Ep. #102 Ep. #102 Directing Operations (of the worlds largest commercial dance franchise) with Jin Lee

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #102 Ep. #102 Directing Operations (of the worlds largest commercial dance franchise) with Jin Lee

Wowza, our guest today is not a dancer or choreographer, but if are, chances are she has impacted your life in some way… probably a BIG way.  Jin Lee has been the Director of operations of  Millennium Dance Complex for over 20 years. In this episode, we talk about getting the studio out of debt and through the pandemic, the impact social media has on the people that come through their door, and… having/not having babies!  We talk a lot about following your guts and getting organized, so if you’re looking to get into the business and keep it all together, this episode is for you!





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

Dana: Hello Hello, my friends. Welcome. I’m Dana. This is words that move me so, so glad that you are here today. And I am so, so excited to be talking to a very old friend on this episode. Um, this, this special guest is not a dancer, but if you are a dancer, especially here in Los Angeles, chances are that she, and certainly her work have had a huge impact on you today. I am talking with Jin Lee, the director of operations at millennium dance complex. Yes, y’all. This is big and I cannot wait to share, but first wins. Oh, I’m excited about this one. Y’all this is, this is even better than the Superbowl commercial, really, truly in my heart. When I balance the two, this is big today. I am celebrating that. I am an official dog nanny, which sounds really funny is one word, Doug nanny to the greatest dog on the planet, not your dog, Mimi caves, dog, all live.  

Speaker 1    00:01:53    It’s really you guys really I’m being very spoiled by taking care of this dog because she’s the sweetest thing loves the cuddle. Just, you know, does all the right things. It doesn’t do any of the wrong things like pee or poop in the house, or I don’t. I chew on things. I don’t know. She’s just very quiet, very calm, such a love. Um, you’re going to hear a little bit more about her and my thoughts about dogs in this episode today. Oh my goodness. You’ll also hear my thoughts about babies, which might surprise you. Um, but anyways, for those of you who know me having a dog is a big deal. So this is a major step for me. Um, dog, nanny, dog, winning, super stoked about that. Also I do want to say here in this wins segment, we are working on a way of incorporating your wins into the show.  

I always ask you, what’s going well in your world and you hopefully say it to yourself, but, um, I’ve had so many of you sending your wins into me via voice note on Instagram. Please keep them coming. And, but I don’t actually have a way to, um, transfer the voice note from Instagram into any other application. So right now we’re kind of bottleneck, but keep sending the wins, um, because I will find a way to get them on the show. I just, man, maybe don’t send them in Instagram message of, sorry. I don’t have a clear plan yet. Stay tuned. Send me your wins. Any which way you please Instagram DM. That’s fine. I’ll find a way email. W T M M as in words, that move me, but don’t spell it. W T M M podcast@gmail.com is another way to send your wins in. I do want to be shouting y’all out on the pod. So do keep winning. Keep sending your wins and congratulations in advance. All right now. Okay. That was me and the preface about future audience wins. But now it is your turn listener. Tell me, tell me yourself or whoever is nearby right now. What is going well in your world?  

Congratulations, my friend. Now keep saying them. Keep sending them, stay loud and proud. Keep winning, so happy for you. And if you aren’t already winning, this is a good segue. This episode might be a bump in the direction of winning because Jen and I are about to go in on what makes good business good, right? Making decisions, getting organized, getting with the right people, uh, getting over yourself and honestly getting over other people. Lots of good stuff. Lots of straight talk. Ooh, which reminds me, Jen and I are both spirited types who call on spirited adult language. So if you have littles nearby, perhaps this is one for the headphones. Uh, you can wear headphones or they can wear headphones or you can both wear headphones. I’m wearing headphones right now. I’m moving on my friends. Please enjoy this conversation with the fabulous Jin Lee.  

Dana: All right. I think we’re doing it. Jen Lee. Welcome to words that move me. How are you? My friend. 

Jin: Oh, good. How are you Dana?

Dana: I’m good. I’m good. In, in the, in the pre-show chit-chat Jen and I were talking about our dogs. Um, but now we’re going to talk about ourselves, Jen. I’m so excited. You’re here. I, I feel like I see you in passing maybe once a month and during COVID times nonce a month. Um, so we never get to go any, any deeper than the very tip of the iceberg. Hellos. How are you? So I’m excited. I’m excited to dig in a little bit, uh, protocol, common protocol on the podcast is that all my guests introduce themselves. Some love it, some hate it, but, um, I will yield the floor and let you simply tell us anything you want us to know about you us by the way is me and listeners, because it kind of is kind of deceiving when we’re just looking at each other. Yeah. What’d you get?  

Jin: So my name is Jen Lee. I am the director of operations over at millennium dance complex. I have been running the studio for over 20 years.  

That was one of my, one of my 20 questions.

Um, yeah, I mean, short and sweet. Okay.  

Okay. I love it. Oh, well, we’re going to get, we’re going to get into deep and that’s still sweet at least I think, but we’ll find out. Um, I started working at millennium in 2005, so 16 years ago. Um, and I was teaching an adult ballet class on Saturday mornings. I started as a sub. You probably recall. And then I had my own adult ballet class, which work. It was my favorite time out of the whole week. Um, so at that point, had you been there for just several years? Do you remember that time? Very well.  

Dana, everything’s such a blur.  

Oh gosh, this just this past year has been a blur, a little loan,  

I noticed that I remember certain aspects of like the earlier years, but a lot of them like, I’ve, I’ve actually forgotten a lot of stuff. I mean, I started when I was like, here was that 2000, 2000? Yeah, I started at, yeah.  

Was your role at the time director of operations?  

No, not at all. So here is how this all came about, um, History with millennium. Um, so I actually like never wanted to be in the arts whatsoever. My growing up Korean having a Korean father. He’s like, you’re either going to be a doctor or a lawyer and I hated school. I’m like, there’s no way I’m going to go to school for that long and get in debt. You know, my dad has always owned a business. He’s always had restaurants and bars and there goes my dog.  

Yes. I loved the dog element of the podcast. Really excited.  

He’s such a buzz. Um, but anyways, going back to, um, so I never saw myself in the arts industry at all because I sort of wanted to either like run my own thing, you know, entrepreneur business and or who knows, you know, I was fairly young.  

You are going for other, just not Dr.

Yeah. Um, I love, I used to love photography though. So I love taking pictures when I was growing up and always in night, I thought I was pretty good at it. So I think at the age of 19, I decided I’m like, you know what, I’m just going to try this out. Who cares if it doesn’t work out? So I ended up going to school for photography, got super into it for two years. And I ended up getting an internship with a fashion photographer. So that same exact day, um, somebody had told me about Robert and Ann Marie and millennium dance complex. I’m like, I don’t even know that world. What is that world? Just because I’m like dancers,  

Dancers make great subjects,  

Right? Like just when I heard about like what they do there, I was very intrigued. So, but he was looking for an assistant at the time. Um, Robert was so Robert and, and, and, and  

Robert and Ann are the owners,  

Correct. They’re the owners of the studio, but this is a long story, by the way, they were the owners of the studio. Um, they were the owners of the studio at the time. And  

At Morolandis though, or was it millennium  

No, it was morolandis ways before when Ann Marie was, uh, running the show at moral Landis. So she is the originator  So Robert Baker, he was a producer. So he was doing film and television. They ended up getting pregnant with Luke and, and wanted to spend time being a mom. And, you know, like just do that and not deal with the studio stuff. So Robert sort of, you know, started taking over and doing day to day operations, this and that. And they ended up moving to millennium and he started bringing in, you know, the celeb aspect of it. Yeah. I don’t know if you remember Robert back in the day, like the nicest guy. Yes. With everybody here you go free this free, that how, you know, take all the dance classes, you know, he’s a great person, um, great human being and, um, you know, the behind the scenes, they had a bunch of record labels that owed them money for,  

Oh my goodness, wait, record labels, owing people, money don’t believe it.  

So he needed an assistant at the time. And you know, there, they decided like, Hey, you know, he had a friend of a friend that was a mutual friend of mine also. And so she basically just told me like, oh, Hey, by the way, I don’t know why I thought of you, but I think you would really get along with this guy. And he’s looking for an assistant and I think you’d like the company amazing. So I ended up going on an interview and I had an interview with my fashion photographer on the same day I did back-to-back interviews. I went to the fashion photographer, interview book that, and then Everything, the, and then when I met with Robert, I saw the studio and you know what it’s like at the studio in It, it’s not like the nicest studio, but the old studio space you walk in, but there’s an energy, I think,  

Buzzes it totally buzzes. And that the old one on Lankershim in the hallways. And you, so you had to connect with people, you know, like by default of going in and out touched like you were in contact. Oh my gosh. Yes.  

Oh my gosh. And as soon as I walked in, I was like, I don’t know what this place is, but I sold a lot of it. And as soon as I met Robert and like shook his hand, there was just an energy about him and him and I just fucking clicked. I didn’t even have to like make a decision within five minutes of talking with him. I was like, you know what, I’m going to go with him just because I saw the future of how this could be. And I saw my future of, I know there was potential there, you know, w working that job with Robert. And the first thing that I did when I started with millennium was I noticed how a lot of people owed him a lot of money. I mean, the invoices of rehearsal space that was being used and who remember those days, Dana, I mean, we had, J-Lo there for four months doing parcels for tour Britain,  

With JT in their own time.  

And it was like months and months. And of course that stuff all adds up over a hundred thousand dollars worth of rental invoices not  

Has to  

Wow. Paid. I was astounded. And so at the time Robert had this one guy, I forget his name, but he had one person coming in once a week to call about,  

Oh no, no, that’s not how we make change.  

I’m like, this is going to be my job for the first, like three months.  

You were all bloodhound.  

Oh yeah.  

So good at it. Well, yes. Cause you’re direct. These are facts. The fact is you’re past.  

Yes. And that’s it. But you, you know, with collections is you just have to be on, on top of them. And it’s not like they, sometimes of course they didn’t want to pay because you know, whatever the case may be, their budget was all, you know, sorry, we don’t have any more. We spent it all like, oh, well  

That’s your problem.  

 Right. So within the first three months I collected over $80,000 for that.  

 Okay. You earned your keep. And then Robert was like, you’re promoted.  

It basically was like, you know what? This is the best thing you’re in. I want you to help me run the studio. Here’s a title. And I want you to help me. Yeah. And you know, back then, Robert was there full time. I mean, we used to be a 24 hour rental facility. Like I remember pink used to want to only rent after hours. And it was literally from 12 to like 3:00 AM there. It was Robert. And he used to just be there constantly, you know, when the studio closed the studio. So of course he needed a lot of help. And, you know, I sort of came in and sort of cleaned house with the front desk. Staff got a little organized with our work study scholarship program that we have there. And we started like, you know, building getting organized, like having, having, you know, you needs, you need help when you want to grow a company, you always need to hire on people that know what they’re doing. Not that I knew what I was doing at the time, but you know, it was like a 

Broker type person that figures it out.  


And I, I’ve never had a job Dana, where I’ve actually been like, I enjoy going to work. You know, I really do, because I know there might be trauma. Like I’ve, you know, of course customer service, you’re always going to deal with like that nasty customer. But at the end of the day, like overall, like I get to see beautiful dancers, like just creating and doing their thing and like, how can I not be happy with,  

 Oh my gosh, that’s the one that’s what comes in and out of, of your door every day. It’s not people like buying goods. It’s people investing in themselves and in the future of dance and entertainment kind of at large, um, it is a special thing to be a part of that you feel it,  

It was special. It’s so special. And just, and the students that come in and just the training that used to take place versus now like, Hmm. Okay. Holy smokes. You know, I want to talk about it. You know, I want to talk about it. I mean, I I’ve heard a lot of people say that cameras changed dance class, like cameras changed training. I have thoughts about that. Um, what do you think was the biggest shift in, and then, and then, and now,  

I mean, definitely social media, for sure. But that’s, that’s a given, but one of the things that I did notice just the years, the decades at the, you know, into dance studio, I noticed how dancers now, like back in the day, you guys like really trained, you were there every day, like training, training, training. But now, I mean, some of these dancers are like fucking sponges. Yeah. Oh my God, you go into one dance class and they’re like, they copy the moves. It’s literally appalling. I’m like, how long has this person been training for? And it hasn’t been that long. They’re just naturally gifted. You think? So? I do. Yeah. It’s weird though, because I’m like, I don’t know if it’s a gift or if they can just mimic or if they can just, they’re good at copy.  

You’ve heard of it, but do you know what I think it is as well, and this is not to toot your horn or the horn of social media, but I think teachers have gotten better. And this is not that people didn’t use to teach the shit out of dance class. I mean, my, my training regimen, I would not change an ounce of, I mean, the Mandy, Moore’s the Helene Phillips, Trovaris Wilson. Um, uh, Marty, you know, I was in Marty’s class, all, any, and all the times I think training has improved because those people taught more people how to teach, how to be great teachers. So part of is part of it is exposure and seeing things. But the other part is like, Marty’s generation also like jumped on convention. So they’re traveling the whole country, America anyways, gets to see them at least once a year. And then there’s the next generation that also teach non-conventional all the time. So they get them and me and my generation two times, four times a year, mix that with going to millennium or making a trip to LA well for a couple of weeks. And then you guys franchised. So that scale of education is so much more available. Now. I think students are better because the education available is better. Yeah,  

Definitely. And with social media, like, I don’t know how  

They’re just exposed to it.  

Yeah, of course. And I mean, you remember back in the day too, like, I mean, there weren’t that many dancers. Right. I want to see the statistics Yeah. Versus now So much more.  

