Kyle Froman

The Bolshoi's Olga Smirnova Totes Treasures In Her Dance Bag From Around the World

This story originally appeared in the February/March 2015 issue of Pointe.

Bolshoi Ballet leading soloist Olga Smirnova has performed the world over, and nowhere is it more apparent than inside her dance bag. First, there's the huge bag itself, a souvenir from the annual Dance Open Festival in St. Petersburg. And she picked up her red T-shirt when Jean-Christophe Maillot came from Monte Carlo to create The Taming of the Shrew on the Bolshoi. “Wherever I go, I take my foam roller and a mat to sit on for when I warm up," says Smirnova. For the company's New York performances of Swan Lake last summer, she made sure to bring her swan-themed mat to match.

But her most prized possession? Her Japanese muscle spray. “In case you pull something," she says. “It warms your muscles." Smirnova stocks up on six or seven bottles every time she tours to Japan, sometimes even fulfilling requests from dancer friends back home. “No ballerina can live without it."

Kyle Froman

The Goods

Dance Open Festival souvenir bag, warm-up mat, ballet slippers, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes (“I usually have three pairs: one for jumping, one for center, one that's extra-soft"), towel, foam roller, Thera-Band, spiked massage roller (“I use it before class to massage my muscles, especially when I have a lot of work that day"), smartphone with headphones (“I like American, French and Russian music. Chopin sometimes. But no Tchaikovsky!"), pointe shoe supply kit (“the usual stuff—Band-Aids, scissors"), vitamin C tablets, Japanese muscle spray.

Latest Posts

Left to right: Dance Theatre of Harlem's Daphne Lee, Amanda Smith, Lindsey Donnell and Alexandra Hutchinson in a scene from Dancing Through Harlem. Derek Brockington, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem

Dancers Share Their Key Takeaways After a Year of Dancing on Film

Creating dances specifically for film has become one of the most effective ways that ballet companies have connected with audiences and kept dancers employed during the pandemic. Around the world, dance organizations are finding opportunities through digital seasons, whether conceiving cinematic, site-specific pieces or filming works within a traditional theater. And while there is a consistent sentiment that nothing will ever substitute the thrill of a live show, dancers are embracing this new way of performing.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

#TBT: Mikhail Baryshnikov in "Fancy Free" (1981)

In Jerome Robbins's 1944 ballet Fancy Free, three sailors on leave spend the day at a bar, attempting to woo two young women by out-dancing and out-charming one another. In this clip from 1981, Mikhail Baryshnikov, who was then both the artistic director of American Ballet Theatre and a leading performer with the company, pulls out all the stops to win the ladies' affections.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Bethany Kirby, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet

An Infectious-Disease Physician on What Vaccines Mean for Ballet

As the coronavirus pandemic grinds into its second year, the toll on ballet companies—and dancers—has been steep. How long before dancers can rehearse and perform as they once did?

Like most things, the return to normal for ballet seems to hinge on vaccinations. Just over 22 percent of people in the U.S. are now vaccinated, a way from the estimated 70 to 85 percent experts believe can bring back something similar to pre-pandemic life.

But what would it mean for 100 percent of a ballet company to be vaccinated? Tulsa Ballet artistic director Marcello Angelini is about to find out—and hopes it brings the return of big ballets on the big stage.

"I don't think companies like ours can survive doing work for eight dancers in masks," Angelini says. "If we want to work, dance, and be in front of an audience consistently and with the large works that pay the bills, immunization is the only road that leads there."

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks