May 19, 2021

Dancing on the brain with Anna Maria Tosco

Anna-Maria Tosco MA, MA is a licensed clinical psychologist and a tenured psychology instructor with over 15 years of experience. She has a much sought after therapeutic style and an ability to connect and create alliances with people who have interpersonal difficulty. With her open-minded, non-judgemental, and straight-forward approach, she can get quite real with her clients and help them work through difficult times. Anna-Maria has built a reputation on her brutally-honest, compassionate, and avant-guard insight into the causes and consequences of people’s bad habits.
Anna-Maria has two masters degrees in the field of psychology and has studied and worked in a variety of Canadian provinces. In addition to working with psychiatric populations in some of Montreal’s most respected health care institutions, she has also worked with an organization specifically put in place to help the street youth of her community. She has given a variety of talks and workshops on neuroplasticity, meditation, and uncovering barriers to love and has training in behavioral neuroscience, social psychology, meditation and addictions. She is a regular professional contributor to The Suburban Newspaper and has been a guest expert on CJAD 800.
Today, Anna-Maria is thrilled to have begun a new project. Her mandate: To make psychological concepts more mainstream in order to help decrease the stigma around mental illness and increase help-seeking when needed. With her brand new website and evolving social media presence, she hopes to prove that there are interesting, unintimidating, and normalizing explanations behind what we do and why we do it – providing evidence that there is no need to perpetuate stigma.
She is also a dance aficionado! Having trained and performed with the San Tropez dance school in Montreal, Anna Maria travelled to Los Angeles and performed with her team in front of thousands! Find her on social media under “sassy psychologist”.

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Guest Info
Anna-Maria Tosco MA, MA is a licensed clinical psychologist and a tenured psychology instructor with over 15 years of experience. She has a much sought after therapeutic style and an ability to connect and create alliances with people who have interpersonal difficulty. With her open-minded, non-judgemental, and straight-forward approach, she can get quite real with her clients and help them work through difficult times. Anna-Maria has built a reputation on her brutally-honest, compassionate, and avant-guard insight into the causes and consequences of people’s bad habits.

Anna-Maria has two masters degrees in the field of psychology and has studied and worked in a variety of Canadian provinces. In addition to working with psychiatric populations in some of Montreal’s most respected health care institutions, she has also worked with an organization specifically put in place to help the street youth of her community. She has given a variety of talks and workshops on neuroplasticity, meditation, and uncovering barriers to love and has training in behavioral neuroscience, social psychology, meditation and addictions. She is a regular professional contributor to The Suburban Newspaper and has been a guest expert on CJAD 800.

Show Notes
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Episode Attribution
Sonia Kyriacou. (Host). (2021, May 19). Dancing on the brain with Anna Maria Tosco [Audio podcast episode]. In Choreograph Your Life with Sonia Kyriacou. Parcast.


Voiceover 0:05
Welcome to the choreograph your life podcast where we dig deep into the journey of people’s pursuit of their passion for dance. Join us as our host and guests discuss their dance journeys, the business of dance obstacles they face, and even lessons learned along the way. Now, here’s your host, Sonia Kyriacou.

Sonia Kyriacou 0:30
Hello everyone! Welcome back to my podcast choreograph your life. Today’s guest is a licensed clinical psychologist and a tenured psychology instructor with over 15 years of experience, her name is Anna Maria, say hello.

Anna Maria Tosco 0:45
Hey, hi, everybody!

Sonia Kyriacou 0:47
Welcome to my show. Thank you so much for being on the podcast today. How are you feeling?

Anna Maria Tosco 0:53
I’m feeling great. I’m feeling nervous. I was I was thinking about this. And I’m like, when I was with you guys. It was like, during my formative years, and you have no idea. Like how like how my heart felt when I was there. And so now I find myself back with you. And like, with authenticity, it’s it’s it’s heartwarming. So thank you.

Sonia Kyriacou 1:15
Oh, no, it’s really my pleasure. Anna Maria, when we first met you, and she’s referring to the San Tropez dance studio for those listening, which is in Montreal, she is like a natural ball of energy and light. So she walks in the studio, and she’s smiling and there’s this, you know, energy that just kind of comes off you.

It’s like you’re a sunshine.

And you always have this very joyous, like attitude and energy. And I think this is a super important thing because you naturally started meeting people and people were attracted to you and you have no problem integrating into the studio and into the groups in the in the classes you were doing so. And that’s way before you you were a psychologist, right. So yes. What my first question to you, Anna Maria is what why did you choose psychology? What happened? How did this come about?

Anna Maria Tosco 2:13
Oh, that’s an interesting question. So listen, Sonia, the truth, the truth is not pretty. Right? The truth is, yeah, like, I’m not gonna lie, the truth is not pretty. I I do love people. And I, you know, and I, I really do, like, I love complete strangers. I love talking to new people, all that stuff. And that’s really true. The reason why I became a psychologist, though, is because, unfortunately, when I was younger, like like younger years, high school, you know, I felt like I needed to help people to feel worthy. So as I got older, with all of my experiences, you know, even through dance as well, like, I learned that I’m worthy on my own, with my own passion and who I am that I had to kind of pull away from that I need to help people to be worthy. So instead, I decided to do me dance as part of that, you know, I decided to do me and to just, you know, feed off of my own passion and know my worth, that worthiness is my birthright, and not because of what I do for people. So dance is a great a great example, because I didn’t do dance for anybody. I did dance for me. So that was kind of part of my journey on Okay, I have to get away from the dysfunctional part of why I want to become a psychologist. Let me help people, it increases my worth. No, no, no, I had to know my worth first before becoming a psychologist. That was really cool. Yeah.

Sonia Kyriacou 3:36
I love that. That is such an awesome reason. Or, you know, I think that what you just said really hits home because I believe it’s something also that might be in the deep, the deep part of the dancer life, the dancer persona, because a lot of people when they start getting into dance, they think about like, Well, you know, what, what will it do for me? Will I become popular? You know, people look at me, especially those who pursue the life of doing shows and really make it their career, seeking validation through the applause of the audience, or, you know, how many followers you have on Instagram, or what people say about your choreography. And, you know, you just you just like, I think struck a nerve. It’s really interesting, because a lot of times, you know, artists will search for validation and, you know, decide their value based on other people’s reaction to them or their choreography or their dancing. And you’re right, it is it is flawed. You know, it definitely will kick back if you don’t go deep inside and figure that you do have to do first.

Anna Maria Tosco 4:47
You know what, I love that you said that too, because it’s like, um, when you need the validation from the outside, you’re always performing for people, you know, even in conversations or whatever, but when you’re in actual performer. And this is where I never got to because of my own bibits. And I guess we can talk about that. But when I, when you’re an actual performer, it’s even more important to know your center and who you are. Because if you’re a performer because you love the audience, yeah, that would be a problem. Right? So I mean, for me, oh, at first dancing was just for me. And then the higher I got, it became a bit of a struggle, because because of the noise on the outside, you know, like, I was always performing for people. And that just got me into trouble. Whether it be on stage or whether it be in my in my conversations or personal life, I had to stop performing. Isn’t that interesting? performers actually have to stop performing.

Sonia Kyriacou 5:47
Yeah, that’s super interesting. My then I would then that I would ask you and Maria, what is it that attracted you to going towards performance in the first place?

Anna Maria Tosco 5:58
Yeah, so, um, like, I remember walking into San Tropez Sonia… I was looking forward to telling you this story. And it’s not a big, you know, interesting story, but it’s just I was so frickin moved. Like I walked into the school. And obviously, I knew who you were, who you are, you know, Titan in the industry here. But I walked in. I walked in, and I saw a pro, a pro couple in a studio. And it’s like, my heart and my stomach and my everything where they were, they were dancing. It was just this big explosion within me. And I’m like, I almost I know. It sounds so cheesy, but it’s true. I was almost brought to tears saying I need to do this. So you know, and then I pursued and you know, amateur troupe? Hey, do you know that I was thinking about this? I’m like, I won the Concordia amateur pro competition. You know, look, I know you’re still in contact with Cornell. But Cornell was my teacher. I actually won that competition back in the day.

Sonia Kyriacou 7:01
Amazing. That’s wonderful. You got a little trophy or something.

Anna Maria Tosco 7:05
Yeah, I got a trophy. I totally did!

Sonia Kyriacou 7:07
I want a picture. I want to see it!

