Monday, November 30, 2009

Performance Stress - All in a Day!

In talking with many dancers over the years, I repeatedly hear that the instructors who were/are firm and supportive are the instructors who are cherished and remembered as being instrumental in their success.  Learning to motivate students is an art form.  

If instructors could see themselves in action, perhaps they might consider other teaching strategies. (This is not about technique but how they teach.) 

We gravitate toward the familiar and what we know when we choose a mate and parent. Studio intimacy sets in motion those same dynamics. How they were taught and treated certainly influences and can develop teaching styles, unless they consciously decided otherwise. 

Does ballet training require harshness? What is your opinion as a student?

I have been told by many instructors how they wish they had learned what I teach their students when they were learning and dancing.  This speaks volumes of the need for mental skills training for dancers. You can dance better and stronger when you use specifically designed strategies to assist with learning, coping and readiness. They are fast and easy,

Do you know there are techniques for shielding oneself from harsh critical teachers? (It's in the Audition Audio Program.) It is not disrespectful in any way. It is an technique that enables you to hear what you are being told and separating out what is rightfully not yours - The anger!

Love to you all ~  
Performance Coach and Therapist

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dear Sanna - teachers...

Maybe ballet masters do forget what it was like to dance. They can be so cruel and unforgiving, screaming at us and undermining our confidence just before a show. And sometimes I think they stuck in the past, feeling nobody can dance the role as good as they once did. One of our ballet masters constantly tells us we need to do it exactly the way she did it, even if artistically it could be done different ways and still be beautiful or right. She gets so caught up in correcting us and showing it how it should be done, she doesn't even watch when we try to fix something or understand. It is so frustrating, and people are really starting to ignore what she says, even though sometimes what she says could be useful.

We are now doing our biggest production of the year, in a huge opera house with guest soloists. We rarely perform in such a big theater with such impressive sets and costumes. It is interesting, because I feel smaller and less important even though the production is more like that of a bigger, more important company. But it's still fun. I think I could enjoy being a small dancer in a large company as well as how I enjoy dancing here as a (sort of) bigger dancer in a small company.

The music for the piece we are dancing is really beautiful, and I am just having a good time dancing in such a great theater and watching the soloists and dancing a little myself. It's been a good week.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

DanceMind- That First Ballet Slipper

Reminiscing - 

Do you remember the first time you slipped your foot into a ballet slipper and stood high on your toes?  


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Instructors Forget or Believe Something Else

When an Instructor says, "There is no performance anxiety in my class," what are they really saying?

* I am not in touch with my students.
* I choose to forget about my personal experiences when I danced.
* I do not understand the concept of performance anxiety. 
*I do not have time to listen.
* I don't know how to handle it, so I pretend it does not exist.

Often times I hear a resignation from instructors, "There is nothing one can do about it. You suck it up."

Students don't usually tell their Instructor about the knot in their stomach or how they cry at night or how afraid they are of their part or how they worry and worry.  Performers I work with privately do not tell, is this common? Maybe you all talk amongst yourselves about your worries and fears.

How much a part of performance is fear before it causes errors and mistakes? (Stress does that. Focus does that, too.)

Can these states of mind be explored? (Maybe not if one believes a can of worms is being opened)

Do we resign to dance less than who we are on stage when we are full of worry? (Can go either way. Also takes away from emotion.)

When are we accountable for how well we do? Do we say, "I excuse myself because I was nervous? We then associate anxiety -> worry during performance -> error - > more worry about performance.(Then we can work to resolve it, talk about it or seek help) Not a good 

Isn't it our responsibility to take our best selves to the stage? (Yes. We learn techniques of dance and for mind.)

Of course not every one needs to "see a therapist" or "hire a coach" (but they can be helpful). 
However, a kind supportive word, such as "You can."  "YES." can make the world of difference to empower that gnawing fear or shaking anxiety into a moment of greatness.

Yes.       You can.

I believe in each and every one of you.

