Jackie: Hi Olga, I wonder if I could have a signed photograph of you for my son Mark who has watched you on several occasions one being at the Lincoln Centre in New York. Mark will be 40yrs old this July and it would be a hi-light of his birthday if I could surprise him with a signed photograph. I hope that I to will be able to see come and see you dance. Thank you in anticipation
Olga: Dear Jackie, thank you very much for seeing me at Lincoln Center, it was very special to perform there. I would be happy to sign a photograph for Mark. Please send the photograph to me with a self-addressed return postage paid envelope in which I would mail it back to you. You can send it to me at: Olga Smirnova, Prima Ballerina, Bolshoi Theatre, Theatre Square, dom 1, Moscow, 125009, Russia.
Update: In response to your follow up question, I am afraid I am not familiar with international return postage options in different countries, so I am afraid I cannot suggest any other ideas. I mail self-addressed stamped envelopes back to senders from abroad, but cannot tell whether they actually make it back or not.
Rachel: Hi Olga, I hope you are well. I'm Rachel who does adult ballet as a hobby both in London and Seoul. I'm a significant fan of you and follow your instagram as well! I've seen your amazing dance of Swan lake at Royal Opera House in last summer, that was my first time to see bolshoi's productions I was enormously eager to see. Finally my dream has been successful. Your dance was overwhelmingly fabulous!! But i was really shy to get your signature and to take a photo with you after its show, that is my biggest regrattable moment of my life ever! After watching your performance, i've started to follow your instagram and to search your hashtags in order to see your various variations as much as possible! But! I really want to see your dance again at Bolshoi theatre. Now unfortunately, neither you cannot lively dance on the stage nor I cannot go to the moscow and the theatre due to the pandemic. So if this situation is over, I will surely visit to Moscow and bolshoi theare for your stage. Please remember me as a huge fan who is from South Korea of you! Plus please stay safe until you dance and we meet. I just want to let you know to be grateful for getting huge inspiration from you, and your dance. Thank you again Olga! and stay safe x.
Olga: Dear Rachel, thank you very much for your lovely message, it was such a delight to receive it. I am certain that some day we will meet, whether you come to Moscow or I visit Seoul again, and I would certainly look forward to it!
Paulina D: Hello Olga! It was such a pleasure watching you perform in Taming of the Shrew in New York City a few years ago. You are such an exquisite dancer. I flew all the way from California to watch you perform. Do you have any plans to perform in California? Also, are you working on other collaborations with Mr. Maillot?
Olga: Dear Paulina, great to hear these wonderful words from you and I am very touched that you flew such a distance to see me. I certainly hope that one day, and possibly soon enough, I would be able to return the favor and perform for you in California. And with some luck, maybe it would be in a work by Jean-Christophe! He is the most wonderful choreographer, he has had tremendous influence over me, working with him was fantastic and eye-opening, so it would definitely be great to continue our collaboration. Stay put for news on this front.
Matthew P: Just wanted to say my grandmother and I have so far seen you in Raymonda and Giselle at the Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema and you are superb! We always enjoy watching you!
Olga: Dear Matthew, thank you very much for your message, I hope to bring more performances for you and hope that you will enjoy them too, I will do my best for that to happen!
Stefan: Greetings from a continent far far away. Dear Olga, is there plans for the Bolshoi touring in the USA?
Olga: Dear Stefan, at the time of your message both the Bolshoi and I personally had a lot of tour plans for the USA, including New York and Chicago. Because of the pandemic, these plans have been put on an indefinite hold. But, hopefully, things will start improving from here on, and one day we can again appear in front of American audiences.
Malcolm B: Daily Telegraph review on Swan Lake London August 2019. 'Truly Olga is a dream girl to match in the cinema some years ago. You and Semyon were 'perfection' then. In the English language there is no higher compliment. Congratulations to you both.
