"This Is A Family"



Miss Julie with her dog Curley.

Juliana Pirpinelli

Owner & Director

Miss Julie, is the Owner and Director of Juliana’s Academy of Dance and has been teaching for nearly 40 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 and many, many more!


Michael Lemanski

Co-Owner, Elite Choreographer & Instructor

Mr. Mike has been at JAOD for over 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. 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

Choreographer & Instructor

Miss Amanda 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 shine through in everything she does.


Morgan Lansky

Choreographer & Instructor

Morgan is an alumni of JAOD, began dancing at the age of three here. She graduated from Wayne State University in 2017 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. While at Wayne, Morgan performed with their three performance companies under the direction of Meg Paul. She has also performed in pieces and taken instruction under Jen Freeman, Doug Verone, Dwight Rhonden, Stefanie Battent-Bland, and many others. Morgan has continued to expand her dance education and choreographic experiences while teaching full time at JAOD where she works hard with our elite team and our recreational program! You can find her teaching technique, cleaning our guest pieces, and doing some choreography of her own!


Marcy Rathgeb


Miss Marcy 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.

Ballet Instructor

Shauna Cook


Shauna graduated from Wayne State University Summa Cum Laude, receiving a BFA in dance. In her two last years of college, Shauna was a member of WSU’s Dance Workshop. Before her studies at WSU, she trained at Ballet Theatre of Toledo and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Shauna has been a company member for Lexington Ballet, ArtLabJ, and MoveWorks. She has been blessed to work with many world-renowned artists such as Dwight Rhoden, Nicholas Leichter, Meg Paul, Jeffrey Rebudal, Duncan Cooper, Ron De Jesus, Alan Obuzor, Keith Lee, Terrence Orr, Gregory Hancock, Nycole Ray, Kate Hutter, Samantha Shelton, Brain McSween, Nathan Trice, and Joori Jung. Shauna is currently a company member with Ballet Edge Detroit, enjoys sharing her love for ballet with her students, and has fun creating works of her own.


Samantha Shelton


SAMANTHA SHELTON  received her professional training from the Joffrey Ballet in New York and in Michigan with Rose Marie Floyd. She also studied in London with Anita Young (Royal Ballet) and at the Cecchetti International program in England. She has performed extensively in both classical and contemporary ballets, including the Grand Pas from Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, also principal roles in Giselle and Raymonda. Samantha holds an M.F.A in Dance from the University of Michigan, where she was awarded a Rackham Thesis grant, and a B.A. in Political Science also from the University of Michigan. She has also done graduate work at New York University in Performing Arts Administration with internships in development, PR and marketing at Carnegie Hall and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. She is certified through the American Ballet Theatre National Curriculum Training Program and in August of 2014, co-taught the ABT NTC with Harriet Clark, at the Detroit Opera House.


Jessica G Thomas


Jessica G Thomas is a native of Detroit, MI. She obtained a M.F.A in Dance from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Thomas also received a B.F.A in Dance from Wright State University. Thomas currently instructs classical ballet for Wayne State University. Thomas performed in American Ballet Theater’s Sleeping Beauty as Ariana during its run at the Michigan Opera Theatre. She has performed extensively throughout New York City, NY; Dayton, OH; and Detroit, MI for companies such as Dayton Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Ballet International, Second Avenue Dance Company, Naomi Goldberg Haas, and Ohio Dance Theater. Thomas’ choreographic works have received numerous awards throughout the Midwest and East Coast. Thomas is a professional educator, choreographer and performer.


Meredith Gagnier


Meredith Gagnier first came to Juliana’s as a student in middle school. She went on to study dance at Western Michigan University and became a certified ballroom dance instructor after graduation. Some career highlights include numerous awards at regional and national ballroom dance competitions and collaborating with Fabian Sanchez from ABC’s Dancing with the Stars to choreograph and dance in a music video staring Recording Artist Sean Forbes and Academy Award Winning Actress Marlee Matlin.


Alysa Komisarz


Alysa is an alumni of JAOD in both the competitive and recreational programs having studied tap, jazz and ballet. Additionally Alysa is a former cheerleader, a MHSAA & USASF competitive cheer coach, gymnastics coach and health coach! Alysa has been married to her husband Ken for 20 years with 2 teenage sons, Kendrick & Zach.


Brittany Podolski


Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Brittany Podolski grew up training in dance styles including jazz, ballet, hip hop, tap, contemporary, lyrical and pointe and attending intensives with the Rockettes and Giordano Dance Chicago. In Detroit, she performed in halftime events for the Detroit Pistons and the Detroit Lions alongside artists such as Kid Rock, the Goo Goo Dolls and Jesse McCartney. Brittany moved to NYC in 2016 to pursue a BFA in Commercial Dance at Pace University, studying with Rhonda Miller, Jen Hamilton, Mandy Moore, Dee Caspary, Jess Hendricks, Nancy Lemenager and Lauren Gaul. She has appeared in the Saks Fifth Avenue Fashion Show and concert works by Lauren Gaul, Rhonda Miller, and Michael Rooney.


Steven Ross-Dybash


Steven is a graduate of Oakland University’s Musical Theatre program and has performed in many local theaters as well as on national and international stages. Some of his favorite roles include, Peter (Bare:A Pop Opera), Tunny (American Idiot), Jesus (Jesus Christ Superstar), Whizzer (Falsettos), and Michael (Tick, Tick…BOOM!). Currently, Steven is the lead singer of a Detroit-based cover band, Class of 98. Performing with Class of ’98 has taken Steven to many large-scale venues including The Magic Bag (Ferndale), Intersection (Grand Rapids), The Capital Theatre (Flint), St. Andrew’s Hall (Detroit), and Little Caesars Arena (Detroit). When Steven is not performing, he enjoys sharing his love and passion for the stage as a dance teacher.


Lea Mitchell


Miss Lea is a dance educator with 29 years of competitive training, coaching, and professional instruction under her belt. She was a member of the nationally ranked Central Michigan University Dance Team, the Detroit Tigers Energy Squad, and has performed alongside Jon Bon Jovi and Mary J. Blige. Miss Lea focuses on early childhood dance education and pom technique at JAOD. She has a Bachelors degree in Youth Studies from CMU and is a contributing writer for Detroit Moms Blog. Miss Lea strives to make our recreation program a warm, welcoming, and top-notch educational environment for all who have a passion for dance.


Jacob Reves


Jacob 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!


Joanne Attenberger

Office Assistant


Jasmine Floyd

Office Assistant


Tina Floyd

Office Assistant