Episode 50: Olga Smirnova

Why Dance Matters celebrates its 50th episode in conversation with one of the world’s great ballerinas. Olga Smirnova’s Giselle with Dutch National Ballet will be broadcast to international cinemas on 21 January. She joined the company after making headlines in 2022 with a courageous, life-changing decision to leave Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In a wide-ranging and thoughtful conversation, she discusses stage fright (she never feels it), the challenges of being a ballerina in the age of smartphones, her momentous decision to leave Russia, and her profound sense of why dance matters.

As a young girl, Olga Smirnova had no dream of becoming a ballerina. However, she went to dance classes and was accepted into the famous Vaganova Ballet Academy in St Petersburg. On completing her training in 2011, she joined the Bolshoi Ballet, starting immediately as a soloist and shining in the classics and new and modern works. In 2016, she was promoted to prima ballerina, but when Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, Olga – strongly opposed to the invasion – decided to leave her homeland, making the transition to Dutch National Ballet.

Giselle is in cinemas around the world on 21 January https://www.giselleballetcinema.com/