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Joy Womack

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Her family seem pretty well off judging from that video where she went home. I was surprised by that when their have been a slew of articles about her over the years where she says she struggles financially.

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I once again got angry when she said Flesh and Bone was so much like real life for a professional?!?! Um, what? I even danced in a Russian company as well as US.nothing like I experienced and if she is experiencing that she needs to quit.

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I haven't been following Ms.. Womack's vlog. Does she ever tell about the joys of being a ballet dancer or other joys in her life?

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I have seen some of her vlogs and in those I've seen, her general tone is a bit on the negative side, but I feel like she tries balancing it out by pointing out career advancements (like solo roles or leading parts) or the support that she feels she receives from friends in Russia as well as at home. All in all, however, I did get the impression that she rarely notes positive or joyous things independently. They are always tugged at the end of something she feels dissatisfied about, as if to remind herself that there's still something "worth fighting for" or something similar.

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It is unfair to assume that because her family is well off that they would be paying her way. I also doubt that her salary is equivalent to $100 US. Her apartment is quite nice and she seems to have everything she needs.

I'm still dying to know why she can't get the pointe shoes she needs. Surely she is not the only ballerina in Russia who wears Gaynors? And why wouldn't she buy some when she visits home?

My personal viewpoint is that Joy create her own problems. She does have a negative outlook on most things, it seems. But if your colleagues have asked you to stop filming your company class, I don't blame them. I would hate having my every move broadcast to the world. By the same token, she is entitled to her opinions. However, in her current situation, she should be keeping some things to herself. Russia is not the US. Everything there is so politically sensitive. Be smart and keep your mouth closed.

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I've been following Joy in her latest vlogs and taken a special interest in the role she's currently learning, the first wife in 1001 Nights. She says herself that she's really enjoying it and it shows in rehearsals. The style and the steps seem to fit her very well. I look forward to seeing how it progresses.

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I have been following Joy Womack's vlogs for quite some time. There is no doubt that she is technically gifted (turnout, extensions, line, jumps -- turns are a strength). She is definitely a disciplined worker, with dance and exercise routines that would leave many dancers behind. An excerpt on one of her social-media pages showed her in class with Olga Smirnova at the Bolshoi. Although the combination was brief, it hinted at technique on a par with Olga Smirnova's. After all, despite comments to the contrary on this site, Joy was the first American to graduate from the Russian section of the Bolshoi Academy; she landed a contract at the Bolshoi, one of the top companies in the world; and she landed on her feet as a leading soloist at the Kremlin Ballet, albeit a second-tier Russian company, after leaving the Bolshoi in a storm of fury. Those doors would not have been opened, if she were not sufficiently talented. Second-tier companies in Russia may be smaller and less well financed, but the dancers have received the same impeccable Russian training as dancers at the top-tier Russian companies. The difference is often not in the talent but in the body types and height.

After such an international fury, most would have disappeared never to be seen again, tail between their legs. One has to admire Joy's relentless tenacity and ability to put herself out there, unedited, for all to see -- mistakes, falls in class, less-than-best performances, often make-up free, looking tired and stressed. Having said that, she is no Olga Smirnova, the rising Bolshoi star so beautifully and lyrically trained at the Vaganova Academy.

I have never seen a professionally filmed, front-on video of Joy's performances since she graduated from the Bolshoi Academy, so it is hard to comment on them fairly. Her vlog watchers catch glimpses through the lens of her camera placed close to the floor in the wings or through front-on videos poorly filmed by friends. She does post clear footage of her rehearsals. With the help of her coach, Zhanna, she has perceptibly improved over the duration of her vlogiging. As she is technically talented, it is not easy to rattle off, without thought, why her performances (Odette/Odile, Kitri) fall short of a high principal level. I believe the answer lies in a need for extra coaching in artistry, lyricism and acting. Her performances are, on the whole, technically proficient (notwithstanding wandering fouettes, etc. when she's nervous), but they lack the nuances of characterization, musicality and emotion that we see in top dancers. I personally believe that she also needs to lose a little weight to fit the part of Odette/Odile. I did catch a very short excerpt of her Kitri and was pleasantly surprised at her characterization.

An upside to her landing at the Kremlin Ballet is that she is performing principal roles that she would not yet be performing if she had stayed at the Bolshoi, roles that many talented dancers never get to do. The downside is that she has been thrust into those roles before sufficiently developing the nuances and lyricism that create great performances. Nevertheless, we have to remember that she is still very young -- just 21 or 22 years old, I believe.

