A dancer with great passion and a sweet heart, who’s learned to appreciate herself and who’s always encouraged others. She’s Valentina Vernia, and here, on TheCornerZine, she’ll talk about her career and the emotions that have guided her throughout the journey she’s embarked on.

Hi Valentina! I’d like to start by asking you to retrace your path as a dancer: how did you start and get to where you’re now?

Hello! I started dancing at 3 years old, mum and dad immediately understood my need to let off steam (I’ve always been hyperactive) and then they introduced me to competitive rhythmic gymnastics. So, between a thousand workouts and competitions, I went back and forth between school and the gym. That went on until I was 13 years old. One day, I decided to quit competitions and gymnastics, and I started jumping from one dance course to another, trying various styles. After a year, I started studying hiphop and became a part of a crew in my village, and we began competing all around Italy. I also began traveling, even to Los Angeles, studying as much as possible to deepen my technique. Out of high school, I forced myself to turn what until then had been only a hobby into a real job. With the support from my parents and determination within, I threw myself into the world of auditions. I received my first job from my very first audition and, shortly after, I left for Sicily. In fact, I was chosen to be a part of the ‘corps de ballet’ of a Disney movie, and from there I never stopped. In fact, I began to show up at each and every audition and worked for many television productions, such as DanceDanceDance, Furore, X-Factor and Balalaika. I also started dancing for numerous Italian artists, both during live shows and in official video clips, including Elettra Lamborghini, Gué Pequeno, Annalisa, Giorgia, J-Ax and Fedez, Loredana Bertè and Le Donatella. Then, Nike Woman noticed me and, after an interview, I became the first Italian Nike testimonial, representing Italian dancers. While working for a television program with Al Bano, I read that Timor Steffens, choreographer at Amici, was looking for someone to represent the hiphop category in the Amici school and, without even thinking twice, the next day I was there, determined to be that person. I entered the school and, when I left, I began to teach in many Italian schools. Then I went to New York City, where I took part in the Nike Woman world company. Later on, I auditioned and began to work in the ‘corps de ballet’ of a Rai program presented by Gigi D'Alessio and Vanessa Incontrada.

Valentina Vernia

A dancer with great passion and a sweet heart, who’s learned to appreciate herself and who’s always encouraged others. She’s Valentina Vernia, and here, on TheCornerZine, she’ll talk about her career and the emotions that have guided her throughout the journey she’s embarked on.

Hi Valentina! I’d like to start by asking you to retrace your path as a dancer: how did you start and get to where you’re now?

Hello! I started dancing at 3 years old, mum and dad immediately understood my need to let off steam (I’ve always been hyperactive) and then they introduced me to competitive rhythmic gymnastics. So, between a thousand workouts and competitions, I went back and forth between school and the gym. That went on until I was 13 years old. One day, I decided to quit competitions and gymnastics, and I started jumping from one dance course to another, trying various styles. After a year, I started studying hiphop and became a part of a crew in my village, and we began competing all around Italy. I also began traveling, even to Los Angeles, studying as much as possible to deepen my technique. Out of high school, I forced myself to turn what until then had been only a hobby into a real job. With the support from my parents and determination within, I threw myself into the world of auditions. I received my first job from my very first audition and, shortly after, I left for Sicily. In fact, I was chosen to be a part of the ‘corps de ballet’ of a Disney movie, and from there I never stopped. In fact, I began to show up at each and every audition and worked for many television productions, such as DanceDanceDance, Furore, X-Factor and Balalaika. I also started dancing for numerous Italian artists, both during live shows and in official video clips, including Elettra Lamborghini, Gué Pequeno, Annalisa, Giorgia, J-Ax and Fedez, Loredana Bertè and Le Donatella. Then, Nike Woman noticed me and, after an interview, I became the first Italian Nike testimonial, representing Italian dancers. While working for a television program with Al Bano, I read that Timor Steffens, choreographer at Amici, was looking for someone to represent the hiphop category in the Amici school and, without even thinking twice, the next day I was there, determined to be that person. I entered the school and, when I left, I began to teach in many Italian schools. Then I went to New York City, where I took part in the Nike Woman world company. Later on, I auditioned and began to work in the ‘corps de ballet’ of a Rai program presented by Gigi D'Alessio and Vanessa Incontrada.

