Monday, December 6, 2010

Dear Sanna - so. tired.

I just got home from my 4th consecutive day of double shows and 9th day in a row of work without rest! It feels like a huge rest to only have one show tomorrow! The following day there are two more shows, one the day after, one the day after, and one the day after that until FINALLY we have a day off. Before continuing with 4 more shows of 3 different programs. It is crazy!

On top of all that, I am really getting anxious about my future. The other night I woke up at 4 am and suddenly thought about Serenade, probably my favorite ballet ever. And then I realized, if I stay with this company for the rest of my career, I will probably never dance Serenade again. Which made me really sad. I know I should get out of here sometime in the near future, but I will be sad to go and (the bigger issue) I have no idea how I am going to get a job somewhere else. The schedule here makes auditioning very difficult if not impossible, even if I am somehow good enough to get a job in a company in the states. I spent the rest of that sleepless night going through Serenade in my head and cleaning my variations so they will be audition-worthy.

The next day I recorded rehearsal, hoping for some possible audition footage, but I tried sending videos last year and companies were not that interested. Maybe the videos just weren't good enough? Or maybe videos just aren't enough. Either way, the companies I asked for company class auditions all refused. How can I ever get a job if nobody will even give me a chance?

I also find it so difficult because it is really hard to travel long distances and immediately take class in a strange studio, with a teacher I am not used to, not to mention the knots in my stomach, and convince the people watching to give me a job! As more companies release audition dates and information, I will have to try to work out a strategy... and then get used to the idea of maybe leaving here next year.



Monday, November 29, 2010

Dear Sanna - Thanks for the article!

I love that article you posted. Of course I have worked with you before on staying in shape for the holidays and food in general, but it's such a good reminder. I specifically remember situations where I am so excited and overwhelmed when there is too much food and I forget to breathe! The more there is, the more there will be later and it's not a race. I also love the idea of visualizing situations before they actually happen. I use this in all aspects of life, and I am always happy I thought ahead.

For example, I think I mentioned that every time a new boy comes to the company, he is somehow more annoying than the last. They are all the same! Don't know how to interact with other people, talk way too much but don't really say anything (except for some rude comments), freak out about nothing, and just generally annoy EVERYBODY. When I first joined the company I was too nice, and these annoying boys did not leave me ALONE! So this year I learned my lesson and kept my distance. But it was too much and I was starting to feel really sorry for this boy who I repeatedly see in cafes alone, which breaks my heart (not that I'm ready to go out for meals with him or anything... but I can at least be nicer).

So I decided to make an effort to be nicer. I realized that a lot of times I didn't even say hi to him or would act in a way I would find really rude if reciprocated. I pictured these situations and realized how I would normally react. So the next time I ran into him, I smiled and said hi. When he kicked me at barre, I asked if he was okay instead of ignoring his apology which is what I'm afraid I would've done (or worse!) if I hadn't thought about it. So hopefully, like the others did, this boy will grow up a little and by the end of the year will have some friends of his own, and find his place here. We all know it's not fun to be the new guy.

In the holiday spirit,


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I am continually amazed at how companies pull performances together after diseasterous rehearsals. It is magical. There are always errors that the audience doesn't see or can even conceptualize. Of course then there is compassion when there is a misstep.

I will always remember a young dancer I will refer to as Kristen who fell flat on her bottom during a performance. The magical moment was that she did not miss a beat - returned to her performance as if the fall was a part of the choreography. That is what the audience remembers. Courage.

So keep that in mind tomorrow.

Love you, Janie! You are the best!

Sanna Carapellotti, MS CHt
Performance Specialist
Pittsburgh Medical

P.S. Stepping to Sleep is created for a dancers Good Night! Recommended by Dance Magazine... If you have trouble sleeping, all you have to do is listen to Sanna's soothing voice and YOU WILL SLEEP! READ ABOUT IT HERE!

Dear Sanna - Busy Busy Busy!

I don't know where all the time has gone! I will give you a reader's digest update and hopefully details soon but I thought a quick post was better than nothing at all...

Kept working on the lead role from last post. Improved expression, especially during short shows without variation so I could focus just on really "dancing". Next full show this week (in the middle of a million other shows)! First run of variation today after a long time. Went well!

Premier of story ballet tomorrow. NOT READY! Well personally I am, but as a company nooo. Technically tomorrow is dress rehearsal but people from TV are coming and TAPING! AHHH! I saw people who totally do not know what they are doing today.

Very important principle dancer in hospital - went in for one of her parts last week. Went well! Very important show which we had to completely rearrange 2 days before but everyone worked together. She's getting better, but won't dance for at least a few weeks and we have a MILLION shows coming up.

More later!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

TOP 50 Dance Blogs

Hi Janie - We have been recognized again as a TOP 50 Dance Blog!

Good Job! Thank you !

Love you all -
Sanna Carapellotti (website coming, services available!)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Standing by Negativity

Hi Janie, You're right. It can be hard to keep at bay someone negativity, You can feel it energetically, hear their words and Look the how the body is expressing it through posture, facial expression and gesture.

So what do you do?

You cannot control them and you certainly are not their therapist. We HEAR what we choose to tune into to. Consider that there are a lot more words being spoken on the stage that you do not hear. It is our nature to tune in and out.

What we place our attention on and what we respond to, can be a calling for us. When something engages you, it becomes a mirror, a reflection of us.

You prepare and secure yourself. REMEMBER, you can influence others with your positivity and confidence.

Here 's how you do it:

Cultivate your mind with vivid visualizations of your upcoming performance.

Set your personal tone for your performance before you go to the theater.

Literally put up a wall. You can protect yourself by imaging a protecting device. One dancer whose partner griped and complained, dropped a mental curtain between them to keep her self out of his range. She also said to him gently. "Please stop speaking so harshly before we dance together," He toned it down a bit, yet speaking up gave her voice.

Do not deny yourself the opportunity to express yourself on stage because of someone else's issues. The audience wants to be entertained. You have a responsibility to be as authentic and pure as you can.

Sanna Carapellotti

P>S> Clearing our inventory: Stepping to Sleep, A dancers Good Night recommended by Dance Magazine can now save you precious moment and money. Usually it is 35.00 for this 2 disc set, currently, I am marking it down for Nutcracker and Winter performances to $14.47. Visit my site for your good night!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Dear Sanna - almost satisfied

So the performance passed. It wasn't perfect, but when I think about it it still may have been the best I have done in this role, so at least I am always improving! I was nervous from the moment I knew I would be dancing for the variation, so even though I didn't see your post before the show, I was the more confident of the two of us for the partnering stuff. I tried my best to calm him down, but unfortunately when somebody is being so negative next to me it is hard not to be influenced a little bit. It went relatively okay though, just a few little glitches (he tripped me a few times! and a pirouette that he wanted to try over and over again before the show wasn't the smoothest thing. you know how you can think about something so much that when that part finally comes, you are so nervous about it that it can't possibly go perfectly smoothly?)

anyway then came my variation. the stage was very small and in rehearsal before the show I was having a little difficulty maneuvering the manege in such a small space. well just like with the pirouette with the partner, i psyched myself out a little and there was a little hop and moment of panic, but I finished fine. It felt like such a big deal though! I was really disappointed when I walked off stage, but I made myself forget and continue with the show, which actually seemed to get better and better. I felt like I really nailed my entrances after that, even if they were pretty minor.

Then after the show a lot of people came up to me and told me the variation was really good. I was so surprised because I felt like that moment ruined the entire thing! But a lot of people didn't even notice, and the ones that did focused on the fact that I was really "dancing" the beginning. This is actually one of my biggest challenges, so I think I should be happy that I am finally making some progress in this part of my technique. Little hiccups happen, and even though I wish they wouldn't, there's not much I can do to prevent those moments. But maybe if I work a little on my confidence they will be less likely to happen anyway. Who said an artist is ever satisfied with herself?


Thursday, November 4, 2010


Hello Janie,

You have to be ready for anything, eh? I remember some years ago, I worked with a teen dancer who was very frustrated at not having opportunity because of two 'higher' up dancers "always getting the parts." I told her that she must be ready at all times.

A month latr 3 weeks before Nutcracker, there was a huge change. One quit and the other dropped out due to an injury. This moved her up the ranks. She was ready to step in and was invited to do so because she had changed her work ethic to "I want this." rather than
"How come they always get the parts?"

Every day is brimming with possibility. Your presence, attitude, presentation matters and you do not know the exact moment when you will be called upon to show.

New partner. You know, Janie, you can teach him about confidence. What if he was waiting for you to be more confident? You both may stand staring at each other!

YOU be confident. You know that happy, confident people increase the confidence of others. It's catchy. Give, what you want, rather than waiting!



Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dear Sanna - DRAMA!

So I get to do the part! I was very pleased indeed to find out, even if it was just 4 days before the show! Why can they never tell me ahead of time? It feels really good to be chosen for the part, rather than dancing by default.

Unfortunately, something bad happened 2 days before the show. We were showing a "new" (technically refreshed) piece to a newspaper, and there is a big dramatic pas de duex near the end. The girl went into a frightening fall backwards a little too quickly, and her partner scrambled to save her. Not before she hit her head, however and he toppled over her and started screaming in pain. Ice was brought and the ambulance called, and later we found out he dislocated his elbow, out for at least 3 weeks.

