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...