Yuri Smekalov, in addition to his pure dance qualities, offers magnificent partnering and a precise feel for the choreographer’s plastique; he performed Vronsky in a multifaceted way. He is tender in his duet with Kitty, stunned at his meeting with Anna, he wins her over, he understands Karenin’s anxiety (arguably the male duet cedes nothing in terms of drama to Anna’s duets with Karenin).
There is Evil in every fairytale which the protagonists must battle. In Ratmansky’s ballet this is the Chamber Servant performed by Yuri Smekalov. The performer brilliantly created the image of the perfidious courtier using ‘serpentine’ body language, vivid facial expressions, flattering gestures and fingers that spoke. In the character’s very steps there is the latent cowardly caution of a dark court politician.
Sankt Peterburgskie Vedomosti
As the handsome Harmodius, Yuri Smekalov grips the audience with the expressiveness of his dance and acting. The image he created was multifaceted – from Spartacus’ faithful comrade to the traitor who seduces the cunning Aegina. The actor brings a number of psychological hues to the character – youthful fervour, naive trust, wrath and the stinging amour propre of a proud man. With the most tremendous power, the dancer enacts the death of Harmodius onstage – the end of hope, a sense of his own inevitable death – all of this flows in the dance monologue of a broken being who has come to pay the price for treachery.
Sankt Peterburgskie Vedomosti
• Prize-winner at the XI International Ballet Dancers’ and Choreographers’ Competition, “Choreography” category (1st prize, Moscow, 2009).
• Recipient of the Golden Mask, Russia’s most prestigious theatre prize, for “Best Male Role” in the ballet The Seagull (Trigorin) in the 2007–2008 season.
• Recipient of St Petersburg's most prestigious theatre prize the Golden Sofit in the category "Best Male Role in Ballet" for the lead role in Angelin Preljocaj's ballet Le Parc (2011).
• Prize-winner at the VII International Competition of Choreographers and Ballet Masters under the patronage of the International Dance Council CID-UNESCO in the category "Ballet Video" (1st prize, Novosibirsk, 2012).
• Recipient of the medal In Honour of the Tercentenary of St Petersburg in 2003.
In 1998, he graduated from the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet (class of Konstantin Shatilov).
From 1998-2009, he was a soloist with the Boris Eifman St Petersburg State Academic Ballet Theatre, where he danced the lead roles in ballets including Don Quixote, or Fantasies of a Madman, Tchaikovsky, The Karamazovs, Red Giselle, Russian Hamlet, Don Juan and Molière, WHO is WHO, Anna Karenina, Requiem, My Jerusalem and The Seagull.
As a guest artist, he has appeared at the Mikhailovsky Theatre (as Spartacus in the ballet of the same name), the Warsaw Opera Narodowa (as Tchaikovsky in the ballet of the same name) and at the St Petersburg State Leonid Yakobson Academic Ballet Theatre (as Zeus in the ballet Andro-Geny and Spartacus in Leonid Yakobson's ballet Spartacus).
Yuri Smekalov was invited to join the Mariinsky Theatre in February 2009.
Repertoire at the Mariinsky Theatre includes:
Don Quixote (Espada); choreography by Alexander Gorsky after motifs of Marius Petipa’s production,
La Sylphide (Gurn); choreography by August Bournonville, revised version by Elsa-Marianne von Rosen,
Giselle (Hans); choreography by Jean Coralli, Jules Perrot, Marius Petipa,
La Bayadère (High Brahmin, Slave); choreography by Marius Petipa, revised version by Vladimir Ponomarev and Vakhtang Chabukiani,
The Sleeping Beauty (Carabosse the Wicked Fairy); choreography by Marius Petipa, revised version by Konstantin Sergeyev,
Swan Lake (von Rothbart); choreography by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, revised version by Konstantin Sergeyev,
Le Corsaire (Birbanto); production by Pyotr Gusev after the composition and choreography by Marius Petipa,
Raymonda (Abderakhman); choreography by Marius Petipa, revised version by Konstantin Sergeyev,
Michel Fokine’s ballets The Firebird (Ivan Tsarevich), Le Carnaval (Pierrot) and Pétrouchka (The Moor),
The Fountain of Bakhchisarai (Ghirei); choreography by Rostislav Zakharov,
The Nutcracker (Drosselmeyer); choreography by Vasily Vainonen,
