Stef Wilson – My Mom
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: All right. All right. Welcome to the podcast. This is episode 19. Holey Smokes! It’s going by so fast. Everything actually seems to be going by so fast and honestly this is getting somewhat easier and I shouldn’t be shocked by that because I’m getting better at talking to myself alone in a room, doing a lot of that these days. And that actually is kind of what this episode is about. I’m super stoked about it.
Um, but before we dig into that, of course we have to do our wins. My win this week is actually my mom’s. When my mom celebrated a birthday, I’m not going to say the number because the lady never tells. And we had an absolutely awesome virtual birthday party for her. And I was sensitive about that because I believe that certain things cannot be replaced or duplicated. Birthday parties up until this point were one of those sacred special things. And I’m going to be honest, we had a ball, my immediate family, my sister, her husband, her two daughters, um, my brother, his wife and myself and my husband and I all got together for a zoom conference, dinner and cake. And um, my brother also brought a life sized cardboard cutout of him. So there were actually two of my brother, his wife, my sister, her husband, myself, my husband and the nieces and my mom of course, the lady of the hour. And we sat and ate a meal and you know, shot the stuff and had an absolute blast. My sister works in a hospital, um, and she got my mom a bunch of the gifts that you find from the hospital gift store, including a family favorite, Haribo gummy bears, which are absolutely the best if you disagree. I don’t, I don’t know what to say. Um, and then also my sister and I put out the feelers to friends and family all over the world to send in video, birthday shout outs. Um, I’m telling you we got some video gems from old friends and some really priceless selfie sentiments and I got to throw down my speed editing chops and um, man, it was just so special. I got to watch people really well digitally really show up for a woman that is so, so, so special. A woman that must join me on the podcast one of these days. Mom, do you hear me? I mean it, I’m serious. Oh. And also I made my first loaves of bread from yeast that I grew off of raisins, like crazy advanced stuff here. People, I did it and it was decent, decent enough for me to eat two loaves of bread in two days and now I feel like a mattress. So maybe that’s not actually a win after all. But anyways, onto you. What’s going well in your world?
Okay, congratulations. Keep crushing it. So proud of you. Okay. This episode is short and sweet and sensitive. You could think of it as time sensitive, but it really isn’t. The lessons in this episode are fully applicable regardless of date or time or crisis. Let’s dig in to my letter from a friend.
Last week I received a letter in the form of a text actually from a very dear friend, an actor, a director, and one hell of a model American! Name that movie. Um, anyways, after I responded to his message, he and I talked back and forth a little bit and he said that his note was initiated by this thought. “Does everyone else know that this is kind of hard for everyone else?” That shed a light on a very interesting side effect of isolation that I honestly, I hadn’t really considered that much even in the pre covid times. I was the star of the film. That is my life and everybody in my life had a supporting role. Now, although I’m possibly more concerned with the public and public issues than I ever have been, I am absolutely thinking more about myself and my survival than I have before either. Right now my movie is way more monologue than dialogue. Basically all day, every day. I sit alone with myself and I and me and we’re really getting to know each and between you and me and myself and I, I’ve run up against some.. Woof, hard truths about myself and some challenging questions, so today I want to share this letter from my friend and I want to share my reply because I know that he’s not the only one up against challenging thoughts and feelings and it might be illuminating for you to answer some of his questions for yourself.
My friend writes, “I was thinking at first that our pandemic would be like when you hunker down for a snow storm, since I’ve realized it is so much more, obviously the realization though is full of confusion and fragmented thoughts. It feels like unless I’m thinking about or doing something specific, tire changing, setting the table, high knees, my mind drifts but it drifts in muddled, confused, fractured bits of thoughts. I’m struggling to plan things or collect my thoughts on things. I don’t know. Again, I just don’t know. I can’t get things straight in my head sometimes and I’m feeling like it’s a problem with me. I know it’s just a problem for me, but maybe it’s normal. Do you have disconnected thoughts? Trouble getting this stuff in your head? Straight planning our lives helps us define who we want to be when we can’t plan or get excited about something coming. It feels like we’re stuck. I’m just stabbing into the dark here, but I’m not really because someone might read this and think I’m stabbing too. I guess I’m trying to say this is way harder than I thought it would be and at times think that it should be. I get down on myself and that ain’t right. Also, dude, the world needs leaders to lead us, but the world also needs more lovers, not sex, to love us back in this world, you are loved, love back”
Beautiful doozy. I want to start here at the end because I couldn’t agree more. The world needs leaders to lead us and the world also needs more lovers. Not the sexy type. Get your isolated minds out of the gutter, but the type that cares about us, so think about the movies of our lives, right? They are far more powerful when the stories are about people not at person. They’re powerful when they connect. Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved Cast Away, but what if every single movie was Cast Away? I digress. So let us love by acting compassionately towards others. Out of sight should not mean out of mind and let us lead by showing that it is possible to live clean, to live gracefully, to live gratefully, even under difficult circumstances.
Now you could fully stop listening right here. There’s plenty of work to do simply by digging into asking yourself how you can be more compassionate towards others and how you can lead by example. Or you could keep listening to my reply to this dear friend. If you shared any of my friend’s thoughts and feelings about our current circumstances, then you can also pretend that my reply is to you. I wrote after several hours of thinking about a reply.
Dear friend, for the last year or so, I’ve been really focusing on managing my mind. I got a life coach. I’m doing the daily thought downloads the whole bit. I’m observing and I’m working on my thoughts nearly all day, every day, and if I could boil down what I’ve learned and what’s the most helpful to me, it would be this. Number one, feeling bad about feeling bad or resisting feeling bad is more than twice as uncomfortable as feeling bad all by itself. Being okay with negative emotions is where most of my work is at this time. Thinking about how or why this happened causes confusion. Instead, I choose curiosity and I am learning so much thinking that things should be different, causes suffering. Instead I choose acceptance. Things are this way period. Thinking that things can be better is empowering. I have a bright mind. I’m creative, I’m adaptable, I’m capable. I will figure out how to make the things that I can control better, better. I’ll make the things I can make better, better. Yeah, that’s right. And number two, our thoughts about the world, not the world itself are what create our experience of the world. We may not be able to change the world, but we can change the way we think about it. I hope this is helpful and I hope you keep writing. I love the way your mind works. There is no problem with your mind. Your mind is not wrong. We are all stabbing right now is just some of us are stabbing ourselves in the chest and wondering why we’re in pain. The goal is to be able to watch yourself with compassion and curiosity and to ask yourself kindly to put the knife down. I love you so much we can do this.
It’s true. We can do this totally possible to come out of our quarantine winter hibernation better than when we went in. I learned this week. This is an interesting story. I learned that I get really annoyed by questions like what are the three words that best define you? Like come on. I am COMPLEX. Those three words, those are the three words that best define me. But my husband recently said the one word that best describes this pandemic period is de-stabilizing. And yeah, I think he pretty much nailed it de-stabilizing. But if there’s one thing that a dancer’s good at, it’s stabilizing, think about that fight to really hold on to an attitude devant on releve or the mental and physical combat of a pirouette from a grand plie in second position. If it is possible for a human being to promenade in arabesque on point on another human being’s head, I’m going to link to that youtube video, by the way, in the show notes, then it is absolutely possible for us to stabilize ourselves in unstable times like these. It’s also no shock to me that ballet dancers are crushing it in this time. My favorites at the moment are Tiler Peck , obvi, uh, Skyler Brandt, Isabella Boyslton, James Whiteside and Maria , I’m going to botch the last name. I’m so, so sorry. Kochetkova I believe so, crushing it, but that’s, you know, literally part of our jobs as dancers to find and create balance. But beyond that, beyond dancers, I think about architects and the skyscrapers that they designed and think about the people that actually built those buildings. I think about teachers and the balancing act of managing information and actual human beings. I think about bakers and balancing time and temperature and the ingredients required to make like a perfect loaf of bread. Now obviously I can’t speak for bakers, but when I’m trying to find myself on my leg, it’s really a matter of, well, a couple of things. Number one, micro adjustments, small little changes and number two, trial and error. There will be many trials, there will be many errors, there will even be overcorrection, but eventually there will be correction. We will figure it out. We can figure it out. We get to figure it out and if you find yourself in a place of being unstable on your feet, write a letter to a friend or pull a Tom Hanks and make yourself a Wilson or the podcast can be your Wilson. I can be your Wilson. I am a Wilson. This is perfect.
With that, my friends, I will leave you for the day with love, with soap, and of course with funk. Thank you so much for listening.
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. Third, TheDanawilson.com/podcast finally, and most importantly now you have a way to become a words that move 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.
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.
Ah yep. Today, no matter where you are, I am bringing you to the front yard of my friend and mentor and legendary choreographer, Marty Kudelka! Yes, we are going deep into the Valley where the sky is blue and the birds chirp and garbage trucks squeal like lot of squealing garbage trucks. Terrifying sounds. Thank God for editing. So Marty and I talk about specific people and performances during this episode and I want to say right now at the front of it that all of those people, places and performances are going to be linked in the show notes of this episode, episode 18 of my website. So if you’re interested in any of those people, places, things and shows, then head on over to theDanawilson.com/podcast and search for episode 18.
Oh also every podcast episode is available in video form on YouTube seven days after the podcast comes out here. So this episodes YouTube video will definitely include links to the memorable moments. Well at least the ones that were caught on tape. Um, so be sure to check that out as well. All right, before we talk to Marty, I want to talk to you. How are you feeling? After last week’s episode on processing emotions, I have been making it a habit to ask how are you feeling instead of how are you doing, how are you feeling gives you an opportunity to actually process and check in with your body and the feelings inside of it instead of just reporting the usual. I’m good. How are you? I personally, right now I’m feeling exhausted like a particular brand of exhausted, throbbing knee’s, kind of an achy back. That means I’ve been dancing and probably not using my abdominals as much as I should be, but Oh, speaking of dancing a lot, my win this week is actually a community win. Over the weekend, The seaweed sisters taught for the movement lifestyle’s 24 hour move-a-thon fundraiser, and as of this moment, as of the recording of this episode, the studio has raised over $63,000. Holy smokes, huge win, and if you’re listening to this podcast at the time of its release, then they’re still accepting donations. So if you can head over to ML’s GofundMe. All right, now it is your turn to share a win. What’s going well in your world? Hit me.
Awesome. I am glad that you’re winning. Congratulations. Now Marty and I cover a lot in this episode. Everything from working on the trolls movies and doing things that he never thought he’d do in a million years to several strolls down different memory lanes. Wait, is that a thing? Are they like memory street memory Avenue, memory circle. Anyways, we go there. So I hope you’re ready and I hope you enjoy this conversation with Marty Kudelka.
Dana: All right, Marty, Dog, Dog!
Marty: Dana Dane Dog!
Welcome to the podcas t, my friend. This is long overdue.
Marty: Absolutely. Thanks, Homie, thanks for having me.
I’m really stoked about this because A, uh, you’re my dear friend and also mentor, but B, you are probably the most mentioned person on the podcast, especially when I’m talking about career and, professional life because you have played such a key role in my professional life. So there’s that. Um, but before we get too deep, I would love for you very quickly to introduce yourself and tell us where you are right now.
What’s up? This is Marty Kudelka checking in team Roast, you know, we sizzle the most, you know how it be, I’ m in, the bird cage, my own little Disneyland here in Valley village, California. Talking to one of my favorite humans on earth, Dana, Dana dog, Wilson,
The crowd goes wild. “Ahhh”, so you, you did not mention in your bio that you are, uh, one of the greatest choreographers ever to have lived. And I think I found that out on the internet, so it must be true. Um, but you are also a creative director and a teacher. Oh, and I live on auto row, so we’re getting some automobile sounds today. Some people are not honoring the social distancing today I can tell cause it’s beautiful outside and there are way more car and motorcycle sounds than usual. Um, but back to you, uh, how long have you been choreographing for?
Um, before I knew what like choreography was even, I didn’t know what I was doing. I called it making up routines or putting routines together. I believe my first one was when I was 14 years old. I was in middle school and it was for a talent show and me and one other girl named Brandy Davis. I still, I still keep in touch with her too. And um, we dance to Rob Bass “It Takes Two” at our talent show and, and I’m sorry I wasn’t in middle school, I was a freshmen in high school, which was even more scary because literally I’m the young kid on the block, little white guy up on stage with hammer pants on like doing the running man for 400 8 counts. So that was my first time I ever put together something. And then I started kind of just teaching my friends right after that. Mmm. Kind of a trade off. Like they would get, keep me from getting beat up at school and I would teach them dance, kind of thing. And um, that was my first intro into choreography and teaching, if you will, because then I saw, well, I can like make some money or at least get ahead doing something that I like to do. Um, so that was my intro. It’s not your typical story, but that’s really, that’s, that’s to me, that’s when I started choreographing because even though I didn’t know what an eight count was or a bar of music was, I knew when the song changed, you should change your steps, you know, that was kind of common sense. So I was putting the stuff down yeah. Since I was 14 and now I’m a lot older than that
Truth. Yeah, true. Just a few years. Um, so there’s a classic case of learn by doing where you like didn’t go to school for this or you didn’t come up through a competition convention. Typical studio.
Um, there’s going to be a trash truck. Oh, sorry. Got it. That happens out here on the bird’s nest.
That’s a trash truck. That is a trash truck.
So I am lucky enough to have been part of your creative process a handful of times. And by handful, I mean a lot. Um, and, but for people who are listening, who might not have met you or worked for you or even taken your class, can you explain a little bit of your creative process from the moment you hear the song to then seeing it danced on other bodies or on a stage?
Yeah, I mean we, you know, you know firsthand we’d be here until next Thursday if I really answered that question in depth from A to Z. So I’ll try to make it like real somewhat quicker.
Give us the bullets.
Yeah. Um, I mean first comes, it depends, that’s a hard question because it’s so broad because it depends if it’s for one single number or if it’s for a, you know, club show where it’s 10 numbers or it’s for a tour that has, you know, a giant stage and production value, you know, so it, it depends. But say just for, as an example of music video, we’ll base it off that. So if I, once I get the song, the first thing I’m going to want to do is learn this song as well as I can and, and then create like the basic plan of what I’m going to do. Mmm. If it was for class, I would just start figuring out what I’m going to. Which part of the music you don’t want to dance too. And then kind of make a up plan comes from music video. Before I did anything, I would probably ask for the treatment. If There was a treatment at that point too, figuring out what the story is or if it’s just a performance video or just dancing or whatever. So that way I know I’m not doing extra stuff. Mmm. Work smarter, not harder. So those are two different versions. So going back, I’m going to keep flipping it now. Back to video or a class. Yeah. I would know what I’m going to dance to already. Then I’m going to stand up. I actually did this last night, Which is crazy. I didn’t think about that. Mmm. So I’m making something up. So I listened to the song and I already knew the song really well, but I haven’t heard it in about shoot over 15 years easily. But I put it my headphones in and started listening to it and like, okay, made a decision. This is the part I’m going to dance to. I already pretty much knew it got up, I started moving around until I have like a little at least a couple, a few eight counts. Then I’ll take a break, then I’ll listen to it again and listen to what I don’t have. Then stand up, try to fill in the gaps and they come slowly but surely like where I stand now morning with the routine I have like the first two eight counts. Then there’s like two, two and a half counts missing and then another eight count, three eight counts missing another four. Mmm. Once I do that, once I have enough then I like to call in the troops, which is you know the, YOU, the Ivan, the Nats, like call you guys in and start teaching it to you. I still haven’t seen it by this point by the way, but once I, call you guys in, and then, um, A. I’m getting to learn how to teach it. And B. I’m seeing it on another human and deciding whether I like it or not or what to change or what to add. Or you guys may give me an idea on how you finish and go into something. So it’s a big puzzle basically. You know, you never just do the puzzle like this. You know, sorry, I know it’s a podcast from up to down or you know what I mean? You have to fill out the frame and then you start making like parts over here and parts that you know are easier to do. And that’s the same thing with putting together a routine regardless whether it’s for a video or class
Dana: Solid. That’s a great answer. You set up the segue so beautifully. Thank you for that. Um, Marty basically wrote the book titled “work smarter not harder” and I want to go through that book now and name the chapters if we could. And you already, you, you, you set up a few of those. But I have to tell people on the outside right now that I sent Marty a little warmup text before we got on the phone today. I was like, Hey, these are some of the things I want to talk about. This is kind of the, the outline, you know, we’ll, we’ll keep it loose and we can flow, but I definitely want to do blah blah blah. I want to hear about bleh be ready to answer blah and dah dah. And you wrote me back, I’m going to pull up the text also at the end
And now that you just asked me the question I’m wishing I would have looked at it more
Um, at the, at the last thing I asked you is anything else you want to cover or specifically not talk about and your response was “anything you want and I barely read this BTW finger pointing up. I just like, I just like to freestyle these days.” So that’s, that’s pretty much where we’re at. We’re freestyling. Okay. So based on what you just said, a you make sure you have all the information and you are really good. You actually taught me this, uh, about how to identify the people that have the information just by watching. Very good at sitting back and watching like, Oh, that’s my guy for this. Oh, that’s the dude for this. Oh, here’s the one you want to have in the room for this. So you’re, you’re great at identifying the sources of information and then you’re a great listener. Actually, I kind of wanted to play a game later, but we’ll, well we’ll see if we get there. If you had to put a price on your most valuable asset, you, Marty Kudelka A. what would the price be? And B. what is that asset? I could even, I could even call it a part of your body. What is the most part of your body?