At the risk of sounding selfish, this is my partner for the show 2 days later! So after he was carted away in an ambulance, we had an emergency rehearsal to replace him. I am actually very comfortable with his replacement. It is just stressful to make changes so close to the show! We just had the rest of that day and the next to organize everything, and it's not fun dancing with a very nervous partner, either. I want him to be confident so I can feel confident!

Wish me merde...


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dear Sanna - Catching Up

So we missed a lot during those technical difficulties! I can't believe I haven't blogged since, but the show was just fine. I didn't do that much, like I said, but everything was just fine. The director did laugh about my character role in the beginning (I had to fill in for the girl who was filling in for my more demanding part). Apparently it was clear that I didn't really know what I was doing and the basket in which I was supposed to be carrying the baby and main character looked empty. But that's not really my fault...

Anyway I pretty much jumped right back in. I was in shape for the most part, like I thought, although I did notice jumping was a little difficult after 2 weeks without it.

I didn't miss out on that part the director threatened I might miss, either (it's not that great anyway, but I am cast and I appreciate that). I am doing a nice role in this year's story ballet, too, so what more can I ask for?

Next week we have another performance of the one we did all last year and the day I came back from my trip, and it even looks like I am going to do that big role again! I asked to rehearse today just in case, and the ballet mistress told me it looks much better, even though I have not really physically rehearsed - I guess the mental rehearsals are really paying off. I hope I get to perform and can really make something of it.

Also, we have one random performance of the ballet we took on tour last year, if you remember the one where I had a lot of problems with the other girl I was dancing with. I was uneasy before we knew casting, because I really hate to be taken out of a part, but I also hate working with this girl. I found out yesterday I am doing it. With her, so it will be a headache, but I suppose not doing would also be a headache, so I should at least be happy they chose me and try to take advantage of this opportunity to figure out how to make it work with this girl!

Wish me luck :)


Monday, October 18, 2010

Hello everyone!

We had log in issues! We are back on track. Thank you for your patience.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Journey Beyond and Back ....

Welcome home Janie!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I missed you! I was waiting to hear from you every day. I knew you would have a lot of fun. What a wonderful experience to travel with your Mom, too. am sure it was bonding and a life long memory of time spent with her.

You can expect reentry challenges. It can be as brief or long as you want. Getting sleep (LISTEN to Stepping to Sleep, sleep program for dancers available on line)

You have tools to use. Practice what I have taught you - to visualize, using EFT and other performance tools. For those of you who dont know what I am referring too. Read through previous posts for info.

Companies can be compassionate. My daughter had foot surgery in may and as she is building her strength the directors has been very understanding. Be patient as you return to your work. These are the moments that make you stronger.

Sanna Carapellotti,MS CHt'
Hypnotherapist for dancers.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Dear Sanna - home, erm, second-home sweet home

Just got back and it was amazing. I saw places more beautiful than I could have ever imagined existed. I felt like I was in a fairytale - it was really magical. And the hotels were by far the nicest I've ever stayed in, each meal more extravagant than the last with unlimited wine and tours of every amazing place booked us solid for the last few weeks. So I have to say I am happy it's over and thrilled to be going back to work tomorrow, even if it will be tough performing my first day back!

Actually the amazing hotels all had gorgeous gyms, often with a view, hardwood floors, mirrors, and a barre, so I happily gave myself a barre, mini center, and rehearsals about 2/3 of the days I was gone, so I don't feel too too out of shape. We did walk a lot, too, but the amount of food was incredible. I'm not sure how much it affected me, however, because after a while I just didn't want anymore. Enough is enough! I think it will be a long time before I want to even think about food from this country again.

I also used down time traveling or insomnia to mentally rehearse, which I think has also prepared me for tomorrow. I have done this show many many times, and I am not even doing the most challenging parts tomorrow (the ballet master kindly gave me a break, understanding this will not be an easy show for me).

So I think I have prepared to the best of my ability - the only thing left to do is get a good night's rest and go for it tomorrow! Wish me luck


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Keep in shape mind and body -

Yes, you are planning for a brief departure quite nicely and I must say with confidence.

You have the opportunity to go into a trance state everyday while traveling and rehearse your pieces. Remember that this is not thinking them through, but watching them in motion in full sensory expression. As if you are watching a movie. This is just as important as your physical practice.

Without a doubt you will stretch, work out and walk perhaps while vacationing? You are in such good shape, you want to go and have fun with out this worry. It may take you a few days to get your stamina back, yet it is not all or nothing. You just returned quite beautifully from a longer break.

STOP. Enjoy life and take a breather.
Write and tell us where you are? Maybe you can take in a ballet?

Love you all,

Sanna Carapellotti, MS CHt

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dear Sanna - Cool

So the way things have been going, it appears that I might actually go back into the soloist role I am missing out on while I'm away. But if not, I will definitely go back to do my normal part and I would be fine with that. I am also less nervous that there will be no parts for me when I come back. There seems to be a need for me, and I am just really not stressed out about it.

I rehearse everything in the back full out, and the other day when I was doing the variation the director even gave me corrections and said it was good. More than anything, I am just afraid in the two weeks I am gone I will get out of shape and it will be hard to get back into it, but I will pass that, too.

So basically I am just working really hard for myself and looking forward to my trip - next week already! Hopefully everything doesn't change while I'm gone, but once it's over I have a feeling people will quickly forget about it. I will remember this trip forever, though :)


Monday, September 6, 2010

Dear Sanna - Back! (for a bit)

I can't believe we won an award! Thanks to the readers for contributing to the success of this blog! Yay go us :)

Sorry for the long break, by the way. Not only did I just recently get back to work, I was also having internet issues up until now. It has been a very busy week so far, trying to get back into shape, remembering everything, taking in all the new. It is going to be an exciting year - I am thrilled to see many new dancers in the company, all eager to work. I think it will be a good boost for the work ethic and morale of the whole group.

Unfortunately, there is a slight hiccup in the beginning of my year. You might remember the trip I spoke of in July? Well it is coming up fast. On the first day back at work, we had rehearsal for a part we did all last year. I was the understudy for a main role, which I did perform a few times. That girl left the company, so I was cast in that role. Then I heard that the first performance is the day after I return. So I had to go to the ballet mistress and explain, asking if the director hadn't told her anything. So for the time being I am just doing a few of my corps spots in that ballet. I hope I will go back into the part when I return, but I don't know. Then I had to be replaced in the first new thing we are working on, because there is also a performance of that while I'm away.

It doesn't necessarily mean anything. It could be bad, and when I return I will continue doing nothing until there is a new ballet to cast. It could be great - I could continue to not do corps roles and end up performing mainly soloist parts. It could be a moot point and I will go back to my usual spots when I get back. Who knows? The director is of course not thrilled that I am leaving, but isn't being too too horrible towards me. I can just work hard and hope for the best.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

HypnoDIning Helps Performers with Stress Eating!

I have created a class to help with stress & emotional eating. If you have this struggle, you know how it feels AND it takes your energy and focus away from your performance. When the body is preparing from performance or audition, energy rises and there are sensations in the stomach are misread as anxiety and fear.

A common response it to reach for food or sugar drinks to silence it. For relief. This cretaes problems in the system and takes you away from your power.

What if you could discover a way to eat more mindfully? To care for your bodily needs with nonfood approaches to empowerment?

You can end this struggle with food and love eating again.

Email me for a FREE consultation.

Thank you --
You want to do your best ... Taking care of your dancing body is paramount.

Sanna Carapellotti


Janie was on break for the month of August. I thought she should rest, enjoy her family and take a breather.
I hope you had some good fun. I have a surprise for the readers. I will post it this coming week!

Janie, well look forward to YOU when you settle in!

Love you all!
Sanna Carapellotti, MS Cht

Stepping to SLeep, better sleep for dancers available on line! Recommended by Dance Magazine. You sleep and perform better!

Friday, August 20, 2010

From a Reader

This comment brought a blessed tear to my eye. I am thrilled that we have been able to help our readers and that you, A, are dancing with the company of your dreams. I have read your comments since the beginning, A, and have often wondered about you.Yes, the road ahead is a long one, yet you have discovered that there are ways to handle the stress so you stay empwoered and focused. Good for you. I wish you all the best. If you contact me directly on my email, I have a gift for you.

Sanna Carapellotti, MS CHt

Dear Janie and Sanna,

3 years, 3 cities, and 4 studios ago I heard of this blog through another girl on POINTE magazine message boards. I instantly became facinated and realated to Janie's stories and problems, and have kept up wiht this blog almost religiously since. Knowing that there was someone else who had gone and was going through the same problems and was succeeding was so insprational to me! Advice that was given on how to handle situations was filed away in my brain and I have been able to use it on several occasions since I've started following this blog.

As of last monday I am now an apprentice in the company of my dreams. I know there is much struggle that lies ahead still but I don't think it can be ahlf as bad as it would ahve been ahd I not learned so much from this blog.

