Ep. #5 Is Fear Keeping You Alive, or Eating You Alive?

Ep. #5 Is Fear Keeping You Alive, or Eating You Alive?

 
 
00:00 / 00:31:04
 
1X
 

Episode #5 is here and it’s frighteningly good. This episode digs into #FEAR; The kind that keeps you alive and the other kind that keeps you from LIVING!  Give a listen and cut the ties to fear that are holding you back.

Show Notes:

Quick Links and Further Readings

The Power Of Vulnerability – Brené Brown

The Call to Courage – Brené Brown

Daring Grately – Brené Brown

Failing Your Way to Success

How To Be A Successful Failure

Gift of Fear – Gavin de Becker

Brooke Castillo’s Thought Model

The Farwell – Akwafina Movie

Episode Transcript

Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers like you get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host, master mover, Dana Wilson, and if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artists story, then sit tight. But don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.

DANA:   00:33    Hello and hello. Welcome back to the podcast. This is episode five. Can you believe it? Episode five already. I’m stoked. Thank you so much for joining me. Thank you for tagging me for communicating with me on the socials. Um, a lot of real creative types popping up there. So hip, hip, hooray for all my daily doers. Um, if you are not daily making jump back and listen to episode one, very inspiring, exciting stuff back there. I am daily doing in some way, shape or form working on this podcast. Whoa, podcasts are way more work than I thought, but I’m learning so much about myself. The things that I know, the things that I don’t know, the way that I speak. I’m also learning about, for example, right now how to transcribe my episodes and leave you guys all the awesome show notes so that will now be available to you on all previous episodes as well as this one. If you are listening via Apple podcasts, you click the three little dots in the top right corner, you’ll be able to access shownotes from there. If you are not listening on Apple podcasts, go directly to my website, Thedanawilson.Com/Podcasts and you’ll have all my show notes available there.   

Cool, so if you are digging the podcast, I would love if you would re, ha, reeve a leview you love if you would reeve a leview, or leave a review, whichever suits your fancy. The more reviewed a podcast is, the easier it is to find and I really would love for all our creative types to be able to find these episodes easily. Sharing is caring. Oh, speaking of caring, quick shout out to my mom for calling me up and calling me out on a made up word that I used last week in episode four. She said de-motivated is not a word. Also super shout out to Google for letting me know that I did not make up a word. It turns out de-motivated is a word. Um, unmotivated means that one being lacks motivation. De motivated means that motivation has been taken. Right. That distinction. Very impressive. Also, I had no idea of the difference of those two. I think I really meant unmotivated. De-motivated came out. Google backed me up. Thanks anyways, mom, really appreciate you having my, uh, best interest in mind and really looking out for my grammar. Hmm. Um, let’s see. In this past week I worked on another music video. I taught a great class at movement. Lifestyle. Had so much fun. If you are listening to this on the day of its release, which is Wednesday, I’ll be teaching again this Friday, which is January… Wait for it. Wait for it. 31st, last day of the month. Oh my gosh.  It’s going really fast. Is it just me or is that everyone? Gosh, man. Um, so this past week in my class, we channeled what it means to be attractive. Um, which reminded me of last week’s episode talking about our dancing birds and mating dances and all sorts of fun stuff, but it was really, really challenging to have like Heidi Klum in the mind, but a Muppet or a Fraggle in the body. So much fun. Um, I don’t know if we’ll do that again this week, but I do know that we will have fun again this week. So if you’re in LA, stop by movement lifestyle, I will be teaching at 1130. Killer. Um, let me think. Any other updates? Oh, big one. The nails are off. I got acrylic nails for a job. I don’t remember what episode I talked about this and, but I got my acrylic nails removed. The first thing I did was take out my contacts because I couldn’t do that cause they were too long and Oh my gosh, that felt so good. For all my optometrists out there, please don’t worry, I do have the contacts that are the type that you’re supposedly allowed to sleep in. But Whoa, I had slept in my context for many, many nights. Eyes feel great. Fingers feel great. I feel great in general, crushing it at 2020 again this week. 

Today, However, I want to talk about a specific thing that might be keeping you from crushing it in 2020 and that is fear. Yes, good old fashioned fear. Insert the dramatic Halloween scream right there, which turns out, actually this is an aside, I found out recently that the director of photography from In the Heights, the film that I worked on over the summer last year, Alice Brooks is her name is the scream from scream.  

That’s Alice’s scream. That’s the scream that I want to put in my podcast right now, when I say this episode’s about fear. So now, you know. 

Moving on a couple of weeks ago, I put out a survey on Instagram. Thank you so much for responding by the way, those of you that, that hollered back. Um, I asked what scares you, what are you afraid of? And it was very cool to take a look at my responses. I’ve basically sorted this out. I’ve determined that there are two types of fear, the kind of fear that keeps you alive and the kind of fear that eats you alive. The first one being of course the animal instinct that gives you the freeze, fight or flight response. And then the other one is literally everything else. So let’s talk very quickly about the fear that keeps you alive. Our animal instinct fear has really served us well.  It’s helped us get to the point where most of us are not afraid for our lives on a daily basis. 

Do you remember the game, the Oregon trail, by the way, speaking of fear for your life, it was a computer game that taught us about the early settlers and all of the ways that you can die in the 18 hundreds for example, your wagon might break an axle and you might have to walk yourself to death or you might get dysentery or cholera. Now that is some really scary stuff. Even before that time though, you might’ve been afraid of being trampled in a stampede or you might’ve been afraid that your child might be eaten by a saber tooth tiger. That stuff right there. That is real fear. Now, there’s still a lot of real danger in the modern world. It’s just that our stimuli have changed. We don’t have saber tooth tigers or wagons anymore, which is kind of a shame cause wagons are darn cute. So next week I’m going to talk about one of my favorite books called the gift of fear. And we’ll talk about reading subtle signals in our modern everyday life that could really save your tail. That was an animal instinct pun. Um, especially if you live in Hollywood or if you’re a person that tours frequently

But for today we’re going to discuss in depth the kind of fears that eat you alive or what I referred to in episode 0.5 with my friend Nick Drago as creative fears. So these are the fears that are not really life threatening, but I was shocked that when I put my survey out to Instagram, like 99% of the replies I got were these type of fears. So that’s what we’re going to dig into today. Buckle up, let’s go.  

 8:39 Okay, thanks again for submitting your responses about things that you are afraid of. Please don’t be afraid right now. I’m not going to call anybody out by name. I’m going to actually kind of group some fears together based on a few trends that I noticed. So two things in particular. Almost every response fell under one or both of these two umbrellas. Those two umbrellas are judgment and failure. So I’m thinking if we can tackle these two little guys, we can step into some real big power. Now, last week I introduced Brooke Castillo’s thought model and I’m going to really quickly review on that. But if you haven’t listened to episode four, I really encourage you to do that. The model starts with a circumstance which is a neutral fact about your life. It is provable. It is uncontestable incontestable? Which one is it? Mom, call me.  Circumstances trigger your thoughts. Thoughts are just sentences in your head, which you actually can control. Thanks to your prefrontal cortex. More science words. Thoughts cause your feelings, which are sensations in your body. And those feelings lead to actions, which are what you do or don’t do with your body. And your actions create results, which are always proof of your initial thought. So it’s really important that we choose our thoughts wisely. Okay, so on the subject of fear, I’m not encouraging you to simply not think the thoughts that frighten you. Actually quite the opposite. I’m suggesting that you understand the thoughts that frighten you. I’m suggesting that you get to the core of them. I’m betting that at the core of these fears, you’re probably wrestling with your thoughts about judgment and or failure. And I’m telling you right now that the tiny seed inside the core of the big, big fear is just a feeling, probably an unwanted feeling.  So you see, fear is actually the avoidance of unwanted feelings. It’s your body and your mind’s way of keeping you from experiencing unwanted stuff. But thoughts create your feelings and we get to choose our thoughts. So what if we choose thoughts that lead us in the direction of wanted feelings? One of my favorite ways to illustrate this. There’s a little exercise in metacognition or thinking about thinking, if you’re funky.

 I’d like you to invite an imaginary friend to sit down beside you, preferably a very curious friend, somebody who’s very compassionate, but asks questions that have five-year-old would ask. Maybe this imaginary friend is a five-year-old. They ask a lot of questions like, why? And so what if or what does that even mean? So this imaginary young person is going to ask me tons of questions about my thoughts, and I’m going to rattle off answers as if I know everything.  And once a feeling shows up in the answer, then I’ll know that we’ve gotten to the root of the issue. Let’s start with a a fear of being injured. So if I have a child sitting next to me and I say, “Man, little one, little nugget I am, I’m afraid of being injured.” And that child might say, “why?” And I might say, “because then I won’t be able to do the thing that I love.” And they might say, “why?” And I’ll say, “because I’ll be in pain, if not physically then mentally for sure.” And they might say, “why?” And I might say, “because dance is a part of who I am without it, who am I?” And they might say, “I dunno who are you?” And then I might say, “well, I am an almighty dancer and I can do a unnatural things and I can do anything. And I am indestructable, except for when I’m injured, when I’m injured, I feel mortal and I prefer to feel indestructable.” Okay, ding, ding, ding. There were the feelings that just showed up. When I’m injured, I feel mortal, but I prefer to feel indestructable. So there’s my key feelings there. I’m actually afraid of being injured because I prefer to feel indestructable. Well what if you could be injured and still feel indestructable?  Would you then have the same fear of becoming injured? 

Okay, let’s take a look at a different fear. “I’m afraid my work will be bad.” The child might say to that “why?” And I might say, “because that might mean that I don’t know what I’m doing.” and then that child might say, “when I don’t know something and I ask about it, my teacher calls it learning. Or sometimes when I’m playing, I don’t really know what I’m doing and that can be really, really fun. So what’s wrong with not knowing what you’re doing?”  I might say to that, “well, I really like to play too, but I don’t like feeling unskilled. “ Aha. Here’s my feeling. I’m afraid my work will be bad because I don’t like to feel not good at something. Well, how do you feel about yourself after you’ve learned something really difficult or how do you feel about yourself while you’re playing? Is it possible that you might not be afraid of making bad work if you thought of your work as play, if you thought of it as learning. 

All right, how about this one? “I’m afraid people won’t understand me or won’t get the work. I’m afraid they’ll think I’m bad or stupid.” Kid might say “why?” And I say, if feeling very honest “because I want people to like me. I want people to relate to my work. I want them to think I’m great” and that kid might say, “so what if they don’t?” And then I would probably get real real with myself and I would say, “well then I would feel unwanted. I would feel uncool and I prefer to feel cool. I want to feel appreciated.” Okay, great. So it’s not that I’m afraid of people not understanding me, it’s that I want to avoid feeling unappreciated. Well, what if you felt cool and wanted and appreciated no matter what other people thought of your work? Would the fear still be there? I’m thinking, no.

Okay, here’s one more. What if I told the kid the very, very smart kid, by the way, “’i’m afraid of going to auditions.” Kid might say, “why?” And I’d say, “well, I don’t completely love putting my all on the line in front of hundreds of judgy eyeballs, including a couple pairs of eyeballs that ultimately decide if I will fail or succeed in getting this job or not.” And then the kid might say with all of his wisdom and experience, “isn’t that what being a dancer is putting your all on display for a bunch of eyeballs to look at?”  That smart little sucker. Got me. All right. I’d probably say fine. “Smart little sucker. You got me  I guess it’s not the audition that I’m afraid of. It’s getting cut.” The kid might say “with a knife?!” and I’d be like, “no, we use the word cut as another word for being dismissed or rejected and I guess it feels pretty crappy to be rejected.” Ding, ding, ding. We have a feeling there. Feeling rejected. Well, what if you could go to an audition and not feel rejected no matter what? What if instead of feeling rejected, you felt genuinely sorry for those poor sons of guns that don’t get to work with you? Like what if? What if getting cut actually felt like a surprise birthday party for you? Like what if everyone in the room erupted in applause and there was confetti and streamers and cake every time you got cut, would you still be afraid of going to auditions? Mm. Probably not. I would go all the time.  

