17-year-old Texan Joy Womack to become first American to graduate from Bolshoi Ballet Academy

Joy Womack Bolshoi Ballet

We’re mostly a celebrity blog but sometimes we come across stories that are so incredible, or in this case inspiring, we feel they’re worth sharing with our dedicated readers.

There’s a common pronouncement from denizens of The Lone Star State, “Don’t mess with Texas.” There’s a fierce fight and independence that the people of that state cling to and this rugged individualism has never been better reflected than by a teenage dancer who is close to breaking an astounding barrier.

Joy Womack from Austin, TX is set to become the very first American to graduate from the most prestigious ballet school in the world, the Bolshoi Ballet Academy. At 17, Joy has worked harder than most will in a lifetime to pursue her dream.

Joy started dancing at the age of three in California. Her talents led her down a path of numerous dancing schools, training and teachers. In the summer of 2006 the Womacks moved to Austin. It was here that she began training seriously as a pupil of the Vaganova pedagogy with Jennifer Felkner at the Austin School of Classical Ballet. After an audition in the spring of 2007, Joy was invited to the Kirov Academy of Ballet with twenty five percent scholarship for the summer session and also admittance into the year-round program.

It was at this juncture when Joy caught her major break as she was hand-picked by Bolshoi to train in the Russian dancers department for $18,000 a year. Her experience wasn’t easy nor did she expect it to be.

“I was put with the graduation class in repertoire ahead of the other girls in my class … that had created a lot of jealousy and a lot of questions. It was hard the first six months, because the girls did not want to talk to me, did not want to be my friends.”

Here is a video of Joy displaying the strength, grace, and talent that has led to her global recognition.

The school’s legendary focus on discipline proved to be a rigorous test as Joy was subjected to training 10 hours a day, 6 days a week. Being hurt is rarely an acceptable excuse for an absence and Womack experienced her share of injury. She has had surgery on her foot, she has broken a wrist and she even torqued her back so badly that she was confined to bed for two weeks (I guess some injuries allow for absence).

After she completes her finals in acting, classical ballet, duet and character dance, Joy will dance in one final performance with the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, the lead in ‘Paquita’ and will wait breathlessly to see if she’s invited to join its regular troupe.

American ballet dancer Joy Womack
^Photo: Vihao Pham

Via her fromspring account Joy wrote, “A dancer is honest with themselves and faces their flaws and imperfections in the mirror and chips away at them. Behind the love is blood, sweat, tears, stress, fatigue! But it is worth it!”

Millions of young American girls grow up dreaming of being a princess that floats on air… Now they have someone they can look towards as more than just a figment of imagination but the embodiment of that hope and desire and her name is Joy Womack.