Thank you so much for all your inspration and advice because I trul don't think I would ahve been sane enough to get to where I am without it!

I fully intend to continue to follow the blog! Thank you so much!


Friday, August 13, 2010

Janie, We Won A Top Blog AWARD!

Is this cool or what! I am excited that you and I are being recognized for our work. It has been nearly three years since we began blogging together. I have learned a lot and am very proud to be helpful. You and all of our readers deserve a round of applause!

Sanna Carapellotti, MS CHt

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Your Expression -

Hello Janie,
I can appreciate your frustration and question. I have worked with many performers with self-expression. Believ eit or not even football players can "BE SOMEONE ELSE." Let me explain.

We all perform daily. When I put my work clothes on I am a different person helping people to strengthen and heal. When I am dressed to the nines, I behave in a different way.

Athletes can 'perform' with the added power of assuming the power of an animal. For example, one lineman said he felt like a lion. So we set up a method for him to be fast, explosive and powerful acting as if he is a lion. His perfomrance improved significantly. He serves as the vehicle ... powered by a deliberate mind.

In dance, every piece has an interpretation created by the choreographer teamed with other artists. Sometimes the character is defined, Sugar Plum, or the piece is abstract. You can create ways to BECOME more expressive. Your director is correct. You rarely dance as JANIE, because you are the vehicle of expression.

Take Sugar Plum Fairy Role. You wan to be beautiful, powerful and full of poise and strength. You can create a history of the character for yourself. Ask questions such as - How did I get to become SP? Where do I live? What is a typical day like for me? Who else is in my life? Family? You create a story that serves as a foundation that carries you to the stage. It is easier to act as if when who you have become has a history.

When you step out on the stage, you have a true purpose for being there. Have earned your place.

When a piece is not as clearly defined. Create words or feeling tones to describe what you sense as you learn the piece. Learn the technique first and then develop the expression.

If there is a happiness fun feel to the piece you enliven it up with facial expression, animated movements and energy. You can create a word that links to this expressions - You might even be reminded of a character that has that feel.

You see. You are rarely JANIE. When you dance as 'someone else' of course you are still Janie.

try this at practice: Pretend you are Janie. Dance as if you are her. Tell us how you are different and what has changed?

Love to you all!
Sanna Carapellotti, MS CHt
Sports and Arts Hypnosis.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dear Sanna - "Don't Be Janie"

Sometimes I get corrections, and when I apply them the director says "Good! Good girl! now that's not Janie. Don't be Janie." I sometimes also get it in a negative way "No, no don't be Janie - not like that."

I understand that I need to do something different - that is why I am getting the correction in the first place, but it drives me crazy to be told not to be myself! Shouldn't dancing come from inside? I know it's just the way the director says it and not actually what she wants that bothers me, but it is hard for me not to react in a really sarcastic, annoyed way.

I guess writing this I realize that dance is kind of like acting, and we need to take on characters when we perform, even if it is not specifically a story ballet. Maybe I can interpret this as not being Janie the person, but Janie the ballerina, or whoever I am being in this specific role. Maybe that will help me a little.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Speaking at the Rotary Luncheon

Tuesday, July 20. 12:00 PM
Point Pleasant, PA
Blue Flame Restaurant

Topic: Mindful Eating for Better Health

Janie's Upset

Hi Janie,

You last post is an excellent example of the challenges we can all face with self-esteem, managing stress and confidence on the job. I am wondering if dancer's / performers establish territories for various roles and positions. I am going to guess yes. It would be the same as in the corporate world when someone gets bumped or "traded," even if th eposition is ill suited and stressful. We 'own ' the position/role and the stress that goes along with it.

A close friend was fired from a high powered job last week that he tried to love and hated. He was told they were going in another direction when he clearly knew that it was the result of long standing conflict with his boss. HOWEVER, now only one week later his physical pain has diminished, he is happier, and he realized that HE would have never quit, yet sees how sometimes the "universe" takes care of us in strange ways. he got fired!

In your work, you don't always, rarely have any say so with regard to your role in a piece. You are cast. You are to do your best no matter what the choreography, the personality of the dancer, the costuming ... and on.

In this case Janie, you let yourself personalize this switch rather than seeing it as a gift. You struggled with the choreography, the partner and other aspects. It caused you stress, big stress. You realize there is a cost to that.

In your world, lack of control over your body, illness, joint pain, injury, poor performance, low emotionality. In other words the body does not lie in its expressions and performance ability.

When you personalize, you add stress to the change. rather than allowing the not knowing what is going on to be just that until you find out. You always have a choice, Janie. What if you decided with a big sigh of relief, I am happy that they changed that. I was too too stress for many reasons.

Remember you don't have control over who is cast and when changes are made. And it is not always about you. There job it to set the stage with the best dancers for the choreography. Everytime your personalize you lose the VALUE of the change. there can be a feeling of loss for sure. Can you simply acknowledge. I feel sad at this change. OR I am relieved.

Got it?

Love ya -
Sanna Carapellotti, MS CHt
Performance Hypnotherapist

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dear Sanna - Mixed Feelings

I didn't know how to feel the other day when I walked in and saw the schedule. There was a rehearsal for the part that has been the source of most of my stress this year - the one where I dance with the impossible girl. But another girl was written in my place. She is definitely of a higher level than me and will look better with the other girl, plus I don't really enjoy the part anymore anyway because it is just so hard to work with this girl (and is a really hard part anyway).

On the other hand, it never exactly feels good to be taken out of a part, so I was kind of upset at first. Then before the rehearsal one of the ballet mistresses called me over and told me they weren't taking me out because I am bad or can't do the part. I just have a lot on my plate right now so they gave it to the other dancer.

So I guess it's actually the perfect solution. I didn't really want to do the part, but I didn't want to be so bad I was taken out. I'm just a little disappointed that it couldn't have worked out so I would do the part well and enjoy doing it, but that wasn't going to happen anyway.

And the boy who partners the girl I had problems with (let's call her Lacy) and I had a very good laugh during the rehearsal when Lacy immediately started fighting with my replacement (who had done the part years before) and in the end the replacement made Lacy change all the parts she made me change back to the original choreography. :)


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Dear Sanna - Yay!!

I must say these last few weeks before vacation are pretty hard. We are all very tired from a long year and very much looking forward to some real time off. Plus, we are sick of doing the same ballets all year, some even longer than that, and in this last stretch we are doing almost all the ballets we have done this year. It is very difficult to work on so many different ballets at once, plus a new one nobody is all that excited about. Right now it seems so mundane. I know next season it will be better because we will have more new pieces to work on, but right now I really need to try to motivate myself to work.

But I had a wonderful boost of confidence the other day. I was stretching before rehearsal when the director started asking me about a new girl who might come and her current company. In the middle of our conversation the director said I had lost enough weight and not to loose any more. She has never told me not to loose weight before, and I know it is not even always directly connected to my actual weight. It just means in general she is happy with me, so I felt really great after that. It's not that I need to be told I'm skinny or something to be happy. I know how I look and how much I weigh, but since I know this is the director's way of showing she is happy with me, it was really great to hear.

I am also relieved that the huge favor my mom and I asked of the director did not seem to have a long lasting negative impact. Maybe it even proved that I am in a good place here. Yay :)


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Dear Sanna - The call

The clock was ticking, and still the director had not given me the impression that we were on good terms, but also not that it was bad. I just didn't know, but my mom kept asking if she could call, so on a day the director was in a relatively good mood, I gave her the okay, reminding her that the director is completely crazy and must be dealt with very, very carefully, sucking up at every possible moment. Without actually lying, my mom had to present the truth in a way that made it clear it was completely the director's decision(if not idea). I get a message from my mom about an hour later, that says yay. I was so excited! I called her immediately and asked how she possibly did it. She told the director about the trip, explaining she earned it for free and could take one person and chose me, but didn't want to tell me about it until she cleared it with the director since I (Janie) would never ask for such a thing from the director. She explained it was during a holiday and after not so much cajoling, the director agreed and understood that once my mom made arrangements the trip could not be cancelled. The director said they would not normally agree to this, but they like me very much and I am a good girl! I figured she wasn't mad...

...but it's not over. The next day during rehearsal the director told me to talk to her after. So at the end of the day I sat next to her and she asked me if my mother called. "Do you really want to go?" she asked. I didn't know what to say, because not only would my mom (and I) be horribly disappointed if I couldn't go after all, but I was pretty sure my mom already started making arrangements (she was pretty excited). I told her that of course whatever she decided was her word and that was final, but the trip really means a lot to me and my mom. I guess I should've known it wouldn't be easy and the director wouldn't be exactly thrilled about me going, so I got an earful of guilt-tripping, being reminded that I will miss a lot of work and they will not stop performances or anything else for me and I won't be paid as much that month and blah blah blah, but in the end she said I could go, and I guess that's what matters. I am starting to learn that if the director wants to like me and be nice to me, she will, and if not she will find any reason to be angry, pretty much regardless of how I act. So I might as well do what is really important to me, and try to make her happy when I can.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dear Sanna - It's Tough To Need A Favor!