Now if you’re like me, you might be getting a little suspicious right around now. Like all of this power of positive thinking stuff. Is there really any grit to it? Like is it real? I remember specifically when that book, the secret became very popular. I had some big questions about that. Like does taping a dollar bill to my ceiling and looking at it in the morning and at night before I go to bed really turn me into a millionaire. 

Now, I could be wrong here, but I highly, highly doubt that this work is a bit different. It’s more systematic and it requires action, some effort and a lot of consciousness. So let’s do that work. Let’s put in a little effort and let’s get real thoughtful about judgment and failure.  

Okay. What is judgment? The internet says and the internet knows that judgment is the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions. Well, that doesn’t sound so bad actually. I kind of loved the idea of being a person that can make considered decisions or sensible conclusions. I wish we could just leave it at that. But the internet also offers an alternative definition and that is misfortune or calamity viewed as a divine punishment. Huge, huge range there. How did we go from sensible conclusions to divine punishment? I don’t know exactly, but considering that judgment is part of what’s kept us humans around for so long, and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, thankfully. I’m going to opt to think of judgment as the first definition. I’m already hard enough on myself as it is I don’t need to think of everyone else in the world is passing divine punishment on me. Gosh, that’s terrifying. All right, so that’s the what of judgment. Now let’s talk about the who. Who gets to pass judgment? Well, one of two people. You or someone else. So let’s talk about judgment from others. At least in dance, I’ll speak specifically for dance. There is no bar exam, there’s no MCAT. There is no one institution that says, all right, you’re good, you’re a dancer, you pass, go on, go dance, go make money doing dance. And I actually think that’s a great thing. I have no student loans because of that thing, and that means that everyone gets to dance even if they can’t afford to go to dance school or take dance test. But here’s where that gets a little bit tricky. In the absence of an almighty dance deity, that gets to click a price tag on us and deem us valuable. It can sometimes feel easier for our minds to give power to literally anyone else instead of keeping it for ourselves.  In other words, instead of saying, I’m great and I know that I’m just getting better, we say, ah, I don’t know if I’m any good. What do you think world? See, I think that seeking validation is not so uncommon. It’s human and I think it’s a result of how we were all raised, but what’s unique to dancers and people making art, especially in entertainment, is that we and our work stand at the epicenter of our pop culture’s screen addiction and fascination with view counts and clicks and engagement. It can be really challenging to separate popular opinion from your opinion. And that can be dangerous because then you have a bunch of people who don’t deeply understand the work determining its value. Yikes. So does having a lot of likes mean that something is good? No. Does having very few likes mean that something is bad? No. So what does make something good or bad? Your thoughts about it. That’s what. And that brings us to your self judgment, which can be a tough one. So I’m going to call on the old thought model.  

If the circumstance is my work and the thought is people will think my work is bad or stupid or somebody’s work will definitely be better. Then the feeling that that thought creates is disempowered. Checking in mom, is that a word? The action that comes as a result of feeling disempowered is actually inaction. You don’t make work. So the result is no work, which proves the original thought is correct. Somebody else’s work is better than your work on a technicality because your work doesn’t exist. So here’s the new model with a little bit of flexing of my prefrontal cortex muscles. I know your brain is not a muscle. I just, it’s an analogy. All right, so the circumstance is still my work, but what if my thought about my work is that I am a person with the tools and determination to make the work that I love. That thought makes me feel empowered, that thought makes me feel motivated and feeling motivated, sends me into action. That action is making work. A lot of it and probably failing a bit along the way. And the result then is that I will have work that I love and I’ll have stronger tools and determination to make even more of it. See, the result is proof of that first thought.  

Now here’s something I didn’t touch on much in the last episode and that is that your results are really just yours. In other words, you won’t have a result like everyone loves my work because you can’t control other people’s thoughts, which I think is a great thing by the way. All right, let’s touch on failure now. What is failure? Well, again, I turned to the internet and the internet says failure is the lack of success. Now to avoid going down an endless pit of defining, defining words, I’m going to skip success, which we’ll talk about in another podcast and I’m going to jump straight to the second definition, of failure, which I really, really like by the way. The internet says that failure is the omission of expected or required action. See, it’s all, it’s not this death, destruction, awful, the worst. It’s just the lack of, or the omission of expected or required action. To me, it’s just simply missing the mark. So some people are so afraid of missing the Mark that they never even shoot. For example, people who would love to become a dancer someday, but they don’t take class because they’re afraid they won’t be good. You know, they’ll miss the mark of greatness so they don’t go. Some people are afraid of missing so big that they set the mark real low, like you know, keeping it real safe, freestyling at a nightclub or lounge or party, but never entering a freestyle battle.  

Did you hear that? That was me raising my hand. Oh, failure.  There is one other way that a lot of us choose to avoid failure. That’s kind of special and that is self sabotage. I say that it’s special because this is a type of avoiding unwanted feelings that actually feels really good, at least in the moment. And then it sneaks up and gets you. Here’s some examples, my personal favorite procrastination, putting things off for later so that you can feel good now. My mom has a famous saying, shout out again mom, love you. Uh, she says, why do today, what you can do tomorrow and why do tomorrow what you can avoid doing all together. Man, mom, you are a professional procrastinator. Here’s another one, another form of self sabotage and that’s drinking or self-medicating and other ways that might seem really harmless or even helpful to an extent in that moment, but man, they can lead straight into the arms of some really undesirable results. Another one might be lying or faking sick, or here’s one that you might not expect. Overworking is total self sabotage the whole time you’re thinking, look at me crush this. I am crushing it. I can totally work until 4:00 AM every night and then wake up at six and then go to the gym and, and and, and, and until you exhaust yourself to the point of injury or inefficiency. Self-sabotage is a sticky one and it deserves a podcast all to itself. So let’s jump back to failure. 

There is a metric ton of research and a boatload of really great talks about failure and specifically failure and its relationship to success. I’ll link to a few of my favorites on my website under the show notes for episode five. Just go to theDanawilson.com/podcasts and click on episode five to get all that good stuff. But for now I want to just point out a couple of my favorite thoughts about failure. Here’s a real popular one. The idea that the more you fail, the more you will succeed. I really love that and I like to think about if there were a number, like what if you knew that exactly 25 fails equals one win. Like a really big win. I bet you’d be down to fail 25 times. If you knew that right after that you would get your big win. Well, I also think that it’d probably take way less than 25 fails to get a win. So just jump in and find out. Another one of my favorites is this, and it’s a quote, and I don’t know who to credit for this quote. ***(post edit) this quote is by Fritz Perls, MD, the psychiatrist and founder of Gestalt Therapy.** So if you do, please let me know. The saying is, “The only difference between fear and excitement, is breath.” Consider that people actually pay money to see scary movies and go to haunted houses and go on roller coasters.  

In a way, fear has been rebranded in our minds as fun. So take a deep breath, put both arms up and scream your whole way to that audition. You’re going to have a ball at some point in there for even just the second. You’re going to have fun, I promise. Oh, here’s another quote and I do know who wrote this one. It’s from the movie the Farewell which is written and directed by Lulu Wong starring Akwafina. And it is one of my favorite movies of 2019 please, please see it. Akwafina’s character’s, mom, whose name I’m blanking on at this particular moment, says, “Chinese people have a saying. When people get cancer, they die. It’s not the cancer that kills them. It’s the fear.” Please go see the farewell so that you understand this powerful context, and also, please don’t let your fears eat you alive. Watch over them with the curiosity and compassion of a young child. Get to the root of them and rewrite them and keep it funky. hahahaha, How come I can’t say that without laughing. Oh, it feels good to laugh. That was a serious one. Whoa, boy. All right, everybody. If you’re digging, what you’re hearing, please leave a review. Send me a message on Instagram or a comment on the website, theDanawilson.com/podcasts and I will talk to you next week. Bye. 

Ep. #4 Stop Thinking Like a Caveman

Ep. #4 Stop Thinking Like a Caveman

 
 
00:00 / 00:29:39
 
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Episode 4 of the podcast gets into your head, literally.  I’m talking BRAINS, and  specifically what makes the modern human’s brain so powerful — The Pre-frontal cortex! I introduce you to Brooke Castillo’s Thought Model and tell you why it is my new favorite tool for managing my mind, and my work. 

Show Notes!

Quick Links:

Brooke Castillo’s Thought Model

Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers like you get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover Dana Wilson, and if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artists story, then sit tight. But don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.

Dana: Hello. Hello and welcome to episode four. Thank you so much for being here. I am jazzed about this episode and I’m jazzed about this year. So far I’ve been doing daily all over the place. I just worked on another music video in New York city that I am very excited about because I made new friends and learned new things. Learning is good. I love learning. I also spent the weekend teaching some workshops in Portland. Well, I guess technically it was Vancouver, Seattle. Um, I was super motivated by Chloe’s interview in last week’s episode, episode three, and I also wound up taking some class over the last week, which is honestly is my first class of the year. I took hip hop with David Moore. So much fun and then over the weekend I took a ballet class, which is only a little bit less fun because I get really stressed out when I take ballet class.
I’m working on it anyways. My daily doing has been going well. How about yours? In episode one I posted a challenge, really encourage you guys to make something creative every single day and so far so many of you guys have given me feedback about your projects. A special shout out to @RebeccaWrangler for tagging me every single day this year so far it is really, really cool. Like such a treat to see what you come up with every day. You’re doing great. Keep it up. Keep the communications open. Please feel free to ask me questions. Tug on my ear or send me a little message if you feel like you’re running low on inspo, let me know know, I really did. I said that. Okay, so everybody’s crushing it at 2020 looking good. Feeling good must be good. Today I toss that up to being humans. We are humans. And that is such a great thing because according to humans, human beings are regarded as the most intelligent being on the planet. Now, of course, since humans are the one doing the regarding, it’s kind of biased. So I decided to dig around on the internet and um, learn a little bit about intelligence and intelligent beings. Uh, so basically I’m an expert now on brains and intelligence and I want to tell you a little bit about what I’ve learned recently. Okay. Number one, the primary difference between modern man and our planetary cohabitants like, um, plants and animals, and even historically cave people. The biggest difference between us is our brain. So our brains have evolved a lot over time. Well, they evolve a lot just in a human’s lifetime. But in the history of the human race, the human brain has evolved a lot. The average human brain weighs about three pounds.
That’s roughly the same weight as a dolphin’s brain and that is a lot less then a whale’s brain, which weighs on average like 13 pounds and a human brain weighs way more than the average orangutan’s brain, which weighs only 13 ounces. Okay, so now that you know how much, several different brains weigh I should tell you that it’s not actually the size or the weight that’s linked to intelligence, it’s actually the ratio of the brain mass to the body mass. For humans, that’s about 2%, 2% of our entire body mass is our brain. Okay. Go ahead and file that under possibly useless information. What I really want to talk about today though is the ratio of one particular part of the brain in relationship to the rest of the brain. That part of the brain is the prefrontal cortex, the prefrontal cortex of a human’s brain makes up 10% of the brain mass and that is a lot. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for personality, expression, decision-making, complex behavior and social interactions. Pretty important stuff, especially when it comes to dance. It’s, it’s also really the fun stuff. It’s the stuff that’s not exclusively vital for survival. All of that stuff is the primitive brain, sometimes known as the reptilian brain because as far as the evolution of our brain goes, the reptilian brain came first. The reptilian brain controls the body’s vital autonomic functions like heart rate, breathing, body temperature and balance. Also, all very important for a dancer, I might add.

