Hello beautiful ballerinas! How are we holding up? If you’re listening to this in the distant future, I just thought I’d let you know that we are all currently living through the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s a strange time. And every time I go to do an interview I think, ‘Let’s keep it light, let’s stay away from the doom and gloom of corona virus!’ but then it reverts back to conversations about isolation, supporting small business and staying healthy (mind and body) throughout this time.

The topic is kind of unavoidable and if you brush over it or ignore it all together it’s almost insensitive to your podcast guest, family member or friend. I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m exhausting people by asking how they’re doing or being insensitive by not asking. Maybe that’s why everyone is so tired… we’re all navigating each others feelings and expectations. Although essential, empathy can be emotionally exhausting.

Anyway, if you want to listen to an episode that has very little to do with the current state of the world, go listen to Episode #42 with Finis Jhung the 82 year old iconic ballet teacher from New York City who is showing absolutely no signs of slowing down. If you haven’t already done so, go listen. It’s an incredible story and an absolute treat.

Now onto today’s gorgeous guest…

Jess Spinner is the Founder of The Whole Dancer and an ex-professional ballerina with Louisville Ballet. Jess began her journey into nutrition and health coaching when she had to leave behind the world of professional ballet due to an injury.

Jess is a fully qualified Health Coach with over eleven years of experience behind her working with dancers from top companies such as New York City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Miami City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet Company as well as aspiring young ballerinas and adult ballet dancers from around the world.

Jess and I have a lot in common. Our businesses were both born out of a gap in the industry. A gap that we only discovered because we experienced the pain and anguish of not feeling balanced… or whole. I love how the two are interchangeable throughout this conversation…

Like myself, Jess struggled with body positivity, confidence and food choices as a young professional dancer and through research, study, discipline and innovation with her business has created a community that supports and encourages young dancers to find their wholeness, their balance… their best body (which you’ll find out in this discussion is different for everyone).

In this conversation Jess and I do focus on the additional challenges during this particular time whilst navigating food choices and body positivity. But Jess also helps us define health and success in the broader sense with a sprinkle of confidence boosters, common sense advice and helpful suggestions.

One thing that I’m incredibly passionate about, is looking at each dancer as a whole package. Which is why I love Jess’s business name; The Whole Dancer.

As you’ll hear towards the end of this conversation, I feel very passionately about parents contributing to burn out culture by signing their child up to dance classes every night of the week and prioritising crystal embellished lyrical costumes over an appointment with a nutritionist, physiotherapist or psychologist.

I also feel strongly about the adult ballerina who has a niggle in their hip and after one consultation with an acupuncturist says, ‘Oh it worked! He was great, but it costs too much so I won’t go again, I’ll just manage it…’ to only show up at their next class with a brand new leotard and dance bag.

The common excuse is, ‘Oh it costs too much!’ or ‘I don’t have time for that!’ but those excuses don’t fly with me when it’s so obvious that you do have the money and the time, but instead you’re choosing to prioritise things that in the end don’t matter and don’t serve your tool – your body.

Considering a dancers body is their tool, I just don’t understand why people don’t invest more in these services. In these experts! Is it because the product isn’t tangible? I’m probably asking the wrong crowd. I’m probably preaching right now to the converted… as Balanced Ballerinas and parents trying to create Balanced Ballerinas you know the worth of these services and if you’re a regular listener of the podcast you most likely already prioritise taking care of yourself.

Wellbeing is a relatively new concept in the dance world and we still have so much work to do. But all I’m going to say is that confidence, elegance and control in a simple old black leotard goes so much further than an exhausted, injury ridden, puffy eyed dancer trying to hold their life together one Tchaikovsky crystal at a time.

Anyway, there’s my little rant in case I’m not clear during the conversation and one of the reasons I love Jess and her work so much is because she wholeheartedly agrees.

Even though the Balanced Ballerinas community is global, I know a lot of listeners are Australian. So I just wanted to point out that Jess takes clients from all around the world and if you’re interested in a nutritionist with a dancers mindset that knows what you need, I couldn’t recommend her highly enough.

Find Jess on Instagram at @thewholedancer and more at www.thewholedancer.com

Here’s my conversation with Jess…

Grit & Grace,

Georgia