So the other day my mom calls me and tells me she wants me to go with her on a once-in-a-lifetime trip this fall. The tour is completely paid for and organized by her employer, and she can bring one person of her choice. So she chose me, if I can go, that is. But in this company people are not even allowed to miss one day of work to go to a parent's funeral, so how will I possibly manage to get permission for this?

I considered lying or just asking straightforwardly, but decided not going was better than those two options. After discussing with some friends though, we decided the best thing to do is completely unheard of in any other type of professional situation: have my mommy call. Kids, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. It sounds like the most childish, stupid, and ineffective way to get something you want in the workplace, but unfortunately with this artistic director some things just don't work normally.

We collectively came up with this plan, because there are strong rumors another girl did a similar thing earlier this year, having her mom come to the director and make a deal allowing her daughter to miss 2 weeks of work. It was a secret, of course, so we all know about it. I hated to even tell my mom about this plan, because it is so ridiculous and in normal situations I would NEVER allow her to negotiate with my employer for me, but like I said these are special circumstances. So I explained to her to forget all normal behavior, pretend this is a surprise for me and I don't know about (so the director cannot blame me), and suck up as much as possible.

We planned a specific time for when she should call, as long as I speak to my mom before to confirm that the director is in a good mood. Unfortunately, just before that day came a ballet mistress asked me what I am going to do about my weight, because the director isn't happy again. This is so frustrating, because I know if the director thinks I'm fat, everything will be a problem no matter what. So now I am trying my absolute best to get the director to think I look good, so we will actually have a shot at this vacation. Wish us luck!


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Janie, You can Dance.

I am responding to your last post - the negative one.

1. We cannot generalize. Yes, there are companies who have laid off dancers. There are also companies who have hired. Belive it or not, some companies work in the black, meaning they have a budget and stick to it.
Also, keep in mind, dancers, retired, stop dancing, are injured or are fired ...which also opens the door for placements.

I know of two companies who have hired this year and last year (when the economy was in worse shape.

Yes, there is competition. There is ALWAYS competition. You have to ask yourself, "What do I want?" Do I have the necessary techniques - mind and body, to be competitive. There are countless stories of those who make against all odds.

Janie, you are buying into resignation and a general malaise of the world population.

2. Yes, you live abroad. You would have to plan, plan, and plan. Use contacts. Talk with fellow dancers. There are also other companies in Europe, Asia and all.

3. Yes, That is one of the challenges of auditioning when you are gainfully employed. You sent a video to this company. Prepare something extravagant and noteworthy. Begin now and you will have one ready when you decide to look elsewhere.

4. Audition season is over. Positions can open during the year for the reasons, I mentioned above.

5. Taking class. Who do you know? Ask your friends who are dancers for an invitation.

6. So you now have an expanded repetoire. Sounds inviting. PLEASE DO NOT ISOLATE yourself with a belief like that, Janie. If you learned a new technique - you can be more desireable and also learn other techniques.

My daughter is now learning Vaganova method. It has been a transition for her, yet she is growing more confident and capable. DO NOT SELL YOURSELF SHORT.

IF YOU PERCEIVE YOURSELF TO BE STUCK then you are stuck. Dance there until you are ready to move on. The dance world is not static and is forever evolving.

IMPORTANT: MAINTAIN YOUR CONTACTS. Write to your biggest fans. Say Hello to old teachers. Give them an update. Keep active with the world outside of your studio.

Love you, Janie and all others who dance.

Sanna Carapellotti, MS Cht

P.S. All comments welcome.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dear Sanna - Why I can't dance in the states

Okay so this is a negative post. But you asked and maybe it will help to let it out

1. It is impossible right now to get a job almost ANYWHERE, so I am lucky to even have a job at all. Companies are cutting back on their budgets and dancers, so there is more competition than ever with dancers fresh out of school and those being laid off from their current companies.

2. I do not live in the states right now, so it is very difficult to be in contact with companies and do auditions.

3. When I can come back to the states, it is not audition season and most companies aren't even working but on summer vacation, so there will be nobody to see me.

4. Audition season is over for this year, so positions are already filled.

5. When I did ask to take company classes at a few places during audition season when we were on tour, none of the companies would even let me take class, so why would they let me take class now?

6. I am studying now with non-American teachers, so my technique is changing and I will not fit in with American companies anymore.

So I feel kind of stuck. Not that I am dying to leave... right now.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Write the Good THINGS YOU DO

JANIE, Dancers are very hard and critical of themselves. Try this - After every performance, write what you did well. I remembered this variation very well. I had all my make-up, I was strong.

Built a repetoire of positive experiences. See them on paper and how they accumulate. It is easy to internalize and 'see' only the struggles, mishaps and 'near catastrophies.' I can only imagine spinning at the edge of a stage, yet you did it.

Not dancing that role again could be a logical consequence and maybe not. Don't scare yourself into believing that they are cutting back your roles and participation because of that hiccup. Do not make it a belief. Learn from it. Could you have done anything different?

Remember you can look to that experience and learn from it.

In your company what may feel illogical to you may not be logical to how they proceed. Interesting, eh? I hear very little positive from dancers I work with about how companies are managed. It is their perception. You don't always know what goes on behind the scenes and why decisions are made. It's like being a parent in a way.

Sanna Carapellotti, MS CHt
Performance Hypnosis for Athletes and the Arts.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Dear Sanna - Yay!

The other day was the performance I talked about in the last post. I was nervous again to do the lead role, and the stage was TINY. I freaked myself out a little when I had to do a difficult turn and I was very close to the edge of the stage, and had an obvious hiccup in the turn, but other than that I think the show went pretty well. The artistic director told me after that things like that pirouette should not happen, and in another company they would never allow me to dance the part again, but in general it was better and I am improving.

Even though the dancer I replaced came back that day, I danced the role again today. It was actually the logical choice, since the other girl hadn't danced all week and we all rehearsed this cast, not how it would be with the other dancer, but it was still nice that the director wanted me to dance because our company does not always do things the logical way.

Today's show was much better. Of course there are always little things I wish could've gone better, but I felt much more comfortable in the role. I hate to dance after a day off, but it was actually fine. A dancer I really look up to even told me it was better, and I got good feedback from the ballet mistress as well. Unfortunately this is probably the last time I will dance this role, at least for this season, but I can never be sure. Even if it is, I am happy with how it went.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dear Sanna - catching up

Sorry I haven't been blogging - it's not because nothing is going on, just too much! I have been so busy. We had our premier of a new ballet, plus my premier in a new part for an old ballet, and another performance of my favorite piece in the company's repetoire (this was all one performance - a triple bill). I was pretty nervous because I do a lot in this program. In the new ballet I am doing almost all corps parts, plus a few demi-soloist type things. This is a lot in itself, although of all the pieces I have seen which the director choreographed, this is by far my favorite.

Then I do the second piece, which is only 6 girls and 6 guys, so the rest of the company gets a break at this time. Just because it is new for me, it takes a lot of energy, plus it is a pretty technical piece. I am also very happy to dance this ballet, too. It is a nice challenge, and I enjoy the choreography and music very much.

The third piece is by far my favorite. I think it is also one of the hardest things I've done here, but I enjoy it so much and have become very comfortable with it since we performed it a few times now.

The premier went pretty well, and after the director told me I looked better (just I shouldn't smile. apparently she tells everyone this, so I don't feel so bad, but she says I look like there is a bad smell when I smile. It's hard for me to control my face at all, let alone to not smile without looking miserable or blank)

Then we went on an overnight tour with the story ballet. It was fun to get away a little, stay in a hotel and explore a different place, but we came home very late after the last show there, and I was exhausted. We had a day off but my sleep pattern was messed up and when we returned to work the day after, I felt very weak and tired.

To top off my mood, the dancer whom I understudy came to me and told me her grandmother was sick so she will not be dancing next thursday, and I will go in again for her. Looking back on the last show I filled in for her, I am actually pretty embarrassed. I just was not well enough prepared for this role, and it's not great for my confidence that I fell into this role by default, not because I was chosen. Anyway every time I saw the other dancer in this part after, I was honestly relieved it wasn't me. So I wasn't exactly thrilled with this news. The rehearsals that day didn't go so great. I was tired and had to work the hardest out of everyone, staying late after to make sure I remembered all the parts and trying to clean them a little.

I went home and thought about all my corrections, got a good night's sleep, and decided that I needed to chance the part of the variation that stressed me out so much (the one that caused me to yell at the director, etc.). The other dancer actually chanced it a long time ago, so the next day I came and asked if I could do the same. Rehearsals went so much better that day. I feel so much more secure in the role. AND, while I was rehearsing the variation, the director came in a gave a few corrections and said it was much better. After I even asked for a new pair of pointe shoes (in this company this is a very big deal and difficult process) and the director gave them to me without hesitation and told me I looked much better and I would have a lot of opportunities here! She is officially done hating me! yay!!!

So now I still have almost a week to prepare for the role, with a newfound confidence, new shoes, and a new outlook. Janie is happy :)


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dancing has it's own life -

Good morning, Janie,

I realize I have been 'away' from the blog. My work is bustling with performers who want to do what they do better and stronger and I have been developing a program with a local MD for weight loss. I am also finishing up a weight management program. So it has been an involved time for us here at Mental Performances.

