Tuesday, December 30, 2008

DanceMInd: Dear Janie: WInter Season

Well, all the Nutcrackers and Winter season performances are over. It is time to stretch out the feet and enjoy a few days off through New Years.  Along with being with family and friends, or even if you are alone, your mind still dances.  

It may be a good time to review what you want and need to do over the upcoming year. Writing it down is a good idea because it materializes your desires, and offers a place for reference. 

It is easy to just float aimlessly without any real direction. 

Most dancers work very hard in the present moment, have dreams of the future and lose the 'meat,'  or process in between. This is where the true growth and action lay. Breaking it down into pieces gives you a path for change. Using visualizations strengthens and moves the process along more quickly too. 

There are many paths to becoming a professional dancer. A one point focus is mandatory. You have to want it. Breathe it. Demand it. Do not take NO for answer.

I spoke with a Mom recently who was crying because her son was not invited to a prestigious dance program. She brought him in for counseling thinking he had self sabotage. 

Through our work, He has realized that he prefers a smaller company where there is a manageable balance of stress and continued opportunity for lead roles.  He has been working beyond his limits, though injuries and rejection. 

Because he was given a 'no' does not mean that he has defined himself by the no. His determination is even stronger because he has realized his direction and clarified where he wants to dance and how. Nice.  

Everyone's path is a little different. The male dancer took this No as an opportunity to get to know what is important to him. So a no can be a YES!

If you have some time in the next few days, do some writing about what you want, what has become important to you over the last year and of course, your dreams.

Happy New Year all around the World!
Sanna Carapellotti, MS CHT

PS - I just finished an article for Dancer Magazine on How to Stop Smoking Using Your Mind Power. Feb issue.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

DanceMind: Dear Janie:You Got it!

Yes, take what he says in 'chunks.' Extract what you need to know, what is cliche, incorrect and wrong guidance. Again, you will not change him, yet you can change how you feel and what you accept. 

Try this -- the next time he approaches you and you are not dancing - mirror his movements without being obvious. If he is standing with his arms folded, you can cross your arms lower or cross your legs. If he scratches his nose, brush your cheek. 

This is one way to align subconsciously with someone you do not connect with, yet must have a relationship with. It is sending back a message that is similar and it can create a shift in his behavior.

Many years ago I had a supervisor that was mentally abusive. He would pound people with his photographic memory and intelligence. It was very difficult to consult with him. I mirrored him.  It threw him off, he could not think clearly and cut short the time. The next time we met, he was different, yet still difficult so I did it again subtly and he again could not over power me.

The third interaction he was calmer and we were able to work together.  This is a good way to align with someone to whom you cannot communicate your experience. He would not have understood anything, or would have become very defensive. 

There are more ways to fluff a tutu!

Happy Holidays to you! and Everyone!
Sanna Carapellotti, MS CHT

Dear Sanna - at least I'm not left wondering...

The artistic director is rude, nagging, and doesn't know when to stop. Most just try to avoid all contact, because any exchange will inevitably contain something negative. But at least it's all out there so you never have to guess what goes on inside that head. So the other day, I was trying to blend in when the artistic director showed up. The attack came after repeating things a million times in rehearsal, I was trying to let my aching toes air out during the break.

"why are you tired?"
"i'm not tired!"
"what time do you go to sleep? blah blah blah... do you know what to eat? blah blah blah buy this here and cook it, bring a sandwich to ballet. did you bring a sandwich? you are a nice dancer but you could lose more weight. we like you. you are a nice girl. but you're very tall you need to lose some weight. it is very hard to partner you. but i watch you. you are a nice dancer. we see you have something special. you feel more confident now here? remember i watch you. now go eat your sandwich"

but I am learning that pretty much everyone, in the artistic director's mind, could lose a little weight. I know in this profession, I pretty much always need to make sure I am eating right, so I can pretty much discard that part of the conversation, and try to focus on the compliment I possibly heard? They like me. And I am being asked to learn more and more things. I am actually performing a part right now with just 3 other girls, and I am the only new company member of the group. It seems like a pretty special part, actually. All 3 of the other girls have performed principle roles with the company, so it is encouraging to be grouped with them.

Tonight after the show, I got even more feedback. Actually even during, "I watch you. it is better. you pointe your feet. good."

so strange, but I'll take what I can get...


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dear Sanna - It's all for YOU

We have 5 ballet masters and an artistic director. That is 12 eyes, 6 different opinions, 6 voices, and 4 languages scrutinizing me all at once. Sometimes I feel like my brain is about to explode! It is hard enough to rehearse, thinking about the choreography, music, spacing, feet, legs, body, arms, and head all in the correct place, without the teachers screaming on top of one another, often different things, that I am expected to fix immediately, right then.

I can feel myself tense up, trying to apply all the corrections, and I start to loose my cool. I forget where I am in the choreography. If I'm told to turn out more, I loose my balance. My shoulders go up and I forget to breathe, and I can feel the tears about to come.

At least that's how it was, or how it is on really bad days, but I am learning to just breathe, smile and apply as many corrections as possible. I have seen my fellow dancers react in such a negative way to corrections, and it's really almost embarrassing. Today a teacher was correcting this girl, who was being so stubborn she refused to take the simplest advice, playing dumb and doing ridiculous things. For what? To prove the teacher wrong? To show she couldn't do it correctly?

In a way I understand how I might be tempted to do such childish things sometimes, but it is really better for everyone to just take the correction. As the teachers say again and again, the corrections are for us. They just want us to be better dancers, and that's what we want, too, right? So I should be happy they are giving me the opportunity to improve. If I never get corrections how will I get better? The teachers appreciate when I apply the corrections, too. The scary teacher I often talk about was giving a correction today and began to name names, and when she got to me she actually said I was okay, which is about the biggest compliment anyone could hope for from this teacher!

Anyway I still need to work on listening to 6 people at once, and figuring out which of the conflicting directions I should take, while continuing to dance on the music, but at least I am controlling my temper...


Thursday, December 11, 2008

DanceMind: Dear Janie: Life is Ballet is life.

Bless you my child.  

Dear Sanna - dealing

I know things like this will happen, and I still get upset, but I am learning to let it go more and more quickly. It's bad enough that such horrible words can ruin even a minute of my time. There is no way I am going to let it make me miserable during more of my precious time. You could obviously tell how angry I was when I vented here on the blog, but only one day later I saw another poor soul being tortured, and I realized I had just unfortunately been standing in the line of fire. Anyone who gets too close will be nagged. Nothing positive ever comes out of that mouth. So life goes on.

But even more than that, I am even finding that impossible silver lining in having such an abusive, vocal director. The other day we actually had an hour scheduled with the director just to talk. It was horrible. We were spoken to as if we all wanted to be fat. As if we sat around eating all day and didn't give a damn about how we looked. We were accused of lying and ignoring our boss when asked to lose weight, and they even had the nerve to say that when we get upset or cry because of their harsh words, the tears are out of our own guilt. But everyone knows it's ridiculous, and when it's everyone, it almost bonds us together. The company is able to make light of the situation, just like you said. We laughed about some of the absurd things they said, and since they told us we are no longer allowed to wear black tights and lots of warm-ups in rehearsals to cover up, today we all wore pink tights under our leotards with nothing else for rehearsal and everyone laughed at how silly the whole situation was. And what's even better, we all look great. Not one person looked heavy, and the stupid director even admitted we all looked really good and nobody needs to lose weight. (Another thing that drives me crazy! How could there be such inconsistency?! Why make us miserable one day, just to take it all back the next? It's just stupid games)

Anyway, for me, I find it's best to just act pleasantly naive about the whole thing. I smile innocently and nod, while I picture the director exploding right in front of me. I know any opinion the director may have of me could change any day or not, but it doesn't matter what I do or how I really am. I have no control over the director's distorted point of view, so I will just work my hardest and do what I feel is right.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

DanceMind: Dear Janie: Dealing with Wild Moments

Learning how to cope with difficult people has been written about for decades. It is no different in the ballet world than in corporate and the neighborhood diner. Yes, the stakes can be higher, yet the interactions between people working together particularly among higher ups and those under their watch can range from respectful to downright abusive.

In this case, Janie, you are in the employ of a artistic director whom you present as mean mouth and uncaring.  His talent and knowledge aside, his behavior is unbecoming of a professional.
You have describe  him to blurt out nasty comments, to not listen and I believe moodiness.

When someone abuses their 'power' or authority speaks of their character. Who he is as a person.  There is nothing you can change about that (unless he gets his a@@ kicked a few toomany times and realizes that he needs help.). Clearly there are problems here, Janie, AND IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU, although he directs his anger toward you and others. However, you can guard against him, protect yourself and take out what you need to know from what he says.

The problem is that you believe you have recourse. If you do speak up, you risk parts, your job, being ignored, etc. AGAIN, this speaks of who he is and how he runs his company.

Look, we all throw temper tantrums on occasion. Yet to batter and embarrass someone in front of others is downright disrespectful.  Apologies are forthcoming, but will most likely not happen. Someone like you, would apologize when you act up. YOU ARE TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR BEHAVIOR.

Big Difference.

On the receiving end, you can also TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for your response.  Here are a few things you can do.  (HINT:   You can be ready. It will happen again AND you know it is coming.)

1. Zip up!  In the field of energy medicine (Donna Eden)  there is a simple technique that is protective (and it works!)   If someone wants an explaination email me.
 Here's how -  
1. TAP using your fingers right under the knobby bone of the collar bone about 10 times.   
2. Think a positive thought.   
3.  Next is the ZIP up... Place your hand down where a zipper (yes on your jeans) ends and TAKE A DEEP BREATH while you move your hand all the up the center of your body to the lower lip.  You can do this a few times. You are closing up, protecting yourself.