Uh, my ears.
Boom. I was going to say one, two, three and have us say it at the same time.
Oh yeah. That’s easy. Yeah. There’s no amount of money though. Yeah. Ears are like none other. It’s true. Justin’s ears are really good too. I can’t lie. That dude, you know he is a freak. That guy hears stuff and I mean he has to be good because of who he is at paying attention to his surroundings because you know with crazy fans or whatever, he’s got to stay aware so that that that’s helped him do that. But for some reason I always look the same way. I mean I just want to know what’s going on around me. Maybe cause I got in trouble when I was younger, you know, so I was always on the lookout but it helps in what we do specifically. Like that is a big thing of working smarter, not harder. Like if you pay attention like what.. the main.. I think it should be called “work smarter, not harder. Dot dot, dot. It’s just common sense” because it is, if you use common sense like it’s not that hard. What we do. It’s really, it’s really not. And it’s not, if you just pay attention, it’s not hard to figure out who is the person that needs that you go to for this or this or like you just said like it’s not that hard if you just pay attention. But a lot of times it’s dancers and even you know, choreographers and directors, we get so into what we’re doing that we don’t sit down for a second and pay attention. A lot of people these days want, they feel like the more that I do it, the better I’m going to get it. Like even Right. That’s the same principle as just seeing the layout of whatever you’re doing.
I love that. It’s an excellent lesson and we are all receiving a masterclass in it right now. Okay, so get the info. Be watchful, listen. Of course. And then the next one I think that you are really well prepped for and well set up with is this nature and then the skill and they are different. The nature and the nurture, um, of being a freestyler, I think that you are a freestyler like in your DNA, but then it’s also a muscle in you and in your process that has gotten really, really strong. Um, how, how do you think starting as a freestyler, uh, contributed to your workflow right now?
Freestyle helped me. I mean, it helped mold my style. That’s still how I started. Like last night when I started my routine, I didn’t say I’m to do a, Mmm, what is the first move that I do? I do like these jazz hands to my stomach, right. And my foot goes out and in
And does it look like this, ‘dah doom?’
A little bit. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re so good.
I wonder if you could talk it to me and I could do it. Okay.
Of course I could, I just talked about this on my IG live the other day, but I’ll, I taught you and I then at one point sitting down like four, I think it was four eight counts and y’all got up and did it. Perfect. We should do that again.
Yeah, let’s definitely do that again.
But when I, when I started this move, I didn’t get up, Off my couch and say, Oh I’m going to put some jazz hands to my stomach. Like I just, I knew where that were. The first count is seven, eight ‘and a’. And, all I knew is I’m starting on the ‘and a’ after the eight and then I just did that and it, it was like, Oh that feels cool. I know it looks cool cause I’ve done it before. So, okay. That’s my starting point. And then from there I just let my body go. But if I wouldn’t have, I had that training growing up and the freestyle aspect, like in the freestyle world, then I don’t know what I would be doing. Like I don’t know if people who aren’t, have never been in that freestyle world. I don’t know how they, if they go into a studio and just move through a bunch of moves, I have no idea what their creative process is because I’m not them. And I’ve never been rooms with people like that. I’ve always been around people who are similar and come from similar backgrounds, which is who I gravitate towards, dancers, you know what I mean? People who can boogie and also do choreography.
Um, sneak attack. This is me opening the door and coming out of my little closet and introducing myself to you for the first time as a person who when we met nothing terrified me more than freestyling and learning choreography, this might’ve been why we got along well, right? As somebody who leads with freestyle might really do well by enhancing their team, by adding a person who remembers all the moves that gets spit out and can keep them or teach them or whatever. But um, it took you and some hard slap in the faces. Slap slap in the faces. No, I have one face, uh, slaps in the face of learning that that weakness needed to get stronger for me. One of them actually happened at your house? Um, it was right after, maybe not right, maybe not the same day, but shortly after the big audition for the future sex love tour. And there were like 500 people. Was it an open call or was it just selective call but mad people?
No, it was, it was, there was like 250 people, but it was, I selected all of them and then a few people, like five people crashed.
Okay. So massive audition. And we filmed the end and either the next day, the day, I don’t remember, we were watching the footage at your house and we had an unexpected intruder. I don’t even think he rang the bell. He probably like bolted up. Yeah, he just walked in, shout out b-boy kmel, Um, but I remember he looked at your TV and he was like, what is this garbage? And I was like, um, excuse me, this is the best dancers in Los Angeles. And he was like, those people are garbage. And he walked up to the TV and he pointed at Nick Bass and he was like, he was like, my shoe has more talent than that guy. And then he pointed at Misha and he was like, “Please! He’s okay. But mostly he’s garbage.” And then he pointed at the next guy and it was like, I’m sorry, wait a second. These people are like ridiculously talented. How could you even say that you’re delusional? And he, that was a bad idea, Little Dana,
It was a really, really bad idea. I remember it like it was yesterday. And I remember looking at you like, here she goes, look out man. She just had no idea what she did.
So what I did was redirect his, uh, b-boy battle mentality from other people to me. And he basically went, okay, and who are you? And I was like, I’m Dana. And he was like, uh, exactly. Who are you? And I was like, I’m a dancer. And he was like, no, you’re not. And it was like, uh, yeah, I am. And he was like, why? Why have I never seen you out? I’ve never seen you at the club. And I was like, that’s because I’m 18 or I was 19 at the time.
Maybe I was like, I’m not allowed to go to clubs. And then he laughed so hard, he probably started crying. He was like, you are not a dancer, you are a robot. You are a machine that has been trained to remember other people’s moves. You think you love dance, you don’t love dance. If you did, it would come from you and it would come without somebody else’s telling you to do it. And I didn’t cry at the time. I think I got home and really processed what he had just said. But I did cry hard about that and the thought that there might be some truth to it. And um, that definitely motivated me to explore freestyle and dancing strictly for myself. Not for accolades or a job or an award or recognition in some other form, but just because it feels freaking good. Um, and especially being so focused on winning at the industry, which is what my primary goal was at the time. I really hadn’t been thinking about that a lot. So that conversation woke me up. And also most of your classes at the time, especially, this is back in 2005, ended with a freestyle circle. Like that’s, it was a part of class. Like that was, that’s what what we did. Um, I don’t remember where this conversation started, but Oh, the importance of freestyle and me telling you that until we met, it really wasn’t a part of my daily life
That day, meeting Kmel. You knew Kmel?
Oh, I knew, I absolutely knew of him and I’d watched him get down. I remember a specific Youtube video where he battles three different people at one time and roasts them all. Uh, I’ll try to find that out. We’ll try to share that. But that’s another thing when I talk about you in addition to you just being, um, my mentor and the person that I worked for most directly in my life. But you’re also the person that introduced me to the most influential figures of my life. One of them is Toni Basil. Um, Kmel is included on that list. Popin’ Pete is on that list. Really. I got so fortunate in my timing and placement in meeting you that I learned, you know, the studio that I came from, we offered hip hop once a week and it was for an hour and after you change out of your leotard and tights, that’s really like 45 minutes. Um, but I got to LA, fell in love with your style and fell in love with street styles. And then you introduced me to Toni Basil who taught me everything I know about locking. You introduced me to Pete, taught me everything I know about popping and you introduced me and gave me an appetite for freestyling, which is really compounded and made me the dancer that I am today.
Absolutely. It’s a huge part in what you do.
You be roasting fools now.
Um, I have good teachers. We’re gonna say,
Dana: I hope you are digging, getting to know this guy. Marty is clearly a very laid back dude who loves a good story. He is captain cool in conversation and of course in his moves and we talked for a while about his public persona, about him being very friendly but not necessarily very accessible. After all, he is extremely busy working at the top of his field and to add to that list, he’s also a family man and to add to that list, he’s also a super sports enthusiast. We’ll get into that later. Marty was never really one to engage much in the social media sphere until now. He’s been doing daily or at least almost daily IG lives and I do want you to hear about that. Let’s get back into it.
To be honest, the first one I ever did was, was was Lucy, my daughter at a clipper game like years ago. So I had done one before but I’d never done one by myself and Mo and strictly to talk about dance. So it started of course when this quarantine started and I think I started on day one and I missed a couple of days, but I’m trying to do it every day as of now. I never thought I would be doing this in a billion years and I’m really, really enjoying it. You know, we don’t just talk about dance on there. Like I had kmel, on the other day and we were just talking about real life stuff and stuff that we had done back for the day. In the end, people were loving it.
Yeah. Like a peek into your world, right? It’s like this is your house, this is the you, this is unfiltered. This is uncensored. And it’s,
Yeah, it’s, it is. It’s cool. It’s, it’s wild though. Um, I’ve been being brave and being, I haven’t seen a lot of other people doing this and cause whenever I’m on their Instagram, but I, I accept whoever, like if somebody requests me and I don’t know them, I’ll still pick up the request. And I’ve had some couple of funny experiences.
I can only imagine.
It’s been fun. I mean, it’s better than sitting I guess watching TV all day, you know what I mean? So, and another cool thing is I’ve connected with people that I haven’t talked to in like 1520 plus years.
I love this. Yes. It’s amazing the internet is being used for what it was intended to be used for connecting people and solving problems and getting information. Yeah, I’m all about it. Um, one of the things that came up when I popped on your, um, IG live the other day, which reminds me every, uh, Thursday after the podcast comes out, I do an IG live at five. So the podcasts come out, podcasts come out on Wednesday, and then I do a live on Thursday. What’d you doing on Thursday at, uh, at five,
Uh, going on with you, I guess.
Okay. So when I jumped on yours last time we started talking about team WOM. Now for those of you that missed the live team, WOM is a well oiled machine and it consists of Marty, myself, and a few other key players. Marty, can you talk about like what makes the dream team?
Well, my dream team as of now, and it’s been this way for a little bit is me, Dana, AJ, Ivan, and Natalie, um, that’s who I have an intensive called school that is an invite only type of intensive that Dana is a part of of course. And it’s us. Five is the core people. And even, you know, when working on a tour or you know, whatever the job may be, it’s always, it’s not always us five. I alternate as well, depending on what the gig is and what I feel is right for it. Um, we just had a job for Justin where me and Ivan and Aja were part of the production team and Dana was a dancer on it,
Although you, although you wouldn’t really know it, that was a cutting room floor of circumstances. It happened then
And after all that hair. Oh my gosh, so much fake hair. We’ll also, we’ll also be linking to that Video
But you, but you have a great story about it. Such a good story, but yeah, but, but that, that’s my dream team and they, everyone brings something different to that pot and we’re a very well rounded team. And if you look from me, the oldest going down to the youngest, which is it you?
No, I think it might be Ivo actually.
Oh it is Ivo.
Nat is older than me.
So then I will, you know, we cover a bunch of different generations and I feel like that’s something that you have to have it to stay connected and stay relevant in this business.
Good point. If anybody out there is seven years old, we’re looking to fill a slot. Marty and I have questions about tik tok.
We do actually we’d see what’s cool is there is like a un just like with team Roast cause team Roast really is just me, Eddie Morales, kmel, and Lil-C. That’s the original team Roast. But we have an extended family, which all you guys are in of course. I mean, you know, Legacy, Flea rock. We have like a big, you know, a big healthy team. Roast family. Same thing with team WOM. I do have a couple of like seven to eight year olds. I’m sure you do too. At your conventions. Who could help us out?
Oh my gosh. Marty. Easy, young ones are like so capable on the dance front and then also like punctual, respectful. They got a personality. They know how to respond to emails on time. I’m looking at my generation like, come on, y’all step up, let’s go, let’s go communicate. And I, yeah, there are a couple of young people in my life that are very impressive on that front.
On one of my lives the other day. This shout out to @Mattygoogs if you’re listening, he, uh, he’s a little assistant for us on monsters and he hit me up on my live with the question, like speaking professionally, just perfectly written up. I’ve really enjoyed learning from you and getting the chance to assist you in prior cities. But my question to you is, how can I get better assisting this and that? I really want to be able to cater to the T like,
So well-groomed, so well-groomed. Believable. Yeah.
Take note y’all.
Okay. Marty’s team is made up of people who are professional and still very personable. They can be casual because they’re so capable and those are the people that I want to have on my team. In this business, your team is your tribe and your team is super important. But that being said, you are the most important person on your team. So next we’re going to get into Marty’s personal codes of conduct and peek into his process for choreographing the trolls films.
Dana: Um, one of my favorites, sayings slash lessons that I ever learned from you is, um, early is on time, on time is late and late is you’re fired. We’re going to use that. We’re going to use the F word.
Yeah, you could, you could use a couple of different F words there.
Um, what other codes do you live by and do you run your professional world by?
Oh, that’s a good one. Um, this, I don’t know if this quite answers it, but this maybe in a roundabout way, I, and I just said this actually, I got a chance to teach for Rich and Tone They’re intensive, the Rich & Tone Experience . And I caught myself saying this there and I’m gonna kind of repeat it now. Like I, I lately and I haven’t always approached work like this, so even works, this is kind of, some people could say, well that’s contradicting where it’s smarter, not harder, but it’s not to me it’s making me work harder. I’ve been, I like to put pressure on myself, so that’s a, that’s a code that I’m living by these days, whether it be with work, even at, uh, you know, I don’t know at home life sometimes I like to almost procrastinate sometimes on purpose to build up, to have a lot to do. So then whenever it’s time to do it, I can just get it all done. You know what I mean? Like when it comes to work, like my example on the trolls movies, like when the scene comes to us, me and AJ watch a scene just to break down real quick, we see a scene, they tell us what happened in the story before, what happens in the story after. And then obviously we, we’re knowing what’s going on in the scene and then it’s up to me to choose where I want dance and build a scene through dance. So I can do whatever I want pretty much right there. Which is awesome. Crazy to think
That creative freedom is such a gift. That’s great.
It’s such a gift. So you know, obviously I’ve seen the scene a couple of times when we have an initial meeting, but then up until the day that we rehearsed, uh, I don’t watch it. I want to go in the day of, I want to watch it again, like an hour before and then I give. So by this time I have like 45 minutes to prepare something. I’m not going to prepare the whole thing, but to give myself a start and basically I’m putting myself in a corner because I know there’s only so many hours of rehearsal before the powers to be, are going to come in and watch and give us notes and then eventually film it for the movie, so it’s a lot of pressure. But to me, no pressure makes diamonds. Do you know what I mean? And like if you have, if you have no other choice, then you have no other choice.
You have to get it done. And, and up to this point, I’ve never had, knock on wood, I’ve never had not got it done. You know what I mean? Maybe I could have done it better. Sure. But we’re not, we’ll never going to know that and maybe I wouldn’t have maybe what I created because of that pressure is what it’s supposed to be. You know, I’ve already, I have already prepared by listening to the song by knowing what’s going on, you know, and I have seen it so it’s not blind. I’m not an idiot. But you know, it’s, it’s, I don’t, I feel like if I have from that time we have that meeting, if it’s a week before we’re going to do that rehearsal, or if I just only think about that scene, it’s gonna mess me up and the product will not be as good as if I did it the other way.
That’s so interesting. I wonder if part of your, um, cause you love sports. We haven’t talked about that much at all and I probably won’t talk about it much because I’m not a sports person. It’s like I just run out of information pretty quickly, so I’m like, Oh yeah, teams, huh, Ooh,
But I wonder if part of your thrill is like the clock’s running out. Absolutely. You love the thrill of, of, let’s see, I already ran out of sports words, but I wonder if that plays into this a little bit like
A hundred thousand percent. It’s the same thing whenever, whenever I came out here and was auditioning as a dancer, I used to go to auditions like it’s a game, but to me it was, I’m like, yo, I’m ready to roast these fools. Like this is not, they’re my opponents. Like I’m trying to get the job and you know, we can be cool before and after, but I’m going to try to destroy these dudes. Like, and I’m not going to cheer for them. Right. You know, and like do all that crap. Like that’s good in class and that’s good. You know, whatever. But at an addition, you know, I get it, keep the morale up or whatever, but I’m not clapping for you. Like I’m trying to get your job
Right. Imagine that. If you had like opposing sports teams, like cheering each class is incredible. I’ve never considered that metaphor or that perspective for another.
Well, when you were, when you, you were a competitive dancer, like at your, your studio, so when you went out there to compete, did you think that way or were you just like, Oh, I’m just, I just want to do my best or I just want to, or were you like, Oh, I hope we get first place.
I definitely wanted to win. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I love this. The idea that you can audition as a, as a person on a team, you’re like, my team is gonna win and I don’t need to be your friend. Yeah. You’re, you’re your team. Um, that’s very cool. Thank you for sharing that.
Absolutely. I miss that, man. Shoot, the audition process!
Let’s go sometime as soon as auditions happen again.
I would love that. Do you know what the last audition I went to was a Michael Rooneyaudition.
Oh, I think I remember this!
I booked the job, believe it or not.
Yeah, of course you did before
It was for a TV show. As a pilot for some TV show, I forget the name of it. I don’t know if it ever came out, but it was like, you know, this big grand 40 person dance piece, whatever that I was in and like doing turns and stuff. It was pretty awesome.
Oh, I love it. So much
And I was so nervous every time on set because I’m surrounded by all these like technical divas and I’m like, I’m just trying to do a clean, double.
Incredible. So talk about that for a second. How did, because your style really does fuse some jazz elements. Marty, Marty Kudelka, combo I can think of has a swift inside pirouette in it.
I love a good inside pirouette.
Love a good inside pirouette. You’re, you’re also, uh, known for a Rond de jamb every now and then, big fan of, uh, I’m going to save your favorite step for a second. But how did you wind up interfacing with technical dancers growing up?
Um, when I started really teaching a lot at studios, I, I taught a lot. Like I have in my busiest time, I was doing like 25 classes a week for like four years. Four or five years in a row right before I moved to LA and, and that was like nine months out of the year. And um, but so I lived at the studio and I literally like, I mean I had an apartment but my apartment was walking distance to the studio. So I literally spent all my time except sleeping at the studio. So when I wasn’t, weren’t teaching, I would sometimes go in other people’s classes cause I knew it was common sense to me. Like I already knew that this is what I wanted to do and I knew that I would have to learn something at some point. And then we started at the same time we were doing gigs in Dallas and a lot of people who were choreographing those gigs were trained. So every time that I did a job, I would be just a dancer before I started choreographing some of them I was just a dancer in them and I would have to learn, like I learned how to do an axle because of a job I had to do.
And you have a mean axle by the way. I want the listeners to know that I am seeing it. It is strong. I’ve seen it.
It’s a good lasso. I know I can, that’s my go to lasso arm. Axel to the right, which came into handy actually at a Janet audition that I auditioned for on the day of the callbacks, Tina Landonput a freaking axle in there and I couldn’t believe it. And by the way, I’m doing a live with her at some point next week. And I’m going to bring this up to her and thank her because I don’t think I ever have, because literally for that moment I was prepared and, and I remember being in the studio, not the studio that we basically, we got kicked out of the studio and her and her squad like Kelly Konoand Nikki and uh, all her squad at the time, I think Gil? No, no, no. Gil Duldalaowas auditioning. Uh wow. She, yeah, Brian Friedmanwas auditioning like it was that time. Friedman was young young. Yeah, this is a 97. And I remember peeking in the blinds to see if I can peek on what they’re doing in there. And I, as I peek, I see them perfect timing as I look, they do an axle and I’m like, and I’m looking around at like, there was probably like 50 of us left and I knew there was going to be one more cut and I’m looking around at all the other hip hop dudes, you know, cause I’m putting myself in that category and I’m like, I know damn well none of these dudes know how to do this. Like there’s no way. So I’m like, yes. And sure enough a lot of them got cut and then there was only like 20 of us and that
And so that’s, that’s how you got your b-boy name.
B-boy Axel. It’s terrible. It’s pretty funny.
That’s a good story.
I forgot about it.
Dana: Okay. It was really, really cool for me to hear Marty stories about auditioning and his audition mentality. I think that with someone like Marty who’s been at the top of their field for so long, sometimes it’s easy to forget that he hasn’t always been there. He had to climb just like I did just like you do. And I know Marty pretty well, but this was the first time that I got to hear about his audition mentality. It was also cool to hear that even he gets nervous on set, although he certainly doesn’t show it. Next Marty and I get to reminiscing a standout gig and a career highlight for me a performance that you might not have even seen if you are new to the scene. Enjoy
Okay. I want to hear about one of your favorite creative processes. Like talk through
when your favorite, it could be a tour or it could be one specific like show or music video.
Um, let’s see. All right. You know, one that stands out, you a part of it of course was the 2013 video Vanguard awards performance for Justin. Um, so A. It was a big deal because it was a lot of time. Normally you only get to do, you know, like three minutes max. Um, no matter who you are. So we knew that this was going to be, they didn’t give us a time at first, but they knew, we knew it was going to be anywhere from like 12 to 20 minutes, somewhere around there. So actually, I actually, I think the reason that’s that number stood out to me, I believe the reason why is because I think they actually did say that they’ll give us 12 in the beginning. And I think our first music edit was like 21 minutes. So we were like, well, We’re gonna have to like, yeah, let it begin. And then it ended up being like 16 and some change, I believe. And so that was a good, happy medium. And I feel like we won that battle and it was like seven seconds longer than Michael Jackson performance, his video vangaurd award. So we felt like we won that battle. But that’s part of the creative process is having to have these talks like, which, by the way, where we talked preproduction for like two and a half months before and on all these calls where it’s all the MTV people, right? Sure. Uh, the, um, you know, the lighting people, the, all the production team, the management, the record label people, and then me, um, it was always just me and like you and AJ y’all didn’t, y’all weren’t part of these calls yet. Like, um, right. Like now I have AJ do more of the email stuff cause I just can’t stand it anymore. And um, I hate it. I really hate it. But anyways, um, but all these talks go in and Justin’s not even on the phone. So I’m basically having to like relay all this important information to him and then we talk about it, then I go back to them and then talk about it and negotiate more about that, like everything. So that’s a big part of the process. But then also he had the idea of, yeah, why don’t we bring N’Sync back together for a little thing? And, um, I thought it was a joke and I was like, no way, you’re not going to do that. And he’s like, why not? And I’m like, well, yeah, I’m asking you why not? Like, why don’t you, he’s like, well, I think I will. And then he did. And then we did, which created another thing. And, and by the way, this is all happening while we’re doing a tour with Jay Z called Legends of Summer That tour was, uh, like a two month tour and that was going on while we were planning this. So we were having to deal with, uh, another ongoing job as things change when the tour is going, but while doing this. So, most of it was like, I remember being in hotels having to be on these conference calls and then yada, yada, yada. But then another big part is now that we know NSYNC going to be there, you know, then it goes. And how much time did they get? What songs did they do? What choreography do they do, do they do choreography, these kinds of things. So then we started putting it together. At the same time, we’re, me and Justin are getting on the phone with Adam Blackstone, the musical directors to figure out how to cut down these, this music. So then, okay we got to take this out and it’s not just taking out a song. Cause then if it’s taken out a song, did that piece have choreography? Transitions? Its gotta make sense musically but also choreographically and direction wise. And then okay now we know that we’re going to go all over the arena was our idea. So then, and I forgot how that idea first came about but Justin just likes to always move. He doesn’t like to be stagnant. So we, I think it was maybe we, we saw the game plan and they said which stage do you want to use type of thing. And we said, uh, all of them and maybe can you build us a couple extra ones? And so then we have to figure out, it’s just a big math problem. Figure out, okay what goes where or does it make sense? Can he survive doing this? Cause if you really watch like that dude was all over that arena. So then once you kind of have that in place, then you have to go back. And there was a, the biggest discussion was we didn’t want to start inside the arena. We wanted to show him with us walking into the venue. But you’re in Brooklyn, New York, and that creates a bunch of permits and this and legal things and what you can and can’t do, where you can shoot, why you can’t do that. All these things. I’m sure you had to deal with this with In the Heights a billion, you know, so you, these are the talks that take the most time. So figuring out what’s possible. Eventually we figured, you know, then we, there was talks about getting off the subway that’s connected to that then, but then you have to go outside. So no, so we can shoot in the subway but we, and then we can jump inside but we can’t shoot the segway in between. That doesn’t make sense. So then we ended up having to shoot it inside to make it look like we kind of just came from outside. So there’s all these talks. Finally we get all that in place and then there’s, well, where are we going to rehearse? Because we have to keep this a secret because of the NSYNC thing. So nobody knew. None of the MTV, not Hamish the director. Nobody knew. Not even you guys as dancers knew. At First, I don’t think maybe you knew
I did know because insert my career highlight of a moment you asked me to rehearse them. Um, I am 33 now, which means at the height of NSYNC, I was also at the height of NSYNC. I was like a huge fan. I had everything they ever did recorded on a VHS and I would watch it, I would study it. I knew all the moves. And I remember one day after rehearsing with them, um, Joey asked if he could film me doing it and he would rehearse watching me. And then Lance was like, Oh yeah, me too. And then JC, of course, YO, JC works so hard. He was, he was like the ultimate most focused. And so, uh, I had the most surreal moment of my damn life when all of the NSYNC members were filming me doing their moves so that they could learn from watching me on video. I was like, you have no idea how backasswords this is because for my entire adolescence, it was the other way around. It was such a wild ride.
Yeah, I remember that day. I remember them all doing that.
Yeah. And we were in, okay. So back to your point about keeping this super under wraps where we had high school gymnasium or some rec center or some sort?
No, we were in the back of a theater.
Why were we in Florida?
We were in, we were in Miami because the legends of the summer tour, the last date was in Miami on a Saturday night. And then he actually had a concert in that theater that we performed in. We performed in the rehearsal space behind the theater, but he had a, uh, you know, he liked to do show after the show. He had a show after the show that Saturday night. And then we had a day off on this Sunday and Miami. And then we started rehearsals there. That’s why we had it in Miami because we were already gonna be there. Justin and I, and we could have a day off in Miami and then fly all you guys there and we start on that Monday in Miami. And because we rehearsed in LA, people would find out about the NSYNC thing. Like what studio could we go to that would, that could be kept secret. Somebody’s gonna talk. Right. You know what I mean? So we in New York, same thing like especially everyone’s going to be rehearsing there cause that’s where the BMS are. So Miami kinda made sense and I loved it. Didn’t you have fun there?
I did have fun. There we went out a couple times.
Yeah. I think that we should always rehearse in Miami. Absolutely. Another cool, cool thing about this, just a little, a little nugget is that um, it was kept such a secret that all five dudes in NSYNC, they all stayed at different hotels, had different transportation of course. And they all came at like scheduled different times to rehearsal. So they weren’t all showing up at the same time. Like it was like a whole secret like service type of thing, which was really cool to be a part of. And I think we kept it from the other dancers like you knew. And maybe
Where is that footage? I know you’ve been releasing some,
I have that footage. I put part of it up of the first section y’all are in.
Oh man. There’s some nice nice moments in there.
Yeah, yeah. But, but, but that was a cool thing just having like I remember the day that they came in NSYNC where and all the dancers finally got to know and we ran it for them or whatever and they got to see what we were doing. And that was such a cool day, man. That’s history.
David Moore was so hype. He was so excited.
And I let David dance in front of NSYNC.
That’s right. He was there. He was there. He was their leader. Um, I will definitely link to that performance cause it is a forgotten gem. That is such a, that’s history. Good call. Um, also in there, I think you just revealed the closing chapter of work smarter, not harder. And that is, remember everything you have a steel trap of a memory that makes, you know, all of the listening in the world doesn’t mean anything if you can’t remember it. So whatever your method is, method is, if it’s having great assistants or keeping good notes or just being Marty, which means your memory is foolproof. Um, then that like, that is such a huge, huge, important part of, of being able to work smart.
Yeah. Um, I mean I think it’s, I don’t think I have some like special memory. I think I have like a selective memory. I think that’s what you have to do is like if you, if it’s something that you think you might need to know and remember, then try to figure out a way to remember that. You know what I mean? Like, you know how bad I am with birthdays. Like I’m the worst at birthdays and I’m really bad with people’s names. Um, once I know it and then the people’s names, then I w- I don’t forget, but I’m really bad if I just meet you once or twice. It’s really hard for me. And I think part of that is almost like, I want you to make me remember who you are. You know what I mean? Like I will make me want to know you type of thing. Where a birthday. I’m kind of like, I don’t need to know that because some, somebody gonna to remind me, you know, someone’s going to be talking about it or I’m going to see nowadays especially I’m gonna see an Instagram post and I’m going to go, Oh, I’m going to hit up that person before I forget, you know,
Cross out everything. Definitely don’t remember everything. Remember important things important. Absolutely. That’s that. Um, and on that note,I think, I think we’d wrap it up. Is there anything that we, I think we could easily go round to for the record and I’m excited about going a little deeper into some of these topics on our IG live on Thursday at five. Um, but I’m just so grateful at you being in my life and at you sharing all of this. The insight is priceless. It really, truly is. So thank you for doing it.
Thanks for having me. This was fun. Let’s do it again Thursday.
It’s been awhile since we took the dog out.
Where’s this dog going
To the pound.
Where’s this dog going?
To the bank.
We’re just all going logging out of our zoom conference right now by Marty. Thank you so much.
I hope you smiled. I hope you laughed and I hope you enjoyed reading the ways that Marty works smarter, not harder. I’ve been learning from Marty for years and I got a lot out of this episode. It had so many great reminders to look, listen, freestyle, and remember the important stuff. Oh, and laugh a lot. If you don’t already have a full page of notes on this episode, I want you to grab some paper and brainstorm the ways that you can work smarter, not harder. And at the bottom of that page, leave yourself some space and ask yourself for three ways that you can make sure to laugh more today than you did yesterday. And with that, my friends, I will bid you. Adieu. Adieu? I’ll bid adieu Thank you so much for listening, everybody. Stay safe. Stay soapy and keep it funky. I’ll talk to you soon.
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 word member. So kickball, change over to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast 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: Hello. Hello everybody and welcome to episode 17. I’m jazzed about it as usual. Um, in episode 16 I mentioned, well, I promised, I think that April’s podcasts would all be about bringing the joy, the silly, the bright, the creative. Um, and this episode is exactly that, but it is in disguise. This episode is about processing the darker side of the emotional spectrum. Sadness, stillness, anger, grief, anxiety, depression. Yes. All of those guys. And it’s really about coming out on the other side of them naturally without forcing anything. So thanks for joining me. Are you excited or what? Uh, before we dig into it though, of course, let’s do some wins this week. I have a handful of wins. I’m going to try not to say cooking again cause that’s what I said last week. I’m becoming way more comfortable in the kitchen and I’ve had some really killer dinners and leftovers. So I’m counting that as a win privately, secretly, and also now publicly. Okay fine. I’ll just call it a win. But I also want to shout out the handful of dance studios that I’ve been working with, eh, in the form of some digital support. Um, Dance Impressions Michelle Latimer Dance Academy and Cary Dance You guys have been so much fun to work with. I’m absolutely counting you and your students among my wins for the week. I’m just learning so much about, uh, transferring my syllabus and my teaching style into a different mode, different platform. Ultimately a different process and process is what we are talking about this week. So very appropriate. Um, let us, Oh, sorry. My bad. Let me give you your moment. Hit me with your wins. Say ’em out loud. It’s really important. Go.
