Marisa Competello

FOUNDER OF METAFLORA & DANCER, NEW YORK CITY

"I always try to do things that make me happy at all costs... I really try and curate my time so that it's fulfilling and in line with what brings me joy."

TALKS DANCE, MOVEMENT, MINDFULNESS & THE BODY

Ever since I first met Marisa in 2014, I have always been in such awe of her graceful beauty and to be honest, have been quite persistent in my pursuit of having her featured on Hello! Sun. 

For many of you who may know her personally or through her most beautiful floristry work METAFLORA, many may agree that there are very few New York women who can rival Marisa's elegance and radiant beauty. Selfishly, as I was in such awe, I needed to know the how & why.

Here in this conversation Marisa teaches me that living a good life doesn't have to be so complicated.

We also talk about the tribulations of being a young woman growing up in dance and the fine edge between healthy eating and dangerous dieting. I hope my afternoon with Marisa brings you the same joy. Enjoy x

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I FIND MORNING RITUALS AND HOW PEOPLE START THEIR DAY SO INTERESTING. CAN YOU WALK US THROUGH YOUR MORNINGS?

Typically, I wake up and have a cup of tea. I like to give myself about an hour to enjoy the tea and chill before I head out the door. Because I get up so early to get to the flower market, my mornings usually involve just a cup of tea and sitting quietly before I head out into the city. 

 

I don’t eat breakfast until much later as I have to be at the market at 7am. Every morning I always have this smoothie and it’s become quite a ritual. Always the same combination, never steers - banana, kale, cashew butter, almond milk, collagen, spirulina and reishi.

YOU'RE A DANCER & DANCE & MOVEMENT PLAY BIG ROLES IN YOUR LIFE. DO YOU FIND THE TIME TO PRIORITIZE DANCE INTO YOUR MORNINGS?

I don’t. Because the market is such an early jam, I'll get that done and prep the flowers for the day and basically arrange the rest of my day around whatever movement I’m doing. So I’ll work, then take a class and then go back to work. Right now I have more time so with working less I am able to prioritize movement more, scheduling multiple classes and creating more of a regime. It's important because it's what I desperately need more of right now.

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HONESTLY, AS FAR AS I'M CONCERNED YOU'RE EVERYONE'S DREAM WOMAN. HOW DO YOU DO IT MARISA, WHAT IS IT?

I am blushing, I don’t know. I think I’m very mindful of what I eat and how I take care of my body - what I put into it and movement is so much a part of who I am and how I carry myself, it's so necessary as a human being. I also think, energy wise, I always try to do things that make me happy at all costs. Like I don’t like doing obligatory things or stressful things. I really try and curate my time so that it's fulfilling and in line with what brings me joy.

WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT EATING MINDFULLY - WHAT DOES THAT LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

I’ve been pescatarian for 25 years and I eat pretty clean. I would say I’m a really crunchy health food person so I think that also helps.

I definitely think it's also a combination of things. Eating things I know I feel good eating and eating things I know I should be eating because of their nutritional value. At this point in my life, I mean I definitely know what feels good in my body so it's easier to navigate.

 
I ALWAYS LIKE TO ASK NEW YORKERS HOW THEY NAVIGATE HEALTHY EATING WITH INDULGING. IN NEW YORK, I MEAN IT'S SUCH A SOCIAL CITY - A LOT OF WHAT WE DO IS DINE OUT TOGETHER & EAT & DRINK OUT SEVERAL NIGHTS A WEEK. EATING INTUITIVELY CAN BECOME SO CHALLENGING. AS A NEW YORKER, HOW HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO NAVIGATE THIS SO GRACEFULLY?

I think it's because when I do indulge, to me they are more like a treat. Even though I have been indulging much more now because in New York you now have to order food to get drinks so french fries have just become a staple. And you know, if you go to The Odeon, you'll always order french fries and a martini. I think all of that is wonderful but there is still a way to make thoughtful choices when you are faced with more decadence. It's comforting to know the next day is always there and it's a new day and an opportunity to bring everything back on track.

I'VE ALWAYS MARVELED AT THE ART OF DANCE & THE VIGOROUS DISCIPLINE & TRAINING IT DEMANDS. GROWING UP AS A DANCER, WHAT WERE YOU ABLE TO OBSERVE WITH YOUNG WOMEN AROUND YOU IN TERMS OF SELF DISCIPLINE & BODY IMAGE, WEIGHT & RELATIONSHIPS WITH FOOD?

I think through high school, I wasn't that aware of it because it wasn’t an issue for me personally. It wasn't til I was in college I got a real eyeful of the issues that go along with being a young woman in dance.

