Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dear Sanna - so.much.anger.

I was actually having an almost boring week, as far as ballet goes, to the extent that I couldn't even really choose anything to write about. It was almost too good to be true, so I wasn't really surprised when it was ruined by my stupid, mean, nagging, b*tch of an artistic director! (Sorry, but this is really my only chance to let it all out)

First of all, it was the first time rehearsing a ballet since a terrible partial performance a few weeks earlier. We hadn't even rehearsed enough to perform the cut version of this ballet, and it was pretty much a disaster. Like most things here, I considered it a good experience, trying to figure out what I was doing in a stressful situation for which I was not prepared, but that's really not the point of this story...

So we were rehearsing an especially sticky part that never really worked quite right, and although I know it's not nice to point fingers, my partner wasn't exactly helping matters. We had already had several private rehearsals with just the two of us, where the teacher tried dancing with him and actually did blame him for pulling me off my leg. Then during this most recent rehearsal, we discover we were all taught the wrong choreography, so it's been even harder than necessary. So we're all trying to adapt to the changes, with not enough space, bad partners, and short tempers. I also happened to be wearing an especially unflattering leotard, since my other was completely soaked after class with the crazy strict teacher I'm sure I've mentioned in the past.

In waltzes none other than our nutcase director, only to see my frustration when my partner cannot even remember the changes in the choreography. Just to add some fuel to the fire, the director basically tells me it is impossible to partner me because I'm a big girl (I'm told that ALL the time. even when it's not necessarily meaning I'm fat. Apparently they just think I'm so big here) AND that I've gained a lot of wait.


first of all, UNTRUE. I have been told to lose weight here several times, and most times I agreed, even if it was ridiculous the way I was told days later, as if that is enough time to change my body. But last time I was told to lose a certain amount of weight, I lost that and more, so at the moment I actually weigh less than requested. The director is so stupid, not being able to tell the difference between an unflattering leotard and weight gain!! And I really think the cruel words might have also been just for the sake of hurting my feelings or playing games with me. It's not that I believe that I am fat, it's that I know the director may see me that way, and what the director thinks is unfortunately very important for the sake of my career. It is so infuriating!

And I know I am not in denial, because I know my body AND people have come up to me and told me what the director said was completely out of line. I just hate being nagged and criticized all the time with no chance to ever stick up for myself or explain or even ask a freaking question! The whole rehearsal I was actually trying to ask for clarification about the choreography but everyone was just ignoring me! I just get SO SO mad about the whole situation.

But I am breathing and thinking logical thoughts and getting through. I know in my mind what is right and that it will all blow over and be fine, but I just hate how the director chooses someone and something to pick on and will not cease until there is a new person to bully. I will just have to wait it out until it is someone else's turn, and for the meantime try to block out all the b.s.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

DanceMind: Dear Janie: Dancing ...

Sanna has been featured in Dance Spirit Magazine, Dance Studio Life Magazine and Stepping to Sleep has been recommended by Dance Magazine, June 2008.


In your recent post you mentioned thinking during dance.  Let's give some attention to that in this post. It is a common approach to dancing that can be problematic.

Think back --  What is the common denominator of those dance occasions when you were 'on it,' 'in the zone,' 'unconscious,' or 'not knowing what happened?"  You know, you could not have done better. It felt strong. You were on your marks. Your energy was high. Your nailed it.

Thinking nothing.

You let go.  You trust that you have learned, rehearsed, and are ready.

There was no direction. The training took place earlier, now you are in performance mode.
Thinking when you are performing returns you to the studio in class where you are learning.

In order to excel up in your higher range possibility, you have to stop the thinking.  When the curtain goes up Janie, you must be ready to 'perform.'  

Understand that thinking slows down the body. It interferes with the Central Nervous System and the body can get confused. You are moving faster than you can think about what you are doing.  The body can move on its own once you are taught.

Think about walking. Do you say ... right foot, left foot ... swing those arms ... etc

Or how about speaking? Do you spell each word? or Think of your sentences before you speak them? No. Unless you are making a speech.  

You trust and you do it.

Same with dance performance, including auditions.

Let me know what you think, Janie. (or anyone else reading too)

To Your Best,
Sanna Carapellotti, MS, CHT

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dance Mind: Dear Janie, Proud of you!!!

Sanna has been featured in Dance Spirit, Dance Studio Life and Stepping to Sleep has been recommended by Dance Magazine, June/2008.

You said so many good things in your last post.  I will recap and expound on a few now.

1. Thanksgiving.  I know that where you live there is no Thanksgiving celebration. How can you take a moment in your day to offer gratitude for what you do have right where you are and back here in the US?  This is a good time to remember precious times, ie parties with friends, Thanksgiving dinners as a child, your favorite dish, family events, how far you have traveled in miles AND maturity. 

Create your own meal. Teach the dancers where you live now the joy of Thanks - Giving!  That would be a really nice experience for you and your new friends! Offer them a piece of our culture.  You can start your own traditions. Just as immigrants traveled here to the USA and continued their traditions.

I will be sending love your way tomorrow - and thanks for being here with me and our readers.

2. PREPARING FOR PERFORMANCE.  I am so happy to hear that you are tuning into FOODS that nourish your body and mind for performance.  We all have different needs, taste and thresholds, yet,  if we all ate consciously and powerfully we would be more efficient and successful. Food makes a difference. For those of you who do not think it is important, make a few changes and see what happens!

Even in my work, I know what I can eat (whole simple foods) to be highly intuitive and effective. I plan for it and do not deviate. Just like you, Janie, I owe my best to client who pay me for services. Every sessions demands attention because every session is healing and very empowering.

In the Audition CD program is a review of this and a place where you can put all the foods for performance that work for you ... Pay attention. See how you feel. What works and gives you the energy you need.

Consider - chicken, eggs, grains, fruits and veggies. Lots of water of course. Save the high calorie drinks, burgers, sodas and junk foods for another time.

Stop eating SUGAR!  Sugar can increase jumpiness in the body (Central Nervous system takes a huge hit). Memory can be impaired. (YES!)  When the body does not feel right then the mind and emotions feel the dis-ease.
Times when I am back stage I see so many cookies and cupcakes. Not to mention weight gain, it is best to stay away from those sweets.

Pay attention! to what you put into your mouth - if you want to perform your best. Diet makes a difference.

I am going to close for now and address the other things later.

I do want to mention that I am gearing up for audition season myself. (as a Performance Specialist!) If you feel worried and afraid, there is no need to feel that away about something you love and live for. If you need assistance to clear out fear so you can be pure power, call me. We can work on the phone. (I have clients all over the country!) There is no reason for you to continue in that way.

Gotta love ya!

Sanna Carapellotti, MS CHT

PS == "Bring on the Butterflies!"  Dance Studio Life Magazine, Nov 2008. Read Sanna's interview!  It is not available on line yet but it is in the magazine!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dear Sanna - staying focused

I think all this performing experience is really good for me. I am finding out a lot about myself and how to best prepare for and perform a piece. I am noticing which foods sit best in my stomach and give me energy for the show, what I need to do in a warm-up class in order to prepare myself for a show, how to go over things in my mind so I feel prepared to perform, and how to focus my mind. Last week we performed a piece we had only finished the day before and barely rehearsed. It was obviously going to be a mess, and on top of our being under-rehearsed, the stage was tiny, which made spacing even more difficult. But we pulled together and composed ourselves as well as we could. I went over the steps in my head a few times and talked about the order of the show and when/where quick changes occurred to make sure we knew what we had to do before the show. There were actually two performances in one day. The first was quite messy, but I felt I had rehearsed the movements enough in my mind that I was prepared as I could have been, even if I was dodging scenery, wings, and other people when dancing full-out on the stage made it seem even smaller than before.

I also found it quite helpful to go through the steps in my head, applying any corrections I get during class or rehearsals. Not only is it important to take corrections and really work on things to be a better dancer, but when I know specific things like this to think about while I am dancing, my mind is less likely to wander at all, let alone to those negative thoughts that psych me out and result in mistakes.

If my mind does wander, I try to shake it off, too, like you mentioned. I do find it hard once the thought is in my head to stop it, so it is usually better not to let my mind go there at all.

I am having a great time with lots of performing and exploring and making new friends and all of this! It's hard and sometimes sad to think about my family getting ready for Thanksgiving back home, and all my friends who will be visiting during the holidays. It will also be the first time ever I will not see my friends and family on New Year's, which will be sad, but I know I will see them eventually and luckily modern technology allows us to keep in touch pretty well. I really am making great friends here, though, so being away during the holidays could be much, much, worse. We all knew going into this career there would be sacrifices...


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sanna in Dance Studio Life Magazine!

Does your heart race before a performance? D0 you feel jumpy? Have butterflies?

Then you need to read "Bring on the Butterflies in Dance Studio Life Magazine, Nov. 2008

I was interviewed by Nancy Wozney. 

It is a good article to share with your dance mates.
It will help you to understand that your heart and knees are just excited to dance! Read it! Your dance teacher may have it. Ask her!

Sanna Carapellotti, MS CHT

Friday, November 14, 2008

DanceMind: Dear Janie: Talk, Talk Talk

I want to tell you this -- Your thoughts can be managed. Of course thoughts influence how you feel. EVERY thought changes your physiology and is linked to an emotion. Stressful thoughts trigger fear and anxiety cycles.  

THOUGHT STOPPING -- is an easy way to stop negativity, rants, fear based thoughts, anything that does not support the possibility of a wonderful performance.

AS SOON AS you become aware of thoughts , say STOP either silently or quietly -- and move your body around. (this breaks the physical state). Taking charge of these repetitive that are habits puts you in charge. You might have to repeat it many times because these thoughts can take over. 

This is a simple but highly effective technique. Any time thoughts interfere, use it.

Sanna Carapellotti, MS CHT

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dear Sanna - mistakes

As far as my conscious actions regarding the show and the music mishap, I must say I was pleased with how I handled it, as a result of doing exactly what you said. After past experiences with reacting to things on stage, I realized that in this sort of situation the best thing to do is ignore it, or pretend nothing is wrong on stage. However, I wish I had not gotten so worked up about the whole thing. I could feel my muscles tensing as I struggled to hold the position. Although it is not a comfortable position at any time, it was somehow harder in this situation and my mind was racing about the possibilities of what could happen. In a way, I did psych myself out a little, because when we finally did perform the piece, I was very shaking and scared and my mind was still buzzing a little with negative thoughts or fears about messing up. I think this always tends to happen during shows, but I wish I could avoid these thoughts, because usually the only time the fears actually come true is when I am thinking about them.

On a different note, we have a guest choreographer here setting a new piece. The choreographer watched a few classes and one of the shows, and then worked with us all after class one day to choose people for the piece. I was not expecting at all to be picked, because we knew only a small number of girls and boys would be in it, and there are more than that number of girls that would be the obvious choice over me. I thought this was a good thing, because I wasn't too too worked up during the "audition" and classes, although I can never be completely normal in such a situation. Anyway I thought I did okay, for me. Then casting went up, and the assumed girls were chosen, but a second cast was also there. I hadn't considered this possibility, and when my name was not on the second cast list, either, I must say I was very disappointed. No I did not consider myself among the top third of the girls in the company, but I had hoped I was at least in the top 60 percent.

