I started dancing when I was really young. I asked my mom to bring me to a dance studio when I was only three and since she noticed I enjoyed moving and listening to music, she looked for a dance school near our hometown and she brought me there.

When I turned 9, my dance teacher asked me if I wanted to do something more professional and audition for a ballet academy. Dancing was all I wanted to do so I answered yes. My parents allowed me to take my own decisions and they supported me and my choices.

At age 10 I auditioned for La Scala in Milan and got rejected. It left me very upset, but I decided to try for another professional dance school and I got in. I moved away from home and started studying every day and I slowly found out how much discipline and hard work are required to make it as a dancer.

Two years later I moved to another dance studio that offered me the possibility to take certified ballet exams, do competitions and audition for bigger dance academies as well. I recently auditioned for the American Ballet Theatre JKO School and received a full one-year scholarship so, next fall I’ll be moving to New York and start a new exciting journey there.

Reading what I wrote above, it seems like I had to do nothing except for taking ballet classes every day to get where I am now. It wasn’t like that at all! I had to overcome many obstacles! When I moved away from home at 10 I went to live in the dormitory of the ballet school and I was the youngest girl there.

I was always alone and I slowly fell down into depression. At age 11 I developed a serious eating disorder but nobody really noticed how bad I was feeling and, if they noticed, they preferred to stay out of it. I was lying to my parents because I didn’t want to worry them but they understood that something was wrong and they brought me home.

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I wasn’t allowed to dance or do any sort of physical activity form months and I was seeking help from a psychologist to get out of my eating disorder. It has been very hard, both for me and my parents. Once I started feeling better I immediately asked to go back to dance classes, I was missing ballet too much!

When I started dancing again, even if I wasn’t physically recovered, I began smiling and I rediscovered my positivity and strength. It took me around two years to fully recover from depression and anorexia, but now I look back and see how much I have grown and I am proud of myself.

When I moved to my current dance studio I started focusing a lot on improving my dance technique rather than spending time looking in the mirror to mentally measure my body and feel bad about it. This was the major turning point in my dance journey.

I was also surrounded by many friends and thanks to that I re-found my true passion for ballet and a tiny bit of self-esteem. I turned my goal from being the skinniest possible to becoming the best dancer I could be and with this idea in mind, I got where I am now and I can’t wait to see what life brings to me.

Finding out how far I can go by simply pushing myself out of my comfort zone is what inspires me to dance. I want to achieve as much as I can and share it through my dancing. Outside of dance, I just try to always be the nest version of myself, to be kind to myself and others, to be polite, to follow my heart and to make as much experience as I can.

I am a very curious person and I always want to try new things. Mental health is essential for me and to take care of it I try to treat myself as if I was my best friend. I try to reduce negative self-talk (I said reduce because I admit I sometimes judge myself), I try to stay surrounded by people I love and admire, I spend time alone because it helps me to reconnect with myself and I do things that I really enjoy outside of dance (journaling, reading, writing, taking pictures…).

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When I feel down I usually listen to music or I find some motivational speakers videos, I talk about my fears with my mom and I just remind myself my goals. It’s impossible to feel positive 100% of the times: I accept it and move forward.

I have many people I consider mentors. My parents are my number 1 mentors, then the psychologist who helped me to get out of depression, one of my previous dance teacher who doesn’t teach me anymore but still helps me whenever I need support and all the people in The Whole Dancer Facebook Community.

Whenever I have a problem I write there and so many sweet people reply giving advice and sending their love. It’s a wonderful community!

Have a clear goal in mind and do everything you can to reach it. Don’t give up: there will always be haters and hard times. Ask for help when you need it and enjoy the journey.

Alessia – from Depression to JKO

Jess Spinner

Jess is a former professional ballet dancer turned Holistic Health, Nutrition, and Lifestyle Coach for high level dancers. She founded The Whole Dancer in 2015 after identifying a greater need for balance, wellness and support in the dance world. Since The Whole Dancer was founded, Jess has worked with 100's of dancers worldwide at top companies and schools. She has been featured in or written for Dance Magazine, Dance Teacher Magazine, Pointe Magazine, and Dance Spirit Magazine.

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