Friday, May 29, 2009

Dear Sanna - chiropractor magic... or mind power, or both!

It has been so busy! Since my back-kicking drama a lot has happened. We had a very important performance for an event, which was luckily very short, so I endured some minor pain for the sake of everyone's sanity and the show was fine. It was cool to perform at a fancy event in front of some famous people. And my back was good enough for our mini tour, even if my shoulder was sore after swimming and I still didn't feel good putting a lot of weight on it. But I could dance okay, and it was slowly improving on it's own, although I felt crooked even when the pain was nearly gone.

So the other day I FINALLY made an appointment to see a chiropractor. It felt a little silly, because it was so long ago and the pain was really minor by that point, but I was still a little scared that there was some internal damage or something, or at least that I was out of alignment. So the appointment was half for my back and half for my head. Anyway he cracked me like crazy and hooked me up to all these massage machines and said I had no real damage other than what he fixed by adjusting me.

Well I was very relieved, since the day after the kick I felt like they might be amputating my right shoulder. I also felt much looser and straighter, and the next day in class felt great. My turns were amazing! I don't know whether the physical adjustments really made that much of a difference or if the thoughts of a straight spine in my head helped me to dance that way, but it was great and I will try from now on to picture my spine this way.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

DanceMind: Dear Janie, What Occurred to Me ...

Is that I could take a trapeze lesson.

Aerial arts are an amazing opportunity to display strength, poise and beauty on the stage. I have an article to write for Dancer Magazine on the management of fear. I have learned a lot and will keep you posted.

It is all about the mind - what we do in our lives.  My daughter and I are planning a lesson together. With her strength she will swing longer and probably do some trick of sorts. For me I am happy that I can view it as an option., a possibility, a new adventure.

My mind has changed about aerial arts after two conversations with two very dynamic women.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dance Mind- Interview with Amy Ell.

What a refreshing conversation with Amy Ell, Aerialist, for an   upcoming article on the psychology of risk in the arts for a dance magazine. It is awesome, yet has a lot of 'mind' behind it.

More later. Janie, I will write tomorrow!

Gotta get to Bikram Hot Yoga class.


PS -

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Dear Sanna - careful it's a long one

I think I mentioned earlier this is a very busy month as far as performances go, and it happens to be socially busy as well for me. Last week we had evening performances 2 days in a row, an early studio performance the next day, and still one more normal day of work before we made it to the weekend, so it was very exhausting. The company has been a little on-edge lately, too. Nobody is exactly sure why, but maybe it's just that Spring-time stress I seem to remember every year (although I used to think it was because of school finals and auditions and whatnot, but maybe even without those things the environment can still be stressful).

Anyway I was also starting to come down with something - sore throat, runny nose, etc. and just not having the best week. Then before the second evening performance, the artistic director had a really annoying rehearsal in the studio. It's this hopeless ballet that is just a mess of choreography as the basis, so it's really impossible to make it look good. And on stage it's even worse because there is way too much going on and too many people and it just doesn't work, and everyone but the artistic director (and choreographer) know this. So it was annoying enough we had to rehearse over and over before the show, and it was an especially horrible rehearsal that went 15 minutes over time. The director said "the bus will wait. I need to rehearse," so we took our time getting ready. When my friend and I arrived at the bus stop 8 minutes past the time we were supposed to leave, after 2 very angry phone calls, and we the director yelled at us, too. But we did not even come as late as the rehearsal ran over, and we were told the bus would wait. Yes, we could've rushed or not gotten food to eat between 2:00 and 12:00, but that's not right, so we didn't. It just made me so angry. But the director talked to me and wasn't really that mad. We said it wouldn't happen again and the director proceeded to give me the typical back-handed compliments. I am a good dancer with a nice facility but I need to push myself.

