By Janee Law
Lloyd Harbor resident Juliana Missano was 6 years old when her passion for ballet dancing was ignited, attending Huntington Ballet Theater, now the Long Island Ballet Theatre.
“I took my first ballet class and I really enjoyed it, and I loved my teacher,” Missano said. “I did really well in class so I was really excited about that and the music was also a big part of it, which I really love classical music.”
Now 18 years old, Missano was among 161 students from across the country recognized as a United States Presidential Scholar by the U.S. Department of Education. As a ballet dancer, Missano is one of only 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts.
After attending the Huntington Ballet Theatre, Missano went on to the Lynch School of Ballet in Huntington.
She said it was there that she realized she wanted to take her ballet career more seriously. Having previously attended Cold Spring Harbor High School from seventh through ninth grades, Missano moved to Philadelphia as a sophomore and enrolled at the Rock School for Dance Education, a full-time ballet training program. She’s now a senior.
“When I came to the Rock School, I really wanted to take the next step and make a career out of this,” she said, adding that a typical day for her starts at 10:30 a.m. and ends at 5:30 p.m. “I felt that if I wanted to make a career out of ballet that a full-time school would be my best bet.”
Meanwhile, Missano also takes classes with The Keystone School, an accredited private online school for independent learners who seek a highly flexible education.
When it comes to dancing, Missano said to loves to be “able to perform for people and express through movement how you’re feeling. I think that’s my favorite part.”
In January, Missano performed the solo at the Youth America Grand Prix in Atlanta, where she received the Grand Prix award, the overall highest score. She then moved onto the final round of the competition, which was held at the Lincoln Center Stage in New York City.
With the award she earned in Atlanta, Missano was discovered by the Atlanta Ballet Company and offered a position as an apprentice. Missano accepted the position without hesitation and will be starting with the company in August.
Missano said she was happy and honored when she was offered the position.
“The whole goal coming to the Rock School was to get a job and it’s really hard for teenagers right out of school to get a job quickly because they’re so many young dancers out there,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to perform a lot more and to learn a lot. I’m ready to take the next step and working with company dancers older than me is really inspiring so I’m excited.”