Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers like you get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host, master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh, and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story than sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: Hey buddy, how are you doing today? I hope this finds you well. I hope this finds you healthy and if you’re not, I hope that this podcast brings you a tiny bit of hope, at least a handful of words of wisdom and maybe even a chuckle at some point. Okay. I got a lot of great feedback about starting every episode with wins. So here we go. My first win is that I made a delicious dinner thanks to Megan Lawson, her mom Sue and Sue’s mom, Jeanie Cole, Jeanie Cole. That recipe warmed my soul. Thank you so much. Um, also, let’s see. Um, Oh yeah, the seaweed sisters had a very fun virtual, um, super friends build a dance zoom conference call with 15 friends. Um, that we thought would take 40 minutes, which was cute cause we actually wound up dancing for two hours altogether in this big zoom conference. It was hysterical. It was great. It will absolutely happen again. All the friends all over the world get ready. For those of you that don’t know the seaweed sisters, by the way, you will soon stay tuned. Okay, and now this one, this is a big one. Speaking of sisters, I teamed up with my sister in law who happens to be a ridiculously talented illustrator. She’s the one that did the podcast logo for me. So yeah, real good reaaal good. Her name is Bree Reetz and I really suggest that you give her a follow on Instagram at B. R. E. E. dot. R. E. E. T. Z. She’s so lucky. All those double E’s. Anyways, together we have built a few tools for you listeners out there. One of them is what we’re calling the words that move me weekly worksheets. They are digital worksheets that come with every episode and they’re designed to help you process and apply specific topics from the episode. And we created a words that move me doing daily diary for all of you daily doers out there because managing a daily or even a weekly creative project as I’m learning thanks to the podcast can be really, really challenging. So this PDF is what I wish I had when I was doing my daily dances on Instagram for a year and they are designed to basically help you organize and track your progress and sort of help self evaluate. Um, I’m really jazzed about both of them. Both of them can be found on the words that move me Patreon you are only able to access these PDFs when you become a words that move me member. And the way that you do that is by going to patreon.com/WTMMpodcastand find all the different awesome, cool perks and ways that you can become a member. Okay, great. That does it for my wins. Now it’s your turn. Cue the funky music. Okay.
Oh right. Congratulations! All right, one more thing. These podcasts episodes come out every Wednesday and last week on Thursday I did something really fun that I will definitely be repeating words that move me, had a live Instagram chat with me, Dana and you listeners and we discussed all sorts of topics from the episode. I answered questions, we dug deeper. It was awesome. We will definitely be doing it again, so as you’re listening, please jot down any notes or questions, things that you want to discuss further and join us live on Instagram tomorrow, which if you’re listening to this on the day of its release, which is April 1st then tomorrow will be Thursday, April 2nd at 5:00 PM Pacific on Instagram. You can find that at either words that move me podcast on Instagram or on my account, which is DanaDaners. Okay, let’s get to it.
The topic of this episode is finding your tribe and if that phrase is a little bit confusing to you, I’ll explain by saying I guess tribe in the modern sense refers to the people that you choose to connect with. These are the people that you are most comfortable with. You don’t fake it with them, you know, with your tribe, you never have to try to fit in. You just are yourself and you belong. And there’s a difference there. A very specific difference. These are probably people that you share values with. They don’t need to be family or best friends or people that you talk to every day. Sometimes they’re coworkers, sometimes they’re people that you’ve met a couple times, but you just really fit with. These are your tribe. You have probably heard of a quote by a guy called Jim Roan who says that you are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with. Okay, well I have been doing my part to flatten the Corona curve for like 25 days now and I’m starting to wonder, am I still me when I don’t spend time with other people? It’s wild. Uh, but I have run a few tests and yes, I am in fact still me. Fortunately for me, and fortunately for you, if you’re a person that likes me, um, but I am sort of wondering if Jim’s theory is being debunked here with this social distancing quarantine situation. Because if my, we’ll call it a “me”ness I guess is linked to the amount of time I spend with other people. Then am I less me when I spend less time with other people or am I more me by spending more time with myself? That’s kind of what it feels like, but it’s bringing up a lot of questions about togetherness and tribes and people. Like, uh, do opposites attract or do birds of a feather flock together? See what I mean? And Oh, also why am I doing a podcast about finding your tribe when most people are strongly encouraged, if not legally obligated to keep to themselves? Well, I have the answer to one of those questions. I am doing this podcast because I believe the best way to find your tribe is to connect with and find yourself.
I explained your tribe as being people that you have similar values with. Well, it would make sense then that having clearly defined values for yourself would sort of make it easier to connect with other people who have those same values. For many of us, our core values are being challenged right now, every day, especially if you’re a person that values human interaction, for example. Um, so this is a really good time, I think to take a closer look at all of that. If you’re sitting in thinking to yourself, uh, I don’t think I know my values. What are values? Give me an example. Um, I’ve got you. I’ve got you. You can undoubtedly Google core values and find a boatload of verbs. Just mad verbs to choose from. Like creativity, as I mentioned, social interaction. Um, humor, wit, collaboration. I dunno, you name it, but I like to think of values, less of something that you would choose off a list and more as something that you would reveal to yourself. It’s something that’s already inside you. You just have to uncover it. So the way that I’m going to ask you to uncover it. Oh, and by the way, I would suggest that even if you think know what your core values are, you give this exercise a whirl. Okay, think of two scenarios. The first one is the best moment that ever happened in your life that you can remember. What is like your highlight the highlight, and then ask what was going on there. What were you experiencing? What was great about that?
Okay, now think of a truly awful moment, your least favorite moment, the moment you wish you could delete what was happening there, what was not happening there? More specifically. All right, so the answers to these questions should reveal several values. Now think out of those which are essential to life, which are essential to the way that you operate on a daily basis. Could you come up with like five of those values that without which you simply wouldn’t be you? Okay. Those are your core values. Great. Some of my core values are humor and spontaneity, so I find a lot of tribesmen with roots in improv and comedy and acting. Shout out Liza Koshy. Dang, you’re funny. Shout out Kat Burns. Holy smokes and the Raggle Taggle Dance Hour at UCB. Look out Kat Burns episode coming soon. So excited. Um, also I really value technique, style and obviously movement.
So it’s no wonder that I’ve found most of my besties through dance. I also value boldness and variety in fashion, in art, in food, all of it. So it’s no wonder that I flock to the coasts and to big cities. Now think for a second about what activities and communities run rich with your values. And I don’t necessarily mean physical locations. Thanks to the internet and thanks to our lockdown, we’re all getting a masterclass in finding what we’re looking for and getting what we need even without leaving the house. I do believe it’s possible to find your tribe from inside your home.
All right. Finding your tribe isn’t just about where you are, but also how you filter. I love this quote by Klaus Kinski. I hope I’m saying that right. It’s kind of fun. Klaus Kinskii he says “One should judge a man mainly by his depravities. Virtues can be faked. Depravities are real.” Let’s run that back one more time. One should judge a man mainly by his depravities. Virtues can be faked. Depravities are real. Let’s break that down. Virtues. All right. Virtues are behaviors like, um, gentleness, sincerity, bravery, compassion. They’re admirable qualities. Depravity is not a word that’s used much anymore I’d like to point out, if you don’t know what it means, you’re not alone, but Holy smokes. If that came out on a Scrabble board, Whoa, I’d be stoked on you. Okay. Depravities are acts of wickedness or evil, like taunting, torturing, bullying, discrimination, and worse. The point of the quote is that people might pretend to be nice or trustworthy or brave or caring or compassionate, but most people are not that likely to pretend to be rude to the waiter. They don’t pretend to tease or make fun of or taunt someone. They’re actually doing that thing. That’s just who they are. So Klaus Kinski is saying that we should use those hints when we’re filtering for our tribesmen instead of the virtues. I really love this quote. It was monumental for me because as I mentioned in episode six I think, The Gift of Fear life has trained me to see the best in people and I used to be very, very quick to overlook somebody shortcomings, especially if there were virtues like talent that I could oogle over. Well, I’m a little older and a little wiser now and I know people who are at the top of their field who are as talented as they are kind. They create without destroying things and people along the way. They didn’t push others down to get to the top. They actually brought people with them. They are my tribe. I prefer them, which brings me to the seaweed sisters. The seaweed sisters are my tribe, my tribesmen, my tribes, women, my tribes, weeds, tribe, sisters, trimesters. Okay. I could tell you a lot of words about the seaweed sisters, but I would really, really rather show you we are a visual spectacle to behold. The seaweed sisters are Jillian Myers, Megan Lawson and myself and we have been making all sorts of things that we’re proud of for the last six years and we have more ideas than the next six years could hold. Go ahead and check out the seaweedsisters.com if I am peaking your interest here. Okay, today is April 1st, 2020 and the seaweed sisters had big plans for April, but as the great prophet Mike Tyson once said, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. Well if you’re like me, the current circumstances have your teeth feeling like speed bags, but this month the podcast and I are punching back. So tell your friends to glove up. Literally you should be wearing gloves and you should definitely, definitely stop touching your face so often. Um, anyways, put your boxing gloves on because this month of podcasts go in. This episode is about finding yourself and your tribe and I’m so glad that I have found me and mine the rest of the month we’re going to take some time to look at other things, Seaweed, the power of play, exploration, discovery, and serious silliness, all of which I think are tremendously important values for a time like this, you will absolutely not want to miss a single episode. So please subscribe. Don’t miss a beat. And thank you so, so, so much for listening. Stay safe, stay soapy and keep it funky.
That’s you are done. No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website theDanawilson.com/podcast finally, and most importantly now you have a way to become that move on member. So kickball changeover to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast to learn more and join. Alright everybody now I’m really done. We’re done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon.
Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers like you get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artists story than sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: Hey everybody, and welcome to the podcast. I am so excited that you’re here. I am very excited about this episode and I’m very excited to try something new for the beginning of every episode. Um, yeah, I think I’m gonna make a new habit. Tell me if you love it. Tell me if you hate it. I actually mean that. I want you to give me the feedback. So, uh, send me a message at words that move me podcast or we could do a little callback from episode seven and you can toe vote. Toe voting is a game nay an art form that my husband invented and I talked about in episode seven. I use this game when I’m going through the airport, but you can use it right now or all the time. Toe voting is, um, when you silently and invisibly vote in favor or against, um, someone’s choices or behavior out there in the world. It is silent. It is invisible. It is just for you. But, uh, the toe vote works like this. Your little toes and your shoes will respond either by jumping up and down and approval or frowning and digging themselves into the floor. That’s what a toe vote is. Um, we’re back. My new top of the cast habit is called wins. Now, I did not invent the concept of starting with wins. Actually, I became familiar with this concept. Thanks to my acting teacher, Gary Imhoff who teaches the professional artists workshophere in Los Angeles. Cannot say enough great things about Gary. But, um, it’s been awhile since I took an acting class. It’s been awhile since I did wins and I cannot think of a better time to, uh, remind ourselves of the things that are going well then this very moment. So here is how wins works. I’ll go ahead and start.
All right. I’m actually busier than I have ever been, which is ironic because I’m a person whose work almost exclusively depends on large groups of people. Um, but I’m getting to do a lot of things that I’ve always wanted to do. Number one, train more. It seems like a lot of people are offering Instagram live or otherwise livestreams classes. I think it’s so much fun. It’s very cool. Um, another win, I actually added curtains to my dance space, um, which required a sewing machine and a power drill, which usually gives me the nervous fields. Um, but because I had to use it for like an hour, I got really solid. I’m much more confident with my power tool skills right now than I was, uh, a week or so ago. Um, let’s see, what else. Oh, also upgraded the Ram on my computer. Did that myself as well. Um, I also started a Patreon account for the podcast and it feel really, really good about this is the first time ever that I have opened up a membership option for any of my services. And I think it’s very cool. It’s uh, a way for you to get even more value out of this exchange and it’s a way for you to help me by keeping the lights on the disco ball as it were. Uh, speaking of disco ball, I made one out of aluminum foil. It’s hanging in my dance space, so that’s also definitely a win. Um, okay. I think that’s great. That’s a really good start on wins for me. And now it is your turn to go. A win is just an answer to the question. What went well and I really am, I’m going to leave a gap here for you to fill in that blank on your Mark. Get set, go.
Maybe I’ll play a little music for you so that it’s not as awkward.
Okay, great. I’m not just saying that wins are important because we’re having a tough patch. Is that safe to say? We’re, this isn’t the a high point of civilization. We’re not at our pinnacle right now. This isn’t our best performance, I would say. But I’m also saying it’s not all destroyed. I’m saying the sun comes up and the sun sets and we wake up and we go to sleep and somewhere something went well. So let’s share it for ourselves at very least to ourselves. But even to someone else, I think it’d be a good practice to start a wins group. This is my wins group. Thank you for joining me. Speaking of winning, I see you daily doers out there and I honestly am so inspired. I am. I, it’s always a treat to see what you guys are daily doing. If you are new to the podcast, please circle back to episode one and have a listen as I pose a daily creative challenge to all of you out there. I think this is a perfect time for it. I think oftentimes great restraint breeds great choreography that too. Um, but great restraints can cause great creativity. So please keep it up. Um, keep tagging your videos with the hashtag doing daily. WT M M the doing is the important part. So it comes first hashtag #doingdailyWTMM go take a look at that hashtag as well. You’re going to find some super treats. Um, okay. Moving right along. I am thrilled about this episode. Um, I had a conversation with a good friend of mine, Tiler Peck, principal ballerina for New York city ballet and all of the things she had to say I find so applicable and so valuable in a time like this. She talks about injury, she talks about training, she talks about family, she talks about the most challenging time of her life and she talks about finding herself and her strength within it. So without any further ado, enjoy this conversation with Tiler Peck.
Dana: Yes! Tiler, thank you so much for being here first and foremost today. It is a special time. It is a crazy time. Mmm. And it’s just very cool to see your face and hear your voice
Tiler: Thanks for having me.
Dana: Let’s start with having you introduce yourself. How do you like to introduce yourself?
Tiler: All right. Now let me just say I’m Tyler Peck and I’m in principal ballerina with New York city ballet.
And that is enough, my lady. Um, okay, cool. So you and I actually in years, years passed our timelines, our dance timelines overlapped when we were little NYCDA competition kid. Um, and I find something very interesting is very few of those Danclings pursue classical ballet and even fewer wind up in soloists roles and fewer still in principal roles. I think that speaks so much to your training but also to your talent and your drive. And I want to spend some time talking about that. So could you talk a little bit about your pre-professional training and uh, even before you and I met maybe a little bit during that timeline and then before going to the company,
Of course, I think that I am just as shocked that I became a ballerina’s probably like anybody else. I know Joe actually, Joe Lanteri always says like, I mean she can do ballet, but if you ever saw her do like jazz, then you would really see it. It’s the truth. I never thought I’d be a ballerina. I grew up first in my mom’s school in Bakersfield, California, and you know, her, her dance school, it has every style. So I grew up doing jazz. I was really bad at tap, so I can’t say that I ever really was good at that. But, um, jazz, contemporary, lyrical, hip hop, gym, you know, everything. I did everything and I did take privates. She did have me take, um, ballet privates with this, um, Russian teacher who actually is from California. Her name is Alla i and I believe the last name is Khaniashvil or something like, and she was a former principal, the Bolshoi ballet and they were my least favorite classes. Not because she wasn’t a good teacher. It just took the most discipline. Like I think ballet, when you’re younger it’s really hard because it takes the most focus just because you don’t get to dance to feel good music, you know, like a song that you love or a word that you can like relate to. It’s like classical music is sometimes honestly a little boring and especially when you’re younger. So I’d always try to get out of my ballet classes. I tell him I’m, Oh, I think when they feel sick today, I don’t think I should do ballet. And she’d be like, okay, well then if you’re sick for ballet, you’re also sick for jazz. And I would say, Oh, I think, I think I’m feeling better. I think I’m better now. So I’m glad that made me stick with it. Cause clearly I wouldn’t have made it as far in the ballet company. But, um, what took me to New York was getting the Music Man on Broadway and Mmm, that was just because, you know, in California, I, I did lots of commercials and like more commercial dance and theater. And so when my agency, um, sent me to New York to audition, my mom was like, we’re not going in New York. And I said, mom, let’s just go. And she goes, okay, we’ll just make it a fun trip. No pressure. You know? And I ended up getting it. And then she was like, you’re definitely not moving to New York. And I said, but mom, what if I never get this opportunity ever again, and you, you didn’t let me go. And she was like..
Ooooh! The guilt trip!
I know. And I was only 11! Yeah. So that was kind of what made me go to New York. And then from there I started taking at the school of American ballet, which is the company that feeds into the New York city ballet. And that was the first time where I ever felt like, wow, ballet is actually really interesting. And I think it was the Balanchine like technique style that I really, really love because it is a little bit jazzier and you know, all of a sudden didn’t seem so boring. And I was like, I also didn’t feel like I was really good at it. Like I felt like I looked like a jazz dancer trying to do ballet and I was like determined to not be that one that they were like, Oh, she’s just from the jazz world. You know? I was like, no, I’m going to get this. Then it’d be a ballerina. And I’ve always kind of been like that. Like, where if something isn’t easy, that’s like the route I go, I’m like, you know what, I’m going to do this and I’m going to be a ballerina. And that’s kind of what happened.
I love this. It’s actually one of my questions later down the, the stream that it was going to ask it, has it always been ballet and will it always be ballet? So now I know it hasn’t always been, but do you see like what is future Tiler? Is she like a tango dancer or ballroom or is she strictly choreography? Do you, do you think about her a lot?
I mean, I love ballroom actually. Like I don’t know it, but I Mmm. It was on a gig once. Then this ballroom dancer like took me on the dance floor just at the after party and I was like, this is literally the coolest thing ever. Like he made me feel like I’d been taking ballroom forever, but I don’t think that that’s going to be my route. Um, but no, I definitely want to always other things. I, I don’t think I want to do, um, ballet for a very long time. I thought this is when I should do this because it’s such a young career. So I got into the company at 15 and you know, I’ve already been in the company 16 years. I’m 31 and I’ve never really wanted to be someone like in my mid forties still in point shoes. I always kind of want to leave when I can still do everything in such a classical company. But then I would love to do like, you know, theater or choreograph or something like that and move back into you know, not doing just classical ballet. Um, but I just felt like this was the time for me to do it. If I was going to do ballet, I was going to pursue ballet this was the time.
Got it. But you do also pursue these other avenues even now, a little bit of acting, a little bit of choreographing. Um, do you want to talk about any of those?
Yeah, I mean, I think because I did grow up in California and you know, I did do a lot of acting and stuff like the story ballets at New York city ballet the most for me just because you get to tell a story, we don’t use your voice. But, um, that’s why when Susan’s Stroman like talks to me about doing this new musical that’s coming out, um, to be the lead and that I’ve kind of been a part of for like 10 years. Um, it was kind of the perfect thing for me because it has ballet, it’s about a ballerina. I get to carry this show, so I’m have to. Mmm. Basically I’m on stage for two and a half hours singing, acting and dancing. So it’s like, it was like such a challenge for me and I was like, I haven’t used my voice and like 10 years, but let’s try it, you know? Yeah. And also when I just got through this injury, I use that as a lot of time to do other things like choreograph and you know, do a few acting. Mmm. Acting jobs on TV shows and things. So it was a good time to make my mind. It was like a forced time to, to do everything you love because I had the time and I love it. Mmm. With my New York city ballet crazy schedule.
Cool. That is a, I think an excellent segue. I couldn’t have written that myself. I’m talk about being forced into certain things or away from certain things. Um, I would love to talk to you more about the type of training that you’re used to and how different your life is now that we are in, um, I’m going to use the word lockdown. It’s not technically a lock down, at least here in California. We’re both in California right now. So I guess what I’m asking is what is the importance of training to you? And if you could actually be interesting to hear a day in the life of principal ballerina, how much of that is training, how much of that is performing and what are you doing right now when we don’t have that, or our traditional flow.
Yeah. So every day we work every day, but Monday just kind of like Broadway schedules. Um, but we’re training all day. It’s not like a Broadway show where one gets up, You’re just performing at night. Mmm. We start class at 10 30. They have class every day for an hour when we’re in season and then they can rehearse us from 11:30 to 6:00 and then they show at 8:00. We do that Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday we had two shows on Saturday. And then on Sunday we have class at 10:30 they can rehearse us It’s for like three hours and then the matinee. So it’s crazy. Yeah. By the time you get to the show, a lot of times you say to yourself, I’m so tired. I literally don’t know what’s going to happen right now. Sometimes that’s when you do your best performances because you don’t have the nerve because you just don’t have the energy for them and you just, you know, so grounded. But yeah, so I’m used to dancing all day long and um, right now in order to, to keep that up, I’ve been taking class every day. You know, my mom has a dance studio, so it’d be really easy for me just to go down there. But Mmm. You know, I’ve been listening also to what they’re saying, like stay at home and she shut her studio. And so I’ve just been doing classes in my mom’s kitchen and using her kitchen countertop as my bar. And I just thought, you know, I’m going to do this every single day for myself because I have to keep my training up. So I thought, why don’t I open it up and let people take with me on Instagram live. And I did it the first day and I was like, you know, let’s just see if anybody liked it. Then it seems like a really big thing and everybody’s really looking forward to it, I think during the day. So I thought, you know, if I’m going to keep up my training, I might as well let everybody do it with me because I’m sure so many people are missing being in their dance studios. And it’s hard to get motivated when you’re just doing it by yourself. I mean I just came off of a huge injury where I was off for six months and I couldn’t do anything. And then it took me, you know, like another probably three months to get back and I had to do class every single day and I did it with a teacher because I needed somebody to be motivating me. And so that’s what I thought is like if I do these live classes, at least somebody can. I can be, you know, I could be leading the class and trying to motivate these people to keep moving so they’re not having to do it by themselves. Cause that’s hard.
It is. It’s so hard. Yeah,
It’s keeping me accountable too. I feel like because if I were doing it myself maybe it would skip combinations or do it at different times or, and this is like, no, it’s an hour every single day or Monday through Saturdays.
People show up for class.
Yes, people show up. So
I took, I’ve taken a couple, um, I was there, I think I was there on day one. I’m not sure if I was there.
You were there day one!
I was a day one or I have not been in everyday or a more a more often dayer or I think finding some sort of normalcy in a day is valuable. Um, but I love the normalcy. I love the sharing and I love the accountability. All of these things to me are what the internet has always been good at. Sharing information, finding solutions to urgent problems and connecting and we’re really, we’re using it for that.
Yeah, it’s true.