Anyway I debated with myself about staying anyway for a chance to see and try some different choreography, etc, but decided it was weird for me to just stay for a guest choreographer's rehearsal for which I was not chosen. But on my way out, the artistic director stopped me and gave me some corrections. The director was apparently surprised I was not chosen and thought I danced beautifully and I look like a dancer (something I had not really heard before). The director did say that I really need to work on using my head and upper body more, and that audience members noticed, too, so perhaps that may explain why I wasn't chosen for the choreography piece. Anyway there was also some hinting that it was a shame I was not working with the guest, so I asked if it would be disrespectful to go late to the rehearsal that was going on at the time and learn the choreography. The director encouraged it and I am happy I went. Even though I felt silly and had to endure the thoughts I imagined going through the heads of the other dancers, I felt good knowing I was working on my weaknesses. Feeling sorry for myself doesn't help anyone. And I think the conversation with the artistic director was encouraging, as well.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

DanceMind: Dear Janie: Mistakes

There was a little girl who was seven years old who took ballet. It was her recital. She stood on the stage with her class, the music started and the teacher in the wings lead the class to dance a piece that was not theirs! This seven year old girl stood her ground. She did not move from her mark and  we watched her motioning to the teacher that she was doing the wrong piece. Finally after about thirty seconds the teacher realized her mistake, stopped and restarted.  It makes for a memorable 'human' experience.

Janie, you have to know and accept that 'things' will happen during a performance. Once you accept that, then you are more able move with the snags. It is unpredictable, Uncertain and yet probable. ALTHOUGH EVERYONE IS DOING THEIR BEST.

It might make for a good discussion to ask others what kinds of things have happened and how did they handle them.

Audience members show great empathy and care when things happen so it is not really about them.  Your job is to be well rehearsed and ready for performance! (and that includes responding to incidence.) 

If you 'react,' here is what you can do ... Review in your mind, what you could have done differently. Practice the 'emotional' correction several times.  What you will notice that this gives you the vision to be creative in your solutions.  Each situation  calls for a different response. Sometimes it may be that you must stand still until you are notified. Maybe you know you must get out of the way. 

Catch your breath by deliberately putting your attention on it. Breath a couple of times at that higher rate and then gradually slow it down.  You will recover more quickly and be ready to continue with the performance.

Apologize. If necessary make an apology to the appropriate folks if you  make a mistake. Taking ownership and showing accountability speaks very loud of your integrity.

You certainly do not want to go into a performance worried about something happening, yet it is the nature of the beast. Things can go awry. Yet, a concerted effort to stay focused, to help if you can, manage yourself - cause the show will eventually go on.

What do you think you could have done differently?

Part of the maturation of being a dance professional as I guess it is for any type of work is responsibility and accountability.

It sounds to me as if you did a nice job, yet it also sounds like there can be some tweaking you can do to build your inner mental muscle.

Sanna Carapellotti, MS CHT

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Dear Sanna - performing

The other night was my first time performing a piece where I start on stage standing in a less-than-comfortable position as the curtain comes up. I always get some butterflies before shows, and usually feel like I have to go to the bathroom, but this is normal so I was trying to relax and calm my usual nerves when the stage manager called places. So the curtain goes up and I immediately fight the feeling that I'm going to tip over backwards, and regain my focus and balance. Then the music starts. But not at the beginning, right in the middle of the piece. So we all just stand there and try not to react until the music stops and starts again in the same (wrong) place. Then the lights go out. And back on. And off and the curtain goes down. Great start. So we all kind of laugh it off while they work out the glitch and then everything is fine and we start for real. But I was so drained from trying to hold the position and my nerves were fried! It was definitely a less-than-perfect show after that. Nothing went terribly wrong, but the whole thing was very shaky and did not feel as clean as it could've been.

The next piece was not perfect either, but was so much fun! There were actually parts that did not go well at all, but for some reason I had such fun on stage! The ironic part is that this is in no way my favorite choreography or music or anything else, for that matter. I HATE rehearsing it, and I really just generally dislike the piece. Go figure.

So it wasn't a terrible show, but there is definitely room for improvement. I think I am learning and growing a lot, though, from these experiences. I feel that past experiences like this have taught me how to deal with such things. As I stood and listened to the music malfunction, I recalled past experiences of having to improvise on stage. In the past, I regretted reacting to such things and I remember thinking a more professional response would have been to pretend not to notice. So that's what I did this time, and it was definitely appropriate. I am learning more and more about how to deal with the bad things that inevitably happen in the performing arts, and I am learning more and more about myself and how to control my own reactions.