Anna Maria Tosco 7:09
Okay, I’m gonna have to get it. But no, so so I was so moved by it. And then so but then the higher you get, you know, it does become competitive, not competitive. I wasn’t a competition stage. I was at the I was at that like the performing stage. And it’s just, I wanted, I wanted to be challenged. And I know that that was my next challenge. But unfortunately…

Sonia Kyriacou 7:34
So you saw it as a stepping stone, would you say that you first started off as a hobby dancer just to enjoy yourself and discover what dancing is and how you feel while you’re doing it. And then suddenly you are offered the opportunity to go into you know, the show side. And you also traveled with your dancing. You got to the point where you actually invested in yourself and went to Los Angeles. Did you go anywhere else? Or was it just Los Angeles?

Anna Maria Tosco 8:03
It was it was Los Angeles I don’t think I stayed long enough to go anywhere else but Los Angeles was huge. Los Angeles was such a great experience

Sonia Kyriacou 8:11
For those listening Los Angeles at the LA salsa Congress at the time was I believe one of the largest in the world we’re talking about like a football field literally with tents attempt for the show attend for the live band attend for the budget the attend for the vendors with the shoes and I mean it was like I think they called itself a land anything I think they call it “Sasa Land”. And people would go and you couldn’t get in like there just weren’t enough hours in the event for you to like enjoy everything and see everything. You know, that event was really really special. The organizer, the late Alberto Torres, had really put his whole life into building Salsa Land. And you know, I remember meeting so many wonderful people there and bringing you guys our students to the event was also like a big deal for us as a studio. You know, because you you have that there’s the two sides is the artistic representation. But then there’s also like, it’s like a you know, a school trip. You need to take care of them and I felt this like deep responsibility for you guys where I was like, Are they a cage? Do they know where to go? do they eat? Are they ready for their show? Do they practice enough? Like literally I felt like a dance mom. So I’m super interesting dynamic. And I think la really did open up. The dancers like you guys, the amateur team like it kind of opened up a whole new world you guys saw something like that blew your minds away. I think what Yes, me about your experience.

Anna Maria Tosco 9:50
Yeah. Listen it like I remember I don’t remember the choreo unfortunately, that would have been really cool. I do remember the music though. The music piece. Because Moris got a lot of attention for the choice that he used for our choreography, I remember that. But for me, I remember the nights I remember the abundance of dancing, I remember the you know, I gotta tell you the Sonia, truthfully, there was some some missed opportunities for me as well, because part of it was a little overwhelming. And I think I needed more self work in order for me to actually appreciate what was in front of me. And I say this a lot though, about being in my 20s. Like, I find myself saying a lot. I didn’t, I didn’t see it, I didn’t appreciate it. But it’s only because I was I wasn’t very far in my in myself journey yet to really appreciate everything that was in front of me. But of course, I remember the camaraderie I remember our little excursions I remember the nights, I remember our choreo and it’s so interesting for me right now to hear you say that you felt like a self among first you did, but it didn’t even occur to me back then. For sure.

Sonia Kyriacou 10:56
Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s something that, you know, you you, you want, I guess I just have this deep passion for sharing what I do so much so that I want people to walk away with a wonderful thought and memory bug, of course, I can’t control that. But this is my desire is for people to, to go through the experience of, you know, just dancing with the, with the new person meeting new people making new friends, you know, challenging themselves to become an amazing dancer, getting themselves, people, you know, where they, they are challenged, and, you know, they get out your comfort zone, and they grow and they learn. And so it’s so important to me that I think sometimes I get a little crazy about that, like, I can’t obviously control how people leave the dance industry, you know, hopefully good impression, but right. Yeah, that’s how much I care. And I’m so happy to know that, you know, you you learn so much about yourself during that experience.