I also consciously decided to allow your previous blog to float, meaning to not directly intervene. It is important to recognize that as in life, ballet has this anguish that can be all consuming along with the joy and passion that is equally as consuming.
Moving through difficult times is hard, really hard becasue you feel it in every cell of the body, your soul and you have to use the soul driven body to express this beautiful passion and joy.

When someone behaves in that way toward you in the studio or street, the question is - Where are the boundaries? If you best friend spoke to you in that way, you might decide to step away from the relationship. If a stranger shouted at you, you might return the impulse with a shout, or create distance by walking away.

In the studio there can be FEAR and CONTROL instilled by some teachers (who have emotional problems). This does not describe all teachers and there certainly is a difference between being firm and having a angry tirade because the piece is in shambles and show time is days away AND an emotional assault. Sadly some ballet dancers believe that emotional assaults are OK and just the way it is.

Not all companies and teachers emotionally abuse their company members and students. Let's be clear. Arnott Mader, Richmond Ballet is a prime example. he is dearly loved by generations of dance students and professionals. His classes are described as kick ass and down right hard and inspiring. How does he do it? A careful balance of love and guidance. I have sat in on his classes. He is tough, challenging, would never EVER denigrate a student. His respect for them provides a mentoring relationship.

One little dancer with serious performance angst said during her session, "My teacher said that her teacher was mean and a good ballet teacher has to be firm; otherwise we will get lazy." Is this true? Absolutely not.

What is the message here? This teacher may believe that she drives motivation, (She is in fantasy land). Associating FEAR with motivation and performance may work with a small few. Not for most. You dance because you choose this as your profession. It is your 'soul' expression of who you are. No one can make anyone handle the rigors of ballet unless one is internally motivated and passionate about ballet.

Without rambling on ... You have to choose.

Do you internalize someone's emotional troubles and create destructive belief systems about yourself and your performance capabilities?

How do you manage? Do you dare to speak up? What IF you called a meeting? What if you respectfully pulled a teacher aside after class and politely said, "I understand you are frustrated, yet I work better if you show me exactly what I need to do. please do not say those mean things to me."

Maybe she needs to hear this. What are the risks? Your job? Roles? Respect? Boundaries?
You wouldn't know unless you change your response.

You can also decide methods to manage the stress.

1. I would HIGHLY recommend that you do kind things for yourself everyday. Could you listen to one of the programs on the MENTAL PERFORMANCES audios once a day (They are 15 minutes). These can give you a necessary boost and put things in perspective. I will send you my newest "Performance Brilliance" on the Coach in my Bag MP3 player for performers.

DO NOT WAIT until you are stressed to try to feel better, Feel increasingly better NOW becasue these moments will occur.

2. Talk with a friend about what is true. You can make a list of what you believe about your dancing. You will discover that most of it is opinion and false.

You can dance here in the STATES, Janie. That is a limiting belief for next post. Could you write a little about that.

I must attend to my work ... I will be in touch after you respond.

Sanna Carapellotti, MS CHt

Creator of Coach in My Bag MP3 for performers!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Dear Sanna - feeling better

That was a frustrating patch, but I am feeling much better. It's funny how you can feel completely different when nothing really changes. We had the last performance of the program we took on tour last monday. It was the one the dancer in the company helped me work on, and also the one where I dance with the girl who is very difficult to work with. The next day half the company was away doing a children's performance, and the director asked to talk to me.

She apparently was very angry about this rehearsal the day before I had to step in for that big role, weeks ago. She was screaming at me while I tried to do the hardest, most stressful thing, so I lost it and said "I can't concentrate when you're screaming at me!". Normally she would respond to a comment like this, but for some reason she didn't. It was not THAT bad, especially compared to how a lot of other people act, but it was unlike me, and for some reason the director either truly felt very offended, or wants me to think that. She said she will never forget that and that's why she didn't really talk to me for a few weeks.

In this same talk she told me I dance too stiffly (she always says this but this time was more critical. she was just not happy that day in general and there weren't enough people at work to yell at, so I got it pretty bad)and the show monday was not any better (When I told the dancer who worked with me about this she was very surprised). She also said I need to lose weight.

This is just how the director is. She can go from loving you to hating you in a second, so it's normal for a period where she doesn't like me, it's just not all that pleasant. Once I lose a little weight, I'm sure she will love me again. She is already kinder towards me.

Oh yeah and remember how I danced that piece for that girl who left and then she came back and went back in to her old part? Well now I am back in, replacing another girl. It's not as big a part, and I have new challenges, but I am happy to be dancing this piece again.

In other news, here's this article I found on my role model! In case you're interested...


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dear Sanna - my biggest fear

I guess my biggest fear is just wasting time and being unhappy. I hate to think I am wasting time working the wrong way or working for something I will never achieve. I just don't want to get stuck in a place if it doesn't make me truly happy.

I am feeling a little better about things, though. One of the best dancers in the company, who is making the transition into teaching, took me aside the other day to really work with me on one of the parts I especially have trouble with. I forgot what it's like to really work on something and see results. Unlike the other teachers who just scream and make me frustrated, she knows how to actually get me to fix the problems. I can't stand to hear over and over again the same corrections: "you don't bend enough" "more!" "you're not together" "jump!" I feel like I am "bending" as much as I can. More what? When exactly are we not together and why? How can I fix these things without knowing specifically what I need to do?

So this dancer is great, helping me break down each problematic area and discovering why it doesn't look quite right. I move my arms and legs together, instead of my arms being slightly ahead, so it looks stiff and frantic. Simple as that, without actually bending more, I am giving off that effect.

Also a nice day of rest with good friends always helps. As much as I love my friends here of different cultures, sometimes I find it really hard to be myself. I can't make references to pop culture or even make too many jokes, because it gets lost in translation. And sometimes I just feel like there is nothing to say to get off the subject of work. I love talking about ballet - it's my passion. I even wonder sometimes why I don't get sick of talking about it, because sometimes I feel like I could just never get tired of it and I don't understand when other dancers refuse to watch ballets on tv or do anything associated with dance after working hours. But finally I am beginning to understand. When I have a bad day at work or I am stressed out about it, I just want to get my mind off it, and with certain people I can't think of anything else to talk about.

That's why I was so happy for a short get away with this great group of friends I found. One is in the company with me, but the rest are just great, normal (well at least non-dancers) people who happen to love lots of the same things I do and speak English perfectly. It's the best and I feel so lucky to have found my niche with them.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Needs -

What is your biggest fear?


Dear Sanna - zero confidence

It's been a week now since the show, but I'll briefly tell you how it went. We worked on the variation a little, and like everything, the first time it's natural and maybe not so good, but fairly comfortable for me. Then I work on it and the corrections are uncomfortable so it doesn't look so good, but eventually after a lot of work it gets there. But there just wasn't time for this whole process, so I was trying to do a mixture of corrections and comfort. Anyway who knows how it would've gone under normal circumstances, because we got stuck in traffic and arrived an hour and a half before the show, after doing class in the studio and driving more than 4 hours.

So I was pretty cold and we had no time for spacing, during which I planned on doing everything full for a little extra practice, warm-up, and breaking in new pointe shoes all at once. But there was just time to do my hair and makeup, get dressed, and run the variation before show time. I opted for the older shoes. I felt much more stable during the partnering sections and I tried to "dance" more, but by the end of the variation both my shoes and my foot had had it, and I had to turn my last 6 italian fouettes into a pique turn diagonal. Everyone said it was a good save, but I am yet to see the video, and I felt pretty frantic during the italian fouettes I did do.

Anyway lately I just feel like a kicked puppy. I find it hard to take corrections without getting personally offended, and I am even more self-conscious than normal. I can just feel everyone's eyes on me during barre especially, but all the time. I can barely use my head for subconscious fear of making eye contact with someone! What is wrong with me? And I am just depressed about the state of my dancing instead of inspired to get better. Maybe letting this all out itself with help a little, but I am just so disgruntled. Everyone says all the time that I look embarrassed or like I don't want to be there when I am dancing, and I need to dance like I think I'm amazing, but how can I do that if I know it's not true? I hate when people dance with forced expression. I think it's something you naturally have or acquire, but not something you can force.

I just feel like crying. I thought I couldn't dance in the states, but actually I'm getting the feeling that can't dance anywhere else. I can't be this european ballerina/actress.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Dear Sanna - another chance?

Well Erin came today, but I had a private rehearsal scheduled for her part, so it looks like I will be dancing this part in the next show, too. I have no idea if this is based on the fact that Erin is too sick to do it, since she did look pretty weak today and it is her first day back in a while, or if the director wants me to dance or what. I haven't even seen the director since the show, because she did not come backstage after and has been home sick ever since.

Either way, I will be dancing Thursday. When people asked me if I wanted to dance again, I didn't really know how to answer, because I think this is important experience that I need, but I also think that I need time to get the part really good. I feel that I do a part the first time how it feels most natural to me. Then I get corrections, and it feels awkward as I try to get the corrections into my body, and maybe it doesn't look so great and I can't get through as easily as the first time. Then I eventually work it out so I can perform with the corrections without looking awkward. So this is a process that we just don't have time for now. Anyway I suppose a few more rehearsals couldn't hurt, so I will just count this as my second chance at being thrown in at the last minute. I still can't expect perfection, but hopefully I will be slightly less terrified when I step on stage.