Leonid Yakobson’s ballets Shurale (Ali-Batyr, Evil Spirit) and Spartacus (Spartacus, Harmodius),
Leonid Lavrovsky’s ballets Romeo and Juliet (Tybalt, Paris) and Walpurgis Night (Bacchus),
Yuri Grigorovich's ballet The Stone Flower (Severian), The Legend of Love (Vizier) ,
Carmen-Suite (Torero, José); choreography by Alberto Alonso,
George Balanchine’s ballets Jewels (Emeralds) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Lysander),
In the Night; choreography by Jerome Robbins,
Sylvia (Orion); choreography by Frederick Ashton,
Adagio Hammerklavier; choreography by Hans van Manen,
The Nutcracker (Drosselmeyer); production by Mihail Chemiakin and choreography by Kirill Simonov,
The Magic Nut (Drosselmeyer); production by Mihail Chemiakin and choreography by Donvena Pandoursky,
Alexei Ratmansky’s ballets The Little Humpbacked Horse (Gentleman of the Bedchamber, Horses, Seahorses), Anna Karenina (Vronsky) and Cinderella (Dance Teacher, Male Dance),
Diana Vishneva: Beauty in Motion (Pierrot Lunaire, Three Point Turn),
Vernal Waters; choreography by Asaf Messerer,
Le Parc (soloist); choreography by Angelin Preljocaj,
Sacre; choreography by Sasha Waltz,
Symphony in Three Movements (He); choreography by Radu Poklitaru,
Vladimir Varnava's ballets Yaroslavna. The Eclipse (Prince Igor), Pétrouchka (The Strongman) and Clay.
On 23 February 2014 he performed the role of Diaghilev in the closing ceremony of the XXII Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
Since 2008 Yuri Smekalov has worked as a choreographer. He has staged productions of choreographic miniatures and ballets including:
Autumn Gold (“Verba volant, scripta manent – Words fly away, what is written remains”, 2008; project in memory of Georgy Alexidze),
Parting (first performers – Yevgenia Obraztsova and Vladimir Shklyarov at the gala concert Malakhov and Friends, Berlin, 2008),
Requiem for Narcissus, Story on the Run (2009),
Presentiment of Spring (to music by Anatoly Lyadov, 2010),
Bolero Factory (to music by Maurice Ravel, 2010),
Intensio (to music by Alexander Maev, 2013),
Camera obscura (to music by Alexander Maev, 2014),
Orpheus in the Underworld (to music by Sergei Rachmaninoff, 2015),
Who is my Shadow? (to music by Alexander Maev, 2015),
Concerto for Contrabass (to music by Giovanni Bottesini, 2019).
Yuri Smekalov’s choreographic miniatures Requiem for Narcissus and Parting have been performed in Europe and Asia.
In 2012 at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow saw the premiere of the two-act ballet Moidodyr (Wash ’Em Clean with choreography by Yuri Smekalov and music by Efrem Podgaits).
In May 2013 Yuri Smekalov appeared in a gala dedicated to the opening of the new Mariinsky Theatre; the programme for the evening included Yuri Smekalov’s version of Harald Lander’s ballet Études. In June the same year he participated in the project A Creative Workshop of Vladimir Vasiliev, held as part of the Plato Arts Festival in Voronezh where he presented the choreographic miniature Jan to music by Alexander Maev.
In August 2013 the Teatro-sala de conciertos Elisa Carrillo Cabrera in Texcoco (Mexico) hosted the premiere of Yuri Smekalov’s ballet Infinita Frida to music by Alexander Maev. The lead roles were performed by Elisa Carrillo Cabrera, Vladimir Malakhov, Mikhail Kaniskin, Beatrice Knop and Igor Kolb.
In 2016 staged Reinhold Glière's ballet The Bronze Horseman for the Mariinsky Theatre. In 2017 presented Éduard Deldevez’s Paquita (with music by Ludwig Minkus and Riccardo Drigo).
In 2018 at the theatre Priyut Komedianta Yuri Smekalov presented his ballet Solyaris to music by Bhima Yunusov. In 2020 he presented the ballet Palimpsest. Written anew to music by Béla Bartók.
Premieres of Yuri Smekalov's productions Solaris (2018) to music by Bhima Yunusov, Three Comrades (2019) and the project 1234 took place on the stage of the theatre Priyut Komedianta. At the Samara Opera and Ballet Theater, Smekalov staged the ballets Three Masks of the King (2019) and Back to Life (2020) to the music of Mikhail Krylov.
Yuri Smekalov works with the coach Alexei Mishin and he is involved in creating programmes for Russia’s figure skating team. In 2003–2004 he was the choreographer for Yevgeny Plyushchenko’s programmes and, in 2008–2009, he created the programmes Narcissus and The Hermit for figure skater Artur Gachinsky.