Anna Maria Tosco 11:59
Yes, and it was only the beginning. And I think it was it was like indispensable, because like, you know, in truth, the reason why I think I left was because of a very significant critical voice that I had in my mind. And listen, it’s not wasn’t a thing, because that’s the critical voice. Sonia honestly, is what depression eats for breakfast. Like, it’s the self loathing the low self value. Now, I didn’t have clinical depression, you know, if I did, it would be much worse. But of course, I have my own experiences with an internal critical voice and men, I would absolutely recommend dance as a way to work through your critical voice. But it’s like I’m promoting both of our professions here. But in truth, you know, doing something like dance is like a behavioral strategy where you actually crap, practice what you need to practice to get out there. But then there’s also the the emotional and the mindset. Like Sonia, you know, like, professional athletes, if you think about, I don’t know, a goalie or you know, soccer, hockey, whatever, when they let a puck in, or they let a ball into their goal. Do you think you know, what do you think a healthy mindset is? Oh my god, I can’t believe I let it in. And oh my god, like, I’m so stupid. I am not skilled. That’s what frickin professional athletes say, you know, professional athletes have their own bat. You know, so if you want to, you know, perform and dance, if you want to elevate. If you want to move further, you have to have a strong mindset. And you have to train yourself to get there. At that point, my critical voice was a bit too strong for me to get there. But it’s an imperative. It’s an imperative part of the journey, though, you know what I mean?

Sonia Kyriacou 13:45
Yeah, can that can you tell us what the critical voice was telling you?Would you be willing to expose that?

Anna Maria Tosco 13:52
1,000% I would love to throw myself under the bus. Yeah, for sure. You know, I do it all the time even with my clients a little bit self disclosure, never heard anybody. Um, but like, I thought it would be like, it was always about my my skill. Like, Sonia in truth. I know that the dance in me, I’m just I’m one of those people. It’s there. I have the rhythm. I feel it. I know. I know it’s there. People who know me best know it’s there. And it’s wonderful. And but even so, even though I know that’s me, and my core is in me. And I was still let’s say at the LA Salsa Congress. I feel I was the only one to be want to leave early those nights. Because I was so intimidated. And I was so like, will this person know? Will I know how to dance with this person? Will I be good enough? Again, good enough self value, self esteem to dance with this person. It’s not okay to screw up. It’s not okay to make little mistakes. It’s nice when it flows. Oh, look at that person. Flowing upward comparison, right? So all of these things, create a monster create a beast. Now, was I again, was there anything clinical going on that I have clinical depression? No, some people do. And when you do, it’s worse. But this mindset thing can really stop, you know, high functioning people from doing something like going into, you know, professional dance, you know, and and it’s a little heartbreaking, you know, but you find your way, and you make the best of it. But yeah, did I answer your question that I throw myself under the bus enough?

Sonia Kyriacou 15:36
Well, we’re gonna we’re gonna just squish you a little longer. So my,

Anna Maria Tosco 15:41
You are my psychologist today!

Sonia Kyriacou 15:43
Yes! So essentially, when you got to those moments where you felt what you felt, and that inner voice was telling you, you know, you’re not good enough. You don’t have this, like, Who do you think you are dancing with this awesome, you know, dancer? like, you can handle that. Like, where do you think that? Where did that come from? Because the reason I asked this is because when we’re teaching people, of course, we cannot declare the entire responsibility. And I know that but when we’re teaching people to go and do a show or a competition, part of our training is to train their minds into understanding that it’s okay not to win first place your first competition, it’s okay not to have an amazing first show like this is part of the growth of a dancer is you’re going to mess up more than you will, you know, succeed even though that is a perception thing, because every time you perform, it’s a success. Because you did it right. You actually did it. But we seem to tell ourselves like oh, that wasn’t I screwed up that step. Oh, I forgot that. Oh, I missed his hand at this point are Oh, where do you think this comes from? For you? Like specifically? Where did it start? Is it from when you were a child? Like give us some some background?

Anna Maria Tosco 16:58
Sonia, I have the question you need to ask your students when you see this mindset problem come up. You want to know what that question is?

Sonia Kyriacou 17:08
Yes please.

Anna Maria Tosco 17:09
Whose voice is this? It’s, it’s, you know, and I gotta tell you, I would bet money that if you had a 5 to 10 minute conversation with someone who’s having like mindset issues, or self esteem issues, and you ask you started with that question, whose voice is this? This is not your voice. waterworks, you know, especially for someone who’s like, uh, you know, if I had I’ve been asked that by anybody, you know, teachers, anybody, you know, it would have been like, Oh, my gosh, waterworks, because essentially, oftentimes that critical voice belongs to a parent, or it actually belongs to a coach, it belongs to your grade five teacher, you know, so what happened is, oftentimes, it’s called like, internalization, where let’s just say your, your grade five teacher said, You’re, you’re terrible at math, you’re never gonna amount to anything. As children, we don’t have the wherewithal to say, Oh, that’s okay. Like, Mrs. Miss Conway is having a she’s going through a divorce, and she’s having issues. That’s why she said that to me today. She’s not does not okay, but I understand why she said it. And now whatever, I’ll ignore it. As kids, we kind of go, Oh, you know, shoot, I guess I’m terrible at math. I guess I suck.

