Joy Womack performing Leonid Lavrosky's "Classical Symphony" for the Protégés III showcase at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Photo by Vihao Pham.
Spirited. Vivacious. Exciting. Joy Womack naturally has the trademark Bolshoi Ballet energy. But when she arrived at the company’s academy in Moscow in 2009, her teachers went straight to work reining it in. “They considered me a Kitri type of dancer,” Joy says. “As they put it, I needed to learn to ‘dance like a ballerina instead of a soloist.’ ” Two years later, her focus and intense seven-day-a-week schedule has paid off. Joy now balances fiery attack with delicate articulation and expressive épaulement.
Joy, 17, began her pre-professional studies at the Balanchine-based Westside School of Dance in Santa Monica, CA. She switched to Vaganova style at 12, when her family moved to Texas and couldn’t find a strong Balanchine studio in the area. Just three years later, her technique was so promising that when Joy auditioned for the Russian American Foundation’s Bolshoi Ballet summer program in NYC, one of the teachers invited her to train year-round in Moscow. While international students are usually placed in the school’s separate foreigners’ program, at her teacher’s request Joy became the first American offered a spot in the school’s elite three-year course meant for Russian dancers only. (At the time, Joy knew very little of the Russian language. Now she’s almost fluent!)
As one of only 10 girls in her level, Joy has found the competition intense. Like most of her classmates, she wakes up at 6 am to work out, which includes giving herself her own class so that she’s on top of her game when school begins. But the opportunities she’s been given make the effort worth it. Last winter, Joy went on tour for a month with her class to Italy and Greece, and she was chosen to perform the lead in Leonid Lavrovsky’s Classical Symphony at The Kennedy Center last March. At the academy’s winter performance in November, she will command the Bolshoi stage as Lise in Yuri Grigorovich’s full-length La Fille Mal Gardée.
Although she’d love to join the Bolshoi after graduating next year, Russian law currently prohibits the company from hiring foreigners. Her other dream? Becoming a principal at a top company. “I’d love to perform Jiří Kylián, Kenneth MacMillan and all the classics,” she says. “I just want to dance everything!”
Dance idol: Natalia Osipova. “I’m still starstruck every time I bump into her. She’s not afraid to let all her emotions out onstage.”
Most played on her iPod: “This song that a guy in Austin wrote for me called ‘You’re a Joy.’ ”
Favorite food: Alpen Gold Dva Shokolada, a Russian candy bar.
Her perfect day off: A picnic on the beach in Santa Monica with her friends and family.
Secret talent: “I do great impersonations, especially of Russian ballet teachers.”
Did You Know? Joy’s aunt is Grammy Award-winning country singer Lee Ann Womack, famous for singing “I Hope You Dance.”
Jennifer Stahl is a senior editor at Pointe magazine.
It's time to get your pirouette on! From September 5th to September 30th, we're hosting a contest to find out who's the best turner of them all.
Put together your most impressive turning combo. Post a video online. Share your turns with us and thousands of other dancers around the world. And if our editors think you're the top turner, you'll win a fabulous prize.
All of 18-year-old Kaylin Maggard's dreams—from scoring the title of National Senior Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals to winning the 2017 Dance Spirit Cover Model Search—are coming true. And to anyone who knows the gorgeous contemporary dancer, that's no surprise.
From the moment the Dance Spirit staff met Kaylin, it was obvious her humility and talent would take her far. Not only did she go full-out during the photo shoot and class at Broadway Dance Center, but she was always cheering on, laughing with, and supporting her fellow CMS contestants Haley Hartsfield and Michelle Quiner. During the voting period, the social media world was abuzz with praise for her work ethic, positive attitude, and generosity.
Since her CMS trip to NYC, Kaylin's moved from her hometown of Columbia, MO, to the Big Apple for her freshman year at Juilliard, and is busy getting acquainted with the city. As for the future? She's taking it one opportunity at a time, but something tells us we'll be seeing this contemporary queen reach new heights every year.
New York City principal Lauren Lovette has become an icon thanks to her emotional maturity and exceptional musicality. The 26-year-old quickly rose through the ranks after joining the company as an apprentice in 2009, reaching principal status in 2015. A Thousand Oaks, CA, native, Lovette started studying ballet seriously at age 11, at the Cary Ballet Conservatory in Cary, NC. After attending two summer courses at the School of American Ballet, she enrolled as a full-time student in 2006. Last year, she made her choreographic debut with For Clara, her first piece for NYCB. Catch her latest work this month during the company's fall season. —Courtney Bowers
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured!
I know I'm not getting good enough dance training from any of my local studios. But I'm not sure I'm ready to move away to study at a big-name school, either. How do you know when you're ready to leave home to pursue your passion?
Instagram star Kylie Shea has built a following of nearly 170,000 with her playful workout videos, which combine traditional fitness activities, like jumping rope or running on the treadmill, with pointe shoes and sassy choreography. Shea's effortless cool-girl-next-door vibe and solid ballet technique make her vids totally irresistible.
Now Shea's using her platform to address the body image issues that tend to plague dancers. In a poignant video, she sheds her clothes and tugs at her skin. The caption explains her relationship with her body and the pressure she feels to maintain a certain aesthetic as a dancer.
Physical discomfort is inevitable when you're spending tons of hours in the studio every day, but some pain shouldn't be suffered through. "Dancing through pain can make an injury worse and lead to more time away from dance," says Dr. Joel Brenner, medical director of dance medicine at Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters in Norfolk, VA. "Failing to rest and recover when you're in serious pain could even lead to the point where you're unable to dance in the future."
That may sound scary, but there's good news: If you take precautions and listen to your body, many injuries can be stopped in their tracks. The first step? Knowing what's normal—and what's not.
Think about it: How often do you see a ballet pas de deux for two women? Almost never, right? Sometimes, choreographers will forgo the traditional danseur-ballerina pas to make a duet for two guys, since they can lift and partner each other easily. But a dance for two ballerinas is a rare thing.
That's part of what makes "Duet," a new video by director Andrew Margetson featuring Royal Ballet beauties Yasmin Naghdi and Beatriz Stix-Brunell, so compelling.