Well, it’s funny because I don’t try, I don’t train as much anymore. I’m 35 now. And so the last time I went to an in-person audition, I can’t even remember the last time I went to take class at millennium. I was like, oh, I know no one, like I know nobody. It was the most surreal feeling. So, but yeah, there, there are boatloads every day. I’m assuming, because dance, I think has never been more popular.  

Yeah. I think dance is getting, and that’s the greatest thing is dance has finally been totally seen as, you know what, this is, this can be a career, you know, back then it was like, yeah, unless you were that super talented backup dancer booking that tour, you know? And then with, so you think you in dance, I think had a big thing with  

Huge impact.  

Cause they, I mean, it was everywhere. You know, people saw how talented dancers are and I think jobs became more available for dancers. So it is definitely a great thing in the dance community. I mean, now it’s a little different of course, with COVID and that hitting. But I still see like so many dancers, like these young kids from 

New faces all the time, 

new faces from Baltimore,  You know, class cards, new registration, she  Just moved out. She’s like, I just moved out to LA. I want to pursue my dance career.  

You’re like, that’ll be $25.  

 I’m like, it’s such a trip.  

 I know, I love it. I mean, I you’re catching me on a, I’m babysitting a dog this week. I’m feeling rosy. I’m wearing a raspberry Baret. I am feeling very funky and uh, light, but I think it’s a good thing. I think it’s a good thing to have, uh, a large and enthusiastic community. It can be tough on the education front. Um, helping a young workforce become acquainted with the progress that’s been made by, by elder generations in terms of, I’ll say being organized in general, but talking about professionalism, um, it can be hard to keep, to keep a large community educated all the time when there’s the return rate is so fast. Um, but I think it’s an asset, but we can talk a little bit more about why in a second, but I want to ask I’m backing up a little bit. Cause I’m fascinated. You mentioned in the early, early days, being able to see a future with this company and feeling like this is going to be big. This is going to, this is going to go somewhere. I can be a part of it. I want to, I want to be a part of it is the future that you imagined then anything at all? Like what is happening?  

Yeah, for sure. Like I knew that this company was headed that way. I give, we worked, it worked hard and I mean just, you know what it’s like in the dance industry, like there isn’t that many dance studios out there that are as established as millennia professionals at a professional level, you know, of course where the professional dancers come teach, train, do it all, you know, like rehearse. Like I knew that franchise was going to be, I totally saw it. And from the beginning actually did it like, wow. Yeah.  

So you were deliberately working towards the franchise thing.  

That’s something that we have always discussed back at the house. You know, that’s always been a dream, definitely, but we never knew how to make it come to fruition. But it was also one of those things with this one thing about millennium and Anna and Robert, what, especially Ann Marie, she, things just come at the best time. Timing is  


Yeah. She is very Like the magic of  because not a lot of people know her because she’s not around the studio. Of course, a lot, you know, she had Luke and then, you know, I forget how, how, what the age differences. And then she had the twins, you know, Sean and Avalon. And she had them a little bit at a later age. I think she was 42 at the time when she had Sean Inovalon. So, you know, she was busy, three kids. Good, lower  I’m Jin, I’m a single human person. I mean, I’m a married human person, but I’m one body. I have a dog in the other room right now and I’m perspiring all day. Okay. Are they hungry? Do they need to poop? Do they need to pee? Do I have enough money for this? Like it really, that whole thing.  It’s fascinating. I can’t, it  

You’re like, no, give me, let me just be the director of the biggest franchise, professional dance studio in the world. And I’m fine. I’m good with that.  

This is why I don’t want kids. Dana. I am. 

Yeah. And on board with you, do you, do you feel like you’re getting pressure about that?  

No. Okay. My boo and I are on the same boat  

And I mine, mine and me and mine. Yes. It is definitely helpful.  

It’s so helpful because I I couldn’t imagine, like, if he did want kids, like I would second guess it. And I’m like, no, I don’t want that. Like, if I don’t want them, I’m not going to have them, but he is so on the same boat, we’re going to just rescue dogs for the rest of our lives. I don’t know they with that.  

Oh my gosh. That’s awesome. If you ever need a dog sitter, I like to, I don’t know if I can take on multiple at once because my stress level with the single one dog, uh, but maybe I’ll get there. I do have, I do have the aptitude for growth and self-improvement maybe I’ll become a multiple dog owner someday. Um, okay. So that’s cool. I agree. And I have noticed something odd and I don’t think I’ve ever talked about this on the podcast, but my husband is a multi-type. He has many things. He is an extremely technical person. He is not a dancer, but he is more of an artist than most of the quote unquote artists that I know. Um, he graduated with his degree in sculpture. He went to pursue a PhD in visual neuroscience. He now is a rapid prototyping specialist who does cameras, displays lenses, light camera, arrays, all sorts of very cool optical stuff and cool general stuff.  He does very cool stuff. And I am surprised actually, that in his kind of world of colleagues and friends, he has more examples of people, um, kind of doing the check, the boxes where, you know, they’re a young, single person doing really awesome and interesting work. And then they start dating someone seriously, and then they get married and then they get a house and then they have kids and then they have a van and then they stop doing interesting work. Oddly enough, you would expect the same to be true for women like me, but it isn’t actually, I have so many great examples of women who, you know, check the boxes, got the husband, got the house, got, maybe got the van who knows and had the kids and are still crushing. So I, I didn’t really feel the pressure that it was like one or the other have kids or have a career.  Um, I have I have great examples. You look at Napoleon and Tabitha, you look at Alison and Twitch. You don’t look at, I mean, I know a lot of women with kids that are still crushing it in the game. And so it wasn’t that pressure at all. I really feel like my body and my time and my money, I like the way they are. And people keep telling me it’ll change. You’re going to feel it one day, you should freeze your eggs. Like you keep saying that, but I am 35. I haven’t felt it yet. And I’m going to stick with my guts, my, my, my small guts that have not yet been destroyed, human life Creole on there, which is where babies happen. Everyone in your guts to soon, you know, you’re getting the technical breakdown here. Oh, interesting. Okay. I love that. I know that about you now. I love you.  

 Can’t have babies. I think it’s great. Yeah. Say that again. No, I love that. We share those. Yeah. It doesn’t surprise me at all. I, I seriously, well, you’ve heard me now talk about dogs 18 times, but when I walked down the street and a baby passes, I’m like, oh, look, I’m a small person, but a dog passes. And I’m like, oh my God, beep beep beep I will trot off to go follow this little. I I’m a dog person, not a baby person. I do have nieces. And I love them very much. They are not listening because they’re four and seven 11 nieces. Okay. Okay. Let’s let’s refocus. Now. Not that talking about babies is not a, is a bad thing. I think this is a good thing. Um, but I am seriously curious because after starting the podcast, I started a, uh, community that sort of grew from this, this kind of bundle of loyal listeners who I decided to connect more with, like on, in a, I almost said face-to-face, which is cute screen to screen level.  

So now I have a small community of, you know, people interested in creative careers and I know not all of them want to become backup dancers. Not all of them want to become, you know, choreographers or master teachers or teaching on a convention. But they all have a similar skillset, which is like dance. Most of them is, have been dancing for a long time, but they’re also they’re leaders and they’re oddballs and they don’t have the typical path. Right. And so I think, I think that you didn’t either. So I think you’re a great example, a really great person to be talking to my listeners about kind of that moment where you like, oh, this feels right. I’m going to do this thing. So when I’m wanting to hear more about is like, if you can talk about that, how do you make decisions? How do you follow your gut? How do you know that? Like, Ugh, that’s the path for me. I mean, even on something like the decision to franchise, that was something you always knew, but how did you know Utah, Miami, Denver, like you make decisions all the time. How do you, how do you decide?  

We didn’t know where, but I mean, of course there’s always like the big dance markets, right? Utah. I mean, that’s a given  

You guys all, how do you measure that? How do you, how do you know? I mean, I know cause I travel on a convention co, is that how, you know, okay.  

Conventions, you go to UC and you, even though I haven’t been to jump or any of the other conventions or Tremaine or whatever, but I know where like the big talented dancers are because at millennium, when we get these big groups from Utah, they’re taking class and they’re doing private lessons with one of our instructors. I see how talented they are. 

Wow. So there is a totally symbiotic relationship between convention circuits and professional training studios. I should have known that. That is like the most obvious thing. I really was not clued into that.  

 Yeah, for sure. And you see like how talented they are. So if you put a lamb in their city, like, you know, it’s going to thrive, but also, you know, people think it’s so easy to like run a business. And even with millennium, we even with a name like granted, yes, you’re buying the name. They come to millennium LA, come train with me. I give him, you know, a to Z, like, this is how you run a dance studio. And we try to support them as much as possible by helping them connect with choreographers. But it’s still running a business.  

They run there.  

They’re not in LA, which is the biggest market for commercial in dance industry market. They’re not in LA and that’s who we are. We’re a commercial dance studio. And  

So how are you doing in Utah and stuff?  

Of course like you toss great. But like Miami, we had a millennium in Miami. We thought that it would do well, but they ended up closing.  

They didn’t know that.  

Yes. So a couple of the franchises that we did open because it’s an individually owned franchise. Got it. Somebody else that has a history and dance one way or another or history and business, and they somehow want to get involved in the dance industry. So, you know, they basically presented to Ann Marie and we meet with them and figure out like, oh, are they a good fit? Sometimes we have said yes. Even though in the beginning of those times, like we have said, I don’t think this is going to go well, but they’re so adamant about it. And so if they think, if they think that they, they have what it takes to run a millennium, then like we’re going to let them try, you know? And that’s their dream as well. So who are we to say from the get-go like, I’m sorry, I’m going to crush your dream and not give you the franchise. Right. You know,  

o you give him a chance and you give them the tools you say, basically this is the structure we use. Yes. It may or may not work for you because we’re in different places, different audiences.  

Okay. It has definitely worked for some of our franchisers, but some of them have been closed like Miami closed. And unfortunately after COVID Denver closed. Um, but, but that was just because due to COVID as  

Well. I mean, we saw it here too. You guys  Survived. Yeah. You had, um, 

I had to close my fitness business. I fitness business, my sister and my brother-in-law. Um, but of course we, it was six months opened and then COVID hit. So it was,  

I’m sorry for that. It doesn’t sound like you were devastated about that. If you did sound like it, I might be more gentle in this, but I’m like it. How do you, how do you feel about that? One of these try again,  

One of those situations where it was fucking COVID  

You’re right. You’re like I would take this personal, but it is 100% not personal. There’s no way to take that personal.  

It was a little personal in the aspect of these fucking commercial owners, property owners thinking, oh, I’m sorry. I expect you to pay your full rent during COVID Like, how do you do that? How do you do that? How do you, when you are completely shut down, how do you, do you get in debt  

And debt soul to the devil?  

Yeah. No, you just can’t. So you have to make that fucking soul crushing decision and say, Hey, I just put my life savings or whatever it is, it wasn’t my life savings. But you know, my mother-in-law my sister, they put a lot of their money in there and you know, we just made the decision. Like we would rather do this then, you know, go more in debt. And I’m sure it was like that with a lot of businesses. And it’s not to say, and same thing with millennials, millennials were in debt, all that rent from 14 months of closure. Oh, you got no joke. That’s all. But the great thing about our property owner, she was very cool about it. She’s like, look, I know you guys are a great business. You’re good tenant. Don’t pay me anything until you have  

 It. Oh my God. Wow.  

That’s unheard of that’s Magic that I tell you 

Right. Knowing who to do business with is half the business.  

Yeah, no, definitely. Um, but, and definitely has like that little, you know, extra, the blessing. Yes. With Ann Marie, like, you know, she’s an ex dancer herself, so she understands the struggles of dance and you know, the industry itself, she’s been there, she’s done it, you know? Um, but she is appreciative of, and you know, not a lot of, a lot of people know the history of millennials and the owners and what not, so yeah.  

Yeah. That’s very special. Yes. Special targeting. Um, okay. Huh. It’s, it’s really cool to hear about Robert and Ann Marie as people like, as humans, because I’ve always seen them as, you know, the pillars of the place that is the pillar of my world. So that’s cool. Yeah. I’m fascinated to hear also that you had a side business because you know, where are we, is it an LA thing or is it just a human thing? Am I over simplifying by saying that, that, or maybe it’s just like this period in time that we have like the big thing that we do, but then we also have like the thing that we love for me, it’s the podcast, in my words, that being in the community. Um, but now I’m curious to hear, because millennium, you have, you guys have the kids program, the work-study program rentals, masterclasses, regular class schedules, and then you have your side things. How do you keep organized? Are you a pen and paper gal? Is there software that I need to be buying? What is, what do you do? 

Well, I mean, the software that we have at millennia, we use the mind body system and that’s the software that we actually was. Well, that part was my idea as well. When mind body first came about into the market, you know, back in the day we were using class cards, of course these punch cards, fuck. When I first started  

Yes. Physical punch card with a hole puncher. Yes.  

And then we upgraded class cards, which, you know, I told Robert, I’m like, Hey, we like roll with the times. Come on, we got to have like something, but definitely it’s great for marketing too, to have that card, you know, for all the students to have, blah, blah, blah. So, and then now when mind body came about into the world, um, you know, they were looking for a software system and a lot of dance studios have Jack rabbit. I dunno, part of this software. It’s great.  