Sonia Kyriacou 18:26
Yeah, we take it for face value.

Anna Maria Tosco 18:28
And then we keep that we’re kids. So that’s why when we enter like, you know, young adulthood, we have to go into internalize that Miss Conway didn’t do me, she did me a disservice there. And I kept that with me. So it’s like when you then ask, like, whose voices this? It could be the voice of many people. But oftentimes, it does come from that. Which is, you know, it’s normal. It’s heartbreaking, but it’s normal. You know?

Sonia Kyriacou 18:59
Yes. And, and, you know, you’re, as you’re saying this Anna Maria, I’m sure our listeners can relate to moments in their lives where they had to write a test or they had to, you know, I call them, you know, the doorknob moments where you’re about to put your hand on a doorknob and turn the knob to open a door. And you just have that one split second of like, you know, is this the right thing? What’s gonna be on the other side? Can I handle this is it you know, there’s all these kind of things that rush into your mind. And unfortunately, most of the time, they’re things that are negative, they’re usually, you know, destructive, and kind of create fears more than anything. And in some cases, I guess it stops you, you know, you kind of like, Oh, hell no, I’m not going through that door. I’m scared of failing or I’m scared of being ridiculed. This is something that I’ve found in dance is some people will will crack either right before For Showtime, oh, or on the stage itself or after they’ve performed, they will just, that’s it. Like they just give up and say I’m not doing this, I can’t do this. I’ve actually witnessed someone have a physical breakdown, right before going on stage like during a panic attack. It is a form of panic attack where it wasn’t like they were hyperventilating. But they gave themselves so much stress before going on the stage that their back gave out. Like their back just froze. Oh, wow. They couldn’t move. They were like paralyzed. Yeah, before going on stage. And I thought, Oh my gosh, like, that’s how strong it is. Right. And some people were, you can convince your body that you can’t do this. And literally, it’ll block you know, so. Wow, yeah, that’s a strong thing.

Anna Maria Tosco 20:47
You know, I love that you’re putting light to that, because so many people don’t know this. You know, people so many people don’t know that anxiety starts off being our friend, right? anxiety, if there’s like a car coming at us, or I’m sure as a mom, you know, you think something’s about to happen to your kid, they’re going to fall into a pool or something. And all of a sudden, you’re in, you know, all of a sudden you are you have these ninja skills. So anxiety starts, right? You know, anxiety starts off being our friend. But the thing is, when there’s no car coming at us, or no, nobody’s in danger, we can actually convince our body that there’s a life or death matter behind that door you talk about, we convince our body that it’s life or death, to the point where our body goes, Oh, you’re in trouble fighter flight? And then it’s and then you can’t stop it. Right? Then there’s like this fight or flight reaction where your body says no, no, like Sonia is in danger here. Or you know, so and so is in danger, we have to get get it going. So the sweat, and the hyper vigilance and the heart pounding and the shallow breath. Even sometimes you pee your pants, because Mother Nature said, empty your bladder if you want to survive. So yeah, it’s a super strong reaction, unless you have to find a way to make peace with with what’s about to happen.

Sonia Kyriacou 22:05
Right? So when it comes to if we’re talking to dancers right now. And they experienced this type of right before going on stage panic moment where they’re like, Oh, my God, I don’t know if I could do this, or, you know, they get off the stage. They’re not necessarily happy with how it went. And then they start, like, you know, self criticizing and saying, Oh, that’s such a terrible. How can you can you give like, a piece of advice? Is there something a dancer can do right before during after that would help them kind of appease that to settle it a little bit and to just tell themselves, it’s okay.

Anna Maria Tosco 22:43
I have great news. And I have bad news.

Sonia Kyriacou 22:47
Which one is first?