Dance is the origin of the earth, which is an element that’s always been present in our history books and which, along with music, is the universal language of mankind.

Valentina Vernia

What was the hardest part of your journey? And the one that gave you the greatest satisfaction?

The answer is actually valid for both, let me explain better: my suitcase is always ready, I’m always sleeping in different places, away from home, from my family and childhood friends. I’m often alone, and my life’s rhythms lead me to sleep poorly and just for a few hours. I eat in a disordered way and don’t have time to finish one thing, because I must immediately do another one. The other face of the coin is that I get to know many people, I never get bored, I get paid to do what I like, I communicate through dancing and this brings me a lot of satisfactions. The strange thing is that I never realise how much I do and, every day, I want more and more. So, the best and worst thing is that it’s an extremely stressful life, but when you get home, or to a hotel, or on a friend's sofa in the evening, you always have a smile on your face.

Dance, over the years, has undergone several contaminations and has evolved a lot in terms of style: what’s your favourite dance genre? What do you see in the future of this art? Do you think it’ll get less popular over time?

I’m a hiphop dancer, but over the years I’ve come very close to my origins (my mum is from Sierra Leone), contaminating my basic knowledge with the Afro style. In fact, I believe that, in order to make a style immortal, a continuous research is needed. The hiphop world, in fact, changes a lot, dancers come and go, leave their schools to explore the outside world, and this leads to a constant growth within this style.

If you had to convince someone to start dancing, stressing the fact that it’s one of the most beautiful arts and disciplines, what would you say to them?

I’d tell them that, when it’s difficult to express yourself in words, dance helps to let stress out and vent all that's imploding. I’d tell them that dance is the origin of the earth, which is an element that’s always been present in our history books and which, along with music, is the universal language of mankind. I’d tell them that it’s made of energy, vibrations and goosebumps, and that there’s no right or wrong when you’re committed and smiling, despite people’s criticism or judgement. It’s good for the heart, because while you dance only you exist, floating between notes. In fact, dance often makes you feel emotions that you didn't think could exist, and that can make you cry and laugh, but it’ll always trigger some emotion. Finally, dance fills you, empties you, and fills you up again, leading you to know people from a different point of view. In fact, when we dance, we’re all different, and diversity is what makes a dancer special.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start studying dance?

The only real advice I can give is not to stop and to work hard, considering every criticism as a way to improve, because commitment and determination are way more important than talent itself.

You’ve also taken part in talent shows. What opinions do you have about talent shows, and how has your experience with them been?

Actually, I hate television ever since I was a child, and that's why I’m often out of this world. As a result, I’ve never watched a talent show. For this reason, I approached the experience with Amici in a very simple way, having neither an opinion nor a prejudice. I only followed the flow of my instinct, taking everything with an open mind and determination. In fact, my experience was very particular. I immediately felt at ease, and although it may seem positive, it actually led me to live everything with only heart and instinct, making me bond with anyone who worked within the program and, especially, with my competitors, making me also suffer from so much nostalgia once it was all over. My flaw is I make every place my home, so I admit to having left a piece of my heart there.

Do you have other passions, besides dance, that have accompanied and helped you throughout your career as a dancer? Or maybe someone who’s inspired you?

In addition to dance, I have a thousand of other passions. In fact, I’m artistically hyperactive and always try to do as many things as possible. I love to make videos, edit them and create little funny scenes to make people laugh. I love to draw, which I do almost compulsively as soon as I find myself in front of a piece of paper and pen. I love fashion, I collect vintage clothes and dream, among many other things, of opening a small shop with the most absurd pieces I have in my closet. I love to write, I have fifty diaries scattered throughout the house. As a child I was an athlete (I did speed races, long jump and obstacles), and I know that the sportiest part of me will come back one day, making me want to do some athletic training again. The people who’ve always inspired me are my mum and dad, they’re my heroes: always happy, always strong, always with their head held high and honest.