I totally understand why Joy is vlogging to create publicity for her prima bars, modelling ballet wear, and signing up for various photo shoots and projects. She has to survive financially. The irony is that it could be argued that such support amounts to indirect sponsorship, although, of course, without casting influence.

It's a shame that no business or dance mentor in her life has cautioned her to refrain from publicly speaking about her co-dancers and companies in a negative way. I have cautioned her in the commentary sections of her vlogs on more than one occasion. Unfortunately, her fans don't offer the same cautionary advice. On the contrary, they offer support. My last cautionary comment was removed, so I am assuming either she or her administrator removed it. I wonder if such removals explain the close to one-hundred-percent support received in response to her vlogs. I haven't checked to see whether my previous cautions have been removed.

Meanwhile, unfortunately, a split focus (vlogs, class and rehearsals, and various projects), the many late nights she mentions on her vlogs, the feeling she sometimes gives of just getting through class and rehearsals in a state of exhaustion, rather than relishing them, and talking negatively about co-dancers and her company will not be conducive to either good relations with co-workers or future opportunites. It's a shame to see someone with so much potential and courage risk it all through such indiscretion.

Will she end up as just another dancer with shattered dreams? Or will she surprise us all and become a leading principal with great technique, lyricism and artistry? That is the question. She is still very young and does have potential. Ten thousand subscribers – fans, admirers, detractors, dancers, customers and curious looky-loos – tune in to follow that journey. In the end what one focuses on is what one gets. The great dancers at the three top-tier Russian companies, the Mariinsky, the Mikhailovsky and the Bolshoi are a testament to the power of focus.

I wish her the best and, after undeniable sacrifices on her part, would like to see her succeed in the Russian ballet that she so loves, with a wise mentor who can guide her through the minefields of both professional ballet and business.

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Womack may be talented, but I just don't see her as very important in the scheme of things.

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Thank you, NandiFlame, for putting into words (and so beautifully as well) what I have been thinking ever since seeing the general "consensus" about Joy on BA. Joy isn't artistically a favourite of mine, but then again - as you say - I haven't seen a full performance with her. There are glimpses of elements that I could definitely enjoy in her rehearsals, but it often drowns in all the rest. I admire Joy for keeping on fighting, for working so hard and for being willing to show all sides of herself at whatever cost. I only hope that she'll learn to walk the tightrope succesfully and not fall at the end.

Yes, she is young. The same age as one of the rising stars at the company I'm most dedicated to and artistically (if not technically, Joy wins), they're about at the same level, too. I, personally, have no problem with waiting, with hoping and with wishing them the best. Countering negativity with negativity was never a very helpful approach, in my mind.

If others feel differently, I really don't understand why they'd still be watching her vlogs.

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I agree with all the comments here about Joy Womack. I have found myself looking at her vlogs, and am simply bored. I am not of the generation that recorded every thought, or expressed my emotions for the world to see and hear. I do want to add that Joy is eliciting resentment due to publicizing her life in the US, where she comes from a family that, to Russian eyes, is living in luxury. And her apartment may evoke envy from dancers who have less space and comfort. For all her training and dedication, she is absolutely naive about politics in Russian ballet, and in Russia in general. You don't stick your head out in Russia, you don't stand higher than the rest, or they will resent you.

And though there are many vlog shots of Joy walking to the gym at 6 a.m. and stretching on machines - the performance material is rare and often seen from an acute angle. So it's hard to evaluate her talent. I wonder at times if the video she made praising Russia - was there a quid pro quo? Are they keeping her for publicity value?

Helene's comment sums it up. She is not very important in the scheme of things.

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I could see it being important to the Bolshoi to have hired her, because the international track students bring a lot of cash for tuition, and it's always a good thing to show there's a chance, no matter how slim, of getting a company contract after training there. I don't see it being an advantage for the Kremlin Ballet to have an American, even one who was Bolshoi-trained, on their roster. I think she'd have to convince with her dancing.