Olga: Dear Malcolm, thank you very much for your congratulations and for posting us on this article. Many ballet artists are, admittedly, keen on getting positive reviews from professional critics. But it is even more important for us to be appreciated by spectators such as yourself. All my best wishes to you too!
Michael M: I just want to say to you that I travelled from Zurich to London to see you dance in Swan Lake on the night of Friday 02 August 2019. I used to be married to a ballet dancer - now sadly passed away - so I have been watching ballet for over 40 years, all over the world. My message is simply this. I believe it was a lifetime privilege to see you dance. I think that you were somehow the embodiment of everything that matters, everything that is important, in classical ballet as we now know it. For me, you were nothing less than breathtaking. You redefined excellence. Thank you.
Olga: Dear Michael, thank you so much for writing this to me. These are some of the most beautiful words I have ever read, and I am truly moved by them. This is what a ballet dancer lives for and the reason I love being in this art so much.
Ania A: We met in London after Spartakus on 10.08. It was unforgettable, wonderful evening, till now I have goose bumps remember your dance, your perfection, grace and personality. As you advised me I'd like to buy a ticket for your performance in Moscow on 21.09. Unfortunately everything is sold out. I hope I will see you as Odette-Odile in nearest future. I try check availability every day but everyone wants to see you:) Best regards, Ania from Poland
Olga: Dear Ania, sorry my response comes so late, I am only now catching up on your fabulous message. Unfortuntaly, the year that has passed has been difficult for everyone. But I hope the world begins to recover, and soon enough we can dance for our spectators and they can come to enjoy our performances again. So far in the fall of 2020 the Bolshoi performances are back. At some point I hope to also start performing at other places, including in Poland. I would have loved to perform the Lady of the Camellias set to Fryderyk Chopin's incomparable and magical music together with the wonderful Polish National Ballet company. Unfortunately, scheduling issues prevented this from happening in the past, but I surely hope it can still happen some day.
Charles: Olga, You were majestic, beautiful and heavenly in Spartacus in London . Never has a courtesan been played so elegantly ! I’m enraptured.
Olga: Dear Charles, your words of appreciation mean a lot to me. Aegina is a challenging role, not only physically, but also psychologically, since to a certain extent I have been going against my type there. But I am very keen on building up on this exciting character, and your encouragement gives me that important extra drive.
Daniel B: Dear Olga, I just wanted to say that I appreciate so much your musicality in movement. As a musician having become interested in ballet a few years ago, watching you on video has greatly deepened my understanding of movement with music, Also I was fortunate to be present to see your performances in Diamonds in 2017 in New York City. It answered a question I had for some time: "what happens when a great Russian balleriina dances Balanchine"! Many thanks
Olga: Dear Daniel, I am very flattered by your wonderful words and I also appreciate your insightful observation. I also believe that Balanchine is the most "musical" of choreographers, so the focus on musical accents is especially essential with him. In the coming week, I am dancing two Balanchine works in a row - Symphony in C and then Diamonds - and I anticipate this with special delight, as immersing myself in the music and melting together with it gives me tremendous pleasure as a dancer.
Béa B: Hello Dear Olga ! Since I really want to see you dance in live (it would be my dream) I was planning to go to London this summer for the Bolshoi Tour because it is not very far from Paris where I live and I was wondering if you would be part of the London summer tour ? Any chance that I could see you there ? And if so, in which ballet ? It is to organize myself with the tickets ^^ Also I saw your Bayadère in cinemas it was magical !
Olga: Dear Bea, I greatly appreciate that you saw and enjoyed the broadcast of La Bayadere. This work is very important to me, and I wanted to do my best to connect to audiences both in the theater and at the cinemas. The schedule for the London tour has just been released, and, barring any changes, I will dance Aegina in Spartacus and Odette-Odile in Swan Lake. The dates have been posted to my calendar, but please check back for updates.
Bertrand V: Hi Olga Thanks to you I spent this evening with the bayadere live from Bolshoi at the cinema in france one of the most magical moment of my life (67 years today) Never seen so much grace and beauty in a woman I feel as I was 20 years old best regards
Olga: Dear Bertrand, thank you very much for your beautiful words, I am very touched and honored. It is audience such as yourself that gives meaning to a ballet dancer's art and life.
Gerry L: Cara Olga, La tua danza e' quella di una vera principessa imperiale. Ti ho apprezzato nelle proiezioni del bolshoi al cinema e spero di applaudirti, prima o poi, a Torino. I migliori auguri per la danza e la tua vita e dei tuoi cari. Grazie per la tua danza, Gerry.
Olga: Dear Gerry, thank you very much for your kind message. I visited Turin as a child with the Vaganova Academy and absolutely loved it. I hope to visit Turin again some day and dance there.
Malcolm B: Flew from London to Riga to see you and Semyon in Taming of the Shrew and saw both performances - equally delightful. Would never have known what a lovely town Riga is but for you. Thanks!
Olga: Dear Malcolm, it was a real pleasure. I am very grateful that you made the trip all the way from London, and am glad that you enjoyed Riga as well. I look forward to returning the favor this coming summer with Bolshoi's London tour.
Jeffrey O: I saw and actually met you in NYC last Spring. You were incredible. One of the best in the entire world!!!! I look forward to seeing you dance in NYC again. Please come! How can I bribe you" ;-)
Olga: Dear Jeffrey, it is a pleasure to hear from you again! You do not need to bribe me. I very much want to come to NYC, I really hoped it would happen last April, but, unfortunately, life would have it differently. :-) But I will keep trying to make it happen, I am not giving up.
Xiaoyi N: Dear Olga, I know you are busy preparing for the premiere of Neumeier's Anna Karenina and I look forward to it so much. Hope it all goes well~ Your interpretation of Anna is sure to shine like your Marguerite in The Lady of Camellias:) Please take some time to update your schedule because Bolshoi official releases cast so late that there is little time for us fans to plan trips. Thank you and lots of love:)
Olga: Dear Xiaoyi, I am sorry it has taken me so long to reply. The premiere of Anna Karenina came and went, but as chance would Jeffrey O: I saw and actually met you in NYC last Spring. You were incredible. One of the best in the entire world!!!! I look forward to seeing you dance in NYC again. Please come! How can I bribe you" ;-)
Anna H: Dear Olga, You are my favorite ballerina! I look up to you so much. What is your number one tip you would give a young ballerina?
Olga: Dear Anna, thank you for your message! As a tip, I would say that several years ago I discovered Pilates, and I wish I had discovered it sooner. It helps keep you in good shape and control your body, so that you do not have to think as much about the physical challenges of your dancing, and can focus more on its expressivity.
Sacha G: Dear Olga I would like to express all my gratitude to you. As a student of the royal Ballet school you influence my dance every days even if I’m a man. I always watch you on videos and I really hope your are coming soon in the Royal Opera House to see you in true! For me you are the best ballerina in the world. My dream is to become principal in the Bolshoi theatre, and maybe one day we can dance together?! :-D A big thank you for the artist you are and please continue to bright like you do!
Olga: Dear Sacha, thank you very much for your kind wishes. Please accept my most sincere wish that all your dreams come true!
Noelle T: Dearest Olga, I simply adore you and I look to you as inspiration for my own dancing. I would like to know what you think about the Bolshoi's effect on your dancing. What kind of dancer would you be if you had joined Mariinsky instead of Bolshoi. How have you incorporated the Bolshoi style into your Vaganova training? Also, how tall are you? Thank you, Olga. I hope to see you perform in person some day!
Olga: Dear Noelle, I thank you for your message and wish you the best success in your dancing. To your question, there is a saying in Russia: "History does not recognize the subjunctive mood." And if I am at the Bolshoi today, it means that it was my destiny. I will always stay true to my St. Petersburg roots. Of course, I also have to adapt to the styles of different works and choreographers, and consider myself lucky that the repertoire at the Bolshoi has been so diverse, which has allowed me to develop in different directions.