This technique is one of many in the Audition CD program ...
Put up a Wall!  Imagination plays a key role here.  Close your eyes NOW.  Ask yourself, "what can you construct that acts as a barrier between you and him?"  Some people use clouds of safety all around them, or God's love, or even a Rainbow Wrap.  Use your visualizing powers to create the experience. Breath it up. Make it really feel powerful and protective.
NOW, when you go to class, you Zip up and protect yourself with your imagery. Try it. You will be surprised.

Anyone who has results, please let us know, too!

You could also say in a calm tone, "Mr. _________, please do not talk to me that way. I find it offensive and demeaning."

You could ask for a meeting with you, him and another staff member and voice your concerns.


You can realize that he is an angry hostile man and take what you need to know and leave his hostilities with him.  It is also a good idea to have feedback from others and to be clear with who you are and what is true for you.  

When you go to dance, you want to look your best and feel comfortable - Consider getting rid of the leotard.

Sanna Carapellotti, MS CHT

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

DanceMind: Dear Janie: Dancing Mad ...

Sanna has been featured in Dance Spirit Magazine (3 times), Dance Studio Life (11/08) and Dance Magazine recommends "Stepping to Sleep" audio for help with sleep problems. Look for her upcoming article in Dancer Magazine, Jan 09!
Janie,  Thank you. What a day for you!   You certainly know this experience  you described here is common.   Yesterday I thought of you and this 'posted' situation.

I was at the grocery store and overheard a conversation between two employees. One was furious about schedule changes because the wrong schedule was posted. She was pissybecause she was working with a 'slacker' and she was also informed that she was not smiling enough on the floor.  The other employee complained too, "Yeah, they told me that last month - You need to smile more. They need to pay me more to smile more." and on and on......

If you do not believe you have any recourse in the way of speaking up or getting more info, then your choice is to change how you respond to their comments. We can never control how someone delivers a comment. We cannot control the words they choose either. (We all have made that mistake of saying something wrong or hurtful.)

In a professional setting, one is expected to treat others, no matter what position, with undue respect, kindness and regard. That doesn't mean that tempers fly or inappropriate remarks do not flair, that would be very naive of me to say that.  When there is a consistent bullying, or patterns of communications then there are deeper problems then just having a bad day

Personality factors come into play when there is that consistency, meaning that he has problems. You have described this director as being impulsive, rude and demeaning. I am sure there is more but for sake of brevity.   People who do that to others are deeply troubled and very angry individuals. 

What an a@@ this person is. 

Without getting too deep here, if someone is consistently rude and crosses over boundaries, You have  a decision to make, Janie cause you know it is going to happen again.

1. You know your body type.  You know your height, weight, proportions.  "Big Girl" does not describe you. PERIOD. He is very unprofessional to set blame on you especially if your partner is not doing his part and they messed up the choreography. 

 If you were 5 '11, I could see that there would be a need for adjustments. That doesn't even make sense. Again, the word a@@ keeps coming to my mind.

Not all feedback is correct.  In ballet, body image becomes very distorted because of the demands from some "teachers."  What is the percentage of anorexic dancers? 70 - 80%?
You cannot rely on HIM for accurate feedback.

You always have the personal right to decide what the hell to do with such off the wall, bizarre comments -  (Expect more from him)
1. Take him aside and scream in his face. (It could happen. LAst resort.)
2. Run out of the room crying. (Could happen. Could excuse yourself politely)
3. Call a conference with a third person and speak your mind. (Could happen. He could be set straight by a higher up.)
4. Suck it up and have indigestion later. (Not advisable.)
5. Use humor. "Yes, I am HUUUUGE!"
6. Use some avenue to handle it.

Here is an even harder question --
Is there some truth, any inkling of truth to what was said. (EVEN IF  YOU BELIEVE IT in the furthest corners of your brain -- It still doesnot make it OK that he said that to you.). Yes, you have had difficulty with a few pounds, yet you have done a good job of dropping excess. 

This is hard to look at, I know.  You have worked hard at this issue. So stay with me and ask yourself for the sake of honesty without passing judgement or being critical. Because if YOU BELIEVE it, then you may need to change YOUR BELIEF SYSTEM, not necessarily your body.

Do you hear what I am saying?  You may need to change your belief system about your body.

2. Do you accept his remark, or do you leave it with him. (You know -- "I am rubber you are glue what you say bounces off me and sticks to you.") You do not want echos of THAT in your brain.  DO NOT INTERNALIZE his remark. This man has problems. 

Say something like, "I love my body." I work hard to stay slim and strong."  What do you believe, and what can you say in your mind when this  happens to counter what he is saying.
Do not let his comment take away your esteem.  Be ready for it.

If you allow it to become personal, it becomes personal.  You can leave it with him. Like a pie in the face. 

I would really like to hear form others who have had this problem of being spoken to with disrespect for a any reason.

I will add a technique for you tomorrow that will help you when this happens.  
Next time you will be ready.  Did I say a@@?

Love ya -

Sanna Carapellotti, MS CHT