Gianna Juliet with the Royal Academy of Dance’s artistic director, Gerard Charles, at the Genée International Ballet Competition in Toronto, Canada, in August. Courtesy the Royal Academy of Dance

Ballerina takes a leap toward her dreams

Ballerina Gianna Juliet spent years preparing herself to compete at a prestigious level.

“Gianna has trained with us from the time she was a little girl,” Corinne Glover, owner of the Santa Clarita Ballet Academy where Juliet dances, said in a previous interview. “She’s a very ambitious young lady who wants to make a career out of dance, and she definitely has the talent and drive to accomplish it.”

At 16, she received a “distinction” on her Royal Academy of Dance “Advanced 2” ballet exam, which is the highest possible mark in the highest level, and at 18, she was selected to compete in RAD’s annual classical ballet competition, the Genée International Ballet Competition.

“This is a very established and prestigious international competition that has been around for years,” Glover added. “You’re talking the top of the heap. It’s a lovely experience.”

In August, Juliet traveled to Toronto for the competition, and while she didn’t win, she said just attending was an honor and rewarding experience.

Though it was a competition, participants spent the majority of their 10-day trip in dance classes with world-renowned teachers and choreographers.

“It was nerve-wracking because they’re so prestigious, you’re like, ‘I can’t even believe you’re talking to me right now,’” Juliet said. “But they made you feel like it was normal — you’re just one of their students and this is business as usual.”

Teachers spent time giving each student attention, and made them each feel like individuals, Juliet said. They were told that it’s not about winning, but their own personal growth as dancers.

“You could take back a medal, but your experience and what you learned from that experience is really what you take with you,” she said. “I felt that they were really invested in each and every one of us and our journeys, as well as seeing us improve.”

Gianna Juliette does a Grand Jeté at the Santa Clarita Ballet Academy in Canyon Country. Cory Rubin/The Signal

Juliet enjoyed interacting with her fellow competitors, who were from all over the world.

“It was a very supportive competition, which I found to be very interesting,” she said. “Usually, in a competition setting, you don’t form those kinds of relationships.”

Not only was she able to make lifelong friends, but she was also able to learn a lot from them, such as their mindset in handling competitions.

“For me personally, I can say in just those 10 days I probably improved a year’s worth,” Juliet said, adding that RAD’s artistic director, Gerard Charles, recognized that.

Charles told her he was proud of her for what she’d accomplished, noting: “‘You started at a good place, but I can really see how much you’ve grown throughout this, and I’m so happy that I could be a part of that for you,’” according to Juliet.

“I can’t believe that he actually said that and just for him to notice … to have that validation from someone who knows what he’s talking about and has been in the business for so long … was so special to me,” she said.

Gianna Juliet at the Genée International Ballet Competition in Toronto, Canada, in August. Courtesy the Royal Academy of Dance

Her biggest takeaway from the experience was how much confidence she gained.

“I’m very self-critical, so to say that I was really up there with the best of the dancers from around the world, it gives me a lot of confidence to know that I can do this,” she added.

When she returned, the city of Santa Clarita Arts Commission presented Juliet with an Arts Recognition Award.

“It was for me and for my achievements, but the actual award itself was much bigger than that,” she said. “It’s about the community and how one little thing like this has brought awareness to the arts and ballet.”

Juliet hopes she can help to bring awareness to not only ballet, but also all the arts.

“Ballet is an art form, and I think it’s something that everybody should see at least once in their life,” she added.

Gianna Juliet poses at the Santa Clarita Ballet Academy in Canyon Country. Cory Rubin/The Signal

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