Xueting W: Dear Olga, Happy birthday!! The past year has been amazing, with several debuts, tours, and live streams in cinema. I hope you could experience more in the year ahead. Please keep on shining onstage and bringing love to the audience. Wish you health, love, happiness and all the great things in life))))
Olga: Dear Xueting, thank you very much for your nice words and wishes. I wish you all the best too!
Béa B: Hello Olga ! I was wondering if there was a chance that you would come and dance in Paris any soon ? I live there and it would be my dream to see you dance live !!
Olga: Dear Béa, it is my dream to come to dance in Paris too! :-) Let's both hope it comes true soon.
Olga A: I don't know what to say, apart the fact that you're simply the best! I can't stop watching your videos. I can't wait to see you in Italy, one day! Best wishes!!!
Olga: Dear Olga, thank you very much for your nice words. I have not danced in Italy all that much yet, only once at the Premio Positano per la Danza gala a couple of years ago. But I love the country, and have been there many times, mostly during my summer breaks, and can't wait to come back, whether to perform or just because!
Luna Q: Dear Olga, thank you for the marvelous performance in Beijing! I’ve seen Sleeping Beauty and Etudes performed by Mr Chudin, Mr Ovcharenko and you on big screen in New York, and I’m so glad to see all of you performing live this time. The four pieces you brought to Beijing, together with The Lady of Camellias are literally my favorite repertoires of you. It’s such an enjoyment to see most of them at once! I’m wondering how ballerinas like you choose repertoires? What’s the procedure behind the decision, especially in choosing single pieces such as Grand Pas Classique by Gsovsky that you may play a vital role in the selection? Hope you enjoy your time in Beijing and looking forward to see you again!
Olga: Dear Luna, thank you very much for your kind message. It has now been over a month since I was in Beijing, but it feels as if it were yesterday. I had such a special time there that I am still overflowing with very fond memories. Of course, I would love to come to Beijing again and perform in front of the wonderful audiences there, hopefully, it would be possible to bring something from the Lady of the Camellias. In choosing programs for gala performances, I typically try to bring something from the classics, because this is what I believe viewers want to see, as well as some recent creations, to show something new and possibly unexpected and interesting. I also have to take into account the wishes of event organizers.
Jeffrey O: Ms Smirnova, I had the extreme honor and pleasure to see you at the Lincoln Center Festival last week. I had very good seats and could not take my eyes off you dazzled by your brilliance. I am a huge fan of Vishneva who also studied at Vaganova. What do you think it is about that school which seems to produce amazing dancers? Please come dance more in NYC... I must see your work... it is epitome of ballet for me. Thank you Olga.!
Olga: Dear Jeffrey, thank you very much. I was delighted to perform at Lincoln Center and to be part of this grandiose project - the coming together of the three ballet companies in a single evening - as well as to dance the role of Bianca in the Taming of the Shrew. Just like you I admire the dancing of Diana Vishneva, I have admired her ever since I saw her for the first time on stage at the Mariinsky Theatre when I was still a student at the Vaganova Academy. My teachers at the Academy always told us, students, that we have the honor of attending the best ballet school in the world and becoming carriers of its traditions. We indeed revered our school as a temple of the art of ballet. I was extremely lucky with the teachers I had there, I would like to name them all, they instilled so much knowledge in me, passed on to me the proper respect for my ballet profession, taught me to love it and to live it, and I overflow with gratitude to them for all of this. In the middle classes, we were taught the art of ballet by professor Irina Trofimova, who had herself been a pupil of Agrippina Vaganova, and who passed Vaganova's system and method on to us. Then I was tremendously lucky to get into the graduating classes of the renowned ballet teacher Lyudmila Kovaleva, who also counts Diana Vishneva among her graduates. The knowledge and the impetus that professor Kovaleva gave me have served as a solid base for my subsequent work in the theater and still help me overcome difficulties. I also feel that I was immensely fortunate that during the time when I was a student there, the Academy was led by Altynai Asylmuratova, a spectacular ballerina in the past, who, as I have now come to appreciate, carefully preserved the spirit of the Academy, its strong traditions and its brilliant academic faculty.
