"What makes a good dance teacher first is to have the dance experience of being a very fine performer at a very high technical level.”
Madame Peff Modelski
Verna started dancing at the age of 3 in Baguio City under Evelyn Crispillo and Bernadette Llabres. She then got scholarships to train with the Cultural Center of the Philippines Dance School (CCPDS) where she trained with many local and foreign ballet masters.
In 1997, she was accepted as an Apprentice of Ballet Philippines, the country’s premiere dance company for ballet and contemporary dance. After being awarded the Most Outstanding Apprentice, she was then promoted as a company member in 1999. She then became a Soloist, dancing lead roles in the company’s productions and tours both locally and internationally. She was also a Philippine Delegate to the 2003 Asia Pacific International Ballet Competition held in Tokyo, Japan.
Apart from dancing, Verna has also been a faculty of the CCPDS, the company’s official dance school. In 2001, she was appointed as the School Principal. Here, she has trained many students and professional dancers alike, choreographed, and restaged productions both for the CCPDS and Ballet Philippines. As a well sought teacher, she has taught and given workshops in schools around the Philippines.
Verna transferred to Hong Kong in 2005 to be part of the Opening Cast of Disney’s Festival of the Lion King. In May 2008, she decided to join the Jean M. Wong School of Ballet in Hong Kong to rekindle her love for teaching. She choreographed and directed the main shows for the school. She was also part of the coordinating team for the Hong Kong International Summer Dance School. In 2012, she became the Ballet Mistress of the JMW Junior Ballet Company.
In 2013, she founded the Edge ‘n Pointe Dance Centre, with the vision of nurturing performing arts in Tung Chung, Hong Kong. EnP has been making a name in the performing arts since then. She was also a guest teacher at the 2015 Summer Intensive Program of the Portland Festival Ballet in the USA. Verna also taught and choreographed pieces for the Howan Ballet. She has choreographed number of pieces that have bagged the top awards at the Hong Kong Open Dance Contest, HK Challenge Cup Dance Competition, and the Canaan International Ballet Competition. She has received teacher awards for training top dancers in various competitions. She is also a choreographer of the Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation. She continually guest teaches for Ballet Philippines and the Ballet Philippines Dance School (formerly CCPDS) on her free time.
Verna is an American Ballet Theatre ® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 7 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum in New York, being the first certified teacher based in Hong Kong. In 2016, she was awarded with the ABT Affiliate Teacher status after having students who have successfully completed the ABT examinations. In 2018, she was awarded the ABT NTC Fellowship, the first ever awarded in the Asia and the Pacific.
Furthermore, she holds an AB Psychology degree from the Ateneo de Manila University, where she finished her studies as a College Scholar.
Verna is happy that she continually teaches the art of dance to younger generations and is very proud to see students who have gone on to dance professionally in ballet and dance companies across Asia, Europe, North America, and Australia. She is equally proud of those who have decided to pursue teaching and choreography, as well as those who have found a career outside dance but still apply the discipline learned in ballet.