A Hollywood newcomer, Julia Goldani Telles started dancing in Brazil when she was five years old and continued her training in Los Angeles and New York. She has been featured in numerous ballets, including Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker, Don Quixote and Swan Lake. A temporary injury prompted Julia to look into acting and soon after, she landed the role of the rebellious Sasha Torres in Bunheads.
Q. How much time do you have to practice dancing every week?
We take private lessons so we get about 2.5 hours of dance classes per week, and that’s on top of our rehearsals for the weekly numbers. We just work really, really hard for like three to five hours on the weekend, and then we shoot during the week.
Q. Do you take any other kinds of lessons?
No I don’t. Really we’re so encompassed by our intense shooting schedule and by rehearsals and dance classes that during my free time I just sleep and talk a lot.
Q. Fans are really, really loving Roman and Sasha together. Why do you think they work so well as a couple, and can you tell us a little bit about what’s coming up for them?
One thing that I really admire that Roman does with Sasha is that he tells it to her like it is, which she doesn’t get from a lot of other people in her life. He understands her and he understands her insecurities and how she’s scared to be vulnerable, and he sees through her facade. I think he’s one of the few people that she’s really let in so he can be real with her and she can be real with him.
And that’s very rare for Sasha to have a relationship like that, and throughout this season we’ve seen their relationship sort of intensifying, and in this last episode especially she’s becoming more emotionally attached to him. With that comes wondering what comes next physically, which is why in this episode she starts obsessively researching about sex. But I think they’re friends first and foremost, which is super important.
Q. Do you have a favorite dance performance from Bunheads?
I think my favorite one, just because it was so impulsive and fun, was the Istanbul (Not Constantinople) one because we learned it in three hours, and then we shot it the next day and none of us knew if it was going to be good or not and people liked it. That was fun.
Q. And who are the dancers in the background? Are they sisters or twins? They look very much alike.
No, they’re not twins. And they’re not sisters. They’re professional dancers. Mallauri Esquibel and Colleen Craig are their names.
Q. Do you get any input in to the choreography or is it all set before you start?
Our choreographer, Marguerite Derricks, is really flexible about altering things to fit the way we move, and so with Istanbul (Not Constantinople) at the end, the choreography had originally been all of us would just stop and freeze in those poses. I said to Marguerite, “I really just want to jump out because I feel like that’s a Sasha thing to do.” Like she had her five minutes and now she’s leaving, she’s not going to take anybody’s B.S.
I really felt like that was such a Sasha thing to do and Marguerite said, “Okay. Walk out.” When we filmed that on every take I would walk out and slam the door. I got to put that in to that. I got to shake my hips a little bit more than the original choreography on that because I thought that was a way for Sasha to rebel against her traditional ballet training.
Q. How is it different dancing for a camera rather than for an audience?
On this show it’s not so different in that Amy, our executive producer, really likes to do things in one shot. That dance number was done in one shot so it was like it was live. If we messed one thing up, it ruined the whole thing and we had to start over so there were no cuts. When we do dance numbers that cut to different sections it does make it easier to make mistakes because we know we can just do it again.
Q. In the Coal Miners routine who came up with the lighting and how long did that take to work out, and did it present any problems with the lights flashing in your eyes, et cetera?
I think it was Amy’s idea because in the script it said that the hats come from the fact that the girls had done a dance number about Billy Elliot and we’d all gotten black lung at the end because Fanny’s so twisted so that’s where the hats came from.. I think it was Amy’s idea.
It was hard to figure out the lights because the hats weren’t tailored special for the dancer or anything so we had to keep hitting the buttons a certain number of times to get the right light setting. I had the stomach flu when we shot that. We shoot one episode every seven days, and so they let me take two days off, and then a day after I came back we shot that. It was particularly difficult for me because I hadn’t eaten in a really long time because I had this virus.