I like to think of the primitive brain as a five-year-old Danceling that wants to do her own makeup for a competition. Her intentions are good and her instincts are spot on, but that lipstick goes everywhere and the blush is a pink stripe across the cheek and the eye shadow extends all the way to the hairline and the glitter. Oh, the glitter goes everywhere, which is where it will remain forever. In this analogy, the prefrontal cortex is the parent of said, comp kid, and they watch with curiosity and compassion and they hide the eyelash glue because that stuff is toxic and they might even derive a little bit of entertainment out of the whole show. And then of course they clean up the mess.

Now I’m going to stop right here because I don’t want to offend any brain scientists or neuroscientists that might be listening. I’m going to stick to what I know. I am a dancer slash choreographer slash movement coach. Slash. Slash. Slash. I am interested in the majesty of movement. All of it, even non-human movement. Think really quickly about the really awesome, um, fan powered, uh, dancing men. Are you seeing it? Um, the, the, how do I explain them? The guys at the car wash, the dancing car, wash kites. What are they? They’re not inflatable because they’re open-ended. Wow. This is a really good question. Does anybody know what those things are called? (**edit note: They are called air dancers) I would love to know the car wash guys. Those things are incredible. I’m so inspired by those guys. Or, um, the Boston dynamics robot dog called spot. Have you seen him? Have you seen him dance to “uptown funk“? It’s incredible. I would have made some different choreographic decisions there, but regardless, still quite impressive. Speaking of impressive, have you seen the, I think it’s called “Our Planet”. The Netflix special. It’s narrated by David Attenborough. There’s a section specifically about birds and there’s a bird called a Blue Manakin, M, A, N, A, K, I N. and the blue manakins actually rehearse a bunch of guy mannequins will rehearse together and perform for a female bird. And the thing that’s most special about this other than the rehearsal and the exquisite like formation changes that they do is that they actually have a, a ranking, there’s like a lead bird and then three backup birds. It is fascinating. It is almost my favorite. Actually. My favorite one is the bird of paradise mating dance. I think it’s from the same special. I’m going to find all of these, by the way, and put the links to these videos in the show notes because you will be moved, I promise you. So other than the, uh, the robot dog and the dancing car wash man who don’t really need dance for evolution per se, these birds use dance to attract a mate. Now it is very possible that there was a time when humans used dance solely to attract a mate. In fact, that likely is happening right now somewhere on the planet. But I want to touch on the ways that all of our dance is different. For example, we have organized and categorized techniques. We have disciplines, we have genres, we have our imagination, we have storytelling and narrative style dancing and character style dancing.
And how about therapeutic dance and how about the social benefit or dance that’s made purely for entertainment value. We even have a full blown dance business. See, look at all the ways we are not cavemen. We are so evolved. Our dance is so evolved and the reason for that is because our brain is evolved. Now I’m all for dance, being attractive. Like go out there, get to the club impress all the honeys with your sweet, sweet moves. Yeah, I said, honeys, I’m also all for dance. The business. I’m here for dancers doing well. Go out there, make that money. But I’m most interested in when the body and brain work together to make meaningful movement.

Okay, so what does meaningful movement mean? Well to me that’s any movement that is deliberate and purpose built. For example, some movement might be designed to sell something like commercial style dancing. Whether that’s selling an album by performing with an artist on tour or selling a person by dancing behind them in a music video or selling a product. While, kickball changing in a commercial, all deliberate, all purpose-built might not be earth shattering or emotionally charged, but it is in fact deliberate and purpose-built and it speaks to me in some way. Meaningful movement to me could also be dance that’s designed to connect or express or explore. Now we’re getting to the good stuff. Contact improv, interpretive dance, um, performance art, dance that’s made to challenge the status quo. Or there’s also the dance that’s simply designed to entertain. I’m here for all of it. Of course, you can use a prefrontal cortex to make more interesting dance, but you can also use it in your daily life. Human beings are uniquely capable of choosing our thoughts. So please choose wisely.

Today I want to tell you about a technique that helped me make meaningful work and own it in my business and in my daily life. This is really, really huge. This is like episode four early on for reason cause I have a feeling I’m going to be talking about this a lot in upcoming episodes. I like to think of this as a technique for thinking. This technique for thinking is called the thought model and it was created by a woman named Brooke Castillo. Brooke is a life coach and she is also the creator of The Life Coach School. Now I want to take a moment to step aside and say I was very suspicious of this life coach concept at first. After all, I have been living literally my entire life and I’m still alive. So do I really need a coach? Like where does that fit in?

I suppose when I think about the number of hours I’ve spent training at dance wouldn’t be so unreasonable for me to spend some comparable amount of hours training my mind for life, which is what I’m doing all the time that I’m not dancing. So to put it bluntly, I was curious about the life coaching stuff and my sister had an incredible experience in working with her coach. Uh, she’s the one that actually introduced me to the thought model and you know me and my thoughts on learning, I will try anything. So I really dug into this thought model stuff. I fell in love with it. Although it’s not quite love, it’s definitely work. I fell in, work with it and it works. So I want to tell you about it and hope that it can help you along your creative journey as it has helped mine. Before I go on though, I want to say at this moment, I am not a certified life coach, although I may become one someday. Today I am not. I am simply a person who has practiced self coaching for years and spent several months working with a coach of my own and I’ve got a boatload of enthusiasm about it. So I’m here to share.

Alright, here’s how Brooke breaks it all down. And by all I really do mean everything, all of it. And it all starts with a circumstance. A circumstance is a neutral fact of your life. It’s provable. There is no argument. Circumstances trigger your thoughts. Thoughts are just sentences in your head which you can control. Thanks of course to the prefrontal cortex, thoughts cause your feelings. Feelings are sensations in your body and feelings lead to actions which are the things that your body does or does not do. Those actions cause results, results are the outcomes of your actions. Results are your life, so let me run that through one more time. Circumstances trigger your thoughts, which are just sentences in your head. Thoughts cause feelings which occur in your body. Your feelings lead to actions which are what your body does about those feelings or it doesn’t do in many cases and those actions cause results. That’s what you’re wound up with. Now, the real magic of Brooke Castillo’s thought model is that the result is always proof of the thought. Again, your result is proof of that first thought.

Now I’m going to give you a practical example here. I’ll try to keep it simple, although simple isn’t really my style. Okay? Let’s say you wake up in the morning, you open your window and there is water coming from the sky that is rain. That’s your circumstance cannot be debated. Water coming from the sky is rain. No matter what country you live or what language you speak, or if you’re an optimist or if you’re a not-ptomist or whatever religion you are, you know that is rain. We cannot argue that it is raining. Now the rain triggers a thought, which for me is probably dang it. People are going to be awful drivers today and I’m going to be late. Uh, it’s going to be a crappy day. So that thought then causes a feeling, which is I’m going to go with de-motivated. The circumstance which is rain triggered a thought which was today is going to be crappy, which made me feel demotivated and that lack of motivation probably keeps me dragging my feet a little bit, move a little slower to get out the house, get out. Yeah, this is probably a circumstance. LA drivers really truly are indisputably bad at driving, but I digress. That’s not the point of this model because I’m motivated. I’m moving slow, I’m late all day long, and that usually results in a crappy day. Now, let’s go back from the top and rethink this. What if for the same circumstance, which is I wake up and it’s raining, I open the window, I see the rain and instead I think, Oh my gosh, yes, this reminds me of Gene Kelly in “Singin’ In The Rain” That is my favorite movie. How did today even know to show me my favorite movie right now? This is great. It’s going to be a great day. I’m already inspired. There’s my feeling. The thought of it’s going to be a great day. Gave me the feeling of I’m inspired. The feeling of inspiration is going to send me into action that is quite the opposite of dragging my feet. I’m going to move through my morning activities with momentum, with gusto, maybe even with a hop shuffle step or a step scuff hop, Step scuff, hop, hop. I might even create a piece today. All of the actions that come from feeling inspired are going to land me at the result of having an awesome day. So see how on the result line for each of those things. In the first version, my result was I had a crappy day and was late all day. We’re proof of my initial thought, which is, ah, it’s going to be a crappy day. People can’t drive. I’m going to be late. It’s proof of that thought versus the second model. What an amazing thing. The day to day is showing me my favorite movie. This is the greatest leads me to having a great inspired, romantic, creative, all the things type of day.

Okay. Now I got a little sloppy. I’m going to give you one more example and this one was really big. This is, this is probably the one that tipped me onto the side of the scale of really loving this thought model stuff. So you may have noticed it’s a trend of late to film dance class. A lot of the dance videos you see on YouTube are taken in dance classes at dance studios. Usually towards the end of class, but there’s this like performative show moment at the end of class where a camera man or occasionally the teacher holding a camera. Will film select groups and then that footage will wind up online. This used to really give me some primitive thoughts like some real kid playing in the glitter type of mess. To illustrate, I’ll walk you through my old model with the unmanaged thoughts and then I’ll let my prefrontal cortex take the reins and show you how that changes my end result and ultimately my relationship with dance class and the use of cameras in the classroom.

The circumstance, the neutral indisputable fact is that there are now video cameras in dance classes. Now I can’t really get much more neutral than that cameras in the classroom. I’m not saying it sucks that there are cameras in the classroom. I’m not saying that everybody films class and that’s awful. I’m saying the neutral circumstance is cameras in the classroom. Now that neutral circumstance for me triggers some thoughts that look a little something like this. You have to be perfect on camera and class is supposed to be a place where you can be imperfect. Class is supposed to be a place where you can be vulnerable and mess up and look bad and then get better. Class is ruined. Now that thought, or I should say those thoughts make me feel robbed. I feel like I had a special thing with the class that used to be, and that class has been robbed by this stupid camera device and now I don’t have it anymore. I feel robbed, feeling robbed. I don’t know if you’ve actually been rubbed. Oh my gosh. It’s so awful. I don’t know. I remember I had my cell phone stolen once and I felt like never leaving my house again. I felt like I couldn’t trust anyone. Um, we felt insecure out in the world. Kind of a awful feeling in general, but feeling like class had been taken from me felt kind of similar. I didn’t want to go anymore. I just didn’t want to leave the house. Once I started seeing all these class videos pop up, it made me stop taking class. So feeling robbed led me to the action of actual inaction, not taking class anymore. So the result of me not taking class anymore is that class was dead to me.

