Olga Smirnova in La Bayadère Act I (chor. Marius Petipa). Photo by Alexey Yakovlev.
Smirnova’s physical gifts are formidable. Long-limbed, with a swan-like neck, superbly pliant spine and ravishing, sway-back classical line, she also has the agility of a soubrette. Her arms ripple with an unmistakably Russian, lighter-then-air lyricism, yet her soaring, apparently preparation-free jump, which heightens the impression of buoyancy, also suggests great muscular strength.