 

I was in a four year program and as dancers, we were weighed each month. The head of the department was a ballet dancer and ran it as such so you would get weighed and if your weight wasn't ideal you would be graded lower in your ballet class. So you might be a B or a C because of your weight and you would have gotten a better grade if you were lighter. The result was you had 18 to19 year old women being told they have to lose weight or their grade point average was going to be affected. So many women got sick. There was no guidance or nutritionist, no support whatsoever. I watched so many of my friends and other dancers I went to school with get really sick or get really wild about what they were eating. I didn't find myself being so affected but I definitely at one point started becoming aware of calories because it was all I was surrounded by.

I never got told to lose weight but I think by my junior year I was quite small and I was being very strict with what I ate. So I think post that experience I'm very sensitive when I see someone that might be sick or when I can see people I know being so strict with themselves and their food. I'm more relaxed with it all and I eat to feel good and never eat to lose weight. I mean that was all a pretty wild experience.

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I'VE ALWAYS MARVELED AT THE ART OF DANCE & THE VIGOROUS DISCIPLINE & TRAINING IT DEMANDS. GROWING UP AS A DANCER, WHAT WERE YOU ABLE TO OBSERVE WITH YOUNG WOMEN AROUND YOU IN TERMS OF SELF DISCIPLINE & BODY IMAGE, WEIGHT & RELATIONSHIPS WITH FOOD?

I think through high school, I wasn't that aware of it because it wasn’t an issue for me personally. It wasn't til I was in college I got a real eyeful of the issues that go along with being a young woman in dance.

 

I was in a four year program and as dancers, we were weighed each month. The head of the department was a ballet dancer and ran it as such so you would get weighed and if your weight wasn't ideal you would be graded lower in your ballet class. So you might be a B or a C because of your weight and you would have gotten a better grade if you were lighter. The result was you had 18 to19 year old women being told they have to lose weight or their grade point average was going to be affected. So many women got sick. There was no guidance or nutritionist, no support whatsoever. I watched so many of my friends and other dancers I went to school with get really sick or get really wild about what they were eating. I didn't find myself being so affected but I definitely at one point started becoming aware of calories because it was all I was surrounded by.

I never got told to lose weight but I think by my junior year I was quite small and I was being very strict with what I ate. So I think post that experience I'm very sensitive when I see someone that might be sick or when I can see people I know being so strict with themselves and their food. I'm more relaxed with it all and I eat to feel good and never eat to lose weight. I mean that was all a pretty wild experience.

WAS IT SPECIFICALLY EATING DISORDERS THAT YOU WERE OBSERVING? AND AT AN AGE WHERE YOU WERE SO YOUNG & IMPRESSIONABLE, HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO SEPARATE YOURSELF FROM THE OTHER WOMEN & NOT ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE SO AFFECTED?

I think the difference was, they were actually told to lose weight whereas I wasn’t but it still made me hyper aware of my body and whether it was in line with what the program wanted my body to be. I never went too far only because I could see how scary and terrible it was. Seeing girls who had the dream to dance but leaving and going home because they were too sick to do it. 

I mean it's heartbreaking because I think when you dance and you’re a dancer you’ll literally do anything to be that wonderful dancer - to be in that company, to get that job. You know, it’s almost like whatever it takes because you love it so much so I understand it's such a sensitive topic. You’re literally willing to put your body into jeopardy to do the thing that you love the most but then you end up not being able to do it or even do your best because you’re malnourished and sick. 

 

I think for the most part I put it in a little drawer and don’t think about it too much but it was definitely wild. I know that the program still exists but I'm not sure if they could get away with that today. It seems like if you are going to talk about young women and their weight, there definitely should be support systems in place.

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HOW DO YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF TODAY? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR NON NEGOTIABLES?

At this point, all the movement I do is varied but it's a crucial daily practice and makes a day complete and wonderful. I would say somewhere between April and May I went a month or two without dance at all and that was the longest I had ever gone in my whole life, it was heartbreaking. It definitely feels like there's a void in the day without any movement. It is so much of who I am and now when I dance in the studio with the small pod that I have, it’s just been this process of constantly being reminded of who I am and feeling into my body. These things are just so necessary.

HOW ARE YOU ALWAYS GLOWING! WHILE ALSO LIVING IN THIS CITY?

I mean I don’t really have that much of a regime. I’ve been using the same skin products for years, nothing out of the ordinary. I’ve been using Costa Brazil face oil and I don’t get too many facials. Every now and then I’ll get a microcurrent facial but all of those things are quite expensive and I don’t really like to indulge often. I think that food and what you eat is always the biggest attributor to everything.

I HONESTLY ALWAYS THINK FOOD IS THE BEST MEDICINE FOR ANYTHING. IT SHOULD ALWAYS COME FIRST & THE PRODUCTS SHOULD ALWAYS COME SECOND.

Exactly. And I think movement definitely helps, get the bloody flowing and things circulating. It's simple - move, eat well, smile and just do things that make you happy.

Words by Angel
Photos by Brooke Gardiner
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