Anna Maria Tosco 22:48
Yeah. I’ll start. I’ll start with the bad news. First. The bad news. First is those reactions are or is likely, they’re likely not foreign, they likely didn’t come out of nowhere. So they started somewhere, which means that maybe you have performance anxiety, you know, how were you when you did world presentations at school? How were you when you have to talk at meetings at work? So if you know it’s there, there are things to do. So and they do involve what we like what we’ve been talking about mindset work, we’ve been talking about it, you know, knowing your value, and there are strategies there to do that. And additionally, so it’s not just cognitive strategies, emotional strategies, but the easiest thing to adopt is a regimented breathing strategy. And Sonia, I used to rote breathing. What’s that gonna do? Like? Right?

Sonia Kyriacou 23:40
It’s huge. Are you kidding me? I know that as a dancer? Yeah.

Anna Maria Tosco 23:43
Awesome. And I just want to say, as a young person, I was like, I’m not that breathing, what’s that going to do? But it’s so important. However, if, if you start to breathe, you you do it for the first time or the second time before you go on stage. It’s, I doubt it’s going to work. So so so the bad news is, well, I guess I did start with good news. And the good news is there’s there is breathing. And there are scientific facts to back up the fact that if you breathe in a certain way, your anxiety can’t exist. Right? I love so. But if you think to yourself, oh, the show is coming. It’s okay. I’ll just breathe beforehand, and I’ll be okay. Not going to work out. So it’s a regimented practice of breathing. And it’s a regimented practice of like self esteem, work and self value. It’s like, too many people accept, oh, I, I’m going to go to the gym. And I know that in three months, I’ll get some abs. That’s true. But some people don’t realize that it’s the same when you’re training your nervous system. You need two months, three months, and somebody says annamaria I don’t want to go on medication, but I’m so anxious. Oh, yeah. You better be doing your breathing strategy first. You know, so while I Would love to say, yes, Sonia, they need to do this beforehand, they need to do this after I have strategies for you, but they start three months before.

Sonia Kyriacou 25:11
Yes, and you know what this is, this is actually awesome, because it kind of reinforces the message that I’ve been sending to dancers, especially ones that have, you know, trained in my studio or under, under myself and Moris is, you know, you can’t skip steps, you can’t go from being a beginner to an advanced dancer, you can’t learn a routine. And then just like, I mean, unless you’re a seasoned professional, you know, and when you get to that point is because you’ve trained yourself to get to that point, but in the initial stages, that repetition of those basic steps, you know, you know, how do I do my salsa basic or my buck bachata basic to the point where my body can handle doing the proper execution of technique, to the music, in balance in any environment with anything that could go wrong, the strength and the foundation that you have to build as a dancer to be able to handle what comes when you’re exposing yourself to a show or you know, those environments that you have zero control over, suddenly, your body’s like, I know what to do. Don’t worry, I got you. And that is the same as kind of what you just said about the breathing and the working on…

Anna Maria Tosco 26:23
Yeah, totally.

Sonia Kyriacou 26:24
Right. It’s identical.

Anna Maria Tosco 26:27
Yep. I love that. And that’s what I mean, like, and we’re both experiencing the same things in our own profession, where I mean, it sounds like what you’re saying is, people kind of underestimate how important that is, the build up

Sonia Kyriacou 26:40
they’re too quick, Anna Maria to jump to the, I’m a champion, I’m an advanced dancer, I’m there just wanting to get there so quickly. I admire the motivation and the enthusiasm, but, you know, you got to like, Whoa, all right, let’s take that energy. And let’s manage it in a way that it’ll serve you so that you can, you know, put your time in your foundation, right? Like the self work, let’s say, and, and build it to the point where you’re so strong, your foundation is so solid, yeah, that when you get that criticism, or when you get that show where you mess up, it’s okay, it’s not a big deal. It doesn’t determine who you are, or who you’re not, you know, it just, you can get over it. And you can just learn from it and move on, you know,

Anna Maria Tosco 27:27
so it’s so funny, because I’m seeing like a program developed, like, I’m not sure what you’re doing these days with training dancers, or keto, you’re doing CoreOS or whatever. But yeah, like implicating the everything you’re already doing, plus self work plus breathing work and making it mandatory. And it could be a really interesting for dancers, you know, like, you know, mandatory in terms of the steps or whatever,

