Before Juliana Stephen’s brother, Jordan, died of cancer four years ago when he was 10 years old, he would never go to show off his dance moves. So Juliana, of Ronkonkoma, now 10 herself, will be performing in his honor on April 9 at the annual Garden of Dreams Talent Show at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan.
“I wanted to dance at Radio City for my brother, to represent him. I get to show everybody what he got. I took his moves and put it in a whole dance,” says Juliana, who bills herself as “The Amazing Juju.” She’ll perform to a mashup that includes Beyoncé tunes.
Juliana’s not the only Long Islander performing in the show, which is free and open to the public. Bailley Fernandez, 16, of Valley Stream, will be singing “Breathin” by Ariana Grande. Fernandez’s father died of post 9/11-related cancer when she was 12.
“Trying to adjust to life without him has been difficult,” Fernandez says. “I’m still working on it but I’m getting better as time goes on.”
The talent show gives children who have faced obstacles one memorable evening in front of their family and friends when they forget their problems and celebrate their unique voices, according to the Garden of Dreams Foundation, a Madison Square Garden nonprofit that works with 30 partner organizations throughout the tristate area.
In addition to losing her brother, Juliana has dwarfism. But that medical diagnosis doesn’t hold her back, says her mother, Nyta Lofton. “She’s given a challenge, and she tackles it,” Lofton says. Adds Juliana: “I’m strong, I’m confident and I’m amazing.”
Radio City is at 1260 6th Avenue. The show is at 7 p.m. For more information or to register for tickets, visit gardenofdreamsfoundation.org.