Leaving the Bolshoi: A Brave Move

November 14, 2013

It’s never easy to pack up or call it quits on your dream position. But (now former) Bolshoi dancer Joy Womack has made the news doing just that.


You’ll remember that Womack, a ballet student from Texas, stunned international audiences when she became the first American to train at the Bolshoi’s Russian program and join the ranks of its company last year. But just yesterday it was announced that she’s quit—after accusing the directors of extortion. She says that she had been asked for $10,000 in exchange for a role. Her allegations also include cases of corruption, such as dancers needing wealthy “patrons” to not only support their talents, but also bankroll their careers and promotions. While TIME reports that there are others who corroborate her claim, the Bolshoi’s newly appointed general director Vladimir Urin challenges Womack to formally file a complaint and name the accused. 


Anyone unhappy in their current setting—whether it’s within the best studio, university program or professional company—can learn from Womack’s choice to leave. It takes a certain amount of courage to take your destiny in your own hands, move on and make changes. Risks are scary—but sometimes it’s worth throwing in the towel.



Pictured: Womack in Leonid Lavrosky’s
Classical Symphony for the Protégés III showcase at The Kennedy Center. Photo by Vihao Pham.