Okay. Let’s rework this model, circumstances the same. There are cameras in the classroom. Now before we go any further at all, I want to ask, what is a camera? How would you explain a camera to an alien from another planet or to a five year old? I would explain it like this. A camera is a collection of glass parts and plastic parts and occasionally some metal parts that is put together in a way that allows it to capture light and remember a moment or a series of moments forever. Okay? Nothing about an actual camera means that you have to be perfect. See, that is the real breakthrough. The circumstance is a camera in a classroom and I can choose a thought that is not, I have to be perfect on camera. So what if I decided to choose this thought? What if the camera was actually the way I measure my progress and show the world this is what dance class is about. Progress, not perfection. Well, dang, if that’s my thought, then all of a sudden my feeling becomes not only empowered but in some crazy way responsible. Now, feeling responsible, feeling empowered. That gets me out my front door and into dance class where whether there’s a camera or not, I will improve because that’s what I believe in. That’s what is important to me. That really changed the game for me. It helped me show up for myself in a way that I had really kind of ruled out. And there’s such tremendous power in that. Now that’s an example of how the model can help in terms of the way you show up for yourself in a training sense. But there is another way to use this model that I really found helpful when it comes to making my work and having a happy and healthy creative process

In this mode, I’m going to start at the end. I’m going to start with the desired result and work backwards to try to find out what thought I need to plant in order to get the results that I’m striving for. So let’s say for example, I’ve been hired to choreograph the new year’s Eve ball drop for Fox. This, by the way, is a true story. Um, back in 2019. Holy smokes, by the way, does anybody remember new year’s Eve of 2019 the times square ball drop? It was for reasoning cold. It rained all day long. Holy smokes. It was nuts. So before I went into that day, I ran myself through a thought model. I knew that my result wind, the result that I wanted is work that I’m proud of. So for me to land at work that I’m proud of, the actions I wanted to take are being prepared every single day, treating my team with kindness and giving them the tools that they needed every single day and not doubting myself in the past. Doubt has really sucked a lot of time out of my creative process. So the three actions that I was committed to are being prepared myself, the individual supporting my team, giving them all the tools they needed and promising to not doubt myself. Those were my three action points. So then I have to ask myself what is the feeling that will lead me to take those actions? That feeling is capable. If I feel like I can do it, I will be prepared. I will support my team and I will not spend any time doubting myself. All right, now let’s keep working backwards. Then what is the thought that will make me feel capable? The thought that I chose that made me feel capable, and this is the thought that I love, is I was built for this. Yeah. Waking up in the morning thinking I was built to do this is maybe most empowering thought that you can give yourself. Walking to the train, I’m built for this. Listening to the music, I’m built for this. Warming up my dancers, I am built for this. Talking to the hosts, staging the scenes, working tiny ins and outs, talking Snoop dog through his staging, I am built for this. That thought constantly gave me the feeling of I am capable and the feeling I am capable sent me into actions that landed me firmly at work that I am proud of and the thing that I’m most proud of in terms of that work is that it was created and a happy and healthy environment. Well, aside from the rain, that is, that was super unhealthy. I am surprised nobody came down with pneumonia. That was crazy. I wonder how, how cold it actually was. I’ll find out. I’ll put that in the show notes too. (** Edit note, can’t find exactly what the temperature was but it looks like it was around 50* with rain. The coldest ever new years eve in New York was -1 degrees in 1918)

Okay. That’s the thought model in a super, super fast nutshell. In a fast nutshell. Imagine a nutshell going really fast right now. All right. It’s a big bite. It’s a lot to think about. So try to remember C T F A R circumstance, thought, feeling, action result. Should we give that in? My very excellent mother just made us nine pancakes thing. What are those called? Numeric device. Pneumonic device! Okay. Circumstance. This is happening in real time. C T F A R come through for absolutely. Oh, come through for … didn’t results…come through for candy, tiger fiction action rendezvous. You know, I don’t… dancer’s choice! Okay? Try to remember. Circumstances lead to thoughts. Your thoughts cause your feelings, your feelings cause your actions and your actions create your results. Your results are your life, so dang it. Celebrate that your prefrontal cortex makes up 10% of your brain and choose your thoughts wisely. All right, now go. Go out there. Use that prefrontal cortex. Make interesting work. Work on yourself. Work together and keep it funky. Makes me smile. Keep it funky.

Ep. #3 Dance Lessons are Life Lessons with Chloe Arnold

Ep. #3 Dance Lessons are Life Lessons with Chloe Arnold

 
 
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If knowledge is power… this episode is a super hero! I talk to Emmy nominated choreographer and master teacher, Chloe Arnold, about the education that didn’t only land her at the top of the industry.. it taught her to elevate her community along with her. If you’re looking for the motivation to take your training to the next level, this episode is for you

Show Notes:

Quick Links:

Follow Chloe: Website, Instagram, Youtube

Transcript:

Intro: This is words that move me. The podcast were movers and shakers like you get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host, master mover, Dana Wilson, and if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh, and is looking to rewrite the starving artists story, then sit tight. But don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.  

Dana: Hi there. I am so excited that you’re joining me. Today is a big, big day. It is a great day. It is a super day. I’d like to dig right in, but first a word from our sponsors. No sponsors, just my words. So let’s dig in. We start with a story. It is a true story. Once upon a five years ago, I was teaching a dance class, big old dance class. Picture, a hotel ballroom with low pile carpet and one of those wooden like wedding dance floors right in the middle of it. Now add about 100 to 125 dancers. Oh, and those dancers are between 7 and 10 years old. Oh yes. I know what you’re thinking. That’s a lot of 7 to 10 year olds. I agree and I think that life is like a ballroom full of 7 to 10 year olds. You never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes it’s cartwheels. Sometimes it’s a deeply insightful conversation and sometimes it’s a pants pee. You really never know. Now there’s loud music. We’re in the thick of it. We’re sweating, we’re dancing. It’s going well. Everybody’s hitting the steps, which is dance talk by the way, for doing the steps well, and there’s maybe like 20 minutes left of class. It’s usually around this time that I like to throw a little curve ball, not an actual curve ball. Of course, I’m not a sports type. This is basically the point of the class where I like to shift the focus to being more about a verbal communication. So I decided to ask the room a question and I’m expecting a few brave souls to raise their hand and answer, Oh no, no, not this group. A sea of tiny arms and hands sprout up. I swear nearly every person in the room raised their hand or both hands in some cases.  

You know it’s very funny actually. You can tell a lot about a person by the way they raise their hand. Think about it and observe next time. Okay, so cut to the chase. I asked the room of seven to 10 year olds, mind you, “why do you dance?” And these are some of the answers that I got back. Okay. Anonymous dancling number one says “because I can’t not dance” and I thought, Hmm, I’m impressed. I would go to your birthday party. Anonymous dancling number two says, “because it’s how I choose to express myself.” Also a good call. I love that you’re 7 to 10 years old and you have a number of ways that you can express yourself. This is just one of them. Your chosen way to express yourself. This is great. I’m thinking I can’t get enough. Who’s next? And a young danceling catches my eye. She’s wearing thick glasses and I can’t remember what color, orange maybe. I remember looking at her and thinking, Oh, you’re little miss sunshine. I cannot wait to hear what you have to say. So I call on little miss sunshine and she says, “because dance lessons are life lessons.” And at this point I’m blown away. I’m speechless because she’s right or her mom was right or her PR coach was right, but something about her delivery and the slight veil of steam on the inside of her glasses where it rested on her cheeks. Something told me those were her words and she could not be more right. Dance lessons are life lessons. Now the message here is not for everyone to go and enroll in dance class so that they can start kicking butt at life. Although that would be great for my industry. The message is actually that if you can master the art of learning, you can master anything.  

Now, not every one of my students will grow up to be a professional dancer or choreographer, but they will grow up to be something special because they have a place to practice. Things like taking direction, giving direction, and my personal favorite changing direction. And that’s even on top of things like managing a schedule, articulating complex thoughts and feelings and of course sewing. That’s right. Point shoes. Don’t come with the ribbons on them. You have to do that yourself. Today’s guest has more to say about tap shoes than point shoes, and she’s also going to tell us about how her education shaped her life. Chloe Arnold is an Emmy nominated choreographer, master teacher, entrepreneur, co-creator of the globally famous syncopated ladies, and she’s a dear friend of mine. I’m so lucky. It’s insane. Chloe is a bonafide master learner and I am thrilled to get to learn from her. I can’t think of anyone that’s a bigger advocate for dance and she’s got an Ivy league education to boot. I hope you enjoy and learn a boatload from this conversation with Chloe Arnold. 

Dana: Holy smokes. Um, introduce yourself. 

Chloe: Well, hello everybody. I am so excited to be on your podcast. Dana Wilson. Um, who am I? Well, I am a professional tap dancer, entrepreneur, choreographer. Um, I created a company called syncopated ladies, which is an all female tap dancing band with a mission to bring tap dance to pop culture in a respectful and uplifting way. I also choreograph television. I was recently nominated for an Emmy for the  Late, Late Show with James Cordon. Um, I’ve been working with them for about five years. I’ve choreographed over 50 episodes of television now. And um, my work has been seen online by about 50 million people, uh, from the work that I’ve created. So I’m a content creator and, um, one of my, one of my pinnacle moments and turning points for me was, uh, when Beyonce shared my work and hired me to bring syncopated ladies, um, to represent her. And I am a protege of Debbie Allen and that’s where I learned almost all of the lessons that I’ve applied to my life as a dancer and a business woman entrepreneur.  

Oh. So outside of the school of Debbie Allen, you are also a Columbia graduate. 

Oh yes

So I have this theory that you don’t have to be book smart or even necessarily street smart to be a great dancer, but it’s not a coincidence that the best dancers are also very intelligent. I would love to hear if you could pinpoint the qualities that you gained from your dance training that carried over into helping you through your Columbia days. And also what Ivy league lessons you learned that crossover into making you such a successful dance unit.  

Woo. Okay. So my dance training was quite unique from the standpoint. Well, it started very normal where I was in a strip mall studio and I took ballet, tap, jazz. But my mom recognized that the training wasn’t really, really good. Um, and she had us re choreograph a tap duo that I was a part of. She was like, this is not good. We need to go figure this out. And she sent us to our friend, my friend, my partner’s basement and left us. That’s the interesting thing. She didn’t like come and have oversight. No, she’s like, go figure it out. So, so that was my first experience with a couple of things. One, understanding what it is to have a quality education, right? So understanding when you don’t have someone that is, um, insisting upon your excellence that you have to, you know, look inside yourself and find it and level up yourself.  Right. And so that was a really great lesson and I remember that the teacher ended up letting us keep it because it was good, but that was also the turning point in my mom saying, okay, we need to find somewhere else. But also recognizing that I had this love for tap. So she looked into the newspapers, the trades, well not the trades, they were no trades, the newspaper regular, it’s called the city paper, DC and there happened to be an audition for a youth tap company. And so I went to that youth tap company audition and I got into the company on probation. So I had three months to improve as a tap dancer or I would be out. So I was on probation, and I did improve. And um, and I think that it was wonderful for me to have that deadline because who was practicing? I was in the kitchen when my tap shoes.

In the everywhere. 