Anyway I really do feel I am getting better at knowing what mindset I need to approach a performance and how to forget my negative emotions when I need to. So I think I was okay during the show. It was going pretty well actually, despite the ridiculously small stage. Then we got to the end of the dreaded ballet we rehearsed earlier, the climax of huge crowded mess. But I really went for it, and then I felt a leg come crashing down on my head and then shoulder. It was horrible pain, and I didn't know what to do. I covered up the choreography I just missed, and continued, because I knew I could and it was the professional thing to do. I held back tears (barely) until after and then I couldn't hold it in. I knew the girl who hit me felt awful and I tried not to blame her or let her know how bad it was, but my shoulder felt horrible. All messed up when I tried to move it.

There was still one piece left in the show, so I did it through the pain. Then the next day we had to come in extra early for the studio show. I couldn't even hold the barre with that arm, it hurt so bad. And whenever I tried to do anything holding my back it hurt. And nobody with authority even showed up until about 10 minutes before the show, so I felt I pretty much had to do the show, since I have no understudies, and I just asked that I not do the demo class and a few especially painful parts. I was so scared and frustrated, just like any new injury, that it might never get better.

The next day I woke up and it was slightly better though. It's tough with this schedule to try to see a doctor or chiropractor. There's a show and then we are on the road performing, but I think I can get by. Hopefully it will keep improving a little on its own, and then when we return in a few days I can see somebody to put me pack in alignment. I'll let you know how it goes.


Monday, May 11, 2009

DanceMind: Dear Janie, Nerves

Nerves are a part of your physiology and respond to subconscious/unconscious mind and emotion, and also to the body. It is a complex  interconnection so closely fused that it is hard to tell what begins the effect and how it all comes together thru expression. Some times the body initiates it, too. You do not know why?

Realize that - You program yourself to associate mind, emotion and physiology to an event.

Dance performance = fear, dread, disappointment.  (nothing you do will ever be god enough.)

Dance Performance = joy, excitement, commitment, love. (You learn and grow from experience)

You are right, Janie, having no sense of excitement, or 'nerves' is boring and creates a lifeless performance. It would be like meeting your favorite rock star, or going to a party without energy, lifeless and dulled. It is possible that you were holding yourself back, to not put yourself out because of personal risk, uncertainty about your 'place,'  the politics within the company. SO we withdraw when we do not know, or it feels safe to be expressive.

Look at it this way --  on a scale of 0  --  10.   You cannot approach a performance and expect to do well if you are at a energy level of 2. You could maybe walk across the stage reasonable well.

This rating system can be helpful. Get to know yourself and how you feel BEFORE, during and after you perform your best. 

Now without a doubt certain roles, choreography or difficulty has a different feel. As you become more experienced you know what level of energy is demanded of the piece. 

You can associate a certain feel with the numbers.

If you begin at a 9 (you are in a high state of stress / 'nerves'.  It is more difficult to manage the body, to bring it down. It is much easier to move up into the energy required of a performance.  
I did work with one performer who HAD to be very hyper yet was  instantly able to reduce the body mind experience very quickly, actually instantly. This is an exception. Is it necessary? No. She would collapse after a performance. Her recover was a lot longer than most. She had not desire to change it. It worked for her and she accepted the price of exhaustion, for now.

You might wan to establish  a 4 - 5 range prior to performance . You allow yourself to naturally increase energy. You are sensing an increased heart rate, tingling, more blood pumping in your veins, changes in eye movement and breath -- and you are at a 4. Know what that feels like. Then you can return there and know -- "hmm , for this piece I can safely stay here because it starts out slower .."

Nerves are a 'good thing.'  They communicate to you.

Sanna Carapellotti, MS CHT

PS -  Join me on FaceBook!  Sanna Carapellotti

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dear Sanna - some answers

It's true. Nerves can be good. I remember at the beginning of the year, I did not feel nervous for the first few performances. Maybe the atmosphere did not feel professional to me, or maybe I was just not being challenged with my roles, but I felt nothing. No nerves, no excitement, and it was difficult to perform this way. Nerves get my adrenaline going and I have energy to perform. Without it, dance just feels like a job, which it has never been for me. That's why I like my job, because it's fun and it DOESN'T feel like just a job. Even in rehearsals or class if I am nervous, it's not always a terrible feeling. A little drama makes life interesting!

okay now for 20 responses - I could adjust my rhythm but...

