In about two months, 17-year-old Joy Womack will be the first American to graduate from a world-class Russian ballet school.
The Texas native traveled nearly 6,000 miles from home to study at the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow, where she trained for years with instructors and other dancers, NBC reports.
Teachers from the academy extended a special invitation to Womack after they noticed her at the school's 2009 summer intensive, according to Dance magazine.
But her arrival wasn't exactly well-received by other dancers at the academy, at least not at first.
"I was put with the graduation class in repertoire ahead of the other girls in my class … that had created a lot of jealousy and a lot of questions," Womack told NBC's Irina Tkachenko.
Since then the teen had made a few friends at the school, likely aided by having learned to speak Russian.
Womack isn't the only American studying at the Russian institute, formally known as the Moscow State Academy of Choreography.
Montana brothers Julian and Nicholas MacKay are among the youngest students at the school, according to PRI's "The World."
Julian, who was 12-years-old when he was interviewed by The New York Times, acknowledged the school was a long way from home, but said the techniques he's learned at the school more than justified the move.
"There have been times when I was like, ‘I don’t know whether I am ever going to be able to actually get it right,'" Julian told the Times in 2010. "But if I didn’t come here, I would probably end up being a mediocre dancer. I want to be here as long I can."
Mario Vitale Labrador, a 21-year-old dancer from California, also said the program's rigorous techniques have made him a better dancer.
"You are finding your body achieving things that you never thought you could achieve," he told Reuters earlier this year.
So what's in store for Womack after graduation? Suspense.
The young woman will be awaiting an invitation to join the institute's ballet company, NBC reports.
For a peek into Womack's life at the Bolshoi, watch the New York Times video below.
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