Joy Womack, the only American Bolshoi Ballerina

Posted on 04. Jun, 2013 by in News


Joy Womack, with hand raised, at a performance

Joy Womack, former LCA student, became the first-ever American to graduate from the legendary Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow in May 2012 — and the first American to contract three years as a soloist with the company the following Fall.

Joy Womack

Joy Womack

A dazzling and dedicated dancer, the 19-year-old has won roles traditionally reserved for Russians in the legendary Bolshoi, which has been the international powerhouse and standard-bearer of ballet for 200 years. Some notable astros have launched from Lighthouse.

Joy Womack was born into a large family – fourth of nine kids altogether. Her mother, a Harvard-educated doctor and a passionate aficionada of ballet, recognized Joy’s physical prowess and thought her an ideal candidate to go far. At age 9, she began training in earnest here in Venice with renowned Yuri Grigoriev.

But Joy — who attended Lighthouse Church and School until age 12 when she moved with her family to Texas – didn’t soar without setbacks. The pretigious Kirov Academy rejected her for lack of flexibility, predicting failure, when she was 13.

Joy Womack in the Bolshoi theater

Joy Womack, with her dad, Clay

Instead of resigning to failure, Joy Womack trained harder and sought new teachers before storming back into the world of ballet – this time to the highest pinnacle of success, the fabled Bolshoi in Moscow where standards of excellence have been set for two centuries.

Joy Womack in New York

Joy Womack in New York, 2012

In May 2012, Joy married fellow dancer Nikita Pavlovich Ivanoff. She couldn’t be interviewed for this article because she works 80-hour weeks and has unreliable internet service.

Having accepted Christ as a child during bedtime prayers, Joy attends Russian Orthodox church with her husband and house Bible studies with friends. She shares Jesus with everyone she meets, and one teacher accepted Christ after she suggested she read the Book of Esther, said her mom Eleanor Womack. Joy’s Twitter account says “I’m a dancer for Jesus.”

In addition to executing a pinpoint toe pirouette, Joy has mastered Russian, but one thing that has been difficult for her is adapting to the icy cold of Moscow.

This video was produced by the New York Times when the newspaper broke the story about the American in the Bolshoi.

Click here to see video of Joy Womack when she was a student at Bolshoi Academy

Share this inspiring story with the icons below. (All the pictures are from Joy’s Facebook page)

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9 Responses to “Joy Womack, the only American Bolshoi Ballerina”

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