1. Nobody else adjusts for me
2. I am doing the correct counts
3. It's harder to change than to stay the same
4. My partner will also have to adjust with me
5. I might not dance as well if I am distracted by new counts
6. I don't want to!

okay is this an exercise to prove that there aren't that many good reasons why I should not adjust? Because I can't think of more than 6 reasons aside from the 3 examples you gave.

Today we had a performance and I was so annoyed. First, before the show a friend of mine couldn't find her costume. She kept saying somebody must have taken it, when I'm sure it just got left behind somehow at the studio. These things happen, and yes, it's annoying, but it's more annoying when you don't stop complaining about it. There are plenty of extra costumes, but she was fussing so much I finally just told her to take mine and I would take one of the spares. In the end she took the spare and I stuck with my costume, but there was a lot of unneeded stress in the room.

Then during first act my mood worsened. It went okay, but it's one of those really cheesy story ballets where the corps do a LOT of acting and not so much dancing, which isn't really my thing. I feel stupid and awkward walking around trying to act. On top of that, I got punched in the face, I'm assuming by one of the new guys who doesn't really know what he's doing, but it just really hurt and I still had to walk around the stage acting and smiling like an idiot. Then after, I couldn't find my costume, and it's not that big of a deal for me to just take one of the spares, even if it is a tutu (therefore more fitted than the first act costumes), but I wasted a lot of precious intermission time searching for the stupid thing. Then I went upstairs and my costume was in my dressing room. I suppose it was a nice thought that somebody got it for me, but since I didn't know it just caused trouble.

Grrr! It was so hard to not think about the fact that my nose felt like it was smashed into my face and my costume frustration for the rest of the show, but somehow I forced myself to change my mood and the rest of the show was even kind of fun. Now for some rest...


Monday, May 4, 2009

DanceMind: Dear Janie, Experience

You are right about the experience piece. That experience tells us to -

1. expect change
2. surrender to it
3. to flow
4. to strengthen
5. expect change

... and of course, perform.

Sanna Carapellotti, MS CHT

PS - I was interviewed ast week for a piece on 'rejection' for Dancer Magazine. I will let you know when it is published.

DanceMind: Dear Janie, All in a day ...

The question becomes this -- How do you increase 'movement' to do what is asked of you with all the mental "yes buts."  

Consider the mind set surrounding 'yes, but.'

Let's do this ... Answer this question with at least 20 responses - Ask yourself. Allow the answer to pop into your mind and ask again, very quickly.

I could adjust my rhythm but ..... There is no time.
I could adjust my rhythm but ... the performance is tomorrow.
I could adjust my rhythm but  ..... I learned it this way.

Got it?

Sanna Carapellotti, MS CHT

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Dear Sanna - moments of truth

Unfortunately I think the main way to be more prepared for these kinds of things is experience, perhaps together with an open mind. It's amazing how much easier it is when I just open my mind to things I know I have to do anyway. Of course sometimes it's important to stand up to things I really disagree with, but if I know I will eventually do it anyway, it's much better if I at least pretend that I want to.

That must have been so difficult and scary to first prepare a speech about something that bothers you so much, and then have to change it at the last minute. It's easier now to think about how to handle these moments, like my pre-show stress. Maybe it's a huge deal to me, but maybe to everyone else it just sounds like a normal correction or a way to make me dance my best. It's not the end of the world, and I need to realize that when I try to apply the corrections. It's not life or death, and if I just try it can only help me.

Hey I did 5 pirouettes today! More than once, too. I was just practicing in the back of a slightly boring rehearsal when a company member gave me a little correction, and there you go - 5 turns. It was so much fun and I kept doing it too. We'll see if it still works tomorrow ;)