Wish me "merde" again!


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Yes, you are also a teacher.

Janie, what a moment for you. Growth, Inspiring commitment.

In our work (whatever path we chose) there will be difficult moments. In my office a few years ago, someone had a psychotic break down; At a restaurant, a chef burns his hand somehow; On the field a player misses a catch to lose the game.

Understand that these moments make you stronger and a teacher for others who may be placed in the same position one day. How you handle them makes a huge difference in the moment, how others view you and how you handle situations in the future.

Of course this situation was less then optimal. It is never be optimal all the time. Yet, we are all called to do the best we can with what we have at THAT moment.

You write here about the wide range of experiences that are a part of this ballet world -- What the audience never sees and will certainly never experience, unless they are close with a performer.

Yes, it can take its toll in the moment with a headache and shakiness as you described below ... That was because YOU, Janie, put forth so much effort and so much energy that you stressed the body over its capacity. You had a responsibiltity to do your best. You survived and recovered.

That is a professional. You, Janie.

Sanna Carapelotti, MS CHt
Hypnotherapy and EFT for Dancers

PS: If you are not sleeping like Janie, You would not have had the power to do what she had been called to do. Buy Sleep here.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Dear Sanna - I survived

I feel like I just survived a trauma! After the performance, or even really after the first act (which is the hardest for this role), I had such a headache and I was sweating a lot and shakey and I could barely think, but at the same time incredibly relieved.

Of course it could have gone better. I only had one actual rehearsal with the intentions of performing, so mixed with watching a very outdated video several times last night and this morning, I wasn't exactly expecting perfection. But it was fine. Actually, in my opinion the worst part was when I stumbled doing a borre in the very beginning and almost fell. I'm told it was barely noticeable, but it felt HUGE! It's really hard to continue after that, but I forced myself not to worry about it and pretend it didn't happen. The variation was fine, although I did run out of steam a little bit in the end. In general I think I just probably looked about as nervous and tired as I was, since I did almost a full run before the show. I wanted to feel comfortable, so I thought it was better to try everything before the show. It doubled my rehearsals, so it must help a little, right?

But everyone was really nice. All my fellow dancers were really supportive, and even the ballet mistress who I can't stand was fairly nice. I got so much chocolate as gifts! And my best even got me a bottle of champagne, it was so sweet. I didn't see the artistic director for feedback, although she was actually in the audience, to my surprise.

It was definitely an experience. So stressful! I just had to keep reminding myself not to be too dramatic and not take myself so seriously. Because when I think about someone else in my situation, it seems much healthier to be optimistic and upbeat. It just makes everyone around you nervous if you seem completely unconfident. Let's just cross our fingers that Erin is better by the show on Thursday!


Friday, April 9, 2010

Quick Change Ballet

Wow, Janie, I am impressed with your ability to adjust to role changes and be so courageous to perform with our much rehearsal time. That is confidence, my friend.

Sanna Carapellotti, MS CHt
Dance Mom

Dear Sanna - random opportunities

The other day I noticed I hadn't blogged in a while, and there are new things going on here, but there was just nothing really all that exciting to share and I wasn't inspired. Well today I definitely got a healthy dose of drama for you all.

We have been rehearsing a mix of repertoire since we returned from our tour, and tomorrow we have a show of one of the ballets we started in the very beginning of the year. If you remember, I was really excited to be dancing one of the better roles in the ballet, and actually understudying the second-biggest role in the ballet. Well we had about a million shows of this, including a really intense week, performing twice on some days (which is really rare for this company). So if there was a chance of me performing the big role, I assumed it would've been on one of the double days to give first cast a rest. But it didn't happen, for whatever reason. Maybe I wasn't good enough or they didn't think about switching casts, or maybe it was just too complicated to try to replace my normal parts. So I figured I would never do it and kind of stopped paying too much attention, just rehearsing the variation sometimes for fun.

The other day the girl dancing the role, lets call her Erin, wasn't feeling great, so she asked if I wanted to rehearse the variation instead of her. The next day she didn't show up for rehearsal, but I had to jinx it and say there was no way she would miss the show Saturday. For some reason my confidence that she would perform did not even waver when Erin wasn't in class this morning (the show is tomorrow). So of course, the one time I do not even have an inkling of hope that I will dance, a ballet mistress comes in the middle of class and drags me into the small studio to watch the video and try to figure out what in the world I am doing for the million bajillion little entrances that I stopped learning months ago. Erin is apparently in the hospital, so tomorrow is show time.

On one hand, I used to barely even be able to get through the variation, and now I can do it. But that is not to say it is by any means good enough, and I have maybe done it a total of 5 times in the past 4 months, because we really haven't been working on this program. I also barely know these little entrances which involve a lot of acting and confidence - two things that really don't come naturally to me. But whatever happens happens - there's not so much I can do right now.

There were times I just wanted to cry today, but I will just have to trust myself and do my best. I hope I can sort of enjoy this opportunity, or at the very least learn something from this experience (and add this role to my resume!)

Wish me "merde"...


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Dear Sanna - Staying in Shape... or not

Staying in shape during the tour was definitely a struggle. First of all, I never feel like I can work as well during class on stage as in the studio. The classes are shorter and designed to warm you up, not to improve on technique. Also there is usually less space, so I cannot repeat combinations in center like I normally do. And of course there are no mirrors.

The amount of work we do is also shorter than a normal day. Usually we have rehearsals for multiple pieces where we repeat things several times, a performance is just one run, with maybe a mark-through before. Just the amount of work we do is less, which means more free time sitting around, eating, and getting out of shape.

Sometimes there were gyms in the hotel, but often we arrived after it already closed and I was not about to wake up early to work out. There was also food for us EVERYWHERE. First there was free breakfast in the hotel, which I was usually hungry for the morning after a show, since it was usually too late for a real dinner after. Then we often stopped somewhere before going to the theater for lunch, where I normally ate again whether I was hungry or not because I was never sure when I would have another chance to eat. Then there was almost always a huge spread of food for the dancers at the theater, and honestly if there is food it is just hard for me to not have something. Especially when it is different from what we are used to in this country and I want to try interesting things.

So on this tour I definitely got a little out of shape. But it is interesting to see how my body responds to this kind of situation, and I did learn how to at least prepare myself for a performance on tour and not go too crazy with all the food. It was never completely out of hand, just not my normal habits. I feel relaxed knowing it's okay to get a little out of shape, and now that I am back in the country and back to the routine, I am already back to normal

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sanna at DEA this weekend!

Yes, I am thrilled to be vending at Dance Educators of Amercia's Pittsburgh Dance Competition this weekend. There are 300 plus dancers in competition over three days time.

I want to wish all of them the BEST of luck and love as they show their best stuff to the world!!!

I will be there selling my programs and my newest Coach In My Bag, a Performance MP3, strictly for performers.
It has 13 tracks of high steppin' performance conditioning programs and there are more to come.

It has a pep talk, a visualizaton program, a sleep audio, ways to de-stress, fast acting waqys to feels happy instantly when your days is crappy ... and the best is Performance Brilliance. This powerful journey takes you inside your mind where you strongest potential lives and inspires it! You meet four aspects of self to super charge your desire - Performance Brilliance.
I am so excited about this program. You toss it in your dance bag and there it is whenever you need it ... going to class, at night, during a break, at rehearsals, on the way home.

There are also additional tracks coming for which you can purchase for a small small price. (Hint: Stop Stress Eating!) Read about it here -- Tell me what you think!

I am also interested in other issues with dancers. If you tell me an idea and I make a program, You can get an MP3 at a very reduced cost and I will dedicate it to you, anonymously if you wish. Send your idea to me at

Oh, yeah, If you come to visit me this weekend and say, Dance Mind, You will receive and automatic 20% off the purchase prices of Coach In My Bag!

I hope to see you there. It is gonna be Extraordinary!

Sanna Carapellotti, MS CHt

Friday, March 12, 2010

Dear Sanna - The Bus

I never spent so much time on a bus in my entire life as this tour. Starting with a 5-hour drive after getting off the loooong plane ride, there were few days without a 2-6 hour drive. Sometimes we traveled more than 12 hours. It was really a funny picture, too, since we dancers found some creative positions to sleep and sit. There were legs in the air all over the place, people lying in the aisles on the pilates mats many bought at target for $9.99, and watching somebody make their way from front to back or vice-versa was pretty funny since they had to do so without stepping on the people on the floor, climbing along the arm rests.

Unfortunately, it is difficult for me to read on the bus without getting sick, and I couldn't even really take advantage of the wi-fi for the same reason. So I tried to sleep sometime and also spoke with a lot of people I never really talked to much. It's funny but I actually improved a lot in the language of this country while we were abroad from talking with non-English speakers.

