Click or flick across to follow Jana's journey growing up on the Border.
JANA Castillo was four when she began pestering her mum to start dance lessons.
“I think it’s been in my blood since I was in the womb, really,” she says.
“I’m a twin and apparently I was on the left side, my twin sister Lauren was on the right and I never stopped moving the whole time.
“Mum said, ‘This one’s a born dancer’ and I’ve been dancing ever since.”
At just 25 years of age, the former Wodonga dancer has packed more into her young life than most.
Back in Australia after travelling the world in Shaun Parker and Company’s hit dance production Happy As Larry, she is relishing the chance to shine before a hometown audience at The Cube Wodonga in two performances (2pm and 8pm) on Saturday, July 20.
“It’s really exciting to actually bring it to my hometown,” Castillo says.
“This is my first Australian tour, which is exciting because I feel that I’ve toured a lot of other countries but never Australia.
“I think we’ll pack the house out, my family alone.
“I’m stoked, a bit nervous but it’s kind of a childhood dream come true to be touring with an international company and bringing it back home.
“It’s a mixture of nerves and excitement.”
Following performances at 10 venues across Britain, includinging a sell-out season at London’s famed Sadler’s Wells Theatre, the award-winning international dance company is touring Australia with Happy as Larry.
The powerful performance combines an intoxicating, free-flowing mix of ballet, break-dance, acrobatics and highly physical contemporary dance.
To the arresting pulse of a vibrant electro acoustic score by Nick Wales and Bree Van Reyk, the performers bring fun and danger to the fore in an exhilarating and moving dance work that is all about finding happiness.
The multi-award-winning show was created by choreographer Shaun Parker whose work has spanned film, television and live theatre productions.
A graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts, he has performed around the world and in feature films such as Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge and Bruce Beresford’s Mao’s Last Dancer.
As a director/choreographer, Parker’s self-devised physical theatre and dance works have toured Britain, Germany, Asia, New Zealand and Australia.
Castillo’s journey with Parker’s company began when he offered her a role in Happy As Larry, which features characters playing nine different personality types.
“I’m playing the performer role,” she says.
“So I’m personality type three, which is either named as the achiever or the performer.
“So I can definitely relate to the role, being in the industry I’m in, and I get to do a lot of ballet in my role which is basically the root of where I was trained.”
Castillo began ballet classes at seven with Wodonga’s Julie Glinski School of Dance and performed in more Albury-Wodonga Eisteddfods than she cares to remember.
She attended Wodonga Primary and Wodonga High schools before moving to Melbourne for dance studies at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School and then the New Zealand School of Dance in Wellington.
In Wellington she was involved in movement design for the Peter Jackson movie The Hobbit before filming started, an experience she describes as “phenomenal”.
“I lived over in New Zealand for about 4½ years because I was studying dance over there,” she says.
“I moved on and by the time they were doing all the filming, I was working with different dance companies.
“I’ve been a dancing nomad ever since.”
Castillo has also performed with Tim Podesta’s Wodonga-based PROJECTion Dance Company.
Castillo is blessed with the “rare” opportunity to pursue a career that she loves.
“I’m so lucky to be passionate about something I love that I can actually do as a job,” she says.
“I started in ballet and I did a lot of ballet in Wodonga, and I branched out to different contemporary avenues — hip-hop and all that kind of stuff.
“It’s quite bizarre that I’m coming back to my hometown — and in a ballet role.”
Tickets available by phone on (02) 6022 9311, in person or online at www.thecubewodonga.com.au.