Dana: Okay. Tiler and I talked about the silver linings of this Corona virus crisis situation for quite a while, but I wanted to take a second and pop out to reflect on her training regimen and man! Hearing about the day that Tiler goes through. Made me want to up my training regimen. That is for sure and actually reminded me of episode 9 when I spoke with Jason Bonner who says if your show is two hours long then you’re training for three or in Tiler’s case if your show is two hours long, you’re training for the remaining eight hours. Hearing about this honestly made me want to up my game and it reminded me of a saying, you will not rise to the occasion. You will fall to your level of training, so train up everybody train up, now is a perfect time.
We’re going to jump back and talk a little bit more about training with Tiler, but we’re also going to talk about the injury that put her through the most challenging time of her life. Tiler wasn’t just unable to dance or train. She was unable to execute normal daily tasks like turning her head or lifting her arm for five months. To get even more backstory about that injury and her road to recovery. I strongly recommend you read the New York times article called Am I more than just a dancer?I will link to it on the website, theDanaWilson.com/podcast under this episode, which is episode 13 but I’m also just Google the New York times and Tiler Peck and you will probably find it. Am I more than just a Dancer? Fabulous read. Okay, let’s jump back in.
Dana: Okay, so if you went five months, we can definitely do several weeks. My question for you is this, how does one go from five months of not even doing normal range of human motion stuff? To Sugarplum. Was that your first performance back?
Tiler: Yeah, it was sugarplum because I did everything with every other part of my body that I could work out, so like I couldn’t ride a bicycle because they’ve thought that was too much.
Dana: This was a neck injury right?
Yeah, a herniated disc in my C-5-6 which is the neck and mine was so severe that it was touching my spinal cord and we all know that like that’s not good. So I had to wait and I was told I would like never dance or could be paralyzed if I was walking and got slightly pushed. I mean I went through a roundabout. Mmm, very scary time. But I had this one physical therapist who just, I like literally trust my life, who’s the New York city ballet doc therapist. And she just kept saying, I don’t know, I just don’t feel like you need the surgery like they’re saying. And we just kept searching and searching. But she, I met with her every single day and we just did like cranial sacral work and I met with an energy healer. And so we were healing my body kind of from like the inside out, you know, she made me wear my point shoes around the house every single day so that my toes and my feet would be strong. And then we actually started, she made me keep my bottom half working. You know, I’d do relevés me and my point shoes, I do a little moving. I just wouldn’t move my arm or my neck. So yeah. So she was really smart with the way that she brought me back and I really don’t know what I would’ve done without her. And um, Rob, who’s the energy healer. But yeah, it was all about finding what, how I could stay in shape without doing anything to hurt my neck so that it could heal.
Right. The healing is so, so, so important. Um, what did you learn about yourself during that period while you were know..
Yeah. I mean the energy healer is an hour and a half session that I did every single Wednesday and 45 minutes of that hour is just talking. And so you start to learn a lot about yourself, about where your stresses are in life, where you want to get better. You know, your, your weaknesses, your tendencies and it’s kind of like you begin to heal yourself. Is what he’s there for, to kind of help you heal yourself. And I learned so much about myself. I learned, you know, that I’ve always wanted, I’ve always, and like a very empathetic person where I, I really not a people pleaser, but I really don’t like when anybody’s upset at me or I really feel when somebody’s going through something and kind of what I learned with this is that I had to sort of, not distance myself but still have those feelings, but realize how much of that I was going to allow to be my energy of the day. You know? Like I could still have those feelings, but at the end of the day I needed to be able to stand up for what I believed in. Somebody you know, um, didn’t like something or got their feelings hurt like I’ve learned now that like I just now tell them like honestly, like, I’m really sorry if that happened that’s so not what I thought this is, you know? And it makes me feel so much better because I’m being true to myself. And also I feel like when you do tell the truth and get it forward, the problem just goes away that much faster. So I think, I think in this whole thing, I just kind of learned how to be a little bit more Mmm. Like real with myself and my own feelings. And I think that in the end that kind of like also helped the healing.
Oh, okay. Would you say that that might’ve been like the brighter light at the end of the tunnel? Like you maybe went into this injury being injured in another area and then this injury somehow wound up healing both.
Of course. Actually the first day he always reminds me that when I went in I said, you know, I had a back injury. You know, my body has been pretty good to me for as long as I’ve been dancing. And the only other injury I had was a back thing when I was 18 and I felt like from that injury, what I said in our first meeting was I came back such like more of an artist, like I was more mature, I was able to be more vulnerable. And I said, you know, I’m wondering what this one is going to bring, you know? And Mmm. The other day I said to him, I was like, I really just feel like I’m a different person. Like a better version of myself and I’m able to say what I feel a little bit more and not keep it so bottled up and I just feel like I’m more open and I was always warm, but I feel like I’m able to receive things a little bit easier now.
Oh, I love this phrase. What will this bring to me? Like even an injury, I think, you know, I, I struggle with patellar tendonitis in my knees and when I have that pain or when I’m going through, even when I’m training, like when I’m doing PT, my thoughts are like, ah, I don’t have good knees. I don’t ha, I’m like, I’m without good knees. Instead of thinking, what will this like, how is this actually an active experience instead of how is this taking away from something that I think should be fine and working perfectly with what we do? Are you kidding? Of course knees will be wonky and backs will be out in all the things like, Oh man, what we do is unnatural. So it makes sense that we experience unnatural pain at times. And I really love that thought. What, what will this bring me? And I love what it brought you, this sense of self, um, and this idea that you can still be empathetic and a person that’s warm and a person that cares without carrying all of that.
Yeah. And I think I also just um, yeah, I kept worrying like, Oh my gosh, when I come back everybody is going like be judging me and what am I not going to move my neck the same way? And I finally came the conclusion. I was like, I am a different dancer. It’s okay. I’m going to be a different ballerina. But like that doesn’t mean that it’s the wrong kind. Like I’m going to be a different, Tiler and I might have to do you think a little bit differently and be a little bit smarter when it comes to the way I move my neck. But I’m going to enjoy it and love it that much more for being out there again, when they told me I would never be, and at the same time like maybe it’s going to bring a different and better quality to my dancing.
And do you think it has?
I do think it has even, it’s funny. It’s like I did full length Swan Lake. I mean literally they told me and I was never going to dance and then we just had this season and I did full length Swan Lake and like I got there and I said, I’m on. I was like, I didn’t just get through it like I was DANCING, I did it, I was moving. But yeah, you know, I did. I did. There were things I couldn’t do. Like I can’t jump every day because it’s bad for the my neck still. So I would really waited to do it till the show to do all of my jumps. That was the first time I did everything and I got through it. But you know, there are things now that I just have to deal with and it’s okay, you know? But yeah, I do think it is. And sometimes I think, Oh, might not look that good. And then I watch a video and I’m like, Oh, I’m moving my body. I’m moving my neck. Not so bad.
Yes. I love that. We can’t go back. Like you won’t be the Tiler that was Tiler before you hurt your neck or your back, but you might be better. So keep going. You must go through that like cause it, it could truly be better on the other side.
Yeah. I just kept getting stuck and then I was like, why am I so concerned about that? Like I’m just going to be the different Tiler and I’m going to be happy in that.
Oh, that’s so great. I am definitely happy when I watch this Tiler previous Tiler also was, but watching you dance, especially lately, even just watching you teaching your class, there is a sense of Mmm. Freedom and joy that I’m just like, even in a routine task, like a, uh, you know, rond de jambs we’re just doing the rond de jambs. We’re checking to make sure that all of the all of the things and all the gears and all the nuts and all the bolts are working. But it looks somehow liberating freeing and fun. And it’s incredible to watch. It’s been very fun taking class with you. I would have never for the record, um, walked into a studio in New York and taking class with you. Cause it’s all the things that we hold in our heads, but like who does the thing so, so, so good. Um, and then to put yourself in the room next to them, it can be very, uh, intense. So there is a lot of, from the comfort of your own home happening right now. And I hope that a lot of people will progress and find, Mmm. A foothold into a world that maybe they might have otherwise been too afraid to step into. Mmm. Yeah. I, I don’t mean to say that I’m afraid of ballet. Um, it’s certainly not been my favorite style. I remember being competition kid crying, actually hot tears down my face during Adagio and I probably still would if I really got into a tough one.
Isn’t it funny! Adagio has always been my favorite and I, and I think it’s the thing, kind of the worst at.
No, that makes sense actually to your lean in personality. Like I didn’t just want to become an okay ballerina. That was okay. Taking class with ballerinas. No, I’m going to be the principal ballerina from injuries dancing, full swan lakes.
You know, it’s been so great with these classes. It’s like, I think because it’s like at a certain time every day, you know, that people really build in their lives. I wouldn’t get to teach half of these people, if I were going around studios or something, I would never reach the people that I’m able to. Yeah. I think yesterday like, or 15,000 people were taking class.
Its amazing! Yeah. Any knowledge that I have passed it on to them and the one hour a day at 10, you know, Pacific standard time or whatever. That’s so exciting.
Right. There’s not, uh, uh, uh, a classroom big enough to have that ballet class. The only a place that we could do that is on the internet is incredible. I’m so glad that we’re using it for the for good. Um, but that does beg the question. Um, is there a downside of this social media training stuff?
I do think and what I’ve noticed, cause I’m asking people to like hashtag turnout Tyler’s that I can see, see the videos because I don’t like the one thing I don’t like is not being able to see the people that I’m teaching, because, and it was really good for me because now they’re all sending the video, then I’ll like send them back corrections. But I also seen, um, the variety of people taking the class. So then I realized three days into like, I need to be making a beginner combination and an advanced one for every single um, combination because I don’t want the little ones that aren’t up to the advanced level to be trying to do something that their bodies are not ready for. You know? And so that’s, that’s the one thing if you were like super hands on, right? Yeah. What the, what your students are ready or not ready for throwing a class out that you would want to take and it might not be a great thing for everybody. Yeah. That’s, yeah. So that’s why I’m like, make sure and send your videos. And then like today, a little girl sent it and I was like, that’s not a high enough passe. And then she’s in another video or photo back then I was like, that’s right. You know, because I do think it’s important that they’re not just taking these classes and doing their technique wrong, you know, so, so that’s the one downside I think.
Cool. I appreciate that. I love that. Um, okay. Speaking of downsides, um, what do you consider to be downtime? Like is this downtime, are you working? What’s your attitude about downtime? Do you have it between acting, choreographing, a clothing line, being a ballerina? Like does that exist for you or what’s your, what’s your, what are your thoughts around downtime?
Okay. Anybody who knows me really well would probably laugh because they’re like, you don’t know how to have downtime, but I will tell you, I do love sitting in front of the TV and watching movies. And last night my family, we all watch together, dirty dancing, all six feet apart and it was just something I grew up watching and it was so amazing and my dad got so excited. My dad was like, I think we should all pick our favorite movie. He was like, cool, I want on the phone and he went into the other room and he brought back like ghost, sister act and something else. I was like, dad, yes. I could just tell. This is the first time I’ve been dancing I guess professionally since I was like six. I think that’s when I had my first commercial and honestly I’ve been home now I think for eight days and it’s the first time I’ve ever been with my family. Like today, we went on our first walk together and I said, as we were walking, I was like, I’m pretty sure this is the first walk we’ve ever taken as a family. And they were like, for sure, because when I was younger, my grandmother drove me three hours to take class at Studio C with Dee and Tina and Dennis Casberry three hours there and hours back from age. Um, I think like seven to 11. So this is the most family time I’ve ever had. And so that is what I’m really enjoying and I’m trying to be like, okay, I need to get off the phone now and really just enjoy this time that I have because when would I be able to be here that much?
Right. This might be the other slight downside to the social streaming class thing is that if you have that many students in class and you’re encouraging the discourse right, the back and forth, which I do. Yeah, I think that’s very smart. Um, you could spend 24 hours a day giving feedback to all of those people in class and you wind up literally stuck to this thing.
Yeah. I’m like, how am I busier now than normal? And it’s classes and interviews. Yeah, you know, but I said, I know the weekends, like I’m definitely not going to be on the phone and I really, really want to really just enjoy my time with my family at night. Okay, fine. I’ll let you go.
Um, okay. Yes, and I so agree. I think this is a very valuable time, not just for self-work, but for those of us that are uh, lucky enough to be in it with the family, with the people actually like hands on in person stuff. Dad said to me, can we play monopoly? And I was like, you said yes three times in a row. Dad, um,
Ps has great taste in movies, dad, I really love that. I think this will be the birth of great new rituals and well, we’ll remember things about this time that are truly special. I’m so glad about that. Definitely. All right. Well I do want you to get back to family time. Thank you so much for sharing this time with me. I learned a lot and smiled constantly.
Oh, I’ll see you. Hopefully soon. Not sure how summer in summer intensives are gonna work out. Um, we might have a long, Mmm. A long haul ahead of us, but perhaps a reschedule or a same schedule for your event this summer. Do you want to talk about it a little bit?
It’s my first summer course and basically I just had this idea because I love teaching. Obviously you can tell, but I, especially if for ballet I feel like the ballerinas don’t always get a range of movement. And I think that is what it really helped me be a different kind of a ballerina. And so I kind of wanted to be how I was brought up and I wanted these dancers to get that type of training. I want them to have hip hop or funk or whatevr you want to call it. And I want him to be able have jazz. And what’s funny is like, honestly, the teachers that are teaching this intercourse are either people I grew up dancing with like you or the teachers that taught me. So I’m like, it really is like, um, like Marguerite and Alex and people. I used to take classes from that I love and Mmm. So hopefully it will, all of this will pass and if not, we’ll figure out something. I don’t know. Maybe it will do zoom classes or something, but
Hey, we will get creative. That is what this time calls for lots of creativity. All right, Tiler thank you so much again. I will talk to you very soon.
Dana: Oh right. Talk about a myth. Oh, a meaning wind set. Talk about a meaning wind set. Everybody talk about a winning mindset rather. Jeez. Winning on winning, on winning. I really love the way that Tiler thinks about emerging different, not wrong or not worse from her injury. It honestly reminds me of episode eight and talking about doing it bright instead of doing it right. Finding the value in doing it your way and that whatever your way is is the best way for you to do it. I especially love how Tiler reframed her thoughts around the injury from being the victim to being the beneficiary. She literally went from thinking, why is this happening to me? Or why is this happening at all to how is this happening for me? What could this bring to me? And that’s something I think we could all use a little practice working on right now. So let’s get to work. Grab a pen, grab a piece of paper and think of a topic, a circumstance. Maybe it’s the Corona virus, maybe it’s lock-down, maybe it’s training at home. Now dump all of your thoughts about that topic onto the page. But first split the page, hot dog style. On the left, we’re going to keep all of our negative, dark, nasty, big, ugly thoughts. We’ll call it big ugly column. And then on the right we’ll put all the positive captain brightside, we’ll call it the bright and beauty column. Now for every negative thought, I want you to write two positive ones. Since our brains are wired to care about disease and danger to keep us alive, this might be challenging. So I’ll help you by giving a couple examples.
Big, ugly thought. People are dying. This is true. Bright beauty thought. People are coming together. People are caring for each other. People are fighting to keep each other alive.
Let’s take another big ugly thought. Um, I could get sick. I could die. Bright beauty thought, let’s go with the obvious one. You could also not get sick. You could live to be a hundred. It’s a possibility. Uh, let’s do one more big, ugly thought. Um, I’m going to lose my job and run out of money. Bright beauty thought I cannot lose my talent and I will not lose my training. Prepared with those things and my bright mind, I can make more money. Notice I’m not encouraging you to delete or resist big uglies. They are worthy of your attention and they are valid, especially right now. I guess I’m simply encouraging you to spend equal air time on the bright beauties, the winning thoughts, if you will. I will leave you with that for today, and also I will leave you with my new tagline. Stay safe, stay soapy and stay funky.
Thought you were done. No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website theDanawilson.com/podcast finally, and most importantly now you have a way to become a words that move me member, so kickball, change over to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast to learn more and join. All right, everybody now i’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon.
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Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers like you get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host, master mover, Dana Wilson, and if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight. But don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: Hi there. Hello. How’s everybody doing out there? I am so glad that you’re here with me right now. I am so excited to talk to you today, number one, because if you’re tuning in on or around the release of this episode, then we are dealing with a global crisis and two, because the conversation with today’s guest is a light in dark times and it really reminded me the power of perspective. I am so, so, so excited to share it with you.
So the neutral facts right now are that there is a virus that is spreading and we do not yet have a cure and that is causing some thoughts, a lot of scary thoughts, some really sad thoughts, not many happy thoughts. And that’s honestly okay. There’s talk of death, there’s talk of doubt, there is talk of full-blown economic collapse. But with this episode, I really hope to remind you that after every dark, sad, gloomy recession, there is a Renaissance, a cultural, artistic, political and economic rebirth, if you will. And that that’s a time where the people with ideas that people with passion, the people with vision, those are the people that have the power. So yes, I’m talking to you, you thinkers, you authors, you artists, and this one goes out to, especially you teachers. Today’s guest is Nick Palmquist, a Renaissance man himself. He is the every man. He’s not always, but is most of the time a very happy man. He has cut out the middleman and he is one of my absolute favorite humans. How’s that for an introduction? Nick and I’ve recorded this episode days after California went into a state of emergency, but before most of the studios and conventions closed their doors to big group events. So now studios, most schools, theaters, museums, all of them closed. And today actually bars in LA have closed. So you’ve got nothing left to do. But listen. Listen and get creative, get organized, stay healthy. And uh, thanks again for being here. I really hope you enjoy the rest of episode 12 with Nick Palmquist.
Dana: Here he comes. We’re doing it.
Nick: This is so surreal.
A little weird. It’s, we’re talking. Happened really fast and thank you for that.
Nick: So honored. Like I honestly, you’re, you’re, I don’t know if you really are able to see like the impact that you’ve had on kind of the dance world, but it’s definitely like very amazing to be like on a first name basis with you. Let alone sitting at with a microphone between us.
Dana: Nick, hold a mirror up instead of that microphone and that’s how I feel about you. This is wild. Ladies and gentlemen, Nick Palmquist, my guest on the podcast today. Welcome Nick. Hello. First of all. Hi. And um, give us an introduction of yourself. I want you to do that.
Yeah, I was thinking about that and I really think, you know, if I were to introduce myself, it’s always as a dancer. I think dance lives in my choreography. It lives in my teaching. It’s just as much an outlet for me as it is. Anybody else in another context. Um, so I’m in New York, but currently in New York based, um, dancer and I also teach and choreograph
MmHmm. And an exquisite dancer at that might I add, um, okay. I want to replay the scene of us actually meeting in person for the first time. Uh, which was at Steps in New York. I was about to teach a CoLab class Koch co collab collabo collab class collaboration class with my fellow associate choreographers from In the Heights. And we were in this, I’m like, uh, is it like a faculty room, green room faculty area where you can, um, hide in very close proximity to each other and uh, you know, prepare your material, get your counts right, whatever, without being distracted with all the hugs and kisses and who I was and stuff. So I was in there and then, uh, we were prepared and then as I was on my way out, Nick entered the room and as I was about to say, Oh, Oh my God, I’m such a huge fan of yours. You were like Dana. And I was like, he knows my name. And um, I was like, I’m such a huge fan of yours. And I think you were like, no, I am a huge,
Yeah, I was a little annoyed. I didn’t get to say at first and like I didn’t get to kowtow to somebody who has really created an archetype of dance that I respect a lot. I said to you before, you know, I think it’s really amazing as a woman that you kind of created a whole new way of being seen and that, um, it’s not always to try to desexualize things, but to not just have it speak the loudest sometimes. And you had wit and humor and musicality and all of these things in your, dancing and, and I, I grew up being so inspired by that because I think, you know, even in that way it was kind of like a visibility thing. You know, I was like, I feel like to meet somebody who has consistently over their career kind of like carved out a niche for other people to feel like they can use dance to express who they really are, um, has been so amazing. And so then to walk into a place that feels like home to me, you know, Steps is like really where somebody first gave me an opportunity to like build my, my self perception, um, to meet somebody there who also had an awareness of me. It was just such an incredible moment.
That’s crazy. Right? I imagine it’d be like walking into your living room and seeing one of your like people,
idols you can say, I absolutely, absolutely. You know, it’s amazing.
Thank you! That blows my mind and it’s so kind and very thoughtful way to say, um, the way that you see someone in their work, right? Like, I think one of the, I don’t know if it’s a result of social media space or in the comment culture or whatever, but we do kind of truncate our thoughts about people a lot. And I, one of my favorite least favorite things that we say is like, Oh my God, you’re everything. Like your work is everything. So thank you for elaborating and unpacking. Part of what that means for you. And I want to talk more about what is attractive in a dancer to you. You touched a little bit on, um, the womanness and comedy and it’s something that I think really fascinating about your work. We’re just digging right into it.
Yeah. And also I’m even just, no, I’m just even thinking now like I hope I didn’t insane that I hope I didn’t say that you’re not a beautiful woman or that you can feel like a beautiful woman and how you do, but I felt like you’re, you’re, there’s like a variety of depth to your performance quality and each kind of dynamic in the way that you hear music is also an emotional dynamic. And so you’re giving people different facets of who you are in a pop song. And I I, that’s another thing that I think is so valuable that pop music is orchestrated. There are, there’s a lot of thought and genius that goes into pop runs and pop hooks. And if you can kind of tap into that as a dancer, then you really, people are relating to you because it’s been mastered that way. It’s been literally like orchestrated to have the most amount of people respond to that thing. And if you can find that in dancing as well, then you’re immediately super relatable to a lot of people. And I found that to be the case with you that I felt like anybody watching you saw maybe something different that we all loved.
Well, and sometimes, oftentimes, especially in when we’re talking dance in entertainment, then relatable is the goal or accessible is the goal. Not with all art, not with all dance. Like every, not every time I dance is my main objective to be relatable. Like sometimes there’s like, Ooh, I need to get these fields out of there or something like that. But oftentimes that is my goal and
In the commercial world in general, right, like the idea is to be palatable to a wider audience of people and that’s why it’s on TV because more people have access to that thing.
Yeah. Well that’s another segue. Another good segue is do more people have access to the TV right now versus phones? Because I would argue not and because of, I talk about social media a lot, especially lately on the podcast, we don’t need to spend a ton of time.
No, I loved, I listened to your podcast and you said like I love Instagram because it’s free and that’s something I really believe in. Like a lot of people can see something that I’ve put a lot of my heart and soul into, even if it’s 30 seconds long. I spent a lot of time on that thing and I, you know, I think it’s really great whenever families of people can enjoy something together and a lot of our mediums for, for live entertainment are very expensive and very difficult to, yeah, to try and have a, an experience with somebody that you communicate about. Because if only one of you got to see it, then you can’t really expound on how that really touched you. Maybe an Instagram is this way that in a matter of years the globe has become connected and we can have global inside jokes. Now we can have global, you know, idols that all all of us know who you’re talking about. Whenever you mentioned that person, that’s an insane thing and a huge responsibility
Truth. Um, but yeah, the shareability of work on Instagram in particular is something that I really love about it. Um, some getting the sense that you’re kind of pro that platform. Could you put a pin in, like if I asked for your relationships, that is your relationship with Instagram. Where are you landing? Right.
