Top Russian ballerina Olga Smirnova left her country to join the Dutch National Ballet after Russia invaded Ukraine. 

The company announced her move on Wednesday, saying her opposition to the war and Russian organizations being cut off from international events caused her to leave the country. 

“I have to be honest and say that I am against war with all the fibers of my soul,” Smirnova said in a Telegram post earlier this month. 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.” 


“Dutch National Ballet is a good fit for me and a great place to further my career as a ballerina. I had been thinking about this type of a move for quite a while – it’s just that the current circumstances accelerated this process,” she said. 

Smirnova was a star in the Russian Bolshoi Ballet and a popular cultural figure in the country.

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

Outspoken opposition to the war against Ukraine can lead to 15 years in prison in Russia, and other dancers who condemned the invasion have also left the country, The New York Times reported.

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