Get CityMag in your inbox. Subscribe
July 10, 2017

Feels like home

Jana Castillo was lured from Melbourne to Adelaide by her work as a dancer, but it was an idiosyncratic converted warehouse space that made her feel at home in the city.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  • Words: Aimee Knight
  • Pictures: Kate Pardey

When Jana Castillo saw a converted west-end warehouse on Flatmate Finder, she knew it would be her new warehome.

“I had a good feeling about the place,” she says. “It looked a bit different to a regular flat. It’s got great character.”

Moving from Melbourne to Adelaide in 2016 to join Australian Dance Theatre (ADT), Jana had to trust her instincts, as the best dancers are trained to do. Her intuition proved en pointe. “When I walked in, I was like, ‘Oh, yeah. I can work with this,’” she beams. Now, she shares that idiosyncratic space with two housemates.

 “It looked a bit different to a regular flat. It’s got great character.” 

The three-bedroom abode is narrow but lofty – figuratively and literally. Each bedroom has an elevated level, “a little hidey-hole,”as Jana says.

“It’s a really good winter place, it’s cosy. I do a lot of yoga up here. I play music. I watch Netflix,” she says. “The job is so physical that downtime is really necessary, so this space is great.”

At home, as at work, Jana looks for efficiency.

“It’s my job to become really efficient with my body. I moved [here] and thought, ‘This is cool!’” she says, nestled among her photos, posters, scarves and guitars.

“Everything has a place, and there’s still enough space,” even for the vintage writing desk she rescued from hard rubbish. In a corner by the window sit the shelves she built with her Pop, back in her hometown of Albury Wodonga.

Perhaps owing to her bucolic childhood, Jana misses having a yard. But she’s found a work-around.

“Every Sunday morning, I sit on the step in that little entry area where the bins are. People walk by and have a chat. I feel like I should be in New York or something. It’s been nicknamed ‘the balcony’, ‘the courtyard’,” she says.

For zipping out to ADT’s Hawthorn studio, Jana has her trusty push scooter – though she’s considering an upgrade.

“I would like a car… because Adelaide [public] transport,” she pauses, “that’s been different. But I like the atmosphere of the city. I like the cafés. Gosh, I sound like a Melbournite!” (Author’s note: praising cafés and complaining about buses is peak Adelaidean, Jana. Welcome home.)

In her spare time, Jana frequents the Adelaide Central Markets and My Kingdom for a Horse nearby. She’s also known to moonlight as a massage therapist.

“I’m a bit obsessed with creating spaces for people. I got really into it when I started massaging. If you create a nice space, it makes such a difference,” she says.

As a performer, Jana is constantly travelling, and often relocates for work. But she has developed methods to make sure she can feel comfortable no matter where she goes.

One of Jana’s hand-crafted bags

One beacon of home is her handbags, which she makes from leather belts and biscuit tins collected on her travels. Her Nanna is to thank for this bowerbird bent.

“She ran an op-shop,” Jana says. “[As kids] we’d spend our holidays either on the farm or hanging out in the op-shop, putting things together, building things. It’s so satisfying.

“You find something and then you make it beautiful.” For Jana, it doesn’t matter whether it’s dance, massage, or a home because, “they’re all connected, the things I’m interested in.

“I’ll always dance, because I can’t not. But [in the future] if I’m not dancing professionally as my full-time job, I’ll get into designing spaces. It’s like choreography. You set up an atmosphere. If you want to say something, you craft it.”

Living Small and Mobile

“I didn’t have any fixed abode for six years. A lot of dancers are nomads,” Jana says, just a day before she jets off again for a month.

She’s often globetrotting for work (try to spot her as a body double in The Hobbit), but says a sure way to make her feel at home – no matter how small, or how new a space is, is through scent.

“I travel with things that create ‘home’: my scarves, essential oils, bits and bobs. When we go on tour, my room always becomes the hub,” she says.

“Scent is really important in a small space.”

And it’s that kind of attention to sensory detail that can help turn a small warehouse room in the city into the warm and welcoming home Jana has created here.

Share —