Whats up guys? This week I finally got a chance to catch up with the beautiful Juliana Beladera, also a good friend of mine, and spoke with her about her journey-pursuing dance as a career in New York City. I got a chance to spend a few hours with her in her natural habitat, the dance studio, where she lives most of the year. Some inspiring things went down, check out my interview below to learn more about this super talented young woman!
Go ahead and tell the world who you are.
JB: Hey, I’m Juliana Beladera, I’m 22 and I go to school here at Steps on Broadway. I’m currently enrolled in their conservatory program here in New York.
When did you start dancing?
JB: I started dancing when I was three years old in Stuart, Florida where I was born, at my mom’s dance studio. She was a professional [dancer] herself, so I can definitely say she was a huge inspiration and influence and kind of got me inspired to dance.
When did you know you wanted to pursue dance as a career?
JB: So around the age of 9 or 10 I always knew I wanted dance to be a big part of my life. But it wasn’t until I moved to New York when I was 18. I went to FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology), for two years and I was in their FIT Dance Company. When I was 20 I realized I wanted to pursue it as a career.
It’s been about a year since you started here at steps, can you briefly touch on how that experience has been so far, from the audition to get in and up until now?
JB: It’s been absolutely amazing and so inspiring! So you definitely have to audition to get in. You do a Jazz combo, you obviously take Ballet because thats a really big part of dance, and Contemporary. If you get accepted you choose a track; Jazz/Theatre, or Ballet/Contemporary, and I’m on the Jazz/Theatre track.
So, we take about eighteen classes a week. I dance 40 hours a week, I’m even here Saturdays and Sundays for rehearsels.
I’ve worked with amazing choreographers in the industry in every style of dance. I take every style of dance, including voice and acting. I’ve worked with Chet Walker and Bill Hastings, and I take Al Blackstone’s class they’re like real huge choreographers in the industry. It’s just great to make the connections as well.
What’s the life of a dance student like?
JB: It is definitely the most rewarding and it teaches you so many things that you can carry throughout your life. It teaches you discipline, hard work and how to work well with others. I can say it is definitely the most rewarding thing my life.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your choreography(solo pieces)?
JB: There are so many ways you can start choreography. A lot of people do it by just freestyling or improving. I definitely have to be inspired by something in my life and put that meaning towards a song, a piece of music or an instrumental and then go from there. Usually the music helps drive my body to choreograph, improv and create something
What do you love most about dancing?
JB: I love everything about it, but mainly seeing how I have grown since I’ve been here.
What do you dislike about dance as a career?
JB: Auditions are really rough. You’re under a lot of pressure. They are not always my favorite thing to do.
You got into The Boston Conservatory summer musical theatre dance intensive this past summer, there like one of the top ten conservatories in the country, tell us a little about that.
JB: It’s definitely the top 10 for musical theatre. I actually saw the program here at Steps. I did miss the audition in New York because it was the same day as Juno, that snowstorm. So I sent in a video that I was working on, a solo. I chose Jazz. It kind of had a musical theater influence. I used some of the choreography from Al Blackstone’s class and combined everything and I filmed it and sent it in. I also had to write an essay and have my teacher write me a letter of recommendation. About a week later I found out I got in!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
JB: Let’s see, I’ll be 27 in five years, so I definitely see myself working, dancing. I’m not sure where because after school I would like to go tour or go dance on a cruise ship and gain experience and comeback here. So hopefully in five years I’ll be back here and dancing on Broadway or Off Broadway in some shows.
Anything you want to tell the world, or any advice to give to aspiring dancers out there?
JB: Listen to yourself, don’t listen to others, a lot of people will try to shut you down or try to discourage you because they don’t understand or they’re not into the arts or anything like that. They’ll say, “oh you can’t do it, it’s competitive”. People tell me this all the time, but I just don’t listen to them. You have to believe in yourself. Continue to be positive and stay true to yourself. Work hard and more things will come to you.
How can people connect with Juliana?
JB: You can connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s all the same @julianabeladera.