Okay, great. If you need more time, please don’t let me stop you. Just hit pause. Keep going with your wins. It’s very important that you do that.
Okay. So the word process has been coming up a lot lately. Um on the podcast, I talk a lot about creative process and um, it’s also been coming up in like casual conversations. People saying things like, I don’t know, I’m still processing. Another example, the SBA, uh, assessing my application for the PPP, paycheck protection program. So fingers are crossed for that. Um, here’s another fun one that I heard recently. Uh, how long should I let this color process? Oh my God, I miss my hairdresser. Hehe, uh, yes, maybe you shouldn’t be, um, processing your own hair, doing your own color or cutting it. Just a thought. There are certain things that really ought to be left to the professionals and trust me in the COVID moment, we’re all experiencing new in terms of life and also our hair. I’m just going to encourage that you accept it for what it is and process that. Oh, also, here’s a fun game. Speaking of process, keep track of the number of times I say process in this episode and then do that many pushups per day starting now, whatever day it is, uh, for like the rest of the month or a month from now. And um, just go ahead and see how shredded you become. Look out beach bod. Even if it’s not for a year that you see a beach again, you’ll be ready for it when the day does come. Okay. So starting now it’s process time. So the word process when used as a noun means according to Merriam Webster, a usually fixed or ordered series of actions or events that lead to a result. Okay. Well this explains sort of the creative process in my mind. It’s something that moves forward or occasionally spirals. Um, but it’s always moving. And at the end there is a result. There’s this thing, whether it’s a show or a step or a film or you, you get the, gist in the last two episodes, I have talked to the seaweed sisters a little bit about the secrets of our process, which include saying yes, and to any idea. Um, and I also talked to Kat Burns in the last episode, which was 16. So let’s see, Seaweeds were 15. Kat Burns was 16, and Kat talked a lot. How processes differ depending on the format, um, or the medium, whether it’s scripted TV, a stage show or an improv show. Um, and honestly, if you haven’t listened to those episodes, go check those out. Some really golden nuggets in there. But long story short, every project and every person will have a slightly different creative process. So millions, so many different creative processes.
All right, so when used as a verb process means to refine or rectify or even to clarify, to me, it evokes this idea of sitting with something and chewing on it, digesting it until it’s gone. So that’s sort of a difference that gets stirred up in my mind. A creative process results in something, it leaves something at the end versus a process of refinement or clarifying results in having something completely digested. And then it either goes away or turns into something else completely. So there are probably as many forms of processing emotions as there are creative processes. It’s likely that everyone has their own way or even that their way might change over time or that they’ll use a combination of different ways to deal with different things. And I’m just fascinated by that. A handful of those styles of processing might include journaling or as I like to call it a thought download, which is where I try to just stream of consciousness dump whatever is in my brain. It goes through my arm and my hand and lands on a page or on a pixel via a keyboard or pen. Um, but there’s also therapy counseling, you know, talking to somebody. And then there’s also DMT or dance movement therapy, which is made up of countless techniques and exercises that are designed to ultimately create awareness of mind and body. I will be very clear, I am not a dance movement therapist. I use dance to tell stories. I use dance to make money and yes, sometimes I dance explicitly for fun. Occasionally I dance as therapy when I’m feeling down in the dumps as I’m sure several of us have, right? Oh and I am learning by the way that dance crying is actually a thing. Literally dancing up all the feels and then dancing them out via tears from your eyes. I love this concept and I really, really love the thought that the more aware we are of our minds and our bodies and the sensations within them, the more able we are to watch and regulate them and even generate new ones, right? Like new feelings in our body. We can control them, make decisions about them and our emotional experience of the world is effected. My job and a huge part of my life revolves around being in touch with my body and controlling it, being deliberate with its movements and using it to get a job done to craft shapes and phrases that convey emotion or information to give form to feelings to exteriorize the interior. That is my jam. That is what I do. Now, It’s the third week of April and I’ve been distancing since March 6th I have been regulating and controlling and deciding the crap out of my daily life. Are you ready for this? Okay. I coach on Monday, Wednesday and Friday I film new combos to send to studios on Saturdays. Sundays are seaweed sister sessions followed by deep household cleaning. Then I look at finances on money. Monday I do curbside produce pickup on Tuesday podcasts are Wednesdays, IgG live at five on Thursdays. All the food prep, all the dance classes, all the laundry are happening every day. And I also journal and I stretch daily. Whoa. So I really thought that I was processing these new circumstances along with all of my feelings pretty well. I seems to have found a schedule that appeared to be productive and fulfilling. Oh, but boy, spoiler alert, I certainly wasn’t processing, not all of it. Anyways, how did I find out that I wasn’t, Oh well, as you might imagine on a rainy day, the fourth in a row, I mind you, I had a breakdown, a full blown adult tantrum where hot water poured from my eye holes. And this tantrum was actually the good part. By the way. The water pouring out of my eyes was the release. It was the moment before that was actually super tough. The quiet before the storm, we’ll call it.
That was the moment where I was feeling heavy, slow, foggy, vapid, guilty, just gross. You name it. Dark end of the spectrum. I was feeling it. I tried to motivate myself up out of it. Go, go make up a new combo. I tried, my moves were lame. I stopped. I tried to write a new podcast, but my ideas were mangled and mushy, kind of half formed, gross. I stopped, I tried to make food. It was gross. Oh, you better believe I ate it anyways. And then I felt gross and then I stopped. I just felt stopped. All of it felt pretty stopped. I felt stuck like so many of us probably felt or are currently feeling and for a person who moves for a living, for a self-proclaimed movement master feeling stuck feels pretty awful. Now by default, I’m a person that’s a pretty positive thinker, captain, bright side, Susie sunshine. Like that is how I like to live my life. But I do believe that my life will round out with a natural distribution of emotions like 50% of the time I’ll be good or better. And then the other 50% of the time I’ll be sub good or bad or occasionally awful. Now for the record, I have no scientific evidence to back up that that’s actually how my life will round out. But I have a feeling that if you did analysis on like the past five years of my journals, you’d find some plot points that you could put on a graph and you’d probably be left with a pretty good looking bell-curve. So as I sat there feeling these awful things, I was sitting way at the tail end of my bell curve. I got on the phone for some coaching and this is what I asked my coach. I asked, how do you know when to sit with yourself and your big, ugly, deep dark thoughts? And when do you coach yourself out of it? When do you coach yourself off the ropes? When do you let captain bright side shake some sense into you? Well, here’s what my coach said, and by the way, let’s pause for the cause for a second because there are a lot of different coaches and styles of coaching. Now, there are the types that will break you down to build you up. And then there are the types that will give this air of being almighty all knowing, omnipotent, like they, they know you better than you know yourself and they know the answer to your question even before you know what you’re even asking. Yeah, those are not my coaches. My coaches honor me exactly as I show up. However, broken or built that may be, depending on the day and my coaches helped me see in myself a way that gives me the power to answer my own questions or to make my own decisions. So that’s the type of coaching I’m going in for right here.
So I asked my coach, how do I know how long I should sit with a negative feel? How do I know when it’s time to regulate and step in and do the self coaching or when is it time to move? Like move yourself out of it. Of course she didn’t answer. Instead she asked, okay, what exactly is this negative feel that you’re feeling? And the first word that came to my mind was stuck. I feel stuck. And she said, “okay, where in your body do you feel stuck?” And I said, after a little bit of checking in and thinking I had a feeling she might be expecting like my heart or my throat or my forehead, which are all totally acceptable answers to where do you feel stuck? But I genuinely like I felt it everywhere. I felt it inside my body, every inch of it. I felt it in my blood and she was unfazed by this. Uh, she was a stonewall. She was like, “okay, great. Let’s talk more about your blood.” Which is so funny to say out loud right now, but it was a perfectly reasonable question in that moment. She asked, “what color is your blood?” And I was like, you know, close my eyes and really try to visualize my stuck blood. And I decided that it’s definitely gray but not even like a full, beautiful, deep, dark rich gray but like gray at 50% opacity, like puny, sad, weak gray. And then she said, “all right, got it. Okay, so, um, is your 50% opacity gray blood? Is it moving? Does it have motion to it?” And I said, no, it is definitely still, it is what is stuck. It is the thing that is like freezing up like concrete. And she’s like, “okay, great, great, great. So tell me more about your 50% opacity, concrete blood.” And I just kept explaining the image, my made up idea of what my blood looked like and moved like inside my body. And at a certain point all that digging in was starting to make me tense. So instead of just feeling stuck, I was now feeling tight and I said, man, my now my skin feels too tight right now. I’m really tense. And she said, “Oh good, tell me about your skin.” And I said, it’s, it’s brittle. And she was like, “okay, okay, how else does it feel? Does it have movement?” And it was like, no, no, it’s, it’s too pulled tight to have movement. And she says, “okay, well how is it normally?” And I thought for a second, and I said, I think it’s normally kind of like a plum. You know what? I remember the book To Kill a Mockingbird. I think that’s where I got this from. I think there’s an explanation of skin in that book where they, uh, Harper Lee explained skin as like the skin of a plum. Like it’s supple. It would peel back if it got snagged, but my skin was definitely not that. So as my coach kept asking me to explain my skin, I was coming up with ideas like it’s not definitely not a plum, it’s more like a grapefruit, like thick, porous and, and, and instead of housing a grapefruit, my grapefruit skin is trying to contain a watermelon. And then she said, “okay, good. Let’s go back to your blood. How’s your blood doing?” I was like, are you kidding me? Okay. All right, fine. Was talking about my blood some more. I’m explaining my blood, I’m getting emotional. Then she says, all right, how’s your skin feeling? I’m like, it’s tight. It’s too tight. And she’s like, okay, let’s go back to the blood. Has the blood doing. So we, long story short, we bounced back and forth between talking about my concrete blood that was now bubbling to my grapefruit skin that’s trying to contain a watermelon. And then she asked one last time, how’s your blood? And I said, well, it’s not stuck anymore. The stuck was gone and it was replaced by, you know, blubbering hot waterfall of other emotions. But stuck was definitely gone. So the answer to my question, how do you know how long you should sit with the negative fields? Well, sit with them, be with them, experience them deeply until they’re gone. The answer to my question, when is it time to move yourself out of it is it’s time to move into it. The only way out of it is through it. And the answer to my question, when is it time to regulate? Oh, the answer to that is it’s not time to regulate. It’s time to process. So the next time you’re experiencing life on the downside of the bell curve, stop, look and listen. There’s a good song for that to your body and process. Now the process that I used talking about my, um, now the process that I used revolved really heavily around my awareness of the sensations in my body and my imagination. I mean, come on. Gray, half opacity, concrete blood, grapefruit skin. I mean what an imagination. That is like A plus super kindergartener type style of imagination. This process means giving a color, giving emotion, giving texture, and giving names to this sensation in your body, like to a high degree of detail over and over and over again. And that process might really resonate with you, especially if you’re a dance type that checks in with your body regularly. But it also may not resonate with you. It might not be your style of processing emotions, but it was hugely effective and profoundly moving for me. So I had to share it. My interest and curiosity in, um, we’ll call it mind meets body processing is absolutely peaking. So you better believe I will be getting into, uh, some DMT and other processes for processing emotions in the upcoming weeks and months and probably years. So take a second to think about it for yourself. How do you process emotions? How do you process the events of your life? I would love to hear how you do it. You can message me on the gram @danadaners or you can send me a message via the contact page on my website, which is theDanawilson.com.
All right, my friend, I hope that that um, glimpse at my process for processing emotions gets you thinking about how you process yours. Um, then that is it for today. Thank you so much for listening. Stay safe. Say Whoa. Stay safe, stay soapy and keep it 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, the Dana wilson.com/podcast finally, and most importantly now you have a way to become a wards that moved me members, 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.
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: Hello. Hello, hello. Hello. How are you doing? How’s everybody? Man, if you are like me, then these days are going by so quickly. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s, I’m just being inside and so many days are the same. Um, maybe it’s that I’m filling my schedule every minute of it. Uh, but it’s strange, this sensation of time passing and standing still all at the same time. Maybe it’s just me. I don’t know. Um, this episode, ah, I’m so excited for it. I’m so excited for you to listen to my guest today. Kat Burns. She’s one of my favorite well people period, but also one of my favorite choreographers and she shares so much, um, tremendously valuable insight in this episode. I’m jazzed about it. Uh, but before that, of course we have to do a quick round of wins. My win this week is that I am becoming a person, day by day, meal by meal. Uh, I am becoming a person that is confident in the kitchen. I’m having more fun and I’m having more creative freedom in the kitchen. And I think that’s a win. It’s something that for me has always been a kind of point of insecurity. Um, my husband traditionally is the cook of the household and I’m having so much fun, uh, exploring a bit, really digging that. Okay, so now you go, what’s going well in your world?
You might need a little bit more time. So I encourage you to pause right here if you’re really, really winning, which I really, really hope you are. Um, but this episode is just, it’s something else we gotta get to it. We’re jumping in. Ladies and gentlemen, the one and only Kat Burns.
Dana: Yes. Kat Burns. Welcome to the podcast.
Yeah! Oh, I love wees and woo hoos and yeas, it feels so good. Just smile and I cannot not smile when I, I think Kat Burns. So welcome to the podcast. Introduce yourself for those who may not know who you are, those fools,
Kat: Those nincompoops! Um, people call me Kat burns. I’m Kathryn, uh, Kathyrn Burns, AKA, you know, Kat Burns is my like cool choreo alias. I suppose that that is just kind of taken over. And I’m a choreographer mostly for scripted comedies.
Nice. Um, I really love intro asking people to introduce themselves because it’s sometimes a different story than what the bio would read. Um, uh, your bio leads with, and I think it should, your Emmys your double. Is it two?
It’s two, right. She’s a two timer.
She’s sure. Just a two timer, a measly two time Emmy winner. Um, and I do think it’s, it’s cool to like acknowledge the wins, but it’s also speaks a lot to you that you do not lead with the accolades, but rather with the work itself. And I love your body of work. I love it so much. I love it. Primarily because it’s funny, but also because it’s diverse. Um, can you talk a little bit about the range of work that you do and what is the difference between a digital or scripted format or you do also a lot of live work. I know you came up through UCB, like what is the difference really truly when it comes to choreography between all those different formats.
Oh goodness. Well I appreciate your kind words cause you know, I’m a huge fan of yours and I believe I introduced myself on a street corner and I was like, Hi. Hi. You guys are awesome. Do you want to do my UCB show? And you’re like, okay, great.
I recall, I recall. It’s so funny. I do recall, I recall because I, well it was a seaweed sisters related, um, acknowledgement and the seaweed sisters, uh, Jlilian Meyers, Megan Lawson and myself, we don’t get recognized outside of dancers very often. Um, and when we were not in a dance studio setting, we were literally on the street corner. Uh, so it, it made me feel like, Oh my God, pay attention. This is happening. You guys this, the seaweed sisters, are a thing, we’re being recognized.
It’s like five years ago, I want to say.
Yeah, it was a while back. Yeah. Oh, cool. Um, so thank you. Thank you for your fandom. We can, this is a safe place where we can absolutely be gushing over each other. So don’t let it stop. Um, but I am so curious about the different, um, uh, places that your work lives.
Yeah. So there’s, it’s a, it’s a multi folded, I was gonna say two fold, but it’s uh, you know, lots of folds type an origami fold of answers if you will. Um, I, I think what’s really fun about working scripted comedy or scripted in general is that the choreography is always dependent on the scene. And so by default I’ve been able to hire a lot of experts in a specific genre and then play within story, but still making it proper. Um, and so whether it be like a tango or a musical theater, traditional dance in the street vibe, or a tap dance or a fill in the blank, or even just like specifics that are funny or trying to make, like one of the tricky things was trying to make ’em like a viral video. Like, you know how like video or people like quote unquote dancing bad. Why? What’s the tipping point? Like why is it popular? I need to like recreate those moments as a choreographer when you have two people, it’s like the note was like, it’s too good, it’s too good. And I’m like, it’s not, it’s just like when you have two people dancing together in unison, it’s automatically going to seem more better, more, better. Just the word I like to use because it’s like, I don’t like to say something’s bad. I like to say it can be more better.