Absolutely. It’s, it’s complicated. Um, because I am of a generation that has used technology to cut out the middleman and a lot of ways, um, you know, Airbnb came out of a need of a generation not being able to afford hotels the way that other generations have Airbnb, uh, Uber, um, Instagram I think are all opportunities for people to cut out the middleman. So for me, I’ve been trying to get to my work seen and validated by established American institutions like Broadway and like colleges and like things that I’ve grown up being educated that once you put it on your resume it says something about you and your worth. And yeah, it is a stamp of approval. And um, a lot of times and at this point in time as a, a white male who doesn’t have a ton of bonafide credits, it feels like a risk to invest. Um, and someone that has potentially such new ideas and such new ways of using rehearsal time and using dancers that feels like, I don’t know that we can invest in this person.
Can you, can you give me an example of new ways of using rehearsal or your, a way that you use rehearsal that’s new?
I don’t know that it’s new. It’s just, it’s, my stuff is dense. My choreography is dense. And so for me, I think if I’m looking at that as a producer, I’m looking at that as like, well, we don’t have five weeks. We have two. And other choreographers have done it in two weeks. And so I can’t say that, I don’t understand that, but I can also say that like it can just be hard to get kind of your foot in the door. And so Instagram came about when I was trying to teach at Steps on Broadway and get people to come take my class because basically in New York, um, it’s, it’s expensive to take class. And so sometimes if you’re a choreographer that has, you know, a couple shows on Broadway, then people are going to come and take your class because it’s a way to meet you. And I, and I’m not trying to take away from that because now choreographers are, yeah, and they’re kind of only in the final callbacks. So if you’re trying to get seen at the, at the first stages of a, of an audition and you’re new to the city, it’s really hard to get in the room with some of those people you’re trying to connect with in class as a direct way to have them watch you do their choreography. So I get it. But for me, um, I kind of had to break the rules in New York and put cameras in my class, which was a whole separate thing. And I, I had some like on-camera experience as a dancer. And so I believe in teaching people how to perform on camera because it’s not an innate skill. We’re not born with an intuition for how to look best on camera and dancing live on the Tony’s and having things changed 15 times and then they say like, and then go, you know, you’re kind of, um, you’re put into a position where you have to rise to the occasion. And I think a lot of people would maybe like the opportunity to practice that. So I thought, you know, my, my hook in class could be, you know, kind of understanding the value of a camera in the room, taking it off the pedestal a little bit. So to answer your question in the longest possible way, I think my relationship with Instagram is really full of gratitude. And I’ve had a group of freelance dancers that have invested in me in a way that I wish a producer would invest in me. And they’ve spent their time and money and energy over the course of years taking my class and validating my opinions and making me feel like what I have to say is unique and special to them. And as my following and the classroom grew and as my following on social media grew, I felt really indebted to that community to make sure that they knew I didn’t take for granted that sometimes they paid to take my class three times in one week. And I mean there’s a lot of willpower and some of these dancers to, to maintain their body and to get into the next level. And um, so for me, I have nothing but great things to say about Instagram. It cut out the middleman. It kind of, you know, I know everybody in America loves to be able to say they went to Harvard because that means something and that they said they danced on Broadway because that means something. And for a lot of times I was on that hamster wheel trying to find that word that would validate me and then people are tempted to kind of reference me as an influencer. And I don’t necessarily think that that fits me either and not because I have judgment for it, but just because I don’t necessarily try to cater anything that I put out there for an audience of people. I post things I’m proud of. I joined products that I’m proud of. Yeah. And you know, so I, you know, I guess maybe I just need to get more comfortable with the term, but I feel like the way that it’s used to describe me is oftentimes derogatory and not positive. I’m just kinda trying to pioneer maybe a more positive view of that because I think people that look at my Instagram feel happy and I just love, I love that because I’m not always happy and I don’t always create things in moments of happiness, but I am really blessed to be able to use dance to kind of push me into a happier realm. So if people can relate to that, um, kind of aspirational tone of like, maybe I’m not in a good place now, but I hope to be by the end of the day or by the end of this class. Um, it’s really rewarding and I, and I owe, I owe a lot to Instagram. I’m meeting you, I think really because of, because of social media. So I could never, I could never talk more about it’s bad things and it’s positive things, but I will acknowledge that there’s some toxic behavior.
Yeah. There’s some, there’s some dark and ugly corners of the space, just like anything. Right. Then even the dance industry, or as I’ll speak for LA specifically, before there was social media, there was a lot of awful ways that you could get jobs or not get jobs. That’s in any industry and in any time a, it’s new, right? And then B, it’s changing so fast. So the rules are always changing.
Yeah. We don’t have a rule book, right. It’s, it’s very, we’re flying by the seat of our pants to keep up.
So your class right now has gotten to a point where it’s generated enough attention and stop me, I might have the wrong understanding here, but enough attention that you have people interested in sponsoring slots in your class so that people who might not have otherwise been able to afford it can take class as a guest. How does that work and how did that come up?
Um, yeah, I guess I guess that’s a fair summation. I, to be honest, I got to a place where I reached 100,000 followers on Instagram and I, I personally didn’t want to necessarily post about that. Um, because first of all, it could go back to 99 I posted it or, you know, like literally disappear tomorrow. Yeah. So I was trying to find a way to kind of like celebrate the moment because I am, I, you know, sure. There’s a reason to be proud of that, I guess. And um, I thought that the community of people that got me there was really, who deserves just as much of kind of a celebration. So I posted one day saying, you know, um, anybody that is struggling to take multiple classes this week, cause a lot of the people that take my class are taking one right before it. They’ve probably taken another one. I teach twice a week right now. Okay. Um, and so I was saying, you know, really for my freelance community, if you’re, if you said to yourself, I would love to take nick’s class tonight but I can’t really afford another class, send me a message and I’ll, I’ll pay for 10 people. Cool. And I think maybe people that have been following me for a couple of years might have this feeling of like, this guy has been for free. Like giving me what I feel like is, um, his heart. You know, whether or not it’s good or bad. I’ve, I’ve, I’ve really like appreciated following, you know, what, what he’s putting out there. And I think they felt moved that I was willing to give to another community they wanted to give to me so that, you know, so I think again going back to how social media can be really positive, it kind of set off this thing where a couple people messaged me and they were like, this is amazing. How can I sponsor a dancer as well? Cool. And I think what’s really amazing about the chain reaction of Instagram is each week then when I would post like I have five slots based on donation or I have seven or I have 10, it would lead to another five or seven donations coming in. Um, and coolest. Yeah, it’s really cool, right? Because you know, again, most of the people donating spots aren’t dancers themselves. They’re people that have just found their way to my, my people do be able to it.
Oh by the way, I live on auto row and there is a car wash across the street from me. So we are occasionally hearing, um, maybe drag racing, um, as we rev up as well. Uh, I think that’s a beautiful, like social media actually being a connective, um, device that brings more in person connections versus more, even even more engagement in the click sense is not what I really want. I want like, Oh my gosh, more people in class more shows out there in the world. Yes. Um, and so that, that is super special examination.
Thank you. Well, and also I just, I, I, you know, I want to clarify too that this conversation about class being expensive is fair, but a lot of the institutions in New York are also paying for youth programs. They’re paying for teachers to go to other countries to audition, to bring them back to America. So I don’t necessarily think that the people at the top of these dance schools are making billions stuff. Yeah. And I, and I, yeah. And I don’t want to encourage a thing that is going to inherently start to pay teachers less because I believe that in general in America, teachers aren’t really valued for what it is that they do. So it is a little bit complicated in terms of like, how can I try and lower the cost of class without like taking away my own income because, you know, I’m college educated in college, indebted for the rest of my life. So, you know, I, I, it’s not about making money, it’s about paying bills for all of us involved. Right. And, um, so I thought it was really amazing that the sponsorship, it’s like patronage. It’s like what used to happen with the arts where if I have and I want to be entertained in a certain way and I can help facilitate that thing, then it brings me joy to invest in somebody that can share their art in a different way. And it’s been pretty organic and um, yeah, I’m, I’m excited to kind of see where it can continue to go. I would love to set up like an actual fund or a scholarship that way other teachers can benefit from it. People can take multiple classes and not just mine. We need to assemble a team. Yeah, I would, I would. Yeah. Um, and, and I, and I know I know Steps and Joe Lantiri and Diane, the people there are really on board for, for helping offer education. Yeah. Offer education to people in communities that can’t always access it and knowledge is power. It really is. And if you don’t grow up with that access, it can be really hard to feel like you’re on the same footing as other people and isn’t Instagram and amazing leveler of the playing field. Right.
All right. In that first little chunk, we talked a lot about accessibility, a few different levels of accessibility. First we talked about making dance that’s relatable and accessible, you know, to the masses. Big groups like pop music is the style of it is inclusive and inviting. The vocabulary of it is catchy and digestible. Later on we wound up, uh, landing on one of my favorite thoughts. It turns out Nick and I both agree that we prefer the type of dancing that says, come dance with me instead of the kind of dance that says, sit, sit, sit, watch me dance. To me, that is accessible. Then we talked about the way that Nick’s called on Instagram to access new levels in his teaching career and the way that he’s using it to nurture and give more access to students.
The way I see it sharing on socials happens in two parts. The first part is the source. In this case Nick documents and shares something with an audience that’s part one. Then the audience shares it with each other and that’s part two. The new part though, part three is this way that the audience physically gives back to the source. Part three this some patronage like the monetary donation element is when more clicks, more engagement, more eyeballs actually turns into more bodies in the room, like the fact that Nick’s class videos are so entertaining and engaging and moving, for lack of a better word, that some people actually donate money so that more people can take the class. That is so cool to me. I mean I it’s, it’s it beautiful self-sustaining cycle. Only after my conversation with Nick could I actually like really digest what it is and I also gave it a name. I call it enter-training. It is when training that becomes entertainment then generates the funds for more training. Ah, I just, I love it. I think it’s so very special. Okay. Now let’s jump back in with Nick and hear about his training and his preferred approaches to teaching and taking class.
Dana: Okay. You went to college. I did not know that
Nick: I did. I was a dance performance major. I went to Oklahoma city university. Um, a lot of, lot of, lot of feelings about, yeah. A lot. A lot of feelings about that for sure. Yeah, I mean I think it’s hard and I think I’m only really understanding the value of what I learned now and on, you know, as I get a little bit older and I, and I do appreciate being able to kind of understand some historical references so that when I speak as an educator, I do feel educated and not just in the one lane that I’ve worked, but, uh, you know, dance in general and um, you know, it’s hard though. I also feel like had I moved to New York and just plugged in, that I would have met some connections that I thought college was going to create for me and possibly didn’t. You know? And so you learn, you learn in a bubble about what you think the real world is going to be and you try and take that knowledge there. And it’s evolved from what the teachers that taught you have learned any more. I understand the conversation surrounding college not being what it used to be. And you know, I kind of grew up this idea that if I didn’t go to college, that I was lazy and that there was, you know, there was something about me that wasn’t reaching my full potential because I think, you know, education was important. Um, yeah.
We have these ideas about what it means to go to college or not go to college. I want to talk about the idea of what it means to be a teacher versus what it means to be like a performer. And I think there’s, I think there’s a stigma around being a teacher. That’s oftentimes, and this is changing a bit, but oftentimes the idea is like, well, they’re done performing, so they’ll teach or they couldn’t really cut it. Yeah. So they’ll teach or they’re working their way up and they’re, you know, paying the bills or whatever.
So, um, my favorite thing is to, “so do you have anything cool going on? Are you just teaching?” Yeah, I hear just teaching really quite a lot and I get it. It’s, it’s like such a nonchalant way of just like, I am aware that you teach, is that what you’re doing? You know, I don’t think people are trying to turn a dagger in my heart when they say it, but, um, no, I, I totally agree. I think, um, there’s, there’s often that misconception that either like you didn’t quite make it and so now you’re trying to stay involved in the world by teaching what you do now or you’re at the end of your kind of career and now you’re passing on, you know, in the, in the, yeah.
Well, I think that you will be part if not like the leader of the person that changes that misconception because as a person that sees and loves what I see of the representation of your classes on the gram and a person that’s been in the room, you make education very cool. And I’ll speak to one part of class which I think is um, borderline dying art form and that art is across the floor across the floor where you asked it and up across the floor because this used to be um, Oh gosh, I could call, I could do across the floors right now that I did when 12 because it’s in my bones.
So it’s a good warm up to for your vulnerability, you know what I mean? People are running on the warmup anymore. There’s like just three of you going across, but then it’s also just across like once you’re over there,
Okay, we should do an across the floor, a global workshop and we call it across the world and we just go and we teach across the floors, across the world. Talk to me, talk to me funding. Where are you at? Where are you at of, across the board? And I guess on a long enough timeline, a dance class kind of, is that like in one, even even a two hour dance class in the spectrum of your whole life is a routine second across the floor, the fastest thing. So talk to me or talk to her listeners rather, excuse me about what is across the floor and how you use it. Do you have a set across the floor? I got the feeling that yours was like there were people in the room that knew it and I didn’t because I was newb but okay. So talk about what it is period. Like pretend like I’m five and I don’t know. And then for all my five-year-olds and then how you use it, but also specifically the function and the way that it’s different in terms of, um, being about work versus being about, um, a show like the production that that happens at the end of class.
Um, so for me, the, the dynamic and the flow of class that I liked the best is to be able to try and fit in about a 15 to 20 minute warm up a couple series of across the floor, which are different coordination usually for me it’s about coordinating the body and getting kind of movement, you know, now that we’ve warmed the body up, how can we move it and make sure that we’re using our upper body and lower body together and yeah, and it’s, and it’s, and it’s, you know, it’s a little bit shorter. It’s not a whole combination. It’s just something that can kind of get us moving. Um, and for me, um, I’ve really spent about two years teaching almost primarily when I started teaching a5 steps. I said this will be remembered for already. It is not my side job. It is something I’m really going to dedicate myself to. And so there are a couple steps that I like to claim and I like to say like these are kind of my isms. And so usually they’ll show up in my, across the floor just to kind of dip people’s toe into the feeling of like, yeah, this might show up in the combo later. Even. So it’s an effort to like put it in your body in a really quick way. We do it to the right and to the left. And then you’re kind of familiar with that shape. The style. Yeah. And I remember one time, uh, my husband, when someone asked like, what, how would you describe nick’s dancing? He said, he’s really coordinated. And at first I was like, okay, underwhelming. Like all of the adjectives. Um, and you know, and then I of course forced them to expound and you know, he was like, I think it’s really amazing to watch such a tall dancer be able to like kind of move their upper body and lower body without making it seem like it was coached. You know, like you are coordinated in the way that you, you take the effort out of the movement and that’s, that’s really what I try to do. So it really was a great compliment. Yes. Very well said. Yes, he’s, he’s, he’s the best cheerleader I could ask for. And I really agree with that, that a lot of times I see dancers trying to prove something to me instead of just trying to share something with me. I want you to know your value so well that it’s about letting me in on your performance, not asking for validation while you’re performing. And I think whenever we’ve trained for so many years to have aligned, be validated as correct when we’re asked to use that line and something that isn’t quite about to perfection, we still have this kind of like muscle memory, brainwashing tendency to click into a very performative way of accessing the line as if to say, is this correct? Right. And when you have a mirror in front of you and when you’re staring in that mirror constantly and when most of the day you’ve been given corrections, you are your harshest critic. And I think across the floor is a really great way to kind of just like shake people up in a fun way. If you don’t do it right, it was one time cross your fingers that it goes better on the left. Yeah. You know, it’s really non, consequential um, in, it’s inconsequential. I you haven’t, you’re like, I like non, um, yeah. So I, I enjoy it and, and I think other people enjoy it too because it’s either something you really grew up doing and you’re like, yeah, it’s across the floor or it’s new to you and it’s maybe kind of a, an interesting little thing to do. You know, when sometimes when my crosses are filmed, I don’t have time to do across the floor. So full disclosure, that’s not always what you might get from my class. But um, you know, when I, when I spend the last 15 minutes of class, usually filming, I try to have people feel really as, as prepared as they can kind of give to a new element that’s kind of you. What would you do? We’re going to do across the floor for an hour and learn a combo for 15 minutes and then film it for two seconds.
I love that. It’s fleeting. I love that. It’s about progress and to check in with the room with the choreographer and their style with your body on that day. And I do like a thing that repeats and that doesn’t happen very often in our world. It’s very much about new, now and there’s something very cool about measuring your progress by checking in with that warmup and checking in with across the floor. Like today. Wow. My turns were so much better than yesterday. Sure. The first time I took Nick’s class, I tripped on my own foot doing that thing and now look,
It’s even an etiquette thing, you know what I mean? Like I say three at a time, every eight counts, and if you’re the person that can’t do that, it’s kind of translating probably to how you audition or how you operate it. You know, one of your podcasts, dance lessons are life lessons. That is something that I really believe like I’m giving you the information. I know I’m speaking fast, but it’s in an effort to give you more information and so it focuses the room and people really get like, okay, three at a time. He said, eight count. People are over there counting on their fingers, making sure they’re not late. And I love that, they’re like, Just, yeah, exactly. Exactly. And so it’s like for an hour and a half, we all go into this really focused. A lot of my times, my classes are really quiet. I’m not a very good hype guy. I don’t really, I don’t really coach applause because I think sometimes it robs from the moment of learning. And it’s about like, um, and that’s, that’s honestly just because to me it doesn’t feel natural. And when I go to other people’s classes where they are that energy authentically, then I’m a woo girl and I’m like, I totally get it. But for me, I don’t know how to direct that energy because I like focused direct feedback and I love to tell you, you’re amazing, but not in a way that is to applaud for two seconds because literally I need those two seconds. Right. You know, I like, I just feel like I have a lot to get through in my class and I, yeah. And so then the room kind of focuses with me and I try to check in and make sure we’re having fun, but I, I go pretty quick if this, if this level of talking is an indication I’m a bit manic. Very efficient. I’m a bit of a control freak. Yeah. I kind of map out my time.
How long is a typical class of yours?
An hour and a half. An hour and a half and then on convention typically an hour, an hour and 55 five minutes. Yeah.
So you clearly are a person that puts a lot of thought and effort into what you teach in class and that actually looping back is why you are changing my mind and hopefully changing the minds of many people about this paradigm, this like that, that it’s different to be a performer and a teacher or that teaching is somehow less creative or less creatively fulfilling even because I know that you have to get creative to reach every person in that room and you have to get creative with how you use your time and how you explain different techniques or how you explain different pieces. In fact, to be a dance teacher, I can’t think of a thing that requires more creativity because you have to deliver the art, I’m going to call it an art product that makes some people cringe and vomit, but to me that’s what a class combo is, is like this is my artistic art product and it’s short and fast, but I made it and it’s made with my training and my experiences and my imagination and my body and that’s that. And so a, you have to make that and then B, you have to verbalize it. You have to prepare the room to receive it and then you have to give it to them. Oh man, it, it’s like, as I say those things out loud, I’m like, Whoa, I’m actually a dance teacher.
I agree with you more. I agree with you. That teaching requires more for me than performing did. And I didn’t have to open my perspective as much because I was told what to do as a dancer and as a teacher, I’m leading the room and I just think the more inclusive you can be in your language, then I think that’s also going to show up in your choreography. Right? Like if you’re, if you’re thinking to different groups of people and how they might be feeling about something, I think that’s gonna start to abstract the shapes you’re making with your body when you’re preparing a combination. And I don’t know that a choreographer has that much exposure to the learning process. You know, like you’re making it up and you’re not thinking about teaching it to somebody that has never done your moves before. You’re thinking about your company, you’re thinking about your muse. So you’re, you know, again, not that it’s bad, but I think you’re a little bit more zoned in on the product rather than the process of like, well, I kind of had this in mind, but now that I saw that I’m going to kind of shift. And I think constantly having to do that and constantly have to teach your own work makes you really understand it. Yeah.
Right. It sounds like you treat class more like a collaboration than most people treat actual collaborations. Like you consider the people that are taking your class as collaborators from the sound of like you’re giving great, great regard to their experience.
Yeah. I would say maybe like an emotional collaborator because then I don’t let you do anything that I’m not asking for the in the choreography. Oh yeah. I’m a total control freak. I mean, I spent five hours making this thing up, so, you know. Yeah. I mean obviously whatever classes you’re a class. So I, and I say that a lot, like if you want to do it, how you want to do it, do it. But this is what I want to see. This is like the intention in the choreography and you know, if you listen to me count my choreography, there’s a lot of and counts. There’s sometimes i-e-and-a in there, you know? And so yeah, it can get dense. Yeah. I am the one and uh, yeah, so it’s, I’m, I’m more trying to be emotionally inclusive to people so that they’ve been, don’t feel so overwhelmed by the physical things that I’m asking for.
Um, I have to say, speaking of when I first saw you and your work on the Instagram long, long time ago, I don’t remember how many years ago, but definitely before the a hundred thousand Mark, I remember feeling like, okay, here’s a guy that has a very unique style, but everyone in the room is doing it.