Yui S: Hello,Olga! I'm a fan from Japan. I saw you in Japan in Swan Lake. I was inspired and I can't help crying to see your pas de deux in act 2. And thank you for giving me an autograph! It's my treasure. I'm only seventeen, but I will practice hard by your dance.
Please take care of your health. And I'm looking forward to seeing you again!
Olga: Dear Yui, thank you very much. I very much love dancing in Japan, where people truly love and cherish the art of ballet, and I eagerly await the upcoming tour across several cities in Japan with Manuel Legris this August.
Béa B: Hello again Olga ! I was wondering how long does it take you to prepare for a new role and what is the most difficult thing in your job according to you? You are the best and good luck for your upcoming performances!!
Olga: Dear Béa, thank you once again for your kind words and wishes. To answer your question: I generally prefer to take my time in preparing for a new role, so that I can completely focus my attention on it, without being distracted by other works in the repertoire. It was not for nothing that previous generations of ballerinas also approached new roles with thoroughness, sometimes spending an entire season honing them in a rehearsal room before showing them for the first time on stage. Today's times are a lot faster, and I think we get more performances per year, which, on one hand is good, because we get more stage time, and, therefore, more on-stage experience, on the other hand, ballet dancers are forced to prepare new roles under accelerated timelines, which are sometimes not enough to develop a character sufficiently deeply. I now understand, based on my own experience, that you must lay a solid foundation for a future role by being very rigorous in the way you prepare for it from the very beginning. Going forward, this early rigor will allow you to return to the same ballet without a need for much additional rehearsing and to perform it with clarity, ease and comfort.
I constantly look to perfect my performance of ballets that I danced multiple times before, and I find it interesting to make changes inside the character, find new touches and accents, and rethink the outline of the role. But all these changes become possible only if there is an initially constructed foundation for the role, onto which I can add new elements as time goes by. Within the typical stressful performance and touring schedule, I try to manage my time so that preparation for new roles does not overlap with dancing other works. This way my new performance can be of such quality as to launch my heroine into a long and interesting future stage life.
Xiaoyi N: Dear Olga, I'm a fan from China. I'm so excited to hear that you will come to Beijing again for IBCC GALA after your previous performance in 2011 (which I sadly missed). I've always admired your Diamonds and wanted to see it live since I watched your debut video. In many ballet lovers' eyes, you are the best interpreter of Diamonds. Since the organizers of the GALA refuse to tell the audience the specific excerpts you are going to dance in the two days in advance. So I want to ask you directly if you and Mr. Chudin have any plans about your excerpts. Will you be so kind to give me the information so I can decide which day I should go? Thank you very much anyway.
Olga: Dear Xiaoyi, thank you so much for your kind compliments! At this point, I plan to bring the following three pieces to Beijing: Pas de Deux from the Taming of the Shrew (Maillot) with Semyon Chudin; Grand Pas Classique (Gsovsky) with Semyon Chudin; and Pas de Deux from Casse Noisette Compagnie (Maillot) with Artem Ovcharenko. However, I do not yet know which pieces I will be asked to perform on which dates; as soon as this is confirmed, I will post the updates to my calendar.
Béa B: Hello Olga ! I am so happy that I can write to you !! I am a huge fan of your dance I watched all your performances on YouTube and I cannot express how much I admire you. For me you are one of the best ballerina of all times and meeting you would be an absolute dream. I have been doing ballet for 13 years and it is my passion so I watch a lot of ballerinas in my spare time and I have to say that you are mind-blowing! There are so many questions I would want to ask you but I can't so I am going to ask you a few : what is your favorite ballet of all times that you have danced or not ? How do you manage to dance a character in a personal and unique way when so many great dancers (galina ulanova, marina kondratieva, maia plissetskaya) have influenced generations of dancers and maybe you with their own interpretations ? I don't know if my question is clear I hope so! Anyway, it would mean the world to me if you could answer back !! You are wonderful !!
Olga: Dear Béa, thank you very much for your kind message, it is certainly very nice to hear such kind words from someone who has so much experience and knowledge in ballet as you do. With regards to your first question, it may sound like I am avoiding answering it, but I am really not: The truth is, my favorite ballet at any given moment is the one I happen to be preparing for, where I often find myself so wholly immersed in thinking about the nuances of both movement and emotion, that everything outside of that ballet ceases to exist for me for a couple of weeks. And it sometimes takes a while to get myself out of that state after the performance of that ballet is over. As for your second question, when I prepare for a role, I definitely try to see as many recordings of great dancers as I can. Do they influence me? Yes, to an extent, I may certainly appreciate and take in some of the interesting elements that they may have found for that role. But at the end, I must let the character pass through me, find something from within myself to infuse into the character, make it wholly mine. I feel it is the only way that I can make my interpretation believable, both to myself and to the audience.
Natalie S: Hi Olga! I just wanted to say that I love watching you dance, and though unfortunately I haven't had the chance to watch you perform live, my mom, my little sister and I go to every Bolshoi broadcast and are especially excited when we hear that you are going to perform that day. I was wondering: do you prepare any differently for the broadcasts, or do you approach them as you would any normal performance? I look forward to next season, and I wish you all the best for the upcoming tour in New York! Желаю удачи! Warmly, Natalie
Olga: Dear Natalie, thank you very much for your message. You are bringing up a very interesting question. What I am about to say goes not only for broadcasts, but also for any performance, since these days you are virtually assured that someone in the audience will be making a bootleg video to post it on the web. I very often think how different things have become for our generation of ballet dancers, whose career starts have coincided with the advent of frequent global broadcasts and an unprecedented proliferation of personal video recording devices - smartphones, mini-cameras, action cams and the like – as well as the means of spreading video instantly across the entire world through services such as YouTube. So, unlike for dancers in the past, our movements and performances, starting with our very first steps on stage, are being constantly recorded, seen by millions of people and preserved for eternity: no hiding, no excuses, nothing that would eventually slide out of the collective memory, or be glowed over by imperfect recollections. Therefore, I approach every single performance as if it were a broadcast to be viewed by many people and for many years. And this is actually the only way it is supposed to be: you must always strive to give your best, ready or not, healthy or not, fresh or tired, because your spectators deserve nothing but the best, whether they are actually in the theater, or watching you in the cinema, or from the comfort of their homes.
Luísa R: I'd like to thank you immensely for sharing your talent with the world. Seeing you dance made me go back to ballet after many years, and it was one of the best decisions I've ever made. You are a huge inspiration to me. Thank you so much!
Olga: Luísa, I really appreciate your comment! Wanted to wish you the very best in your continued pursuit of this wonderful art that is ballet
Arantza R: Hi Olga! I just wanted to say that you are my absolute favorite dancer! Ever since I watched your 2011 Vaganova Graduation I have followed your performances and admire you so much! Your work ethic, technique, and artistry are something many ballet students like me look up to. Your are incredible! Best wishes :)
Olga: Thank you so very much, Arantza, really appreciate this! Best wishes to you too!
Diana M: I want to say thank you (also to Chudin) for the most beautiful performance of Diamonds when you were in London. It was so beautiful that I wept all the way through! Pure magic and classical ballet at it's best. Thank you. Warm wishes, Diana
Olga: Thank you very much, it means a lot to me!