Speed Reads

'I never thought I would be ashamed of Russia'

Bolshoi ballerina Olga Smirnova quits after denouncing Russian invasion of Ukraine

Star ballerina Olga Smirnova has left Moscow's renowned Bolshoi Ballet, after speaking out against the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"We cannot remain indifferent to this global catastrophe," Smirnova wrote on the Telegram messaging platform last week, adding, "I never thought I would be ashamed of Russia."

The Dutch National Ballet announced on Wednesday that Smirnova has joined the company, and the team is "thrilled and energized," Artistic Director Ted Brandsen told The Washington Post. "She's a beautiful artist and a beautiful person. There's something really magical about her; she dances with her entire soul. So to have her join our company is wonderful — even though the situation behind it is so tragic and so awful."

In addition to Smirnova, Brandsen said the Dutch National Ballet has also hired the Brazilian dancer Victor Caixeta, who left the Mariinsky Ballet in St. Petersburg in protest of the invasion, and three Ukrainian ballerinas. The company is quickly trying to raise money to bring on more dancers from Ukraine, he said, adding, "Everyone in the whole ballet world is trying to do what they can."