People also went a little crazy from these long drives. We were sore and stiff from sitting in the seats and often expected to perform just a few hours later. Sometimes I did some foot exercises, and stretched as well as I could in the seats, but it was difficult. There were fights over stopping more often for cigarette breaks or just a chance to stretch our legs, and some people just complained all the time.

It was definitely an experience. We saw a lot of beautiful scenery and some great landmarks from that bus. We even made friends with our bus driver, who stayed with us the entire trip and even learned a few words from the language of the company. But I think I can safely say I had enough driving to last me a while now.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dear Sanna - Finally back!

Whew that was a long tour indeed! Fun, tiring, stressful, frustrating, amazing - I think I went through just about every emotion over this month. It is impossible to tell everything in just one post, so maybe I will try to post about each subject in segments.

First segment: Casting

So, in the typical fashion of this company, there was no such thing as casting, even after arriving to the first hotel. The next day we had class at this tiny studio nearby with extremely scary slippery wooden floors (which the company immediately coated with a thick layer of rosin) and planned to have a few rehearsals.

Well one of our principle male dancers told the director weeks before he was having pain in his foot, but everyone just ignored this. At this point, before the tour even began, he could not dance at all. So we spent this day replacing him and working out the parts which would be affected. If you remember, the part I always stress about is all about stamina, so I wasn't particularly happy about not having a chance to at least run it that day, since it had already been 2 days since my last rehearsal of it. They did, at least, tell us that my cast would be performing in the first show (the next day).

We ran it before the show, and I actually felt okay. Wheezing and completely out of breath, as usual, but I survived. Our next show after that was a few days later, and we somehow managed to find out that my cast would perform that show and the one after. The second of these two shows was one where a girl from the other cast (let's call her Amanda) had family and she asked if she could perform there. I also told the director that it didn't matter to me and Amanda really wanted this show, but the director said probably not because this was an important place where we were performing and Amanda and her partner might not be good enough. After that performance the director asked me if I had family in the audience. When I said no, the director replied "Oh I thought you did. You know Amanda had a lot of family here, why didn't you say so?" That was frustrating. But I think the director knew exactly what was going on and didn't cast Amanda on purpose.

The other cast performed the following day in the worst theater from the whole trip, and again in another small city. The third time they were supposed to perform, Amanda had pain in her foot and couldn't dance, so we all pushed and somehow my friend and original partner got to dance in her place. We were all really happy she could have at least one chance to dance it, although it must have been really hard, not having rehearsed in almost a month, and never having done it with Amanda's partner. She did well, though.

So in the end, I performed 9 of the 12 performances of this program (there were 3 other performances of a different program, so 15 altogether). I was happy I was trusted to dance in the end, as first cast, too! I was constantly corrected to have more confidence in my dancing, and sometimes they said it was better. It's hard to fake confidence, and even harder to really have it, for me, so even the slightest improvement makes me happy, and probably even helps with the problem itself.

Good to be back! More soon,


Friday, February 26, 2010

While Janie Travels ...

Wow, she is on one long tour here in the Western Hemisphere! I have not heard from her. I know she is on a bus, had breakdowns (the bus) and have been all over No America. She will have good stories when she returns and her usual style of sharing insight.

I thought I would share a client story with you. This dancer gave me permission to use her story as a way of showing how healing can occur 'energetically.' I will not mention her real name.

"Caitlin called for an appointment because no one was taking her dance seriously. She felt weak and scared while on stage, in class. Did not want to perform in an upcoming recital. She felt like her family did not really care if she danced or not. Their support was not very enthusiastic. No one ever asked her "How's dance?" When they attend recitals it is 'ho'hum."

Caitlin is 18, in HS and has been dancing for many years. She wants to pursue a professional career, is told she has talent, but needs to be more energetic and expressive.

We talked.

We shifted the focus toward discussing her family. Parents were still married. Mother was a dance major in college and never pursued a career. Went straight to marriage and family. Her Mother's sister was an apprentice to a popular photographer in the USA and never followed through after the apprentice. She was offered a job, yet withdrew and takes pictures at family events. Another Aunt is a painter, seriously depressed and has been suicidal.

What do you see here in this family system? Creative women who for some reason could not, or were not allowed to express themselves. (reason? Not sure)

Catlin always knew this, yet never tied it to her struggles. If she were to stand in her power she breaks the lineage, the flow. Women in this family stick together. They DO NOT express themselves. Is Caitlin does she risks not belonging and maintaining her sadness and fears,


Caitlin lined up the women in front of her (I have footprints) and stood in front of each one. She said, "I dance. I choose to honor that you could not express yourself for whatever reason. I love you very much and I want you to wish me well in my dance. I dance and express myself for all of you." She moved from each women and said something similar to that.

We did a few other things for empowerment. Eliminated her fears and rebuild an experience to take to the stage,

She called two weeks later and said she wow'ed everyone. It was the first time she took herself seriously (BECAUSE she was following a tradition). She danced in all her glory. Free. Alive. Fun.

I believe that many performers do not reach their potential due to unconscious systems like the one above. The good news is that they are easy to shift. When you do, whew, the earth can move.

You might have already noticed how you take you life to the stage!
Thank you for being a fan of DANCE MIND.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Janie is still away!

Hello Everyone,
Janie is still 'out of the country." I look forward to hearing of her travels when she returns. The company has traveled long and far.

With Janie's keen insights and inside information we can trust a fresh viewpoint and a look at what can go right and wrong while traveling.

I'm sure you are all in the thick of rehearsals for upcoming performances. Tell us how it is going for you?

Sanna Carapellotti, MS CHt
Dance Mom

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Janie : On the road

I know you are on the road. I wish you and the company the best! This is a wonderful experience.

Meanwhile, I am going to put up here a quick stress reduction strategy that is on my new audio -- coming out in March.
Use it when you notice the feeling of stress and tell me what happens!!!

Finger Drop -
You can sit or stand for Finger Drop.

Gently rest your hand on or against your thigh. Raise only your pointer finger. Focus your eyes on an object or a shape in front of you. Breathe in and begin counting backwards slowly from 60 ... down to one ... with each number your finger falls every so slightly closer to the leg. When you say one ... your finger touches down and you relax.

Here read along and do it. Once you get it ... You got it.

You can count back by fives and eventually tens. The more you practice the easier it becomes and the faster you destress..

60 -- finger is raised and NOW Big breath in and out slowly. Remember your eyes are focused. 55. finger drops every so slightly. 50 ... breathe in and your eyes focus on something there in front of you.
45 -- it is so nice to relax.
40 - you are that important ...
35 - you deserve this time to yourself.
30 - breathing -- You will feel better very soon.
25 .. halfway there. you feel more relaxed.
20 - so nice ... let go a little more drop your shoulder. Keep your eyes focus.
15 your finger is getting closer to our leg ...
10 so very close to relaxation ....
5 ... ready to touch down and relax -
0. You Relax now. Take a big breath in . Blink your eyes a few times. Move your body around and step back into your life.

Let me know how this works for you. More to come...
Sanna Carapellotti, MS CHt
Dance Mom, Hypnotherapist

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Dear Sanna - what a mess

We have a slew of important performances coming up VERY soon *squeal of excitement/nerves* and yesterday's rehearsal was a mess. First of all, a few people were out sick, which complicates corps and makes it difficult to correct things or see what is wrong, since there are either gaps or people filling in who don't necessarily know what they are doing.

Then, before rehearsal for the part I talk about all the time - the musical casting - the artistic director decided to tell the pseudo-anorexic girl (i think she is more generally sick in the head than anorexic) that she needs to keep her weight under control because she is too up and down all the time. The director didn't necessarily say loose weight, but any conversation with this dancer other than "you are too skinny" results in an explosion.

So she was crying in the dressing room during rehearsal. She is part of the other cast. My other half was sick. The remaining girl and myself do the same part (for the most part, since my other half changed everything around so we are sometimes like the other group, sometimes opposite, and sometimes so different you can't even call it opposite). So we couldn't even really rehearse together. So frustrating. I need these rehearsals, because this is one of the hardest things I've ever done stamina-wise, and I need to run it every day so I will have the stamina to get through. Also, I really don't know all the little acting parts, so it would be really nice if I could have a rehearsal to figure out what I'm doing. Grrr.

Anyway after the rehearsal I went in the small studio and sort of did the variation myself for stamina, and I plan to watch some videos today to try to get an idea of how the acting should be. This is what I can control, so I will do what I can, and hope everything out of my control falls into place. Hopefully everyone recovers over the weekend and we can really utilize our last week to prepare!


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Janie, Being instructed.

Your last post was very clear.

It speaks about how you respond to instruction and direction. Your confidence when performing is dependent on how well rehearsed you feel (that varies from one to another). Letting go of the training mind (Learning) comes when you trust that your body mind are 'intelligent' of the choreography. You do not THINK while dancing.

You describe a very dynamic director who is knowledgeable and sensitive to the needs of HOW a dancer learns choreography.
From what I hear from other performers, it is so exciting to be taught by such individuals as they are true professionals. They realize that teaching the choreography comes with responsibility of guidance with 'personality' out of the way. It is truly the duty of an instructor to 'study' how they can be more effective as instructors.

Dancing and teaching are different, aren't they? There is an art to both.

