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  • Wendy Shreve

JOY WOMACK: THE WHITE SWAN -- THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF MAKING HISTORY


Once upon a time, a young girl wanted to become a ballerina. Old story, but this American dreamed of dancing with the Bolshoi Ballet. She didn't speak the language, didn't have a job waiting for her. Still, a determined fifteen-year-old, first trained in America, went to Moscow, eventually being accepted into the famed school of ballet.


To say Joy Womack, featured in the documentary Joy Womack: The White Swan (2021), was driven is an understatement. Fortunately, her videographer friend gave Joy a means to record her progress: emotional highs and lows, injuries, a relationship with a fellow dancer whom she married to stay in Russia, plus her achievements.


As seen in the fictional movie, Black Swan (2010), some dancers pay a terrible price for being perfectionists. Many ballet/dance documentaries avoid detailing the pitfalls. This one does explore Lynn's decision to put her aspirations ahead of anyone or anything else. However, the documentarians Writer/Director Dina Burlis, Director Sergei Gavrilov, and Writer Daria Kiseleva only have Joy briefly mention bouts with bulimia and anorexia. An injured foot becomes the recurring, painful go-to point.


And, we see little "joy" in Womack's video diary, except for her short-lived marriage. She mentions that a criterion of being a dancer with the troupe involves getting along with the other members. That interaction becomes minimized as Womack emphasizes identifying and therefore beating the competition. Does her obsessiveness result in Womack achieving her dream? The reader will have to see this intriguing portrayal of this young woman who risks it all.


Those who love ballet will recognize the discipline, ability to dance through pain for the art. Those who don't may scratch their heads about the punishing career. That said, sports fans accept that athletes must play through surface injuries, make sacrifices. And, Joy Womack is as tough as they come.


See Lynn Womack: The White Swan for a real-life depiction of a ballerina who pushes herself to the limit.


Unrated. Depiction and description of a foot injury, food depravation and emotional distress.


Available on VOD, digital format and in select theaters December 10th.


Earlier reviews not seen on this website (before May 20, 2021) are available on https://www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/wendy-shreve/movies or my previous blog site, featuringfilm.com




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