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Russian, Ukrainian ballet stars to dance together in Naples

Olga Smirnova, Alessio Carbone, Anastasya Gurskaya
Posted at 2:52 PM, Apr 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-04 15:52:36-04

A Ukrainian ballerina who fled the war in her homeland and a Russian ballerina who quit the Bolshoi Ballet over the Russian invasion, rehearsed on a stage in Naples for a sold-out benefit performance Monday night to raise funds for the Red Cross.

Naples' San Carlo Theater billed the event as "Stand with Ukraine — Ballet for Peace." Among the stars is prima ballerina Olga Smirnova, who quit the Bolshoi and is now dancing with the Dutch National Ballet. Another headliner is Anastasia Gurskaya, a top ballerina in Kyiv's Opera, who fled her war-ravaged homeland.

Despite the event's peaceful aim, the prospect of Russians dancing on the same stage with Ukrainians has reportedly angered Ukraine's consul in Naples.

“I think it’s important in this situation, in this time, to be together on the stage. To do little things, the smallest things, what we can do for Ukraine,“ Smirnova told reporters in the theater before the final rehearsal. ”This is the main goal for all of us. That’s why we are here, that’s why we are dancing tonight.”