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And so, Joy… August 2, 2016

Filed under: ballerina,ballet,Varna — theworstat @ 5:33 am

First of all, congratulations on your silver medal at Varna.  This is no small achievement and should alleviate much of your nagging self-doubt.  Certainly it should silence some of your nay-sayers, although many people don’t swallow their own bile easily.

You are very young, a prima ballerina in Moscow, and you’ve won this prestigious medal. And you did it all on your own.  That is something no one can take away from you.

I’ve heard lots of criticisms about all the product peddling, etc.  But we are in a new era. Witness ABT’s Misty Copeland, for one, and there’s someone among the numerous NYCB principals who is also selling something, I forget what.  Some Russian principals were selling dance clothing for a while, I believe, and the great Darcy Bussell was as much a pop star as a ballerina in her day.  It’s happening all over.

The age of the sheltered, yet impoverished ballerina, dependent on a wealthy sugar daddy, is going fast if not already long gone.  Remember Anna Pavolova…she was the one who started the ball rolling.  She began her career at the Maryinsky under at least as much of a cloud as you at the Bolshoi.  Granted she made it to principal quickly, but she was never much ahead of intense criticism (looking at films of her, it’s apparent that her technique was wonky).

When she split away from the Maryinsky, however, was when the product selling began. She didn’t sell stuff, but she sold herself.  The end product is that to this day, her name and “ballerina” are synonymous. Many non-ballet fans have heard of no other ballerina.

And so, you are on your way.  Your life is a dream for so many dancers.  Strive to appreciate this even on your worst days.

Play nicely.  I know there have been nasty incidents of backstage violence, but it is up to you to rise above it.  No scenes!

Play nicely, part 2: refrain from criticizing the work ethic of your colleagues, or placing blame when something goes wrong.  Be the gracious one.

Stop making promises you can’t keep.  We understand when you can’t publish a video every day (and no, I am not one of those who is all upset because you chronicle your career by vlogging).  Just don’t keep saying you will.

Remember that you will never be able to resolve the wildly conflicting stories the Russians tell about your days at the Bolshoi’s academy, let alone your days in the Bolshoi.  It’s no matter; they probably can’t either. That’s the way Russians are…even pretend Russians (a certain would-be choreographer comes to mind).

There seem to be at least a thousand stories about how you got into the Bolshoi.  But the business of your leaving the Bolshoi as you did is not a controversy. The only thing I question is whether you should have gone public with the charges if you weren’t going to pursue them in legal avenues.  It seemed a good time to trot out the “irreconcilable differences” excuse and just let it be, and let the stories swirl like the snowflakes in Russia.  Sometimes discretion is better part of valor, as the old saying goes.  And you have much in the way of valor.

Accept that you are young.  Always you have seemed to try to appear to be more than you were; that continued until recently.  Remember that tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow will come.  Improvements will grow over time.  There is no need to exaggerate, especially not now.

Develop a close relationship with your truth and stand by it.  Because the truth, in your case, is pretty damned good.












6 Responses to “And so, Joy…”

  1. Lev Says:

    Re: the tutu incident mentioned earlier, it was mentioned on Instagram, Amanda Gomes had to lend her a tutu.

    Anyway, spot on. Joy seems to be quite open about her ambitions to move to another company (which is a bit cringeworthy itself) and I wonder if she realizes that she might not have any luck if she has a reputation for being a diva and hard to work with. No one is going to want to partner with you if you publicly accuse them of being a drunk. At the same time, I don’t think, for example, the Dutch National ballet would appreciate hiring someone who is then going to put it on her VLOG that she is auditioning with say ABT.

    Russian TV did a short <10 minute profile on Yulia Stepanova and when the topic of leaving the Mariinsky came up, she gave as bland and as PC an answer as you can give. Some of her fanboys were upset that she didn't actually reveal the real reason, but I thought it was the right answer. She's getting what she wants at the Bolshoi now and there's no need to stir up any controversy. That, I think, is how Joy Womack should handle these issues.

    • theworstat Says:

      Yes, it is a matter, with Joy, of…how do I put this so it doesn’t sound harsh? She needs time and maturity. Her first mistake was to think she could, fresh out of school, go toe to toe with the soloists of the Bolshoi. Even Xenia Ziganshina (please excuse my spelling) didn’t get away with that. And since she’s started vlogging, as you say, she’s occasionally said things that were not wise and certainly were not very nice. I know she means to “keep it real,” but she needs to remember that the Internet is forever, and people have devilish long memories.

      Yulia, on the other hand, is a master politician as well as a unique and lovely dancer. I’m watching her career at the Bolshoi with interest.

  2. theworstat Says:

    This is not for Lev. This is directed at some teenybopper would-be troll who whipped up herself a hotmal account and a real apt WordPress screen name (for her), and tried to comment on this article today.

    What’s written below is nothing new; it’s just a reprint of what’s on my “before you comment” page:

    First rule: READ before commenting.

    Second rule: THINK before commenting.

    If you’re trolling, don’t expect to see your comment(s) get published.  Take your insecurity somewhere else, thank you. This is not a flame war site, and we do not offer psychiatric help, either.

  3. KatiSzed Says:

    Great post! Agree with all mentioned-she has achieved a lot and she is still very young. Being gracious is something that is also to be learned, and just because you have achieved a lot does not mean you are entitled to anything. I am in a similar line of work (orchestral musician, former ballet dancer) and I completely understand the frustration of work going to a colleague or performances being cancelled for whatever reason. But this comes with the territory and just because you put the work in doesn’t mean you’re entitled to it. Keep working and play nice and you’ll rise to the top!
    I do wonder about one thing: pay is certainly an issue for dancers, more so in Russia so I understand her need to sell a product. How do her fellow dancers survive? (And by the by, I’m rather jealous of her apartment, which for Moscow standards is very big and very nice!)

    • theworstat Says:

      Yes, definitely she’s getting some help from her Primabars in paying for that apartment. I’ve often wondered how her colleagues at the Kremlin Ballet manage to survive. I’m guessing there are as many stories there as there are dancers. Oh, to be able to interview some of them.

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