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I just saw, for the first time, a few of Joy's vlogs, from her first Odette/Odile at home (Moscow Kremlin Ballet) this past October, through the company's China tour in December, to yesterday 's dress rehearsal of the new Bayadere in which Joy dances Gamzatti. To have graduated top of her class at the Bolshoi's academy and to be dancing Odette/Odile in one of Moscow's top companies within 3 or 4 years of graduation is pretty darn impressive. She *is* a beautiful and accomplished dancer! Phooey to the detractors! Gorgeous long lines without being emaciated, glorious turn out, nice centered turns, distinguished face that projects well. A hundred times more pleasant than at least one hyperextended 'prima' at the Mariinsky. :)

I agree that some of the "Project Prima" vlogs go on too long; eg, some of her walks along streets or corridors seem endless. For that we can fast forward the films with a slide of the finger until we get to more interesting parts.

In sum, Joy *is* important. She's an accomplished Principal ballerina with skill, beauty, a brain/capacity for languages, tenacity, and a heck of a story, living and traveling to fascinating places. And we're talking about her. Good for her and for us who chose to peek in periodically.

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A couple of commentators have mentioned the article comparing and contrasting Joy Womack with Sergei Polunin. I would like to add a key point, if we are to swallow a comparison between the two.

Sergei Polunin is an amazing dancer, one of the best in clean technique, spectacular jumps and artistry. He had four years of early Vaganova training at the Kyiv State Choreographic Institute in the Ukraine, after four years of gymnastics training, before he started at the Royal Ballet School when he was thirteen years old. That early Vaganova grounding (with his personal talent) catapulted him to the top, not the Royal Ballet School or his experience at the Royal Ballet Company, in my view. He has hinted at that himself.

Joy Womack did not receive an early Vaganova grounding. Her introduction to the Vaganova Method in the U.S. appears to have been gradual and spotty. She was not fully immersed into Russian ballet until she was fifteen, when she joined the Bolshoi Ballet Academy. Her early training captured her talent but didn't embed the wonderful artistry, lyricism, and musicality we see in top Russian-trained dancers -- nuances that are instilled, and become automatic, from Day One of Level One at ten years old in Russian academies (Bolshoi, Vaganova and others).

Both outsiders dancing in Russia, both with contra personalities, I believe the differences in their early training is why he is where he is today -- a principal who wows us, and she is where she is today - a leading soloist who dances the characters but doesn't quite become them -- not yet anyway.

Is that elusive artistry lost to Joy Womack? Thanks to the talents of Zhanna, her coach, Joy's Gamzatti and Kitri hint that it is not. Her growing artistry is peaking out from behind her technique; however, despite being just twenty-two, at this stage in her career, it is unlikely she will ever be a Lopatkina, Zakharova, Obraztsova, Smirnova, Tereshkina, or Skorik (yes, Skorik, a beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime, lyrical and steely strong dancer), to name just a few -- all with early Vaganova training and well on their way to the top at twenty-two years of age.

If only those of us who have been interested in Joy's story could see well produced videos of her recent performances, then we would have a better grasp of her chances.

How far Joy will be able to take her growing artistry will depend on her discretion, professionalism, and, not least, her focus and commitment, as she continues to traverses the minefield of professional dance. Her commitment to dance is a given, with a staggering exercise and dance schedule; however, her focus seems scattered (vlogs, conferences, teaching, modelling, film, photography, yoga, gym, travel, etc.).

Sergei Polunin exudes confidence, while Joy tells us of her uncertainties. Meanwhile, we don't hear Sergei Polunin publicly diminishing any partners, albeit, he praises one above all others -- and how we all wait to watch that special partnership grow.

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Sergei Polunin exudes confidence, while Joy tells us of her uncertainties. Meanwhile, we don't hear Sergei Polunin publicly diminishing any partners, albeit, he praises one above all others -- and how we all wait to watch that special partnership grow.

When Polunin was younger than he is now, perhaps closer to Womack's age, he gave a number of interviews complaining of his treatment at the Royal, including his partners; one article about his departure from the Royal Ballet also described him walking out on a rehearsal with Cojocaru; in interviews around that time he also talked about how ballet bored him, at least rehearsing bored him, how money was part of his motivation, how he had used illegal drugs, and--when he left the Royal, how he wanted to open a tattoo parlor; in a somewhat more recent public announcement he said that he was giving up ballet for movies etc. (A few days later he turned up dancing in Vladivostok.) I should add that he also gave an interview saying that at least one of the interviews given shortly after his departure from the Royal--interviews which I have summarized from--included statements that were just not true. That last statement I find easy to believe.

Polunin also has had a number of last minute cancellations of performances that, however understandable, haven't exactly established him as the most reliable professional in the world. I'm talking about cancellations in which injury seems not to have been the issue.

