Olga Smirnova and Vadim Muntagirov in Diamonds (Jewels)

Olga Smirnova and Vadim Muntagirov in Diamonds (from Jewels); music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, choreography by George Balanchine. Ballet Icons Gala 2024, London Coliseum, March 2024.

Olga Smirnova (born 1991) is a Russian ballet dancer, currently a Prima Ballerina with the Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Formerly a prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet. Olga was born in Leningrad (later Saint Petersburg). Smirnova comes from a family with no connections with ballet. Her mother encouraged her to take up the art at the Vaganova Academy where she studied under Lyudmila Kovaleva. In 2011, immediately after her graduation, she was recruited by the Bolshoi Ballet directly in the rank of soloist. She was promoted to first soloist in her first season, to leading soloist at the end of her second season in 2013, and to prima ballerina in 2016. In March 2022, she left Russia because of the invasion of Ukraine. Her grandfather was Ukrainian, and she stated she was “against this war with every fibre of my soul”. She was hired by the Dutch National Ballet.

Vadim Muntagirov is a Russian ballet dancer. He is currently a principal dancer at The Royal Ballet in London and previously a lead principal dancer at the English National Ballet. Muntagirov was born in Chelyabinsk, Russia. At age nine, he entered Perm State Choreographic College. In 2006, after he won a scholarship at the Prix de Lausanne he chose to relocate to London and trained at The Royal Ballet School and graduated in 2009. In 2009 he joined the English National Ballet as First Artist. During his first season, he danced Albrecht in Giselle and the Prince in Cinderella. In 2010, Muntagirov was promoted to First Soloist. Muntagirov was promoted to Principal in 2011 and Lead Principal in 2012. In January 2014, Muntagirov announced that he would join The Royal Ballet as a Principal Dancer.

© Photos by Jack Devant Ballet Photography with kind permission of the Ballet Icons Gala, special thanks to Olga Balakleets

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