Anxiety an be a good thing, when used to advantage. Your shaking knees are ready to move ...

P.S. Instructors are doing the best they can too even when they worry - quietly.

Monday, November 9, 2009

DanceMind- Dear Janie, New Experiences

Hello Janie, Your season is in full swing! Already there are many changes and challenges.

Partnering is a art, isn't it?  If you remember your previous partners, you discover that each one has a different way of connecting with you. There is nothing more beautiful or sensual then watching a couple so in sync on stage. It is magnetic, so powerful. They know they are connected and project it out into the audience. Everyone is 'moved.'

Last year I worked with a couple who were dancers together and also boyfr and girlfr. They were looking to improve their dancing together on stage as they seemed to always be paired together. They would fight and then attempt to smile through it. Doesn't work. The audience can see through that thin veil.

Here is what we did -- We talked about each ones viewpoint and perspective. What did they each believe about partnering.  SHELLY (false name) felt smothered and stiff in his company and wanted to feel safe and cared for so she can perform her role. She wanted to let go and trust him.

Henry (False name) believed he was to be strong and dominating (See what's happening here?).
And felt uncertain. He wanted to be that source for her to shine. 

So we processed it out and they then came up with a word/phrase that each wanted to project in their performance ... one separately and then a phrase that described how they would BE together.  Then they sat every day and visualized their performance together. They got to the point where they could sense each others visualization.

When they performed they rec'd a standing ovation it was so powerful. Now they really PARTNER together.

See if your partner would talk it out with you. I don't think this happens enough. Some men are naturally gifted at partnering and creating that freedom for women.

Janie, I am wondering if the stress you are feeling about  that piece you mentioned is actually stress. Could it be that you are challenged to keep your focus and attention strong?  You will respond differently if you reframe the tension.

What could it be for you?

How exciting to wear a pretty tutu? Be glamorous and beautiful!!!!
CONFIDENCE: If you rely on external events and comments for confidence then it does become reliant on who says what (even if it is negative).  YOU are in charge of this confidence.

Listen to track 6 on the Audition CD for several days. You will learn how to stack experiences. and then Audition Excellence to set the inner stage.  If you want confidence it comes with the repetition of believing you are. You are, sometimes, right? It is just a thought.

Sanna Carapellotti, MS CHt
Dance Mom

Performance Coach

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Dear Sanna - Bad Medicine

There is a ballet we did all last year, which I frankly do not like at all. It's actually a classical ballet, so at least it's not some creepy modern thing or bad choreography by the director, but there's a lot of character acting involved, and it's just really not my thing. Especially because I barely do anything since it was casted when I was very new in the company.

This year I at least get to dance a nice part I wasn't in last year (in a pretty tutu!), which helps, but it's very short and kind of stressful. The part I really have my eye on, I actually am second cast, which is encouraging, but it's not at all clear if second cast will ever do it. We have actually been trying to rehearse ourselves (there are two girls in each cast) whenever we get the chance and ask other dancers for help, because the teachers aren't really that concerned with the part at all, let alone second cast. But if they would think about it, it's really smart to have two casts because we will take this ballet on tour where there are shows every day, and it will be extremely tiring for one cast. They have actually mentioned switching, they just aren't that active about it.

It's really interesting because my partner and I are very different dancers. Different bodies, different schooling, different thought process, and we have to dance together and look the same. And without proper rehearsal, this is even more difficult. We are working very hard together to get it right. My bad medicine is to really push and be flirty and aggressive, while my opposite has to concentrate on making nice lines. It's really interesting to see the different ways we work, and I think this will be a good learning experience for both of us as dancers.


P.S. Sorry about the language!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

DanceMind : Language, Janie ...

Hello, there kiddo,
I did make a change of THAT word. We have many young readers and even though it would be accurate and honest to tell the whole story correctly, sometimes we need to leave out the 'descriptives.' Thanks for telling about your experience.

Sanna Carapellotti, MS CHt
Performance Coach