 I have heard of Jack rabbits though. I hear they’re fast. Is the software also fast because,  

But it’s only good for studios with a company like their company crew, because you can charge and add different prices for costumes and all of which we don’t need none of that shit because we don’t have a company crew right now. So, you know, more or less, it was all about getting organized with signing students. And how do we keep track of all this money that’s flowing through? But also like in, I mean, everything used to be, I mean, you should’ve seen my spreadsheets of, you know, our statements and finances and I’m just like, this is it’s too much, But once off where it’s like a freaking breeze,  

Okay, my buddy, good to know every yoga studio or fitness that I’m a part of using buddy. So they must be doing something right? Yeah,  

Yeah. No, for sure. A lot of studios use my system. So yeah, that bad really helps me get, uh, that helped me get organized, but also, you know, hiring the right people like before, uh, we used to have our CFO and our CFO at the time ended up getting cancer. He trained me how to keep books, you know, how to, you know, um, balance out our checkbooks. But I mean, just imagine the, the checks that we’re writing as a company, to the payroll and all of that, it’s like, I don’t have an accounting degree.  

Yeah. That’s the big stuff. And you don’t want to mess up in that department,  

But it was also a great thing to learn because I’m a hands-on type of person, like give me the fucking cliff notes. So it was actually a great thing. I was very happy to learn all of this and, you know, and come to figure out, which really helped me in my personal life too, how to stay organized in finances and whatnot. So it was very helpful. But afterwards, like, as your company grows, like there’s so much I can do, like I can’t,  

I can’t have staff  

And you know, do everything with finance and what not. So we hired another bookkeeper. She comes in once a week, does all of our books during tax season. So by the way,  

 And who calls people now, when you guys are owed money, is that still you? Oh my God.  

Oh, by the way, Aina nobody owes us money.  

Can you better get it through that is brilliant. You just pay zero tolerance tolerance. You guys do not tolerate racism or sexism to stance. I’ll never forget. I love that. That’s where millennium is. Oh, okay. I do have one more question for you. I’m so curious because I think that people listening, maybe in the beginning stages of, um, wanting to start a dance business, whether that be a studio or, you know, more of a personal entity, but I think you’re a person that has done a lot and done it very well and done it gracefully. Uh, so I’m wondering if there’s any advice that you would give or simply something you wish you knew at the beginning. Like, can we save people time other than listening to everything that you’ve already said, which is gold? Is there anything you would have said specifically to yourself? That’s like, Ooh, you’re going to need to know this. This is important.  

Um, one thing that always look for like that new talent give people opportunities because there have been certain occasions, certain it’s very rare, but a few people have crossed paths that I forgot to grab at the time. One thing with millennium and myself, when I hire choreographers instructors at the studio, I’m really all about energy. You know, I want to bring people that are like humble. I want to bring people in that are like, have a good energy about them. Um, I don’t want somebody who I’m going to have to like work at, you know, struggle, trains. I just keep them at bay. That’s why I don’t like hiring certain people because I don’t want to deal with their drama, you know? And you know that they’re gonna be dramatic. So it’s just not worth the time and energy. Like, come on guys. It’s just dance. It’s not that serious. And that’s what we tell people at the end of the fucking day. Like you guys, it’s not that serious. It’s just dance. Let’s just be amazing to each other. Why not be, it’s such a like creative field. It’s such a nice energy. And like, just, I don’t know. It’s just, you don’t need that attitude.  

You know what I will say, this is what it comes down to always is balance balance, because it is important for us in our community to think that this is fucking important. It’s important for us to think like, maybe this is that important. Yeah. And not everything is a life or death situation. So like it CA it’s about both. It’s about being able to embody, I think this is vital. Number one, I think I’m really good at it. I think I can create value in this space. And if things don’t work out my way, that’s okay. Or if, you know, if people have the wrong idea about me, that’s okay. It kind of having this check and balance mentality of, you know, the approach of, of all of this. That’s important. Yeah. I’m glad you brought that up.  

Yeah. And I think it’s also because we deal with so many women in our industry that deal with insecurities and, and at the end of the day though, like you guys just do, do what you’re here for stop looking at the other people. Like, you know, it’s not that serious. Do you? It’s difficult. I think for  

I’m curious because you, you watched dance class happen way more often than I do. I mean, I teach a lot, but I’m looking for very different things when I’m teaching than you are when you’re just observing this ecosystem. Do you notice that, oh, kind of that, that self-doubt in the kind of the shutdown, you see it more in women than in men.  

I see a more in women than men, of course, because also they’re a little more, you know, I see it, I see it from the front desk, you know, as soon as they walk into this space, sometimes it’s like, you know, they’re not from here. It’s the millennium, they’re wide eyed, bushy tailed, but a little reserved, you know, I have definitely seen two things either. They like will shine on the dance floor and my training and whatnot, or you can see how reserved they are. They’re not giving it their all. And, and, or they’re too worried about what they look like to others. You know, one of the greatest things I think about millennium is like, nobody cares.  

Well, you can say that because you’ve worked there for 20 years. But I remember specifically the first time that I was training there and getting called out in a group, you feel like everyone can, this is important. Add several quarters to that. I can definitely see where the pressure comes from. But the pressure is  

That is definitely different than like, when you’re like learning the routine while you’re learning the routine in class. Right? Like, is anybody looking at each other? Yeah.  

Looking at themselves constantly. And they check too, because I’m always making jokes and trying to be a show. Nobody cares about me.  

Everyone is just looking at themselves. They worry about, you know, like, oh, I don’t want to get, I don’t want to be seen because I look like a mess. That’s right. You know? And I’m like, no, and not every video do you guys like we video every single,  Which from top to bottom, too much data, too much data. We don’t have enough. We don’t have a hard drive farm big enough for that. But there is a thing I think a lot of people are doing lately. It’s teaching camera, free classes, period. It’s stated that’s part of how they advertise. And that’s an interesting thing. And then there is the other kind of more to be expected. Probably the majority of classes that happen at millennium is like, the class becomes the commercial for the class or for the teacher. And there’s some muddiness there that’s in terms of like, when I pay you to take this class, am I paying you to help you make more money by using me to advertise for your class? There is like economically, there’s an interesting thing there that’s been happening. Now. I think that the value of being able to practice being on camera after a very quick, after a, you know, 60 minute class, and then can you perform for a piece of glass and plastic?  

I think that’s a valuable thing to practice. I would pay to practice that I love coaching myself, like talking myself through mentalities that helped me deal with pressure, which is entirely created in my head. The camera did not actually change anything about the room. It just changed the way I’m thinking. So I like practicing in front of camera, like practicing that moment of like, what am I, what have I missed? What if I’m not present in the world? Sees it forever. Yeah. I it’s, it’s a good thing to practice. I like it. And I like that. Um, I like that it can be optional a dancer. It’s important that a dancer can remember, even if you are called out in the last group, you can decline. You can say, no, we’re good. Yeah. That’s, that’s, that’s totally power.  

Right. But that’s what these kids don’t understand. Like, yes. The power part. Just say no, if you don’t feel like it don’t do anything, you don’t feel like doing. And you do get a lot of just to watch, like the three, the three that are performing, you know, just to watch like, like in Marty’s class, like to watch you Ivan and bong, or whoever’s in class, like, Hey, they’re going to learn a lot from that too.  

Oh, here’s the circling back. And you can learn a lot 1400 times in a row. You can watch that Intuit is ingrained on your eyelids. And I think that’s the other reason why people are great at dance because they are truly studying it, watching at insane rate, like the amount that dance used to be on my retina. It was like four hours a day when I was at class. But now it is wake up and YouTube then afternoon tick-tock then class and then watch the footage from class. It’s like the majority of the days people devouring dance, I’m here for it. I think it’s good for business I’m so, so, so glad that you came in and shared a little bit of the backstory of millennium and your history with it. Um, I’m inspired to organize my life. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m feeling very much like a business woman or like I have, I can, I can make decisions that make a big change. Um, so that’s cool. Thank you so much for that. Awesome. 

Thank you so much for having me Dana

 You’re welcome. I am so grateful for you. Thanks Jen. Talk to you soon.  

Dana: Oh right. All right. A lot to take in there. They know, I love how Jin found herself a part of something special that she didn’t necessarily know anything about, but she trusted her gut. She went for it. She learned fast. Um, I love that she sees the long game. I love that when she talks. It’s real talk. Uh, Jin is this example of how freeing it can be to have your ish together. I know that’s certainly easier said than done, but you got this dance links. I know you do. I’m certain that you do. I’ll get out there, get real organized. And of course keep it very, very funky. I’ll talk to you soon. Bye-bye 

Outro: Me again. Wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review your words. Move me to number two things I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit the dimness and.com for links to free workshops. And so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye. 

Ep. #101 New Perspectives with Hok

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #101 New Perspectives with Hok

This week’s guest is unique in practically every way… I mean, to start, he is Japanese with an English accent, he has worked in over 50 countries, has an Emmy for outstanding choreography…and a hair salon, ANNNND his first dance class ever was a Locking class. He is a decorated dancer and choreographer and a budding philosopher, you’ll see 😉  In this episode, we dig into praise and accolades, real life super powers, on the clock culture shocks, and the deep seeded values that drive our work and play.   Movers and shakers, friends and family, buckle up and behold, the one and only… Hok! 


Hok’s Website: https://www.iamhok.com/

“Hummingbird and the Flower”:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cT3aistRK5Y

Smac episode: https://www.thedanawilson.com/podcast/ep-75-being-creative-idiots-with-smac-mccreanor
Sad Locking: https://www.instagram.com/p/mIE7KwRnOy/?utm_medium=copy_link


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

Dana: Hello, my friend. Welcome to the podcast. I’m Dana. I’m so excited. You’re here Wowza. I mean, holy smokes. Have I got a treat for you? This is a good one because my guest is a great one. Hok. Wow. Like many of my guests, Hok is a multi-type, um, meaning he is a dancer choreographer director, movement designer, and a person that has thoughts about titles and genres and creativity. And, oh my gosh, I am so excited to share his perspectives and possibly, probably change some of yours.  

But before we get into my conversation with Hok, it is time for wins. Y’all I have a lot to celebrate this week because Thanksgiving week was bountiful Today, I am celebrating booking my first super bowl commercial. So stoked about it. Shout out to Kansas city and my lovely friends there. Alison and Tyler, and also Becca for helping me get that puppy on tape. I love a self-tape um, so much so celebrating, booking the gig. I’m very excited about it. Excited to tell you more, obviously, after that happens, because you know, a premature celebration can be risky. We haven’t filmed it yet, so anything can happen. Um, but yeah, I’m celebrating, whipping a self-tape together that I am extremely proud of with the support of so many of my friends, um, in a city that was not my home city. It’s good to feel like you can have it together no matter where you are. Okay. That’s me. And what’s going well in my world. Now you go, what’s going well in yours. 

Congrats. My friend. Keep winning. Keep winning. Hell yes. Keep winning. Now let’s all start winning or continue our winning with this conversation with hok. You get a little of it. I don’t even, I’m not even waiting one more second. Just music go. 

Dana:Holy smokes Hok, Welcome to the podcast, my friend.  

Hok: Thank you. Thank you for having me  

Dana: Really excited about this. And like we decided quite last minute to do this conversation right now. And in like one hour, I thought of 75 questions that I like. I have to know the answer to. I’m certain we will not get to all of them, but I’m just grateful  

Hok: 75, 

No, maybe 50, but for real, once I’ve had one question that I was like, um, a very intense root system sprouting out from that. So I’m really excited, but mostly, hi, how are you? Like what’s up? How are you doing?  

I’m good. I’m good. I listened to the one you did with smac actually Gina, my fiance and I, while she was doing my hair, I think smack posts that we randomly saw it and there was, so it was really funny and interesting hearing two people that I’ve known for quite some time, you know, but, um, you know, I felt like on podcasts and stuff, you talk about things you might not necessarily, you know, um, kinda dive into on like a regular he bye, uh, kind of situation. So it was really interesting. Yeah. So thank you.  

Oh, I’m so excited. Um, yeah, I think possibly my secret motive for starting the podcast was to get to know my friends better and get smarter. Like I really I’m learning so much from all of my guests. And even when I do solo episodes to actually find my position on things, I I’m learning so much. It’s the coolest thing. I really recommend everybody have a podcast.  

Um, I didn’t even know you do solo 

Oh yeah, I’ll do episodes by myself, so,  

Oh wow. That’s a completely different task is have to talk to yourself the whole time.  

Oh you know me and my, uh, superpower of speaking. I love to talk. Um, so let’s dig into you, my friend, um, I ask all my, all my guests to introduce themselves. That can be daunting. Um, but go ahead and take the floor.  

All right. Uh, well, hello. My name is hok. My full legal name is Hakuto Konishi and I am fully Japanese blood wise. Uh, I was born in Japan, in Tokyo and Yokohama actually to be specific, which is right next to Tokyo and, uh, my family and I moved to Oxford to England when I was three. And, uh, we would live in a tiny, tiny village, uh, really no Japanese people around. I think there was some Chinese people, but what, you know, just no Asians at all. Everyone was just English. That’s just, oh, you know why I thought the world was the flavor then. Yeah. Uh, when I was 12, a whole family, we’d moved back to Tokyo and um, yeah, I went to public school there. So three to 12, I was completely English, 12 to 20. I was completely Japanese and at 20, uh, honestly the biggest reason that I wanted to move again was because I was afraid that I was going to forget how to speak English because I really never, never used it when I was in Japan. And I thought it’d be such a shame. So I used, um, my school’s foreign exchange program and I came to the states and there was originally going to do two semesters and go back to Japan. But I fell in love with the place ended up staying. It’s been, what about 16, 17 years now that I’ve been in LA? Yeah. It’s insane.  

That qualifies as home.  

