By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Later this month, Oak Middle School student Julianna Lino,13, will be heading to Riesa, Germany, to participate in the International Dance Organization (IDO) World Tap Dance Competition.
Julianna began dancing when she was just 2 years old. In 2008, at the age of 7, she began training at Elite Academy of Dance in Shrewsbury, owned and directed by Lauren Mangano. Showing promise early on, Julianna was the first recipient of the studio's “Future Star Award.”
“Julianna is one of the most focused, devoted, passionate students I have ever worked with. Her strengths are tap and jazz,” said Mangano. “What really sets her apart – especially at age 13 – is her focus, her maturity, her style and her musical ability. When Julianna steps out on stage she is captivating; her stage presence is something special. This, paired with her skill level, is really unique.”
For Julianna's parents, Ginger and Frank, watching their daughter blossom has been quite special.
“But as a parent, what I's most proud of is her commitment to teamwork, her dance studio, and to herself,” Frank said. “She carries herself like a pro and is always first to congratulate someone else on a job well done. These are qualities that will make her successful no matter what she pursues later in life.”
“Her passion, dedication and pure enjoyment is seen in every move she makes,” Ginger added.
Julianna currently trains six days a week. She is receiving a well-rounded dance education with classes in ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, modern, hip hop, contemporary, lyrical and acrobatics. Besides her core classes, Julianna has been accepted into Elite's “Next Step Pre-Professional Program,” where she trains more intensely in extra technique classes and has private lessons weekly.
“I love being able to feel the rhythm,” said Julianna. “I love everything to do with dance.”
While Julianna excels in all areas of dance, her tap dancing, with the musical sound and fast footwork, has captured the attention of studio audiences.
In May, Julianna auditioned for a position on the USA Tap Team. There, along with her natural tapping talent, Julianna showcased eight pirouettes. It was no surprise to Mangano when, in July, Julianna received notification that she had made the team.
“When I first heard of this audition, I knew that Julianna was the perfect dancer to try out,” said Mangano. “It is an amazing honor to be representing the United States of America and be able to literally share your talent with the world. I am thrilled that she has this opportunity. It will be an incredible learning experience and she will make many friends. It will certainly be something that she will never forget.”
For Julianna, dance is a way of life – so much so that she had her mother stencil “To Dance is to Breathe” on her bedroom wall.
“Dance has changed my life in so many ways it's really hard to count.? First, it has taught me to work hard, believe in myself and my dreams even if I doubt myself a little. It has taught me integrity, perseverance and confidence,” Julianna said. “Most importantly, it has taught me to be the best person I can be like congratulating other dancers on their successes. Dancing teaches me to work for what I want and to push myself beyond my limits.”
“I am excited to see what the future holds for Julianna. There is no doubt in my mind that she will be pursuing?dance as a career. It's humbling to see how far she has come over the past six years, knowing she is still just 13 years old,” said Mangano.
Julianna has that same vision and dreams of dancing on Broadway one day.