Dance-wise, is there still something that you’d like to learn, discover or perfect? What about teaching in the future?

Sure, all of it. I’d like to think that, starting from scratch every day, I’m able to reach 99% by the end of the day. I say 99%, because it encourages me to reach 100% and, therefore, wake up with the desire to commit myself even more.

You have 182K followers. What’s your relationship with Instagram, and what do you think of it? How do you manage popularity and any criticisms?

There was a period after Amici during which I received many offenses, which almost clogged my mail. At first I reacted badly, I started questioning myself on many different levels: my aesthetic, skills as a dancer, way of thinking and lifestyle choices. Then, I decided to play down everything, continuing to be the person I truly am. I started working on my self-esteem and others’ as well, always sending positive messages to today's young people. For example, by launching self-love challenges, or by repeating every day to love each other, regardless of everything else. In fact, my goal is to make people understand that diversity is fundamental, laughing is good for the heart and the important thing is not to appear, but to make peace with ourselves. So, in reality these 180K followers push me every day to be a better person, since I’m responsible for thousands of kids.

Let's move on to fashion: do you have any must-haves that can't be missing from your wardrobe? If so, why do you consider them as such? Furthermore, I was wondering if you’re following any fashion-related trend and, consequently, what your style is. How would you describe it?

Let's say that, as a dancer, my must-have is definitely a tracksuit. World heritage clothes. So, everything that’s sporty is fundamental for me. I'm not a girl who loves dresses and skirts, but I'm obsessed with jackets. In fact, I have about forty of them.

What are the three best moments of your career that you’d put on the podium?

When I got my first job, and therefore I reassured my parents about my career choice. When mum was in transmission, making me emotionally collapse like a child. When I receive messages from people who thank me for them starting to love themselves again.

Talking about the future, do you still see yourself as a dancer, or do you think you will also dedicate yourself to something else? In any case, what would the reason be?

For my future, I only want one thing: serenity. Therefore, I work every day on putting passion and determination into everything I do, whatever my choices are.

Let's conclude, is there still a dream that you’d like to see fulfilled?

For good luck, I keep my dreams in the drawer of my heart, but I can say that I want to help many people find the beauty they have inside, as I believe that each one of us has a talent.

What was the hardest part of your journey? And the one that gave you the greatest satisfaction?

The answer is actually valid for both, let me explain better: my suitcase is always ready, I’m always sleeping in different places, away from home, from my family and childhood friends. I’m often alone, and my life’s rhythms lead me to sleep poorly and just for a few hours. I eat in a disordered way and don’t have time to finish one thing, because I must immediately do another one. The other face of the coin is that I get to know many people, I never get bored, I get paid to do what I like, I communicate through dancing and this brings me a lot of satisfactions. The strange thing is that I never realise how much I do and, every day, I want more and more. So, the best and worst thing is that it’s an extremely stressful life, but when you get home, or to a hotel, or on a friend's sofa in the evening, you always have a smile on your face.

Dance, over the years, has undergone several contaminations and has evolved a lot in terms of style: what’s your favourite dance genre? What do you see in the future of this art? Do you think it’ll get less popular over time?

I’m a hiphop dancer, but over the years I’ve come very close to my origins (my mum is from Sierra Leone), contaminating my basic knowledge with the Afro style. In fact, I believe that, in order to make a style immortal, a continuous research is needed. The hiphop world, in fact, changes a lot, dancers come and go, leave their schools to explore the outside world, and this leads to a constant growth within this style.

If you had to convince someone to start dancing, stressing the fact that it’s one of the most beautiful arts and disciplines, what would you say to them?

I’d tell them that, when it’s difficult to express yourself in words, dance helps to let stress out and vent all that's imploding. I’d tell them that dance is the origin of the earth, which is an element that’s always been present in our history books and which, along with music, is the universal language of mankind. I’d tell them that it’s made of energy, vibrations and goosebumps, and that there’s no right or wrong when you’re committed and smiling, despite people’s criticism or judgement. It’s good for the heart, because while you dance only you exist, floating between notes. In fact, dance often makes you feel emotions that you didn't think could exist, and that can make you cry and laugh, but it’ll always trigger some emotion. Finally, dance fills you, empties you, and fills you up again, leading you to know people from a different point of view. In fact, when we dance, we’re all different, and diversity is what makes a dancer special.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start studying dance?