As a matter of fact, I can live with temperamental artists who say unconventional or inconsiderate things in interviews, live unconventional lives, and even cancel performances--though I may sometimes wish they wouldn't or not care for aspects of their behavior. A great artist is too rare a being not to allow that they have their own way of working and being. But whatever one thinks about Polunin's dancing or artistry, I wouldn't exactly use his offstage way of presenting himself to the public as a standard to which other dancers should aspire. Especially when he was younger.

In other words: maybe Joy Womack could use some better role models for how she presents herself to the public in her offstage projects, but I don't think Polunin is one of them. Dancing, training, artistry, all that of course is a different matter.

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In other words: maybe Joy Womack could use some better role models for how she presents herself to the public in her offstage projects, but I don't think Polunin is one of them. Dancing, training, artistry, all that of course is a different matter.

My point was not to make Polunin out as a role model for Joy Womack but to point out why, in my view, the difference in their early training resulted in one doing better than the other, despite their individual behavior (if indeed such a comparison is valid). As I said, they both have contra personalities. Polunin has openly complained about various situations -- even handled them badly -- but he hasn't resorted to publicly and personally demeaning his partners. A writer wrote about his walking out of a rehearsal with Cojocaru. He didn't, himself, resort to publicly airing his feelings about her. Situations, flareups and breakups are an inevitable expectation between partners; publicly demeaning them is where the line should be drawn.

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The video that Plisskin posted (thank you) is the first I've seen of Womack, so I can't judge completely. But, she clearly has technique and talent. There were some errors and bobbles, but dancing on a tiny stage may have contributed to some of those as she had to dance under herself at times (geez, I think my NYC apt is bigger than that stage). Not to mention her partner and the orchestra, both of which I can't criticize without sounding mean, so I'll just say that they were both not good.

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I really enjoyed Joy here. She looked much more radiant than I've seen her previously and despite the small stage, the orchestra and an inferior partner, she actually made me really feel her Odile. She had a lot of very nice touches and lovely details. Well done, Joy!

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I had the opposite impression. I found her performance as lacking in command. She was technically beautiful in parts, but there were many bobbles. I can happily overlook them if I feel a dancer is inhabiting her role. Mostly, while watching this, I saw a dancer THINKING about how Odile should look, rather than simply BEING Odile. It was a good, not great, technical performance. I did feel sorry for her in that neither the music nor her partner were very helpful.

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I had the opposite impression. I found her performance as lacking in command. She was technically beautiful in parts, but there were many bobbles. I can happily overlook them if I feel a dancer is inhabiting her role. Mostly, while watching this, I saw a dancer THINKING about how Odile should look, rather than simply BEING Odile. It was a good, not great, technical performance. I did feel sorry for her in that neither the music nor her partner were very helpful.

I have to agree with what (I think) vegansmom is saying. To me Womack is always imitating her idea of a ballerina. As for myself, I don't see anything particularly musical, nuanced or imaginative about her performance. She is technically strong in some ways. She has facility, seems to work hard and is certainly ambitious but I don't see anything special. I wish Womack well because I wish all dancers well. She had decided that Russia is the place to dance and I wish her the best. I think there are soloists in major companies here in the states who could dance rings around her.

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I haven't watched all of the performance video yet, but have been watching the vlogs for a while now. Based on that I would agree with vagansmom and vipa. I see strong elements in her dancing, but to me it seems more technical than an artistic interpretation. I know she tries VERY hard - extraordinarily hard perhaps - and I almost wonder if she doesn't try a bit too hard.

I admire her for what she is trying to do - establish a career and a life in a country far away from family and friends, learn a new language and experience lots of new things. She's also pretty good in the self advocacy and promotion department (although I still think she could filter her comments a bit. For example she did go to lengths to say how kind and welcoming company members are in Astrakhan. One wonders if this was meant to imply that such is not the case in her own company...)

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Well it's a good thing her fouettes didn't travel, because there is no room to travel! On the other hand, with such a small stage, she has a real opportunity to connect with the audience with her acting skills, and here I felt she was as blank of a dancer as any serious faced leotard Balanchine ballet.

At least she can do the fouettes.

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Hehe, I always think of Odile as having ATTITUDE, and since my understanding of Womack is that she is not lacking in that department, I was expecting something vibrant. I was surprised to find that it was, instead, an artistically vacant performance.

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