Olga Smirnova and Kimin Kim
As American Ballet Theatre (ABT) celebrates its 80th Anniversary, Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie says, “we stand on the shoulders of great artists who have taken creative risks that have amazed and entranced audiences for decades. We owe it to these artists to continue the legacy of keeping the public engaged and inspired by the unexpected means of expression that the art form provides.”
One such artist is Natalia Makarova, choreographer of La Bayadère – a sublime ballet that premiered at the Metropolitan Opera House May 21, 1980. Performed with celebration over the decades, “Makarova’s La Bayadère is a balletomane’s paradise” (The New York Times).
To mark the 40th Anniversary of La Bayadère, ABT and Makarova invited two guest artists, Olga Smirnova (of The Bolshoi Ballet) and Kimin Kim (of the Mariinsky Theatre), to perform alongside ABT Principal Gillian Murphy in the leading roles of Nikiya, Solor, and Gamzatti. Of her partner Kim, Murphy says, “Kimin is extremely talented, and it is an absolute pleasure dancing alongside him in La Bayadère. I was looking forward to our performance together again this year!”
We had the honor of asking the choreographer about the two guest artists.
Natalia Makarova on Olga Smirnova
“Olga Smirnova was trained in the Vaganova Academy, my alma mater. She was in the graduating class of the great pedagogue Ludmilla Kovaleva, my contemporary. I first saw Olga in class when I visited St. Petersburg, shortly after her graduation. Now she is a leading Prima Ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet.
Olga is a very serious artist, with great intelligence, and in every role she delivers depth of interpretation, emotionally and spiritually. She has a great physique and she is truly a beauty, with the type of face that seems to belong to another time, as if she would be looking at us from the canvas of a 19th century painting.
It has been a great satisfaction and pleasure working with her. A true talent.”