CULTURE & ARTS

Bolshoi Theater's Prodigy Ballerina Explains Her Journey

"This was not easy, it’s not easy now, it will never be easy. But I managed it, which means I was ready for it."

"As a rule, ballet isn’t just dancing," Bolshoi ballerina Olga Smirnova explains in the video above. "There is a story. Even in ballets that have no story, still, they comprise an overall meaning. Even if it is just beauty. Beauty can also provoke thought."

Smirnova, who New York Times Magazine's Jim Lewis described as a "lovely extraterrestrial who landed among us," has, at only 23 years old, become somewhat of a prodigy in the world of ballet.

The young dancer stars in the Bolshoi Theater's rendition of George Balanchine's "Jewels," which, when it premiered in 1967, was billed as the first abstract full-length ballet. (As Balanchine famously said of the piece: "The ballet had nothing to do with jewels. The dancers are just dressed like jewels.")

To prepare for her role as Diamonds, Smirnova was trained by former New York City Ballet prima ballerina Merrill Ashley. Smirnova discusses the experience in the video above, along with describing what it's like to work in a dream profession most of us opted out of at age 3 and a half. 

"What other profession allows you to get to know your own qualities, your character traits, stamina, discipline?" Smirnova asks. "Through perseverance, because so often it is difficult, and through new work, where you’re searching to find yourself in a role, you slowly discover the meaning as a whole, and through this you truly recognize your own self, and you express yourself."

Watch the short interview above to delve momentarily into the life of a Bolshoi Ballerina. And see Smirnova in her element in the "Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema" series' rendition of George Balanchine's "Jewels," in theaters throughout the U.S. and Canada on Nov. 15.

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