 I think so. Yeah. I mean home is earth, I guess. Um, but yeah, I, uh, I started dancing when I was 15 when I was in Tokyo. Uh, it was always a hobby, you know, I was a student first when I came here and I was very Japanese. So you just automatically don’t think and especially back then, you don’t think you could even make a career out of dancing, let alone a foreigner, you know, and I think, um, yeah, I did. My first job, uh, in entertainment industry was a show on Fox called. So you think you can dance, I’ve heard and, uh, yeah, the show did very well. And then I went on to doing America’s best dance crew with my crew and, um, yeah, I think, uh, I was able to kind of go from project to project, uh, one after another, uh, good timing, great people around and yeah, I’ve been able to have a very, uh, fun career now. It’s kind of a mishmash of, uh, dancing, choreography, movement design, directing arts. I just like creating things.

Yes you do. And I am so glad that you do because I love what you create. I really do.  

So that’s um, yeah, that’s uh, uh, I don’t know if it was that quick, but yeah.  

Oh, was beautiful. And there was a lovely connecting, lovely connecting of the dots from Tokyo to England, to LA, to like competition style to now being a producer of your own, your own visions and your own things. Yeah. Um, I did notice, however, you left out from your, uh, dance competition chapter that you are no stranger to winning stuff. You won an Emmy for Wade Robson’s choreography and your performance of the hummingbird dance. Was it actually called the hummingbird or in the  

Flower? Flower on the hummingbird.  

Okay. Yeah. Is one of my favorite things that ever came from, so you think it’s absolutely beautiful. And so you performed it with Jamie, who is, uh, Jamie Goodwin, dear friend. Awesome. And Wade won the Emmy for choreography and then you and quest crew won, uh, ABC. Yes. And you won an Emmy for choreographing, some of the stuff that you did on that show. Yes. Okay. So that’s just facts. I am so curious about that because those are big accolades and that’s huge, tremendous pressure to be so visible. Um, in high demand, those shows are both high stakes and high visibility. So I am wondering what you think about praise and what you think about pressure and how those kind of factor into how you work.  

Um, that’s a, that’s a really good question. Um,  

Thank you. I, that was the first one out of the 75 that I had.  

Yeah. I mean, I felt like, you know, both of those that can work both positively and sort of negatively, you know, and, uh, I think I got lucky in a way that I was fortunate enough to be gifted with those awards, um, without getting so, uh, focused on that, you know, I was more focused on just making some itself. Yeah. I was just more focused on doing the best version of my current self. Like what can I do FSO think how as a solo dancer, what can I at this point offer the most and as quest crew, um, as a group of dancers, you know, what’s the best version of however long, you know, I think it was like a minute or 90 seconds on stage. W w what can we do to make a best version of that? And as a result, uh, people got to see what we did and we got awarded.  So I think it was definitely, uh, it was, it was nice. It was really nice that, uh, we were able to kind of follow our heart and got a little bit of validation, you know, um, from that. And, uh, I T I feel like, you know, sometimes when the focus comes for sort of, um, I have to get that, or I have to do this, sometimes that itself could crush you, you know? So, um, but for some people that could be the motivation to, um, I think it’s a good mixture. I know when it’s competition settings, I’m a very, very competitive person.  

 Oh, yes. Tell me more 

like lifetime, like even as a child.  Oh yeah. Well, the thing is naturally, I’m not really, you know, um, at PE I was really bad at PE in school and, uh, when we would play card games or little games with my dad, when I was little, I would always be losing. And I feel like I wouldn’t win by default, you know? So I was always just so frustrated as a kid. And I, I think work in Canada, then the norm to get why one was just, that was a given. Like, I, I, there was no other way for me. It’s not like, naturally I’m faster at running, so I don’t have to try as hard or naturally I’m good at football basketball. Yeah. I felt like I didn’t get that little bonus, you know, genetics. So I think, yeah. And that definitely helped me, um, for the things I’ve done thus far, you know, for, so you think maybe I wasn’t as, uh, traditionally classically trained, but so, you know, when it came time for the competition, of course I have to work harder, but that’s not, it’s not really a stress or, um, a surprise really. It’s just, if you, if you, if you don’t have it just, you know, work harder and smarter and  Yeah, that’s it. And I think I’ve applied that philosophy to everything I do. And the good thing is it’s, it doesn’t end that it’s not like, uh, you’re not fast at running. So the end it’s like, okay, you’re not fast at running by default. So what can you do so that you can become faster than everyone else? Uh, you’re not naturally gifted with this yet, you know, right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s like that eternally. And I think I really like it, that the only thing that I’m the only person that can change that is you, you know, I feel like the, the, the fact that you, we have the freedom to be able to do that and control our life. I just, I love that.  

Oh, I love that answer. And I love the mindset that, you know, you can stay competitive and kind of objectively analyzing your strengths and weaknesses in a way that might even beef up a strength for you. That’s the majority of other people’s weakness. Like I grew up in a competition dance environment and I, nobody likes losing, like, nobody likes that. I was never the most technical I had, like my shoulders up here in my ears and like very little core strength. I’m still working on it. Um, but I, I did not win often. Like first place was not a place that I saw very often, but I got really good at like, okay, well, I don’t have a billion determines and I don’t have super high leaps. And, and, and, but I really think like that assessment of why people were winning, why I maybe wasn’t and not letting that be the end of it saying, okay, well, maybe I don’t have those things, but dammit, I can perform.  Right. And I think my stage presence and maybe call them storytelling abilities or showmanship perhaps started being like, I was working on those at a really young age because I had the platform too. But also because I was like, oh, that’s something I can do. And it seems like other people maybe aren’t doing that, they were very focused on all the technical stuff. Right. So I feel like I got kind of a leg up and started doing that sort of thing early. Um, okay. So that leads me to the obvious follow-up question. What are your strengths? Like, what are you, what’s your superpower,  

Uh, talking about dance?or in general?

Ooh, let’s go broad in general.

 Um, okay. So it’s funny that, um, I, I don’t know if it will be a superpower for a lot of people, but it, as a result, it somehow ends up being my superpower. But I think it’s to believe that it’s not good enough um, to such an extent 

I wouldn’t make such a good team because I’m like, oh, that’s great. Oh, I love that. That’s perfect. This looks awesome.  

Yeah, I, yeah. So it’s like, I mean, obviously it’s a, it’s a balance. I think that everyone needs, but, um, yeah, for a lot of things I do, uh, I, I always look at what it could be and then I think it’s, it’s never, never enough in a way, you know, and I think because it’s never good enough, I put the work in to make it better. I, I, there’s no such thing as perfect, but as close as I can physically make it to be. And, um, yeah, it’s weird because, uh, I’m able to come up with the quality that I do because it starts off from a place that I don’t believe it’s good enough. So I would add, and sometimes it already is dependent on how you look at it, but I would do a hundred thousand extra coats  

Because before you decided that the base was the best one.  

Yeah. Because I, I dunno, I just believe that, uh, somewhere in the separate alternate universe, there’s another me doing it  a little better, so I have to do it better than him. You know,  

That sounds brilliant. And also like a recipe for disaster to me, like, how do you manage perfectionism? How do you not burn out on really striving to be perfect? Or maybe I guess the more concise question is when do you know, or how do you know that, you know, it’s good enough?  

Uh, the short answer would be, I don’t, I think whenever I release anything into the world, it’s still not good enough, but it will do, um, kind of feeling. Um, I think it helps that I do, you know, in the back of my mind, I do understand that there is no such thing as perfect. So,  

So you’re not like beating yourself up as you went  

Um, no, I’m not. Um, I’m not chasing that, but even with that said, I would want a nice quality, you know? So, uh, yeah, it’s, it’s a, it’s a fine balance of sanity and insanity, I guess,  

Sanity and drive like pursuit. Um, this reminds me actually of a great conversation I had with Megan Lawson. Yeah. But we were talking about a person that she works with often a collaborator who will never accept the first thing. The first thing, no matter what, even if it’s like really exceptional and spirited and, and well thought out and, you know, deliver it, they will never accept the first thing they will ask for. There will be notes. There will be changes 100% of the time. And occasionally they’ll go back to saying, you know what, no, the first version was better. We’ll use that. Right. But it’s almost that if, if you didn’t try for what else or for what further, then you haven’t done the process, like the process of finding the best you can do. Like what might be the first thing that you did, but you won’t know it unless you’ve tried other things. And that rings super true to me. I think there’s a lot of value in that type of mentality.  

Yeah. He just, I think you have to know how to balance it within yourself, you know, because it’s not, it’s, it’s, it’s rough. I won’t play.  

 I’m reminded too that sometimes you, the creator in this case, the choreographer or movement designer, which I want to talk about that title by the way. Cause I love it. Um, sometimes it’s not up to you. There is sometimes a deadline where whatever it is right now is what it is. So whether you think was done or not is irrelevant,  

Which tremendously I am a person that needs deadlines because I need, um, and another external factor that takes it away from me. And you say, okay, this is, this is the value for now. You know, because the thing is, you can keep it unfinished and it will always get better. But the thing is, if it doesn’t see the light of day, it’s, you know, it’s, it’s nothing for what?  

Yeah. Or, or maybe it’s just practice. And I don’t mean to say, yeah, yeah, maybe it’s practice.  

Yeah. And I feel like I’m constantly having to remind myself that, you know, even if it’s 30%, 40% of the potential is 30% more than zero, you know?  

Ooh, love that. Yup. That’s momentum for sure.  

Yeah. You just have to, you know, uh, just deal with it. And the thing is yourself, you’re, you’re only going to care about your, uh, projects and what you create more than anyone else in the world. All the things that you see, no one else sees all cares for better or for worse.  

I think we’re our own toughest critics. For sure. I can’t wait to make something with, you can just see these two opposing forces me being like, I love it.  

That’s great. That’s great. Because I think when I’m by myself, that that character doesn’t exist in me.  

Here’s a follow-up question. I’m learning this even more about myself as I become older and more exposed to other types of art. I have learned that the thing I’m most drawn to in other mediums is a human quality. I love like glue dripping out of a crack or like handwritten things or, you know, like unpolished surfaces, things that aren’t tremendously refined. So I think that translates in my work. It is human. It is, I usually will pick the not perfect pass, um, for the final edit because some of the times there’s something more right about it than perfection. Like that’s what I love. So my question for you, I guess, is what type of art are you drawn to and do you see those, uh, values come through in your work?  

I think, uh, whatever medium it is, uh, when it opens up a brand new perspective.  

Oh then 100%. Yes. That’s your work?  

That’s my cup of tea. Yeah. Yeah. Uh, and it could be, honestly, the simplest thing is, you know, um, Hey, in the beat and the music that you didn’t know existed, you know, wants off, do you that dance piece you’ll, you will hear the music in a different way. Just that is that it’s a tiny way open their perspective, but you know, other things, if, um, oh, you never thought you could see a certain subject in this kind of way or you would, it just like, I think it’s amazing when you can open up someone’s world and their, their entire existence, a whole another layer. Uh, and I just like it when that happens to me. So I think whenever I create, I try to sprinkle an essence of that. So when I look back and, you know, 5, 10, 50 years, yeah. I can say that I’ve done a decent amount of that.  

I would say with full confidence that when I watch your work, I am seeing things a different way than I ever have. I would consider your work like, or when I think of it broadly, and I know that you do a lot, but it looks to me like a living kaleidoscope, like a kaleidoscope made of movement, sometimes human bodies, not all the time. Um, and, and I love, I was not good at, but I love geometry and architecture. Um, is that something that you’ve been good at in the past because you actually have a graphic design degree, right?  

Yeah. I think, um,  Yeah, no, I mean, I, I wasn’t that, especially fond of math growing up. 

That was funny. Yeah. 

Um, I know when I was little, uh, other than like the schoolwork at home, we had to, my mum, my mom taught my sister at night Japanese, and then my dad taught my sister and I Japanese level math, because it was just different than what we were doing.  

Very high level  

That’s when it was higher than, um, than in England. And I, I think for them, they didn’t want us to someday move back to Japan and be that far behind from the same age level. So yeah, they, they wanted us to have the bare minimum and I, and I hated it. I really, I just, you know, cause my friends are just outside playing football when we went to study and I can  Understand this mathematics inside.  Yeah. I mean, I’ve always been a fully fond of art and just beautiful things in general. Um, I can’t, I honestly don’t like, I, I don’t know when I got drawn to geometry, um, I think just naturally from seeking beautiful things, I started liking symetry Um, and then picking up uh tutting I think there was a lot of things in common. Yeah. And it just kind of expanded expanded from there, but it’s really weird because like you say, I do different things and even within dance, I felt like the curiosity and love I have towards the geometry geometric stuff I make is vastly different from the love of have towards the feeling when I do locking in any function, it’s, it’s very different, but it’s just, yeah. It’s like someone saying, Hey, do like, um, orange juice or steak. It’s just very different, you know, you can’t compare it. You’re just like them both. Yeah. Yeah.  

Okay. So tough question to answer. What is your favorite mode to be making in because obviously they’re different, but do you have a preferred, like, I guess if you got to spend your day doing one thing, what would it be? Would it be like a jam, a cipher or directing, designing movement for some purpose? I guess I’m asking you the question that you hate asking, like making the comparison of things that are different.  

No, no. I think, um, right now the 2021 November version of me is, uh, they can make, can beautiful things, just, um, something that’s beautiful that would, uh, that will still have a value. If someone looked at it a hundred years, thousand years from now, you know, um, back height and thinking of that kind of scale and wandering, I think that’s, uh, that’s something I like to do.  

Yes. That’s amazing. I’m so glad that you get to do that. Um, do you find yourself spending your days that way often?  

