American ballet dancer Joy Womack made major news in 2012 when she joined the Bolshoi Ballet at the age of 18. And she did it again a few years later when she quit, claiming the company's corruption had driven her away.
But today, you wouldn't guess that Womack's early career was so tumultuous. A principal at Moscow's Kremlin Ballet, she's an avid vlogger, a regular on the international circuit and an entrepreneur. We caught up with her for our "Spotlight" series:
Name: Joy Annabelle Womack
Company: Kremlin Ballet
Hometown: Santa Monica, California
What do you think is the most common misconception about dancers?
That we are uneducated and unintelligent. I am impressed by my colleagues who have multiple degrees, manage side businesses, speak multiple languages and manage their own careers!
What other career would you like to try?
International relations, immigration law, diving instructor, photojournalist.
What was the last dance performance you saw?
Akane Takada and Benjamin Ella made me weep while I was backstage in the Australian Ballet Conservatoire Gala. Artists who love each other and live their passion!
What's the most-played song on your phone?
"Vivaldi Recomposed," "Fingertips" by One Republic, "Arco II," "Romantic" by Sataj and of course whatever I'm currently rehearsing. Music is my drug of choice. It's my secret weapon and my horse blinders.
Do you have a pre-performance ritual?
A nap, music, meditation, a solid class and a leisurely yet thorough warm up. Also, SECOND SKIN.
What's your favorite book?
So many books. Daniel Silva, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Leo Tolstoy, Nikolai Gogol, Alexander Pushkin and Philippa Gregory to name a few. Historical fiction is my genre of choice. We need books to train our imagination. If we can't create that make-believe place in our minds, how can we convince an audience to go there with us?
Where can you be found two hours after a performance ends?
Walking home carrying too many bags, or on a call to my family to thank them for praying, or still removing the 300 pins holding my too-long hair in place.
Where did you last vacation?
All my life I've dreamed of going off the grid on a island in Thailand. I found this great diving school where you can get certified as an advanced open water deep diver on Koh Tao. Needless to say, two weeks without running water, learning Thai classical dance and doing barre in a hostel was the highlight of my summer! Diving is my favorite form of cross-training, hands down!
What app do you spend the most time on?
Canon or Sony Camera Connect for importing footage for my YouTube and social media pages, and Facebook Messenger is my preferred way of keeping in touch with family and friends. And the clock app...too many time zones to keep track of!
Who is the person you most want to dance with—living or dead?
Xander Parish. His story, faith and perseverance inspires me!
What's the first item on your bucket list?
Perform at Lincoln Center.
What's your go-to cross-training routine?
Diving when I can. Elliptical. Pilates. NeuFit electrical muscle stimulator enhanced balance training.
What's the worst advice you've ever received?
That the best thing an artist can be is a blank canvas.
If you could relive one performance, what would it be?
I recently got to dance again at the Bolshoi. It's my favorite stage. That being said, dancing with my amazing students at Asian Grand Prix was so meaningful! Getting to see their progress gives me courage and reminds me why I love this art with every fiber of my being. The next generation has got this in the bag!