AGAIN, Janie, ask yourself, "What do I have control over?" Role changes are political and practical based on the subjective needs of the instructor, the company, directors and the choreography. NEVER CLING or hold on to a part. You have experienced and witnessed how sweeping changes can occur from one day to the next.

How does one do that? First and foremost, you have to agree, that what you have now may change in some way. Agreeing allows you to be present with your current status, even in the face of a change.

Practice being flexible in mind and body. Is it fair? No,probably not, yet that is the nature of the beast whether you are on stage or corporate.

1. Visualize. (I have a new program coming out to help with this. I recorded yesterday)
2. Stay calm in the midst of change. Use breath.
3. DO NOT engage in drama. Use this blog or a journal and let it go. When you have your company, then you WILL be more sensitive and apply what you have learned.
4. Talk to the teachers about what works. (How is it that instructors are unapproachable? What is the fear? There are clear boundaries after a certain level and age, when no one is 'allowed' to address teaching/studio issues. You know it could help and offer food for thought.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dear Sanna - Direction at last!!

The ballet master I spoke of finally returned!!! I was anxiously awaiting this, but I was also nervous about the reaction to how we have improved (or not) over the last few months. Also with our current ballet, I was almost embarrassed to show it to this ballet master, having worked on it only with much less strict teachers.

But the second the ballet master returned I was immediately happier. Finally, the rehearsals for the part that stresses me out most now have meaning. We stop when something is bad or not together and actually work out why it's bad and how to fix it, rather than the rehearsal director just screaming while we dance and try to think and miss half of the corrections. And we also work on stamina, because we stop and start and work, but also repeat and redo and go again from the beginning, which is much more useful in order to improve, and ends up building even more stamina than just a straight run.

Not that everything is puppies and rainbows. Today after rehearsal there was a really long discussion between the director and all the ballet masters in the front of the studio while us dancers stood around like nervous auditioners. Nobody had any idea what they were talking about, and then one of the ballet masters started speaking to my opposite in a language I don't understand. She sounded annoyed with a "so-what?" answer and then told me she thinks we're done rehearsing and left. The rest of us were completely bewildered.

Later I heard a rumor that my opposite possibly will dance another part (it's actually better), so if she does then somebody else will have to replace her and dance with me. What I don't understand is why second cast won't go in while my partner does the other part, and we will dance together as planned. The whole thing sounds fishy to me, and I am worried that I will suffer in the end, since I now do the part the way my opposite does, which has many small but important differences to second cast. I am not getting worked up about it just yet, but I hope they will tell us what's going on soon.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Janie, Your face.

Pieces have moods and story lines. Your intuition can be your guide. Or maybe you can read up on the ballet. Or better yet, ask the director.  

It would be very respectful to watch the performing dancer, unless there is something else going on in the piece. 

Things I have witnessed are: being disengaged, yawning, frowns, HUGe smiles when someone comes on stage, eyes down cast, laughing with neighbor, shaking feet. AND connectedness, engagement, expression changes that integrated with what was happening, eye contact with dancer and /or audience, excitement, beautiful form and position.

If you do not have a resource to ask, get a discussion going among your peers.

Watch other performances. You'll connect with what feels in sync. Just notice with out judgement or comment.

Janie : I agree

I hope instructors recognize this finishing piece. With all they have to do and manage, I can understand how it could be overlooked. Yet it makes a difference. that connectedness and cohesiveness brings us back for more.

Thank you, Nichelle for your kind responses. it is always good to get great Dance Minds on board. 


P.S. If you want a great performance, you gotta sleep. Stepping to Sleep audio recommended by Dance Magazine. (Buy it here)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Dear Sanna - Missing "unconsciousness"

Your last post describes exactly what our company is missing. Nobody tells the corps de ballet exactly how each step should be, with specific arms, heads, feet, let alone how we should look or feel in certain moments. Especially since our strongest ballet mistress has been out of town for the last 3 months. Thank goodness she is finally returning next week. We all noticed this lack of direction and chaos among the corps while she is not here. Even when she is, the company is such a mess of free-spirits, it's still hard for all these different cultures to come together to look like one cohesive group.

I saw an amazing performance last night of a dance theater group. It was more contemporary dance with a lot of acting in the movements. There was so much personality and care put into each step. I loved the way they used their faces, and it really made me wish I knew what to do with my face when I dance. It is not a natural thing for me, and I either find myself naturally making ugly or expressionless faces, or I am self-conscious about it and just looking awkward. This is my biggest challenge, I think.

Today in rehearsal I exploded. Did I mention in the part my friend was taken out of, I actually had to switch sides because the other girl used to do my part, and since she is higher up of course she gets whatever she wants, so I have to change. This is normal for me, I believe in respect for seniority, but it is still annoying. It is also uncomfortable now for a little while I get used to my new spot. There are also a lot of things my opposite is very stubborn about that she does differently than we learned, which I need to change. But she is not that clear about it and gets confused or annoyed or just has to turn it into a big deal every time I ask for clarification. And sometimes while we're dancing I notice different things than what she said or she screams at me, along with the ballet mistress in a language I am not exactly fluent in.

So today I was trying so hard to remember all the corrections, dance nicely, not look like I want to kill someone, and listen to 3 different people around me screaming different things. And the artistic director was watching. When we got to the end I was dying (as usual because it is a very difficult variation) and the ballet mistress was screaming head and I thought I was using my head and I didn't know how to change it and my opposite was screaming at me about spacing and my partner was screaming something else about spacing and I was trying to just finish and I just could not continue with about 8 counts left I was so mad and tired and frustrated. It was so embarrassing and I was on the verge of tears while I had my partner translate to the teacher that I just can't listen to everyone's corrections and try to remember the previous ones and dance all at once and I am so tired and I'm trying my best. So she said "well it's too late for corrections now" and walked away. I don't even know what that means. She can't correct me after the variation? Or I blew it when I stopped? I have no idea but it was horrible. I need to figure out how to work with this woman.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

From the Audience Eyes!

As a member of the audience, dance mom and energy therapist,  when I attend a performance I am looking around and taking in all I can from the production, not merely focusing on what's happening up front and center. I feel the color of the costumes, the props and backdrops.
To me, there is a symphony of events on stage that create a complete experience and feel that we as audience members demand.  

And then something shifts ...

Oft times dancers are posed in the background or sitting beautifully as 'people props.' They may be sitting, standing, in a position and there is very little movement as the soloist/leads dance. When  core is posed, you/I can feel if they are in sync with each other and what is happening up front, or disconnected. I am referring to a sense of togetherness, not just in movement and rhythm, but in spirit.  This is often referred to as 'being unconscious.' Inseparable. One.

Core is positioned to support an aspect of the story line that may not always be apparent, especially if there is incongruency among individual facial expressions, meaning, one is smiling because they are friendly with a certain soloist and then another  enters that they know less and they look away. Or they are distant and moody, or flirty and playful with the dancer beside them.  How they are 'being' is out of sync with what needs to happen  within the piece.

Their purpose becomes lost really and does not offer the support to the movement, the choreographer, the music, the dancer, and so on. 

Here is what I would liken it to ... Congruency is when everyone is one the same page. There is a natural movement, a cohesiveness, a energetic bubble among all. It would be like having coffee with a group of your best friends and you all talk and chat together without interruption. You feel connected. You have felt that.

Incongruent is scattered and chaotic. Moods and personalities rule. Affections are selective, maybe. Like this - You are having coffee with  a group of folks and conversation is disjointed, on and off, awkward. You could care less. You have felt this.

Informing core dancers to assume a certain facial expression, posture (not the actual position) and emotional energy, to emotionally move with, or maybe it must be against, the soloist/lead, ignites the performance. Everyone is truly one and everybody feels it. It's beautiful.

It's why I go to performances and you dance.

Tell core members how to 'BE'  as supporting cast. 

Janie: All in a day

As a non dancer I am looking in from the outside. (Remember me the accordian player from a long line of Italian musicians. ) 

It is  game like, isn't it. I don't know why casting plays out as you describe, yet it seems to be common from what I hear in conversations with teachers who are frustrated, from dancers who feel uncertain and from parents who need to know. 

One might imagine that higher ups would want you to be as prepared and ready to perform. Knowing your piece, responsibilities can create certainty and uplift a performance. 

Understandably people's capabilities change and one can certainly change their mind, however, it may be a symptom of something else.

Everyone knows. I am sure the creative director and owners know of this confusion. (as they may have experienced it first hand). Yet it continues.

Of course it is difficult for your friend, especially when one holds the firm expectation of dancing THAT part. Given the common approach to role assignments, you may want to revisit how you emotionally move through casting. Flexible and looser?

If you were in her pointe shoes you would not see or feel about you as you believed she thought about you. (Huh?) In these touchy situations jump shoes and look from another's perspective it can help you 1. know how to respond. 2. get a clearer picture to stop the emotional rush, 3. resolve it.

Get used to these shuffles. You'll feel less stressed since it appears to be a part of the beasty side of dance.  

The question might be: Who dareth to tell the artistic director to be more decisive?


P.S. THANK YOU anonymous! I love hearing from you! I really appreciate your feedback.