I think I do. Uh, whether it be beauty or something interesting. Um, I think that’s my driving force behind anything. Uh, if I’m not curious or keen on it, there is no energy or power towards that. You know, I can’t, um, I’m just not clearly not interested and I’m very bad at doing something that I’m not interested in. So  

I feel you, however, I can get interested in almost anything. It is a gift  

That is a superpower  That is super super power. Um, okay. It’s my brain is making this connection and I’m going to try to verbalize it, but I feel like the synapses are still like, we’re still firing we’re in workshop mode over here, but it sounds like when you’re in the mode of creating something visual, um, maybe that’s a dance, but maybe it’s a shape. Maybe that’s a series of shapes connected, um, that your goal is impermanence lasting, some lasting ability and that the eye of the audience or the beholder themselves will have it shift in perspective because of this. Um, because of this thing, versus when you are dancing, there is, it is zero, nothing about it is forever. It is 100% fleeting. Every feeling of every step you take happens in energy is gone and you were onto the next one. And in that experience, there is no audience. There is no perspective to be shifted. You are just being dancing and those are steak in orange juice, 

100%, totally two totally different things. Um, but you were really good at both of them. So I want to talk about, I want to talk about the visceral being dancing part, um, because, um, I’m pretty sure we met in a locking glass somewhere in the world. Was it Hilton Bosch in LA maybe? Or  

Where did we meet during? Um, so you think that is probably,  

Uh, yeah, I I’m, I’m wondering if you were assisting someone and we met through SYTYCD

And what season were you on  

Season three?  Oh my gosh. Work. Cause I, I,   I think I met you. And then I learned that I found out that you locked after that. And then I was like, wait, what what’s happening?  

I did assist Marty think early on, but then he and I co choreographed in season seven, but that was long after we got to work with Jose and comfort. And it was so much fun. Um, but whoa, so intense. Um, I don’t know when it was, but I know that period and people listening to this show who know that was the first time I’ve called it a show podcast. Um, people who live in it really is, it is right now. Cause I’m watching you. So people know how fond I am of locking anybody who had who’s ever taken my class knows that locking is my favorite style period, hands down. Um, because I would say it’s impossible to dance that style without smiling, without being joyful, but I have proven myself wrong. Um, oh, I, while I was doing my, my year of doing daily, I call it doing daily where I made an Instagram video every single day for over a year. I up  Too in that way.  Oh my God, my friend really early, early on. And by the way, it went for way more than a year. I did like over 420 days, but I was counting 

good job.  

Well, you know, it’s funny. I would love to talk about that with you because I have absolutely shifted from that. There are rare are the days that I make a video for Instagram, maybe like maybe like 11 this year. I don’t know. It’s not the medium that I make for anymore. And I think that’s okay. But I do miss the feeling of knowing every single day that I would make something. I love that feeling and I don’t have that anymore, but that, wasn’t what I was going to say. What was I going to say? Oh, sloppy, sad locking. So in one of my early videos, I   Just, I’m going to try,  I’m going to find it and send it to you. I’ll link it in the show notes, we were on the road with JT, uh, for 20/20. Oh my God. Now I can’t even remember if it was future sex for 20/20. It doesn’t matter. And we were at some, at some hotel and I was jet lagged and they had a gym that had mirrors. So I just went in there to gym and I was locking around a little bit and I had this idea that was like, what if locking wasn’t happy? What if it was really sad? And that was such a challenge for me, but it made it like a gap. I made it a gimmick. Um, and it was hysterical. Like every, every up is like a sniffle and every lock is like, and it’s hysterical. Um, so I would say is my favorite style because you can’t do it sad, but now I know you can do it sad. Yeah,  


Um, tell me your history with, I would say locking, but I’m curious about all the street styles period, because on, so you think you were considered to be a b-boy, right?  


Is that how you think of yourself?  

Uh, no, no, not at all. Um, so I started dancing, uh, like I said, um, in Japan and I, I didn’t grow up with dancing around whatsoever. I didn’t even know the existence of any of the street styles. I, my sister did ballet in England, but that was like the closest thing. And I, I didn’t know. I know we liked to watch my parents liked, uh, musical, so I did go up watching different musicals and we would do at school.  

What’s your favorite? What’s your favorite musical

Favorite musical? 

Yes. That, uh, that we did or just like  Everything in the world.  

Oh,  Sorry. I’m totally sidetracking us.  

 No, no, no, no. Um, I don’t know if it’s my favorite, but Starlight express was the first one that I ever saw. And, um, you know, that’s a pretty crazy one to dive into because the stage goes around you, it goes behind and they’re on roller skates and roller blades. Yeah. So it’s yeah. I was just like, what is it’s you know, good. So I  

Think that explains a lot. Yeah.  

Yeah. It was really good that it, I think just right from the get-go it opened up my mind of what a stage performance could be, you know? Cause I think if you go up just seeing it on a tiny box on stages, think that’s everything. Right. And you  

Could tire that pretty quickly.  

Yeah. Yeah. Um, yeah, but, uh, yeah. So in Japan, I, uh, there was a dance show on TV at the time going on and uh, I watched this one hip hop dance dancer, and I was just, was just so blown away. It was nothing like anything I’ve seen before. I was like, I don’t know. I don’t know what that is, but I  I need to, I need to do that, but I didn’t have any friends that dance so. I didn’t know of any studios. And it wasn’t like now where you Google it and anything just  pops up. So I think just for a year, I continued just watching that TV show and trying to, you know, trying to copy it. And then a year later on the show, they talked about that studio, uh, which was pretty close to me. So I decided to go the next day. And uh, I said, yeah, I want to, I saw it on TV. I want to do hip hop. And, uh, that day, uh, the, the personnel studio was like, oh, we only have a locking class today. And I don’t know the difference. So I was like, okay, I’ll take that. And that’s how I started locking.   

Literally your first fucking dance class. Yeah, yeah. Having to brace myself, this is the coolest thing I’ve ever heard. Oh my God.  

So, and I didn’t really know much. I think I went into it one in like different other hip hop styles too, but then it was like, okay, I’ll, you know, Vegas can’t be chooses. So I just took what, what was available. And then, uh, I think for the first, let’s say maybe two, three years, I just did locking. And then I did, uh, hip hop. And then, uh, I think after that went into braking and then I joined a b-boy crew in Japan, and then I was doing that, uh, for a couple of years. And then after that, I, uh, yeah, I, I asked during, so you think it just opened my brain up to all these different styles and, uh, yeah, I don’t even at that point, you know, um, I felt like as a TV show, you have to label them, oh, is it just temporary? You know,  

And I dislike the most about this  

And I, and I get it for TV and for, you know, regular people that don’t understand dance. It’s just so much easier to understand and categorize people that way. Um, but yeah, it was just like a mish-mash, uh, but also get an exposure from TV. Uh, there’s a lot of, um, kind of hate, might be a strong word, but you know, there’s a lot of opinions that are like, oh, he’s not a baby boy. He’s not a lock it, all these, but the thing is, I don’t think I really cared that much for it. And it was like, sure, if, if, if it’s not breaking fine where you can, you can call it whatever, but I’ll just do me. And then, uh, even when we did quest, it was like the same thing. And I’m sure, you know, um, different people have, uh, the different, uh, drives and the reasons why they dance and culture, they protected their own perspectives. So, uh, yeah, definitely nothing against any viewpoints. We were all just different. And you have your own justifications. Uh, yeah. Even with quest, it was like, oh, but they’re not doing this. Or when we started activism stuff, it’s like, oh, that’s not dancing. I’m like, okay, that’s fine. It’s not dancing. It’s, um,  

Movement designing instead of choreography or what is the, what’s the deciding?  

Uh, I’m sure there was a lot of factors, but that was definitely one of them where it’s like, oh, that’s not the answer. And that’s just making shapes and it’s like, sure. Yeah. Like, yeah, possibly agree. So let’s not call it out, but is it dope? Yep. That’s it? Yep. If it is, yes. Then let’s just move on. And I feel like, um, for me personally, because I do like to continuously push the boundaries, I think it’s such a shame when, uh, the end products gets limited because of the title or the category, you know, I think it should be the other way round it’s it should be the, the main focus is how can we make something better and how can we up the quality? Uh, and I think for me, that’s my way of respecting all the people that came before us, you know, cause I think if you’re not  


Exactly, exactly. And I think in a short span, short, it could survive. But if you look at it in the long run, it’s gonna, it’s gonna rot and it’s going to disappear. And I feel like that’s, that’s the most disrespectful thing you can do to all the people that came before us. So I think the only way to do it is figuring out how to up the game, you know? So I think because I’ve had that mindset, uh, I’ve never been a strong advocate for titles, whether it start styles or what I do, I might be a little too flexible with that. It’s like, are you a dancer? I don’t know. Uh, I can I now? Yes. Um, are you a choreographer? I mean, I can, but yeah, I used the active,  

I think my identity, well, that sounds like, that sounds like another superpower. I mean, any strength, overused might become a weakness for sure. But it sounds like an asset that you’d be able to think about yourself and what you’re capable of more fluidly versus immediately putting yourself into a box and, and what you do, right. Like with the lid screwed on tight and all neaten consolidated, then yeah. The opportunity to expand or to grow is not, is not as high. Um, I love this. It also brings up again the idea of balance, which this is what everything always becomes about. And every podcast I walk away like, oh yeah, balance. Right. A little bit of that a little bit, but I’m like, there is value to the purist, right. There is value to the person who’s like, that’s not what it is or what it was about at the beginning. Yeah. And like hearing that and being like, Hmm, I understand that perspective. And whoa, thank you for reminding me and sharing what the origins are. I think it’s important. Yes. And okay. What next and where, where do we go from there? Because yeah, I think especially in street styles, they were not created to be the same forever. I don’t think anybody like stepped into a psych cipher thinking, this is the way it should always be done forever. Right, right, right. And so  

 It’s like, they both have to coexist to, you know, and it’s like, you need the historian that will preserve the history and tell the story of how it was. And there’s all these bits and in between, and then you have this end of  

The revolutionary side, the innovator.  

Right. But I feel like it has to both co-exist uh, to have the true value is what I believe in.  

I love your mindset about that. I’m going to, I’m going to adopt that for my own. Yeah. And I’m going to pretend that it was mine all along. Okay. So I do, I have several more questions, but I’m gonna, I’m gonna try to wrap this up with somewhat of a burnout round. Oh, wait. Before the burnout round one more. This one, this question is coming from someone within my words that moved me community. I had just before this interview, I was coming from a thanks sharing where we’re not going at Thanksgiving. It was a sharing of wins and gratitude for each other. Um, and I let them know that I would be talking to you and I had someone ask, what should I ask, talk about? And they asked, yeah, brilliant. I swear everybody should have a podcast. I’m a brilliant question about knowing how internationally you work.  Like you work all over the world and work with different people all over the world. And, um, I, I suppose I would love to hear what have you to say about different worth work ethics in different places without doing the overgeneralization thing, which I, I do all the time I try not to do. And I know that we’re all unique and cool, but it’s rare that it’s rare that a person get to do their thing all over the world because usually their thing is tied to a specific part of the world, but Dan’s being such an international thing. Um, yeah. I’m so curious. I thought that was a great question. I’m curious about what you’ve learned about how people work in different places.  

Um, I think one that stands out is, uh, I got to work on a show called strict dance of China, the past three seasons in Shanghai. Uh, and the first season I was so stressed, uh, because, uh, the difference in culture and the idea of taking a pre existing thing and just, um, copy and paste in, it was, uh, there was not even an ounce of guilt or a bad thing at all. And I can understand that because I feel like coming from my background, it made no, like it made no sense, you know, the, the, it was just your duty to be original and pro, you know, provide something new to the scene. And that’s kind of how you stand out and ciphers old bowls or anything competitions. But I completely, uh, didn’t understand that in the beginning. I do understand that if you’re born and you grow up in a culture in a society that everything around you, um, from food to clothing, to all the businesses, the model is taken a preexisting, something and then mass producing it.  

Why wouldn’t you think that’s the norm of everything? You know? So I think it took a while for me to understand that, oh, and I was really surprised because like you said, I, you know, growing up, I’ve traveled a lot with work. I’ve traveled a lot. I didn’t think in my mid thirties I would have a major culture shock, but I did. And it was really eye opening. I think I posted a series of it, uh, on my IgE story. Um, I think I saved it, but because it was such a stress stressful yeah. Eye opening experience. But yeah, it wasn’t a that until that point that, you know, I even realized, and I humbled myself that, oh my norm, isn’t the universal norm. And you have to understand that, you know, it’s, it’s one way of looking at things, but just as strong as you have your core, someone else might have that too. And I think, um, I think it’s important to respect the differences. You know, you don’t have to agree with it, but just, uh, kind of understanding that that exists. And I think, yeah, uh, just trying to push your views to someone else, like if it matches great, but you have to understand they’re not you. So I think,  

And just the material that you are working with is not a great use of time and energy.  

Right. Right. And I think it’s a, you know, um, the first thing you want to do is that, you know, because I felt like doubting, uh, and taken apart, all these beliefs that you believe is true. I think it’s people don’t do that by default because it makes you worried. It kind of crumbles your world that you believe in. But the thing is, if you can do that once and still be stable with it, I think it opens up your world and you have a better understanding of, of just people in general. That’s how I honestly feel like the best way for anyone is, uh, w I mean, whether it be physically or virtually, however it is, but to see different cultures or just, you don’t have to do anything, go to the other side of the earth and see the people there and  

Just literally open your eyes.  

Yeah. Cause the thing is your, your tradition and your basics could, you know, it’s probably fine with the area that you live in. You go completely different. And even just like what people eat, what they do when they wake up, how they stand, how they sit, you know, those things you can to, I feel is gonna open up your mind. And I feel like that is the way to understand more people. And I feel like a lot of arguments happen because that doesn’t happen. You’re not able to see things from their way. Yes.  

