Jana Rickel took tap and jazz dance and piano and violin lessons as a child. At sixteen she discovered folk dancing in a class taught by Israeli instructor Yossi Sasson. Shortly after becoming involved in Israeli dancing, Jana discovered the many other types of folk dance by joining the Tulsa International Folk Dancers, and becoming their teaching director a year later.
In college, Jana taught folkdances from Eastern and Western Europe and Mexico in elementary school classroom workshops. In 1981, Jana spent four months dancing her way through Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, and Yugoslavia. The next year, living in Germany, she continued to attend workshops in Bulgaria, Germany, and Yugoslavia and taught in Germany.
After returning to the United States, Jana danced with a performing group in Salt Lake City. When their band needed help in the rhythm section, she started playing bass and tâpan. Later, as director of the group, she took up other instruments and now, in addition to the bass and tâpan, plays tambura and various chord instruments.
Moving to Seattle, she taught weekly folk dance classes for the University of Washington's Experimental college and the Greenlake Folkdancers. She also taught week-end workshops in Richland and Olympia, Washington; Victoria, British Columbia, and Tulsa and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, as well as teaching at Northwest Folkdancer's Seattle Festival for 10 years.
She directed the Čočiks, a mostly-woman band named for the popular Čoček dance, that provided music for area dance festivals. She also played with other local bands including Balkan traditional band Okestra Radio Televizija Woodinville and the Balkan Gypsy fusion band Balkanarama.
After a sabbatical to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at Oklahoma State University, Jana has returned to Seattle and teaches weekly classes for the Seattle Balkan Dancers.