Everywhere. Yes. But I re I remember the kitchen the most because that’s where, you know, the loudest part of the house. Right. So, um, and but no, absolutely under my desk in school, everywhere that I could possibly at the bus stop, et cetera, et cetera. So it was great because at a young age, uh, I was responsible for the outcome of my education. So it wasn’t like, Oh my mom can just pay and I’ll get it. If I didn’t level up. It doesn’t matter whether you pay or not, you’re not in it. So that was really great. Then I was in that program and uh, there was this big audition coming to town for a tap show and the teacher told me that I wasn’t ready yet for that big audition. So this is another example where my mom was like, you don’t limit what you’re capable of.  You go try. If it doesn’t work out, that’s fine, but you’re not going to not go. So she sent me against the advice of the director. I ended up getting the audition and I was the youngest kid. Again, I wasn’t, wasn’t necessarily at the level, but you know, people we know as teachers you feel someone’s spirit and the grit. And so that’s what I really learned is through that experience is you can’t let other people set the ceilings for your success or your potential. Even if they love you, even if they’re nice to you, even if you know they believe in you to a certain extent. There are things that you can imagine for yourself that are just far beyond what someone can know is in your imagination. So at a very young age, I learned this idea that there are no ceilings and even if I’m not good enough yet, which I wasn’t and I knew that, that I, I have the ability to practice to become better and I just need an opportunity to go and try. Yeah. So then I had a, there was an African American woman in DC who had been watching me over these years and she approached mom and said, I really think I can do something for your daughter. I would like for her to come work with me. And in actuality, her technique was not necessarily as good as the technique of the program I was in. But my mom again had like a, a vision for like, I think this woman is going to see her in a different way and pull her potential out. And that’s exactly what happened. So I went to this woman, she actually mandated that if we were going to tap, we had to take ballet, modern and jazz, cause she had been on Broadway. So she was like, you’re not going to just be over here just tap dancing by itself. You have to augment, learn as much as you can and it’ll all work symbiotically together. So that was another experience of just because you love one thing, it does not make it the exclusive thing you should learn about. Right. So diverse education of every genre of everything you can do, the more you can learn, the more you’re empowered. So that was an incredible lesson because then it came to save me when I auditioned for my mentor, Debbie Allen and I went in because there was a tap role. So I went in like, Oh am I get this tap role? And I went to the tap audition and Debbie said, that’s great. She loved the tap. She said now go put your jazz shoes on. And that was the big gulp moment. But if I hadn’t had that teacher who had made me diversify, I wouldn’t have known what I was doing and I wasn’t the best again. But I was able to, you know, bring a fire and I was able to get the tap duo role at the show and also do the other genres.

And also choreograph 50 episodes of James Cordon, which was definitely not exclusively tap. 

No, I only for James cordon, we’ve only done tap on two episodes. 

There you have it. 

And so God bless Debbie Allen and my teacher Toni L’ombre for expanding my education because without that greater knowledge I wouldn’t be able to, to have the freedom of expression that I have right now. I learned through all of these and I have to say, in my case, very empowered women. That education will always come to save you in the long run, like your training and education. You don’t know when, you don’t know how, but you will one day hit a roadblock and the things that you learned somewhere from your, your childhood to through college, through your adult life. There will be a lesson in there that will help you surpass that obstacle.  

Okay, I’m going to pause right there because there is a lot of greatness to sink our teeth into. Firstly, I love how much emphasis Chloe puts on quality training. It’s good to have a sense of when you are or when you aren’t getting what you need, but what I really love is the way that she talks about improving even without someone else insisting on your success because to an extent we can’t always choose who our teachers are, but we can choose what kind of student we are and that is what really determines our progress. Chloe was and still is the type of student that puts in time and effort on her own. Even without the supervision or encouragement from others. She also takes big leaps even before others would say she is quote “ready” and I think there’s a lot to be said for that.  I really love the way that she talks about not letting other people, even the people that love you, set the ceiling for your success and what’s possible for you. I really believe that your vision for yourself can be far beyond what others could ever have imagined for you and dreaming that big can be uncomfortable. I’m still getting better at it myself. It takes practice and patience. I’m really interested in the power of goal setting and I’m excited to dig into that in future podcasts. Now, before we dig back in with Chloe, I want to add some thoughts about the importance of diverse training in Chloe’s story. She talks about auditioning for Debbie Allen and the way that her jazz skills came in handy in support of her tap skills and that may have been what tipped the scale in her getting that job. Now, like Chloe, I grew up in a program that required training in many styles.  I was what you would call a “Jack of all and a master of none.” I wasn’t the best at any one style, but I genuinely loved elements of all of them. When I first started auditioning for professional work in Los Angeles, I remember being frustrated because it seemed like all anybody ever wanted was a specialist. They wanted the sharpest of sharp jazz dancers or the most technically flawless ballerinas or the Illest of the illest B-boys, or the sexiest of the sexy ladies. You get the just what I wish somebody had told me then was that by nurturing my diverse training and indulging in other genres, even outside of dance, like acting or mine for example, I’d become not only the best, but the only person quite like me. Let’s jump back in with Chloe and find out more about what makes her so singular.  

In my research. Chloe, I discovered that you were president of your high school all four years, so I’m wondering, have you always loved school or was there something else driving you to the top in terms of education? 

Okay. I’ve always loved school. I’ve always, I’m an overachiever and I think it’s fun. So it’s not like over achiever because I need somebody else’s accolade. I derive pleasure from hard work and like achievement. So from, I was captain of the patrols in fifth grade. Okay. That’s the safety patrols to make sure that everybody in school was A-okay. Like I’ve always, and I’ve ran a campaign at a sash and I had a badge and it’s the captain on it and um, and he had to learn how to like fold your belt. Anyway, I took great pride in it all. I’ve always loved leading and I’ve always been the um, like anti bully campaigner.  So I was always very popular and I, and I liked using my popularity to create equity and that is what I still do right now. I want to make people feel good. And so I think it started at a very young age and then.. And then again in high school, his class president LOL. I was very aware and that was very, I stood up for people. I just stood up for the kids and because I was quote unquote cool, I was able to get the cool kids to be nicer cause I was a nerd. I was a cool nerd. So I was living in both worlds. And as the seeing both sides and also like for the kids that were struggling, a lot of the younger like underclassmen, I would like make incentives cause I, I would be like, I’ll take you to lunch, mind you, like look at a $2 lunch if you get on the honor roll.   And so we’re like, you know, try to use my leadership roles to affect a change. And so now with like syncopated ladies, we just perform for example in, um, Folsom state prison. But the way we were brought there is because the work we created online and we, they knew we had choreographies and pieces of work that could speak to the inmates and give them hope and um, inspiration. And fortunately that’s what happened. And we got so many beautiful messages. For example, one of the inmates said it was the first time in 20 years that he felt free. And so for me, like that’s how education and empowerment come together cause I studied filmmaking at Columbia and I knew going in I was like, I’m going to put tap dance and dance on film and television and that’s how I’m going to change the world.

If your history is any indication of what’s to come, then I’d say you will be changing the world. 

Thanks Dana Wilson. Thank you so much. We’ll Do it together. 

Yeah.  Ah, thank you so much. You’re an inspiration. Alright, in Chloe’s story, her mom always saw great things for her and several other people stepped into the picture because they saw her potential. That’s not a tremendously uncommon narrative, but what is unique and most appealing to me about Chloe’s story is that the guidance and generosity extended by others was not only matched but exceeded by her appetite for hard work and her big picture vision of how she will change the world. My biggest takeaway from this conversation with Chloe is that education and empowerment really go hand in hand and if we’re doing it well, one leads directly to the other. Thank you so much for listening and I will talk to you soon. 

Ep. #2 Doing Daily Pt.2 | The Production of Things

Ep. #2 Doing Daily Pt.2 | The Production of Things

 
 
00:00 / 00:21:45
 
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Episode 2 is action packed! We dig into the perks of a tight feedback loop when sharing your work, my approach to daily making, my every day carry, and what it means to be “a producer”.

Show Notes:

Quick Links:

Words That Move Me Amazon Shopping List: https://amzn.to/37BRUo6

Transcript:

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: Well hello there and welcome back to episode two. I am super stoked about the podcast today and so glad that you are here. I have a couple of updates before we dig into the meat. Number one, the podcast is now available on iTunes and Spotify and Apple podcasts and I got some very exciting news today that uh, words that move me has ranked in the top 100 of performing arts podcasts on Apple. I am flattered. Thank you so much for listening and for sharing and I’m getting a lot of great feedback from many of you, so thank you for that as well. Please do keep it up. I really love hearing from you. Nn a more somber note this week I learned of the passing of one of my favorite artists, Mr John Baldessari. If you don’t know who John Baldessari is, now would be a great time to find out. He is one of my favorite artists of all time and one of the most important conceptual artists of our time. and from what I understand was making art all the way up to the very end. If you don’t know who John Baldessari is, please go find out, celebrate the life and work. John Baldessari, we salute you

In lighter news. I had a couple important firsts this week that I would like to share with you. I worked as a dancer on a music video yesterday and as part of our look, I was on the receiving end for the first time in my life of acrylic nails that are maybe less than an inch long, but it feels like yardsticks hanging off the end of my fingers. Um, they’re gorgeous. Whoa, they’re like shiny and cool. Uh, but I’ve had to relearn how to do everything, especially type. Um, but also get into my car. Unbuckle my seatbelt, buckle my seatbelt, uh, wash my hair, eat food, get food out of my teeth. These are all like super steep learning curve for me right now. So kudos to all the ladies out there who make this work on a daily basis. I am rocked by this. I kinda like it. I think I could get used to it. Um, another first extensions and lots of them, which means lots of glue that I had to get out of my hair today with the fake nails and dish soap. I think it’s all out of there, but right now I do have a deep conditioning treatment in and my head is wrapped with um, some wrap. So if you hear that sound it’s me touching my head. Okay. I think that’s all for updates. Let’s get into the good stuff. Oh no, there’s one more. In case you couldn’t tell I’m sick. I knew this would happen at some point. I didn’t expect for it to be so soon in the series. I apologize that right now you’re having to listen to my stuffiness and the occasional cough. But I’m going to learn so much about editing out sniffles and sneezes and throat clears, so thank you for your patience today as back to 100%

Okay. In episode one, I make the argument for doing daily and I give my definition for creativity. I also talk about the story of how I started my 400 and some consecutive days of videos on Instagram. I talk about going from being afraid of cameras and technology to being about as comfortable in my editing software as I am in a dance studio and becoming a living mother ginger of cameras. I keep them everywhere and I will talk about those in a bit. Also, in the last episode, I touched on the importance of putting the perfectionist in the passenger seat. On a technicality, It’s impossible for all of your work to be your best work, and I believe it’s highly unlikely that your early work will be your best work, so why not get closer to your best work by working every single day? Yes. In episode one, I posed a challenge to all of you to make a creative work every single day even if it sucks and I’ve heard back and seen work from several of you who are on your way already. Congratulations. I’m excited for you.

Okay. I’m going to start by expanding on few of the thoughts from episode one, so if you haven’t listened to that you might want to jump back and catch up, but please if you’re driving, stay right where you are. Don’t touch your phone. I promise I’ll do my best to make this not feel like jumping straight to Return to the King when you haven’t seen the Fellowship or the Two Towers. If this podcast goes well. By the way, I think I will be starting a Lord of the rings appreciation podcast. Big, big fan. Okay. I’m going to start where we left off with the value that I found in making my project public. I loved the fast feedback loop of Instagram and I noticed that relative to other platforms like Facebook or YouTube, the feedback on Instagram tends towards positive. Notice there’s not even a thumbs down option there and I think that’s deliberate. I’m sure it is designed to keep you feeling good so that you stay there longer. Well, I don’t like the thought of somebody else trying to engineer how I spend my time, but I do, as a recovering perfectionist who’s been hard on myself and my body and my work since I was very young, find great value in the occasional pat on the back. That said, this project was a great, really low stakes way for me to practice receiving criticism.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed or if you’ve been on the receiving end, but people can be super harsh from the other side of a screen, and I like most of you, creative types, whether you choose to admit it or not, am a delicate flower. I’m going to talk more about criticism in a future podcast, but for now I’d like to leave you with this Teddy Roosevelt quote, which you may have already heard and encourage you to go watch Brene Brown’s Netflix special, A Call to Courage. All right, here we go Roosevelt.

