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Bolshoi ballerina leaves Russia after denouncing invasion of Ukraine

Olga Smirnova, Semion Chudin
Posted at 9:50 AM, Mar 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-17 11:50:13-04

The prima ballerina at Russia's world-famous Bolshoi Ballet has decided to leave the country in protest of its invasion of Ukraine.

Olga Smirnova first spoke out against the invasion earlier this month.

"I have to be honest and say that I am against war with all the fibers of my soul," she posted on Telegram.

"In a modern and enlightened world, I expect civilized societies to resolve political matters only through peaceful negotiations," Smirnova added.

The ballerina said she struggles to understand the reasoning behind the war— as she noted that many Russians have family and friends in Ukraine.

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

Smirnova announced she is joining the internationally-renowned Dutch National Ballet, which welcomed her with open arms.

“Olga Smirnova is an exceptional dancer who I admire very much. I have followed her career with great interest for many years. 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 Ted Brandsen, director of the Dutch National Ballet.

According to the New York Times, Smirnova had been with the Bolshoi since 2011.