Back in Russia

Joy Womack has returned to Russia.  Her audition with Paris Opera was an experience but didn't pan out.  It seems she attempted an audition at LA Ballet Company but nothing came of that either.  She returned to Russia to much hazing by other company dancers. stinks.  It is never to be good to be the bulls eye for bullying.  And yet, I'm not surprised.  By and large, ballet companies consist of teenagers and people in their early 20s.  Full maturity is just not possible at that point in life.  The hormones are churning at that age and emotions are high.  Plus Womack is attracting a lot of attention due to her vlog and ballet prodigy past.  She just pulled the short straw in attracting mass ire.

Still, I can understand the viewpoint of her colleagues.  Womack is a foreigner taking opportunity away from local dancers (at least the Russians now know how Western dancers feel).  Her publicity machine (nowhere near as extensive as Misty Copeland) has had a factor in vaulting her into a senior soloist position in the Kremlin Ballet.  I'm not saying Womack isn't talented.  She has the goods to back it up.  But would she have gotten as far, so fast without the Bolshoi School accolades, subsequent Bolshoi ballet scandal, her successful vlog and willingness to do the show pony circuit?  As much as I like her dancing, I still see that she is rough at the edges.  She needs to get an acting coach.  Sometimes her musicality is a bit off.  However her strength and technique is a wonder to behold.  Which is probably why she is one of the first to be cast in war horse roles.  But I can see how her fellow dancers would resent this attention.  That they would question her fitness to be at the level she is now.

We are long past the age where a dancer by grit, willpower, charm and talent can pull himself/herself from the lowly corps to the big time.  It just doesn't seem to happen anymore. Social Media has changed that, now a dancer has to create a following for himself/herself.  They have to generate ticket sales to justify their place in the company.  It's horrible.  It's unfair.  As much as I don't think Copeland deserves to be a Principal, the fact is she puts backsides in seats.  She calls attention to ABT whether it's good or bad publicity.  It's publicity.  The same with Joy Womack.  She is obviously a draw for Russian ballet fans.  She gets the seats warm with an audience.  Why else would she consistently be cast regularly in large roles?  Ballet companies need to survive.  And if that means relying on show ponies, well they are going to do it.  Even if it hurts the art as a whole.

Before her summer break, Womack was being trained for Odette/Odile.  Most likely this was a major cause for some of the recent complaints.   But now she has announced that she will dance the lead of Swan Lake for the Kremlin Ballet.  I wish her all the luck.  But I don't see the sour grapes disappearing any time soon.  Gelsey Kirkland claimed that she was bullied during all of her NYCB tenure.  If she couldn't catch a break, I don't see other dancers in the media eye getting a reprieve.

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