“It’s not the critic who counts. It’s not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man that’s actually in the arena, whose face is marred with dust and sweat and blood. Who strives valiantly. Who errs, who comes short again and again because there is no effort without error or shortcoming. But who does actually strive to do the deeds? Who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause? Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Whew. Oh my gosh. Brings a tear to my eye. Listen, once you’ve done a daily doodle or daily thing, past 400 days, you can come rip me apart. But until then, as far as I’m concerned, I am untouchable. I am Sparta. Oh man, I would love to use that sound bite here, but I don’t think that is allowed. So moving on now, I’d like to talk about approach.

I’ve been choreographing for close to 20 years and I don’t think my process was the same for any two pieces. I really can’t tell you exactly what to think or do that will get you through a lifetime of fulfilling making. But I can tell you a bit about the mindset and the techniques that helped me get through a year of daily making. First, take your ideas seriously, especially the silly ones. Get ready to start hearing the inner child, AKA artist. Constantly speak up. mine usually said something like, Oh, wouldn’t it be funny if or, Oh, it’d be crazy if, or, Ooh, you should really. And then I got in the habit of listening and when I’d hear sentences start like that, I’d respond to them right away. I wasn’t always in a place where I could act right away, so I’d keep lists. I kept one called “carry on” and the other was called checked baggage. Obviously the carry on is for fast and easily accessible ideas. Something that I thought I could knock out in a couple of hours without much planning. None of them take as long as you think. By the way, go ahead and double it. Then you’re on the right track. All right. The checked baggage list, on the other hand is where I kept bigger ideas that needed a little bit more flushing out. For example, a project that needed a specific location or costume or other people getting involved. Now, if both bags lists, we’re empty. This is what I do and I recommend you do this everyone, regardless of whether or not you’re working on a daily project, when you run out of things on your idea lists, take a field trip or what Julia Cameron, the author of The Artist’s Way calls an artist date. This is a time when you can indulge in curiosity, when you can go deep inside yourself and observe what’s going on there or you can zoom out and sale above all the people in things going on in this world and observe them. I had a lot of my favorite ideas solo on artists dates, speaking of ideas and coming up with new ones. I think it’s important to remember that many great artists have built careers off of going deep on just a few ideas. Take John Baldessari for example, he put dots on faces for years years, so even if you’ve chosen a daily challenge, don’t feel like you need to choose a new idea every single day.

All right. My final offering on the subject of approach is more than a trick or a tool or a rule. It is a way of life. It is. Yes, and. you may be familiar with “yes, and” as being the golden rule of improv comedy. Well, it is not just the golden rule. It is the guiding principle of my life. My favorite illustration of this, and I’m going to, I’m going to ask you to get involved here. I’m going to ask you a question and you’re going to say no. Okay.

Hey, uh, can I tell you a story real quick?

Oh dang. That’s a shame. Dead in the water. Now let’s try again. I’m going to ask a question this time you’re going to answer yes, no matter what I say.

Can I tell you a story real quick?

Cool. Is it okay if it’s about outer space? Right on. Is it okay if it’s about Brittany Spears in outer space? Great. Is it okay if it’s about Brittany Spears in outer space being chased by a space bear? You didn’t even know space bears existed all. Let me tell you about space bears. Can I tell you about space bears? Okay.

You see where this is going? Lot of room for creativity. Just say yes, and then keep going.

All right. As promised, I’m going to talk a little bit about gear. Now there’s a lot of hype and words around cameras and quality and you can talk about pixels and sensor size and frame rates and things until you’re blue in the face, but if you asked me what’s the best camera, I’d say it’s the one you have on you and it’s the one you know how to use no sense in having a big fancy camera if you don’t know how to use it. My arsenal started with an iPhone and is now an iPhone, a galaxy for ease of use when I’m overseas, a VIXA mini, a Sony A 6,000 a DJI Osmo, the pocket gimbal, super cute, uh, Ricoh Theta and the Theta S an Insta 360 1 and an Insta 360 X and a DJI Mavic, which is a drone, which is awesome. All of these are useless if they aren’t charged up, so keep backup chargers and batteries and of course they’re useless if they’re not on me, which is why they’re all small and is why my backpack is heavy.

Pro-tip, by the way, speaking of backpacks, the Lululemon Cruiser, the one that was made in 2014 it’s not the one with hard case for your glasses on the outside. It’s a soft pouch on the outside. All of the pockets on the outsider, soft, three pockets on the outside, two long ones, one, two long vertical ones, and then a horizontal one at the top. Oh my gosh. I might just do a full podcast backpack review someday because I have a lot to say about backpacks. I’m going to keep this very brief. Here’s something that a lot of people don’t think about when they’re buying a backpack. The color of the inside of the backpack. This is where the cruiser gets it, right? Exterior the backpack. Well they may come in many different colors, but exterior black, I love solid black. Interior cream so that I can see all my black items that I keep in there like charging cables, um, tights, leotards, you know, it really helps to be able to see the inside is bright. So Lululemon Cruiser, good luck because I have an eBay search out for them. Usually when they spring up, I buy them right away. Moving right along. What is inside of the backpack is absolutely as important as the backpack itself. Maybe more so. Let me run down a quick list of things that you might not think that you need on an adventure of daily doing, but the, you really, really do number one, a camera or capture system of some sort, SD cards and many of them. Tape. I mean in general, whether you’re in a creative moment or not, you need tape. You might also need cash and you certainly need an all weather notebook just in case it starts to rain. We already covered spare chargers and batteries, so okay.

Moving on to the software front. I love the Adobe suite. Couldn’t recommend it more. lynda.com , lynda.com was the online tutorial that I use to learn the Adobe suite and I am stoked about it. Number one fan, first in line on the mailing list. Absolutely obsessed. Okay, so we’ve talked about the feedback and the approach and the tools. We even covered hardware and software. Now I want to talk about the big picture production, the making of things.

You’ve probably heard the saying it takes a village and that is true, especially for creative projects like films, TV shows, music, but I like to think of it a little bit less as a village and more like a gigantic automobile assembly plant. You know the ones with a big robot, super arm that puts all the parts together? Yes, that one and the parts are all of the different teams. The parts usually come from different places, different factories if you will, and they’re all designed and specialized for their specific function. So in my little metaphor, the carps and the electronics, they’re the chassis production. Design team is the body, the stylists and wardrobe designers. They’re the interior. The choreo team are the wheels. Lighting is, well the lights and music is obviously the music. If we were to really go deeper, I would tell you that the stunt coordinator and the onset medic, they are the airbags. Now here’s the part where it gets good. The producers are the big robot arm. The director is the engine and the talent are the ones that get in the car and drive. Now this is a big abstraction and I’m leaving out some key players like camera, but this is how I like to think of it. So let’s focus for a moment on the producer. The robot arm, if you’re still in the metaphor, this is kind of tough because the job producer can mean very different things from project to project. Film producer has different responsibilities than a music producer for example. And then if we really lift up the rug and take a look, there’s executive producers, co-producers, line producers. Although I could spend an entire podcast talking about the job descriptions and a breakdown of the hierarchy of all of these roles, but for now, let’s do a general demystification. Producers are responsible for the project financially and logistically. They understand the full scope and they know who will be the best to get the job done, so they pull the team together.
That’s everyone from director to grips to publicists, electricians, gaffers, choreographers, writers, stylists, dressers, hair and makeup, yes, dancers, et cetera, et cetera. All of us, and they delegate and communicate with all of these departments throughout the production and make sure that it gets done and gets done on time and within budget. Fingers crossed. I had a really unique experience with this on my daily project because by the time I started making my own micro movies, I’d already been in a handful of feature films, so I became fascinated with how things are made from a very, very small scale to a huge scale. One of the best things that I gained from that perspective is an understanding of exactly how much work goes into a production. Even a tiny one. I learned the value of location scouts and camera operators and editing and lighting, Holy heck lighting. So important. And that gave me a whole new level of compassion and respect for those that I share set with. And I would like to gift that to all of you because no matter what your discipline is in the fullness of time, your path will cross or maybe even merge with a different one. And because of projects like daily doing when they do, you’ll be ready for it.

All right, my friend, I hope you are feeling prepared and inspired and ready to make because I am ready to wash this conditioner out of my hair. I so look forward to talking to you next week and until then, keep it funky. I do. I like keep it funky. I think that keep it funky is my sign off. I believe in it fully.

Ep. #1 Doing Daily

Ep. #1 Doing Daily

 
 
00:00 / 00:20:55
 
1X
 

In this episode, I tell you all about the project that changed my life more than any other. It is my argument for MAKING SOMETHING EVERY DAY, EVEN IF IT SUCKS.

Show Notes:

Transcript:

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: Well, hello and thank you for joining me on episode one. This is a big day. This is a very, very exciting day. If you are listening to this on the day of its release, then it is new year’s day. It is also new decades day. Today is January 1st, 2020 and I can’t think of a better day or a better way for that matter to talk to you. You may be hungover right now. I really hope you’re not. You may already be at the gym working on the new year, new you, idea. Either way. It’s a great day for a podcast, specifically this episode, even if it isn’t new year’s day, when you’re listening to this, today’s topic can be the perfect mile marker for a new year starting right now. Today I want to talk to you about the project that changed my life possibly more than any other, and it’s likely not what you would think. It’s not a big movie or a music video or a TV show or a tour. It’s actually much, much smaller, much, much, much, much smaller and in some ways a whole lot bigger. Today, I’m going to tell you about my 365 consecutive days of Instagram videos. Actually, it was closer to 420 I think, but who’s counting? I’m doing this today on episode one because A. I’ll probably reference this project or something that I learned from it a lot down the road. B. a masterclass and commitment is exactly what I’m looking for as I embark on this new year’s challenge, this weekly podcast and C. because I believe that there is genius and tremendous momentum in doing daily. In my 30 years of training to be a professional dancer, nothing prepared me to make art the way that this did. This project unlocked my creative superpowers and now I want to share the key with you.  

So journey back in time with me to March of 2014 Instagram was a very different place at the time. No ads, first of all, and videos were limited to 15 seconds. Do you remember that? Does that sound really short to you? Like does 15 seconds sound impossible? Does it sound stifling? Just as a fun extra credit assignment, go check out 5secondfilms.com you will see five seconds is plenty of time to tell a story. Anyways, 15 seconds might be short to some of you. It might seem terribly long to others, but to other others, 15 seconds was the perfect play place. Adam Carpenter is one of those others. When I found his account, I wasn’t very active on social media. In fact, I was not very active in the digital world period at all. Cameras and film terminology confused me. Computers made me feel like a toddler and occasionally cry like one.  Um, and editing software made me want to pull my hair out. Anyhow, Adam S Carpenters on Instagram did a daily dance. Now I wouldn’t call him a dancer per se. He’s much, much, much more, he’s like dancer meets clown meets Gandalf. He is literally a wizard, a dance wizard. I loved his stuff on Instagram. Loved like sometimes I would lead conversations with, “hi, I’m Dana and have you seen Adam carpenters on Instagram? The guy’s a genius. Check it out.” I would be constantly tagging people in his comments. Um, and I think that’s ultimately how we came to connect. We started talking back and forth in the comments and decided that we should meet and that I should guest star in one of his daily dances. True story. I was so nervous about this day because I did not know if I would be funny or cool enough for Adam S Carpenters. Long story short, we met in a really dirty back alley somewhere in the garment district of LA and there were a bunch of mannequins everywhere, specifically the lower portion of mannequins, a lot of butts. Uh, and of course we did a tiny 15 second dance to baby got back because that’s what you do. I digress. We had a ball and it was really cool talking to him actually and hearing about his little tricks of the trade. Actually one I got to witness in person. We were asked to kindly leave the alley by one of the store owners. Um, and I recall Adam just really casually slipping him a 20 and guy just kind of disappearing. I went back to that alley recently and um, there was a sign up that said no photos, no videos. I think Adam might have started a trend if he didn’t start it, at least he was ahead of it. He did. He made this look so cool and so fun and so doable. And then he really encouraged me to try my own daily dance video challenge. The next day I left for uh, the European leg of my second world tour with Justin Timberlake. Perfect timing. On that day I started posting daily videos and I didn’t miss a day for over a year. Thanks hugely to my husband for the occasional tech support, often, the almost constant tech support. Speaking of tech support, one of the greatest rewards for doing this project was the shift in my understanding of cameras, dance on camera and a video editing workflow. Holy 180! before I started the project, my husband tried teaching me premiere pro and I cried hard at the very beginning of my project I used an iPhone and imovie. Then I got tired of the five transitions and the six fonts that I movie offers.  I’m exaggerating a little. So while on the road with JT, I taught myself Adobe Premier Pro with the help of a site called lynda.com and that’s with a Y.  L- Y- N- D-A hugely recommend, big fan. So thanks to the help of Lynda,  I wound up about as comfortable inside of that editing software as I am inside a dance studio. Eventually I formed a relationship with GoPro and a company called Ricoh that has a 360 degree camera called the theta. Whoa real game changer and I found myself seeking even more from premier pro, so I taught myself a little bit of after effects jump to today. I am up to my ears in cameras and I’m producing my own podcast in Adobe audition. See what I mean? This project changed my life, so thank you. Adam Carpenter. Thank you husband. Thank you Adobe suite and thank you Instagram, which we are going to talk about in depth in later podcasts.  I’ve got a love hate thing going on with that. 