It can be more and better and you are the more better maker. Um, I think part of that recipe is definitely accessibility. Like you don’t want to choreograph steps that only a trained dancer could do. So it’s like every, every man dance. Um, and do you do a good job at choreographing dance on a normal non dancing type characters?
I like to call them dance enthusiasts.
Dance enthusiasts. That’s way kinder than what I call them. I call them, I call them normies.
Normies that’s cute. I just think Norm McDonald dancing. When you say normies.
Many Norm McDonald’s. Normies plural. Um, uh, so how many episodes of television would you say you have choreographed to take a ballpark for me?
Well, I actually did a show a year ago celebrating a hundred, cause I was like, when I graduated college, people are like, what’s your dream job? And I said I wanted to choreograph for TV and film, but I have no idea how to do it. And you know, I had to celebrate that because I was like, I guess I figured it out. Yeah, you did. And so well sometimes you’ve got to celebrate a little milestones cause we can be so hard on ourselves on a daily basis that we’re not doing enough or creating enough or being disciplined enough or right.
Girl, I am here for celebrating. Actually I just started a new podcast habit. I start every episode with wins. Were I just talk a little bit about what’s going well.
That’s awesome. I used to have a thing where I would keep champagne in the fridge cause there was always going to be a reason to celebrate.
Yes, I am about that life. And now since we’re in lockdown you’re going to need to keep at least five cause you can’t be leaving. The house as often.
Um, okay. So let’s back up a teeny tiny bit. You mentioned after college when they asked you that question and you answered, I want to choreograph TV and film but you didn’t know how, what was your next step?
Uh, well it was more of like that’s a, that’s a fantasy job that doesn’t really exist
Or not for you.
Right. Uh, so I worked in post-production for years and thought I could use my degree and be an editor and I worked in post houses and like lob dailies and patched digie betas, for recording. Like lobbied editor’s reels over and was just like in the machine room learning about editing and the more responsibility I got, the more anxious I got. But I started, you know, I studied film in college and Mmm. So I was already doing that. And then, you know, you talked about the difference between scripted and stage and then I started at UCB right when they opened their doors pretty much like I was working next door at the clothing shop, um, when they went door to door to meet their neighbors and I was like changing and I stuck my foot out and I was like, “I’ll be right with you!” and my mom was in town and was like, “Hi, welcome to Native.” I was like, “she doesn’t work here. I’ll be right out”. And,
And they were like, you’re in.
And they were like, you’re funny, you should take internships. And I was like, great. And then I just started being a part of that community, like from the ground floor. And so I learned the art of choreographing for a script in a way to like heighten the joke without distracting. And I was already, I’d got a dance agent. I was taking Aisel’s hip hop class. Yes. After like six months of living in LA. So I got the agent, I was dancing sporadically doing like show girly type musical theater, tall girl jobs and realized quickly that I was much taller than everyone else in LA.
Tiny. We’re all micro types. Yeah.
They move so fast? How did they get down to the floor and in one count, tiny legs. Tiny legs. Yeah. I was like, I still have my bevel. You know, you gotta have a sensible walk and a good bevel if you’re tall.
Oh, you ma, you have to have a sensible bevel no matter what I would argue. But definitely if you’re tall. Um, okay. I wa I want to branch in a hundred different directions. I am taking notes.
Uh, but I very frazzled. I didn’t even answer your first question.
I’m pretty sure you did. We talked a little bit about formats and the places that your work lives, which is on 160 episodes of television primarily, right. But also on stages because you do that.
Yeah. And I just did a musical here in LA and I, I’ve done like comedy musicals and LA, uh, which obviously like stage is, is much more collaborative I think is the biggest difference. You have the writers in the room sometimes or you have the director in the room and you have the actors in the room and you have time and you’re playing and you’re creating, I mean obviously like a, the UCB schedule is like, learn it, do it, done. It’s very quick.
And that’s the point.
Yeah. Yeah. Your dress rehearsals off in the performance cause no one’s getting paid and to learning learning curve. But I just did this musical with a wonderful New York team. The musical was called Found and we did it at, um, it’s, Iama Theater Company ’s musical. It was our first ever done at the LA Theater Group. And it, got closed, you know, three weeks before it was supposed to finish. It was New York team. Um, and they were so collaborative and awesome and I was like, Oh, this is what process is, you get to actually create in a room with creatives. Yes. Often on television schedules. You’re often trying to get into the minds of creatives. Like you’re each department heads given a specific ask very, very quickly and within like a 10 minute or less creative conversation, you have to then go off and do your work, present it, change it on the fly if it needs to be changed and be like, this is what I think you want. And from all your references, ID do deduced yeah. Anyways, This was the dance pretty much.
Um, ah, okay. That’s fascinating. So a difference between stage and film being, the amount of time you have and the people that are part of these creative conversations.
Everyone’s process is different. I mean, I think a lot of choreographers, and this also totally depends on the budget of the show they give. It has a budget for rehearsals and the choreographer can have a skeleton crew. They can kind of like massage the choreography and change it and get it to a way and have a few days and have a process. But if you’re like, hi, hired for two days, you have one day of rehearsal, slash prep, slash casting, slash creative slash, whatever, and the next thing you know is you’re on set trying to like leave this dance with a bunch of people you just met. You’re also trying to figure out their personalities and how not to step on toes, but also do your dance, be professional, be fast, pleasant and you know, protect the dance and protect the dancers but also serve the story and serve the process of that. That is making television.
Okay. I had to jump out right there because that’ll just happen real, real fast and I want to make sure that you all caught all of that. Kat just gave a lightspeed masterclass in what it means to be a choreographer. Yes, we decide what the dance is, but then we must lead the dance or teach the dance and occasionally that’s to people that we’ve never met. We have to navigate so many personalities, not just the dancers, but the entire teams. Then we have to protect the dancers, of course, meaning looking out for their working conditions and making sure they’re taking breaks and well taken care of, et cetera. But also we’ve got to be fast and I mean we don’t have to be, but it really helps if you’re pleasant or easy to get along with. And then of course there’s the whole serving the story and serving the big machine that makes the TV show or the stage show or the music video or the fill in the blank. I think it’s super important to remember, especially for the young aspiring choreographers that being a choreographer means so much more than making up the steps. Okay. Let’s get back into it. Kat and I talked about the many hats that she wears, the many jobs that she’s had and the thoughts that led her to become an Emmy winning choreographer.
Dana: What was the, um, what was the step or the chase or the kickball change that took you from editing room to, uh, dance studio or choreography, I guess?
Um, I was always that kid that did a million things so differently. Like when I was young. It was like suck or student dadadada that every dance class imaginable. I was always booked, right. Like I my and I would like highlight all of my times that like college thing happened and I’d be idea as an adult to just do one thing stressed me out and made me so anxious. I felt like I was making like, like signing a death sentence of being like I’m going to do this for the rest of my life and I was super scared. Um, so I think a lot of times I just did a bunch of side jobs. Just that I wasn’t working towards a career necessarily. Like I went, I went, I went to college. I thought state school was supposed to be the thing that you do. And I was like such a rule follower that I had a hard time listening to myself and people were like, I remember like the advice being like what do you think about when you’re at a stoplight? I was like, Oh like I’m always making up things in my head. And even when I was like bored at concerts, I would just zone out cause I’m like, no one’s dancing. This is boring. And I would like choreograph something in my head and I would feel better. And I just realized if I wasn’t dancing or moving, I was sad. I honestly feel that a lot currently with what we’re going through and like I’ll feel such an angst for the world and my heart would be so heavy. And then all, I’ve been just dancing in my studio for hours on end because it’s the only thing that makes me feel relief and joy. Um, so I, I think, I think I, I worked in posts, I thought I wanted to be an editor. I had a million side jobs, I was a paramount page. And then I would like work at a steak house. And like I served, well when I first graduated college I thought I was going to be a Rockette. I made it through all of the, the cuts and stuff and then they just never called.
Well, I’m so glad they didn’t because we got to have you instead. I get that dream though. Oh my gosh. And that audition process is brutal. Congratulations. Holy smokes.
What was my first professional audition ever, ever. And then at the end of the audition, um, this is the second day, they’re taking all my measurements and I said, “I just wanted to let y’all know this was my first audition and you were so nice. Oh really? Oh, is it? Okay.” I had a four by six picture. I just didn’t know. I went to the University of Missouri. I didn’t do like, I never went to New York for a summer or anything. I had never taken from like professionals ever. Actually.
I love this. That’s such a great example of all the grooming in the world doesn’t ensure that you will get your foot in the door and at the same time you can be totally ungroomed and come through the side door or the back door and do phenomenally well.
Yeah, I mean, I envy people that had all this, this massive education and like mine was just like the local dance studio or the dance team. And that was that. And I just was always dancing in my room. Or like at the time it was recording VHS is and learning the dances of Britney Spears, you know, or whatever, studying for exams while watching Cats, the VHS recording of the Broadway show.
All right. Jumping out again this time I had to do it because I think it’s very, very interesting that the thought of doing one thing made Kat anxious and propelled her into doing so many seemingly odd jobs that really stands out to me because to so many people, there’s contentment in doing one thing and having one career and having their job. I think that a lot of people out there would actually feel anxious at the thought of doing all the many things that Kat did from serving steaks and working retail to working as a paramount page, um, pages by the way. Uh, give tours and direct guests and do a great number of tasks on the paramount lot. Um, but dang, she, she even worked in an editing bay. I guess what’s so special to me about Kat and about her journey is that at least from the outside looking in, all of those experiences gave or refined the skills that made her a great choreographer. Yes. Like the dance, the passion, the love of movement and moving has always been there for her. It always brought tremendous joy. But what brought success was the combination of that love of dance plus her many, many unique skills and experiences. Let’s jump back in and hear about the one moment. Well, the one heartbreak that changed the way Kat thought about being a choreographer.
It took a heartbreak. Uh, I was with, I was with someone for eight years, my whole entire twenties, and when that ended, I was so heartbroken that I had no choice but to make myself happy. And that was after I’d been doing UCB classes. I liked dance at Christmas times. I had like dance gigs and I was still doing a million jobs. But there was something about that timing that I was so desperately sad. Like, he kind of was my whole life and when that ended I was like, it was a very clear change of thought. I had been doing this musical that I choreographed and was in called Freak dance the dirtiest forbidden boogaloo at UCB and Matt Besser wrote it, And the premise is whoever dares dance the nastiest wins. And it was like a spoof of all the dance flicks and like the white girl learns how to be poor so she can be a good dancer they lose the community center and then they have to do this dance battle and they make just enough money to win back the community center, yada yada.
I’m so glad that exists.
We did it every Friday for two and a half years at UCB and then one day they were like, we’re making this into a movie. And we all thought we would get replaced by everyone bigger and better. The only person that got replaced was the 20 year old playing the mom and she was replaced by Amy Poehler. So like that makes sense. Um, and right around the time of this breakup, I was filming this movie and they had asked me to like storyboard, what some of the dance numbers would look like. And I was like, I’m not an artist, but I knew it. And there was, there was a something called Work that Butt, and I was like, well, what if there was like a butt flower from overhead? And I was like, butts coming in at like an encapsulated her. And then she had this reveal and was a different outfit, but like storyboarded what these two, they couldn’t afford anyone else. It was also, Mmm. So that was my first job and I was also in it and I also didn’t have an assistant, so it was crazy. And we shot it all in 13 days. It was an original movie musical. With original music with the non dancers as leads and like Drew Droege is one of my favorite comedians and one of the stars and Hal rudnickthey were like the two world’s best dancers. And then we hired, Matt Besser was obsessed with America’s best dance crew. So we hired like Quest crew and The Beat FreaksAnd, um, anyways, so like all of these comedians were like dance dancing in front of all of these crews and I’m just there heartbroken. And I had this epiphany that I was like, Oh, I thought my whole life was supposed to be love and appreciation from this one person. And if they weren’t there I would crumble. And I quickly said to the cast, I was like, I love you guys so much and I need you guys so much. So that was a pivotal moment for me as a creative to have experiences with the people I was having camaraderie with at the time. My coworkers were my family and I would experience and be alive with all of this creative camaraderie that got me through a dark time. And it was just, it’s kind of stuck. It’s kind of stuck with me. Like I, I really, I really feel fortunate that I’m able to like dive into a project with an open heart because I truly look at my collaborators. I mean you like, we’ve gotten to know each other through working together and I have so much love for you but we haven’t, yeah, separate doing something together really. I mean like maybe a few times, but it’s always like let’s get a glass of wine. Great. I see we’re working together. I’m going to like suck up as much yummy hang time as I can. Cause I don’t know, again, cause we’re both busy as the way LA is. Everybody has something next, you know.
Well that is the way LA was my friend.
Certainly people are still like, Oh I can’t, I’ve got a zoom it two. Or Oh I can’t, I stopped like I said 1130 this morning. And I was like, can we do four? Can we push back?
Kat and I talked for a while about the way the LA and the entertainment industry are uh, maneuvering through this COVID crisis. But the radio waves are pumped and coursing with that talk and there’s just so much other goodness to come in this episode. I thought I might just leap frog over that if you don’t mind. And skip ahead to my favorite video submission ever. And the importance of good lip syncing because why not?
When you get an audition submission request from your agent for a Kat Burns project, you go, ALL IN, because working for you is such a treat. Really, truly, I am a sucker for a lovely process. So I got this audition notification and I was like, Oh yeah, I can do this. It’s asking for a doo-wop style background singer and she’s singing to her mom. Um, I happened to be in Denver at the time that I got this notification and it was with my mom and it was in my sister’s gorgeous house and it was like, okay, yeah, this is, this is a no brainer. So I taught my sister the shots and she filmed it for me and I lightly choreographed this thing with just like a chain here and a hip hip here. Nothing like crazy cause I had watched the show before and it’s never, um, it’s never meant to be the like, uh, sit down and watch this dance. It’s like you could do this dance It was a sidebar side side thought of mine to be a dance commentator for dance, YouTube videos in that same, in that same voice. Okay. So made, made the an audition submission sent it in. And I don’t remember if you texted me directly or if my agent did, but you were like, that is obnoxious and hysterical. And will you assist me on this project? Yeah, it was so funny. It was also cool to get my family a peek into my world, right? Like, uh, audition submissions happen or happened pretty regularly and in a very like in a three hour turnaround, I’m expected or asked to create a, create a thing, memorize the lines, make up the moves, capture it, edit it and submit it. And so they got to be there for that. That was super fun. And then
What I loved about your video too is like, a lot of times, you know, as much as I say like I want good acting, the lip sinking is really important. Like, I trust that dancers can nail a dance step, right? It’s really important to me is how you’re emoting. So I see you as this like 1960s, like, you know, shoo bop, shoo whatawhata to dancer. Um, and you totally embodied that character and the lip sinking is really important. Like, um, I had an audition for Carly Rae Jepsen and it was, um, well holding an audition for her and it was like two backup singers that were dancing. And so in the audition I was like, you guys, you’re moving your heads too much. Like you’ll never believe that they’re singing into a mic to like actually pretend like you’re seeing into the mic. Um, don’t you have to, it’s a strange thing to like not whip your hair around because a lot of times dancers really aren’t that focused on- on being the star and being seen and like with our hair around our face and like make some sexy faces was not really about the face, you know?
Right. I have this theory that we’re dancers are um, attractive, not necessarily because we’re good looking but because movement attracts your eye. Like if you imagine a jungle setting and a bush rustles over here, your eye goes to that and I think dancers have gotten really are the good ones anyways, have gotten good about being attention, getting when they need to and just the right amount of rustle versus being distracting. And especially if you’re in a tight shot, moving your head around is distracting and its as you mentioned, very plainly, not the way that background singers would do it. Um, that’s a great consideration. I think it’s an important skill and maybe we don’t spend enough time on it.
And you also the the why it’s hard is that to believe that we believably be a good lip syncer you have to sing out loud so your breath is different. So although it looks like an easy dance when you’re actually singing out loud, the, the, the beats are counterintuitive to like, like the pickups of the lyrics are going to be before the one. And it’s tricky to get your brain around the lyrics and have your body do what the music is doing. As you’re acting, and singing out loud and thinking about your breath, you can’t just breathe through your nose and make whatever weird sounds you need to make to get through the aggression of the dance
It’s a much different skill. I came across this issue, uh, a handful of times like hands full, like multiple hands, like NBA basketball player hands full of times working on In the Heights where we had huge groups of dancers, a part of musical numbers, but we weren’t the people that recorded the vocals.
