When Californian Joy Womack arrived at Moscow's elite Bolshoi Ballet Academy at 15, she spoke limited Russian and was one a number of foreigners allowed to train at the school. Now, she stands poised to become the first American to graduate from the academy this spring.

Womack's Russian has improved greatly since her arrival at the school, formerly known as the Moscow State Academy of Choreography. She's spent the last two-plus years practicing from 12 to 14 hours per day, 6 days per week alongside her fellow students and has danced the lead in La Fille Mal Gardee.

Academy director Marina Leonova says that there's no "secret" to the school's success— it's just good old fashioned ankle breaking tear inducing hard work.

Bolshoi ballet academy to see first US graduate [Yahoo]