Oh, thank you so much for adding that. And thank you, Rachel, Gail tan for asking that question. So cool. Um, I love that. Okay. Feels like that was really beautiful and poetic, and this has got to be jarring. So buckle up  

Everybody though. Rapid fire questions.  

Ready? So try to be quick. All right. Okay. I know I’ve already asked you, I’ve already asked your biggest, your greatest strength. And I want to know what is your greatest weakness go? And you can say for take turns. It is mine. It is my greatest weakness.  

Uh, greatest weakness is a laziness by default. I’m not naturally very lazy.  

I don’t believe you, but work. Um, what is a book that changed the game for you?  

Ooh, uh, uh, so it’s a Japanese book called , which translates to gymnastics of the mind. And it’s basically a series of, uh, these like riddles and quizzes. Uh, there’s like maybe like a hundred, 150, uh, for one book. And, uh, my dad kind of liked those puzzles. So I think I got introduced to that early in my teens and that opened up my mind, like crazy.  

I love that. Okay, awesome. Um, what is the name of your favorite playlist on Spotify? And is it public because I want to go listen to it.  


And are you a Spotify person? I might have just made a huge assumption about your moral fiber?  

A hundred percent. I mean, is there anyone that says no to that?  

Oh, I do know. I do know iTunes, radio, apple radio people. Anyways, I can’t stand iTunes or anything about it, period. It makes it, you know, this about me enraged. I am actively pissed when I think about,  

Yeah. I mean, I felt like I don’t do that many subscription stuff, but Spotify, I feel like you, yeah, you can’t live without it, but I have a, um, a Spotify playlist called Gulmay funk and I basically, it’s  Basically butter it’s,  It’s like random funk beats that I find. Uh, and they always changes, but like that would feel good to listen to while you’re cooking. Um,  

Yeah, that makes sense. 

It’s kind of like the excitement of the funk and the excitement of what you’re making. It just like feels good to you.  

Love that. Um, is it public? Cause I’m going go try, find that  

It’s not, I will figure out how to make it public. Okay.  

Do that. Um, okay. Everyday carry or EDC. It’s a big, popular thing on the internet, but I think you are a very technical, capable person. Um, and I’m so curious. What are the things, the tools that you use and have with you on a daily basis?  

Oh, just tool. Just my phone. Okay.  

Yeah. Phones have really changed the game. I mean,  

Yeah, it has. I mean, it’s a phone, but I mean, I felt like the least thing you could do with it is call someone. So it’s, it’s just like a little computer in it.  

Yeah. Okay. Well then, um, talk me through a perfect day.  

Perfect day. Uh, okay. Um, oh, where shall I go? Okay. I’ll wake up, uh, Greece, I think Greece or have a breakfast, um, on the balcony. Sunny you the ocean, maybe we’ll go for a little bit of swim. Uh, I mean, I think we’ll go on the plane, but ideally we can teleport. That would be much nicer.  

Yeah. That is a perfect case. Zero in transit.  

Yeah. If we can just like click and then maybe we’ll go to Barcelona, um, or have a little hot chocolate and chiro while I read or draw or think of some weird ideas. Maybe make some stuff, get lunch. Um, I’ll probably stop by Japan. Say hi to my parents. Uh, magically my sister and her family they’re in DC, but they can be there too, for sure.  

Especially if there’s like portals and stuff. Yeah,  

Yeah. Yeah. And, um, I think we’ll, we’ll have some kind of Japanese food. Uh, what should I do  

Obviously? How lucky was I to get to witness Brilliance? The nonstop theater? I felt like genuine theater,  

So funny and sad that that’s just, that’s just our default, you know? And it’s not like we do that every, every other week or like maybe not them some but Korean barbecue or some kind of meet up and yeah. It, the energies it’s always like that. It just like how you experienced.  

Yeah, man, it makes me very, very excited, but sorry. I crept into your perfect day. Keep going. Yeah. It’s gotta be like 5:00 PM now.  

5:00 PM. Okay. So I think what was the best boss? I want to find, you know what, I don’t know what country, what city, but I want to go to this new place I’ve never been to. That has an amazing bath. I actually took a Megan loss. I love it.  

Oh my gosh. Yes. I was just going to say megan Lawson is like the bath Baroness. She’s the quiet  

Honestly, I would love to make a community that just seeks out beautiful boss around the world. Uh, just to do that, you know,  

My brain is already working on pun titles for that, but none of them are funny enough to say  

Yeah. And  

Maybe with, with the bath, I guess  

I like, I liked the time, uh, with, um, that we, we get to spend my fiance and I get to spend without dogs. I think we’ll end up coming back to LA keeping it chill. Um, yeah. So basically traveling to different places, eating different things, making it,  

I think about thinking about beautiful things, making beautiful things. Oh  

Yeah. But  Beautiful  Places. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I, I guess I get to live a version of that now. I just, if I, if it can be a little bit more instant, that will, that will be really. Yeah. That’ll be nice. That will be very nice. Yeah. So if any airline companies are listening to this and you have a technology while you’re waiting for,  

You know, oddly enough on my zoom call that it was just on earlier, my niece who is seven and a half important thee and a half part is very important to her. Um, she said, I think it was before anybody else came down, came down. Yep. Sticking with it. Um, she said, you know, if I had a superpower, it would be to create portals so I could be there with you and  

Let’s  Go. So portals, portals on the brain, in the sweetest thing. Um, she also kept track of the number of times that I swore. And she decided that every for every time I swear I have to come home and visit.  

Oh, well that’s yeah. That’s, that’s nice.  

Yeah. Racked up three, three visits to Denver. So yeah, if we could make a portal, that would be great. Really helped me save time on travel days. Um, okay. Well, there’s still several things I want to talk to you about, but I’m just going to go ahead and file this on what is again, someday. Um, okay. I am so grateful for your time. So glad to get, to dig a little deeper into this. Like yeah. I think you’re a person who is exquisite at changing perspectives, shifting perspectives, even your own, but especially, um, an audience persons. So I, my perspective shifted several times in this conversation. Thank you. I’m so grateful.  

Thank you. And I honestly, I feel like we’ve just barely grazed.  

Yeah, for sure. We’re scratching the surface. Well, we, we can be friends for a really long time. We can make stuff. We can lock. We can talk. We can lock and talk. Oh, there’s a talk show idea.  

The whole time. Just lock in the whole time.  There’s nothing you can say without locking it.  

 If you want to  

 Spell me, like you have to walk.  

Oh my God.  Okay. So we’re going to do that. I’m looking forward to that. Thank you again so much for being here. Uh, I’ll talk to you soon.  

Yeah. All right. Bye.  

Dana: Well, my friends, what do you think? I think this is one of my favorite episodes, man. You know what, actually, instead of trying to recap this one, you know, collect all my favorite moments. I think I might just use that time and go back and listen to this immediately right away right now. Uh, you can join me if you’d like, or you can not totally up to you, but you should probably download this one to keep it at the ready. Um, you should download all of them just for funsies and you should also certainly get out there and to keep it exceptionally funky. Thanks for listening. I’ll talk to you soon. Bye 

Outro: Me again. Wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review. Here’s your words. Move me to number two thing. I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit  dot com for links to free workshops. And so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye. 


Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson

This (100TH) episode is a peek into my life and mind!

Not only am I celebrating 100 episodes with a list of 100 things I am grateful for, I am also celebrating over 100k downloads!  Thank you all for ALL of your love and learning.  Now buckle up and get ready to get to know me better (…for better or for worse).


WTMM IG for contest details!

Words That Move Me Shopping List: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/208ZBEMH1NK8H/ref=nav_wishlist_lists_3?_encoding=UTF8&type=wishlist

TJs Chocolate on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3oH8b5L

Pho 87 

Backpack episode: Ep #7 Travel Hacks

Gary Tacon Body Tuning Pillow: https://thebodytuningcushion.com/

Remix Vintage Shoes: https://remixvintageshoes.com/

Streak Free Cleaner: Sprayway glass cleaner


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. 

Well, hello. Hello, my friend. Welcome. I’m Dana. This is words that move me. And, um, whether you are new to the pod or one of my regulars, isn’t it cool to be a regular, by the way, I want it to be a regular in more places. Anyways, whether you’re new or a regular, I am stoked to have you for this 100th episode. What the heck you guys, I did a thing. I’m so sorry about this.  (Air Horn Noises) Yeah. I downloaded several apps before I found the one that really makes me feel the celebratory come on. I mean, I really do love a good mile marker a milestone, and this one is super special because this episode also falls the day before Thanksgiving.

 And my win today is also podcast related. Um, if you are new to the podcast, we start every episode with wins. So let’s get right into that because it’s exciting. Not only am I celebrating episode 100, which is actually technically episode 105 due to bonus episodes and stories but I am also celebrating surpassing my goal of a hundred thousand downloads. Holy smokes. (Air Horn Noises) I’m going to stop. Um, yeah, that’s it. That happened. I kind of forgot to keep an eye on that on the, on the listens downloads metrics for a couple of months. Um, and the last time I checked in a couple of days ago, we were sitting pretty at 103,000 some and counting. So thank you all for listening. Please do download episodes. You have to click an extra button for that. Sorry. I just love pushing buttons. We all love pushing buttons. Um, it’s great because you can push the button. You can download the episode. It also, what it really means is that you get to have the podcast with you even when are not online. So when you are on an airplane or a train, or maybe if your carrier is T-Mobile in general, um, shade, sorry about that. T-Mobile, it’s been a long relationship, but uh, really truly downloading the podcasts, keeps it with you. Um, makes them a little bit more easily accessible for you. And if you’re really feeling AOL, please do leave a review and rating because that makes it easier for other people to find the podcast and sharing is caring. Let’s go, okay, that’s my win. 103,000 downloads and counting. Yes. Now you go, what’s going well in your world.  

Amazing congratulations and keep winning. I’m proud of you takes a lot to be winning out there in the world. Cruel cruel world. This is a man’s world of listening to a lot of James Brown. Lately uh, we’ll get into that in a second, but first up when I know, I’m sorry, I’m just going to keep winning all over the place. I taught a Monday night masterclass for the performing arts center here in LA and it was so, so, so much fun. Shout out to all who came and got funky with me, literally hot and sweaty. But, um, I I’m bringing this up because at the end of class I made sort of a joke. Um, in preparation for Thanksgiving, I asked everyone to state out loud, something that they are grateful for on the count of three. So I said 1, 2, 3, and then there was this indecipherable cacophony that happened in a really, really loved this marbly rumbly sound where you could maybe make out part of a word.  Um, so we did it like three or four times in a row. And I joked that I would like to have everyone that was in class. Come on the podcast for a little 1, 2, 3 gratitude game, and just do that for 30 to 45 minutes. And I do still think that that is a great idea, but whoa, lots to coordinate. So maybe I’ll put that in the parking lot for next year today, I am rounding out 100 episodes and a nod to being thankful on Thanksgiving by listing 100 things. I am grateful for. I promise this episode, won’t read like a grocery list or listen, it won’t listen like grocery list. How do you say that? How would I say that? If you’re not reading you’re listening? Hmm. It won’t feel like I’m reading you my grocery list. That’s what I’m trying to say. Um, because there are some fun little stories and anecdotes in there, but let me tell you what I got to places while making this list where I was seriously looking at my life, like, damn, is this real?  Is it I’m living a dream? This is incredible. Wow. Is this so great? And I also got to places where I thought really is that all you’ve got is that like a really, we’re going to be grateful for red wine right now. Really that okay. A little shallow perhaps, but I digress. It was a ride. I love this little project and I encourage every one of you to try it on for size. Here we go. 100 things. I am grateful for get ready. Oh, preface. This is going to seem like this list goes in order of importance. I assure you it does not, but it will seem like that. At first, this is a, a, a wandering weave through my mind. And my mind does not always work in order of importance, shocker, creative, human being, um, with a relatively short attention span. How does one measure their attention span?  Like what are the units of measurement for an attention span? See, there we go here. 

What are a hundred things that I am grateful for? We’re going to start off with my voice, my body, which is where my voice lives, my home, which is where my body lives, music, dance, and Daniel, my husband, and the vice chief five down already. Holy smokes. I’m grateful for my parents. And let me get real specific here. I’m grateful for the hard decisions that they made to split up was one of those decisions. I’m grateful for them and their choices and their jobs. My dad, the dentist, my mom, the flight attendant. So I got no cavities and to travel the world for free shout out parentals. Thanks for that. I’m grateful for my mom’s artistic nature, art and colorful things have been a part of my life since I was very young. And for that, I am very grateful. I’m grateful for my brother and my sister who are hysterical and supportive in kind and loving and foolish in all the great ways. It wasn’t until pretty recently, actually like as an adult that I sort of found out, not everybody likes their siblings. Not everybody gets along with their siblings. So I have to count that as a blessing. I love you, bro. Love you, sis. Big, big deal that I get to be your sister, I think is pretty sweet.  

Ready for the deep dive on shallow things. Well, here comes number 10. I am so grateful for what? For red wine. I have been drinking too much red wine. I’m kidding, it’s actually been a while since my last glass of red wine, but I love that stuff. I also love and am grateful for dark chocolate specifically at trader Joe’s. They have a 100% dark chocolate. It’s called Montezuma’s. Montezuma’s something Montezuma’s dark chocolate. As far as I’m concerned that stuff tastes like some combination of asphalt and dirt and straight up nibs. And I just love it. I love it so much. It is such a palate cleanser for me, most people wince, when they taste it, I’ve stopped sharing it with people because usually the response is not a good response. Um, but I love me some, what is it called? Hold on. I’m going to look it up.  

