Just in: Bolshoi fires prima ballerina over war views

Just in: Bolshoi fires prima ballerina over war views


norman lebrecht

March 06, 2023

Statement from Moscow: ‘The prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Theater Olga Smirnova has been officially dismissed.’

Smirnova took a year’s leave last April after expressing views that dissented from Russia’s war on Ukraine. She was scheduled to return to work next week, but the theatre has now dismissed her retroactively: “Ballerina Olga Smirnova was fired on April 1, 2022, after she wrote a statement of her own free will.’

She is understood to be living in the Netherlands.


  • Liliana Couto says:

    She went to Nederlands. And she made the right thing.

  • Rick says:

    Ms Smirnova is not only living in The Netherlands, Mr Lebrecht, she is a principal with the Dutch National Ballet (and is this month in Swan Lake).

  • Robert Holmén says:

    Voting with her feet.

  • Michelle Duquette says:

    Typical of the Soviet Era, which seems to have returned under Vlad the Invader….
    May this ballerina have a stellar career in the Netherlands!!!

  • Tiredofitall says:

    This is what courage looks like.

  • Alasdair Munro says:

    ‘She made a statement of her own free will’. In Russia that is a crime in itself.

  • Suzy Taylor says:

    The beautiful Ms Smirnova got her punch in first and showed great courage by leaving the Bolshoi. I wish her all the happiness and success she rightly deserves with the Dutch National Ballet.

  • Nina says:

    She was not fired in March 2023, but independently decided to leave the theater in April 2022.
    There is no truth in her words. If she hates Russia so much, where she studied for free, and then immediately became a ballerina at the Bolshoi Theater (nepotism?), and also received two State Prizes – she must return all the funds that taxpayers spent on her education, salary at the state theater and cash premiums. There are many young ballet talents from the provinces in Russia who need financial assistance.

    • Robin Blick says:

      Thus speaks her master’s voice.

    • Robert Werblin says:

      You wouldn’t know “truth” if it walked up a bit you in the rear! Brainwashed! Incapable of discerning the suppression of Freedom. Not able to recognize nor understand why more want to leave Russiathan want to go there, while the opposite is the case for the USA or Holland or other places that don’t tolerate Autocracy and the suppression of freedom.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      I had to re-read your post several times. Each time it made my skin crawl.

      I know you’re a troll, but still…

    • Nina says:

      Who are you people who put dislikes under my comment? Perhaps you want to help poor but talented young ballet dancers?

  • Guest Conductor says:

    May the Dutch cherish and protect this beautiful tulip

  • Gerard says:

    Brilliant artist, with brains and guts.

  • ML says:

    This is a case of not just bolting the door after the horse has fled, but after the horse has fled, gone to another stable, ate the hay offered by the owner of the new stable, and run several races under the banner of the new owner…..lol. Smirnova categorically stated that she had quit – not taken a leave of absence, was ashamed of Russia, and that invasion had crossed a line.

    She was offered a principal position at Dutch National Ballet straightaway as well as the lead in their new production, debuts in new roles, and offered lots of lucrative guest artist gigs, which she has starred in-she is doing even better than when she was at the Bolshoi! I suspect this announcement has come from the government to distract attention from their war gaffes and attempt to convince their citizens they’re still in control of things. In reality, there are other artists following Smirnova’s adventures with interest and considering making the leap themselves.

  • Diana R-P says:

    It feels like we’re back in the USSR. (Minus the Beatles.) I did have the opportunity to travel to the USSR in 1988 to see the Vaganova Ballet Academy and the then, Kirov Ballet. Now, or I should say, once again, the Mariinsky Ballet. So sad to see such a political reversal.