I grew up, you know, and I think what Oklahoma city really encouraged was to embrace the ensemble, to embrace the idea of such versatility that you can be as impactful to the overall show as somebody in the leading role. You know, I think the Ensemble’s a great place to be. You get to be 16 characters in one show, you get to your dancing, the whole show. You’re constantly changing your costume. It’s such a great feeling. Um, I always like to say to myself, if I weren’t in the show tonight, would that be different? Would there be some kind of magic missing from the show? And for me personally, Yeah. For me, a lot of the times I, the answer was like, not really. I don’t know that anybody would have really noticed my involvement in that particular show. So my personal endeavor as a teacher and choreographer was to create a show that would highlight an entire ensemble of people and that you would see the singularity in choreography, but kind of abstracted across different perspectives. And sometimes those perspectives are race or size or, um, social class. You know, that has a lot to do with I think how you see yourself and all of those things. And I think that’s ultimately what’s really relatable to people. This idea of the every man, because most people are the every man coming to see a show. And I wanted to really highlight and elevate that idea of like, these people in this show are making the show. And, um, so that’s like the ultimate compliment to hear that. I really do. You know, because if there’s too much chaos, people can’t take it in. Right. You know, so it’s like I want to see you, but I want to understand the language that I gave you as well. So there’s a real art and that’s part of what I teach. There’s an art to putting yourself into someone else’s choreography,
Um, earlier you mentioned that performing for camera is not intrinsic. It’s not built in. And I wonder if that’s changing because it really used to be that you had to teach a young person to look at the camera and I kid you not right now, like six months, I pull my phone out and my niece who’s seven, change her tone of voice changes. She slips into like um, blogger vlogger mode. Yep. Um, and like the posture changes and emotive dance, they notice, smile and turn on. It’s very odd. And so I, I really think there might be like a kind of a longterm,
Oh for sure happening there for sure. I teach on convention and when the camera comes out on convention, these kids are unfazed. And when I teach in New York, you know, it’s, it’s a different generations like relationship with that camera. And so a lot of what I’m trying to do is just encourage them that it’s, it’s not really kind of what you’ve made it out to be or what past generations have made it out to be. Cause I think some people are afraid. Like if I mess up on film, it’s going to follow me. And I’m like, how, you know, as somebody collecting your bloopers and like blackmailing with that, like honestly, what narrative are we telling ourselves that we’re so afraid to make a mistake on camera because we kind of live in a really content rich world. So it’s all just, yeah. Yeah. And if there’s really somebody that’s trying to hold you accountable to a mistake you made in class, I kind of feel like that’s their issue more than yours. And if they’re really trying to stick to that, then maybe that’s a project you wanted to avoid in general.
I love that.
Cause you know, people always say like kind of the New York mentality is like, I want to be able to make mistakes in class and I totally understand that. And you can do that when there’s a camera. Yeah. And again, I think you have to, you have to trust me. I’m the person in the front of the room that’s trying to help you. So if, if the, if that was not your best take, I’m not going to post it. I’m also not gonna make you feel bad that it wasn’t your best take. And I think that’s where people feel like, Oh, if I’m the one that messes it up, then the video is not viable. And I don’t want to be that person and ensure I understand that. But I also don’t feel like I have put that pressure on you. So if that’s a pressure you’re putting on yourself, you need to let it go. Because what I’m asking for is to just go and let the camera catch you surprising yourself. I want it to end. And you’d be like, Oh my gosh, I’m so glad I just did that. And it’s a marginalized. Yes. And then you have it. I can watch that. Yeah. It’s the coolest thing.
Although I will say that is coming from you and from me, people who are historically very well supported by the platform I bet that there are people whose days have been ruined by a video going around the school or a something. There’s so much bullying and there’s off again the dark, the dark corners. So there may be scabs and scars that were not, you know, definitely, definitely more nuanced than just like it’s just glass and plastic. But really technically, really it is. It’s really just the way you think about it. Yeah.
All right. This is a great segue into today’s, uh, current events portion of the episode. I, I know I’m not alone in being tremendously moved and inspired by the number of people participating in live-streamed, be it Facebook or Instagram or Twitch or some otherwise online streaming platform for dance class or even yoga class. I see. I’m seeing a lot of things pop up right now and I really think that it’s a fascinating thing. It’s a beautiful thing that social media happens to be what’s bringing us together during this time of strongly encouraged social distancing. Now it’s not just the place for promoting class, but it is the actual place that class lives and entire class is now living in the social media sphere instead of the last two minutes of it. And I want to take a second to point out that just last week in episode 11 we were discussing the potential damage that social media is causing our industry. I can’t even count the number of conversations I’ve had with parents and dance educators around the world who think that it’s damaging our youth, that it’s ruining their self, self esteem and their sense of a sense of self in general and that it’s a pool for bullying and criticism and competition and I think that this is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate the power of context and how quickly we can change our minds about something. See a camera is still a camera. It is pieces of glass and plastic and a screen is still a screen. It is a piece of glass and some light source, whether it’s an led or an LCD, and by the way, I do know what those mean. Do you? Pop quiz… light emitting diode and liquid crystal display? I’m just saying that’s neither here nor there. Honestly, social media is also exactly the same. There’s been no rollout of new features, no massive overhaul. It’s still just social media. Now in this new context, a camera is not a threat anymore. It’s a portal to improvement. It’s a direct connection with our teacher and a screen isn’t a surface that we project all of our self criticism on. It’s become more of like a, I can neutral like a page of a book that holds information for us and social media itself is no longer a cesspool for comparison and criticism. It’s a support system. It is actively helping us. It is unifying, so what’s changed our thoughts, our thoughts about it. That’s it and that is incredible. Just let that sink in for a second. I can’t help but wonder in this case what other thoughts have been flipping because of current events.
I want to leave you with some time to actually inspect that. Think about the way you used to think about social media and the way you think of it right now. Think about the way you used to think about your job or how you make money and the way you think of it right now. Think about the way you used to think about time off and how you think of it now or your family. I’m curious about how those thoughts have changed and if they have, has the change, has the shift been beneficial for you? I really, really hope it has. And if it hasn’t, I’m inviting you to submit questions or subjects that you would like for me to touch on. Tough questions don’t always have hard answers, but it can be hard to start the conversation. So over the next several days, uh, let’s see. Today the release of this podcast will be March 18th. So between today, Wednesday, March 18th and Sunday, which I believe is the 22nd right to me in a direct message on instagram@wordsthatmovemepodcast or leave a comment under this episode at thedanawilson.com/podcast under episode 12. And, uh, I will do my best to get to everybody’s question or concern in the next episode. Uh, this is a really, really exciting thing to do, by the way, especially at a time like this. And I don’t think it’ll be the last time that I do this. So if you haven’t to have missed that cutoff, uh, fear not just sit tight and stay tuned for the next time I have a Q and A episode. So now let’s close out with Nick and a reminder that it is cool to care, especially in crazy times.
I really try to walk into things without expectation and it’s nearly impossible. Right? Um, I’m, I’m just, I’m always excited for the opportunity to teach. I love it, Dana. I love it so much. I feel so, you know, like people clap for me and I feel like they really wanted to clap for me and that’s why I try not to coach applause for people because you know, like I wanna I want to work hard to elicit a really natural response. And if your response is to be like, okay, right. You know, that’s fair. You know? And if your response is to just like really give, because I gave and we feel that, then I want that to feel natural. And a lot of times it is. So a lot of times I can have that stance because I don’t have to coach people into it, right? Because people are generous in spirit, especially if you’re leading with generosity and spirit as the teacher. Um, and so, um, but that being said, it is so incredibly rewarding to end the class or to say like, I’d like to show it to you once you understand the musicality. Cause that’s the kind of learner I am. I’m a very visual learner and I try and pass that on. And of course there’s some ego involved in that. Um, and uh, it’s, you know, teaching on a convention to, if I can get a ballroom full of 13 year olds to feel like something is cool and really all that I’m doing is caring. I care a lot. I care about what I made, I care about how I’m performing it.
If you can convince one 13 year old, that caring is cool. I’m on your team.
Absolutely. And caring is cool. And so to have them cheer for you and be like, Oh my gosh, cool. Now I want to try it. Part of me is like, you know what you should try no matter what. But the other part of me is really validated by a kind of hard demographic of people saying like what you do is cool and it makes me want to do what you do. And that’s, that’s the world I came from. I traveled out of my town of 3000 people and I wasn’t really ever intimidated growing up. I was like, wow, they were amazing. Like I’m so glad that I got to see that. And I, you know, I would go home and I would try and work on that. I try and try and be like those people and I say that in my class all the time. Be inspired, don’t be intimidated because you’re just telling yourself something that no one else is telling you. Right. You know? And if you start setting goals for yourself that are so unachievable that all you feel is negative, then they’re not goals. They are their limits, you know? And there you can, you can change your goal within one class period with one eight count. Okay. Like, I need to change what my priority in classes and I’m not at fault for having to change what my mindset was when I came in the door. And if I can be that adaptable, then maybe that’s part of my marketability that somebody sees that they’re ready for more notes, they’re ready for more feedback, they’re not overwhelmed by wanting more from them, they’re ready for that.
And I think people that work the longest are people that operate like that. For sure. I’m here early, I’m warmed up because I know that I’m gonna use my body all day. I’m a little overwhelmed at the denseness of the choreography, but I’m going to go home and practice it. So therefore my confidence is intact because I know what it takes to go home and work on this and come back the second day just as good as anybody else that could learn quickly. And I think if, you know, really I’m speaking to other people about things that I’m learning later in life and that I am no in no way a master on, but realizing really the importance and especially as a teacher you have a different perspective. You’re watching people’s energy, you know, one of me watching 70 other, yeah. Oh yeah.
Well it sounds like you and I kind of got the luxury of growing up in similar pockets. The dance community in Denver that I grew up in was really nurturing. I mean I did grow up in the competition scene, but the studios, you know, I’ve been gone for a long time now, so to speak for the time the studio has at the time really encouraged each other. I had to duet with Misha Gabriel, who we didn’t even go to the same studio. Like we had groups like that to really, really cool. And I think that what social media and what you are doing right now is making really big communities of people that support each other.
It’s, I, I live in a really a time full of opportunity and I’m just trying to do my best to, um, navigate with kind of some integrity. And I’m, I’m so fortunate in the mirrors that I have in my life of other people that they talk about me in a way that that’s how they see me. And I want to be that person. And Instagram, the danger for me is, is adding too much ego into my sense of like platform or, or the ability to speak to people means that I am owed something that a lot of times I work hard for my confidence. I educated myself. I put the time in to feel confident about what I’m doing. But the second I expect the world to give me something because of my talents, it dips into ego. And you know, I say to my dancers all the time, you have earned the confidence of this 90 minute period of class to look in the mirror at your own eyes and say you’re doing a good job. And if you’re giving a hundred percent energy, nobody can take that away from you. And if you’re giving 90% of energy, your answer is to push it up to 10 or to give yourself grace that you’re at a day where all I can get with compassion and uh, cause we need them. We get it. You invested your time and money. So take the class how you need it, but also be realistic with yourself. If you could have worked harder than don’t beat yourself up that you didn’t just work harder the next time. That’s the beauty of class as well. You can take another one. Oh my gosh. Across the floor, across the floor, across the world, across the world across the floor!
And I think with that we will sign off on episode one with Nick Palmquist always we could do episode to episode three and I would love it. Really, truly. Let’s do this again sometime. I can just thank you for being here. Oh my God. Thrilled. Um, across the mic. High five. Should we see what it sounds like? Crisp. So Crisp um, all right. Thank you. Till next time. Ah, I’m sweating. Sweating. Not even cause it’s hot.
Wait, wait, don’t leave. I have a few more very important announcements to make. Number one, I’m going to be teaching a lot more live stream classes in the weeks to come. So make sure you follow me on Instagram @danadaners so that you know when and how you can be a part of those. Also, it’s true, we can dance alone. We’re proving it every day, but of course it’s way more fun to do it with your friends. And I’m actually learning that the same is true with making and sharing a podcast, and this podcast has become my absolute favorite way to connect during social distancing. So now more than ever, especially after listening back to Nick and this episode, I believe that the power is with the people. So now I’m giving you an opportunity to help me power the podcast. I started a Patreon account so that you can become a words that move me member, which means you not only help me keep the lights on the disco ball here, but you also get some super cool, very funky incentives like exclusive merch, live Q and A’s behind the scenes videos and bloopers. You know, those are going to be good, um, daily creative prompts and even one on one sessions with me. So head over to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast. That’s P A T R E O N.com/W T M as in moves, M as in me podcasts to become a member. Oh, also the first 25 patrons will get a special Instagram shout out. So hurry, run, run, go. Be safe though. There’s furniture everywhere. All right, everybody. Now I’m truly, truly done. Thank you again for listening and we’ll talk to you very, very soon.
Ep. #11 Is a Small Social Media Following Keeping you from BIG Work? (with Sam Hersch)
00:00 / 00:43:08
Dana: Before we get into the good stuff! We’d like to announce our Instagram Contest winners! The following 5 “demi” prize winners will be receiving a Words That Move Me Shoe Bag, to keep the shoes funky and keep the rest of your gear funk free!
Thanks everyone and congrats! Now, Let’s got to it!
Dana: Today I’m going to share little bits of a conversation that I had with a very special guest, a special guy named Sam Hirsch. Now I have known Sam since I think 2012 but this conversation was sparked because I ran into him recently. Uh, while I was teaching a class at movement lifestyle, I was making a mad dash for the restroom, like in the middle of class, had the moment, had to do it. And I saw Sam in the lobby and he handed me this flyer, like a full page flyer with a lot of words on it. And I was like, Sam, Oh man. Good to see you. Can’t read this right now. Send me an email. So later that night I had an email from Sam. It was a couple of attachments, um, a user guide and then a questionnaire. Now this is something that he’s been working on since June of 2019 and the purpose of the questionnaire is to get to the bottom of the question, how is social media influencing the dance industry and an individual dancers life?
So I opened the attachment for the user’s guide, which was 12 pages long and I flashed back to the lobby area moment where I was like, Sam, I don’t have time for this in this moment. Email me. And then the email moment was another moment. So I asked Sam if he would be willing to come onto the podcast and just hash this out over a microphone, um, and see what we can uncover about that massive question. How is social media influencing dance and is your social media presence as important or more important than your actual live work? So I asked Sam to come on the podcast and he said yes, and then he did come on the podcast and then we did talk for three hours. So this is an edited version of our conversation. Um, we really covered a whole lot of stuff, how we met years and years ago when I was teaching at millennium. Um, how I use my social media, how I consider it to be like a store front. The concept that I covered in last week’s episode, which if you haven’t yet, please go check out episode 10. Um, what else did we talk about? We talked about um, how he started creating this questionnaire and how he decided to unplug for a little while after working so hard on the subject of social media in dance. You know, that was sort of his impetus to, to get off the app for a little while. And you know what, I’ve actually thought about doing that too. Um, although with all of the exciting stuff that you daily doers are getting into out there, I don’t think my break will be happening anytime this year. I absolutely love seeing what everybody’s doing out there. Please keep up the good work and keep hashtagging doing daily. W T M M yes, there it is. #doingdailyWTMM alright. Without any further ado, let’s get into this conversation with Sam and see what we can dig up about social media and the way it is affecting the lives of creative types.
Dana: Sam, take the floor. Tell us a little bit about yourself, your relationship to dance and the project that you’re working on.
Sam: All right, thanks Dana. So the short version of my history with dance is that when I was 18 or 19 and I graduated, I had been in out of high school for about a year. Uh, my very good friend from high school ended up joining culture shock San Diego. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that at all. Um, she was on the troop for about two years this is before the days of following anybody on, on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook or anything. I would literally follow her to San Diego, um, to see her perform. Um, my first experience watching professional dancers in Los Angeles was um, in 2011 culture shock made one of their rare trips up to Los Angeles where they participated in Tessandra Chavez’s traffic show. And that was the first time that I saw Unity LA long before Tessandra knew where unity LA was going to go on long before any of my friends ended up being involved in that. And after that I started taking classes at millennium on a pretty regular basis. That’s where I met Marty and that’s where I met you. And, um, that is also where I began to notice, although I didn’t think much of it at the time, the influence, Mmm. For lack of a better word of social media on the dance industry. I remember being in the room when Willdabeast taught upgrade you at millennium now that was the night before he went to Ida and recorded it. And, and the rest is, they say, is history,
Dana: Right? Viral internet history.
Yup. And ever since then I’ve, I’ve kind of started to notice, um, the influence of social media on the dance world. And I remember speaking to the person who was designing my website and telling her that of of all the artists in the world, singers, actors, dancers, a dancer’s life has been the most impacted by social media. And these questions are my attempt at getting really to the heart of, Oh, what that relationship is like. not being a professional dancer, I don’t consider it my right to judge how people use social media. But there’s a part of me as a person with a disability that doesn’t want people to be excluded in any sense. The, the, the dance community remains as welcoming as it has ever been. To and not only to people like me, but to everyone without having the burden of get your following up over your head. Right. You understand what I mean?
Dana: Cool. Well, I would like to dig into that with you, um, if that’s okay. I sort of will treat this, I guess as like a, a cross interview perhaps. And then, um, we’ll close up with, uh, I’ll just have you ask me all of the questions on that questionnaire and we’ll see if I pass wink, wink.
Um, so I guess if we’re going to talk about that big question, what is the relationship between a dancer’s social media presence and their live performance? I, I really think it’s a beautiful thing and one of the most unique things about dance as a fine art is that unlike a painting or a sculpture, which stays there while you get to behold and think about and reflect on, it dances moving and then it’s gone and it’s over. And I think that’s one of the most beautiful things about it. But I also think that there’s great power in, in the capture of it so that it can exist long after the moment that it was created in where it gets ugly is when we start determining our value based on views based on follows. And I think that that is really up to the person. As you mentioned, you’ve taken actions towards protecting yourself from falling into the cycle of seeking external validation. You know, you got rid of the social media or maybe you regulate it. Maybe you only look at comments once week, maybe you don’t look at them ever. You know, I think our techniques in terms of coping with that or whatever works and that’s going to be different from person to person. But um, is that helpful? Does that answer the question?
It does and it is helpful. And, and, and, and the reason why I wrote it as a questionnaire or not a blog is because, because I, I wanted to get answers from people rather than being an armchair critic or in my very literal case, a wheelchair critic and write what I thought.
Right. Well, I think in any situation, a, a discussion is better than a seminar. I think we learned so much more from these things and are able to go so much deeper with feedback with conversation opposed to just, you know, standing on a box and shouting through cone. What is that whats a, megaphone. There it is a mega cone.
Dana: Yeah. Okay. Seminars are good. Discussions are better, so I’d love to hear your thoughts on what a dancer’s relationship is, can be or should be with social media. As I mentioned last week, I think the majority of us use Facebook, YouTube, Instagram of some sort, but if you don’t use any of those things, I would especially love to hear from you. The way that you would do that is to slide into the comments on my website, the Dana wilson.com/podcast under episode 10 wait a second. This is episode 11 episode 11 wait, I gotta double check that, confirmed.
This is episode 11 all right, next, Sam and I scribbled ourselves into talking about the what ifs. What if social media went away tomorrow? Would you still be okay? I’ll tell you what dance would be. Okay. Dancers would be okay. We would still make dance. We’d just put it somewhere else. Okay, here’s another one. If what if you had to be popular to get work? Well then we wouldn’t have Monet. We wouldn’t have Edgar Allen Poe and other weirdos. Like actually Vincent Vango. I don’t know if this is true, but I’ve heard that he only sold a single painting during his lifetime, but today you cannot hear that name without immediately thinking art or artist. It’s wild, right? So popularity and value not connected. I mean, I’d say they’re not mutually exclusive. You have quality and you have quantity like you know, number of followers. I guess you can’t have a Venn diagram where there’s a center circle there where you have a really, really awesome thing that gets a lot of attention.
Beyonce, for example, man, I really, I held out for a long time. You guys. I was not a fan for awhile, but I think it was her. Um, Oh no. It was the year of Rhianna’s MTV Vanguard award that Beyonce performed and absolutely roasted. It was insane. I, I subscribed at that moment, I was onboard, she was flawless and that was a big bite of a performance. Holy smokes. Okay. Maybe sidebar Beyonce episode down the road. We’ll jump to it. What if, what else did Sam and I talk about in the what ifs front. Oh, what if things keep going like they’re going right now and that’s where we’ll jump in. Check it out.
Dana: You know, I do, I imagine a world where social media keeps going like it is like, I’ll, I’ll say it right now. I have, I actually don’t know that I have 32,000 and some change followers. And that used to be, I remember when I broke 30,000 and I was like, Oh my God, that’s a big deal. I’m a mega star. And now I’m on the other side of casting tables, listening to people say things like, I don’t know, she only has 300,000 followers. We really need somebody with more pull. And I’m like, my mind is blown because I’m like, that’s larger than countries. Like that’s bananas. Um, so I, I have seen that working in ways that are distasteful to me, but I also do try to remember that if not for social media, the cost of entry into the industry used to be a, you had to have paid for a dance education, right? You had to have paid for good headshots, you have to be in the room in LA at the one audition that that one choreographer has in six months or whatever. And then additionally under that, you have to be having a good day. You have to be remembered as being great. Versus on Instagram you get to curate. I get to decide what I put up there and it is there 24 hours a day working for me for free. So I really, you know, it’s got, it’s got its ups and downs for me. But that’s in a nutshell, that’s kind of my, that’s my love. Hate with “soceh meeds” Oh my God. I said social media. Sorry. Julian Meyers, if you’re listening, she hates. Mmm. Uh, abbreviations. So it is, sorry, Julie. Um, okay. So I don’t know. Do you have anything else you’d like to ask me before we get into the questionnaire?
Sam: Well, when, well we’ll just to clarify what you said on my end. I am, I’m not trying to, to bring the dance industry back to the pre social media kind of era, but all I would want to come out of this, of this questionnaire is when you go to auditions, you guys should fight for the opportunity to be seen live and not let um, your social media presence or lack there of exclude you from actually participating in the audition. Like you were meant to.
Sam mentions the idea that social media could be excluding people from taking part in auditions. This brings up a lot of big and pretty important questions. Does having a small following or anything other than a huge following keep you from being seen at auditions? Really? does it keep you from getting management or an agent’s representation? What is small and what is huge following? Anyways, all of these questions are really, really important. So I put my feelers out to some of top agents here in LA to get some answers. And here is what I learned.
I learned that there are now full blown departments and agencies dedicated exclusively to representing talent in the digital space, um, representing “influencers” In other words, and I am sure that those places look for specific things in terms of an individual’s following, but none of the dance agencies that I know of and certainly none that I spoke to, require a minimum number of social media followers to get signed. In other words, you can have three Instagram followers or no Instagram at all and still get a top agent here in LA. That is great news. It’s great news both for the talent and for the agents. Think about it this way. If agents only signed people with a specific range of followers that would really limit their talent pool, it is absolutely in their best interest to represent the best. And one of the best things about having an agent is that you get notified of auditions and projects that you would be a good fit for.
Which leads me to my next question. How many audition breakdowns are asking exclusively to see talent with large followings? Well, the responses I got to this question were kind of all over the board, but I got the gist that there are certain types of projects that are more likely to make that ask. Music videos, specifically music videos for up and coming. Artists that don’t have a really big pull yet, they want a big builtin audience. They want to hire talent that’s going to attract a lot of eyeballs. One agent that I spoke to said that roughly 20% of music video auditions care about a social media following. That’s not to say that they absolutely won’t consider someone without a big following, but it’s a common ask. It’s something that it looked for 20% okay.