Back to the daily videos. Surely there were days that I didn’t want to do it and I had a plan for that. I had a small backlog that I’d pull from a, yeah, actually that means that there were days when I didn’t make a video and there were also days where I made more than one video. There were also days when I’d wake up stressed and feeling totally awful and completely out of ideas. Then I would go out into the world and see a place that needed to be danced in or a person that needed to be danced with or I’d hear a song that made me want to move and I just plop the camera down, hit record and there you have it. My video of the day, I feel like I should mention by the way, they weren’t all dance videos.  

In fact, I feel like many of them were like bogus commercials. I’ve always really liked commercials. Some people fast forward through them, not me. Often I will fast forward straight through the program, especially if it’s a sports type and just watch the commercials. I love them. I am a product of consumer culture, but this project gave me an appetite to produce and that, Ooh, that is such a gift. Now I’m not saying that everything I made was brilliant. In fact, it often wasn’t. I’d be watching and editing and dreaming of all the ways it could be better. Or sometimes I’d sit with the final result and like hold my head in my hands like, God, this is awful. And that’s kind of the point. It is also my other favorite reward for doing this work and that is the practice of putting the perfectionist in the passenger seat and letting the inner child drive for a little while. Mmm. bad analogy, don’t let kids drive. Let the artist’s drive, let anybody drive except the perfectionist. That’s easier said than done. For many of us, I suffer from a terrible affliction called perfectionism and I know I’m not the only one, especially my fellow dance types. This project taught me that it’s impossible for all of your work to be your best work and it’s also highly unlikely that your early work will be your best work. So relieve yourself of all that extra perfection pressure and get closer to your best work by working every single day, even if that’s just a couple minutes a day. Am I asking you to make an Instagram video everyday? I dunno, maybe I am. Does that excite you? If it does, then go for it. What I am doing is proving that creativity is a renewable resource and anyone can mine it. Even if you consider yourself more of a idea person that struggles with the follow through or if you think of yourself as a type A person that’s really strong on the technical side but has been fooled into thinking that you aren’t the creative type. 

Speaking of creative types, I think it’s really interesting that everyone seems to have a different definition for art. Like what is art? Actually, take a second and answer that for me. Need more time? Now. Ask someone else, the next person you encounter. This is a great challenge. Ask the next person whose path you cross, “what is art?” and I guarantee you they will give you a different answer than the one that you just gave yourself. So okay, people have different definitions of art and people certainly have wildly different ideas about what is good art. Well, I have a different definition of creativity. I believe the word creativity is simply another word for problem solving. Yup. That’s it. Google says the definition is the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of artistic work. Okay. Let me take that one more time. Creativity is the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work. Wow. Okay. We could really rip that apart and ask, well then what is an original idea? Is there really such a thing? And we could have that, What is art? and therefore What is artistic? conversation again, or we could just say that creativity is problem solving and every living human being will be met with problems, I’ll call them challenges every single day. Some of these challenges will be more pressing or demanding than others. For example, squats or global warming and some might be small and seemingly trivial like deciding what to wear or what to have for dinner. Just as there’s a range in magnitude. There’s also a sliding scale of creativity that’s exercised in solving these challenges. My husband and I, for example, could look into the same fridge with the same challenge, Dinner. And I would walk away with some solid food item like an Apple or a broccoli dipped in Greek yogurt, then dipped in almond butter. Don’t judge me. And he’d come out with a three course meal inspired by a specific ingredient or region of a variety of homemade sauces or mustards and probably a cocktail that compliments a flavor profile of the main dish.  He’s always tasting as he goes, tweaking and changing and then finally plating from start to finish. It’s a production, it’s a sight to behold and it is a taste to be tasted. Alternatively, when tasked with the daily challenge of what to wear, he will wear whatever clothing items are clean and closest to his feet when they hit the ground as he gets out of bed and I’ll leave the house usually several hours later prepared with multiple looks selected specifically for their color, shape, size, and texture, which all affects how they make me feel and how they look in motion and how they’ll help me better express myself.

Think about all of the decisions that you make in a day, what you eat, what you wear, how you get around, what you watch, what you listen to. Every time you make a decision, you have an opportunity to flex your creative muscles. The creative muscle can get stronger, but it can also get weaker if you don’t exercise it. So yes, I’m asking you to flex your creative muscles. I’m asking you to problem solve and now your problem is that you have to make something every day. Go and solve it. You could solve it by making a latte, a hot and very thoughtful, artistic and beautiful, well curated latte. Or it could be an eight count or it could be a sweater that you knit, I don’t know, it could be an eight count of choreography about knitting a sweater while you’re drinking a hot, thoughtful latte. And it doesn’t need to be for a year either, or even a month. I’ll admit it. A year is a really long time. A 365 day challenge will change your life, but big changes can still be made in smaller amounts of time. I suggest you choose a length of time that is just barely longer than what you’re comfortable with. Once you have a timeline, pick a challenge. Turn one of your many interests into a daily challenge and remember it doesn’t need to require increasing your expenses. For example, if you’re a foodie, you could make a new recipe or research a new ingredient every day. Fashionistas, you could challenge yourself to build a new look for a friend every day or additional challenge, You could use items that you already have. Actor make a daily monologue every morning. Artist, How about a daily doodle Photographers, photo of the day? You see how this is going and you’ll probably notice that it gets way more exciting when you add a few parameters to your work. For example, movies have to be 15 seconds long. Doodles must be made with non art supplies or photos must be taken with your feet, so on and so forth. The next step, of course, is to share it with the world. Okay? The digital capture or public display are not an essential part of this challenge, but here’s why I’d recommend it. Number one, the simple thought of others looking in on a project helped me stay accountable. Number two, the feedback I’ve received provided really unexpected insights into what moves people. For example, I learned people really love dogs, dogs and babies. If my video had a dog or a baby in them, boom, instant hit. Alternatively, if I wasn’t in the video, a lot less engagement. It’s cool to get that feedback and to get it so quickly. Number three, the real life skills and face to face relationships that come as a result of this challenge are worth more than gold. With these little videos, I attracted the eyeballs of people that I might have never ever come in contact with. Some of these people are my real life heroes.  Some of those heroes. In fact, it became real life friends and collaborators all because of this platform. That is an incredible thing. Number four, if given the opportunity to improve your own life or improve your life while possibly improving the lives of others, wouldn’t you choose? The latter? Sharing really is caring. It’s a cliche. I know it, but I think that there’s truth in it. I also think that creating something every day will change the way you see the world and the way you interact with the things and the people around you. Solving the problem. What am I going to make today? We’ll give you the tools, strength, and confidence to tackle other challenges in your life. So now that you’ve decided on an interesting topic, given yourself a timeline and decided how or if you’ll share it, here’s a little starter kit of tips. 

Number one, keep a list. You’ll be shocked at how fast ideas come once they start flowing and it can actually be really hard to remember them all. You don’t even need to keep them all in one place, but have places that you keep them. Number two, always be rolling. In other words, record everything. Your rehearsals, your scouts, your setups. You never know when genius or magic will strike. In my experience, it usually strikes right after I hit stop. So always be rolling. Number three, be prepared for people to not be as thrilled about your project is you are, especially if your project involves a camera. Not a lot of people are that comfortable around cameras, truly, and I’m not saying that your project needs to be built around making other people comfortable, but it’s good to be aware. Also, be aware that cities and states have different rules about filming in public spaces. So study up and decide when it would be better to ask permission or forgiveness. In my next episode. I’ll talk more about gear production approach and more. But right now I think you have more than enough to get started. I want to hear all about your journey, so be sure to message or tag me at words that move me podcast, All one word, on Instagram. All right, I think that does it. That does it for episode one. Hey, thank you so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon. *pew pew* It’s amazing. That’s my sign off for this episode. It comes with finger guns  *pew pew* and a little body roll. Bye! 

Ep. #0.5 An Introduction with Nick Drago

Ep. #0.5 An Introduction with Nick Drago

 
 
00:00 / 00:17:38
 
1X
 

Hi, I’m Dana, and this is my first ever podcast episode! Get to know me and listen in as I get to know Nick Drago!

Show Notes:

Transcript:

Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers like you get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host, master mover, Dana Wilson, and if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh, and is looking to rewrite the starving artists story, then sit tight. But don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.  

Dana: Well, hello there and thank you for pushing play on episode 0.5 of words that move me. 0.5 by the way, because this is somewhat of a preview to the podcast, an introduction to me and what exactly it is that you are getting into. First, I’m Dana and I love, love, love dance. I am a dancer, dancer first. Well, human first, also dancer, also choreographer, also movement coach. Also many, many things. In many, many places. Right now I’m based in Los Angeles, but I move around a lot. I spent half of this year working on a few films in New York. Before that. Let me see, *murmer*, that, yeah, three world tours also teach for a convention slash competition that travels around the U S called NYCDA. We visited about 24 cities every season. You can also find me in the heart of the redwoods or the deserts of Joshua tree or at the very bottom of your local swimming pool with the seaweed sisters. 

Shameless plug. Thank you, and also you’re welcome. Basically, I make dance in some capacity every single day and I have successfully wrangled this passion into my profession and I have been very fortunate at crossing paths with some of the best along the way. I’ve come to find that we self-employed artist types, especially those of us working in the entertainment industry, we get to have a really unique life. Yes, it is full of fun and occasionally fame and occasionally fortune if those are the sort of things you’re looking for, but whether you’re looking for it or not, you undoubtedly will encounter some rejection, a lot of uncertainty, failure, maybe even some good old fashioned public humiliation, image and identity issues. The list truly goes on and on and on. This podcast will be the place where I tap into my 15 years of industry experience and talk to some of the best in the biz who have been there and gone through of that stuff that I just said so that you don’t have to or at very least so that you don’t have to do it alone.  

