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Plisskin

Joy Womack

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Plisskin   

The first American (but not really) to graduate at the Bolshoi is now a principal dancer at the Kremlin after controversy at the Bolshoi. She is also now selling energy/ diet bars for dancers called "The Prima Bar" and has a Youtube channel where she uploads video's of her dancing and bts of dancing with the Kremlin.

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Plisskin   

She was also recently on CNN last month for being payed 8 USD a day ($240 a month) because the Russian ruble is terrible right now. She still loves and is very much a Russiaphile.

Article here: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/04/17/europe/kremlin-ballet-american/

I saw some video's of her dancing from her channel and I wasn't terribly impressed... I find her interesting though. She self promotes a lot.

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Plisskin   

Strictly speaking, she is a "leading soloist" rather than a "ballerina" or principal of the Kremlin Ballet.

It's plastered all over news articles that she is a "principal" (she even says she is a principal) but she's actually a leading soloist? Wow. Thanks for the info.

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Yes, there may be some hairsplitting here. I'm not familiar with the hierarchy at the Kremlin Ballet, but at the Bolshoi there are three basic groups. The first includes "artists," "artists first category" and "artists first category-coryphees." Collectively they are known as the corps de ballet. Then there are soloists ("artists of the higher category"), further subdivided into "soloists" and "first soloists." Finally there are "leading masters of the stage," who are divided into "leading soloists" and "ballerinas/premiers," aka principals. It's possible that at the Kremlin Ballet "leading soloists" and "ballerinas/premiers" are subdivisions of a single grouping, but as at the Bolshoi, the translation "principal dancer" should be applicable to the latter, since English-speakers generally understand it to be the highest rank within a company.

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kaskait   

She is being consistently cast into leading roles. I think the biggest so far is Myrtha in Giselle. But the company website still lists her as a leading soloist. Which leads me to believe that any promotion to Principle will come from this group.

Besides the examples that Womack puts on her website and occasionally the Kremlin Ballet, I haven't seen enough of her dancing to make a true opinion. But what I have seen shows that she is a very conscientious dancer.

I would love to get a hold of reviews of her performances. The Russian balletomanes are so choosy, I wonder what impression she makes on them. Its obvious from the look of her, that she is very American...is that affecting her career? Or do the audiences in Russia find that exotic?

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Amour   

I used to read the most negative YT comments about Keenan Kampa (who spent about 1 year with the Mariinsky). They were the same people who loved Stepanova and hate Skorik. I'm not sure Russians like American dancers, and they are very knowledgable and choosy. At least, epaulement at the Kremlin is probably not as big a deal as at the Mariinsky.

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kaskait   

I used to read the most negative YT comments about Keenan Kampa (who spent about 1 year with the Mariinsky). They were the same people who loved Stepanova and hate Skorik. I'm not sure Russians like American dancers, and they are very knowledgable and choosy. At least, epaulement at the Kremlin is probably not as big a deal as at the Mariinsky.

I've been watching and translating some of the Russian comments on her youtube videos and sometimes on her website. So far all of them have been very congratulatory.

I'm not a Russian Dance worshipper, I've seen some sloppy dancing when the Mariinsky was in NY last winter. They favor extremely thin, wraith like dancers that I don't find attractive. Which is why I find it so interesting that Womack has the makings of a good career in Russia. She is a big, strapping American. The kind that Balanchine favored, definitely not the type that Russian ballet prefers now.

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Plisskin   

I used to read the most negative YT comments about Keenan Kampa (who spent about 1 year with the Mariinsky). They were the same people who loved Stepanova and hate Skorik. I'm not sure Russians like American dancers, and they are very knowledgable and choosy. At least, epaulement at the Kremlin is probably not as big a deal as at the Mariinsky.

Russian's prefer their dancers stick thin with Vaganova port de bras. Joy isn't any of those and she doesn't dance like a Russian either. Which is interesting because Precious Adams does and if I recall correctly, she spent even less time at the Bolshoi school than Joy did. I'm quite sure she has her detractors from small comments she's made from her Youtube video's. I do know that pre-Bolshoi controversy, I remember reading some nasty Russian comments from her graduation performance.

