An exclusive interview with Angela Venturini, contemporary dancer and model who featured in our summer 2022 campaign. This journal gives an insight into Angela’s life as a professional contemporary dancer and advises on how she maintains her wellbeing and lifestyle.
The pictures seem so natural and relaxed. How did you find working with our photographer Harry?
Well I have known Harry for a few years now, and I love working with him because of the ‘calm’ he shares throughout the working process; so almost immediately a harmonious and relaxed atmosphere was created between us. We also have very similar aesthetic tastes, so we shared a common objective and idea on what we needed to achieve. We were lucky with the warm, sunny weather and, of course, it was a super location surrounded by nature!
So you like the countryside and the area?
Yes very much. I have been to Cumbria several times in the last year with my work. I have to say it is one of the most beautiful places in England and I always enjoy a chance to hop on a train and leave the city and relax, surrounded by nature in such a beautiful landscape. In Italy, I live in a small village surrounded by fields, which is 10 minutes by train from Venice and about an hour and a quarter from the Dolomites. Therefore, I discovered the same sort of “good vibes” and similarities to my landscape of home. In a way escaping the city is becoming a favourite hobby, even if I mainly travel for work. London has a way of draining me of energy, and so I find spending some time in a more natural environment is the best solution, helping to reconnect myself with my most authentic side. I think the best part of the shoot for me was photographing in the water – my favourite natural element. The warm rays of the sun above filtering through the trees were really uplifting and made me feel I was gaining energy and I felt so much more alive and happier and this perhaps comes through in the images.
You mentioned growing up in Italy, could you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
Yes I work as an independent dance artist and I’ve been working in this field for 12 years. I moved to London to get my master’s in Contemporary Dance at London Contemporary Dance School, but in Italy, I was already working as a dancer on several projects and local contemporary dance companies. I started studying dance relatively late, I was almost 15 and therefore I was motivated to learn a lot, and quickly. I went to study dance in the United States, Israel, the Netherlands and Switzerland before moving to England in 2018 where I was able to keep on working for other projects and companies alongside my Master (Humanoove by Didy Veldman, Barbican Theatre, The Place and others). I currently work for the West End theatres as a dance artist, teacher, and facilitator and I travel throughout England holding dance workshops and teaching musical choreographies, especially to children aged 3-18. I continue my artistic and creative practice by collaborating with independent artists or others institutions where possible and I am increasingly orienting my practices towards the holistic world in order to safeguard and support the connection of body-mind and spirit present in the human being.
What made you interested in dance?
My first approach to the movement happened spontaneously at 7 years old. I remember it was a boring afternoon after school, I didn’t know what to do with myself and found myself disobeying my mom’s rules, turning on the TV and starting zapping randomly though the channels with the remote. This is how I discovered the MTV channel and I was literally shocked by the exciting sound and images of the pop music and music videos that were being broadcast.
I remember the energy I felt was so strong and explosive that I literally jumped off the sofa in a wild dance in the middle of the living room. And from then on, I had a regular afternoon date with MTV it was a daily ritual which I enjoyed, for the next 7 years – so up to 14 years old – I was learning all the pop dance choreographies from the videos of Michael Jackson, Madonna, Britney Spears, Backstreets boys, Spice girls, Jon Bon Jovi, and many others: the great 90s and the advent of the new millennium were electrifying years for me, full of dreams and hope for the future!
Then, something inside started to mature: I felt I had to learn the dance foundations, and I had to embrace a more academic method. I remember that I bought some DVDs of the Royal Ballet and when I saw a very young Alessandra Ferri dancing in the role of Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet”, I was so impressed that I started studying the principles of classical dance on my own, spending hours of my afternoons and evenings in my living room, alone, looking at the dance ballet positions trying to imitate them. It is from this starting point that after 7 years of teaching myself, I decided to ask my parents to be enrolled in a proper dance school and seriously start following this vocation, a vocation that led me to become a contemporary dancer years later. When I look back, I wonder how I did it, and that I was probably crazy because the artistic environment is not easy at all; but I really believed in it and here I am.
Now I am 30, I am considering that my personal life vision is changing, I am no longer interested in dancing just to perform or entertain; I try to work on projects that support and reflect my values as a dance artist, human, and woman: the psychophysical wellbeing, a spiritual dimension of dance movement, and a healthy celebration of the body and one of individual identity.
Are there any particular dancers or choreographers whose work you are inspired by?
At the beginning of my career, I was very attracted to big companies like Nederland Dans Theater, Batsheva Dance Company, and the Royal Ballet and I always tried to work or get inspired by choreographers who expressed a very oriented choreographic style based on aesthetic and technique like Sol Leòn and Paul Lightfoot, Crystal Pite, William Forsythe: I have always loved seeing the dance’s body able to stretch and extend the movement at the extreme, without losing the speed of execution. Growing up, I learned to love choreographs that emphasized the naturalness of the movement but above all, gave importance to the choreography message, like Pina Bausch or Dimitris Papaioannou’s. In general, nowadays, I really like it when creators work with the natural elements, transcending the artistic ego.
Do you think dance can affect our mood and the way we feel and perhaps help us improve our feelings of wellbeing?