Yes. Got him. Montezuma’s absolute black. 100% dark chocolate with cocoa nibs. Did he say cacao or do you say Coca-Cola or do you say cocoa wall? What do you, how do you say that word? Cocoa nibs. Wow. Y’all I might just be buying a case of that. You know what? I’m not pumping the brakes a little on the dark chocolate and the red wine and the coffee, which, oh, I left coffee out of my list. That’s how, you know, times are changing. Um, since vocal cord surgery, I have been, uh, shifting to a lower, relatively lower acid diet. So it will not be buying a crate of Montezuma’s. Absolutely. What is it? Absolute dark, 100% asphalt chocolate moving right along number 12, reusable straws. Y’all I have so many, I could start a small wind orchestra. I could weave them together and build a little flute like Peter pan has.  

Speaker 0    00:12:10    I use some for straw donations for voice therapy, but mostly I just use them because I love ocean wildlife. And I don’t like the idea of hurting ocean creatures with my sipping straws. You know? Sorry. We’re moving on. Um, while we’re on the subject of water though, and the ocean waterproof notebooks, you probably don’t know until you’ve been on set of a movie or music video, how crucial it is to have a waterproof notebook because nine times out of 10, there’s going to be water. Why pavement looks better when it’s wet, concrete looks better when it’s wet dancers usually look better when they’re wet. So all of you listening should invest in a waterproof notebook. That brings me to number 14, posted freaking notes. Can you imagine a world without a post-it note?  That was my phone saying no, what can’t um, I can’t either. I really love them. Use them all the time. Think they’re the greatest number 15, kind of on the opposite side of the eco-friendly spectrum. I am really, really super grateful for tampons. Can we just reflect on times, medieval times before tampons? I just, wow. That’s not the life for me. Um, and I’ll be real honest. I have tried the cup. I can’t do it. It’s too much information for the podcast, but shit went wrong. It really did go wrong. Um, I’m a tampon person, very grateful for those. They are number 15 on the list. It’s not an order. Number 16, the Lord of the rings trilogy. If you’ve been listening to the podcast for any length of time, you know that if this were an order of importance list, LOT are, would be in the top, like probably 10. So this is just my wandering brain number 17, Justin freaking Timberlake. You’re you’re just, you’re the greatest. I’m grateful. Marty. Kudelka you too. My friend. I am so grateful for you for your friendship, for your mentorship, for your friend tour ship.  

By the way, I’m also grateful for portmanteaus portmanteaus are the, uh, it’s the, it’s the actual technical word, a word gather. When you splice two words together to make them one word it’s later, later down the list. We’ll talk about it later. I am grateful for Tony freaking Basil, this woman, oh, probably the most mentioned person on the podcast. She’s my dance mom. We’re going to leave it at that for now, until she actually comes on the podcast and explain herself to you with more dynamics than that. Um, but she is one of the most dynamic women that I have ever known and gotten to learn from firsthand. Uh, certainly one of the funkiest people I’ve ever met, I’m grateful for funk, by the way, I’m grateful for this new book that I got. I got this textbook that is all about funk and it is like an actual textbook, but I got it in a PDF form.   Don’t worry. It’s still cost like $80 because it is a ridiculous mass of information. But I didn’t want to read this definition of funk, especially because I talk about keeping it funky on the podcast, literally in every episode. And I wanted to, uh, read you this definition of funk. According to George Clinton, the George Clinton of P-Funk Funkadelic, the funkiest in a rolling stone interview. George Clinton said that funk is quote, anything. You need it to be to save your life. It is a way of getting out of that bind that you get in mentally and physically. Wow. I love that so much. Funk is anything you need it to be to save your life. It is a way of getting out of that bind that you get into mentally and physically hell yes, I am grateful for funk. I am also extremely grateful for the thing that saves my life every time I think about it, the thing and the people, the seaweed, sisters, Jillian Meyers, and Megan Lawson. I love you. You are the funkiest thing in the world to me, I’m going to cry you guys. This is so good. 

That brings us to number 22. I really like this one a lot. I am so grateful for not having a quote real job, unquote, that is very closely related to number 23. I’m so grateful that I don’t have to go to school for someone who loves learning so much. I love really, really, really love not going to school. I used to throw legendary tantrums, apocalyptic tantrums about going to school. I just hated going to school. I didn’t mind being at school really, but going there, I hated it so genuinely every day that I don’t have to go to school. I’m remembering my young, young self. And I’m like, you did it. He really, you got through it and now you don’t have to go to school anymore. I’m so grateful for that. Um, well, let’s see. Where was it? Ah, yes. I’m grateful for dancing in big spaces. I’m grateful for musicals. I love musicals. It’s embarrassing. How much I love musicals because I think maybe historically they’re not the coolest thing to really, really love, but I really, really loved them. I’m grateful for beach bonfires and, and while I’m on the subject of fire, I am grateful for candles. I am becoming a person that really likes to have candles burning and really grateful that that has never gone wrong in my life. I am grateful for thrift stores. Holy smokes. I love them. I am grateful for hairstylists that really get curly hair. I am grateful for photographers and directors and DPS that really get dance. I am grateful for recording artists that share the spotlight with dance. I am grateful for the internet.  

I’m grateful for, um, I’m gonna say this wrong you guys, but I’m going to try my best Grifters pest steals, pesty lace. I don’t know what, I’m pretty sure. G R E T H E R S P a S T I L L E S. I’m particularly far they’re like throat lozenges for throat and voice with glycerin and elderflower extract. Um, I have, my favorite is the elderflower flavor. So I’m going to go ahead and throw elder flower on my list of grateful things as well. I love these dudes. Um, they keep my voice feeling so good. So shout out you guys whose name? I can’t pronounce. Oh wow. This is big one. I am grateful for Munos tacos. My husband introduced me to Muno and his legendary barbacoa probably six years ago, downtown LA. And recently we came to learn that Muno has a daughter and Munos daughter has a truck here in the valley, kind of in the, I guess it’s technically Northridge area.  Um, I believe the cross streets at this time and you know how these, these trucks are, they can, they can move. That’s kind of the point, uh, Sherman way. And Hayvenhurst, Sherman way Haven Hayvenhurst, but they’re not there every day of the week. Um, that is how you know it’s good is that it runs out and when it runs out, they’re not there. Muno, thank you for your tacos. That brings us to number 35, sticking a kind of staying on a food thought, Pho 87 downtown on Broadway, wholly smokes it’s the best shout out Tim. Thinking about you. 

Number 36. Wow. I’m grateful for teaching. Sometimes. I really do think that if I didn’t like teaching so much, I might not choreograph. I actually choreograph primarily to be teaching and sharing. I love sharing dance and teaching might be my favorite way of doing that related to dance indirectly. I really, really love. And I’m grateful for leggings that don’t make me want to die. Leggings are not my favorite. If you know me in person, think about the last time you saw me wearing a legging. It doesn’t happen because they’re hard for me to find. I don’t know. I don’t know. That’s that’s it. I have a few pairs of leggings that are really, really love. I’m grateful for them. Thank you, leggings. I’m grateful for the carwash across the street that finally shut up. I mean, it’s happening right now. I can hear it, but very quietly. You probably can’t, which is awesome. Thank you, ocean carwash for getting your *bleep together. Um, I am grateful for my external disc drive. Um, like my external, like a USB DVD, like actual disc player for my desktop, which allows me to make use of my extensive DVD collection, which I’m also grateful for, but it did not garner its own place on the gratitude list.  I don’t know how you guys, it’s just my brain. That brings us to number 40. I’m grateful for the X-Files. And I’m just going to say that here. And I’m just going to leave that I’m grateful for the house that I grew up in, in lake shore on a man-made lake with like three eyed fish in five legged, frogs and ducks and duck poop everywhere. Um, that house was really something special and I’m grateful for it. I am grateful for Romy and Michele’s high school reunion for gifting me with the aspiration of wearing colors and dressing, not like a little boy, but like a grownup woman, a plate playful, bold grown-up woman. Um, love that movie. Love it so much. It really was a huge part of my stylistic awakening as a young person. Um, I am grateful for my nieces, Amelia and Charlotte. Oh my gosh. You light me up. I’m grateful for my extended family. Holy cow. I definitely could have, should have mentioned them earlier, but jackpot reaches Jensen’s I love you. I am so grateful to have you as my extended brothers, sisters, moms, dads, nieces, nephews, family, y’all are truly something else I got. So lucky.  

Number 45, embarrassing like how is it that I can be this, this shallow? I dunno, but it it’s, it’s real. This is something I really am grateful for. Serve yourself. Frozen yogurt paid for by the ounce. To me, this food revelation is even more important than Postmates. Like the day I could get my hands on my own frozen yogurt and just get a little bit if I want, like, it was a really big day for me. I’m really, really grateful for that. That’s it? I’m just, that’s, it’s part of who I am. I’m a person who really enjoys yogurt land. I’m just going to say and sorry if I’m ruffling any Pinkberry fans out there, but it’s just not it for me. It’s yogurt land through and through. But if you are a person who’s lived in LA for a really long time, then you know that yogurt land aint *bleep where it’s really at his studio city, frozen yogurt, rest in peace, 

moving right along, oddly this cropped up to my mind and I it’s, it’s, it’s strong. This is strong, but it’s kind of like, fear-based, I’m really grateful that I learned how to drive on a manual transmission because I’m constantly afraid that somewhere out there in the world, something might happen. Natural disaster carjacking. I don’t know. And I might have to escape from zombies and the only available car might be a manual transmission. And I’m just really glad that I learned how to do that when I was young. And now it’s in my bones, although it has been awhile moving right along, I’m grateful for Peloton because if the zombie apocalypse happened, I could ride a bike for a long time. Well, I could ride a stationary bike for a really long. It’s been a while since I wrote an actual bike. I should try that again. Um, it’s just keeps getting better. I’m grateful for electric toothbrushes. Anyone else? God, nothing like that.  Clean. Sometimes on convention weekends. I don’t bring it. I just use like the old fashioned handheld toothbrush. And then I get home Sunday night and I’m like walk in the door and go for my toothbrush because I love that clean tooth feeling. Number 49, creeping up on 50 here I am so grateful for Google drive slash the Google suite. I understand it. It makes sense. It’s all in one place is pretty intuitive. I mean, spreadsheets I’m getting there, but for the most part, woof, my life exists there. Oh man. Number 50 special, super grateful for my cannon. Vic SIA mini. That is the camera that was with me and almost single-handedly, which is a funny thing to say, but it is also true because the camera’s tiny. Single-handedly responsible for my 420 some consecutive days of doing daily. That camera, the Canon Vixy mini is the greatest thing on the market.  As far as I’m concerned, it is still my favorite camera. I don’t go anywhere without it. Big love. Speaking of don’t go anywhere without my Lulu lemon cruiser backpack 2014 edition. If you don’t already know how I feel about this backpack, I have an episode dedicated exclusively to it. I don’t remember the episode number right now, but it’ll be in the show notes promise. I mean, I’ve got feelings about backpacks number 52 related the backpack sized foam roller from go pro no, go roll, go someone. It will also be in the show notes, but unfortunately you have to find that and the Lulu lemon cruiser on eBay, because they are not making these items anymore.  

Fools, speaking of foolish, number 53, those silicone miniature hands and feet, you know, the tiny, tiny hands and feet that they make. Oh, I’m so grateful that somebody thought of that and then made those because cheap thrills I’m grateful. Speaking of cheap, cheap thrills, the hours that I’ve spent on Tumblr, I am so grateful for Tumblr. Tumbler is, I mean, for different reasons, ranks superior to Instagram. Actually Instagram is not on my list at all. That’s interesting. I am grateful for Tumblr and I’m grateful for memes. Memes really did get their own item on my gratitude list because they helped me make sense of the world. And I love that. I am also grateful for inner reader, which is my RSS feed. Um, it’s how I learned about the things that are on the internet and they just come to me instead of me having to go to them. I hope that makes sense. Shout out in a reader. Um, I love, love, love, and I’m grateful for jumbo, Sharpies and jumbo notepads because sometimes big ideas need big pens and paper. I stand by that sticking to it. I’m also grateful for sidewalk chalk because sometimes big ideas need to be written on the sidewalk and sometimes small ideas and sometimes no ideas, but just flowers and shapes and rainbows. I’m also grateful for comedians and clowns because I love to be laughing. And I think comedians and clowns have a tremendous responsibility. I admire them. I’m grateful that they exist. I’d like to be one someday.

Number 60, I’m grateful for peanut butter, nut butter in general, but oof, I put peanut butter on everything. Don’t test me. Don’t even test me. Name something, name something. I’ll put peanut butter on it. Broccoli. Yep. You better believe it. Steamed or raw? I don’t care carrots. Yes. I, 100% dip carrots in peanut butter. Um, spoon for example, I definitely put peanut butter on a spoon and we’ll just eat that. Um, taking a page out of the Ted lasso playbook, I will just dip my finger into the peanut butter jar and then lick that finger until the peanut butter is gone. Oh guys, here we go. Here we are. It really feel like we’re getting closer.  Um, oh, let’s see. Here we go. Hummus. I’m grateful for hummus. And I do want to add here that there are some things that are simply not worth making yourself and hummus and peanut butter are two of those things. Those things you just should buy. 

