Joy Womack Q&A: Part 1

Timeline: 

  • April 20, 1994: Born in Beverly Hills, California
  • 2007-2009: Trained at the Kirov Ballet Academy in Washington DC
  • 2009-2012: Trained at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow, Russia
  • 2012 – 2013: Soloist with the Bolshoi Ballet
  • 2014 – 2017: Principal dancer at the Kremlin Ballet Theatre
  • 2018-2019: Principal dancer with the Universal Ballet in Seoul, Korea
  • 2019 – Present: Artist with the Boston Ballet 

We are so excited to have Joy Womack teach with us this summer! Although our Q&A was cut short, Joy shared with us how she fell in love with ballet, which ultimately led her to move to Russia to pursue her dreams! She currently is an artist with the Boston Ballet. Scroll down to watch the full interview.


Lexi: Tell us a bit more about the Bolshoi Ballet Academy. 

Joy: They have a distinct discrepancy between the International and Russian program. They asked me to be a part of the Russian program, which included academics and learning Russian along with ballet training. I had a really fun time there although it was challenging. 

Lexi: How did you end up at the Kirov Academy in Washington DC?

Joy: I actually started off dancing at a Balanchine school, and I originally thought I wanted to end up at a place like the School of American Ballet. I did YAGP and got a scholarship to Kirov. (moved at age 12). I went to Kirov for boarding school year round, and then went to NY for the summer and did the Bolshoi Ballet Academy Summer Intensive. I started becoming really curious on how to get better.

I didn’t start off having a ton of flexibility or turnout, and I don’t consider myself naturally gifted. When I started training in the Russian style, I was glad the teachers took a chance on me, and offered me solo parts when I started studying at the Academy. 

Lexi: When you did move to Russia, did you experience any culture shock?

Joy: I had never gone outside of the country before, and Russia was a huge culture shock. Being in Moscow was such a huge adjustment and change. I was grateful that I had 2 years of training at Kirov because that prepared me for dorm living. However, it really required a leap of faith because my parents didn’t come with me. I was really leaving home, and I remember my parents telling me that they couldn’t take care of me. You can’t just get on a plane and go home. 

Lexi: What was it like? Did you know any Russian?

Joy: The summer attending the Bolshoi Ballet Academy Intensive beforehand was such a good setup before the year. I made really good friends with a lot of the boys who came over to do the summer intensive, and got a lot of good advice from the teachers.

However, I walked into class at the Academy knowing that I had a lot of responsibilities because my teacher told me she was really taking a chance on me. She said that if I couldn’t learn Russian in 2 months there was no use for me. I refused to let myself talk to foreigners in order to learn Russian, and I isolated myself to really focus. 

When did you find out you were accepted into the Bolshoi Ballet?

The last year of study was insane, and at the time there were very few foreigners working at Russian ballet companies. I graduated valedictorian of my class with Anastasia Litminenko getting 5+ on all my grades. I had a desire to stay in Russia to work after graduation.

What have you been doing under quarantine?

I am currently on my boyfriend’s ranch in New Mexico, and I have been teaching a lot of classes virtually. 

After the Bolshoi Ballet, Joy danced with the Kremlin Ballet, Universal Ballet, and is currently at the Boston Ballet. 

Watch the full interview below, and stay tuned for Part 2 of the Q&A w/ Joy Womack on Instagram Live Wednesday, June 3rd 7:30pm ET, 4:30pm PT!

You can also train with Joy during our intensives in June!

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