Jillana received a scholarship at the School of American Ballet at age 11, where she was trained by George Balanchine. She was asked by Mr. Balanchine to join the New York City Ballet one year later and did her first performance with the Company on her thirteenth birthday. By-passing soloist she became a Principal six years later and performed with the company for 20 years.
Ballets choreographed for Jillana by Balanchine include, Liebeslieder Walzer, Midsummer Night's Dream, and Don Quixote. Balanchine ballets in her repertoire include Serenade, Swan Lake, Symphony in C, Nutcracker, Four Temperaments, Stars and Stripes, Apollo, and Prodigal Son. She has performed in ballets choreographed by Jerome Robbins, Frederick Aston, Anthony Tudor, John Cranko, Todd Bolender and John Taras.
Jillana also has appeared as guest artist with other major ballet companies including American Ballet Theater and National Ballet of Washington, and in numerous television shows, including the Tribute to Balanchine, Bell Telephone Hour, Show of Shows, Red Skelton Show and Noah and the Flood, which was choreographed for her by George Balanchine. She also appeared in the Broadway musical, Destry Rides Again, directed and choreographed by Michael Kidd.
Her partners have included: Jacques d'Amboise, Edward Villella, Arthur Mitchell, Jerome Robbins, Todd Bolender, Conrad Ludlow, Kent Stowell, André Eglevsky, Eric Bruhn and Rudolf Nureyev.
She was a representative for the School of American Ballet's Ford Foundation Scholarship program for 10 years. Jillana has taught at the School of American Ballet and the Joffrey School as well as company classes for the New York City Ballet, Ballet West and the Paris Opera Ballet. She was on the faculty of the University of California at Irvine for 12 years. Jillana was Guest Lecturer at the University of Iowa and Southern Methodist University. She taught at the DanceAspen Summer School for 11 years, the last two serving as its Director.
Currently Jillana is the Director of the Jillana School. In addition, she is teaching, staging Balanchine ballets throughout the world and writing an autobiography concentrating on her 20 years with George Balanchine. Besides directing her school she is the mother of two, William and Ana, and with her husband Alan, resides in Southern California.