An American at the Bolshoi

An American at the Bolshoi

A teenage girl from Texas surmounts enormous obstacles after she beats the odds and enrolls in the esteemed Moscow ballet academy. (NYT)

Many a young ballet dancer dreams of a starring role in the Bolshoi Ballet, but — against the odds — American teenager Joy Womack may actually make her dream come true. After attending a summer session in New York taught by Russian instructors from the academy, she was invited to enroll and moved to Moscow on her own. This New York Times video follows Womack as she navigates the difficulties of being an English speaker in an all-Russian school, trains incessantly, and misses her large family back home.

In spite of excellent progress at the academy, Womack’s challenges seem overwhelming when she breaks her foot in a performance and her parents can’t afford the surgery or any more tuition – all of which is witnessed by the camera. Remarkably, a benefactor at her church provides the money for medical treatment, and Womack is back in class in four months. If this were not a documentary video, such a happy ending would be hard to believe.

Ballet buffs will enjoy watching the elegant girl perform, and the demanding Russian coaches working with students. Womack is in line for a lead role next year, and, if she has her way, she’ll be far more “Russian” by then.

CHANNEL: New York Times

Length: 8:37

Video by Julie Dressner, Tatiana Brandrup and Clifford J. Levy