Even more striking than that, almost everyone I spoke to said that almost all projects seeking a lead, male or lead female, imagine like a Co-Star scenario, a love interest, if you will, for a music video. Almost all of these castings are looking for somebody with a quote, large social following. So I asked what is large social following and again I got some mixed responses, but the low end there was about a hundred thousand that’s a pretty big number. Let’s back up a little bit here. Sam also mentioned that he hopes that a dancer’s social media or lack thereof wouldn’t keep them from being seen in auditions. Now to that, I really have to say from my experience auditioning, which is hefty, that once you’re in the room you could have 100,000 followers. You have negative 100,000 followers. If you roast, which is code for crush it, which is code code for really, really do well, you will be seen. period. In the room. There is no substitute for talent and until that black mirror day where our number of followers is glowing over our head, all you see in the room is your talent. So two thumbs up for auditions and simultaneously two thumbs down for auditions because they’re tough no matter who you are. It’s just kind of an unnatural experience. Speaking of auditions, however, I’ve got big plans.
August is going to be Audition August. Every single episode happening in the month of August is going to point to crushing it at auditions. Get ready for that. Okay. Whew. So now let’s see what else we can uncover about the effects of social media on a modern dancer. Not a modern dancer. Well maybe modern dancers also, but modern day dancers and our way of working
Sam’s questionnaire is 35 questions long, but because I talk a lot, we jumped around a lot. Give a listen and answer for yourself as we go. And if you’d like to go deeper, you can visit Sam’s website. Questions for dancers.com. Okay, here we go.
Sam: Before an artist’s begins to cultivate their social media presence, what’s the first thing they should know about that world?
Um, the, the dance world or the social media world.
The social media world.
Ah, ooo. Um, I would say that the most important thing to know about the social media world is that it will be whatever you make it, it will mean exactly whatever you make it mean to you. If you treat it like it is the most important thing in the world, it will be the governing force of your life. If you treat it like a fun opportunity to share your work and your breakfast, then it’ll be exactly that.
Right. Well, Question 2 what is more important. Bear in mind, I use the word artists here, but I really mean dancer in some sense. What is more important that an artist should work on their craft first or begin to cultivate a social media presence?
Ooh. Um, to that I would say is it possible to do both at once? Is it possible to genuinely work on your training and nurture, um, a public presence? Yeah, I think it is.
Is it entirely possible for an artist to operate outside of the social media sphere these days?
Ooh, I love this question and I think about it all of the time. Um, although it is rare, I would say yes. Uh, actually I just saw an interview with the star of the film 1917 George McKay. Um, and by the way, the film is nominated for 10 Oscars, including best film. And he is the, he’s the star of the film. I don’t even know if there’s a shot that doesn’t have him in it. He’s on, on screen the entire time and he does not have social media. So yes, definitely possible.
Regarding any promotional content for a class or a convention or, or any other performance, what’s your perspective on collaborating with other social media personalities for promotional content? I.e. YouTube videos.
Okay. Um, I, I think strategically using, uh, collaborating with other personalities for lack of a, I’ll call them humans. Um, collaborative, collaborating with other humans is, I think the most practical way of expanding your audience. Right? If I have 12 people watching my videos and only those 12 people watch my videos, Mmm. Then we’ve, you know, we’ve hit the ceiling. It’s not until I texting my friend Sam and I’m like, “Hey Sam, what are your 12 people doing right now? Do you think your 12 people would be interested in joining my 12 people to listen to his talk? And you’re like, Oh my gosh, yes.” And that’s how 12 becomes 24 and so on and so forth. So, um, I, I don’t use YouTube as often when it comes to promotion. Instagram is my platform of choice for like class promotion, stuff like that.
All right. How do you make sure any person that might have a consequential will impact on your career, an agent, et cetera. Mmm. Is drawn to your own unique personality and attitude as opposed to your social media presence. And if an opportunity for performance comes your way, that’s life changing. How do you make sure that the person responsible for that opportunity looks beyond your social media presence, gets to know you and is it necessary to remind that person to look beyond your social media presence and know the real you?
Oh man, this is loaded. All right. So the short answer to that, that long and pretty nuanced question I think would be if the social media person and the actual person are the same thing, then there’s not a lot to worry about. On the subject of how do you get people to look like how do you get someone to be interested? How do you get someone to care? To that, I am afraid, I would say that is out of your control. All I can control is the way I respond to the circumstances in my world and how I put myself forward. Mmm. You know, in what I call the storefront. I consider my Instagram account to basically be, it’s, it’s my storefront. If I were a retail business, it would be the, the place that people go to find all things me. So everything I put in that store is something that I’m proud of and something that is uniquely me. And I, um, I, I wish I could say I really don’t care if it’s right for the job. I can’t say that I’m not heartbroken when I don’t get the job, but I, I am training myself to believe that it wasn’t meant to be. If it, if it doesn’t become mine, it was not meant to be mine. I’ve done it again. I’ve made it a monologue. I’m sorry, but I, I think we’ve got to stop trying to change social media, stop trying to change the world and just change the way that we think about it changed the way that we operate in it
Sure. Absolutely. And, and, and that brings us to, to our last, um, set of questions. Mmm. There, there are only two more cause I just had to skip a few. What are the rules for master classes in your, in the social media age? And I consider myself very grateful and very lucky to have been in the room. Um, on a number of occasions. I’m a number of classes long before the camera or the camera rig ever comes out.
Right. And in some cases it is literally a jib, like a full blown rig with lighting and Oh, it’s wild. What is come of dance class is wild
if you were to wave a magic wand, what would be the ideal rules for, um, social media, his relationship to, um, master classes. And what would you say to kids in those master classes?
Hmm. Mmm. This is another loaded question because again, one of the beautiful things about dance and the way it’s taught is that there is no one syllabus, there is no school, single school of dance that says this is how it is taught and this is the best way to teach it and this is the only way to teach it. And once you graduate from this school, then you go and get a certificate and then you can go teach to other people. That just isn’t the way our world works. And I’m thankful for that because everybody has a different style of learning and everybody has a different style of teaching. Um, that said, if, if I go to wave a magic wand, it would simply be open discourse around the subject. I will be transparent with my class when I say I am going to film this next group. I have a theory about in the classroom that cameras actually don’t change anything about the energy or the environment in the room. It is our thoughts about the cameras that change the energy and the environment in the room. Cameras are just pieces of glass and plastic. They don’t mean anything except for little bits of light are received by a sensor. And this moment will ask outside of this room in a digital sense but not in a actual sense like scientifically, this moment will end and it will be over and I will be fine whether or not I mess up, whether or not I am in the last group, whatever. So I, I would just like there to be more conversation around the topic. Um, I would like for a little bit more transparency. I definitely as a teacher I would definitely like for students to consider asking permission from the teacher before filming themselves in class. Um, I get really distracted when I see dancers off to the side. Again, I’ve been teaching for a convention for a really long time and I see first of all blowing my mind that some like seven year olds have iphones it just takes some getting used to, but off to the sides I see little seven year olds filming each other, dancing during my class and um, that has raised little flags for me. Um, and I’m kind of working with my cell phone. What I’m making that mean? I think it means they want to share that moment and to them sharing means filming and then posting. I know that there are different ways to share that moment but they don’t. So I might in my class talk about the different ways you can share the different ways that you can measure your progress. But again, I believe that video is one of the best ways to measure your progress and a visual art like dance. So, um, I, I would just love for there to be more discourse around it. I would love for us to have some more transparency, talk about it and um, yeah, period. Good. I seriously, I could talk forever.
Okay. Okay. Okay. Last two questions. And these are very loaded set of questions. Are you pressured? Did take jobs or work with people because of their or yours? Social media presence
Pressured is an interesting word to use there. I did mention a little earlier. Um, yes, I have been on the other side of the casting table or I’ve been uh, a choreographer on projects where we’re casting talent and are taking followings into consideration. But I think when it comes to um, commercial dance and I say commercial dance meaning dance that is used to sell a product, whether that product is an album or Amazon prime or whatever. I consider commercial dance to anything that exists to sell a product including class. Is that you are engaging in somewhat of a business transaction and you have to make transactional decisions based on certain values and having built in audience, having eyeballs knowing that your product will be seen is a consideration that I understand. Yes, I have felt pressured to work with certain people because of their followings. I have also experienced situations where if I present the right person following or not, if they have the right talent, I have seen productions change their mind and say yes, that is undeniably who we need regardless of a following.
You know, what I took away from your user guide to the questionnaire is that you are a person who undeniably, relentlessly supports dance in the dance community. You’re there paying for classes, you’re there going to the shows, you are there both in person and you know when you’re sitting doing this work, I’m sure countless hours at your computer or over a journal hashing out these ideas, trying to help the community improve. And I see you as being frustrated that at times the dance industry or the dance community doesn’t support itself. And from the outside looking in, that’s what, um, it looks like this project could achieve. And I hope that people were, as we’re answering these questions along with us because it was very informative for me.
I cannot thank you enough for taking this time, Sam, and doing this work. Asking these questions I think is very, very important, uh, that we be having these conversations. So cheers to you and thank you so much
Dana It’s my pleasure and thank you. Thank you so much.
You are so welcome. I will talk to you soon. Sam
Have a good night, Dana.
Dana: All right everybody. I hope that got your social wheels turning. One of my biggest takeaways from that conversation is that there are really a lot of misconceptions around what a social media following means in terms of your work. I would really argue that it is the work itself, the content, the actual stuff and not the number of followers that factors most into getting you more stuff, more work. I also believe there’s a difference between doing it for the gram as they say and doing it for the doing and simply sharing it on the gram. The latter is the insta world that I want to live in and thanks to getting to choose who I follow. It actually is the world that I live in and I love it. I really love it. I see great value to it. So I want to take a quick moment to shout out my favorite social media accounts of late that have less than a hundred thousand followers and of course I have to start that list off with my fellow seaweed sisters, Jilly Meyers. That’s J. I. L. L. Y. M. E. Y. E. R. S. the one and only
Megan Lawson, M. E. G. A. N. G. U. W. R. E. and the story behind Guwre is a story that I will let Megan tell for herself when we have our seaweed sessions on the podcast. Oh, speaking of seaweed, obviously the seaweed sisters @theseaweedsisters spell it just like it sounds, um, without any spaces or interesting characters because we’re all the interesting character you need. See how I did that. Um, okay. Also, please, Holy smokes, get your phone right now. This is important. Go follow @jamsv, which is Jermaine Spivey at JA M S V Y as well as Spenser Theberge, which I’m hoping I’m saying that last name right. It gets me every time. His handle is @spensermyles and that is a Spenser with an S, ladies and gentlemen. S.P.E.N.S.E.R.M.Y.L.E.S. and one of my favorite lady birds. The one and only Cindy Salgado. She is at C.I.N.D.Y.B.E.T.H.S.A.L.G.A.D.O which leads me to my next favorite lady type Michelle Dorrance and Dorrance dance. You guys get with it. I was lucky enough to get to see them perform at USC last week and my mind was blown. My eardrums were tickled, my heart was warmed, all of the good things so, so impressed and inspired. Um, check her out at M. A. S. H. D. E. E. Z. as in zebra. And the company is at D. O. R. R. A. N. C E D. A. N. C. E. that’s DorranceDance. So good. Speaking of, so good. One of my favorite movers is also a director and she is wildly talented. Her name is Mimi Cave. Please go check her out on the internet, but also on the gram, she’s @M I M I C A V E and one final super special human. This was a, a person that I got to meet when I was working on In the Heights and I’m so glad that I did. His name is Haseem and his handle is Gorilla Sage. So follow him at G. O. R I. L. L. A. underscore S. A. G. E. beautiful soul, beautiful human, beautiful mover, and some really special stuff on his page.
So, um, yeah, that’s it for my share for the day. I hope you enjoyed this episode and I hope that this keeps the conversation around healthy social media relationships going, um, you know the deal. Well, you know the deal. You know where to find me at words that move me podcast on Instagram. I’m @danadaners of course, and you are keeping it funky. I hope that was kind of a stretch. That wasn’t a really good sign off moment. Where should we do? What should we do? What should we do? Sign off. Sign off. Side off. Vocal. Warm up. Sign off. Keep it funky everybody. I’ll see you next week. I won’t see you. I will talk to you. I will talk to you next week. Have a great rest of your day night. Awesome. Bye.
Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers like you get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host, master mover, Dana Wilson, and if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story than sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: Hello. Hello. Hello. I am Dana. Welcome to the podcast. I am so glad that you are here right now. I am excited to talk to you today. Whoa, this is a big one. All right, so with the Words that Move Me Instagram contest going on right now, Oh, right now, by the way, is the last couple of days of February and heading into March. Oh my gosh. It’s almost March. I can’t really handle it. Time is flying so super fast. Anyways, it’s the last couple of days of February heading into March and until March 9th Words that Move Me has an Instagram contest happening, so make sure you go check out our Instagram page to get all of the details on how you can be involved, how you can win and what you can win.
It’s all very exciting stuff, but because of the contest, social media has been on the brain and actually to be honest, contest aside, social media has been on the brain. There’s a lot of talk around this right now. It seems kind of an unavoidable subject. It’s like this part of our lives now. It seems to be. Anyways, I’m sure that there is a small contingent, possibly very, very small. Maybe just a few of my listeners that still exist completely handle free and hats off to you. I actually would love to know what that is like. Um, I haven’t checked, but I’m very curious about how many hours a day. I know on average I spend a little over three hours a day on my phone, but out of that, I wonder how much of that is inside of Instagram, which is my preferred social media platform. I digress. I’d say that the sweeping majority of humans, probably age 16 to maybe 40, uh, have social media of some sort, whether it’s Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, YouTube or all of them. Oh, tik tok. Oh my goodness. Which I don’t have, but I hear that I quote need people tell me this like, Oh my God, you need to tik tok. And that’s very funny because I feel totally fine without one. But then again, I have never had one. It is very possible that I haven’t even lived yet because I don’t have tik tok, tik tok. Am I, am I sounding ridiculous? The tik tok? Do you use the tik tok? I’m cracking myself up anyways.
I think that social media for the most part gets a bad reputation for a lot of really good reasons. For example, it is literally designed to devour your attention. There are engineers who are paid to think of ways to keep your eyeballs on the screen longer so that they can show you more ads so that you can click more clicks so that they can make more money. And that is understandable. It is not virtuous, but I understand it. I get it. Here’s another example. Places like Instagram, especially our cesspools for comparison and competition that can really wreak havoc on you and your internal self-worth. I say that because the feed that you scroll through is full of very carefully curated and usually very heavily edited moments from lives of people that you care about, people that you chose to follow, they matter to you for some reason and you spend time looking at these carefully picked pixels from their lives and if you weren’t already comparing their life to your life, look down a little further and you see that handy dandy value system that Instagram has created to keep you clicking.
So all right. To be clear, I believe comparison and competition exist in abundance out there in the real physical world. But in my experience comparing our bodies, our work, our wins, our losses, all of that good stuff in person is like comparing apples and oranges or like apples and high heeled shoes or Panda bears. Like when you’re face to face, you see humans, you see three dimensional people that are infinitely different than you are in number of ways, but in the two dimensional world on the page, a like is a like. A heart is a heart. A follow is a follow and when she has 50,000 and I have five, it can be very hard to ignore. It can be very hard to not compare and it can be really hard to believe that I am not less. Well, here’s my angle. I believe that we are all worth exactly the same and I don’t believe that our likes and follows quantify our worth period, the end, but I’m not done.
In addition to being a time vampire in a place that can make us wildly insecure about ourselves, the social media jungle is also a place where bullying and false information run rampant. This is probably because somebody figured out that negativity and really polarized opinions, spike engagement that gets people clicking, it gets people talking. Well, engagement equals ad dollars, so you’re going to see a lot of the things that spike engagement. Also, it’s way easier to say awful things from the comfort of your own home and the other side of the screen, so that pretty much explains that. Sounds pretty grim, right?
Wrong. I actually love Instagram. It is my favorite social media platform. I mean I don’t love it like I love my husband, but I think it’s kind of great. Let me explain. Instagram and YouTube are both free and they’re a perfect place for me to put my work and get almost immediate feedback. I do it all the time. I mean not all the time, certainly not as much as I used to, but still pretty often. People argue that social media is making us reclusive and that because of it, people don’t know how to like interface with each other IRL, which is internet talk for in real life, but no matter how you slice it, social media is connective. I have met some of my heroes in person shaken their hands, actually collaborated with them because of Instagram, because that’s where we made our first contact. I also have a direct link to an audience. Well, I guess technically it’s not direct if it has to go through Instagram. In other words, if Instagram disappeared tomorrow, I would lose contact with a lot of people, which is really unfortunate. I might be putting an ask out there for some phone numbers and email addresses, surely, just be able to look out for that. Um, anyways, I have a link to people all over the world, right? I’m in the United States, I’m in California, I’m in Los Angeles. I’m talking to people in Paris, France, in, in Italy, in China, in India, in Australia. I mean, it’s actually wild to me that I can reach someone on the other side of the planet almost instantly. I’m impressed. I’m onboard to say the very least. So I call this my middle child syndrome. And by the way, I have a really bad case of it.
I can see both sides of almost any issue. In next week’s episode a very special guest and I are going go deep on some of the issues and perceived challenges of being a creative type living in a social media era. But this week I’m going to talk about how I treat my social media. I really hope you dig this approach and um, that some of these strategies are helpful in making your relationship with your social media a happy and healthy one. Now I’m sure there are a lot of people out there that are going to tell you how to post and when to post and what to post. And I’m just going to let you know right now, I’m not going to do all that. So if that is what you’re hoping for it, you can go ahead and stop listening right now. But otherwise get a pen and paper ready or at very least your imagination cause I’m going to ask you to get involved in this one.
All right. We’re talking social media very broadly, but my favorite platform is Instagram as I mentioned. And that’s where I have the most experience. It’s also very visual, heavy and very text light. And that’s why I think it speaks to most dancers. So it’s where my point of view is going to come from for now. Here we go. I like to think of my social media presence as a virtual Superstore. It is an establishment or several where people go to find all things me, my moves, my face, and occasionally my breakfast foods. I think of each platform like YouTube or Insta, Twitter as actual brick and mortar chain stores. And I imagine that I am a business, which is easy because I am a business. Um, and as such I am responsible for things like, um, deciding where I put my branches or my store locations, deciding what I put in my windows, deciding what I keep inside and what I keep in backstock and how I price things. And beyond that, what kind of experience people can expect when they come in. Okay. I teach this concept occasionally and I always start by asking what is your favorite place to go shopping, a little bit consumerist, but go with me here. Whether it’s food or clothing or school supplies or tools or anything. Just what is your favorite place to shop? I’ll get the answer and then I ask for three reasons why and after I have those I ask. Okay, so what is it like to shop there? What is the experience that you have? I’ll run through my own answers as an example. All right. My answer, embarrassingly enough, as a 33 year old woman is Urban Outfitters. I am so sorry about that. There are probably way more socially conscious, sustainable, locally sourced, organic free range, Raw, gluten free vegan places to shop. And I know urban probably has like several strikes against it that I don’t even know about and I worked there for several years so I know about it, but I still like the feeling of shopping there. And uh, here’s the why.
Number one, it’s bright as in lumens and as in colors. All of the colors of the rainbow. And I love color. Number two, it’s eclectic. There are many different styles and styles of styles in that place. You’ve got your black leather with studs and holey t-shirts, you’ve got your lace with ruffles and sophisticated blazer things and you’ve got sneakers, and stilettos and literally everything in between. And number three, they seem to have really mastered this seriously silly thing. Everytime I go in there, I see something that makes me laugh, whether it’s a graphic tee or a silly book or some novelty. It just always seems to get a chuckle. But the business is undoubtedly refined. So that I think speaks to my values. Right? I love bright, I love many different styles. I love being seriously silly and somehow refined. That’s kind of me. So in a way I think that asking yourself, what’s your favorite store to shop at can actually teach you a lot about your values.
Okay, so the followup question is what is it like to shop there? Well, again, eclectic, but overall very, very casual and that’s speaks to my values as well. I like to be personable and I feel like the staff at urban is pretty personable in their own way. Sometimes it’s like the way of your best friend who’s going to really honestly tell you how those pants look on you. And sometimes it’s in the way of the kid who’s going gonna blow spit wads at the back of your head during class and it’s going to be inconvenienced by everything that you ask them. I kind of am not mad at either of those. I love the full range. Okay, so in addition to those things, it’s light, it’s fun and it’s fast. Again, that speaks to my values. Here’s another example.
This time we’ll take the other side of the spectrum. Let’s say that Tom Ford in Beverly Hills is our absolute favorite place to shop. All right? Why? Okay. Number one, it is modern, minimal, extremely clean and uncluttered. Your eye knows exactly where to go and it goes to absolutely pristine product. Number two, it is luxury from the plush carpet to the garments themselves. And number three, it is indisputable quality made from the absolute finest and tailored to your body. Boom, Tom Ford. Okay. What is it like to shop in there? Well, there’s a doorman first of all, so there’s that, pretty exclusive. You’ve got a book by appointment and it’s expensive. That in and of itself is kind of exclusive.