Q. What was it about Sasha that made you interested in wanting to play her?
Amy Sherman-Palladino is famous for writing these idiosyncratic female characters. I mean nobody writes chicks like Amy does and Sasha is so complicated because you look at her and she’s talented, and she has this perfect ballet body, but she doesn’t realize the worth of it, and if she does she doesn’t care. With ballet she’s sort of like this beautiful disaster, and I think the intricacy of her persona and her home life and how all of that ties in to her friendships—she’s just an intricate character, which I love about her, and also the fact that she’s rebellious and that’s just really fun to play. It’s fun to make trouble. It’s not fun to be a goody two-shoes I think. I’m a goody two-shoes in real life.
Q. How are you similar and how are you different to Sasha other than the ballet obviously and the dancing?
We’re similar in that I think we share sort of similar dry humor and sarcasm, and also in the last episode of the season you see that Sasha’s really a planner and an over analyzer. I compulsively research everything before I do anything. I’m not impulsive at all, and she’s like that in that she’s thinking about having sex so she buys every book about sex ever written, and she’s on every website, and she’s asking everyone to talk to her about it. Whenever I make decisions about anything I do research like that.
We’re different in that she has terrible parents, and I have great parents. I think she’s a little bit more blunt than I am, although I’ve started noticing that if I play her for too long I start saying things that I wouldn’t otherwise, like I start losing my filter.
Q. Seeing how Sasha is so different from you in certain ways how do you relate to her? What ways do you find to relate to her to be able to play her?
I find her honesty very relatable, she has her façade of just being cool and not caring but she really feels things deeply. She’s very sensitive, and I think the people who are closest to her can sort of see through her façade, and see that she’s sort of just really, really hurting. I think that’s what I admire about her is that there’s really no intended pretension. She’s just trying to figure out who she is and she’s really, really alone.
I think that she does a great job of taking care of herself in a situation where a lot of people would crack and turn to hardcore drugs and she’s not. She’s doing well for herself, and I admire that she’s maturing, and I really love that she’s honest with her friends. She genuinely cares for people. She’s bonded with Michelle. They take care of each other. I remember in Episode 4 she bought new pointe shoes when Boo couldn’t get new ones because she couldn’t afford them. It’s just the little things that Sasha does that makes me love her.
Q. What’s it like to be on a show where you can meld both your love for acting and your love for dance?
It’s really great. It’s such a unique opportunity. I didn’t realize that I’d get to do both at once. It’s double the work but I’m definitely not complaining. I will do this forever. I’m in love with it.
Q. What is it like working with Sutton Foster and what do you think about the relationship between those characters?
I love the relationship between those characters. I always knew it would evolve but I didn’t really know how, and I think the way that it’s played out is really beautiful and honest and very touching. I’ve grown closer with Sutton as we’ve worked together more and more. I look up to her so much. She’s an incredible role model. She’s a great person, and I think she’s really a great example of how you can be successful and professional but you can also not lose your sense of humor and your quirkiness and you can still be relatable. She’s really a great role model.
Q. How do you think Sasha has grown since that very first episode we met her?
Oh, my gosh, she’s grown a lot. It actually surprised me how much. I thought she’d grow a little slower, but I’m glad that it’s happening so fast. When you first met Sasha she was very in the middle of this terrible marriage that her parents had, and she was incredibly unhappy. She didn’t know how to have a human connection that didn’t make her feel vulnerable and exposed. I think she tried a bunch of different things to try and find herself. She tried to rebel, and she tried to steal, and she tried to just be mean to everyone, and then she tried to cry, and I think she’s finally kind of finding her footing a little bit more.
I think it’s great that her parents you know peaced out and she’s living by herself because they’re terrible influences on her, and that Michelle is acting as this mother figure. She’s really learning how to take care of herself and how to take care of other people. The Sasha we met in the pilot would never cook for her friends. She’d never be able to have an honest conversation with a boy about how she felt, and she’d never be able to give Michelle a hug and cry on her shoulder so I think she’s come a long way.
Q. Did you have to audition before Marguerite Derricks, the choreographer, to get on the show, and in general what was the audition process like?
I didn’t audition for Marguerite for the pilot. I auditioned for Amy Sherman-Palladino who is a dancer herself. She got up and she demonstrated the combination for us at my third audition, and I was so intimidated and so impressed because Amy can really, really dance. She’s not just writing a show about dance; she really understands every single little thing she’s talking about from an injury to knowing every scene of a Sleeping Beauty ballet. She knows it all.
