Jungle

Julia Goldani Telles (Bunheads)

Julia Goldani Telles (Bunheads)

Sasha is a dancer at Fanny’s studio who possesses the classic ballet dancer’s body and talent but -- distracted by family issues at home -- doesn’t seem to have her heart in dancing. She’s an incredibly accomplished and talented dancer, but her rebellious streak and lack of motivation may cause her trouble.

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.

SHAKEFIRE (SF): 
How much time do you have to practice every week dancing?
JULIA GOLDANI TELLES (JGT): 
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.
SF: 
Do you take any other kinds of lessons?
JGT: 
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.
SF: 
Fans are 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?
JGT: 
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’ 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.
SF: 
So do you get any input in to the choreography or is it all set before you start? And who are the dancers in the background? Are they sisters, twins? And what’s it like dancing to a camera rather than an audience?
JGT: 
They’re not sisters. They’re professional dancers. (Editor’s note: Mallauri Esquibel and Colleen Craig are their names.)But no they’re not twins. They’re professionals. Our choreographer Marguerite Derricks is really flexible about altering things to fit the way we move, and so with that particular number 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. And how is it different dancing for a camera 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.
SF: 
What was it about Sasha that made you interested in wanting to play her?
JGT: 
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.
SF: 
What’s it like to be on a show where you can meld both your love for acting and your love for dance?
JGT: 
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.
SF: 
How do you think Sasha has grown since that very first episode we met her?
JGT: 
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.
SF: 
Has there been any talk about doing a dance tour?
JGT: 
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.
SF: 
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?
JGT: 
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.
Peter Oberth
Interview by Peter Oberth
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