10mins with Jana from OFF THE RECORD

Q. How did you get into performing?
I went to a live ‘Playschool’ show when I was two and a half. I looked up at Benita and John having the most wonderful time and back down to the audience who were all filled with such joy and I realised that we were all sharing a magic experience. I knew that I wanted to be up on stage and in the theatre and dancing from then on.
I was gifted a blue tutu that was made by my Yaya and I used to get dressed up and copy Ballet performances that she had recorded. One day I was copying a prima ballerina perfectly (to my four year old’s eye) until she did a Penché, at this point I fell over and realised that I probably should take lessons. I also wanted to fly around the stage like the boys and adored classical music (mum used to play it a lot on the piano).
At my first day of ballet class I felt like I was in a place where I understood everything and I belonged.

Q. Who inspires you and why?
This question is too hard because my life is filled with so many people who inspire me. Many of my closest friends and family are such an inspiration to me for different reasons. I feel I’m a kid who was raised by a ‘tribe’ and exposure to that ‘tribe’ has meant me witnessing and working with inspirational people from all walks of life. To name two people I would say my mum and dad – their determination to have kids inspires me because with out their determination I wouldn’t be here at all.

Q. What would you do to make a difference in the world?
To the world… what a large question!! To have an influence on the world is a gargantuan task and a little overwhelming for me. I aim to keep it a little simpler. I work at living by my values; the people around me may or may not be influenced. One of my values is to be considerate and caring so I hope if people were influenced by that it would be in a positive light.
I love to create spaces where people can feel and experience something. Particularly if those feelings involve being at ease, inspired or full of laughter. When you provide a space for people to feel these emotions it is incredible. I do this through performance – dance, theatre, film or music; when I’m working with my massage clients; and when thinking about how to design my home or other peoples homes. I have witnessed firsthand how a space that ‘flows’ can provide someone with the grounding and support they need to really take flight and move forward in a direction they feel is right for them.

Q. Favourite holiday destination?
Relle and Daryl’s (basically my 2nd Parents) farm in Narraburra. Red dirt, hay bales, good wine, beautiful company, a piano, delicious coffee, love, chooks and horses. Not to mention space to breathe and be free.

Q. What do you do to relax?
I love getting a massage, having a bath, playing music and writing songs, sewing, drinking tea, watching movies and doing yoga and burning essential oils (I travel everywhere with oils! It’s amazing how they can make even the dullest motel room homely).

Q. What are you currently reading?
The novel I’m reading is Magda Szubanski’s ‘Reckoning’.
However my new obsession is reading interior design magazines, I just love them!

Q. What are you currently listening to (or watching)?
My name is Jana Robyn Castillo and I’m addicted to… ‘Gossip Girl’, but in my defence I am losing interest and I’m only up to Season Three.
Currently listening to lots of French music and the sounds of Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald and Big Mama Thornton. Hmmm what else… I love folk, classical, blues, world music, jazz, hip-hop, relaxing stuff when I’m doing a massage session and a good pop song here and there. I also write my own stuff so I tend to record it then listen to it and tweak it.

Q. When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to?
When I’m in my home town I take friends to the wineries the waterfalls and Beechworth. In Melbourne I take them to a number of my favourite cafes and some form of a show – there are so many to choose from I feel spoilt for choice.

Q. What’s your favourite pastime?
Dancing, watching films, watching live music, listening to music in my comfy bed, creating things, having a hug, burning oils, spending time with friends and family, entertaining guests at my home, watching TV series that carry me away into another world (sometimes its cerebral and sometimes it’s well… ‘Gossip Girl’, hehe).

Q. Happiness is?
Currently in my life it means a tuned body and a centred space. However pure happiness can be found at one of the many lounge room dance parties I have back home with my nearest and dearest. They seem to start out of nowhere. I laugh so much my belly hurts and at times have maybe even wet myself a little…
What’s your most memorable performance to date?
I don’t always remember the most amazing performances because I’m so absorbed in them! There is one I can remember though… I feel a deep sense of satisfaction when I perform a particular duet in Okareka’s ‘Mana Wahine’.

Q. Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Mozart, because apparently he had Tourette’s and I’m always fascinated with other creative people whom tic like me.
My Yayo (grandfather). He sadly left this world when I was 13. He lived through the Spanish Civil War and trekked across mountains to escape. What I wouldn’t give to share a bottle of wine with him and just sit and listen to his stories.
Also its always great having someone who appreciates it when I have to stand up and act out the story I am telling or retelling (this is a common occurrence from the members of my family)
Come to think of it I would want my nearest and dearest friends and family I have from all over the world. If that came true I don’t think I would never want the night to end. So there you are… Mozart and my family and friends… and perhaps Missy Higgins because I’ve always had a little/full-blown crush on her.

Q.  Share something ‘off-the-record’ about yourself…
The moment I put words onto paper it would no longer be off the record, which means it would no longer be a relevant piece of information. But here are a few things you may not know…

  • I can hypnotise chooks
  • I used to be terrified of escalators. We only had one or two escalators in the town where I grew up and one set was at Spotlight. I loved Spotlight but for a while my relationship with the place was bitter sweet.
  • As a kid I genuinely didn’t understand why I wasn’t born a boy
  • When I was a young adult I used to go and watch court cases for fun
  • I don’t know half of my genetics as I am a donor baby
  • I played with Barbies way past the normal age… I created shows for them and built theatres where they had to put on shows. I was a hard taskmaster and was very demanding of them.
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