Joy Womack Leaves the Bolshoi

November 28, 2001

More scandalous news from the Bolshoi Ballet: American dancer Joy Womack claims that one of the company’s directors—whom she has not named but made clear was not artistic director Sergei Filin—demanded she pay $10,000 to secure a role. “Joy, you don’t have a sponsor,” the official told Womack, as she recalled to Russian paper Isvestiya (according to TIME). “You need to have some kind of sponsor who can somehow sort of speak for you. There is no other way to do things in our theater now.” The company is denying all allegations.

First the acid attack, then the outspoken Nikolai Tsiskaridze‘s rabble-rousing, now Womack’s claims—and the list of grievances will almost undoubtedly continue to grow. As more dancers step forward, others who felt betrayed by company politics will find the courage to do the same.

When Womack began her journey at the Bolshoi school, we were all watching. Seeing her conquer the grueling training, a new language and a foreign country—half a world away from her family—to earn a company contract was inspiring. There’s no doubt that Womack, who is now dancing with the Kremlin Ballet Theater, will continue on to a great career.