But once you’re in the door, you are catered to and you feel like the million bucks that you’re about to drop, which happens quite fast, I heard from a friend, let’s, let’s go even further left. Let’s say for the sake of an example that your favorite place to shop is home Depot, which is ironic because I hate shopping at Home Depot. Literally the worst I can almost guarantee that they will not have what I’m looking for. They will have every item surrounding the items that I’m looking for and then there will be an empty hole where the medium sized boxes used to live or the very specific type of washers that I need for my shower head. It’s like almost a joke. How often they do not have the thing I need and how frustrated I get by that. But anyway, for the sake of these examples, let’s pretend that your favorite place to shop is Home Depot. Why do you like it? Other than the fact that they have what you want all the time. Um, so let’s say you love it because number one, it’s no frills, nothing extra, nothing ridiculously distracting. No bright colors or flashing neon signs with sales and crazy things like that. What you see is what you get or what you don’t get for that matter. I digress. Number two, it’s expansive. They have literally everything including the kitchen sink except the one thing that you’re looking for. Sorry, I’ll stop making stabs at Home Depot now. Okay. And I’m, let’s say number three, if I really had to dig, sorry, I’m done. I’m done. Um, number three, they really are about DIY and I have had a handful of really, really helpful people there that have told me the things I need to know or taught me the things I need to know in order to get the job done and do it myself. I really do value that. That is super cool. So what is it like to shop in home Depot? Um, sprawling, um, informative. You see things and you learn about things that you didn’t even know existed and uh, you’ll be back because undoubtedly after you leave that place, you will find out that you need something else from that place. And that’s kind of a brilliant thing I suppose. So. Okay. How does this all relate to social media? Again, uh, let’s, let’s take a look back at my urban Outfitters example and I’ll explain
When I’m looking at a video or photo and deciding whether or not to post it, I ask myself, is this one of the three things that I decided I love most about the place I like shopping most in my Urban Outfitters example? Is it bright? Is it eclectic and is it equal parts serious and silly? If I can’t answer yes to one of those questions, then I won’t share the video or photo at all. Generally, my rule for myself is that it has to meet at least two of those three criteria. And then occasionally it meets all three and I find myself legit excited to share this thing. That’s my way of deciding what gets put in my store. My guiding principle is that I want my store to represent me and my values and what I have to offer. I want it to feel a little bit like me. Bright, eclectic and seriously silly. Now you and your values will likely be different than mine. Maybe you value sleek, clean, minimal, luxury. Maybe you value specificity. A store that specializes in one thing and doing that one thing really, really, really right. Maybe your entire feed is black and white. Maybe your entire feed is landscape. Maybe your entire feed is nail art and that’s kind of the beauty of it is it gets to be whatever you make it. I had a student once as I was teaching this concept that really, really valued oranges. Like she told me her favorite place to shop was a grocery store because they have oranges and she loves them and I asked her to think of something else she liked about the grocery store and she couldn’t. Now part of me thinks she was being difficult just for the game of it, but I went with it. Cause this is kind of brilliant. Imagine you’ve got a 13 year old social media feed that looks like any other 13 year old social media feed except in this one there is an orange hidden somewhere but visible in every single post. I would follow that account. Absolutely. And there would be an element of creativity involved. I think it’s fabulous. I think it’s hysterical. I think it’s an opportunity to get really creative and also to start looking at yourself and taking responsibility for yourself as a professional entity, as a business, as a place that people go to find you. That said, it’s really important to me that my social media presence represents the real me and my real values and my real work. The storefront analogy is simply helpful in narrowing down the content and things that I share to the world because it is important to remember whether you delete it or not. It exists out there forever. Ask me how I know. Don’t ask, don’t ask. So here’s what I really like about this analogy, this storefront analogy is that I, the store owner, decide the value of the things that I put on the shelves, not somebody else’s, like not somebody else’s follow just me.
So I would love for you to take a moment, give a little brainstorm, write down to your favorite places to shop or spend time. Doesn’t even need to be a store. Technically, it could be a park, it could be Disneyland, but right, your favorite place that you like to spend time and occasionally money and get three reasons why. Then do a tiny little brain download on the experience that you have in that place and then use that as a guiding principle every time you decide what you want to share and sell to the world. Alright? This is simply my approach. I’m not saying it’s the best, but I’m saying it’s something. I would love, love, love to hear some of your social media approaches. How do you decide what to post? Do you care about when? Let’s talk about this. Leave some comments on the Instagram page or at theDanawilson.com/podcast under the comments for this episode, make sure you listen in next week as I talk to my super special guests about all sorts of social media mystery. This is, this is really the tip of the iceberg, or I guess this is like the technique of the iceberg. Next week we’re going to get into some of the muddy waters, so don’t miss that. Sounds like fun, huh? All right. Everybody have a good rest of your day. Night, week, month, and uh, you know the deal. Keep it funky. Oh man. So good. Oh, speaking of, keep it funky we got Merch coming. You didn’t hear from me.
Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers like you get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host, master mover, Dana Wilson, and if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artists story, then sit tight but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: Hello, hello friends. Welcome to the podcast. We’ll come back if you’re a recurring listener and welcome, welcome for the first time. If this is your first time listening, I’m stoked to be talking to you today. I’m very excited about this episode, but before I get into that I want to talk about something else that I am very excited about and that is the Instagram contest that we are having right now. We definitely are wanting to spread the words that move me and make sure as many people find the podcast as possible. So to do that we’re having an Instagram contest and I would like for you to take a look at all the details @wordsthatmovemepodcast on Instagram. It’s in our story. It has a special little album there. I think I’m using the right words all of a sudden I am not the master of Instagram anymore. I’m learning and I’m right there with some of you as I learn. Anyways, I’m very excited about the contest in order to see all the terms and the ways that you can win and also the things that you might win. Make sure you follow us on Instagram. That’s going to be the best way.. Well it’s the only way to be a part of the contest. Um, and it’s the best way to make sure that you are playing by the rules. Although occasionally I do recommend breaking them. Okay. So in addition to the contest, I also want to clear up a few things. Cause the other day I ran into a human being, an actual human in the flesh and she was like, Oh my gosh, I’m doing the daily challenge and I absolutely love it. I was like, that’s great. What’s your handle? And she told me her name, she told me her handle and I didn’t recognize it. I was like, I don’t think I’ve seen your project out there. And then through a little bit more digging, we discovered that she had been hashtagging “daily doing” instead of hashtagging “doing daily” And honestly you guys, I think I’ve probably said it both ways from the start of the podcast until now and this is something that is definitely worth a little clarification and carving out a special place for this. I want to see your daily projects.
So I have decided to create a special hashtag, a bucket that we can put all of those beautiful things and that is #doingdailyWTMM as in words that move me. So if you are a daily doer, which is confusing cause I do say that a lot. If you’re a daily doer then you are hashtag doing daily. Yes. It feels really good to have that cleared up. Excellent. If you have no idea what I’m talking about right now, that is probably because you haven’t listened to episode one or episode two where I pose the challenge to all of my listeners to take on a daily creative act every single day. For some amount of time, preferably an amount that’s slightly longer than what you feel comfortable taking on. I promised myself I would make a video every single day for 365 days and I did it plus some. It changed my life. And I know that a project like this can change yours. So jump on over to episode one and two after listening to this episode and happy making, I’m so excited for you and for the ways that this can change your life. Hats off to all of my daily doers. Keep the hashtag doing daily. This is how I remember it by the way, hashtag doing because the doing is the important part. #doingdailyWTMM now let’s get into it.
I’m stoked about today’s episode because I got a chance to catch up with one of my favorite people, Jason Bonner. Jason and I met when I was a dancer on tour with Justin Timberlake in 2007. So this was the, um, future sex love show tour. I was 20 years old. I turned 21 while we were on the road. Um, so I’m this tiny young danceling and this man who at the time was Justin’s personal trainer became my trainer as well and a very, very dear friend. He’s one of the relationships that I made on that tour that has stood the test of time and is still um, a great friend and inspiration to me up until today. So I got to catch up with Jason and I have to be totally honest with you. We talked for over two hours and a lot of that talking is actually just cackling like words and sounds that you would need subtitles to understand. So I did edit this episode down into some really good digestible chunks of information and inspiration and I really hope that you dig it. Okay. Before we get into the words with Jason, I want to explain the being that is Jason, I want you to imagine a life scale GI Joe, like actual man sized GI Joe and then turn that up to X. Like, he probably isn’t, but it feels like Jason is eight feet tall and his like the circumference of his bicep is probably the circumference of my thigh at its widest. You will probably hear in this interview him slamming his hands on the table and the microphone responds to that a little bit. So I do apologize. This is my first phone interview ever and I’m still learning a lot about that technology. So bear with me on the learning curve. Also, did I mention I am coming to today from my hotel, actually my hotel closet in Las Vegas, Nevada, which is where I am working right now. So I apologize if the sound is different or if there’s an occasional passer-by in the hallway, a door slam, a weird pipe sound. My pipes are making weird gargly sounds. I can’t explain it, but I think we’re safe. I don’t see any water anywhere, so I think we’re safe. Anyways, all sound aside. I’m very, very excited to share this conversation with Jason Bonner. So let’s dig in.
Dana: Jason Bonner! I am so excited about this call. Really, truly, utterly. I can’t even handle it. Um. All right, so, the podcast, because it’s young and I want to tell you a little bit about the podcast and our listeners. Its primarily about creative careers and making art in entertainment. So some of my guests might be confused as to why I am speaking to personal trainer to the stars and I would tell them that is because you are much, much more than a personal trainer to the stars. So number one, please introduce yourself, all of your interests and all of the many different hats that you wear.
Jason: How are you doing Dana? My name is Jason Bonner, whether it’s training, whether it’s life coaching, whatever it is that I’m doing, I really love helping people. And through my friends in industry, the people that know me, they call me like the Jack of all trades because I really can do whatevers thrown at me. So I do everything from training to styling to image to branding for an artist, this is actually what I do. I kind of wear many different hats. I’ve done everything from A&R record to written on records before, as a writer. In it past eight months or so. I’ve uh, I started a management company. I have a two artists that I manage and a songwriter. And I wrote a film, with one of my best friends. About something that happened in my life, true story. It’s a comedy. So we’re in the process of getting that done now, so excited about it. The movie is basically like a mixture of Friday and Ferris Buller’s Day off. That’s the best way I can describe it.
Dana: I want to live at the center circle of that Venn diagram that is exquisite.
Jason: I am, I’m beyond excited about it because it was something I didn’t really think about getting into. Oh. So it just happened. Mmm. The working out on is really the easiest part of it. That’s like the easiest thing to do. Um, I work with, uh, Josh Groban, the a Joe Jonas, Frank Ocean, hit boy, Bruno Mars producer Rob Knox. This new kid. Aaron Wright, he’s amazing You hear about him soon? I worked in Luke James. Mmm. Another producer named Monsour Producer Harvey Mason Jr before? I’m actually working with Chris Stapleton right now. Amazing guy. Flat out. Amazing. Mmm. I take it very seriously because I was on my way to be a pro athlete. Before, I got hurt. So I’m very competitive when it comes to what I do when I work with somebody in that capacity. Whether it’s training, whether its, branding whether it’s you know, conditioning for shows or whatever we’re doing. I’m really serious about it. And part of it is, you know, when you’re working with artists and people you’re close to, you kind of have to read them and understand the mannerisms. So part of why it worked so well with the people that I work with is because I studied their habits, I studied everything about them. So like, like for example, um, I’ve been working with Justin Timberlake since, the year 2000 so I pretty much know like the back of my hand. Like I can walk into a room and tell him, “you need something to eat or you need to go to sleep? Mmm. Anything. Literally anything.”
It’s true. Jason is a great study of subtlety and human behavior in general and I think he gets a lot of that intel from movement specifically like posture, someone’s walk , their body language, their performance at the gym or their performance on stage. He could almost always tell if something was off, like if something wasn’t quite right and some of the time he could tell exactly what it was, whether it was not enough rest or too much rest occasionally or homesickness, relationship drama, family drama and by family drama I of course mean tour, family drama because when you eat, sleep, breathe, work and play together, that’s exactly what you become. You are family. So Jason’s eye for detail and like Olympic level people watching skills are what taught me that you don’t need to perform all the time. In fact, being a good audience member, being watchful that can help you do your job even better than all of the, all of the uh, exporting, right. Do a little importing. Just sit and watch. When I was on the road and training with Jason, his type of watchful felt a little bit like, um, like a law enforcement officer or like the way that a teacher watches over their classroom taking a test and they’re like looking to see if somebody is cheating or passing notes or something or a little bit like a referee watching a game like very, very closely. But I really think there’s more compassion to Jason’s style of watching. And actually one of my favorite things about becoming a people watcher thanks to him is that it helps me feel more compassionate towards others. And I like that. Okay. So now we’re going to talk a little bit more about my first tour and Jason’s style of quote, compassion, which is a special brand of no BS. Tough love.
Okay. So I want to really quickly go back to the year that we met, which was, um, I believe it was 2007. The future sex love show tour. And I was a dancer and I assisted the creative director and choreographer, Marty Kudelka on that tour. I was 20 years old and I was green. And I remember meeting you and you, you make quite an oppression, quite an impression on a young lady, um, because you are so certainly who you are. And I remember at that time, I’m still figuring out who I am and I, um, I had these ideas about what a personal trainer to the stars was and you certainly look like that. Like you look like that guy. But I remember being very taken aback by how generous you are in giving your attention, your time, your talent. And I was very interested in getting healthier, getting more fit. And I remember you, I remember thinking that a personal trainer was a certain thing and that I would have a whistle in my ear at 6:30 in the morning and you’d be a drill sergeant and you’d be like, banging down my door, get me to the gym. And you really weren’t that. So I would like to hear a little bit about how you encourage people into their own greatness without being a drill Sergeant and a heavy hand, even though you look tough. Mmm. And it was your voice in my head when I was like, no, get to the gym, get to the gym. But you only showed up for me when I showed up for myself. And I would love to hear more about why it is that you, why you operate that way.
Hey Listen! This is the only thing in life. Only thing in life, no matter how much money you have, no matter how much you think you have, that nobody else can do for you, right? You have to do it yourself. Like there’s, there’s no way around it you have to do this for yourself? So it’s one of those things where it’s like, listen, I could yell at you, I can scream at you, I could get mad at you, whatever did you face, whatever. It’s not going to matter if in your head you don’t want to do it. So I don’t care who you are. I can look somebody in the face and tell them you’re not serious. And there’ll be like, why is it because I know people, okay, who have that look that they want to change their lives. You don’t want to change your life? I say, so don’t ask me again or waste my time. Ask me something that you’re not serious about. So for me it’s like I don’t have the patience to deal with, with BS. So it’s just like you don’t take yourself serious. So why should I? Again, because I was a, you know, I was working on trying to be a professional basketball player. My drive for myself was very high. Right. So I learned how to channel into me, erm, at an early age, so when everybody else would be partying or people would be asleep in the dorm, I was up at five in the morning running stairs, you know, getting ready for the season. Mmm. In college, the basketball season. So I kind of took, well not even taken, I, I’m actually wired to, to be self motivated. So if I see that somebody has something in them, I feel like if I have the tools to help them get to that space, have the obligation to give you, if I genuinely care about you as a friend or as a family member, I’m going to give you this information so you can be great. Um, so saying all that to say, so like when I got called to work with Justin for the first time before I met you, I meet with them in the first thing I say to them, this is a true story. The first thing I say to him, I said listen, before we start this meeting, let me tell you who I am. I don’t care about being seen next to you on TV, film, magazines, tabloids, anything. The only thing I care about is if you take this serious. I say, because I am very competitive and if my name was attached to you, I’m going to make sure I pull whatever’s out of you. I’m going to pull it out of you to be great. I said because of what I think thats inside of you. You have the opportunity and hear me when I say this, the opportunity to be one of the best people in music history. If you take this serious, I said, you have to come to a world where you make it. You have to make a guy like me, like you. And he’s only there because he has to bring his girl that he come see you and he’s mad. That he’s there to watch you, So I say, so whenever we do in the gym, we’re at rehearsal, dance rehearsal. If it takes you a hundred times a thousand times to get a dance step, right? You want to do it a thousand times still you get it right. Thats it. Because you don’t have the luxury to mess it up and that’s it. And , I said, so when you see that guy, he’s looking at you like this <inaudible> you have to get that guy to move. And I told him, I said, you can get that guy to move. You get the world to move. You hear me when I say that? If you get that guy to move, you can get the world to move
Um, did you write that down? Literally one of my all time favorite ways to lock in an incredible performance is to lock in on one person. The one person that’s not feeling. It’s a game. Of course, I don’t know actual voodoo or like mind trickery, but after hundreds and hundreds of shows, I became able to get at least a smile and a step touch out of even the most unenthusiastic concert goer or chaperones as I like to call them. They’re the ones giving off the, Oh no, no, no, no, no. Um, I’m not here for you. I’m here for my girlfriend or my daughter or my wife or whoever. Okay. Don’t get me wrong though. There is something very, very moving about a room full of screaming fans, but if you can make the not a fan move, Oh my gosh, it feels like winning the lottery. It is incredible. Although I have never actually won the lottery, so maybe that’s not the right analogy. Also, I’ve never actually bought a ticket. I’m getting off topic. Okay, we’re back. Okay. Let’s get back into working out with Jason and the three words that changed my dance life forever.
I remember a lot of our workouts. I remember your pushup routine that I still do occasionally. I remember you bench pressing me as your weights. I remember, um, frog jumps. Is that what we call it? I don’t remember. I got so ridiculously sore that I couldn’t dance and I had to like dial it back. But this one moment it was not workout related. This one particular show during the 20/20 experience, um, I was, I think I was under the weather. I was either like physically sick or maybe homesick. I don’t, I don’t remember exactly what I was going through. But I came to you as I often did and I was like, yo, Jay help me get through this show. Like what is going to get me through the show tonight? I don’t, I don’t, I need fuel, I need juice. And you said “You only have three things that you need to worry about in this show. Three that is all, hips, lips and fingertips. And it sounds silly, but within that confined I found tremendous freedom. So by cutting my mind off from the things that were distracting me and focusing it on just three things. I was able to go so deep on hips, lips, and fingertips, and it was just so liberating. I think I delivered one of the best shows of my life that night. Um, what other wisdom might you have for people that are feeling less than.And that can help us focus into being more than.
Well, my motto is I’ve been saying that since I was a kid. If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready. Because you have to be prepared for whatever’s thrown at you in this entertainment business at all times. You know, you’re gonna have random sleep. You know, you’re gonna have random food. You know, you don’t know if the hotel beds going to be comfortable, well, you don’t know. Did she just prepare for anything? If your show was two hours long, then we’re training for three hours? The main thing is to get your mindset ready for anything. This is always my answer is always do you have to program your mind to already be ahead of whats about to happen to prepare yourself for anything. If you’re the sports team and the star players coasting everybody on the team is not going to give that kind of effort. You have to give the effort to set the example.
I think that’s an important note because not only for the leader or the the front man of the group, but for everybody in the group because you’re leading somebody, whether you know it or not, someone is looking to you for the tone, for the vibe, for the energy. It might be a fellow dancer on stage or it might be somebody in the audience. I think setting a bar, setting a high bar is so important. It’s why people are drawn to you. It’s why I was drawn to you. It’s why we’re still friends and I just, I can’t thank you enough for being so excellent.
So being somebody that’s so, uh, face to face with popular culture all the time, do you have any recommendations for how to drown out the noise in terms of what people should be and how to reinforce all the lovely things that we are
The biggest thing I would tell people is to understand your inner voice. And what I mean by that is the only person that knows what’s really going on in your head is you. And if you understand the field, or the business that you want to get into. Meaning, something tangible that can work in this space and you know your work and you really understand what it is then don’t listen to anybody but yourself. Your intuition is never ever wrong. It’s something that we are born with, that we have inside of us that connects us to everything that’s happening around us. And if you really understand it and you really listen to it, you understand how much you’re in tune with the world and other people. But you have to be open to receive it. If you’re not open to receive it, then you’ll miss it. Listen to yourself. No. Then if you put a really, if you put your mind to something, you can do it with no problem. You just have to understand that it’s not going to be, nothing is a cake walk. There are very few people that are like gifted to do certain things. It just give a born to do that thing and there’s nothing you can do about it. There’s just, there were born to do that thing. They were built for that thing. Body’s constructed for that thing. Their mindset, their feet, their hands, everything about it was built or that thing. Most of the people have to work towards that thing. Even though you understand that you might have to work towards it. But some people are just gifted to do that thing. You know, it’s like by Kobe Bryant, his passing, he was built to play basketball. Everything about his body was built for that sport. It wasn’t built to play football. He was good for the sport of basketball. Michael Jordan, the same way. Certain people are just built for that sport. No. Um, and then you have an exception to the rule. Mmm. Like
There’s always an exception
Ryan Williams who’s know, six, seven, six, eight 285 pounds. He looks like a defensive lineman and he jumps like he’s 160 pounds. It doesn’t make sense. So you have those anomalies every once in a while. But again, that’s just a gift that they’re born with. But most people, again, I understand it’s something you really have to study it. If you want to, you know, learn how to be a great dancer, then you study with other great dancers. If you want to be a great artist, study with great artists, you have to be around people who are great, In order to observe, greatness, unless you’re just a freak of nature and you just born with that gift of whatever that thing is that you’re doing know. So like when my, my godson, who’s an artist, right? The only person who’s want to teach them showmanship is you like, you’re on what you’re already on. Are you already on my list of people who are going to be part of his team? Because because of what you are, he needs what you are. He needs you to teach him. That’d be a certain way on stage because he doesn’t know. Mm. Yeah. He can move. He has natural talent. He can dance, but he needs YOU..
Yeah, I am flattered and you know exactly where to find me.
It is really, really cool to see how far time, talent and connections can take someone because over the years that I’ve known you, you’ve been so many different things to so many different people. I cannot wait to meet music producer Jason. I cannot wait to watch the movie that you wrote and produced and or directed. I cannot wait for the world to see these things. I’m just so happy to put you in touch with a part of my world. Introduce them to you because you’ve really helped mold me into what I am today. Thank you so much for doing this.
You don’t have to thank me. You know i’d do anything in the world for you. I’m your family. You already know that, so thank you. I appreciate it. I’m glad I could help you.
Oh by the way, I have on the podcast, I have a a sign off line. My sign off is “keep it funky.”
Oh, I like it keep it funky.
Yeah. Okay. Keep it funky everybody. I’ll see you next week.
Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers like you get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host, master mover, Dana Wilson, and if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artists story, then sit tight. But don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: Good day. Good people. How are you out there? I hope this podcast finds you fabulous on this lovely day or night. I don’t know what it is for you right now. I do know that it is morning time for me and this is kind of an impromptu podcast. Today is headshots day. I am getting two different rounds of head shots taken in one day. In the early afternoon. I’m going for the commercial stuff, the clean, fresh, super cute. “Let me sell you things”, head shots. And then in the afternoon I’m getting my super artsy fartsy editorial. “I’m an artist with creative ideas” headshots, and those really are two very different things. Um, and I’m excited. I’m excited about both of them, but I did wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. So I did a little journaling and started digging up what I thought could be a really cool podcast episode, a look inside my head on headshots day. So you’ll be able to see what my head looks like on the outside as well as what’s going on in here today. So, uh, if you don’t mind, I’m going to get right into it since I am on a bit of a sscheduley.
Okay. The inner dialogue that happens on the morning of headshot day is not so dissimilar from the dialogue that happens on any big shoot day. So if you don’t have headshots on the books coming up, don’t discount this episode. There’s a lot of big lesson in here and I hope you get big value out of it. Okay, let’s start at the beginning. This morning I woke up to kisses, which is incredible. But also I did say that I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. So you might be wondering how is that possible? Well, let me explain. Number one, I wanted to stay asleep. This is something that I blame actually on my very, very comfortable bed. I have the best bed ever. You might think that yours is better, but mine is better. I really, I’ve actually considered trying to increase productivity by swapping out my awesome mattress and sheets and pillows for something different, but that would never fly. I really, really love my bed. I have these bamboo hypo allergen pillows. They’re the best and all of it. It’s great. So anyways, I got out of bed eventually. Then I saw how puffy my hands were and that reminded me of the bad choice I made last night when I had so much of that soup that I knew it was a little too salty. I was like, I’m going to be puffy tomorrow. Sure enough, fingers, super puffy. My rings were like, eh, not moving. And then I saw that my morning belly was not. Its typical morning belly smallness, you know that. Don’t you wake up sometimes you look at yourself, you’re like, man, I look really good right now. I want to look like that all day long and literally like you might not even drink water, but in the next hour or so you just don’t look. I don’t know. There’s something about the morning body, so I was bummed by the puffy fingers. I was bummed by the puffy body and then I got in the shower and my husband asked if I tweezed my eyebrows. He said they look smaller. He did not say they look bad or Whoa, you really messed up there. He really said no. He just said they look smaller, but in my head I heard they look awful. You look crazy. You’re really getting head shots today. And then I went into the landscaping mode where for the next 15 minutes from pits to legs to “vathighna”, which is the place.. Some people call it the bikini area, but let’s be honest, it’s the place between your vagina and your thigh. It’s the vagthina and on my landscaping journey, all I can do is think about those perfect hairless bodied models that I see headshots of all the time. And then I came here to my computer where I started to do a little download. A thought download by the way is where I just spew out thoughts, stream of consciousness at my computer and then I work on managing those thoughts.
Okay. We’re going to get into my thoughts in a second, but first let’s take a quick moment to talk about the facts. Okay. The facts about headshots are this. Head shots are pictures of you, your top half usually, but sometimes your whole body, they land on your website or on your agent’s website. They land on casting networks, which is sort of a casting directory. In other words, online casting networks are where casting directors and clients will go to look at the talent pool to decide who they want to see audition and ultimately who they will cast for their projects. I’m going to do a full blown deep dive on casting networks another day. We’re going to talk all of them backstage, breakdown services, actors access, casting frontier, casting networks inc, we’re going to do it, but not today. Casting networks are not a happy place for me and we’re going to keep headshot day a happy place kind of day. A few other facts about your head shots. They will likely wind up a two inch thumbnail on somebody’s computer or phone. They also may get printed. It is really good practice to have printed head shots. By the way, maybe that’s my thought. That might not be a fact. Although since the digital revolution hard-copy headshots are becoming less frequently asked for when you audition, it is good practice to have them. Okay, here’s some more thoughts about headshots and I did a quick Google search, so these are other people’s thoughts, not my own. Here we go. Oh, this is a good one. If your head shots don’t work, you won’t work. A good headshot is essential to getting work. A headshot is your most valuable asset. People also say things like, go pro, spend the money. I did get a good quote. That seems true to the price range that I’ve experienced. That good headshots range from 400 to $1,200 yeah, that’s about right. Oh, here we go. These are fun. A headshot has to show uniqueness and warmth. It’s important to show variety, but don’t be confusing. Your look should be different but unified. Okay? That’s not confusing at all. Um, or these, these good old fashion rules. Don’t wear white. Don’t wear graphics. Don’t use too many props. Don’t do anything that’ll distract from your face. Okay, good. Thanks for your thoughts everybody. Okay. This morning when I did my download, here are a couple of thoughts that I couldn’t shake. I shouldn’t have had that soup last night. My body isn’t what it could be right now. It doesn’t look like it’s going to be a good hair day. Totally honest. Those are my thoughts. All right. Now my thoughts mixed with all the other thoughts that I found on the internet today landed me thinking this is the one opportunity I’ll get in the next year to show the world who I am and get me all the jobs. Now that thought landed me feeling pretty stressed out and feeling stressed makes me overeat, over drink, It makes me really try to muscle certain things into place and make last minute changes that are kind of frantic. For example, tweezing my eyebrows at 11 o’clock last night. I don’t relax, I don’t have fun, and it’s all over my face. Those actions land me at a result of not so stellar headshots.
So with a little thought management, a little, a little grooming, this is where my thoughts have landed. Now today I get to play, dress up and make things that have never existed before. This very, very moment with my friends. Okay? Now I know I’m lucky in that regard. My dear friend Gia will be doing my makeup today. My good friend, Bobby’s going to shoot my commercial looks and then my friend Taylor is going to be doing my abstract, artsy, fartsy fun stuff. These are people that I dig. These are people that I respect and I get to hang out with them for hours on end today and I get to dress up. Boom. This makes me feel excited. And when I’m excited, tasks like doing my hair, doing my makeup, eating well, they all come with a smile. I don’t rush other people or myself. In general, things flow and that flow state happy action lands me at a result of having a great day playing dress up with my friends and having photos that prove it. Okay. Now you may be thinking, all right, positive Patty, you just, you can’t like actually just change your mind from being stressed out about this very important thing to being really, really excited and fun. Well, I would argue that it’s actually impossible to hold the thought. I am so excited to play, dress up and make stuff with my friends at the same time as you hold the thought curse my fair skin and dark Mediterranean hair. I don’t think you can think those things at the same time. I really think you have to choose one, so I’m going to choose to stop worrying about silly physical things and focus on the thoughts that I actually want to hold. Okay. Here are a few more that I’m going to hold onto today. That soup last night was other worldly that was so good and I’m so glad I experienced it. Next time I get head shots done though, that probably won’t be my move. Oh. And also I have never, ever not once been casting for a project where everyone in the room thought, man, that girl would be perfect, but her fingers are just a little too puffy. Simply never happened to me before. Also. How about this? I woke up to kisses today. It is gonna be a fabulous day. I’m excited to make stuff with my friends. I’m excited to play, dress up and I’m excited to tell you how it went. So don’t leave. Um, I’m going to leave. I’m going to go have a whole day, but you don’t, you’re going to have about three seconds of a musical interlude and I’ll be right back to tell you how it went today.
Hey guys, I’m back. It’s like time travel I really like this one day, two recording sessions thing. That was very, very fun. Whoa, what a fun day. It was really exciting. I genuinely felt excited almost all day. Um, and wow, being excited is very energizing. I was excited up until 7:00 PM when I ate my first legitimate meal of the day, which was a beyond burger and it was delicious and then I continued to be excited even while I was washing the temporary pink hair dye out of my hair at 10:00 PM and I am going to sleep like a baby. All right. These are some of the things that came up to me that I thought were worth mentioning today.
First off, your tribe is your vibe. The people that you have around you on big days like this make all the difference and I was so lucky to have some of my favorite people around today. Firstly, my makeup artist, Gia Harris, longtime friend, who I’ll talk a little bit more about later, did an awesome job and on the subject of makeup, my mom calls putting makeup on gilding the Lily, but when you’re getting professional photos taken, having great makeup is part of this complete breakfast. You really actually need it and you need it to be great. You need it to be natural. You needed to be well maintained throughout the day and yeah, you might as well enjoy the process. I always enjoy the process with Gia. At one point I even remember, maybe it’s about as high stress as it got was when we were trying to find the perfect red lipstick for my sophisticated, sexy look in the second half of the commercial headshot shoot. Gia is a woman that understands red lipstick intimately. In fact, she introduced me to my favorite red, which is actually Sephora number one. Just for the record, we did not use Sephora number one for this shoot. However, we explored a little bit and we found something incredible and I don’t know what it was, so I can’t tell you. Gia and only Gia knows. Alright, Gia knows reds and she knows my face. If you’re shooting with a makeup artist that you’ve never used before, I strongly recommend paying them for a test day so that you’re sure you can land on looks that you love before the big day. For the record, I feel the same way about hairstylists crucial. Now, today I did not have a hairstylist. I was manning my own mop and I think I did a pretty good job for the record. See, I have kind of unusual hair, but I know how to work it. It’s one of those things that if I can’t get the stylist that I know I love, I’m not going to take a risk on somebody that I don’t know. I’m going to do what I do and I’m going to do it well. Today was no exception. I’m patting myself on the back. I did pretty good, especially in the first half of the day. The second half of the day took a turn. It got a little playful. See, Taylor James has been wanting to shoot me with pink hair for a very long time. He’s been trying to convince me to go pink ever since I went blonde. So I gave in because Taylor puts the Tay in taste. He’s really so great. So I did a little research and I talked to a couple of real live humans instead of just trusting the internet. This is my hair after all, and I decided on Kryolan color spray in D 30 it’s this lovely, powdery pink. I almost went for the more neon pink, kind of like what you might’ve seen in the yummy video. Shout out. Yummy, and I heard horror stories about how that stuff stained those girls hair, especially with light hair, a dark temporary hair dye can actually do some real permanent type of damage. So I went with D30 this powder pink and I just crossed up my fingers. Lucky for me, it not only washed out, but it looked fabulous. A word of wisdom. I would advise that you settle on the style first and add the color later. It was really difficult to style my hair after that spray was in there. It’s like kind of chalky and powdery and tough. It was impossible to brush through and I’m not crazy about the shape of my hair after the color went in, but Holy smokes color so great. Really happy about that. I think actually we’re going to go round two on pink hair shoot. LOVE. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even commit full time some other day.
Okay, so that covers face. That covers hair. Now, next and maybe most important, let’s talk wardrobe. I am a person who loves clothes. I love many different styles. I love many different periods of fashion. I love texture, I love color, I love crazy, but headshot wardrobe is not the same as daily wardrobe and editorial wardrobe is certainly different than daily wardrobe. So how do you settle on your look? Well, as I’m sure you can imagine, there really is no one rule of what to wear. Brunette shouldn’t always wear red. Blondes shouldn’t always wear blue. This is just something you’re going to have to find for yourself. My best recommendation here would be try everything, take a lot of photos and start keeping little photo albums of your little favorite things, the things that work for you. Before I even set my date to shoot and before I locked in my photographers, I sent my agents and a small group of friends and family like nine or 10 different looks and I asked for input and feedback. What do you guys think I should wear for my head shots? I’m always surprised by the way, what I hear back when I send out little calls to action like that because it’s almost never what I would have chosen. Over the course of this week. I’ll share a few of those sample shots that I sent to my agent so that you can see what I thought would work and what actually wound up working. Actually throughout the course of this week, I’ll do a lot of behind the scenes of today. I’ve got a lot of great captures. Stay tuned on the gram @WordsthatMoveMePodcast, get ready. So on this round of preliminary wardrobe sausage. I heard back from my agent first and she recommended a few looks that I didn’t really love, but once I tried them on in front of a backdrop on camera, I was smitten. So I shot in two looks that really weren’t my favorite, but on camera they look great. As far as the golden rule here, I would say do your homework. Not only did I send my agents a boatload of options, I also asked them to send me the headshots of their clients that never get a no. These are headshots that when submitted the casting director says yes, we want to see that person. From those I learned solid backgrounds are best, vivid colors are a must, skin must look natural and great. And red seemed to be an overwhelming theme. So based on the looks that I submitted and based on what my agency sent me back, I settled on a couple different wardrobe options and then chose backdrop colors and textures that I thought complimented them the best. And that’s the game.
Okay. The day went fast and that is to be expected. But I never felt actually rushed. I was, it felt more like I was just in a fast car that was going fast, but I didn’t feel like I was having to run or pull or drive. It was just a quick moving day. But I took time to look at my friends and smile and love them and I took time to look at the images. Oh yes. That was advanced to take a moment, pause, say, okay, let’s look at what we’ve got so far before you say, all right, moving on. Next. Look, every photographer is different when it comes to showing the model or the director the captures as they shoot. Sometimes it can make the model get a little bit too in their head. So even though the goal is to establish a strong trust and healthy working relationship, it can wind up having the inverse effect. But I love seeing as I shoot it helps me correct. I’m a dancer, love corrections. Um, it helps me correct and it helps me feel like we can move on if at a certain point it’s time to move on, you know, as far as the clock is concerned. So that’s one of the reasons I really like shooting with my friends is that that conversation can be really loose and open. Hey, can I take a look at that? Hey, do you mind if I see that, Hey, can I take a look at that? I feel like we might have it. Can we move on? Of course. I feel more comfortable having that conversation with my friends, but, but I really encourage anybody who’s paying for headshots to take a look at some of what they got before you change outfits to the next look and certainly before you leave for the day.
At one point I actually noticed as I looked at the monitor, a little, um, body insecurity cropping up where I was like, ah man, my torso is so short and my head is gigantic. Wait is my head really that big. Uh, that might actually be the lens. Hey Bobby, what are you shooting on right now? Sure enough, it was kind of a wide lens. We’re in a small space so I understand that choice. But I asked Bobby to use a different lens cause I noticed like the slightest kind of warping in my body. Um, and because Bobby is awesome, he was like, yes, absolutely right away, but I wouldn’t have known to ask that necessarily if I hadn’t gotten so comfortable with seeing myself on camera at number one. And number two, um, getting used to what certain lenses do to the body. So that was cool. Um, also cool. I came across my first professional headshots ever. So these must have been taken in 2005, like early 2005. Um, yes I did laugh at them and yes I did ask what were you thinking? And I sit in kind of a mean way at the moment, but after a little bit more digging on the, what were you thinking? Question. I really believe that I was thinking do it right. Just be the right thing. Just do this right. And I’m actually very proud of that. My efforts to do the right thing or to at least not be wrong, were not for nothing. My pursuit of right got me very far. It got me here. Here is well connected, supported, inspired. Here’s a place where I have the perspective to think of headshots as an opportunity to play and make versus the do or die moment where my livelihood is on the line. So thanks past self for really trying to do it right and trying to be right. However, I’ve got to say the girl in those photos does not look like she’s having fun. So while the thought I’m going to do it right, I’m going to be right, might’ve served me well in the career in the long run today instead of thinking do it right, be right, I was thinking do it bright and be yourself. Just be yourself. It was also nice to remember that head shots are just pixels on a screen or ink on a piece of paper. That brought me comfort to knowing that I am much more than pixels. I am much more than ink and when I believe that the camera seems to capture that. I was also very comforted by the thought that these don’t have to be the best headshots ever taken ever by man or woman or space alien. These are just the head shots that I am taking today with this color hair in this body in this moment and that felt really, really good. So maybe someday I’ll look back and laugh at these two and that’s okay. But until that moment I’ll be very proud and I’ll celebrate that.
This was an awesome day where I got to dress up and make stuff with my friends for I might add less than a thousand dollars. I shot five looks in three locations in six hours and I could absolutely not have done that without a killer team. Top of that list of course is the man that woke me up with kisses. Next step is the one and only Gia Harris who did my makeup on this series of head shots and maybe every single other in my life at least in the last 10 years. Right. Gia man, she is my dear friend. She is a Saint. She was the first to arrive and she was the last to go home and she did a phenomenal job. Then of course there is mr Bobby Dancones, the sweet and Swift photographer. I have almost all of my files from him already. Holy smokes. Thank you Bobby. And then of course Mr. Taylor James. He has a great eye and incredible imagination and more prom dresses than any woman that I know. He is a master behind and in front of the camera. And I would also say he is a monster behind the wheel of a Prius. Thanks Taylor James!
Well, there you have it guys. A look inside my head on headshot day, I felt beautiful. I felt powerful. I felt silly. I felt sexy. I was excited literally all day long. And I hope that you feel all of those things today and one sure fire way of feeling that is to think you get to go play, dress up and make stuff with your friends almost anytime. Literally. So go get out there, do it. And while you’re at it, keep it funky. Hey, sneak attack with the tagline. Thank you everybody for listening. I’ll talk to you next week. I literally just waved at my microphone. Great. Okay. Bye.
Intro This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers like you get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host, master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artists story, then sit tight. But don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Hello and welcome back everybody. This is episode seven. Holy smokes. So much fun. Really digging the podcast, really digging, seeing what you guys are up to out there with your daily doing. Um, daily creativity is the name of the game. This episode, however, is going to focus on something that I get a lot of comments and questions about and that is travel. So moving but moving around the world, I get a lot of questions and comments from people asking for tips and tricks and how often I travel. Um, I would ballpark and say I travel, you know, probably get 20 to 40 ins and outs of airports every year, but that depends on my gigs. That depends on, um, if I’m on tour or working a really strong convention season or if I’m working on a film or something longterm, I’m probably not traveling quite as much, but ballpark 20 to 40 ins and outs of airports, that is a lot. This podcast in particular is going to focus on a convention weekend type of travel. That’s a carry on. That’s a couple of days. That is intense. Yes, I will be talking about things that I love for sure, but I’m mostly going to talk about the way that I operate and why, but for those of you interested in hearing more about specific items that I talk about in this podcast, go to my show notes for this episode thedanawilson.com/podcasts and there you will find links to my Words that Move Me Amazon shopping listwhere you’ll find all of my favorite things and little comments about why I love them. Okay, so let’s get into it. I like to travel light, but I really like to have all the things, so I wind up traveling kind of heavy. When I’m traveling for a convention weekend, I try to go carry on only, so that means I bring one roll aboard and one backpack. My roll aboard, by the way, is spray painted with my initials, REAL BIG because it’s one of those roller boards that looks like everybody else’s. So now mine has a gigantic D W on the front and on the back, which makes for very easy retrieval if it has to get checked. And I think it’s super chic and funky, which pretty much explains my fashion and my function. Now on a travel day, I try to wear my biggest items that makes more room in the bag and more warmth on the plane. I’m one of those types that gets cold on airplanes. If you see me at an airport, you will probably see me wearing fatigues, like my big army cargo pants. Wearing those through TSA practically guarantees a pat down, which I’m so not mad at. It’s kind of like a free shiatsu massage and no, I don’t ever get a private screening, but I’ve essentially another carry on worth of stuff in my pockets. What’s in my pockets? You might ask the essentials, you know, wallet, phone, AirPods, um, Burt’s Bees pomegranate chapstick. I love a pen or a pencil, my fire incident report all weather notebook and floss. I cannot think or speak or dance. If I have something in my teeth. It’s very important, always carry floss. And almost always pretty much always hand lotion because I’m really grumpy when I have dry skin and I prefer to not be grumpy. My favorite hand lotion by the way, does come in a travel size and it is called skin food byWeleda, which I think I’m saying that correctly. Not sure. Anyways, that’s what’s on me. Here’s what’s in my bag.
In my suitcase for a convention weekend, I will need to have two dressy outfits. For me, it’s really the little things that make an outfit dressy and when traveling that is super convenient. For example, earrings, rings, scarves, lipstick, a headband, I recently got into headbands ever since I cut my hair. And as I say that out loud, I’m realizing those are almost exclusively lady type hacks. I would love to hear what my gentleman do for quick outfit upgrades. That doesn’t require a garment bag. Seriously though, I’m curious. Leave me a message on Instagram or the website because I would love to know. Okay, so that does it for the dressy outfits. Let’s talk sweaty dance times. Typically three classes a day for two days. I go through three shirts a day, so that’s six shirts and then just pants, you know, standard pants. I can move in, which unfortunately are usually kind of big, so you’d be surprised. The carry on gets full fast. Okay. Then I’m going to need a dance shoe and a dressy shoe. Dressy shoes for me are anything from a loafer to a combat boot. On a weekend I’ll probably wear my combat boots on a travel day and maybe I’ll pack a dressy flat. I’m typically not found wearing heels on convention weekends. It’s not because I don’t love them, it’s because they take up more room in a suitcase and because I don’t really love ‘em. I mean they’re okay. They really, they’re good looking. But I’m not really about being good looking on convention weekends. I’m about being high functioning. Okay. So let’s keep it pushing the socks get stuffed into the shoes and the shoes get stuffed into little plastic shower caps that they sometimes give you, um, for free at hotels. This is a hack by the way that I got.
Thanks to my mom. Shout out mom. Mom, you’re going to get a shout out on every episode. By the way, my mom was a flight attendant for many, many years. She started training with United airlines three days after she turned 20, which was in 1972 and then she retired in 2015 so math, that’s several trips she knows what she’s doing and she introduced me this little shower cap, shoe bag hack. Now I do want to say I try to not use all the plastics out there, but when I do, I re use them, as shoe bags. Almost always. Sometimes I use those weird grocery bags as shoe bags too. Anyways, the socks go in the shoes, the shoes go in the shower caps. Sports bras get tucked in between items and undies go in their very own mesh bagbecause God forbid I am living a movie and my zipper breaks open and my intimates go flying all over the airport. It could happen but it won’t because mesh bags.
All right, final note on what’s in the roll aboard. I just have to say, cause I know there’s a lot of conversation about this out there. Always be rolling. If you listened to episode two I mentioned always be rolling in terms of recording, like capturing with a camera. Always be rolling, but this applies here too. A fold is a waste of space, trust me, always be rolling. Okay. That’s what’s in my roll aboard. Let’s move on to the backpack. You can probably hear in my voice, I have feelings about backpacks. I could talk about backpacks for a very long time. I could probably start a spinoff podcast where I just talk about backpacks. I’m trying really hard to keep this not a backpack review. This is a travel podcast. Please. Dana, please don’t spend the whole episode talking about your backpack. I really could. We’re just going to talk about what’s in it. What is in my backpack is all of the stuff that I cannot live without, my computer, my favorite cameras, which are at the moment, a DJI pocket Osmo, which is essentially a steady cam that fits in your pocket, especially if you’re wearing fatigues, but don’t get me started on the lack of pocket in lady pants. It’s inexcusable and really frustrating. Why can’t we just have pockets that run the normal depth of a normal pocket or normal human hip? It’s ridiculous. Okay. Moving on my Canon VIXIA mini, which I also mentioned in episode two and my Insta 360 if you only have time to take one photo, it should be a 360 degree photo because it captures everything. It’s really the best. Okay, so I’ve got all my favorite cameras. Of course. Then I have to have all of their charging elements and batteries, card readers, adapters, et cetera. By the way. I have a lot of that now since I upgraded my computer, which was like 104 years old, so now I have the new MacBook pro and now I need a USBC adaptor for literally everything. Also frustrated. Wow. I’m getting really heated about my everyday carry. Oh! speaking of heated, also in my backpack. Baby Tabasco sauce, baby meaning travel sized, not baby meaning hot sauce for infants. Right now. My husband and I are very into hot sauce. Shout out Sean Evans on hot ones. Man, you are good. That show is so good. YouTube series. Check it out. Favorite episode, probably Paul Ruddwith runner up Charlize Theron. Hope I’m saying that right. With second runner up. Probably Shaq. Maybe tied for, tied for second runner up withGordon Ramsey. He was a hot mess. No pun intended. Okay.
Other stuff that I have in my backpack staying focused here. KT tape. Kinesiotherapy tape. Wow. I really cannot say enough about KT tape. There are days when it is the difference between dancing in pain, and dancing completely pain free. I’m really, really a big fan of KT tape. You do need to be sure that you’re taping correctly though. I’m going to link to my favorite knee taping method for knee stabilization. Uh, okay. So on the subject of pre-hab rehab and in general pain management, I travel with a 14 inch Tigertailwhich is a rolling massage stick. Um, I’m going to link to that in the Amazon cause it’s kind of hard to explain, as well as a travel sized foam roller. The one that I use is by a company called go fit and it looks like they don’t make the one that I have anymore. Mine is red and it’s hollow, which means I can actually put the tiger tail and anything else inside of it makes it much more travel. Um, and it’s, it’s small. It’s uh, 12 inches I think. So that one fits in my backpack. The other travel sized ones from go fit that I’m seeing online right now are not hollow. They have some sort of HDPE which is high density polyethylene, some kind of plastic on the inside so you can’t stuff them, which makes them w like basically useless as far as I’m concerned. Let’s see what else, what else? Um, Kay moving right ahead. What else? What else? Oh, my favorite role on fragrance because these weekends can really bring the funk out of you in more ways than one. My favorite role on fragrance is actually the only one that I’ve found that doesn’t leak when I travel. And that is Aesop’s Marrakech intense. Not cheap but lasts for ever and doesn’t leak. So come on. Win-win also smells fantastic.
What else? We have, oh, a personal reading light because I have tried to get more in the habit of reading pages, not pixels on airplanes. And I don’t like to interrupt my, um, airplane neighbors with my bright, bright light. So I keep a personal reading light. Also, a lot of colored pens, uh, rarely use them, but I’ve got them. Also really old tea. I guess I’m a hoarder whenever I see interesting tea, I just grab it and put it in my backpack. I’ve got like four or five different tea bags in there, but they’re very thin and they’re individually wrapped and you never know. You can find hot water just about anywhere and then all of a sudden you’ve got a cup of tea. Okay. Also, Oh, in the same pocket that I keep my tea, I keep my glasses. They’re in their very own hard case because you know, accidents happen.
Speaking of accidents happen. I also carry ibuprofen all the time. And um, for the emotional inflammation, a bar of dark chocolate almost always have dark chocolate on me. 85% or higher preferred. Um, I like things that tastes like asphalt it turns out. Trader Joe’s has a 100% dark chocolate bar called Montezuma’s absolute black. Um, it is exquisite. Really, really love it. A warning though, it is not for the faint of taste buds. Pretty heavy duty, that guy. So that pretty much covers the packing element. Now we’re at the airport. Let’s talk TSA for a second. Woahhoo. Favorite subject. Really quickly. I want to do a compare and contrast of TSA precheck versus clear versus priority boarding versus global entry. I’m excited about this.
They don’t have clear at every airport, but when I lived in the Bay area, SFO and SJC San Jose both had it and Denver has it as well. That’s where I’m from. I’m in and out of there a lot. So I was a clear member for a couple of years. With clear and I don’t remember how much my membership was. Darn it. Darn it. Maybe a hundred bucks. ** (Edit note its $179 for 12 months) You go straight to the front of all lines. You just become the first person. You walk right up to the agent, you give him your phone and your ID and you’re through. Oh, but you do have to give them also your fingerprint and I don’t know what they’re doing with that information. Full disclosure. So that’s clear.
TSA precheck. You would think that I actually liked the feeling of watching all my friends fly by in the TSA line while I wait for a long time in general boarding. I have never had TSA precheck and that shocks everyone because I travel so often. Here’s the thing, I tried to get it once I missed my appointment, complete fumble and I just never recovered. So TSA precheck, which is $85 for five years, means that you don’t have to take your shoes off. You don’t have to take out your liquids bag or your computer. Um, and you get to take the shorter line. Although I have noticed at least of late, there are so many people that are TSA precheck. I’ve found once or twice that the general boarding line is shorter, but most often they’re about the same. It’s just the TSA line moves away faster cause you don’t have to take your shoes off. You don’t have to take the stuff out of the bag, you don’t have to take your computer out. So on and so forth. So that’s TSA precheck.
All right, moving on to global entry. I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t know a lot about global entry, but I just signed up while I was preparing for this episode. Global entry means $100 for five years. It comes with TSA precheck and you get expedited entry at customs in foreign countries, which is definitely part of my plan in the next five years. Also, my capital one venture card covered this fee for me, so yahoo, free global upgrade. Super, super cool. I find this to be way better than simply paying to upgrade through your airline. In other words, if I buy a general faire when I check in, some airlines will let me upgrade for $70 or something like that and that means I get more leg room priority boarding and occasionally at TSA you’ll get your own premium boarding lane occasionally. So first that’s expensive. Second, it’s not consistent. I really think this global entry thing is the jam. I’ll let you know. Stay tuned.
All right, so now I’m up to the TSA podium. I have to say my TSA choreography is very refined. My shoes, the bins, the water bottles empty. I left all my knives at home. I am very well rehearsed. The hardest thing for me about the whole TSA system is being patient with people who aren’t as well rehearsed as I am or with the occasional grumpy TSA agent. And by occasional I mean frequent, but yo, I get it. We all have our days. My husband actually gave me the best tool for coping with my, um, we’ll call them mood swings as I go through TSA. It is truly the funnest game ever. So here’s the game. My toes inside my shoes will either Yahoo like cheer or boo people based on their etiquette going through TSA.
Sometimes I do this with hairstyles as well. I’ll just like my, my little toes will give like jumping in and out of their seats like yahoo. Um, lots of vertical hops, hands in the air. My, my toes by the way, have hands now or they’ll give like big thumbs down to people with poor etiquette or people with crazy hair. So now you know what me and my feet are going through while I’m going through TSA and for all of you infrequent flyers out there that my toes might be booing at, please check out and I avoided doing this, but I’m glad that I did. Please check out tsa.gov/travel/traveled-tips/travel-checklist. Whoa, a lot of really good pointers about traveling and exactly what you’ll get stopped for and what will slow you down going through TSA. Okay, I know that was a lot. It’ll be in the show notes. Check it out. Also, do not forget to remove your theragun from the backpack. Did I tell you that I have a third gun in my backpack? I think I left that out. I travel with a theragun now. It was an awesome Christmas present. Shout out SIS. So I keep that their gun on me, not because I’m going to use on the airplane, but because the battery doesn’t come out and I don’t want that to be in my checked bag if I do actually have to check my roller board. So don’t forget to remove your theragun when you’re going through TSA. It is an electronic device larger than your cell phone and it also happens to have gun in the title. So TSA, a no-likey
Once we are past TSA, your travel experience all really depends on the airport and the terminal that you’re at. I want to quickly shout out lax terminal one for now having an urth cafe that’s urth with a U. “U R T H” cafe at terminal one. best. coffee. EVER. It is really the only argument for flying Southwest out of lax instead of Burbank. Also shout out Burbank airport. You’re the best. I don’t want to get too graphic here with this next bit, but sometimes travel can really mess up my digestion and by that I mean put my digestion on hold and I know I’m not alone. I’ve commiserated over this with so many people. Um, I have found that fasting on a travel day or at very least not eating airport food has really, really helped the way that I feel and the way that I flow on travel days. Okay. Speaking of flow, let’s get into my weekend survival flow.
My biggest rule on these convention weekends is that I drink a ton of water. I travel with a 25 ounce fluorescent orange vacuum, insulated swell water bottle. Number one, it’s fluorescent so that I don’t lose it. This is my seventh reusable water bottle and , again, really trying to do my part to save the good old planet. I love my reusable water bottle. I love it so much because it’s bright, reusable and I don’t lose it. Number two, because on weekends I prefer to drink warm water for my voice and I don’t know something about it just feels better than cold water. Um, I do try to drink like four of those per day, if not more. So keeping the body hydrated, very, very important. I also hydrate my face. I travel with face masks. They are one of the like simplest and lightest traveled treasures that I could imagine. If you really want to take your spa game to the next level, keep your face masks in the little mini fridge or put them on ice. Oh, so good. I’m going to link to my favorite face mask, um, on the Amazon shopping list. It’s by KORRES and it’s like Greek yogurt face mask or something. First of all, I don’t think you’re allowed to eat this face mask, but I bet you could if you had to. You just might get sick and it would mess up your travel day fast. So forget about that.
Also, hugely essential to my weekend survival. I’ve started traveling with anelectric heating blanket, a very small one. It’s like maybe a little bit longer than a foot, maybe it’s a foot and a half. Um, and I use it to stay warm in between classes. I don’t teach straight through during the day.
Uh, and the warm up, cold down, warm up, cold down can really take a toll on the body after a while. So I love using this heating pad to stay warm in between classes and at the judges’ table for those long judging shifts. Good for the hips, good for the low back. Good for the neck. Oh, so good. Okay. I did mention the theragun a second ago. This one’s self-explanatory and such a game changer. Love it. Um, let’s see what else. Ah, here’s another one. I am not afraid to ask front desk staff for a room on a floor with the ice machine and a room with a bath tub. If they need some coaxing. My sports medicine doctor has given me permission to use him as scapegoat. And I tell the front desk, I’ve got patellar tendonitis, which is true and I have to ice frequently and take Epsom baths. Ah, that reminds me. I travel with reusable silicone food storage bags.One of them comes in the suitcase full of Epsom salt so I get a couple couple of good bats out of it and one of them comes empty. And I use that to fill up with ice because if you know hotel rooms and ice machines, you know that those little baggies they give you for the ice there are certainly not meant for icing body parts. Leakage. I’m going to link to my favorite reusable silicone food storage bags on the words that move me Amazon shopping lists because they don’t leak and they are great and colorful and also save the planet. Okay, so I ice, I Epsom, I thrive. On the subject of thriving. I have gotten in the habit of no booze on Saturday nights. Now, after a long day of classes and a long night of judging competition, I’m not gonna lie a glass of wine sounds pretty good, but I’ve noticed that it makes Sundays way more difficult. So instead of having that glass of wine, I have a face mask or a bath and wow, that is discipline, right?
Okay. There you have it. My convention, weekend travel hacks, short and sweet. I hope that these hacks are helpful for you. Whether you travel for conventions or not, please be sure to check out the words that moved me shopping list on Amazon and of course, leave a comment and review. Share it with your friends. If this podcast is helpful, let’s make it easier for other people to find and let’s keep it funky. UH. It’s getting more natural now. The more I say it, have a great day everybody. I will talk to you next week. Bye.
Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers like you get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host, master mover Dana Wilson, and if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artists story than sit tight but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: Hi. Hi, and thank you for joining me today on episode six. I am so glad that you are here and I am stoked to talk to you. The subject today is whew, it’s rather serious and um pretty intense but also very valuable and I’m excited to get into it. But first I want to check in with you and wish you a happy February. February, February, February. Right? So for the next two weeks I will be working on not saying happy new year to everybody that I see. Great. For those of you that started listening with me back on January 1st episode one have you taken on the daily project? It’s really, really nice to see and connect with my daily doers out there. If you are working on daily making, then I would love to see it and support you. So be sure to tag me on Instagram at words that move me podcast. Actually, to quickly illustrate the power of seeing what all of you guys are making on Instagram. I do want to tell you a quick story. Um, I was editing a podcast a couple of nights ago in bed, which I try not to do just because it’s bad on the lower back, but my husband was asleep, all the lights were off. I’m just headphones on, kind of chipping away and I sensed something fall to my left, like off of my bedside table maybe. Or I have a hanging plant to the left of the bed. And I thought maybe a leaf had fallen off of that. I dunno, I sort of heard and sort of felt something fall. And then a few moments later I had kind of a tickle on my neck. So I, you know, reached up to my neck and I grabbed something that was the same size and weight as an almond, but it was softer and had more legs.
So I kind of threw it down on the bed and then I scrambled and hit the light switch to my right and I looked down and it was some moth type creature with straight, you know, wings and legs. And it was moving pretty slow because I grabbed it. Um, so I reached for my phone cause I wanted to take a little boomerang of it, uh, to show my husband. And when I pulled my phone out and open Instagram to take this boomerang, I saw that I had notifications in words that move me. So I opened it up and I started scrolling through some of the daily doing posts and I left this bug on my bed half alive while I was scrolling through your posts. So all of that to say Instagram is a very powerful and very distracting tool, but also I really do care about the projects that you guys have going on out there. It’s really fun to watch. All right.
This podcast is going to be probably the second best gift you ever receive. The first best gift of course, is the gift of fear. I mean your intuition. But I also mean the book, The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. Go ahead and consider it required reading. If you have read it already, I would love to hear your comments. Um, a great way to keep in touch with me is in the comments for this episode at words that move me podcast on Instagram or in the comments on my website, theDanawilson.com/podcastunder episode six last week I talked about what I call creative fears. Those are non life threatening things. I also touched on judgment and failure and some of the unwanted feelings that come along with those fears. For example, we might be afraid of auditions because we avoid feeling rejected or we might be afraid of injury because we don’t want to feel disposable or replaceable or anything other than indestructible. We’re often afraid to put ourselves and our work out there because we dislike ridicule and embarrassment or we’re often afraid of not being the best. We want to feel like winners, not losers. By the way, we are all winners here. I just want to say that for the record. So that was the last week. Episode five, if you haven’t gotten a chance to listen, really encourage you. Jump on over to that episode, maybe after this one to give that a listen. But this week we’re talking about real fear and the real threats that cause fear. I’m also going to give names to the cues that warn us about danger. By the end of this episode, you’ll have the words to explain why you feel apprehensive in certain situations and hopefully the awareness to navigate yourself out of them. So without any further ado, let’s dig in.
To avoid offending my neuroscientist friends out there. Yes, I do have neuroscientist friends. I’m not going to go into the complicated chemistry of our freeze, fight or flight response. Instead, I’m going to spend as long as it takes to convince you that you need to read the gift of fear by Gavin de Becker. My husband bought it for me, um, and a few of the other dancers I believe before I went on my second world tour. The lessons in this book are invaluable and applicable to anyone regardless of your sex or circumstance, but particularly pertinent to young ladies living in big cities or going on big tours with big stars. I say that because when you’re in places that you don’t know and surrounded by people that you don’t know and have access to celebrities, you become a target to all sorts of nonsense. The book starts with a gripping and really terrifying story of a 27 year old woman who was raped and almost murdered by a stranger in her own apartment. I’ve only ever heard of or read about or seen traumas like this in movies and TV shows, and occasionally the victim sometimes prefaces a retelling of that incident with it came out of nowhere or he seemed like a really nice guy or he didn’t look threatening or he didn’t seem harmful, but the author Gavin de Becker’s conversation with this woman reveals and explains how nothing really comes out of nowhere. There are teeny tiny red flags and warning signs. Indications or very subtle signals. Gavin de Becker calls them survival signals that tell us that something’s not quite right and I want to tell you about those survival signals. These are explanations for why we feel apprehensive in certain settings or about certain people. These are the actual words for that. “I don’t know. I just got a bad feeling” moment.
The first one is pretty self explanatory. Gavin calls it discounting the word no. That’s basically when a person doesn’t take no for an answer. People who don’t take no for an answer do not have your best interest in mind and they shouldn’t be trusted. Simple as that. The next survival signal that Gavin mentions is forced teaming. Gavin explains forced teaming as when a stranger uses the idea of we to establish trust or before there is any, for example, some stranger out in the world saying to you, “we really pick the right night to go out” or “man, we gotta get you back inside” Something to that effect sort of makes your skin crawl and he didn’t really know why. Well why is because there is no we there. That is not your friend. That is not your teammate and there is no we. Another one of Gavin’s survival signals is charm and niceness. He’s very deliberate and pointing out that charm is an ability, not a characteristic. One of my favorite quotes from Gavin is “Charm and niceness are not the same as being good. Niceness is a decision, a strategy of social interactions. It is not a character trait.” I think this is so true and so important and at the risk of sounding like really, really pessimistic. I like to remind all of my dancers and creatives out there working on big projects with high-profile artists. There are a lot of reasons for people to be nice to you and not all of them are because that person is good.
The next survival signal that Gavin de Becker offers in his book is too many details. Gavin writes that when people are telling the truth, they don’t feel doubted, so they don’t feel the need for additional support from additional details, but when they lie, even if what they say sounds like it’s true or credible, it doesn’t sound credible and true to them. So they keep talking. Another one of Gavin’s survival signals is typecasting. In the industry, uou might’ve experienced typecasting as a preliminary round of cuts at an audition. It generally happens before there’s any dancing. It happens when the client knows what “type” they are looking for and to save time they excuse all of the people who aren’t. That type typecasting can be awful because it’s very superficial. It’s quite literally based on what you look like. We like to believe that our talent matters at least as much as our looks, but I actually quite like typecasting. It saves time and it saves my energy. If I’m not it, thanks for letting me know before I sweat, before I bleed for the job and before I get a parking ticket. The gift of fear, however, explains typecasting as when somebody labels you in a critical way, hoping that you’ll behave in a way that proves them wrong. For example, “Oh, you too good for me. You’re not going to talk to me.” Or “Where are your manners? You’re so rude” somebody with bad intentions would say these things to try to get a response to try to get you to act in a favorable way towards them. A typecast is really just trying to get engagement from you and because most of us care about what people think of us and we want to be liked, this usually works.
Another one of these survival signals is called loan sharking. It’s when somebody loans you something like money or time or an object or a favor, a service, but plans on collecting much, much more in return. For example, something as simple as a stranger asking if they can help you get your luggage to your room but they expect you to let them in and they happen to then also learn what room you’re staying and or somebody who offers to give you a ride to where you plan to eat that night. Expecting that you might invite them to stay for the meal. Even if it’s under the guise of being a gift or a friendly exchange. The intent can be to put you in their debt and that is not cool. Another survival signal is the unsolicited promise. Gavin explains the unsolicited promise as “nearly always indicative of a questionable motive.” These promises do nothing more than tell us that somebody really just trying to convince us of something, not that there’s a guarantee in their action and certainly not that their intentions are good or in your best interest. Furthermore, the only time somebody makes an unsolicited promise is when they sense that you aren’t convinced. I started really, really thinking about this one the last time I made an unsolicited promise, or at least the last time I can remember was to my husband. I really, really wanted him to come see the book of Mormon with me. He was clearly not into it. He doesn’t like musicals in general and he didn’t see why this one would be any different. So I promised him that he would like it for you know, reasons, but not because I knew that he actually would like it just because I didn’t want to go alone. I wanted to go see it with him. So I was very self motivated. Turns out he didn’t like it, he fell asleep. He just doesn’t like musicals. Maybe he never will and that’s okay. Now, that’s not a very severe example of an unsolicited promise, but think of the last time you made one and the next time somebody promises you something without you asking for it. Ask yourself, why did they just do that? Do you doubt them? Are there other survival signals at play?
Let’s recap those other signals. We started off with discounting the word no. Then forced teaming, which is when somebody makes a “we” where there isn’t one. Then charm and niceness. Too many details. Typecasting, loansharking and of course the unsolicited promise. Gavin goes on to talk about dangerous relationships and domestic violence, stalkers and the efficiency of restraining orders and a lot of really, really fascinating and very important stuff. If you are not riveted and forever changed by this book, I will personally buy your copy off of you and gift it to someone else. That is how much I believe in this book. Now I want to recount a couple of stories from my own life, a few examples that helped me illustrate these survival signals inaction.
Like most of us, I’m assuming my parents taught me to not talk or take candy from strangers. I sort of assumed the part about the unmarked vans that’s just kind of a no-go in general. But I was also taught to “be nice” I grew up being nice in a nice neighborhood and I didn’t have much cause to be afraid ever. Not that red hot type of fear that rings the fight or flight alarm. Anyways. So by the time I moved to LA at 18 years old, I was a professional at being nice. I was really, really good at seeing the good in people and telling myself that everything will be okay. The year was 2005 and the corner of sixth and spring street, downtown LA was certainly not what it is today. That’s where I lived when I first moved to LA. I was catcalled often and harassed for money frequently. Uh, once a man even exposed himself in front of me.
Woah. Anyways, every time something like that would happen in my brain through its little warning signal, I would promptly ignore it. I’d tell myself, this is perfectly normal. That kind man simply drink too much and doesn’t have a home and he just needs to relieve himself on my apartment building right here in front of me. I should pretend to be on my phone so that I don’t interrupt him. I remember another instance very, very clearly as I walked from my car to my building, a rough looking man followed me so closely and for so long that I could tell it was vodka, not whiskey or gin that was making him swerve from my left to my right. The scary part of this story is not that something terrible happened to me. I actually made it into my building safely. The scary part is that I kept my pace because I didn’t want him to think that suspected him of following me. I didn’t want to offend him by running away. I prioritized his feelings above my instinct to protect my own safety. That’s scary. I also recall one incident on tour. Some of the band and the dancers were having a drink at the hotel bar. Not in a particularly dangerous part of town, pretty high class establishment, but a stranger began buying drinks for one of us ladies and it didn’t take him long to zero in on one of us in particular, who was responding really positively to his very unsolicited gestures of “kindness.” He was buying drink after drink even after she said no. Then eventually he put his scarf around her. He said, Ooh, that looks good on you. She smiled and giggled and thanked him and he told her she could keep it. She declined. He insisted. She accepted and said, thank you. Then he offered her yet another drink and she said, no. He said, come on, don’t be rude. I gave you my scarf. You look beautiful. Just one more. She sweetly tried to explain that she meant no offense and was just trying to have a good time with her friends once again and this time not so kindly. He insisted on buying her another drink. I’d seen enough of this dude and I didn’t want to hear what he would insist on next. The gift of fear helped me identify that this man was undeniably up to no good. He ignored the word no. He used unsolicited gifts and charm and niceness to put her in his debt. He definitely loan sharks her. These were just a few of the survival signals that Gavin de Becker described in his book and before reading about any of them, I would’ve felt a little bit uneasy about asking this guy to leave us alone, but on that night I wasn’t. I was certain that this guy was up to no good and I felt fully backed up in asking him to leave us alone. It shouldn’t surprise you that when I asked him to leave us alone, he didn’t. He’s probably been rewarded by this type of persistence in the past. It wasn’t until some of our male counterparts insisted that this man leave that he eventually disappeared. I’m very fortunate to have never experienced a truly traumatic event on the road. Part of that may be simply circumstance. Part of it might be that I’m retraining myself from being nice all the time to being safe.
These are my final thoughts on fear. Real fear. First, it’s cool to listen to your instincts. Your life is way more important than other people’s feelings and the word no does not make you rude. Also, not everyone has good intentions. Your good manners might be keeping you from listening to your good instincts and please don’t pretend to be on your cell phone when you’re in potentially dangerous situations. It’s just way better to listen to your instincts than a piece of glass. All right guys. I think that just about does it for fear, at least for now. A huge thank you
Gavin de Becker for writing this book that has opened my eyes and all of my other senses to my surroundings and the subtle signals that are happening all the time. I really hope you all read the book. It’ll be linked in the show notes on my website,theDanawilson.com/podcastunder episode six as well as on the words that move me Amazon shopping list, which is also linked on my website. All right, everybody get out there and keep it funky, but also keep it safe and keep it very smart. Keep it safe, keep it smart and keep it funky. Okay, I will talk to you next week. Bye bye.