We weren’t the people that um, you know, not all 150 of them have the script, you know, for a chunk of time during rehearsal we would sit down with pages and learn the lyrics. But even that is expected to happen quite quickly. And not a lot of dancers have the same memory for words that we have for moves. So it, it really is a special skill. I suggest that everybody listening to this podcast right now pick a a movie musical moment, whether it’s LA LA land opening number or anything from crazy ex-girlfriend challenge yourself, give yourself how much would, how much time would you say is allocated to learning lyrics for an episode of crazy ex? When we did the tap number? Um, the prescription one, it wasn’t that long. I want to say that was like maybe 30 minutes.
Well, probably like it was like 30 minutes at the top of rehearsal and I’ve actually had an, I had a big audition in New York. Um, there’s a really great show out now called, uh, Dispatches from elsewhere. It’s Jason Segel ’s new show on AMC. I worked on the finale number and they’re singing and dancing, spoiler alert. Um, and I had to just teach the lyrics real fast because people saying the lyrics was as important as the dancing and there was this really amazing dancer. And then I looked back at my video because I don’t like making cuts, so I just filmed everybody, I really want to see everybody. I want to properly give everyone a chance to be seen by me cause I don’t come to New York, I don’t have auditions much. Um, so anyways, he was like, I was like booked and then I looked and I was like he didn’t Lip sync, a word. And on most of the jobs I do dancers get Face-time like closeups and like, Oh and I’m so, so for “antidepressants” and the, it was all, it was all like fluoxitine, fluoxetine, Our lawyers won’t let us say brand names. Like it was very tricky vernacular. Yes. Medical terms on top of that medical terms, you get pills, pills, therms. Um, but, we had, we had a, we have one day of rehearsal so you could like overnight rehearse it. That’s true. I remember on the day Rachel changed, she changed the lyrics. So what’s tricky is that you had to learn it and then on the day after you’ve been practicing, I think you said change the name of the dog and then change this lyric we’ll re-record it in post. So you guys had to say lyrics out loud. This was what was 30 minutes or less. You had to say lyrics out loud that did not match the audio you are hearing all while doing choreography, you’re fast tap dance and then staying in line and it was like super precision based and like you’re high, you’re a little high here on your airplane arm you need a little bit lower.
We’re taking in all of the, you know, the movement notes that we’re used to, but there’s also not just the learning of the lyrics but the unlearning of the old lyrics and then the relearning of the new lyrics. This is great. Really, truly, if you’re listening, make that an additional challenge. If you’re listening, you’re listening, you’re listening. If you’re, if you’re hearing, um, then yeah, try to learn a thing in 30 minutes and then change it, but don’t change the thing that you’re playing back. That song has to say the same. Your lyrics change. Oh my gosh.
And the timing varies slightly and then the moves or shot. It’s like you have to adjust your timing and your blocking based on what the steady cam operators doing or, or at any point in time, the show runner who’s a showrunner is basically the one that hires all of the writers. They’re like the head, they don’t usually say head writer, but they’re the one who like keeps a tone of the show in general, you know, on the right track and everything and they’re the one that’s sold the show in general. But at any point they can come in and say, why are you doing this? Or, or like, um, or like for that number it was like as you guys were holding, I like added a like a little, a little bop. Yeah. Yeah. And then, um, just constantly finding it until you, like for me it’s like playing until you find what makes you laugh and like got there. That’s it. That’s it. That’s it. That’s it. Okay. Do that. And then, and then at any point someone could say, no, don’t bounce. And so you’ve just been rehearsing it with the bounce and something as simple as that.Like your body wants to bounce, but you can’t. Um, tricky. I don’t know. It’s tricky. And then, and then when I favorite things to like hark on park, her harp, whatever you look that up as I finish this, this tale of woes, but basically. Once it’s cut the end of that she goes Mmm. Basically it’s just like, Oh you guys are, Oh you don’t want to dance anymore. Okay. Like going from dance or to pedestrian and now
Oh wait, this is one of my favorite things to do.
Walk like a dancer. Like it’s hard cause we do that in real life. I act sporadically. And um, I was in a commercial and I had to walk to the elevator and I was wearing heels and they were like, um, excuse me Kathryn, you’re like standing like pretty cause I was like beveling,
Your just like, it’s my Rockette in me.
I just like can’t, you know like when we’re in heels and more like a tight skirt, as a dancer you walk differently naturally. So I had to be like, Oh, I have to ditch how I naturally walk and walk pedestrian, just go to the elevator, like for don’t dance, walk to the elevator, don’t sit in your hip. Pretty
Just pretend like you don’t know how to walk in heels as well.
It’s actually for me, kind of difficult to navigate the middle ground between like dancing like a pro dancer, like JT, backup dancer, pro dancer and dancing like a non dancer that moves well. And then dancing goofy like uh, your, your UCB show right now. Raggle Taggle Dance Hour which I do want to give the floor to for a second cause it’s amazing. We did an opening number, which I want you to talk about, give a little context. Um, but I watched the footage back and I looked at myself, I was like, dude, you were bad dancing. And that’s not the goal. The goal is actually to be dancing really well, but not to be a dancer. And so that’s another layer of intricacy.
Yeah. I think that’s what I’ve found with my work. It’s like, it’s, it’s easy, not easy, hard, not hard, but we’re properly living in a world. Right. So like the reference for this number was the pink Mr emus pink windmill kids, the mill kids or something. It’s like an eighties dance show.
We’re going to link it because it’s, it’s a game changer.
So I, the end of season one wanted the cast of crazy ex to recreate this video and I had that had the costume department hand dye sweats to match the color palette of the early eighties.
This is what we call full out.
And then obviously everyone was like tired or busy and so they’ve just been sitting in my storage for four years.
The costumes or the people that were tired?
The costume department ready to go whenever there very expensive to keep, but it was worth it at the end. But we did the, we recreated the opening video finally. And my dream came true and it’s like feel like, like why it’s so funny and enjoyable is because they are trying to hit it so hard, these little children and it happens to be sloppy and fast, but like you have to go for it with the Gusto and energy of like this is the best thing anyone’s ever seen. And it’s like eighties. You just have to hit really hard. Also like nineties hip hop. You have to hit it so hard that your every bone hurts and it doesn’t look like much or just punching. But like woo, there’s a difference. Um, so you have to hit it with full exuberance.
There is a difference. It’s those shows. Okay. I want to talk about something you just, you mentioned, um, I, well blah, blah words. So I wanted to ask how do you do funny, but I think you’ve already answered my question when you’re talking about the crazy ex episode, uh, with the pharmaceutical drugs and we’re just sitting there, Bob like hands on knees just bopping. And you said you just play with something until it makes you laugh. Is that your general approach to humor and dance
Kind of, I mean, and even like in a good way I, I’ve said this before, but like, um, I think it’s a lot of times when I approach my work, like if it wasn’t funny it’d be cool. No, like we’re trying to like properly live in a genre and a lot of times it feels a bit like a puzzle in my brain for a while. So like it’s important for me to know the tone of a show and to know what their funny is. Like I worked on workaholics and their village is much different than the crazy ex village. What they find funny and their sense of humor, I mean comedy is also super relative, just like dance. There’s like a wide array of good dancing or what you think is good. Right? I can’t tell you how many times a script is like Fosse and you’re like, but what about Fosse are they referencing to? Do they want it to be hyper-sexual? Do they want it to be awkward? Cause like when I think about Fosse it’s like, well he’s, you know, he did like he was inverted, he had, he had musicality that matched his movements, you know what I mean? So it’s like trying to find what it is about that reference that they like. So you kind of have to like get in the brains of the reference and then play within it and then for me it’s like, because I’ve studied comedy and I’ve, I spent my whole childhood watching movie musicals and things like it’s um, I dunno, there’s like a, there’s a, there’s a good or bad or creative process you have to like know when to put the pencil down I guess. So for me it’s like finding it and then sometimes like in crazy ex we kind of found this thing of like, Oh gross. Okay. Yeah, that’s it. That’s it. And you kind of have to push the envelope. I mean there was like S and P issues to standards and practices. So we’re a network show. You can’t just create whatever you want. It has to be approved. And West side story is super particular and has like legislation against you doing like exact choreography, same with Fosse foundation. So, but you know, choreographers don’t own their work and aren’t unionized. So you know
Kat Burns, enter Kat Burns the organizer. I wasn’t sure if we would get to this point and I know that not everybody listening is a choreographer, but I do think that this is really important too. Everyone in creative fields, no matter what they are, uh, choreographers right now, specifically an organization called Choreographers Alliance, which is a nonunion organization are working really, really hard to win choreographers SAG-AFTRA contracts for our work because unlike everybody else on a TV, film or digital sets, choreographers do not have the protection of those union contracts, which means no healthcare, no pension and no residual structure. Um,
No minimum hours work, uh, overtime or anything like that.
So Kat is a staple in the community that’s working to win us an agreement that would support us in that way. Thank you so much.
It just seems like it needs to happen. Everyone else, literally everyone else on set, unless you’re in an assistant role, has union protection and then they have it for SDC, which is stage directors and choreographers Guild. So for Broadway shows, Vegas shows some touring shows, they get a royalty every time their work is used, they own their work, they can, you know, that’s obviously not going to happen necessarily in TV because it’s called a work for hire clause. If you’re a freelancer, um, and writers as well, like, but if they use their work again, they have to pay them. Um, and if you have the union then let’s say dirty dancing, right? Like that’s been like Kenny Ortega . His work has been used so many times and he’s never made any money past that. Same with Vince Patterson from smooth criminal, you create like how easy would it be to be, Oh, we’re going to use this choreography. We’re not going to hire Kenny because he’s off directing in Canada. We’re going to pay him X amount of money just like you would a song. And then the, and then like they can just take the exact choreography and never pay the choreographer or anything. It’s so broken. It’s so broken. But we did it. And it’s about celebrating the wins. As you say. I was asked to recreate Christine and the Queens “Tilted”
Werk, my favorite,
It’s one of my favorites for Better Things for season one. And, and the reason why I was asked this, cause I work with non dancers and they, and it was, it was the whole family. It was the mom, the grandmother and the two daughters. But put on a performance for you. I don’t want to ruin it if you haven’t seen the end of season one.
I haven’t done, I’m going to, I’m writing it down right now. That sounds fascinating. I already,
You already know what’s coming, but it’s okay. There’ll be emotional and beautiful. And I said they were like, we already got the rights to the music and everything and I was like, well did they pay the choreographer? And the awesome line producer was like, well, let me look into it versus saying we’ve already paid. But, um, they actually paid the choreographer for the usage of that work. Um, but that was a big win. They paid the court and I said, you have to credit, there is no union. Like I wouldn’t get credit. And then the person who originally choreographed, it wouldn’t get credit. Right? Like they can do whatever they want. But I said the original choreographer, Marion Motin and I was like, you have to say originally choreographed by and then like adapted by me cause it’s not my choreography, but I was hired as quote unquote THE choreographer. But I need, I just think it’s interesting because now people are doing like Tik Tok videos and they understand currency of dance and like even in this time we’re giving away or work for free, we’re teaching classes for free. We’re trying to help the community. But like, you know, this is how people make their money.
Ah, I, I do want to dig into more of those technical issues and I want to celebrate you going to bat for an instance like that, which I’m sure happens all the time and I’m sure that choreographers who, uh, maybe don’t have as much experience or aren’t as in passionate about the subject as you are, wouldn’t even to ask if that had happened. So I’m really glad that you spoke about that. I think that’s super important.
Choreographers definitely have asked me like even what should my minimum rate be? So like if you’re getting a job and you don’t know what to ask or even how to run a set or anything, like reach out to someone that you know that’s working if you don’t have an agent yourself. And then also I think it’s important that we ask those harder questions. People are only going to give you what you fight for, you know, otherwise they’ll just take advantage and also to know when to back off. I have a solid rule of threes. Like I’ll ask something like three different ways just to make sure that I was heard. And then the answer the third time is still no, I go, okay, well I at least try it.
Here we go. I at least tried thrice. Yeah man, I really wish we had more time to dig into all of these lovely icebergs that we just saw the tip of. But I think that there will be time for that and I hope that people will go find you. Find more of you. Um, you’ve done a handful of podcasts as well. I think that you can be found in this, in this audible world as well. What other podcasts have you jammed on?
Totally Unmorganized. Uh, uh Oh and then Heather and Ava’s, yeah. Yes,The dance room the dance. And then there’s been a, Oh, the Bigfoot Collectors Club . My friend Michael McMillan has a, she has a podcast about, um, about Bigfoot. So I have a lot of non, non dance related content in that. Then my mom and I did a podcast for, My friends, a beauty beauty vegan podcast called Natchbeaut She’s a passionate vegan and finds women owned businesses through beauty and beauty is not my world. So my mom was really good at being the guest, I was just there to be made fun of. Pretty much, which I’m..
You were the link. You were the link between the worlds. Um, well thank you beyond for being my guest today and for sharing so freely. All of your wisdom and humor and insights and tips about lip syncing. You know, there is not a podcast for that yet. Thank you so much for being here. High five across the screen. Great. I think we missed
Your, you’re doing such a good job.
Ah, I so appreciate that. Thank you so much. I’ll talk to you soon. Bye.
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.
The Seaweed Sisters: https://www.theseaweedsisters.com/home
Megan Lawson: Megan Lawson
Jillian Meyers: Jillian Myers,
Dana: Hello everybody and welcome to episode 15. I hope you’re doing good out there and I hope you are ready for this. This episode is a good one. If I do say so myself, although I guess I am pretty biased, but let’s get into it. Starting off with wins. I’m very proud of my win this week because it was a big challenge but a very worthy one. My husband and I shipped over 200 reusable face shields directly to the doctors and the hospitals that need them the most. I’m super proud and if you are interested in how you might be able to, uh, help in a similar way or if you’re interested in helping my husband and I should we decide to do a repeat effort, then go ahead and send me a direct message @danadaners on Instagram. Very much looking forward to hearing from you. Okay. So that’s my win. Now you go, what’s going well in your world? Oh wait.
Okay. Killer. I’m so glad you’re winning. Congratulations.
Now speaking of winning, I finally got to sit down with my two seaweed sisters. It’s okay if you don’t know what that means yet cause you’re about to, um, these two women are probably my biggest influences and I’m just thrilled to share some of what, uh, we, we dug up and dug into. So I hope you enjoy this conversation with Jillian Myers and Megan Lawson, my seaweed sisters.
Dana: I can’t think of a better day than this rainy day to invite my two favorite people, Megan Lawson and Jillian Myers, my seaweed sisters to be podcasts sisters today. Welcome to the podcast, ladies. Thank you for being here. And I’m going to ask you really quickly to introduce yourselves.
it does feel like there should be an applause, right? Like a cheer.
Jillian: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Or I can imagine your theme *sings themesong*
Dana: It’s funky, right? It’s very good. I love it. Much shout up max the music man. Thank you for that funky jingle. Okay, cool. I I take it away. Someone who’s it gonna be, who’s it gonna be?
Megan: And this is probably our most dreaded part. Um, I am Megan Lawson. I am from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. And like my fellow sisters, I am a dancer, choreographer, director, movement coach, teacher, you name it. We got it.
Dana: Beautiful list of things to own. Yeah.
Jillian: And most importantly Seaweed sister
We’re all wearing our matching seaweed sister blouses today. It’s still a blouse. If it’s denim.
Yeah. Why not? It buttons. It’s good. I think, you know, it’s definitely our best swag. Maybe our only swag, but it is the best swag.
So currently our only swag, let’s get on that after the call. We’ll get on the merch. Merch front. Okay. Jilly, who are you?
Oh my gosh. Well you said half of my name, Jillian Meyers. That’s me. Uh, and I, I, I liked the location base. I grew up just outside of Portland, Oregon and have lived in LA for a very long time, I think. Okay. 14, 15 years, something like that. And, uh, dancer, choreographer, teacher, director, mover maker, doer, lover, seaweed, sister.