 I like to think of this podcast as your dance partner, the one person at the party that you cannot say no to, even though you were really uncomfortable shoes. This is the dance partner that will glide up to you, present their hand with a smile and lead you onto the dance floor where everybody else splits like the red sea and then magically disappears while you have the best dance of your life. Yes, I am a person that loves dance and I love moving people. I hope this podcast moves you. I hope it moves your index finger right over the subscribe button and drops it there, gently and with style.  

Now that you know a little bit more about me, I want to introduce you to someone special. I invited my friend and Nick Drago over to do a little test interview. I’m still getting used to the equipment and software and kind of trying out all the things. Now this is a guy that you might not know by name if you’re not a dancer, but if you own a TV or have seen a movie in the last 15 years, I guarantee you’ve seen his face. Nick was critical in helping me get my podcast up and on its feet, and I have a feeling that if he and I were stranded on a desert Island, made entirely of gummy bears, we would run out of gummy bears before we ran out of stuff to talk about. I hope you enjoy.  

Dana: Hi.

Nick: Hi Dana 

Hi Nick 

So we’ve gotten all of our good to see you giggles out of the way.

Uh, so you are the first person that I emailed when I decided to do a podcast because your podcast was the first that I ever appeared on. Appeared on? Do you say that? I was a guest on your podcast? It was my first experience with a podcast. And this was kind of, this was some, some years ago. So I would love for you to talk about infinite dance cast, how it started, where it landed and what were the, um, unexpected kernels of wisdom that you gained from doing that?  

Well, first of all, I want to say I was really excited when I saw your email, cause I don’t know, I’m sure your listeners know, like when Dana Wilson like hits you up, it’s gotta. Like I was like, Whoa, Dana Wilson hit me up. Like, 

Or she got hacked?

 It said like, Drago!! And I was like, man, so, okay. So infinite dance cast, myself, Desiree Robbins, we teach together years ago. And um, she was next to this dude on an airplane. His name’s Dave Lagana and he is a former writer for the WWE, the world wrestling..

Heard of it. 

And now he’s, he’s uh, he still writes for wrestling in a different company and um, and he’s really awesome. He’s like, Hey, you guys want to do podcasts? We’re like, cool, we’ll to guitar center. I’ll buy a microphone, plug it into my garage band. You know, we, we did go, we had a lot of people. We had you on of course we had a lot of uh, folks on and I, I think looking back, we had a great time. We had fun, got to, you know, I learned how to talk and vamp a little bit and things like that. It allowed me to do things and perform in a way that I can’t do when I’m dancing. You know, in the verbal sense of things. I could get creative, I could write. I, that’s where I kind of found my love for writing. And.. 

which is more or less your like big shining thing, right now

I think so. 

It’s your North star. 

It’s my North star 

You’re lighting up right now, You’re actually blushing. 

It’s a star. I’m not sure if it’s North or South and the blood. It’s not blush. It’s anxiety. 

It’s creative fear. 

it’s, it is scary out here. It’s not easy. It’s very, very different.  

Cool.  

Dana: Nick and I talked for a while about creative fears and the things that scare us, like auditions, injury, getting old, and I am glad to tell you I have a few thoughts and techniques that will help ward off every single one of those evils. Yes, I said it. I have the secret to eternal life sort of. And on that note, let’s jump back in with Nick and hear about a funeral.  

Dana: As I was researching before you came here today, my research got hijacked because I found out you are in one of my favorite music videos and it’s My Chemical Romance Helena. So for those of you that do not know at all what I’m talking about, let’s see if you can, if it’ll come to you just by my description of it, there is full blown jazz production number happening at this beautiful girl’s funeral. And of course you’re like, as you’re watching it, you’re like, Oh, of course. Of course. There’s jazz dance here, and as you’re watching, you’re like, of course. That beautiful girl is Tracy Phillips. Did Tracy choreograph it? 

It was Michael Rooney. 

Of course it was. Okay. A-plus stairs choreography, A-plus, Busby Berkeley overhead thrash jazz on the floor choreography. Also the lead singer, Gerard Way. Whoa. Okay. That guy understands movement. He was possessed in the best possible way.  Did you know that on YouTube there is a 20 some minute video of outtakes? 

No. 

Oh, okay. I mean, should you go or should I go? Cause I have thoughts about that outtakes videos.

Yeah I mean, go. 

Okay. One thing that they show is something that happens on every set and you’re, you’re going to know exactly what I’m talking about. There’s a moment when a director decides that they want all of the dancers to do something. Except for this was never discussed, therefore it was never choreographed. And in some way to somebody who doesn’t know dance, they’re like, well just everybody do that. So there’s a moment that they show in this, um, in this deleted bits video where I can just hear the director’s like, okay, so Gerard, you’re going to be on your knees in front of the casket and all the dancers in front of the coffin and everybody’s just devouring you. You’re giving energy to him, but you’re also giving energy to her. Yeah.  

Oh yeah. Okay. So yeah, I remember this. That’s funny. I had forgotten totally about this. Yeah,  

This is the best thing about that moment is that everybody’s game. We’re all like, okay, yeah, we want this to look great. So the choreographer is like, okay, let’s do, let’s just do like breathe and snap and breathe and snap and breathe in snap and around the head, throw. Throw to her and throw to her, then melt, six, do it again. And then you just do that on loop. Right? But then music changes, the rhythm of breathe in snap and breathe and snap is no longer there. So you’re all looking at each other like, do we keep going? Nobody’s yelled cut yet. So there’s like, some people are stopping.  

I feel like Michael Rooney might’ve been in video village, which we couldn’t see him, so he couldn’t like help us. But I remember this now that we’re talking about, it’s so strange that this was one of my, one of my first jobs after I had like actually moved to LA, so I was probably wide-eyed and just trying to keep, 

I do know what year this was by the way. This wasn’t, this was 2009. 

Oh. Oh nevermind. I moved in 2003. *laughter*

Very early, early first. 

First one of the first jobs. I didn’t work for six years. No. Uh, I guess I hadn’t been out here for quite some time. Well, maybe 2009 really?! 

Well that’s the, that’s the date of the official music video. 

Wow. I thought it was a lot earlier. Um, I do remember Blake McGrath was in it. 

Oh, I was going to ask, who’s the one making a lot of open mouth faces.  

 I feel like he brought his dog to rehearsal and I remember thinking, I don’t think you’re supposed to do that. But it was cool because I guess him and Rooney were homies and I was like, wow, I would have definitely got in trouble if I’d done that. But, um, so he was in it. Jersey was in it. She was my partner. 

I was going to ask, who was your dance partner? Cause I watched it and it was jealous. 

Yeah. Jersey was my partner. It was good cause we’re kinda the same age. So we were kind of like both trying to figure it out. I remember Gerard saying, you know, he was like, Hey, you guys are awesome. Thank you very much for, you know, he thanked us. There’s only been a handful of times in our lives or, you know, where we’ve been thanked like that.  Uh, but you know, when they, when they say that it makes you just want to dance harder for him. Uh, but he, you know, I said, man, you know, you did a really great job. And he’s like, Oh dude, I’m a closet musical theater freak. I love this stuff. The dude’s amazing. Um, My Chemical Romance actually asked us to go perform with them in, uh, Orange County on the warp tour. And he was in, Gerard was like, everybody light up your cell phones back when cell phones were new. Right. 

Back when not everybody had one. 

Like a flip-phone  They’re like everybody light up your cell phones for our dancers, you know, give him some love and support and you know, so it was just kinda like one of those where like man, we will always support you, you know and cool. You know was something like that happens you want to tell everyone? Yes. Yeah.  

What Nick and I stumbled upon here is a topic that is near and dear to my heart supporting talent and the spotlight. It’s not every day that a dancer works for a recording artist that is willing to share the spotlight and I’m not necessarily saying that they ought to, if everyone on stage had a spotlight on them, the audience might go blind. Metaphorically speaking. Of course. What I have learned over time and over hundreds and hundreds of shows on hundreds and hundreds of stages is that you don’t need to be the star in order to feel like one or to perform like one in future podcasts. I’m going to talk specifically and in depth about some of my favorite performance techniques, but for now let’s talk consistency and find out Nick Drago’s middle name.  

Dana: When I, when I first emailed you, I’m like, I’m doing a podcast. I have some questions. Can you tell me, you know, what’d you learn? What are the things, what are the dos? What are the don’ts? Um, which by the way, historically I’m not a big fan of do’s and don’ts. Anything that comes at you as clear cut as that just, begging to be challenged. Anybody that says never shake the director’s hand. When you go to a casting, I always show you two more people that are like, Oh absolutely. Walk up to the guy, introduce yourself. You want to be remembered. So the dos and the donts I, I shy away from in general. But you did give me a piece of advice that I thought was very important and, and appropriate, not just for podcast people but just in life in general. So you said  and I quote, if I could give you one piece of advice, I’d say consistency is key.  Making sure you come out with an episode every week, two weeks, month slash slash. Slash. So even if it’s just one a year. But no, you say whatever you decide to do, just keep it consistent and anything that’s such important advice. And I want to circle back to the my chemical romance behind the scenes video in the moment that I explained when people are kind of dropping like flies and people don’t know if we keep going. Do we keep going? Guess who kept going? 

Jersey? Just kidding.

You and Blake. Actually I think Blake might’ve stopped, I only watched it once. I watched the whole 20 minute thing. It’s really, it’s a fascinating watch. 

So I kept going? 

You did. 

Well thank you. 

You Did. And you’ve kept going. Like as a friend, I’ve known you for a very long time and I wouldn’t say that we’re very… I don’t know your middle name for examp- 

Dean 

Oh Dean *laughter* But now I know you

Whats your middle name? 

Marie. And there you go. Now everybody knows. 

That’s cool. I appreciate that Dana. Thank you. 

And I thank you, thank you for joining me and for being my, my guests in this new adventure. 

You’re a very, I am a big, I’m a big Dana Wilson fan. Big, big, big Dana Marie Wilson fan. Um, and you know, I, I just have this inkling that you’re going to do really well with this thing and it’s gonna it’s going to benefit a lot of people, not in the sense of just being dancers but in people and um, 

I didn’t pay him to say this. This is totally unscripted. 

Totally unscripted. And I mean, look, when you see Dana Wilson on set, you’re doing something right. And so I, I am overjoyed to be here. Thank you. And you’re great dancer. I’m a really big fan and the seaweed sisters, are y’all still doing that rock and roll? 

We are seaweed-ing all over the world. 

I just want to say that it’s so cool because those characters alone represent a freedom that many of us seek and that many of us have inside of us that are afraid to let it out.  

You know, that’s our, our mission. 

Well, you’re doing a dang good job and um, I don’t know. There’s something about being vulnerable like that in a, in a way that everyone wants to act. You know what I’m saying? Like finding that that soul and feeding it and allowing that character to grow out of you is a wonderful gift. And it it’s just, it comes from dance, but it’s, it’s just being a creative person. I think we just got to start moving in that direction, realizing that like movement is something bigger than dance.

And on that note, ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for being here.  

Well, there you have it. Your first episode of words that move me. What do you think? What do you think? Where you moved? Did you learn something? Did you giggle? I hope so. And if so, hit, subscribe and tune into episode one and beyond. Thank you so much for listening. Now get out there and keep it funky or Get out there and  get down. That’s the worst. Get out there and get up. Nope. Um, wow. I am not prepared with the tagline. I’m going to need to find a tagline. Um,  maybe I’ll just try out a different tagline on every single episode. I could take your suggestions,   maybe, um, tagline, tagline, tagline. Wow. Wow. I cannot believe I’ve all people that I do not have a tagline. I’m sure I have a tagline, so I must have journaled 18 different taglines. Well, have a good one.