Sonia Kyriacou 27:49
We’re onto something. Yes, I totally agree with that. And I believe also, one of the things that I believe that a program for dancers definitely should include a balance of all those things, so that when they do actually accept the challenge of performing or doing something that is out of their comfort zone, they don’t walk away from it thinking, Oh, my God, it was horrible. It was too much energy, it was too much. I’ve had this comment from students before where they say, it was nice, I enjoyed it, but it was just too much, too much time too much of my energy high and I was thinking to myself, well, how is that too much in the sense of you just learn something about yourself. You just grew as a person and a dancer, you experienced something you’ve never experienced before? Why is that? Not worth it? Why is it? Hmm, yeah. You know, yep. So it’s interesting, you know, this, this, this whole, like,

Anna Maria Tosco 28:45
and the truth is, that’s, that’s just where they are.

Sonia Kyriacou 28:48

Anna Maria Tosco 28:49
That is like, almost like there’s a level of acceptance even for me as a as a psychologist, sometimes people are just not ready for self care. And even though like, oh, there’s so much stuff here, we can work on this, oh, there’s a conflict. Let’s talk about it. Some people drop out of therapy as well, you know, it’s kind of like, it’s interesting how there are parallel experiences here.

Sonia Kyriacou 29:07
Totally, totally. How has been when it comes to you know, you said, what we’re doing now these days for dancers, so things have really changed drastically, especially because of the pandemic. Everything stopped, everything stopped there. There was no classes No, no shows no nothing. Right. And what I started observing was those those who were dancing casually, like for fun, started to realize the importance the dance had in their lives because now the socials were not there. Right. They started to realize what it what it gave them, and I believe their their perception of value for dance has shifted. And for those who were doing it already professionally, like instructors or dance school owners also got to the point where they started realizing like, what is my why, you know, why am I doing this is it because, you know, when you’re in a business, especially a dance school business, or running a festival, you can get caught up with the expectations of like, you just got to keep going because it’s a yearly thing, or you just got to keep going because people expect you to. But then if you forget your why things start to feel just less rewarding, right? So when we had the pandemic started in March 2020, use I started realizing like, holy crap, like, everything is gone. No more festival, no more studio when we’re teaching, like I live with music on. noise. Okay, sorry. So I realized that having music on and listening to music, you know, six, eight hours a day had a really positive effect on me. So when I was not in the studio anymore, and there was no more anything, I literally went into, like what I believe was a depression and a shock. I wasn’t shocked. I was like, you just took my breath away, you know, how do I deal with this now? So I had to go through that whole process again, of why am I doing this? You know, what is the purpose of having a studio, a festival, and all that whole thing COVID reminded me or brought to the forefront again, why I do what I do. And I asked myself the question, would I choose this again, when, you know, lighten up, and we’re able to do things again, what I still go back to dance into teaching into training people? And my answer is yes. So it’s kind of it’s interesting, because I think that also happened on so many levels, even for students. Right? Has the pandemic affected? You?

Anna Maria Tosco 31:49
You know, I mean, first of all, that I was captivated by that story, and it’s so nice to hear. Thank you. So nice to hear. It’s very heartwarming as well. I imagine they’re probably changes, though, that you’re gonna but Well, I mean, I know there’s a podcast and I know there’s a book coming up!

Sonia Kyriacou 32:06
Yes, definitely lots of changes. Yeah, I’m just because you know, I got off the hamster wheel Anna Maria, I got off the hamster wheel. So I was able to sit down and say, Alright, what else does the Sonia want to do you know, what she had on her bucket list. And so I took the opportunity and did create the podcast, and now the book. Yeah. And I’m, I’m loving the fact that I had this opportunity to, to really take that moment back. But I’m, of course anxious to get back to that school life and performing and all that good stuff. So I think the overall for the dance industry that the people that I’m aware of, it’s been positive, you know, yes, we have to stop dancing. But, you know, look at all the side effects, right? We had some great side effects that people realizing how important dance was, and is and what it does for them. So yeah.

Anna Maria Tosco 32:53
So yeah,

Sonia Kyriacou 32:54
that’s a good thing. So what about you?