All right. Um, beautiful, brilliant intros. Thank you. Yes. Okay. So I think I haven’t really kept, uh, a tally. Yeah. But of all the people and ideas that I mentioned on the podcast, I think, I think the seaweed sisters are front runner on most mentioned. Um, and every time I mention it, I feel the need to, uh, introduce or explain us to people who might not know who the seaweed sisters are. And every time I start to do that, I stopped doing that because it’s kind of a challenge to explain exactly what it is that we are. So what I would love to do today is without spoiling any of the magic, just demystify a little bit. Mmm. Who we are and what we do and what is at the core of our universe. You know, what are our guiding principles? What is the seaweed sisters North star? Um, so, so that’s kind of a big bite actually for if for type of podcasts. So I’m going to start with one of my favorite questions to receive about any of our work. And that is Mmm. “What is this? “Usually people are watching or listening and they’re looking and they’re like, okay. Oh yeah. So it’s a video and it’s sorted. Is it dance? Is it, what exactly is this? So on the theme of what is this, I’m going to ask just kind of a, uh, blazing round of questions. Um, and I’m going to ask what is blank? So, uh, let’s start with, Mmm. Ooh. I’ve got a shortlist and they’re all, you’re all kind of challenging. Um, let’s start with… Okay. What is the process, in other words, when Dana, Jillian and Megan get in a room, what is happening in there?
A lot of that, a lot of giggle’s, that’s for sure. We laugh our butts off cause I think, um, we like to do things that tickle us genuinely, genuinely. There we go. Um, so, and if it doesn’t have a tickle or a funny fancy, then a lot of times those things don’t stay. That’s one. I dunno. Magoo what do you got?
Megan: Uh, acceptance, which comes in, uh, in the form of “yes, and” uh, seeing an admiring each other and being a fan is it makes it so easy to make, uh, in the studio because we see one move, we say, yep, That and add a little flippiety floppity. And on it goes.
Yes and, okay, yes. This is a great place to start. Actually. A really good tip of a very big iceberg is this concept of taking silliness very seriously and our general rule for that is to say yes to whatever happens in the room and a modification. Um, this is a widely known improvisation concept. Uh, nothing that we invented or that’s new to the world of creating things actually I think is also even outside of the creative world. Helpful in relationships, helpful in business, helpful in all realms of life. Just saying yes, and
Dance lessons are life lessons!
Dance lessons are life lessons and improv techniques should be life techniques. Um, so it definitely helps that we adore and admire the things that come out of each other. Um, so saying yes is never, I’ve never felt like, Oh, uh, I want to say no. Um, but the answer is always yes, and how else or yes, and what else? Yes, and what more yes, and what does it mean yes, and in what direction? Yes, and can we do it backwards, sideways, upside down in a circle?
Yes, and how many times should we do it? Four times, for sure.
So really, I don’t remember when that began for us, but it has been there almost the entire time, if not the entire time, because with um, I think all three of us are, uh, pretty juicy on the thoughtful front. We’re not ever lacking ideas, I guess I would say, dare I say. Um, so the actual, the editing can be hard and that usually happens in the and part. So all the ideas come up with yes. And then in this and process, we revise and refine and we sort of edit down and we get to a place where all three of us are. Like, I love that. Mmm. And then occasionally in the event that we don’t all three agree, which has happened maybe once or twice, we do kind of go for like a vote. Okay. I really love it. I really love it. Okay, great. I think it’s good. Let’s go for it. Yup.
The real two thirds. Yeah. I think we’ve tried to really stick to that. Like two out of three are in, then we go and we keep moving.
Yup. Nice. I love that. Beautiful. Okay. Tie that up with a bow. Um, what are the seaweed sisters? What are we doing?
Hmm. Long extended pause. For me. This question, the answer is sort of varies depending on who I’m talking to and that might be awful and it might surprise you to hear. Like that. I, I don’t have like an elevator pitch, one size fits all answer to that question. But if I’m talking to an actor or comedian, I say that we are dancers that call on comedy. Whimsy, Mmm. Site specific. Even acting. Mmm. And then if I’m talking to dancers, I say we’re a Yeah. Clown, clown types, actors that use movement to, um, to, to tickle. Um, if I’m talking to parents, I say that we are the Disney and Pixar of dance, which, which is definitely self flattery,
but I don’t think it’s untrue though. not untrue.
It’s not untrue, accessible and relatable to very little young, young ones, young minds, but also, uh, big picture ideas that really hit home for people that have lived a lot of life.
So that I, yeah, I guess my answer to what are we kind of shifts, um, depending on who I’m talking to. Do you guys want to add anything to,
Yeah. I mean, we started as a couple of friends that wanted to dance together. Right? Right. Yeah. As you’ve shared, we are our tribes ladies. We’re, we’re of the same, uh, thoughtfulness and curiosity and desire for, uh, for something different. And one of our bedrocks being discovery, uh, I think that comes into our dance moves themselves. Like, Hey, how else can we move? Uh, but also the, the why and the where and uh, the imagination of, like you said, if you’re talking to parents, we go Disney because it feels relatable and appropriate for everybody. And that inclusivity is important to us.
Yeah. Inclusivity, discovery. These are like are hugely guiding principles and also otherness being being a, um, less identifiable as dancer or woman or lady. And we are this thing,
Oh man, I think, yeah, I’m with you Willis. As far as like kind of the description, you know, kind of being malleable. I think a lot of times I, or what I’ve found myself recently saying, it’s like we’re seaweed sisters is a performance project because it’s like, I like that it can then take on many different shapes because yes, we make videos. Yes, we do. Mmm. You know, live shows. Yes, we do kind of site-specific interactive shows. We’ve done this. And um, I think even though we’ve been at this for six years now, I think, you know, which is wild and awesome. I think we are still kind of like just the way seaweed is a little eh anamorphic or kind of like ever moving an amoeba that kind of is continuously changing shape. I think we want to have that flexibility to try all those different things. Also as you said without a shortage of ideas, we, there’s a lot of things we want to try. So um, yeah I find that I try not to describe it too much so that it can kind of be anything that might appeal to you or you or you, I don’t know. It’s hard but also that’s what I love about it.
That’s a great point is that the seaweed sisters might actually suffer from too much definition, too much description and too much pinning down because although we are six years old, we are only six years old and there is so much to be done.
So that’s, that’s what we are, what we do, what we’re about a little bit video, a little bit, live a little bit site and we also teach because we all teach individually. Sometimes we teach together and because the work is so much about discovery and individuality, personality inclusivity, okay. When we teach seaweed material all and like those little spores go out into the world. Some of the weeds that come back out of that like, Oh man, our extended seaweed family, all of our students. Um, I’m so grateful to them and seeing that because it, okay, after six years of working together, it’s sort of like we’ve established a language in these characters sort of accidentally. Like we never sat at a drawing board and said like, Oh, okay, you’re the dumb one. You’re the dumber one, you’re the dumbest one. We never had that, in that sense, like very different than Disney, way less strategy in terms of like, you know, building the thing that the consumer will love is just like we say yes to ourselves and we say and to each other and, and then, and then the seaweed falls out, go, go, go.
Oh no. Well, I mean I agree so much with what you’re saying. I think a lot of it just kind of is our alchemy Like when we come together, the things that happen and that we don’t question that we just kind of go with it. And what I actually, I’m having memories of like, I think what we most discover or define those things are at like a Q and A situation. Yeah. When students ask us questions or propose things and we’re like, Oh yeah, that, that, that is true. You know, or like I’ll never forget the time and she phrased this question or slash statement so beautifully about women in the industry of physical comedy and, you know, and we were like, Oh, not even something that is consciously on our radar, but yet that is really subconsciously important to all three of us and also just comes out. It’s, you know, a part of who we are. But, um, I remember after that point I really like kind of doing a little research and yeah, just kind of considering that now at the forefront of my mind as a part of what we do, where it’s, it was always present. I just hadn’t thought of it that way.
Yeah. Right. You know, I’ve always in my life valued humor, um, but moving to LA in like 2005 and really gearing my efforts towards becoming a entertainment industry dancer. Okay. Whether that’s backup for an artist or in commercials and film is almost always about being cool or being sexy. And a maybe a combination of the two, a different ratio of those two things, but pretty exclusively cool and sexy. And the seaweed sisters helped me remember how important humor and otherness is to me. And so I think for me, the expected benefit is like rediscovering one of my huge values in life and, uh, delivering to a world that I know and love, right. The entertainment industry, a healthy dose of that, of those values. So that’s been really cool. Um, but what else has sprung from this? Other than some pretty awesome relationships.
Yeah. That actually, that comes to mind so quickly for me is just this sisterhood, uh, yeah. Both creatively, but also you two just activate, uh, the human in me, uh,
Yeah. Yeah. That, uh, I don’t have any sisters biologically. Uh, so you two. Uh, yeah, just, it really opened me to a world of, um, honesty and Whoa, sorry. Wills that just went vulnerable really quick.
That’s the part of it!
Yeah. Yeah. I can, I can offer up anything without fear with you guys. And then that can maybe go into the world and that’s, yeah, it was special and very unexpected. Just like ms emotion.
Oh yes, and. Yes. Yes. Tears and I applaud them. I applaud you. That is another, this is brilliant. Emotionality. Is one of art talents. I think one of our strengths. Oh, and we do have a slogan by the way.
We do, I know, I’m like, which one?
Speaking of strengths.
Oh, strength is not our strength.
Strength is not our strength. If you, if you watch our work, very capable dancers I would say, but never calling on great feats of strength, endurance, stamina even, but emotionality. Yes. You will find. And the, and the full human spectrum. Um, and I, I think that that’s special. Mmm, and unique to us is that even in one work you, you’ll probably see the whole, the whole spectrum. And I think that’s super fun.
And on that same note as well. Uh, and we talk about it and giggle about silliness and how one might watch our work and think like, Oh, that’s funny, but we take our silliness very seriously. And that is how it also is able to connect because we’ve got, it’s still athletic. It still has the dance to reinforce what we’re trying to pass on and it’s, it’s not just a flip flop, but it’s got a lot of work and thought behind it.
Curation, thought. Yeah. Thought and really like specificity. Which yes, at a glance it might seem very more so happenstance, but yeah. Each of those flops and little eye twitches are considered. We talk about them, you know, why is that happening? How do you feel when you do that? Okay, cool. Maybe I’ll try that. And yeah, I think that is also what kind of sets apart our work is that it doesn’t feel hazardous. It isn’t just a kind of cacophony of like things and faces and you know, cause that also happens and can be great. But Mmm. even in it’s kind of, it creates a very specific harmony. I think of that, that it, you know, it touches on all those things quickly. It is like dance that is very at times like very specific and then very loose or free. And uh, we value all of it and try to make it all happen and clear and um, it’s an important part of what we do. And we love that. It’d be a good thing. You know,
Yes. Yeah. Brings us so much joy.
Yeah. It’s the, the process itself, like fuels more process. Um, and the process is deep, right? Like there’s the brainstorming, you mentioned the yes part and then there’s the editing and there’s the stepping back and taking a look. Um, we also are getting pretty, uh, refined in the process to the point where if for example, we’re making a video work, we usually start by settling on a song and then we see, uh, location where this might take place and environment. Yep. And we get in the studio and brainstorm the bits and we say yes. And then we usually make a prototype video.
Which shout out to Dana Wilson who is our technical weed. Yes, yes. It’s come into play to help us so much in our weedness. It’s true.
It’s, it’s definitely helpful when you’re trying to do something that’s difficult to explain as we already demonstrator. So sometimes the best, the best way for us to get a team on board or to explain our vision, um, is to just show. So we’ll do a little prototype. Um, and that helps us get to the next step, which is ultimately producing these things. Um, and let’s talk a little bit about that. Oh guys, I’m reworking my thoughts around passion project that phrase. It’s, it’s a project project. They’re all passion projects because I love what I do. Passion project usually comes with the notation of like low budget project. It is an out of pocket project for us. Nobody’s paying for us to do these other than ourselves. Uh, because of that we, we want to, we want every moment and every dime of it to be a memorable and lovable moment and dime.
Ooh. And wills. Can I throw in also in the thought of like, you know, that collaboration like being such a big part of all of our projects that we’ve made and also is like kind of the origin seed of the seaweed sisters. Why we made anything in the beginning is because none of us had ever gotten to work together. We’ve never all made something together, three dear friends that like, as you said in the commercial kind of sense as far as work goes, had never ended up in the same place. So it was the ultimately the impetus to want that we wanted to make something together to collaborate and that’s how our first making ever happens.
Yes, And! after we made that first thing, which was actually a piece for a live performance, somebody, Lando Wilkin’s approached us about making it into a video. We didn’t even, that was, that happened to us, the, you know, the invite into the video realm, which,
And I wouldn’t even say approach. He just like, yo, you have to, you have to film it at a pool.
I was like, I got up and he was like, I got a friend, we got a camera, let’s go.
Oh, that’s so, yeah. And I love that for anybody. If you see something, you, you never know what those moments are going to turn into. If you hire someone and you, and you’d just give him a little poke. It could, yeah. Ignite so much. Um, okay. This what the heck? Six years later, I’m not sure, inevitably we would have worked together again. Um, but I don’t know if it would have totally, really bonded this puppy. Yes. Thank you. Lando.
Shout out. Do we call him Papa weed? I something like this or elder weed. I don’t know. He’s something.
Um, I think that we just gave new meaning to see something, say something. And I think that’s also part of our process. Right. And we’re always kind of like all eyes on each other in the room and it a little, a little something comes out and we’re like, Oh yes. uh. Um, so see something, say something. I think that’s a great attitude to have out there in the world. Mmm. And in a studio in a creative place. Yeah. Um, and I also want to take a moment to thank you guys for the say something part, always coming with kindness and with consideration. Mmm. Because anybody that’s working in a creative field knows that collaboration is not always encouraging. There’s, a lot of places, points in the process that you can get ripped apart. And, um, I’ve, I’ve never felt that with you guys and I don’t know if that’s the secret to success or if maybe we’re missing something by being less critical. I don’t know. But I love, I subscribed to the sistership and this is one of my favorite creative processes to be that I’ve ever been involved in. It’s just so nurturing and I think it’s great. Yeah. Amen.
And to like expand that back out to kind of where we just were. I think that would go towards all of our collaborators as well. Like have people that are very like Uber creative people, but that care. And um, yeah, I would say any of our collaborators really, especially as far as like friends when we coming to filming things. Um, people that see us, people that are excited about, you know, what, what we want to do and they want to get in there and get dirty. Especially as far as like it being a, a project of love and lower means sometimes, but we really make it mean something.
Yes. Um, financial means and meaningfulness. Yes. Yeah. Or not, uh, not directly linked. Okay. Let’s take a second and talk about our teams then. So we talked a little bit about Lando and the first video, which is called Get Free, right? It was shot by Andrew Rose
And the song is called Get Free, but we called it Get Sea.
Oh, great point. Because we love a play on words if you haven’t noticed. Mmm. And then piece number two, we called the “Sea”quel. Whoa. See what we did there. Um, and that was shot and directed. Bye Isaac Ravishankara um, with Danny Madden as well at the helm. And I don’t know how we even divvied up the titleship to those. It really is it’s big stew. And we just stew in it together.
You hold the camera, you throw the water balloon no more in the face. Now hold it.
Right, right. Um, so and so’s working on storyboard. Will so-and-so is cutting a wig. Well, so-and-so is making the costume. Well, so and so is making sure that hard-drives are all freed up.
That was such a wild weekend. Yeah. We had rented an Airbnb in Joshua tree and it was a weekend of executing the sequel and I have this memory of Danny Madden who is also an animator drawing out the entire storyboard beautifully. I think we still haven’t sent her and uh, and then more friends arrived the next day because we also were performing at Coachella with Hozier that weekend.
Yes. Yes. And Issac who is a dear friend and director is his job. One of his jobs, he danced with us. Yes. He was my partner. I needed a partner.
We were rehearsing Friends were filling up water balloons. Matty Peacock’s in the back filling up balloons, all hands on deck, just all the friends and rehearsing in the Airbnb that night,
Amidst air mattresses.
And you came out. Mmm. Our jackets our weed jackets, which were so dirty, so dirty with lit, with actual dirt.
Shout out Pono, cutting our wigs, getting our jackets. Yes. Yes. There were so many good memories that weekend
Also, I think building and like reinforcing the yes. And uh, there were supposed to be two friends that in the middle of that video there was supposed to be a duel who ended up not making it. And so on the fly in like in the middle of our day when we’re like supposed to shoot it in an hour, we like took like a stop. Everything stopped down. Yeah. Okay. What else can this be now? Because that was accounting for a big part of the song. And so that’s actually when the kind of water balloon fight, idea of Mirage born, and then there are good. The bad, the ugly moment. Yes. Yeah. It was never, that’s not what that, what we thought we were making, but that’s what we made.
That’s incredible. I think that’s another kind of brilliant, Mmm. Metaphor is one of the best properties of seaweed is it’s looseness. Right? Totally. Yeah. And we’re, we’re were three ladies that individually have a lot of plans. We’re very good at making plans, but we’re also very good at rolling with it. When the plans change, would they, which they ultimately will
Always, and again, like two collaborators that are also very strong suited in that remark. Like, Oh, not this. Both of them. Yeah. Like, Oh, not that. Okay. Then what about this, this or this? Like they’re both so good. Another great chance to learn from others in that skill, you know, which was, it’s such a gift.
Oh yeah. I remember being holed up in that bunker. Wait, hold up. H. O. L. E. D. I struggled with that in a previous podcast and I talked to my mom last night, who is my editor. And she was like, honey, it’s hold up like you’re in a hole. And I was like, okay, great. So we were holed up in a literal bunker, like, what are we going to do? But are we going to do? And in my mind, I was like, Oh, we’re going to have to pay for another Airbnb day. We’re gonna have to wait. We’re going to have to blah, blah, blah. And then the answer to that was like, no, thats one of the nos that we did accept and it was substituted by it. Uh, a very colorful and bright and fun idea. I think that’s, yeah, some of the, some of the ways that we solve problems. Mmm. Because of our limitations in time and in finance, uh, are the most creative things. Right? If we had all the money in the world, we’d have just extended a day or hired two new dancers or whatever. But I, I love the creativity that’s resulted from those limitations.
Million percent agreed. Seaweed solutions
Seaweed solutions. While if we get, we should sell a toner, like a facial toner or like a full face line in seaweed solutions.
That’s what you are also our merch captain. I think you’re already tech weed and our merch weed. You’d have a million ideas for seaweed merch.
Mind you, we don’t have any yet, but that’s okay.
Pins, Puzzles magnents.
Oh my gosh. Okay. Listeners vote toe vote on this. Do you guys, are you guys familiar with toevote? Okay. <inaudible> vote on this right now. 3D printed seaweed faces that are a mockup of Mount Rushmore. Yeah. Like just our three faces. Little 3D prints come on.
Toes voting. Yes, So vote yes on that. Yup.
Okay. Let’s keep walking through the catalog really quick. So part tree, um, Isaac and Danny both. And Jackie. Yes. Oh my gosh. Yes. Jackie. Yes. Super shout out Jackie. The best. Yes. If you’re gonna be holed up in a cabin with five people, I would definitely want you five people to be there.
Oh and greer!
There we go. We had a super, super helper. When we say helper, we mean like contributor, energetic healer, um, the many hat wearer.
Many hat wearer, we need a glue gun and a water. And thinking ahead,
There is also the only human, the seaweed universe has ever seen or interacted. It’s her in the soubs with Subaru at the end. So good
Okay. And then from part tree from the lush, lush for us, we go color wise, we jumped back in time, back in time to the birth of weeds. This superstar, crystal clear, pristine, clean, blank space. Um, and we really wanted us to all have been born from the same pod. I remember for a long time of trying to figure out how we could like build a sheth or a cocoon, something where we could be born from. And that was one of the, one of the ideas that I think we did edit out. A Peapod, a pea pod or maybe maybe it didn’t get edited out, just moved to the parking lot for another time. Mmm. But for that, we recruited our dear friends Angela Kohler and Ithyle Griffiths to direct and shoot.
And Ang suggested this place. Right. I feel like, yeah, we kind of had the idea, but she was on the kind of scouted this place and made it possible to have, like, we, I think we, yeah, we thought about a starker environment and she, she made that happen.
You’re so right. And we says, okay, what was it called? Weeses Pieces is that whats its called? Yeah. A little outside LA. A magical place. You’ll, you’ll recognize it from Um, several commercials. And music videos. Uh, Brittany Spears did the one with the Sharks there. Um, and uh, that also cool feature or cool behind the scenes note for the listeners was shot on the summer solstice. Uh, also the hottest day of the year that year. And we are wearing essentially trash bag suits that seal at the neck and rubber hats. So none of us blacked out that day is magical to me.
Not to mention that the way those suits state taught and full is a little fan on the back that pushes air from the outside and pushes it in 114 degrees that day. And we chose that. That was our choice. We also wore unitards underneath those. Oh my gosh. Yes. Holy moly. Oh guys. Oh, the choices. Yeah, we do. We laugh all the time. We choose, we are responsible for all of it.
Right. And we’re standing there looking at ourselves wearing sleeping bags with cut out for arms and we’re like, we chose this. This was our choice. A white unitard white this is great.
Wouldn’t change a thing.
Nope. That was such a fun and challenging day. I also speaking of challenges on that day. Okay. Um, unique challenge to the seaweed sisters. Uh, it’s not every set that you walk onto that you’ll hear somebody say how, how do we make the Flamingo fart? And the answer to that question Daniel Reetz. the Daniel Reetz also known as vice chief, also known as my husband, also known as MacGyver. Yes. Who engineered a remote detonated Flamingo fart enhanced by our editor and special effects super guru Arian Sohili
Who was also camera that day and in the water. And then like sunglasses, the glare from the sun on the water couldn’t like see, I think Ann’s got a migraine that day also for him cause it was so bright. Like she was a pregnant as well. Oh my gosh.
We also bought a trampoline transport and built a trampoline in the middle of nowhere and it just was easier for us to leave it there. So donated that to Reese’s Pieces. Good Job, good job. That took us airborne. We were such little balloon weeds.
That was so much fun. Oh my gosh. As the light was going down, just like hurry, get in there. Jump! Oh my gosh. We were fighting the sun that day even though it was one of the longest days of the year. But Whoa.
We used every bit of that sunlight. Sure did.
Have we ever done a shoot that took more than one day?
I mean, technically sequel, exactly. The second day we did, I think we did a lot of inserts of the water balloons, hence why friends were filling them up in the morning. Like we had to get some stuff, I think flying through the air, the pickup. But other than that, everything has been contained to one day or, or early morning.
So that brings us to the rather important video that we, it’s our most recent video work, which we shot in the back bottom of an empty pool. Yeah. All through the night. So it was a night shoot. And that one was directed by dear seaweed, sister friend and ally Mimi cave.
And it was produced by Heron Bourke and the DP was David Bourke, her husband. Mmm. We had an assistant camera that day. That was Walter Dandy and a gaffer, Austin Michaels. Um, we had an electric, we had a lot of hands this day. Yeah, yeah. Um, and a key grip. Even we had a key grip you guys, that’s important. Uh, Colin Lindsey was our grip and then we even have a magical mystical drone shot at the end of that. Um, and our drone was piloted by Jacob Patrick. Um, but the rest of everything was shot on steady cam by our barnacle brother Devin Jamieson coming through in the clutch. Biggest love.
Who also kind of helped coin or what is this? Because the first time Dev came to her rehearsal cause he’s like, I’d love to see it. Of course. We’re like, yes, come watch end of rehearsal. That was his first remark after we showed him the whole thing, he looked at us and he’s like so what is this like with excitement and curiosity and confusion? Um, and I think that’s the, one of the biggest compliments I have taken away from our seaweed showings is that remark.
Oh my gosh, you’re so right. It’s a compliment. Like when somebody says, what is this? We go, thank you. Thank you. Totally
New tagline. Um, and that is, that’s where we left off with our video works, but that is certainly not the last thing that we have done together. Actually rather important birthed a really, really special and unique and cool and magical and cherished insert. Other positive adjectives, um, relationship with two women who go by Lucius, a musical group. Uh, Jilly, do you want to talk about that a little bit?
Oh man. Uh, yeah, actually again, a pivot point is Mimi. So, um, like rewind back a little bit. I think the ladies from Lucius were looking for just kind of some movement coaching. They’re about to go on tour and Mimi suggested me and so we only got to have a couple of like dance sessions before they left and then I left, I forget. I think we were leaving for Rocky horror. I think this was like at the end of 2015, something like that. And, um, yeah. So it builds a little connection, friendship there and fast forward, kind of keeping in touch. These two ladies are not only incredible, incredible singers, but also lovers of dance. And, uh, they had a couple of shows for new years that they w-wanted to opening acts and they wanted one of their opening acts to be just dance or not just but dance. How about that? And they reached, they reached out to me and they were like, do you happen to know a group of maybe two or three people that would come to San Francisco, it’s not a lot of money and do these couple of shows. And I was like, well, I’m kind of a part of a group of two or three. And they were like, okay, great. They were like, we wanted it to be the, this you guys, you ladies the seaweed sisters, but you know, it, you know, they were like, didn’t want to impose or ask, ask too much. But anyhow, uh, so that provided this really beautiful opportunity for us to, uh, perform live and to make a longer, long, longer work essentially because it was a set. So just like an opener would have a 20 minute set before the band. That’s what they wanted. So in a small space and for people that would have surely never have known who we are before that and maybe let alone ever gotten to just see a dance performance and uh, they brought us into that space with so much like, uh, I think just enthusiasm and support and we’re like, yeah, do your thing. And that was such a gift, not only just the moment itself, but I think for us to then consider what yeah, what, what is a live performance for us? How do we want to interact with people that don’t, wouldn’t know dance or wouldn’t necessarily yeah know who we are. So, Mmm. I dunno. yeah. I really love this moment is a part of our path in the sense of, again, widening and expanding what seaweed, where seaweed can show up, you know. Um, so that was, yeah, send you gifts. So shout out to the Lucious ladies,
Oh, I love big love and, and huge honor. Right. It was very cool. Usually dance and music when they’re together is dance in support of music and in the form of like backup dancers on a concert tour or something like that. Yeah. But we were on the marquee. We had, we were billed as like, you know, the opening act and I remember that being huge as well. I’d never seen that.
And guys, we, we continued on with them. We did two tours with them. Like on the bus, sleeping in the bunks, going to beautiful venues. Uh, and Opening Newport Folk Fest. We did, yes.
That’s where we got these.
That’s right. That’s where we got our blouses Thank you. Wrangler for our customers. Seaweed capes, they are in, I do feel that I have super powers when I wear this thing. Great.
And I wish I could remember. It’s a company that does all the embroidery shoot. Maybe we can look it up, insert later. I forget what it was they were, they are the ones that made it personalized.
We’ll add it to the show notes, be on the lookout show notes. Um, okay. This is, that was a beautiful walk through kind of a And of course the seaweed sisters had big plans for it. 2020, the month of April was deemed seaweed month. Yep. And then the month of April was slapped in the face by COVID-19 we are all three keeping to the social distancing.
Mmm. And I’m proud of us high five across the screen. This was an awesome day. I woke up and my husband was like “Babe, Babe it’s working. “And he showed me this graph that was like what models had projected, um, the reported cases and deaths to be and what they actually are right now. And it’s really looking like this huge social distancing effort, at least in the California area. Is working. So I think that’s super cool.
So that was a lovely walk through the life of the seaweed sisters up to this point. Yeah. And there is certainly much more to it to come. Obviously we period. But now I want to ask, what is, what is seaweed sisters in 10 years,
That’s even harder than, what is he, what sisters now.
Seaweed is a, is a, a live show. Uh, a short film series a animated adventure,
A travel series, a children’s show. series. Series regulars on the Sesame street.
Yeah. I’m an elderweeds puppet experience. Shout out Katie. Katie green. Yup.
Oh man. A feature film. Why not? Let’s throw that out. Okay, excellent. Yeah. Um, Oh and there is also another thing I didn’t mention as far as our identity goes. Uh, on the subject of otherness, we do not speak this language. Um, we speak and other language and I think it’s called seaweed, is that correct? Except to, uh, and it is an improvised language. It doesn’t have a vocabulary or a dictionary or grammar. Just sounds. Um, and we also are coming upon our names, our characters names. And I do want to talk about this for a second cause it’s a fun story. Um, I, an unexpected treat that came as a result of us doing this work is that we have now a lot of young fans out there. We’ve established relationships with some young people. And by young I mean like five years old, three, three to seven have somehow struck a chord unintentionally. Like we didn’t design our work to be that. But somehow, you know, we started hearing from, um, parents in our world saying, I literally use the seaweed sisters as the carrot and stick of my parenting. Like when the kid is good, they get to watch seaweeds sisters. And if they’re bad, they don’t get to watch seaweeds sisters. And like they’re, it’s, it’s hard to rip them from the screen when they’re watching you guys. And that’s such an honor and a treat to hear that. But also I think I find that there’s a like-mindedness to a five year old to a seaweed sister and, um, I, I got my name, my seaweed sister name, which is Zaggy. Yep. Uh, from Megan’s niece,
Sadie. But she’s been, she knew the pink is Megan and Dana is the blue and Jilly is the green one day, uh, her mom Poppy was asking her again, just okay, and who’s that? That’s auntie Megan and who’s that? And she said, that’s Zaggy she just said “What” She said that’s Zaggy and we went, we went with it. I was no, Julian was still Jillian. Dana became Zaggy that day.
I feel like it’s also kind of like, in a way, I think, uh, B-Boy culture, you can’t decide your own name, you kind of have to be gifted it or given it. Also learn same in sign language. Like you have a sign name, something that is only particular to, you know, uh, being able to sign it not audibly say it and it has to be given to you. Same thing. So yeah. Oh, so we’re getting there. Look at you lucky listeners. You get to find us at this cool fork in the road where we’ve been doing stuff for six years and still don’t know our names.
I, I so look forward to seeing future weeds and I’m so grateful for present weeds. Thank you so much for uh, for all of it. Um, but also for being here and sharing some of the super special thing.
We love your Willsy.
Thank you Dana for doing this podcast and making a space for all kinds of thoughts and people to share.
You better believe it. My pleasure. I won’t stop for at least a year. That’s my promise to myself and I’m pretty good at those.
You can do it. You are very good at.
Thank you. It is. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I love you and I’m going to keep my Cape on.
Yeah guys, well done. Love you Dane. Love you so much.
I love you. You’re the best weeds on the planet. Okay, bye. Bye.
And how was that for your daily dose of love and laughter? I wanted to jump out and check in with you and also leave you with a task. But first I did a little digging and I was able to rediscover the custom embroidery company that, that did our denim blouses. They’re called Fort Lonesome. And they do exquisite work. So thank you Fort Lonesome. Shout out. And also we left off an important helping helper from our rather important shoot. And her name is Gina Menchino. Thank you so much Gina for your help. I’m sorry that we got sidetracked before we mentioned your name in the episode. You’re so great. Thank you so much. Um, okay, cool. Now let me leave you with this task. One of my favorite things that came up during this episode was this idea of see something, say something. And of course that’s S E A something, say something. It’s very on-brand. So clearly the seaweed sisters are a nurturing bunch and I think that that’s served us well. And I think that in times like these, a little nurturing could do everybody some good. So I would like to task you with the task of thinking of an artist or a group of artists whose work you adore and admire and then shout them out or call them up better yet blasts in any way, shape or form that you choose and let them know that they’re special. Let them know that their work is making your world a better place. That is what it’s all about after all making the best of this world that we’ve got. So get out there and do it. Get it out of there and keep it funky. Thanks for listening everybody. I’ll talk to you soon.
Thought you we’re 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, the Dana wilson.com/podcast finally, and most importantly now you have a way to become a words that move me the member, so kickball, change over to patrion.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.
Words That Move Me Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/WTMMPodcast
The Seaweed Sisters: https://www.theseaweedsisters.com/home
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/WTMMpodcast and 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.
Tiler Peck: https://www.instagram.com/tilerpeck/?hl=en
New York Times Article: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/13/arts/dance/tiler-peck.html
Words That Move Me Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/WTMMPodcast
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 workshop here 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.