Janessa is of Australian and Filipino heritage. She grew up in Yamba, a small coastal town in Northern New South Wales, and started dancing at the age of 5 at the Adele Lewis School of Dance. She received a scholarship to attend the Queensland Dance School of Excellence where she finished her senior studies and gained her Royal Academy of Dance Solo Seal Award. While in Brisbane she also performed in the Queensland Ballet’s production of Excalibur, directed by Francois Klaus.
At the age of 18 she continued her dance development at the New Zealand School of Dance (NZSD), majoring in Contemporary. After completing her diploma at the NZSD, Janessa joined New Zealand’s acclaimed Black Grace Dance Company. She performed in numerous works created by Artistic Director/Choreographer Neil Ieremia which included Amata, Human Language, and War Brides. During her two years with Black Grace she toured internationally to the U.S.A, Canada, Noumea, Australia and throughout New Zealand.
Janessa joined Sydney Dance Company in 2009. She has performed in Rafael Bonachela’s we unfold (2009-2011); 360° (2009); 6 Breaths (2010-2011); LANDforms (2011); The Land of Yes & The Land of No (2011); 2 One Another (2012-2015); Project Rameau (2012-2013); Emergence (2013 and 2015); Les Illuminations (2013-2014), Scattered Rhymes (2014), Frame of Mind (2015), New Breed (2015) and Triptych (2015). Frame of Mind won the 2015 Helpmann Award for ‘Best Choreography in a Dance Work’ and ‘Best Dance Work’.
She has also worked with guest choreographers on New Breed (2009) and performed in Sid’s Waltzing Masquerade (Aszure Barton, 2009); Mercury (Kenneth Kvarnstrom, 2009); Satisfying Musical Moments (Emanuel Gat, 2010); Desire (Lisa Wilson, 2012); Fanatic (Larissa McGowan, 2013 and 2015); Cacti (Alexander Ekman, 2013 and 2015); Parenthesis (Andonis Foniadakis, 2014); White Elephant (Lee Serle, New Breed 2014), Wildebeest (Gabrielle Nankivell, New Breed 2014) and William Forsythe’s Quintett (2015). In November/December 2011, Janessa was part of the highly acclaimed tour of Between Breath & Form to New York, Barcelona and London.
Janessa was a part of the 2013 collaboration with Kaldor Public Art Projects for the contemporary art exhibition 13 Rooms where Sydney Dance Company featured in Allora and Calzadilla’s Revolving Door.
Janessa was named in the 2012 and 2014 Dance Australia Critics Survey for ‘Most Outstanding Dancer’.
In 2013 she also toured North America, South America and Russia with the acclaimed 2 One Another, winner of the ‘Best Ensemble’ Award in the 2012 Green Room Awards and the 2013 Australian Dance Award for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Choreography’ and ‘Outstanding Performance by a Company’.