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.
So you Think You Can Dance' Season 14 finalists Lex Ishimoto and Taylor Sieve shocked fans at home (at least the ones who hadn't thoroughly scoured their respective Instagrams) during Episode 14, when choreographer Mia Michaels asked if either of them had ever experienced "the kind of love that takes your breath away." They confessed that, yup, they had—with each other. The two met at The Dance Awards in the summer of 2016, where they were each named Senior Best Dancer, and went on to tour with the convention as assistants. Before long—and long before their "SYTYCD" journey—they became a couple.
Take a look at Dance Spirit's exclusive interview where they dish on everything from their favorite dates to the dance moves that give them all the feels.
There's a surprising twist to Regina Willoughby's last season with Columbia City Ballet: It's also her 18-year-old daughter Melina's first season with the company. Regina, 40, will retire from the stage in March, just as her daughter starts her own career as a trainee. But for this one season, they're sharing the stage together.
You're obsessed with class videos. We're obsessed with class videos. The passion, energy, and talent showcased in these clips, which give us an insider-y peek at the commercial dance world's hottest classes, are totally irresistible.
But at what point does the phenomenon go from being a good thing to a bad thing for dancers and the dance world? Is the focus on filming distracting from the work dancers are supposed to be doing in class? Are overproduced videos presenting a dangerously misleading picture of the dance world? Is the pressure to be a class video star becoming too much for dancers to handle? These are some of the questions A-list dancer and choreographer Ian Eastwood—no stranger to the class video himself—has been asking on Twitter. And they've sparked a lively, important debate.
Getting corrections from our dance instructors is how we grow, and as students, it's important that we do our best to apply every correction right away. But sometimes—whether it's because we're in physical pain, or have a lot on our minds, or are just not paying attention—those corrections don't sink in. And from a teacher's standpoint, giving the same corrections time and time again gets old very fast. Here are 10 important corrections dance teachers are tired of giving. Take them to heart!
Yes, we all know dancers are strong. But sometimes it takes a truly epic workout video to remind us JUST HOW INSANELY STRONG they actually are.
Behold, National Ballet of Canada principal Svetlana Lunkina's oh-so-casual pre-class exercise:
Dance Spirit is beyond excited to announce the first round of 2017 Future Star winners! Every year, DS partners with competitions to recognize dancers with exceptional presence and ability. The second round of winners will be featured in our January issue, so stay tuned!
Our favorite drama-filled, dance reality show may have ended this past fall, but "Dance Moms" stars Chloe, Kalani, and Kendall aren't about to let that end their dance careers. In fact, these dancing kweens are taking their moves to a city near you with their Irreplaceables Tour! The girls are going all out for the three-week dance production, which is taking them across the country. And these dazzling dancers aren't just content with showing off their dance skillz—they want to pass along their tips and tricks in a dance workshop where they'll lead fans in stretches and dance routines from the show.
Dance Spirit caught up with Chloe, Kalani, and Kendall to find out what they love about tour life and where they see themselves five years from now.
When most of us think of The Nutcracker, we imagine a growing Christmas tree, dancing mice, and a little girl named Clara (or Marie) traveling to the Land of Sweets. But companies around the world have been reinventing the holiday classic, changing the storyline or adding their own spectacular sets and characters. To get in the Nutcracker spirit this season, check out these out-of-the-box productions.