The only real advice I can give is not to stop and to work hard, considering every criticism as a way to improve, because commitment and determination are way more important than talent itself.

You’ve also taken part in talent shows. What opinions do you have about talent shows, and how has your experience with them been?

Actually, I hate television ever since I was a child, and that's why I’m often out of this world. As a result, I’ve never watched a talent show. For this reason, I approached the experience with Amici in a very simple way, having neither an opinion nor a prejudice. I only followed the flow of my instinct, taking everything with an open mind and determination. In fact, my experience was very particular. I immediately felt at ease, and although it may seem positive, it actually led me to live everything with only heart and instinct, making me bond with anyone who worked within the program and, especially, with my competitors, making me also suffer from so much nostalgia once it was all over. My flaw is I make every place my home, so I admit to having left a piece of my heart there.

Do you have other passions, besides dance, that have accompanied and helped you throughout your career as a dancer? Or maybe someone who’s inspired you?

In addition to dance, I have a thousand of other passions. In fact, I’m artistically hyperactive and always try to do as many things as possible. I love to make videos, edit them and create little funny scenes to make people laugh. I love to draw, which I do almost compulsively as soon as I find myself in front of a piece of paper and pen. I love fashion, I collect vintage clothes and dream, among many other things, of opening a small shop with the most absurd pieces I have in my closet. I love to write, I have fifty diaries scattered throughout the house. As a child I was an athlete (I did speed races, long jump and obstacles), and I know that the sportiest part of me will come back one day, making me want to do some athletic training again. The people who’ve always inspired me are my mum and dad, they’re my heroes: always happy, always strong, always with their head held high and honest.

Dance-wise, is there still something that you’d like to learn, discover or perfect? What about teaching in the future?

Sure, all of it. I’d like to think that, starting from scratch every day, I’m able to reach 99% by the end of the day. I say 99%, because it encourages me to reach 100% and, therefore, wake up with the desire to commit myself even more.

You have 182K followers. What’s your relationship with Instagram, and what do you think of it? How do you manage popularity and any criticisms?

There was a period after Amici during which I received many offenses, which almost clogged my mail. At first I reacted badly, I started questioning myself on many different levels: my aesthetic, skills as a dancer, way of thinking and lifestyle choices. Then, I decided to play down everything, continuing to be the person I truly am. I started working on my self-esteem and others’ as well, always sending positive messages to today's young people. For example, by launching self-love challenges, or by repeating every day to love each other, regardless of everything else. In fact, my goal is to make people understand that diversity is fundamental, laughing is good for the heart and the important thing is not to appear, but to make peace with ourselves. So, in reality these 180K followers push me every day to be a better person, since I’m responsible for thousands of kids.

Let's move on to fashion: do you have any must-haves that can't be missing from your wardrobe? If so, why do you consider them as such? Furthermore, I was wondering if you’re following any fashion-related trend and, consequently, what your style is. How would you describe it?

Let's say that, as a dancer, my must-have is definitely a tracksuit. World heritage clothes. So, everything that’s sporty is fundamental for me. I'm not a girl who loves dresses and skirts, but I'm obsessed with jackets. In fact, I have about forty of them.

What are the three best moments of your career that you’d put on the podium?

When I got my first job, and therefore I reassured my parents about my career choice. When mum was in transmission, making me emotionally collapse like a child. When I receive messages from people who thank me for them starting to love themselves again.

Talking about the future, do you still see yourself as a dancer, or do you think you will also dedicate yourself to something else? In any case, what would the reason be?

For my future, I only want one thing: serenity. Therefore, I work every day on putting passion and determination into everything I do, whatever my choices are.

Let's conclude, is there still a dream that you’d like to see fulfilled?

For good luck, I keep my dreams in the drawer of my heart, but I can say that I want to help many people find the beauty they have inside, as I believe that each one of us has a talent.