Archetypes: Janet Park

 

An interview with Janet Park, dancer, creative director, choreographer and mother. A self-described “fire jumper,” Janet has served in many creative capacities over the years, both locally and abroad, from teaching at the St. Louis Ballet Conservatory to acting as a concept developer, director and performer of “Silver Clouds: A Dance Project” for the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art. As a close personal friend of Nina Ganci at SKIF, she has served as her muse for decades. She has been a costume designer and dancer for Gash Voigt Dance Theatre and involved with the Josephine Bonaparte Dance Theatre Production, where she was a producer, co-chorographer and a costume and set designer. Her new project, “Comfort Woman,” is focused on raising awareness of past wartime violence against women in Asia during WWII and the continual sexual exploitation of women around the world. Janet has a Bachelor’s degree in Business and studied graduate architecture at Washington University in St. Louis.

What is your current frame of mind? I have an entire emotional palette—it has all emotions— happy, angry, excited. I can experience life to the fullest.
What is your favorite smell? Northwest Coffee first thing in the morning.
What is one word that describes you? Resilient.
When and where are you happiest? When my daughter is happy.
What did you eat for breakfast today? I always have toast with butter. I also ate a jazz apple because I like the name.
What is your most marked characteristic? I move gracefully.
What is your greatest weakness? I’m a sucker for romantic letter writing. And pastries.
What trait do you most admire in others? Honesty and purity.
Who or what is the greatest love of your life? My daughter, Emily.
What is your favorite hobby? Currently, it’s moving furniture.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I would like to smile more.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Being a mother. It wasn’t something I planned to do, but the whole experience made me a better person.
With which historical figure do you most identify? Laura Ingalls Wilder. I like pioneer spirits.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, who or what would it be? An improved me. I cherish all the ups and downs of my life, but I would know what to add and what to subtract.
What is your most treasured possession? My creative juices—which no one can take away—given to me from my ancestors and which I will pass on.
What is your greatest extravagance? To take trips with my daughter and to see great artists together.
What is your greatest fear? As an artist, it’s decaying—as in to stop producing, sitting still, to stop evolving. On what occasion do you lie? I find a way not to.
Who are your favorite writers? John Steinbeck,Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Neruda and Joan Didion.
Which artists do you admire most? Pina Bausch, Pedro Almodóvar, Anish Kapoor, and all jazz musicians. Where would you like to live? I’d love to live by the ocean all four seasons of the year.
Who are your heroes in real life? My dad. And the baristas who come to serve coffee very early in the morning every day and the street cleaners and trash collectors. They’re really heroes, behind the scenes.
If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be? My paternal grandmother. I want to hear about my father’s childhood.
What are you most looking forward to? Opening night of my next project in London.
What is one thing you wish would happen? That violence against women would stop.
What is something you still want to learn? I want to write and speak perfect English.
What’s something interesting that you just learned? That I have a great coping skill—that I’m stronger than I thought I was.
What is one thing you want to do before you die? I want to do a piece that my daughter’s children can say, “Oh, my grandmother did that.”
If you could say something to your younger self, what would it be? Don’t be afraid to fail, because the lessons from failure can fuel success.

 

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Photo credit: Wesley Law

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