The Dirt with Julia Goldani Telles, Bailey Buntain, Emma Dumont and Kaitlyn Jenkins of “Bunheads”
All photos by Adam Taylor, courtesy ABC Family
If you’re like the DS staff, you’re already obsessed with “Bunheads,” the new ballet-centric show on ABC Family. What’s not to love? The show’s star, Sutton Foster, has serious Broadway cred, the plot gives us a sometimes dramatic, sometimes hilarious look at the life of a dancer and, best of all, four real-life dance students get their big breaks on the small screen! Kaitlyn Jenkins, 20, who has trained in ballet, modern, hip hop, tap, jazz and ballroom, plays Boo, who loves to dance but struggles with the fact that she doesn’t have the perfect ballet body. Former School of American Ballet student Julia Goldani Telles, 17, plays Sasha, who’s got the dream body and the talent but doesn’t really have the heart. The musical-theater loving Bailey Buntain, 22, plays Ginny, who yearns to break out of her small town life. And Emma Dumont, 17, who has a couple of small movie roles under her belt, plays fun-loving Melanie. Read on for The Dirt with all four breakout stars.
Dancer you would drop everything to see: Natalia Osipova!
Biggest guilty pleasure: “The Ellen Show’s” Hidden Camera Pranks and Dance Dares.
One thing most people don’t know about you: I eat raw garlic. It’s great.
What are your pet peeves? People who leave the toilet seat up! GROSS!
Dance-wise, do you have any bad habits? Many, but I like to think of it as interpretive dancing ;)
What’s the strangest thing in your dance bag? A plastic monkey watch that I once found in a classroom
What was your reaction when you found out you were cast in Bunheads? I ran around my house in my pajamas, howling.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? A spy.
Where do you see yourself in ten years? On a remote island, formulating my world-domination plan.
If you could dance with any performer, past or present, who would it be? Fred Astaire. But before we could start dancing he would have to pick me up off the floor from fainting.
Biggest guilty pleasure: Cuddling up in bed, eating Wheat Thins and watching Instant Netflix on my nights off. Wow, I’m exciting… J
Favorite food: I LOVE Mexican food.
One thing most people don’t know about you: I’m an Auntie to 9 nieces and nephews, and I’d rather hang out with them than most adults. They are the sweetest little people.
One thing you can’t live without: My sisters. They’re my best friends, my inspiration, and the good kick in the butt I sometimes need.
Who would play you in a movie? Oh probably one of the Victoria’s Secret models. Oh wait… HA! I’m sorry I fell asleep for a minute and was DREAMING.
What are your pet peeves? The sound of snoring drives me a little nuts. Oh and I hate getting to a movie late and missing the previews.
Dance-wise, do you have any bad habits? I carry tension in my shoulders. If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard “Shoulders down!”…
What’s the strangest thing in your dance bag? Floss. Oral hygiene is no joke.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? Belle from “Beauty and the Beast.” Clearly, I was a very realistic child.
Dancer you would drop everything to go see: Ariana Lallone. She used to dance for Pacific Northwest Ballet, and she is stunning. I’ve ever seen anyone command attention in their dancing like she does.
Most played song on your iPod: “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett
Favorite movie: Billy Elliot. I own it on VHS and have seen it a thousand times. I also love Fight Club.
Biggest guilty pleasure: Butterfingers. Butterfinger Crisp. Butterfinger ice cream. Anything Butterfinger.
One thing most people don’t know about you: I play Roller Derby.
If you weren’t a dancer/actress, what would you be? A biomedical engineer.
Who would play you in a movie? A teenage Amanda Bynes.
What’s the strangest thing in your dance bag? An allen wrench.
Do you have any pre-performance habits or superstitions? Right before I go on stage, I like to put a little Tiger Balm under my nose. It smells great and reminds me to smile.
Dancers you would drop everything to go see: Desmond Richardson & Diana Vishneva
Favorite movie: The Help and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland
Biggest guilty pleasure: CUPCAKES!!!
One thing most people don’t know about you: I have this burning desire to ride a motorcycle.
If you weren’t a dancer/actress, what would you be? I would want to pursue a singing career or possibly photography. It would have to be something “artsy!”
One thing you can’t live without: My iPhone <3
Who would play you in a movie? Jennifer Lawrence
What are your pet peeves? When people lie
Dance-wise, do you have any bad habits? Sometimes my turnout isn’t as good as it could be.
Do you have any pre-performance habits or superstitions? First I jump up and down and then I shake my arms out. Then, I give a little prayer and blow a kiss to my pointe shoes!
Much of Janelle Ginestra's career has been about helping others shine. She's dedicated herself to supporting and cheerleading her partner, WilldaBeast Adams; the emerging talents in their dance company, ImmaBEAST; and the countless dancers she inspires at master classes and conventions. Her YouTube channel has become a launching pad for young talents like "Fraternal Twins" Larsen Thompson and Taylor Hatala, thanks to viral videos featuring Ginestra's creative vision.
But Ginestra's a skyrocketing success in her own right—an in-demand choreographer, a social media influencer, and a dance entrepreneur, building a legacy one eight-count at a time. It's time for her turn in the spotlight. And she's more than ready. "I want to be a legend in whatever I do," she says. We'd argue that she already is.
Daphne Lee is a queen, and not just in the "OMG Girl Boss Alert" sense of the word. She's an actual queen—a beauty queen. Crowned Miss Black USA in August, she's been doing double duty as she continues to dance with the Memphis based dance company, Collage Dance Collective. Lee's new title has given her the means to encourage other black girls and boys to pursue their dreams, while also pursuing dreams of her own. The scholarship money awarded with the pageant title will assist her as she earns a Masters of Fine Arts degree at Hollins University.
When a choreographer finds a composer whose music truly inspires her, it can feel like a match made in dance heaven. Some choreographers work with the same composers so frequently that they become known for their partnerships. New York City Ballet soloist and resident choreographer Justin Peck, for example, has tapped composer Sufjan Stevens numerous times (last spring, the two premiered The Decalogue at NYCB, to rave reviews); L.A. Dance Project's Benjamin Millepied's working relationship with composer Nico Muhly has spanned a decade and two continents; and when tap dancer Michelle Dorrance premiered the first-ever Works & Process Rotunda Project, a site-specific work for New York City's Guggenheim Museum, last year, percussionist Nicholas Van Young was by her side as an equal partner. Successful collaborations require compatibility between artists, direct and honest communication, and flexible, open minds. But when the stars align, working with a composer can be extremely rewarding.
For ballerinas, it's the dream role to end all dream roles: Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, the type of part dancers spend years preparing for and whole careers perfecting. And it's a role that New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck never thought she'd dance. Though Peck is one of the world's preeminent ballerinas, her short stature made Odette/Odile, typically performed by longer, leggier dancers, seem (almost literally) out of reach.
Then—surprise!—her name popped up on the cast list for NYCB's fall season run of Swan Lake.
Lani Dickinson's power, grace, and raw presence make her a standout with AXIS Dance Company, whose mission is to change the face of dance and disability by featuring a mix of disabled and non-disabled performers. Born in China, Dickinson was adopted by an American couple and started dancing at 8 in Towson, MD. She attended the Boston Ballet School for two summers, studied at the Idyllwild Arts Academy for the last two years of high school, and graduated with a dance degree from Alonzo King LINES Ballet's BFA program with Dominican University of California. In 2015, she joined AXIS and won a Princess Grace Award. Catch her this month during AXIS Dance Company's 30th-anniversary season—and read on for The Dirt!