The process was I went in once and I read and I danced for a little bit for a casting director, and then I went in twice for Amy Sherman-Palladino, and I had a dance call with the other Sasha’s and the other girls that I was competing with. We were all dancing together, which was just awful because I saw my competition. So after my third audition with Amy they called me and they said, “We’re going to fly you to L.A. and you’re going to screen test.” I was really excited, and then they called the next day and they said, “Oh never mind” and I was like, “What?! What do you mean never mind?” So I thought, “Okay. Great. They found some blonde girl in L.A. who is going to play Sasha now.” No offense to the blondes. I was really upset, and then they called the day after and they said, “Oh we just met with the network. We want you.” So it was good. I didn’t have to fly out to L.A. and screen test, but the process was a month long and it was a lot of calling back and forth. It was my first audition so I didn’t really know what to expect, and I harassed my agent more than he deserved.
Q. Has there been any talk about doing a dance tour?
We always joke that we could do a dance tour because we have so many dance numbers, but there really hasn’t been talk about it. I think that would have to come from Amy. I’d love to though.
Q. How it was that you got involved with dancing and acting in your life?
I started dancing when I was five in Brazil, and kept dancing when I moved to the U.S., and all I wanted to do was be a professional ballerina, and then I got injured. I got labral tears, which is like an old lady injury for your hips, not super beautiful, and I went to a bunch of doctors and they said, “You will never dance again” and it was this very dramatic thing. I finally went to a sane doctor and he said, “Just take a year off or it’s not going to be good for you” so I took a year off, and I was really depressed. I didn’t know what to do with myself and I took a year to be a normal teenager basically because before all I would do was dance for six hours every day after school, but I was really, really bored.
I always wanted to act but I used to live in L.A. The injuries were happening when I lived here in New York, but I grew up in L.A. I always wanted to act when I lived out there and my parents never wanted me to because they don’t want me to be one of those actor kids, and they wanted me to get an education. And so they never let me, and then finally I somehow got them to let me take acting lessons on the year I took off, which was in 10th grade and now I’m in 12th grade.
So I took an acting class, and the acting teacher said, “I want to send you to an agent” and my parents were like, “No!” and I was like, “Yes.” They sent me to an agent and the agent said, “Okay. I’m going to send you on this. It’s for a pilot called Bunheads where you’ll be able to dance. Don’t worry if you’ve never read a script before” and I’d never read a script before so I was freaking out. And then I went in and I read and I danced, and I really think that part of the reason it worked out was because I really had no idea what I was doing. I think maybe deep down I thought like I had a shot because I didn’t realize how many other girls were going against me. And so that’s how it happened.
Q. Do you have a behind-the-scenes favorite memory or playing or shenanigans or something that you think our readers might like to learn about what goes on in Bunheads when the cameras aren’t rolling?
When I first met Garret who plays Roman I had eaten a lot of sugar, and sugar does not do good things to me, and so I was throwing those little booties we wear on the show at him from a balcony in the dance studio. He was just sitting there reading his lines and I was throwing the booties at him, and we hadn’t even met so that was incredibly awkward.
I have this one memory of shooting the mid-season finale, which is when Michelle leaves as we do a tribute to Walt Whitman. The entire season we all wanted to do a prank and we said, “Okay. We’re going to do a prank” but we all chickened out every single time, and then when we were getting up to do Oh Captain, My Captain we decided that on the fourth take we were all going to start dancing because that’s harmless. So I guess I forgot how to count, and I did it on the third take and we got up and it was this really serious scene where everybody is supposed to be crying and I started dancing and nobody else did it with me because I counted the takes wrong. Amy was directing and she’s like, “What the hell.” It was incredibly awkward.
To check out the Istanbul (Not Constantinople) dance number
To check out the Coal Miner dance number, click here: http://www.youtube.com/v/kSARULEQJgw. To return to this website click the return arrow in the upper left hand corner of your browser.
To check out the official Bunheads website, click here: http://beta.abcfamily.go.com/shows/bunheads. To return to this website click the return arrow in the upper left hand corner of your browser.