Earlier during lockdown I had the pleasure of chatting with the lovely and wildly talented Valentina who told me all about her journey as a performer, competitions, life in isolation, past producing projects and future goals. Enjoy!
Let's dive straight in, you have been a dancer for a long time, when did you start performing?
I was 4 when I first started ballet lessons (I was supposed to be 5 but I went to watch a class and ended up joining in). I was 7 when I first went onstage, as a snowflake in The Nutcracker! I think I was 20 for my first paid performance.
I know you do more than ballet. What styles of performance do you do? Which is your favourite to perform?
My training is in ballet and contemporary, but I do all kinds - jazz, commercial, lyrical, showgirl, samba, and a lot of Bollywood! I honestly don't have a favourite, I enjoy the variety of performing many different styles.
I've seen lots of photos from your overseas contracts in vegas showgirl costumes to bollywood and circus - it looks like it was a hoot! What is the most challenging thing about travelling for performing? Conversely, what is the most rewarding?
Sometimes it's quite intense living and spending all your time with the people you work with every day, and circus accommodation often leaves a lot to be desired! The most rewarding thing is getting paid to do what you love, meeting amazing people and travelling to corners of the world you might not otherwise see.
You are involved in the next Miss Burlesque Victoria, what are your expectations of the competition? What are you nervous about? What are you excited for?
Yes! I entered this competition really to introduce myself to the VIC and Aus burlesque scene, meet other performers, and create acts that I have been intending to do for a while. It's not the be all and end all for me, but a sparkly crown would also be nice!
I'm excited to create and perform acts that I am proud of and have put a lot into, but I’m a little nervous about coordinating things and pulling everything together as all my acts and costumes are new.
I assume this isn't your first dance/performance competition, do you have any rituals/processes in preparing? Any advice for newbies to a comp?
Haha I haven't done a competition in 10 years! I just aim to be as prepared as possible as early as possible, because panicking at the last minute is never fun. Also take good care of yourself in the weeks leading up to it - you want to be healthy and energised in order to give your best.
If you are unsure about entering a competition, just do it and let fate decide if you're ready. I'm a big believer in leaving things up to fate. Be open to advice from everyone, but don’t feel you have to take every piece of advice onboard. Focus on what you want to gain from a competition, other than the sparkly crown/title!
We've been in 'iso' for a while now, what do you find most difficult about being a performer in isolation as a result of COVID19?
I read a post by a ballet dancer who said they are losing stamina from only being able to move around in a small space, and as much as I hate cardio I totally identify with this. I miss being able to move without spatial restriction, however I am very grateful for the teachers who have continued to offer classes through this time. They have been great for me mentally and emotionally as well as physically.
Artists have been finding ways of putting their art out there like digital events. I know you have performed in an online show, what was the experience like compared to a live event?
I actually really enjoyed the task of creating what was effectively a site specific act. I had to make it fit in a section of my backyard, look at how best to light it and how I could use the space to make the act more interesting.
Of course it isn't the same atmosphere as being at a live show, but I did relish the challenge. And I used to get laughed at for having zoom issues at my old job, I'm a bloody pro now!
Are you working on anything new whilst in isolation/iso-projects?
Aside from Miss Burlesque, I am also working towards DIY Burleskoala solo and duo competitions (yay for reducing my average costume budget). I’m in the planning stages for a new show with another performer, which we are hoping to tour next year. I’m also sharpening my graphic design and video editing skills, and I’m painting a lot of flowerpots.
Sounds like you're keeping busy! Speaking of busy, you produced a cabaret show last year, was this the first time you produced a show? What was the experience like to produce and not perform in your own show? What was the highlight of the season?
It was indeed, I nearly didn't apply as I thought I'd be laughed out the door with my vague pitch (literally gave them 4 themes I was considering). Producing the show from scratch was the most stressful yet rewarding thing I have ever done, and I enjoyed being the outside eye for my creations for once. I have no regrets about not being in it as I would have had a breakdown.
The highlight would be seeing it all come together and being really happy with it, and also getting a great review. I was so terrified to read that when it came out!
What is your proudest moment as a performer thus far and why?
Oh man. I really don't have one. In terms of a famous person brag, I am in a video clip with Donald Sutherland (Basmati Blues if you want to hire it on YouTube haha). But honestly just being able to do the amount and variety of work I have done in this industry makes me proud.
What are your future plans/goals as a performer?
I would like to keep performing part time in Australia, and hopefully take my burlesque acts to festivals in NZ and Europe. I also want to get further into producing when shows are a thing again!