In the Studio with Olga Smirnova: After a Yearlong Injury, the Rising Bolshoi Star Makes a Triumphant Return

Smirnova and Igor Tsvirko rehearse A Hero of Our Time. Photo by Quinn Wharton for Pointe.

Olga Smirnova's first three seasons at the Bolshoi Ballet were a whirlwind of debuts and creations, but it all came to a halt in 2014, when a foot injury took the Vaganova-trained prodigy out of action for nearly a year. During her break, Smirnova adopted a new approach to taking care of her body throughout the day, using Pilates and various floor exercises. When she returned to the stage last summer, in Yuri Possokhov's new full-length ballet A Hero of Our Time, it was with a newfound maturity. “Maybe I needed this break to reflect after such an intense period," she says. “I think I grew up more than in the previous three years."

A Hero of Our Time puts a modern twist on a popular 19th-century Russian novel by Mikhail Lermontov and its hero, Pechorin, who encounters a series of women. Pointe went backstage with Smirnova as she worked with Possokhov and theater director Kirill Serebrennikov on the role of Bela. With the help of her coach, Marina Kondratieva, she used her expressive lines and port de bras to lend depth to the character, a proud Circassian princess.


And the creations keep coming: This winter, she spent a month in Monaco, where Jean-Christophe Maillot devised a new part for her in Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo's Nutcracker Company. “I feel like Maillot and Possokhov are 'my' choreographers," she explains. “I feel so comfortable in their work that I would never miss an opportunity to go further with them."

All photos by Quinn Wharton for Pointe.

Rehearsing A Hero of Our Time at the Bolshoi Theatre.

Instagram

Are you a total bunhead who loves to write? You might be the perfect fit for Pointe. We're seeking an editorial intern who's equally passionate about ballet and journalism.

Keep reading...
Sponsored by Ellison Ballet
Rachel Neville, Courtesy Ellison Ballet

If you've got your heart set on dancing for, say, San Francisco Ballet, you should attend a school that specializes in Balanchine, right? Not necessarily: It's actually a misconception that you have to train in a particular style or technique in order to pursue a career in that style. Ellison Ballet in New York City—which specializes in Vaganova technique—is living proof: Graduates of Ellison's year-round program and summer intensives go on to ballet companies that perform in a wide range of styles, and use what they've learned from Vaganova to land jobs.

Here are five reasons why studying Vaganova technique can actually make you a sought-after dancer for any number of ballet companies:

Keep reading...
Ballet Stars
Beckanne Sisk in the studio. Quinn Wharton.

Ballet West principal dancer Beckanne Sisk may not subscribe to a specific style, but there are a few key elements to her off-duty look no matter what the season. "Comfort is number one for me," she says. "I also like to buy things that are a little higher quality, because they last longer." Other than that, she says, it's really anything goes. "I like to change up my style all the time."

Keep reading...
News
Sasha Waltz and Johannes Öhman. Photo by André Rival, Courtesy Staatsballett Berlin

Staatsballett Berlin announced today that artistic directors Sasha Waltz and Johannes Öhman intend to step down at the end of 2020, despite having only held the posts since 2019 and summer 2018, respectively.

Keep reading...