Photo credit: Courtesy of Jerry Silverhardt.
Joy Womack has always had a fascinating dance story to share from becoming the second American woman to sign a contract with the Bolshoi Ballet to her work with Universal Ballet in South Korea. Womack just took her story back to the United States this week with a new chapter as an artist with the Boston Ballet for the 2019-20 season.
Dance Network spoke with Womack back in June when she was freelancing as a principal dancer all over the globe, but she hinted that rejoining a company might be in her future. It was definitely on her mind during this interview.
"After I left Universal Ballet, I had to start thinking, 'OK, what do I want the rest of my life to look like? What do I really care about?’ " She explained. "And the answer to that question was: I love to dance, but I also like to help other people feel better."
While in South Korea, she took a master class with specialists Pino Carbone and Ivana Chiaravalloti of BodyCode System, who focused on dance health. After she left Universal Ballet, she went to their headquarters in Florence, Italy to take her technique to the next level.
"Their system makes your facility better, your feet better, your balance better, your turnout better. I started working with them and my technique changed. Everything got stronger and I thought, this guy's onto something," she mused. "If I look back at it now, I've improved by leaving a company. That's incredible because I have time now to pick my teachers and to train myself."
While Womack was enjoying the freelance life, she always kept the door open for a return to a ballet company. She also knew what she was seeking if she decided to go back to company life in the future.
"When you are freelance, it's really scary. Nothing is stable and you leave that stability as a company dancer, but in a company, sometimes you lose creative freedom," Womack admitted. "I don't think that's every company, though. I think that there are companies where there are choreographers who are more open to collaboration with the dancers. Maybe this a time to rejoin a company, but it's been really good for me to take my power back. I want to focus on getting better as a dancer."
Womack already has big plans for the next stage of her career beyond dancing. It could be a game-changing move in the dance industry.
"I know exactly what I'm going to do. I want to build a center where dancers can go and get a plan made for them. If you're coming back from injury or you're a soloist and you want to be a principal or you want to take your classical career to the commercial level, this would be the place for you," she explained. "There would a panel that includes a dance teacher, a biomechanics person, a trainer and a psychologist. You would get feedback and we also would have a business person who can look at the way that you're approaching your career and give you a plan."
Womack will be taking her newfound mindset to Boston Ballet and it's something she hopes will continue beyond her dance career. Her mental and physical approach to dance could be revolutionary.
"Dance is not a one-size-fits-all approach. What works for one dancer, doesn't work for another. Every dancer is different. Every body is different. Every mind is different," she concluded. "Dancers are athletes. You need to train like an elite athlete to be your best self."
Boston Ballet begins their 2019-2020 season with Giselle in September.
Don’t miss Dance Network’s 2017 ‘To The Pointe’ interview with Joy Womack: