Sunday, December 30, 2007

DanceMind: Dear Janie, Gotta love to dance!

Yes, Selly. One must love dance.

Emotion drives motivation.

Yet, this intense love is balanced by other intense emotions which are not always very positive, and can be destructive to body, mind and emotion. It canbe consuming.

The darker side of dance/ballet is often silent. Very powerful. Very present. Undeniable,

These are the moments that go unexpressed yet many do not realize that there are ways to manage the rising of such energy. SOme performers call it 'theri demons' or stage fright, or obsessions of different kinds.

I am on vacation out of the country returning tomorrow.

Happy New Year, Janie and all!!!!

Sanna Carapellotti, MS
Performance Specialist

Friday, December 28, 2007

Dear Sanna - why I dance

It would be impossible to explain all the reasons I dance, but I'll try my best...

First of all, I love the challenge. There is always something more to strive for. Your training is really never done, and it's exciting and fun to be constantly improving and being able to do more and more. It's fun to jump higher and do more turns! I love seeing my progress over time and having the ability to literally change my body.

I also love the order ballet gives my life. I look forward to a regimented class every day. I like the level of respect that isn't necessarily a part of everyday life for most people.

Performing is also one of the reasons I dance. Being on stage gives me a thrill unlike anything else. I especially love getting the opportunity to dance many shows where I can become familiar enough with a role to have fun with it and really dance to my full potential. It's nice to know the steps well enough to stop thinking about the steps and focus on my technique and performance quality.

When I'm not dancing my body just doesn't feel right. Even a few days off makes me feel stiff and lazy. It's nice to have a career/hobby that also keeps you in shape.

But then I'm missing the sort of inexplainable thing that makes me love ballet itself. I don't really know why I think doing plies and tendus every day is so much fun. Or why I think a foot can be beautiful or somebody twisting their body into abnormal shapes. My mom used to ask me in wonder all the time why I wanted to go to class every day, even when I wasn't performing. I just like it. I like the people involved in the ballet world (for the most part) and that sort of inside joke if you will that only ballerinas share. For some reason we all just seem to get each other and I love being part of a worldwide network like that. I feel special being involved with ballet and I don't think I will ever be happy unless ballet is a part of my life, whether or not I make it as a professional.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

DanceMind: Dear Janie, Why?

What keeps you dancing?

Sanna Carapellotti, MS CCHT
Performance Specialist

Dear Sanna - Thanks for the tips!

I will most definitely take your advice and let you know how the massage goes!

Hmmmm hard. That's interesting because I use the word so often but it's hard to describe. There I go again. Right now, when I say ballet is hard, I'm talking about getting home at 11:00 p.m. having left over 12 hours earlier unable to find a position where my legs and toes don't throb, I immediately reach for comfort foods like cookies and chocolate, even though I'm not especially hungry or in need of such junk food, and struggle with myself over if/how much I am going to eat. Then I have to force myself to get in the shower and ice my feet. It's "hard" when I have to force myself to rest or take care of my body. I am often even tempted to skip taking my vitamins because I am too lazy to go get them and then swallow them down!

But ballet is also hard mentally. It upsets me to think of the possibility that all my hard work will not result in my dream of getting an offer here next year, or anywhere for that matter. It makes me sad that I am not cast in everything I hope to be cast in, or to not dance as well as I want to when I do get opportunities.

And of course the dancing itself is hard. I have to push myself and constantly think a million things in my head in order to dance my best and even attempt what is expected of me from my teachers. I sweat like crazy and shake and sometimes fall because it's hard! You can never let your guard down or get comfortable because there is always SOMETHING to fix. Nobody is perfect although we are striving for perfection so that's HARD!


Thursday, December 20, 2007

DanceMind: Dear Janie -- Hard ?

Can you talk about "hard?"

This is important -- the 'hard' experience of ballet. Describe HOW it is hard. Behind the scenes ... What is it like?

Sanna Carapellotti, MS, CCHT
Performance Specialist

DanceMind:Dear Janie, Get a Massage!

I am happy to hear that an end is in sight! You have been working hard.
Nutcracker season is long and can be stressful, even downright exhausting.

I do hope you take it easy and allow your body to recharge and heal through rest, good sleep and oh yes -- that massage.

I just remembered this story -- I was in Chicago for this week long
training. It was my first time in the BIG city alone and I scheduled a
massage. (This was a long time ago ---)

I was very nervous about being on the table. Am I naked? What clothes do I take off. Oh My G@# someone I do not know is going to handle my body. What if she/he looks real close and sees something. My thighs!

Mind you I was a body builder at the time and was in really good shape.

I was still very nervous. SO I arrive at the spa in the hotel and follow the instructions explicitly. I am told that Nick will be my masseur re. OMG - a guy!!!

SO I lay on the table. Enter Nick ... Nick comes in and I am not breathing. I am supposed to relax! Are you kidding me!

I notice something a little different about Nick -- He was blind! What relief!
and what hands!

Turns out he had been a musician and developed an eye disease. Massage was a career choice.

It was one good massage.

Massage for you - lets get back on track here -- There are many kinds of massages and different personalities that massage. Some are simply better than others at the administration of the massage.

there are those who specialize in working with athletes/performers. I might sugest that you look for 'sport' certification. Someone in that capacity would understand the need to have your ankles or feet worked on in a certain way.

Some people are dead set against massage for no good reason. When the muscle tissue is 'massaged' seratonin and somatostatin levels increase. AKA natural pain killers and anti-stress hormones.

The issue could be that of a therapist gets her strong fingers into an area that is ailing and then you must dance you could be very sore. On the other hand you can release bound up tension.

Remember that the tension is partly emotional and repititive activity stress.

WIth it being your first time -- I would start out light and if you FEEL as if certain areas are more tender you can always ask her / him to ease up or to apply more pressure. COMMUNICATE WITH THERAPIST. If you hurt she may know how to assist you and she can ease up a bit.

KEY -- WHen you lie on the table clear your mind to make the most of the experience.
That will be a blessing. You know how to do that - stop the thoughts, breathe nice and easy. Let the table support your body. LEt go of the grip around the feet, buttocks, shoulders, face, neck, areas where you might hold tension.

Most therapists are multi - talented. So tell her this is your first. Tell her you are a dancer. and you can just imagine how good that can feel to cover all bases and lie down to a pre pleasureable expereince!

We can continue talking thru the holidays. I will be traveling a bit.

Happy Holidays to all!

Sanna Carapellotti, MS
Performance Specialist

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Dear Sanna - rest is near!!

This has been a very difficult month, and this next week will definitely be the most trying, but it's fun too and I'll be sad when it's over. Not that I won't be excited to go home and see my friends and family and get my one chance to rest. I'm especially excited because my mom promised to take a day with me to get massages! It's pretty much impossible to get a massage any other time, since I never know my schedule far enough in advance to make an appointment, and even if I did, I don't think it would be a good idea to dance right after. Since I've never had a massage before, I'm not exactly sure what to ask for or expect. Some people have told me that a deep tissue massage is not such a great idea for a dancer because it might cause more harm than good, but I've also heard that dancers are so tight that a deep tissue massage is really the only way to make a difference. Any thoughts?


Monday, December 17, 2007

DanceMind: Dear Janie, HOW???

The difficulty rises when a group is told they need to lose weight and ar left to their own measures on how to do it. Yes, there are diets, yet we know how successful that can be for some people, some of the time. This presents inner conflict which can drive one toward extreme behavior ... stravation or binging.

With the amount of energy and calories this is burnt doing ballet/dance, one needs to eat otherwise the body takes the shape of a thin starving child. How doyou eat? How does one manage to lose a few pounds wihtout crating problems within the systems of the bpdy ... the menstrual cycle, the skeletal system, the nervous system, ndocrine system, etc.

A dancer moves with every system in the body and they contribute to the 'ability to move.' The payment will come due in time as is often said when we engage in bad habits, like smoking, drugs, starvation. One may not experience the wrath immediately such as if you step in front of an oncoming car, but the 'collector' will come.

Of most concern are health care professionals and mentors who are teachers who do not support health. When my daughter was injured last year, one MD misdiagnosed her with tendenitis (her foot was actually broken as we later discovered.) and told her to take 8 advil a day and she will be fine.

Luckily she had the mind to know WRONG!

If one does not KNOW BETTER, one takes the advise. Of one does not KNOW, one takes the advise. You have to step back and explore options. Use foresight, not hindsite

Sanna Carapellotti, MS
Performance Specialist

PS -- For every problem there is a health solution.

DanceMind:Dear Janie, Mind for food

Yes, you are right eating unconsciously can be dangerous literally. It is called emotional eating. You may have heard that term.

THINK ABOUT THIS -- The stomach has parameters, emotions are a bottomless pit. When you eat for hunger the body communicates to you. When you eat out of boredom, you eat more AND less quality because -- how bored is bored and how do you satisfy that. Emotins want fat and sugar.

The body switches on and off with hormones when you tune into hunger. Then you are eating for the body's needs not the emotions. That is why we have an obesity thing happening here in US.

As a dancer, you work your body hard and it makes sense that you (collective you) would eat to support the stress imposed on the body. There is a lot happening IN THE BODY that needs to be at optimal levels to support dance activitiy.
Cookies -- well you can enjoy them in the right amount but as a meal, it could catch up to you in terms of weight of fatique especially when the going gets tough...

Sanna Carapellotti, MS
Performance Specialist

PS -- Know what and how much and when you are eating. Sounds easy, yet how often do you 'discover' that you are eating!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dear Sanna - weight

I know there are many problems with dancers struggling with their weight, but for me I think losing a little weight would be a result of healthier eating habits, rather than dangerous ones. I tend to eat when I'm bored, even if I'm not hungry, and I would always rather have cookies for dinner than almost anything else! It's partly a matter of laziness when it comes to cooking, and partly just my sweet tooth. It's also especially hard when my schedule changes or does not allow me to have dinner until 11:00 at night. However, when I do discipline myself to eat healthy meals only when I am hungry, I feel a lot better about myself mentally and physically. I just need to DO it. You're right - it's all in my mind.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

DanceMind:Dear Janie, Weight Issues

In the dance world, especially ballet, the demand for a slender, very thin body is apparent. It can determine roles, job and even ability to attend a school. Interesting even at the cost of health, denial does exist, yet one glance at the physical size of performers can reveal the standards at a school. Studies show that eating disorders are very high in numbers within the system of ballet. Bodies of ill dancers also tell stories of frail health due to low weight and bod fat.

Who sets the parameters? The desire to dance outweighs health?

There is the occasion where guidance is offered to a dancer who is fearfully thin. Sometimes they are sent home for healing. Does that change the system? Many dancers are not 'anorexic' yet they struggle with emotional eating. (of course we live in a culture that eats poorly.)

Here are comments by teachers/instructors that have been tearfully related to me by performers -- "You are too fat for a tutu." "You cannot stand next to her on stage because your thighs are like elephant legs." "I cannot give you parts until you lose 15 lbs." (She weighed 120 lbs.). Some schools schedule weigh ins weekly. One physician told one dancer to simply drink coffee all day to lose weight. She tried it and became every ill. (BTW -- she was 14 years old)

It would be interesting to hear other comments.

Many dancers really do not know how to achieve safe weight loss because there is an overlay of anxiety and fear. When one starves oneself, a binge will naturally follow. This cycle is highly destructive to the body and even makes weight loss more difficult. The body becomes very confused.

Yes, diet moderation can work, yet the more powerful piece is the MIND.

The body responds to what it is fed through food, and the thoughts and emotions.
When there is hatred, anger, disgust, guilt, etc directed toward the body, tension rises and so does the need to 'feed' it with food or even starvation. Not good.

It is a very scary situation, especially for individuals who cannot sustain health when the body fat and weight is so low. What is the answer? Stop dancing? Re-educate the teachers? (they have most likely been through the rigors and are repeating what they believe to be okay. No excuse, though).

One woman who was a ballet dancer in the 60's here in the area where I live told me that they were put on a 500 calorie diet! This was a professional ballet company! My conversation with her was quite interesting because although times have changed, I wonder if they have?

What if you loved your body? What if you could appreciate what it does for you?

Sanna Carapellotti, MS
Performance Specialist

PS -- More later.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

DanceMind: Dear Janie, Food for Thought

Notice these three points of reference, or as one client so aptly stated 'the Bermuda Triangle' here -- mind, body, food ... and how each one is made available or responds to the other.

The body simply does what it is guided to do, ie., more food in, more negativity in, the larger more stubborn the body can become. Visa a versa -- is also true -- SURPRISE!

Sanna Carapellotti, MS
Performance Specialist

PS -- More later on the visa versa .........................................

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Dear Sanna - speaking of wieght...

You know what's funny? I have always known that i wasn't one of those naturally tiny people. iI was never necessarily FAT, but i wasn't skinny either. My weight has always been just acceptable, and not exceptional for that extra push in my favor when it came to striving for higher positions, better parts, or acceptances into better programs. That said, I feel like I am always just waiting to be told to lose weight, almost as if I would feel better if the artistic director or teacher would just say it instead of my interpretations of what he or she must be thinking about my body. And then of course the more I stress out about it, the more I just cannot resist the temptation for just one more bite, one more candy bar, whatever. It's not that I don't know exactly what to do to maintain a good weight and feel better about myself, it's just that I psych myself out and sabotage my own eating habits.

And by the way, today was a much better day for me. I hope it was for you too! I just love being at the theater and downtown with everyone and all the holiday cheer :)

--Janie, real ballet dancer with an anonymous name

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

DanceMind: Dear Janie -- No need to be Happy

Janie, The whole idea of this blog is to show the ups and down of ballet/dance.  Yes the are joys and yes there are firey moments. The point is that you move through them. You survive when it feels like the end is near. As you get to know yourself better, you can also discover methods and tools to help you through the rough times. When you are "in good spirits and all seems bright" you can discover methods and tolls to deepen that experience. Sometimes it can be as simple as noticing that certain stressors create down feelings. our choice is to stay down or allow it to pass through by simply acknowledging it, or you can take some action to shift it.

So please do not apologize for telling me how you are feeling.  You are welcome to speak your mind on this blog. I appreciate that and so do others.

Sanna Carapellotti, MS
Performance Specialist

PS - I am very excited to finally be recording my Shaping From Within Weight Management program. Because I am adding a special bonus to the program fro dancers, I am looking to speak to a few dancers who have weight struggles. This will occur in January - February. If anyone out there is interested contact me directly at I will put your name on a list and contact you after the holidays.

DanceMind: Dear Janie -- I got it!

I feel like that today myself. I am going to take some action here before my first client so I can get back in my own saddle. Days like this make me realize why I do what I do and love it because I can 'do' something to get my self out of my funk. It is usually something I did to my body (ate poorly) or not enough sleep and not enough play, or Some ridiculous belief.

ANyway I am going to go stretch, jump in the shower and use some of those mind clearing techniques I am always tauting as being helpful... :)

I will talk with you tomorrow. Please let me know how your day is today and if you need to 'rant' about yesterday. Take action Janie. Do something. I am happy you are using the CD's to your advantage. That is why I designed them.

Sanna Carapellotti, Performance Specialist

PS -- You can sleep like Janie! The Stepping to Sleep CD program will continue to be on sale for a limited time. With Nutcracker and Winter Performances, getting your sleep to performa your best is a high priority. No worries, just sleep.

Dear Sanna - frustrating day

I think I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. It just seemed like everything I did upset someone or got me in trouble. I was tired all day, I felt like I wasn't dancing my best and I looked and felt fat. Rehearsal didn't go well either. We kept stopping and doing things over and over until I was so ready to leave. Thank goodness tomorrow's another day. Blahh I just wan't to listen to my cd and get a good night's sleep. Hopefully I'll be back with a more cheerful post soon...

--Janie, real ballet dancer with an anonymous name

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Dear Sanna - it's true!

You're right, people don't tell others what they like to hear. It even seems awkward for me to try to think of a way to tell people that I would prefer they tell me to have fun, but I think if I say it enough they will start to catch on, or maybe I will mention it in a discussion the way I did here on the blog.

I can also clearly see how much having fun like our warm up dance puts everybody in a good mood and gives them energy. It's one of the great things about dancing in a corps - I love my moments of making eye contact with my friends on stage.

I am very much looking forward to a full TWO DAY weekend now! I'll post again soon...

--Janie, real ballet dancer with an anonymous name

Dear Janie -- Life as a Dancer

How much fun! Your warm up dance. Sometimes it is the small things that bring us all closer together. That good laugh is certainly a tension reliever.

You can tell yourself to 'Have fun.' Or if someone says -- Good Luck! You can say witha great smile --- "And I will have fun, too!" It is a small thing, yet it makes a difference for you. DO the things that offer comfort, inspire you, push you.

I think as a group (of humans!) we do not let others know which words please us.

Yes, restaurant food can be difficult to digest (oils, sugar, salt ...) I was having this discussion with another performer the other day. When I work, I know what makes me feel well. I never eat sugar , or snacks before working with a client. I lose my intuitive edge.

Being back stage there can often be lots of snacks and cookies, etc. you have to decide what works for you. Some foods can create what is called overarousal in the body -- ' hyped up' feeling. You may not want that.

Well gotta go to bed ...

Take Care -- Sanna Carapellotti, MS
Performance Specialist

PS -- I am sorry I neglected to say that there is a wonderful gift that I have been sending out with The Stepping to Sleep program. It has been a surprise to those who ordered it! Yes, it is on sale for the time being. If your tired you can sleep better with this cd. You listen and -- sleep. You may purchase it at