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kaskait   

Russian's prefer their dancers stick thin with Vaganova port de bras. Joy isn't any of those and she doesn't dance like a Russian either. Which is interesting because Precious Adams does and if I recall correctly, she spent even less time at the Bolshoi school than Joy did. I'm quite sure she has her detractors from small comments she's made from her Youtube video's. I do know that pre-Bolshoi controversy, I remember reading some nasty Russian comments from her graduation performance.

Exactly, she is far from the Russian ballet ideal. Which makes her career there so interesting.

She was cast as the lead in the graduation performance so someone there liked her dancing. And I find it hard to believe it was for publicity because the school doesn't need it. Plus she was liked well enough to be taken into the Bolshoi.. Why she wasn't cast could have been due to plenty of reasons that had nothing to do with her dancing. We'll never get the whole story.

In regards to Precious Adams, I really do believe her stories regarding racism. This is a good interview with her about it from 2013 - Moscow Times.

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/us-ballerina-faces-discrimination-at-bolshoi-academy/489887.html

One of Adams' teachers there claimed that she was much shorter than most Russian dancers. This could be valid. They do like very tall, extremely thin ballet dancers.

I couldn't find any documentation on Womack's height. She strikes me as being on the tall side.

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It is interesting how the score of the adagio is, at many times, cut off after the to climatic two accords, erasing much of the most difficult parts of the choreo-(this is more or less the one after Ivanov). That's why I love Sir Peter Wright's staging, for which it shows off the whole thing-(which is devilishly difficult). There's a video somewhere of Leslie Collier coaching a young couple on this adagio.

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Kamala   

She just posted today on her YT Channel- her daily vlog series ( called Project Prima) that she is in Paris to audition for the Paris Opera Ballet.

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Plisskin   

She just posted today on her YT Channel- her daily vlog series ( called Project Prima) that she is in Paris to audition for the Paris Opera Ballet.

That's surprising. I never would have thought she would try to leave audition for a non-Russian company after certain statements she's made about Russian ballet. I wonder if anything has happened at the Kremlin.

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I know that she isn't dancing as much or many of the 'leading' roles she has alluded to, and in recent posts has seemed a bit down. I'm surprised about Paris Opera though. The dancers there are all brilliant and competition for any role, even corps, is stiff. I wish her the best, but wonder why she feels that she should only automatticaly be dancing principal roles after just graduating a few years ago.

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On the other hand, any dancer contemplating auditioning for the POB ought to do it within a few years of graduation, since POB dancers are required to start at the bottom, and it's a long climb upward.

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Plisskin   

I would really love to know what her position at the Kremlin really is. I don't care what country your in, but a principal doesn't dance one of the 4 cygnets in Swan Lake. I would be really surprised if POB took her. If she wants to leave Russia but stay in Europe I think a more realistic company to go to would be somewhere like ENB or maybe the Royal. Dutch National Ballet would be a pretty good option.

I know that she isn't dancing as much or many of the 'leading' roles she has alluded to, and in recent posts has seemed a bit down. I'm surprised about Paris Opera though. The dancers there are all brilliant and competition for any role, even corps, is stiff. I wish her the best, but wonder why she feels that she should only automatticaly be dancing principal roles after just graduating a few years ago.

I think this has been an issue with Joy since the Bolshoi.

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I would really love to know what her position at the Kremlin really is.

She is one of four female leading soloists, lower in rank than ballerina (or premier), but higher than soloist or artist of the ballet. That Joan Crawford-style photo is awful, but at least she escaped the indignity of being counted among the "ballet girls."

http://kremlinpalace.org/en/content/artists-0

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Two permanent contracts were awarded today in the external competition for entry into POB. The internal competition, held Friday, included only dancers from the POB school; five contracts were awarded. Joy Womack did not figure in the ranking for the women and was not listed in the top eighteen. I'm not really surprised, her aesthetic does not really fit with the French school. I wonder why she chose to audition there.

