The journey so far.
Contemporary dancer, choreographer and emerging film writer/actor.
Noted as 'Dancer to Watch' in the recent annual Critics Choice 2020 feature (Dance Australia magazine),
Jana Castillo's story from dance-obsessed childhood to celebrated career as a contemporary dancer
has been a hard-earned one.
Jana grew up in Wodonga, Victoria and won a scholarship to complete her schooling at the Victorian College of Arts Secondary School. She then went on to study at the New Zealand School of Dance, graduating in 2009, whilst working as a professional cheerleader for rugby team The Hurricanes.
From 2010-2016, Jana toured internationally with leading artists across dance, theatre and opera including Shaun Parker and Company, Force Majeure, Dance Integrated Australia, Opera Australia, Nimby Opera and Projections Dance Company. Performing at prestigious dance venues such as London’s Sadler’s Wells Theatre and New York’s The Joyce Theatre, Jana also starred in music videos including ‘The All-Seeing Hands’, ‘Lying Dead with a Bar of Soap’ and Iva Lumkum’s ‘Kung Fu Grip’. Jana’s New Zealand-based projects during this period include performance credits with Okareka Dance Company, Footnote NZ Dance Company’s ChoreoCo, The Conch, Kowhiti Festival
and World of Wearable Art (WETA).
At the beginning of 2017, Jana joined Australian Dance Theatre (ADT) under Garry Stewart’s directorship. While at the ADT, Jana performed both nationally and internationally in New York, Europe, South America and Australia in works including ‘Supernature’, ‘Be Yourself ’, ‘The Beginning of Nature’, ‘North/South’ and ‘Construct’. Jana also collaborated with choreographer and artist Meryl Tankard in 2017, starring in Tankard's film ‘MAD’.
In 2018, Jana was awarded the Australian Dance Award for ‘Outstanding Performance by a Female Dancer’
for her role in Tanja Liedtke’s 'Construct'.
Elsewhere, Jana has also worked as a motion-capture actor at the world-renowned Weta Workshop in New Zealand, for feature films ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ and ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’, working closely with film directors Peter Jackson and Richard Taylor.
Jana’s choreographic credits include a solo work commissioned for Australian Dance Theatre’s Rough Draft season titled ‘Access’ and performed at Carriageworks, Sydney; new piece in development, ‘Dragonfly’; and upcoming choreography and performance for short dance film 'Silvaticus'.
In November 2019, SBS documentary ‘Perspective Shift: Jana’ premiered on national Australian TV – telling the story of Jana’s life and work so far as one of Australia’s top female contemporary dancers who happens to live with dystonia and autism. The 30-minute documentary shares the journey from her childhood in a small regional town, the dance scholarships that moved her further afield, through to her creative influences and key achievements.
Jana is currently rehearsing and is in development on multiple works in 2023, in collaboration with a number of dance companies and choreographers including Prue Lang. She also serves on the newly-established Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Working Group member at SDC (Sydney Dance Company) as a contributing LGBTQ+ artist living and thriving with disability.
New short dance film 'Silvaticus' – featuring original choreography and performance by Jana – was filmed on mobile during one of the Australian COVID-19 lockdowns by director Sinéad McDevitt.