Lepa Juju Stojanovic grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and began dancing at age five at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) Preparatory Department. She trained in the CCM Preparatory Department all the way through high school where she performed leading roles in ballets such as The Sleeping Beauty, Les Sylphides, and Le Corsaire, and performed the Dying Swan with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra at Cincinnati Music Hall. Following high school, she was accepted to continue her studies at CCM in the college division. Throughout her time as a ballet major at CCM, she performed soloist and principal roles in Swan Lake, Paquita, Cinderella, The Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, and Gerald Arpino’s Birthday Variations. She graduated Summa Cum Laude in the spring of 2019 from University of Cincinnati with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ballet with a second major in Mathematics. She has attended summer intensives at Boston Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre in New York City.
Who influenced you most to become the dancer you are today?
I am thankful for so many of the teachers I have come across throughout my training and the impact each of them has had on me as a dancer. I feel extremely lucky to have grown up with such an amazing and supportive group of teachers on my side. I credit one of my teachers from home in particular, Tricia Sundbeck, with inspiring my love for dance starting in my middle school years. Over the years she has pushed and supported me so much and I don’t believe I would have continued dancing beyond high school if it weren’t for her.
What was the funniest episode(s) you’ve experienced in your career?
During a dress rehearsal for one of our shows at Universisty of Cincinnati, we were testing out the dry ice for a piece but the tech people went way too heavy on the dry ice and it was one person after another hitting the ground just seconds after someone else had fallen! A couple minutes in, and several falls later, they were just about to halt the run of the piece and I came down particularly hard. They mopped up and abandoned the dry ice for a second run of the piece, but this time it was too sticky. My partner’s foot got stuck while he was supporting me in a difficult position and I tumbled to the ground in slow motion as he lost his grip on me. At the moment it was a little frustrating, but after rehearsal we put together a video of all the falls and couldn’t stop laughing at the ridiculousness of the sheer number of falls in such a short span of time!
Who would you most like to share the stage with (living or dead)?
I think it would be inspiring to share the stage with some of my old teachers during their careers!
What goes through your mind just before you perform?
Before I perform I like to do one last mental run of the choreography, remind myself of how fortunate I am to get to do this every day, and then I try to let it all go and just enjoy myself onstage.
What do you like/admire most about San Diego Ballet?
San Diego Ballet is full of people who are not just talented dancers, but also amazing people, and I love being in the studio and on stage with them every day!