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MadameP   

Two permanent contracts were awarded today in the external competition for entry into POB. The internal competition, held Friday, included only dancers from the POB school; five contracts were awarded. Joy Womack did not figure in the ranking for the women and was not listed in the top eighteen. I'm not really surprised, her aesthetic does not really fit with the French school. I wonder why she chose to audition there.

I wondered the same - I think she would be better off in an American company.

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Kamala   

I finally got some time and caught up on her US adventures. She mentioned auditioning for the LA Ballet ( I think that is what she said-she kind of mumbled when she said the company and that she didn't make it.

The one thing she did that has me still cringing- she had some procedure done on her knee and then posts a video of herself doing pirouettes in flip flops in a store aisle.

K

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Plisskin   

I found this latest vlog of Joys' interesting:

Apparently, there was an incident between her and staff over her nationality where they were mean to her. She did a classic break down and cry on Youtube video. I'm guessing this is why she was auditioning for POB and Los Angeles Ballet. Even though she loves that country I think her not being so rah rah Russia in some recent interviews probably got back to them and that's why they treated her that way. Russia isn't exactly a country where you can criticize their government and not have a lot of people feel a certain way. Especially as an American working at a Russian state theatre like the Kremlin... She should leave Russia imo. If she wants to stay in Europe there are plenty of better company's elsewhere. They definitely pay more than that 100 or so USD a month she's making dancing at the Kremlin.

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I worry about how open she is being on such a public forum. There are not many businesses in the U.S., let alone Russia, that would continue to employ someone who so openly criticizes her workplace and coworkers, even if in a moment of emotional distress. You add that on top of talking to the press a few months ago about how pitiful her salary there is, not to mention the fallout when she left the Bolshoi. The ballet world is very small, and when bridges are burned, it's usually not just in one regard. Back when she was talking to the press, actively seeking it out during her break with the Bolshoi, I wished then, as did several of you, that someone she loved and trusted would tell her to stop talking. Immediately. I think the downfall of growing up in the age of social media and YouTube, especially in the public eye, is that everything seems to be an open book. When dancers or anyone for that matter transfer from being and under aged student to being an adult in a professional workplace, there has to be the understanding that certain things should not be aired publicly. I'm not advocating censorship but more like discretion. Especially when criticizing openly your employer and the government who is supplying your work visa. If that upset, she should have sought out her teacher, or the person who hired her, for counsel and how to file a complaint. That is what she refused to do in the case of the Bolshoi. But if she has plans to stay, or probably better to say no solid plans to leave, she very well may have just made her life ten times more difficult than it already was. It really makes me sad for her. There is a lot in the 'brand' of Joy Womack that I don't like, such as the continued use of being the first American to graduate from the Bolshoi (she wasn't), or that she is a Principal dancer at the Kremlin (She is listed as leading soloist, which is one rank below than what most westerners would understand as actual Principal), or to continue to film yourself with other company dancers even when they have expressed that they don't want to be filmed. But there are a lot of things I like about the person that is Joy. She is determined, talented, and driven to succeed in this profession. I'm just very concerned that she is continuously making it more and more difficult for that to be realized. I truly wish her the best. It is very hard living and especially working in a foreign country. But when you are in that country, you must remember that this isn't the U.S. And that you never should expect it to be.

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Plisskin   

Frailove, I think she needs guidance as well. Some things she's said in interviews she should have definitely kept to herself. Especially revealing her salary and criticizing Russia. Being that she has lived there for quite a while now, she should know that, unlike the U.S., making remarks criticizing their government, especially as an American, wouldn't go over well. Honestly, I haven't recalled very many American ballerinas who have done this either. And this is the internet age and there are, I'm sure, plenty of Russians in her company who understand English on some level. I believe all of that got back to the Kremlin staff. I also think her lies about being a principal at the Kremlin and first American to graduate at the Bolshoi are foolish. I believe she does it to boost her profile on social media. Probably for her Prima bars as well. Kind of like a "Principal Ballerina Joy Womack uses these!" type of thing to appeal to young dancers who are trying to make it or look up to her dancing.

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