Anna Maria Tosco 32:56
Yeah, so actually, I think even the reason why we’re speaking today has to do with the changes that I’ve made. So for me, I mean, I, again, I really do have a love for people. I know some people like I don’t like people like I really do have a love for people. I love teaching people so I am I’m its psychology instructor. I’m also, you know, I’m also, you know, clinical psychologists with clients. But what the pandemic again, my Why is while I love those things, I know that like, what the ratio of one to one, it’s served me so much. Hopefully, it’s served my clients as well. But I’ve learned so much to the point where I want to, I want to teach people what I’ve learned, not just as a psychology teacher, but in working with people one on one for like, about 15 years at this point, Sonia, I have so much that I want to say so my current objective is to make psychological concepts more mainstream, a psychologist or a therapist bread and butter, there are about you know, there are a million strategies, but there are about, you know, a dozen 12 to 20 strategies that I’ve adopted over time that I just want to make mainstream, like the stuff about anxiety before the stuff about breathing the stuff about practice, too many people don’t know that too many people don’t know that guilt and shame and low self worth is what depression eats for breakfast. Right? So what if so how the pandemic has changed me is that now my mandate is a little different. I want to reach more people. I want to make psychological concepts more mainstream to decrease mental illness stigma and to increase help seeking when necessary. And I’m doing that with social media. I’m doing that with the media as well. I’m just working on this article with with a wonderful journalist about positive psychology that might even be turned into like a series in that newspaper. But so you know, I social media media, I’m hoping to reach out to more people get the word out, because I want to start this brand and my brand “Sassy Psychologist”, it’s fun or check me out on on on Instagram, because it’s a lot of fun. But I’m in the infancy of it right now. But I hope I can achieve my mandate. So that that’s that’s how it changed me and I love what you said, because my why, like, Why are what do I want to do at this point? You know, do I want to still stay in the field of mental health? That’s a yes. But I do want to scale back from one on one to reach a larger audience.

Sonia Kyriacou 35:30
That is so cool. I love it. I love it.

All your projects sounds amazing. I think that and that’s what I was talking about right at the beginning of our time together is when you walked into the studio back then.It’s exactly

Anna Maria Tosco 35:44
Don’t make make me cry, Sonia!

Sonia Kyriacou 35:45
I swear though Anna Maria, I still see it today. You have this light, you have this love that is just there. And you’re you’re just you. This is your purpose. You were born to do this, for sure. 100%. And I’m glad that dance was part of your journey. And I’m glad the dance brought up things that maybe at the time were tough for you and didn’t seem like they were serving you. But I believe they actually did nudge you in this direction. And I’m so happy to have been part of your journey. Don’t cry.

Anna Maria Tosco 36:20
I know No, I can’t don’t I can’t. I can’t know it. You I know I was telling Moris before like, you guys don’t know, like being with you in my formative years. And seeing you now. I mean, it’s it’s, it’s, it’s extremely heartwarming, and it was a huge part of my life. And even on my website, I decided to like put a list of facts about me, I didn’t want to put here’s a publication and over here, you know, here’s my experience. Here’s as a clinical psychology, I want to put something fun and in there for sure is my you know, I’m… you know, Latin dance is in my heart forever. You know, it really is and and the music is on frequently I’m dancing frequently, you know, to myself, and then maybe after the pandemic is over Sonia I have to come pay you a visit.

maybe I’ll do a Lady Styling.

Sonia Kyriacou 37:09
Oh, I love that you would so have fun, and I would so Oh yes, I’m gonna hold you to it. So thank you so much for spending time with us today. It’s been really eye opening. And I think that you know, everything we discussed about how dance and psychology and you know, really taking care of you is what is what is is super important, especially having gone through the pandemic. For a lot of people you know, we have a lot of healing to do. So. Thank you so much for sharing all this with us. And I look forward to having you in the studio again, I look forward to to, you know, your future projects, and we’ll look out for you on Instagram. And you said there’s also LinkedIn.

Anna Maria Tosco 37:54
Yeah, there’s LinkedIn. I mean, Anna Maria Tosco on LinkedIn, but “Sassy Psychologist” use that handle for Facebook for Instagram. Yeah, and , you can join the mailing list for future projects.

Sonia Kyriacou 38:08
Love it. Thank you so much for being with us today.

Anna Maria Tosco 38:11
Thanks for having me, Sonia.

Voiceover 38:16
Thanks for listening. Find Sonia on Instagram at SONIAKYRI and on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter at Sonia Kyriacou. Check back weekly for new episodes. Until the next time, keep dancing.

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