“They are the part of my life” – interview with Jana Posna

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

“They are the part of my life” – interview with Jana Posna

Jana Posna and her dogs not only starred in Tim Burton’s Dumbo, but they also perform in our FlyingCircus summer show. In our interview we talked with her about her relationship with her dogs, previous performances and how she became a dog trainer?

How did you start to work as a dog trainer?

It is a long story. When I was very-very young, my parents had a dog, a poodle. However, the poodle died, and my parents never-ever wanted to have a dog again. But they kept telling me stories about this poodle, that he could open the door, that he could bring a magazine, that he was a super-dog, a super-poodle! All my childhood I felt that I want to have a poodle, and my parents were afraid that we would lose this dog again, and I got no poodle.

Then I became eighteen years old, and I bought a poodle myself, and this poodle was very special. I had to go to the dog school while I was a film student – I studied to become a dramaturg –, and then we attended in a film dog school. There I have not only learnt to understand my dog; I have learnt to understand all dogs and cats and how to work with dogs. For me, it felt like a wonder. It was a completely new world. Then I started to work with my dogs. A few years ago, I also started to write and create shows and varieties using my skills as a dramaturg.

You live with your dogs in the same apartment. Could you tell us more about the responsibilities that come with it?

My dogs are part of my life, we live together. I do not put them into boxes after we finish the show. We spend all our times together. Back at home I have a house where we live together with the dogs, there is no border. It is true that each of us has her own place, but they are still the part of my life. And it is the same when I go to shows, it is quite important that they hear my voice and smell my scent. We wake up early in the mornings, and the first thing we do is taking a walk. After we train for half an hour, and then I have to clean the room, brush the dogs, and then we have a break.
They sleep and relax for two-three hours, and after that we start the show.

How did you get into the world of circus? What attracts you in it?

It is a very real work, you cannot repeat an act again, you cannot fake it. The moment is really important in this field. And we have to make that moment beautiful. I love it.

What is the secret of a good dog act?

It is the relationship between the humans and the dogs. You have to watch your animals and then you will be able to see what they like to do, then you will earn that extra love they feel for you.

I have a dog that likes to jump and another one that likes to bark. Usually people do not like this kind of behaviour, they would tell them to stop that. But instead of shouting and restricting them we got to know them better. We learnt that the dog who likes barking becomes silent after we say “wuff” to him. On Stage he has the possibility to bark – he can count: 1 plus 2 = 3, and that makes him happy.

You performed in Tim Burton’s Dumbo. Could You tell us more about it?

It was a great experience; I received the job after it was not suitable for three other candidates for reasons I do not know. The first day was really hard, because they already tried out three dog acts, and they were afraid that we would not make it, either.
However, I had been a film student, and already knew the procedure. I know how to make a film and also know, how to train a dog. I could bring these two elements together, and that is why I believe I stayed. Tim Burton wanted to have colorful poodles. That was a big challenge for me and so I searched for harmless natural colors. In “Dumbo” you see my pink, blue, yellow, green and orange Poodles. Their paints are made from natural substances, the orange paint for example is henna, while the others are food colours – like those they use for making a cake.

You performed in the Friedrichstadt-Palast in Berlin.

It is the biggest stage on Earth and the director of the show The Wyld was Thierry Mugler, the rather famous French designer, and he also wished to give the dogs their own design. He asked me, whether we could make the dogs more colourful or dress them. This process was really interesting for me because I could work with such an important man. Together we found out that we should not use dresses, but we should use the characteristics of the dogs.
So, we used different haircuts and collars for each dog, as well as a special music.

You performed in television shows as well.

For me, Friedrichstadt-Palast was more important. However, I was a tad bit afraid about performing in television shows before. While making television shows there are lots of stimuli for the dogs, new places, new people, and they wish to get acquainted with all of them. I keep them in line with food. At the beginning, everything is new to them, the smell, the sounds, even the place – so I have sausage for these occasions. Very seldom they can eat sausages.

From all your previous performance what was your favourite and why?

Every place is nice and special, and you cannot decide which one is better. I love to be here, for example, but every performance has its own beauty.

What attracted you in the FlyingCircus show?

I met with Kristian Kristof during the making of Dumbo in London and he asked me to come here. My answer was a straightforward, resounding yes. I think it is a very good show, the acts are great, the artists are excellent, and they are interlinked in a great way, I hear many positive feedbacks about it. I also wanted to see Budapest, I wanted to see the circus. It is a very nice city; I was already here when I was fourteen years old and I have a lot of fond memories about this place. So, we come here with our dogs – we did not fly, since I do not like to put the dogs inside of boxes. If we travel by car, the dogs can hear and see me, we can stop, we can walk them, we can eat, we can drink. It is a lot more flexible, even if it takes a longer time. But we take this time.

Daniel Pusztai

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