I believe dance and movement do have the power to help us feel fitter and happier, so yes it’s good for our well-being especially when performed selflessly. The work of the dancer is slightly different because it requires a deep concentration and constant effort to improve, which sometimes is at odds with the apparent very natural attitude of the dance act, as seen or performed. Just think about an Ecstatic Dance session of dance or a moment when you decide to dance or move in the privacy of your own room or in a natural space in the landscape. This expression is purely about the pleasure of dancing and feeling alive: creating a movement with your body that is reflective of your feelings, with no purpose other than pure pleasure. Dance helps to awaken and connect with your true identity – ‘who you really are – a process of exploring your creative potential. This is a very important vehicle for transmission and communication; in addition to the fact that dance and movement, in general, is an excellent psychomotor exercise that helps you stay healthy because you are moving every single part of the body without you even realising.
What daily routines help keep you grounded?
For me, it’s about varying my routines and so I try to be helpful and kind to myself, listening to what I really need on any given day rather than another. In general, I will try to start the day in silence. Silence, for me, is a wonderful way to connect with myself, preserve energy and relax the mind. Then I will often try to do an hour of stretching mixed with yoga elements or muscle strengthening and breath-work. This always depends on how I feel because sometimes even doing nothing and lying half-awake helps me to feel better. If, on the other hand, I feel I need more dynamic, either I take a dance class or a nice hot yoga class which helps me a lot to feel re-aligned. I like to have fixed moments during the day, these help me stay grounded but relaxed, such as a morning coffee taken in silence or lunch/dinner enjoyed calmly, sited in a quiet place. If done close to nature or with a window view of a natural landscape or a garden, even better. Even the hot shower or the evening bath with bath salts helps me a lot at the end of the day to find harmony, and the use of essential oils is a must for me at any time of day because they help to wind me down. I am very sensitive to stress and noise pollution so mine is a lifestyle that I try to implement most of my days for my own mental health and emotional wellbeing.
So showering and bathing help you relax?
Yes, the ritual of an evening hot bath helps me a lot to relax and feel my body and my mind soften. Sometimes I take a nice shower in the morning if I really need more determination to start my day, but in general, I try to keep this ritual for the evening at home, in total calm. I find showering at the studio at the end of the day helps me relax, quite the contrary. I really only wash at the studio or in the gym usually during the day if I have other commitments later and I have no other alternative.
How do you like to unwind from an intense physical day at the studio?
At the end of an intense physical day, after my bath I like to dress comfortably and make chamomile tea. I usually light a candle with my lavender essential oils or spread them directly on the body with a little cream: the feeling of relaxation is immediate. Then I try to relax my mind and not think so much, usually, I watch a little social media or the internet just to see what happened in the world or some interesting videos. Otherwise, I put the soft light on, listen to meditative music, or read a few pages of a book. I usually fall asleep pretty fast, so when I start relaxing on the bed, I know that in ten minutes l start falling asleep. Obviously, to conclude, I listen to silence, as in the morning when I wake up. It is the moment that I like most of all, it has divine power and it is so mystical and simple at the same time that it is right there, that every day, I find myself again.
Tell me about diet and health and looking after the skin of a dancer…
As with the diet, I try to eat a lot of vegetarian and organic food, with an alkaline diet guideline as much as possible. In addition to vegetable protein, I try to eat one serving of meat or fish, or eggs every week. If it was up to me, I would remove all the meat, but I feel I still need it; so, I eat it but limit the consumption. Regarding carbohydrates, I try to vary and not only eat white pasta or white rice. I eat a lot of quinoas, dark and red rice, barley, amaranth, couscous, whole meal pasta, oats, etc. Regarding dairy products, I try to buy only those of vegetable origin. It is important for me that the dancer conveys an orderly image of themself, healthy and clean. Unfortunately, I am still struggling with hormonal acne and the scars it left on me. I can’t wait to start laser treatments to clean it up and tone it completely, but yes, the quality of the skin in a dancer is like a presentation card: super important, like a big smile at the beginning of a conversation.
What do you find are the essentials in your skincare routine and why?
The essentials in my skincare routine are a good natural cleanser, a toner, moisturiser, and soothing eye cream. I’ve recently been using several products from the Bath House Kombo Seaweed collection which are lovely to apply are very gentle and have worked really well on my own skin which does appear much brighter and more toned. I have also enjoyed using the Charcoal Face Mask for an occasional deep cleanse and the ‘Life is; Face, Body and Hair oil is so good that I took it with me on holiday around Italy, every day in my bag by my side. I use it whenever I need to cheer myself up: the smell of the ylang-ylang flower in the scent has excellent anti-stress properties and is therefore my ally.
What are your thoughts about how Bath House does things?
I like that they are all made with natural ingredients, it is extremely important for me to use natural products as much as possible. I think it is much healthier and more in line with safeguarding the environment too. Using chemicals in this chaotic world is sometimes unavoidable, but I always try to remind myself that I am a human being and therefore my nature is linked and connected in an essential way to the natural world, our real origin.
Angela is continuing with her training of literally thousands of young students of dance right across the country and has surely inspired many with her positive attitude and creative nature. We would very much like to thank her for contributing such an interesting and insightful article about life as a professional dancer and sharing her thoughts about health, well-being, and skincare.