said.

“Nevertheless, as a company we are pleased to have such an inspiring dancer join us at Dutch National Ballet.”

The company said Smirnova would be welcomed “with open arms”, adding that her denouncement of Russia’s actions “made it untenable for her to work in her native country”.

Her first role with the company will be appearing in the ballet classic Raymonda, which will premiere on 3 April in Amsterdam.