Juliana Pirpinelli is the Owner and Director of Juliana’s Academy of Dance. Miss Julie has been teaching for over 31 years specializing in tap, jazz and lyrical. Her credits include judging national dance competitions, President – Dance Masters of Michigan, countless awards for choreography and teaching, the Detroit Thanksgiving Day Parade and a $100,000 winner Star Search – Vegas. Julie’s students have appeared on Broadway, television and national tours including The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Billy Elliot and West Side Story.
Michael Lemanski has been at JAOD for 15 years and is honored and privileged to be able to work with such amazing Faculty, Students and Parents. Michael has had the pleasure of working with such amazing artists as Enrique Iglesias, Shaggy, Vanessa Carleton, Jon Bon Jovi, Christina Milan, and Patti Labelle. Michael was the assistant choreographer for three Orange Bowl Halftime shows as well as the Gator Bowl halftime show. Most recently Michael was the head choreographer for the Champs Sports Bowl Halftime show, the Hall Of Fame Game for the NFL, the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl Halftime show, the Halftime show at the Alamo Bowl and the 2013 BCS championship game. As a performer Michael was in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular for five years, danced for Disney Productions as well as played and sang the role of Aladdin. Michael has also done numerous shows, industrials, and television commercials for Chrysler, Nike, MGM Detroit, Ceasars Windsor, and Ford Motor Company. Michael has taught for Dance Makers Inc, State Dance Championships, Conquest Dance Convention, ADA, DEA, Jazz On Tap, and DMA.
Amanda Knight is a third generation dancer. She grew up dancing at JAOD under the instruction of Juliana Pirpinelli and has taught dance since 1998. Amanda’s love for dance has motivated her to lead all types and styles of dance so she can teach others, no matter your age, anyone can learn. Amanda has performed with Enrique Iglesias, Boyz II Men & Mariah Carey. She teaches all her students to love what they do and do what they love. Amanda’s passion, drive and love for dance shines through in everything she does.
Chris Ritacca is a proud parent of 2 successful competition dancers (Alyssa & Annelise) and recently a new grandma to Aiden! Chris loves dogs, especially her 3 fur babies; Broadway, Brooklyn and Barron! She’s been happily married to Mike Ritacca over 25 years, they have lived throughout the US and in 3 countries; Belgium, Canada and the US. You might recognize her friendly face as the manager from En Pointe Dancewear in Clawson. We are excited to have Chris working at Juliana’s, she is very knowledgeable about the dance industry and is always willing to help and make things easy for customers!
Jacob Reves started his dance career at the age of 9 in former Czechoslovakia and by the age of 16 he Achieved an “A Category ” which is the highest category in Ballroom and Latin dance and qualifies him to represent his country of origin. By 18 years old he moved to the United States and turned professional, coached amateurs and professionals. Jacob has been a winner of many European Championships throughout his career. He is proficient in both American and International styles of dance – American Smooth, American Rhythm, International Modern and International Latin. Jacob enjoys working with JAOD as a ballroom coach, instructor and detail clean-up coach for both students and adults. He enjoys his time at the studio and we adore him!.
Jessica Lupo has over 20 years of experience dancing and performing. Jessica is an alumni of the Oakland University dance team “images”. Jessica has been teaching since 2005 recreationally as well as competitive hip hop among other various styles of dance. Jessica has performed with various artists such as Bon Jovi and Vanessa Carleton and assisted various Lions Thanksgiving Day halftime show performances. Jessica is proud to call Juliana’s her second family and she has a true passion for teaching dance. #LupoStrong
Katie Chaka has been dancing and performing for over twenty years, and also has a Bachelor’s of Arts in History and Women and Gender Studies from Oakland University. Katie was on the pilot episode for the television series “Glee”. She was also a part of the “Camp Rock 2” promotional, as well as, the Shoshana Bean Los Angeles tour. Katie has worked with artists such as Green Day, Jo Jo, V factory, and Drew32. Also, Katie used to be an “ESPN Game Day Girl” and has appeared in national Fox Nascar commercials. Katie has a passion for teaching dance and is thrilled to be a part of the JAOD family!
Kevin Belanger is originally from Sterling Heights and received his formal dance training from the Virginia School of the Arts, in Lynchburg, Virginia, studying under Petrus Bosmon, former principal dancer for the Royal Ballet. Kevin went on to dance professionally for ten years, with The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, Ballet San Jose, American Repertory Ballet, and the Minnesota Ballet. Kevin has taught extensively for the past 12 years across the country, including Southold Dance Theatre in South Bend, Indiana, the Minnesota Ballet School in Duluth, Minnesota, and the Reif Performing Arts Center in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Kevin has choreographed many works in ballet, jazz, tap and contemporary, including a full production of “The Nutcracker”, and several musical productions including “Bat Boy”, “Grease” and “Beauty and the Beast”.
Lesley Kay has been teaching dance for over 20 years. She is the Head Choreographer on Walt Disney Picture’s “Oz The Great and Powerful”. Lesley is the director of The Detroit Dolls, former member of the Detroit Lion’s On Field Promotions Team and currently choreographs their nationally televised Thanksgiving Day Halftime Show. Leslie is a former member of the Detroit Piston’s Dance Team and has choreographed commercials in L.A. and Las Vegas for Little Caesars. She is currently on staff at Oakland University and teaches all over the Metro Detroit area. Her performance credits include Jay Sean, Gladys Knight, Enrique Iglasis, Jon Bon Jovi and Boyz II Men.
Lisa Krantz a JAOD alumni, has years of dancing, performing and instructing along with a Bachelor’s of Science in Human Resource Development and Communications from Oakland University.In 2010 Lisa left the corporate world to pursue her true passion within the dance industry. Lisa is part of the teaching staff at JAOD, the Business Manager for Juliana’s as well as a certified fitness instructor. Lisa loves being able to integrate her business and marketing background at the dance academy and enjoys being part of such a wonderfully successful studio.
Marcy Rathgeb is a dance professional who had performed, choreographed, technically facilitated and taught at JAOD since 1980. Her teaching career began as a student teacher at LaVerne Dance Studio in Clawson, MI and eventually operated her own studio. Her experience includes numbers of awards in U.S. Championship Ballroom Dancing, Tap & Jazz.Choreographer for children’s theater, competition figure skating, dance teams and staged production numbers and has presented many Tap Technique workshops for summer dance camps. Additionally, Marcy has been associated with D.M.M., D.M.A. and P.D.E. Sometimes referred to as the “warden” of Mrs. Marcy’s “House of Corrections” she continues her passion for dance through her teaching skills and her dedication to young dancers.
Morgan Lansky, an alumni of JAOD, began dancing at the age of three here. She is currently a dance major at Wayne State University working toward a Bachelor of Fine Arts. While attending Wayne she has been apart of two performing companies, in which she tours to local schools to perform for the students. Morgan performed with the Tremaine Dance Conventions in the company for five years, in which during she danced for Paula Abdul. Morgan has performed in several Lions Thanksgiving half time shows with artists Kid Rock, Jessie McCartney, and The Goo Goo Dolls. Morgan enjoys teaching our little JAOD kids!
Nicole Redko is an alumni of JAOD. She began dancing here at the age of 4, and was part of the elite competition team. Currently she is a psychology major at Oakland University, with minors in dance and Spanish. She has performed in various halftime performances for the Lions and Pistons, including dancing with Flo Rida, Robin S, and Jesse McCartney, along with dancing at Radio City Music Hall with the Rockette’s as part of a summer intensive.
Additional Staff Members include: Jennifer and Joanne. More information of each of these fabulous staff members coming soon!