Um, oh my God. I am grateful for my clogs. You guys, Jesus Christ. My clogs. Um, I love my clogs more than I love any other shoe that I’ve ever owned ever, including my first pair of Pointe shoes. My super-sweet Tom Ford shoes from tour. I mean really? They are the best. Um, they’re made by a company called, oh, hold on. Okay. I know I can remember it it’s cause I can’t pronounce it. It’s spelled F E I T, which might be like a clever way of saying feet or it might be fiance. I really, I really don’t know.  But um, I got them, I got these clogs like three or four years ago at the store in Soho in New York fit F E I T I dunno. And um, they came with a little hand signed note from the man who hand made them and they were not cheap, but they were worth every single penny. Every time I put them on, I make an audible remark about how wonderful they are and how great I feel in them. And I do not feel bad about finding such tremendous pleasure in something so tremendously materialistic as a pair of clogs, but they’ve got Lamb’s wool inside of them. They’re stacked. They have like work boot rubber soles. Oh, too good. Um, where was I? Great clogs. I’m grateful for exfoliating gloves. How about that little guys you were in the shower. I love a good scrub. I am grateful for Epsom salt because I love a good soak and it really, really does make a difference if you were a dancer or physical performer that does not believe in Epsom baths.  It’s probably because you haven’t given them a chance. I feel tremendously different when I take Epsom baths regularly. Just think about it while we’re on the body tuning front. I am so grateful for my body tuning pillow. Shout out Gary, TechOne the man that designed this pillow. He is formerly a stint corridor ne wo coordinator. Um, he is a movement coach. He worked on the Irishman and um, I can’t remember how I came upon Gary and this body tuning pillow, but it really changed the game for me. I lay on this thing at least five minutes a day, so great. Will 100% be linking in the show notes. Uh, this one’s nice. I’m so grateful for my dance studio. Michelle Latimer also like mentioned in every other episode, probably. Um, Michelle Latimer dance academy is where I grew up, um, to, to Michelle and the studio.  I owe everything that community brought me valuable training and relationships and is really the reason why I am me, brought me my best friends, shout out Chelsea and brought me my inspirations. Shout out Nina McNeely and um, so many sources of many more. And, uh, man, oh, so grateful for Michelle and the studio. I am grateful for Tevia Celiy my spin teacher and super guru wonder woman. Like probably a Demi God, I wouldn’t be shocked if later like a hundred and some years from now, we find out that like Greek mythology is real and Tevia Ceily is the descendant of some God of stamina and resilience. Um, Tevia shout out, love you. Thank you for your impact on my life. Um, I’m grateful for growing up with pets, shout out blanche and Sluggo, the English bulldogs, shout out cookie and peanut and chip. They were hamsters.  Also shout out Mike and Ike, the salamanders. Ooh, not such a good end for them. And they’re going to talk about it. Also Sadie, our bulldog boxer mix and Maxwell Maxwell was duck. We, um, we found him orphaned in our backyard and raised him and named him after the Beatles song. Um, oh and tequila, my Senegal parrot. Now I know that sounds kind of maybe like a, maybe was raised on a farm, but it was raised for 18 years in the suburbs and having that many pets over 18 years. Isn’t that extreme? Isn’t I think it’s pretty normal. Oh man. I can’t wait to meet my future dog. I think I’m going to name him. Lock lock, like the locking move lock lock, or maybe restorable or cheese undecided. I will take a pet name recommendations by the way. Definitely open to that. Go ahead and send a little DM to word the move me podcast.   Always down to hear good pet names. Um, okay. Wow. This is taking longer than I thought. Number 72, my coaches and my coach certification. These tools. I do not know what I would do without. Um, oh my God. I’m so grateful for external hard drives because locks L O C K S S lots of copies keeps stuff safe. If you were waiting for a sign that you need to go back up, your hard drives and your laptop and go do a cloud sync or whatever it is that you do, go do it. Go do it right now. You will not be mad that you did. Oh, weird. Yes. This one’s true. I am grateful for TheraBands. Really grateful for TheraBands because you get a good workout with those and they weigh nothing. So they travel really well. I am grateful for dance studios. I am grateful for dance studio owners.   I’m grateful for people who create space, where dance can be. I’m grateful for remixed vintage dance shoes, show notes, just go. Just do it. Just definitely, definitely go click that link. I’m grateful for eggs. Always have eggs. I’m grateful for my notes app on my iPhone. You all. It is so deep. It is really a very, very rich place in my phone life. I’m grateful for therapy. This is a new place in my, in my life. It also is rich and is affording me so much opportunity to learn and understand myself in my world holey smokes. And with that, my friend, we are going to take a very brief intermission for a few words from our sponsors.  

Say like, uh, there are no sponsors for this episode. I know I’m mentioning a lot of products and things, but I want to be really clear that none of these are paid promotions. These are just the things in my life that I love. And I want to tell you about, um, so there is that there are no sponsors, this is a fake intermission, but a good time to breathe, right? 80 we’re way more than halfway through. Get ready for, um, 80 plus of the things that I am grateful for and more of this funky, funky music.  

Okay. We’re back. And we’re digging right in to number 80, number 80 we’re there. I am grateful for ice packs and heating pads in my 35 years of dance life. I have come to be so appreciative for these two items. Um, actually I’m standing right now with one of these like rice rice bag, hot pack things. You just pop it in the microwave. I wear it on my shoulders or wrap it around my neck, big, big fan of this thing. And then I’ve been traveling when I go out for a conventions and whatnot. Um, I travel with reusable, Ziploc bags, and I use those, um, to fill up with the ice machine with the ice, fill up with ice from the ice machine. Um, and yeah, I sing, my knees is part of my almost daily routine. I just love the feeling of snow caps on my kneecaps, big, big fan.  

Um, oh man, I am grateful that I’m a person who is comfortable like air travel totally comfortable for me. And I take that for granted. I am so grateful for that. And that tracks back to the mom is a flight attendant thing. Um, I am grateful for trader Joe’s. Don’t even get me into the products themselves that I’m grateful for. We’re just going to wrap it up with trader Joe’s super stoked about that. I am really grateful for streak free glass cleaner. There’s this particular brand that my husband got me on. I use it on my computer screen. I use it on the mirrors in the studio. I use it on the microwave because somehow that things just gets greasy and typical Windex stuff. Doesn’t really handle it. This streak free glass cleaner is the one show notes. This is not an ad. I’m just being real with you.  Um, okay. Number 84, this one was tough because I also hate them, but I’m really grateful for hangers. I really do love them and hate them. Um, but I couldn’t wouldn’t want to live without them. Um, I joke with my husband sometimes whose work is in materials and his work is his tools. His shop is full of his tools. My shop is empty. Like my shop is a dance studio, but my tools are my clothes and I love my closet. It’s one of those deep walk-in closets. And I simply do not know what I would do without a method for which to hang all of my tools. Um, so I love hangers, but if you were to ask me for what my idea of hell might look like, it would be a box of hangers just strewn inside hangers or Ooh, maybe really the worst actually, but grateful.  Did you hear that hangers? I love you be kind to me. Um, well, where am I? This is gone left, uh, right street, free glass, cleaner hangers. Um, I am grateful for my basic sewing knowledge. I can handle a button. I can handle a him. I can handle, um, uh, an invisible seem like I can sew up a hole on something. I’m pretty grateful for that. Honestly, I can thread a sewing machine pretty quickly, but I think I prefer to do two like hand stitch. And I know how to do that if I have to do that ever. Um, another tough one.  Oh no, this is not a tough one. I am grateful for my mom’s super sowing, super talent. The idea that I can make my own costumes and that they can be awesome. I get that from her and I love to be making my own things, my own costumes, my own worlds. Um, it’s been awhile, but the seaweed sisters, I think I celebrated in a recent episode, we have a win coming up in those are, we finished, uh, shooting a new project and the costumes that you will see in this new project are very handmade as are many of the things in the world that we will show you in this upcoming video, a very handmade place. I’m excited about it. Um, oh man.

 Oh yes. I am so grateful for growing up before social media happened. Really super grateful for that. Um, wait, repeat you guys. No way learning how to drive a stick shift is on here. Again.  

 I didn’t even know it was that real for me, but I guess I’m doubly grateful for that. Okay. Here we go. Fun one. I’m grateful for growing up in a col-de-sac you can learn things, um, without the fear of dying or being hit by a car. Um, yeah, I think that’s really what it comes down to. That’s where I learned how to ride a bike. And that’s where I learned how to hit a baseball, which will struggle. Um, we had a handful of block parties there. I remember riding a skateboard, but like on my knees, like using my arms is as propulsion and just like scooting around on my knees in the middle of a col de sac, weird. Um, also had great neighbors growing up, shout out to the cost is that he bollix the Western amens. Oh my goodness. Growing up at the lake shore, that was a special thing. I am grateful for seaweed snacks. I simply love them all so much. And I know I already said it, but it really does bear repeating. I am so grateful for the seaweed sisters. I have to say it twice. Um, oh, number 91. Okay. So we’re almost there home stretch. I’m grateful for Eataly because I can shop and eat like I’m in Italy, but not go to Italy, which is more expensive. Debatable. Actually you could spend a lot of money in Italy, but I’m so grateful that there one in Los Angeles now, because it really does feel like I can take a vacation, um, for a hours and then be back home for dinner. Uh, I am grateful for many teachers. If you know me, you know, I love a tiny, tiny, tiny, small thing. That is a small thing. That is a representation of a big thing.  Um, miniatures make me feel big feelings. Uh, this is another reason why I think the Lord of the rings trilogy is so perfect because they used miniatures in an incredible way on the production of that film. Um, oh man. Okay. Here it is. 93. I’m grateful for portmanteaus. We talked about it already, but the word gather thing, I derive a crazy pleasure from building these word gathers. Um, and I just wanted to let you in on my most recent, I was responsible for organizing the secret Santa, um, for my husband’s side of the family. And I wanted to create a portmanteau, a code name for Santa and Dana, and that portmanteau wound up being Santana. And I will just leave you with that. Um, I’m grateful for the ocean and living near it. I am grateful for inflatable mattress pumps because no I don’t love sleeping on the floor and I don’t love the thought of blowing up a full size mattress with my lungs.  I am grateful for professional movers. I, I really believe in the value of professional moving teams. And I believe in the value of professional cleaners, I haven’t had one for a very long time because I also enjoy cleaning my place, but I really am grateful for clean spaces and professional cleaning people. I’m tremendously grateful for my guests on the podcast. All of whom are my friends who are willing to share their words that move them. I’m tremendously grateful for my team. Riley Higgins, Malia Baker, Andrew vibal, Flo who did my website, Bee Reetz for the logo max Winnie for those jams that you hear the top and bottom. And during winds of every episode, my husband who built my podcast booth guys a hundred episodes, definitely doesn’t happen alone. And that brings me to number 100. I’m grateful for you. People who listen, people who are curious and people who I feel very connected to, although I may not have met you yet.  I think this is a very special thing that we have going on here and I don’t plan on stopping. So cheers to the next 200. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for being here. Oh, and I totally forgot we’re doing a contest. I’m giving away $100 cash. It’s a hundredth episode, super giveaway. You have one week from today. I think, oh man, I don’t remember the contest details. Go over to Instagram at where the movie podcasts and check that out. Um, because holy smokes, I’m excited to give away a hundred dollars in cash. Um, the way that you enter is by posting a story or post on your feed, tagging nine people, plus words that move me, who you think would love the podcast. Um, they do have to be, uh, every, every time you do this counts as one entry, but it has to be different names for it to count as two entries.  

That wasn’t a very clear way of explaining what I am trying to explain. Um, head over to where’s the movie podcasts on Instagram to learn more about the drawing, um, enter as many times as you would like. And I hope that you win a hundred dollars in celebration of my hundredth episode. Thank you. So, so, so much for listening. Go get out there, get grateful. And of course, keep it super funky. I’ll talk to you soon. Me again. Wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review your words. Move me to number two things I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit the dinners and.com for links to free workshops. And so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye.

Ep. #99 Creativity is Diversity with Jonathan Batista

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #99 Creativity is Diversity with Jonathan Batista

We have a long way to go before we reach TOTAL diversity, equity and inclusion in the ballet industry, but today’s guest is hopeful and full of heart.  Jonathan Batista was born in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, and went on to train at The Royal Ballet School in London, England, before graduating from the English National Ballet School and Trinity College London with a degree in dance. That was the very begging of a long and unusual professional career. As a person of color, he has a voice and advocates change for diversity and inclusion in the ballet world.  In 2021, Jonathan won the Art Culture & Music Award by The TAF AWARD FOUNDATION, and in this episode, we celebrate him for his work, journey, and the future of ballet.


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. 

Hello, hello, my friend. Welcome to The Words That. Move Me. I’m Dana. This is my podcast. This is my excited voice because I am so excited to share this conversation that I just had with my new friend, Jonathan Batista. Jonathan was a principal dancer with Oklahoma city ballet for many, many years. He is now a soloist for Pacific Northwest ballet. Shout out to all my listeners up in Seattle. If you get a chance to go see Jonathan perform their Nutcracker season is about to start.  So get ya booty to go see Pacific Northwest ballet. Um, Jonathan and I, uh, spoke before this interview a little bit about the life of a principal dancer for a ballet company. Y’all this person is so what is the word I’m looking for? Focused deliberate, um, energized, motivated, disciplined, I mean, wow. All of the good things that all of these virtuous qualities that we reserve for people who are out there doing it, but also a human, a real kind human being that I so enjoyed talking to. Um, so in our preliminary chat, we talked about his morning routine, which starts at 4:30 in the morning, meditation workout, you know, body self-care thought work. Um, and then off to the gym before heading into the studio for full rehearsal day, we didn’t dig into those nuts and bolts. In this episode, um, we kept our conversation focused on something quite different, which much, much deserves much, much attention. Um, we talked about what it means to be a person of color in the ballet industry, a lot to discuss there. Jonathan had some really great insights and, and hopeful words and sentiments. 

Um, I’m excited to share all that with you, but first let’s do wins. I am so jazzed about my win today because my win today, which is a little bit early, it’s a pre celebration, um, is that next week’s episode will be our 100th episode. Now, technically I think it’s actually like 107 or 106, because I started with episode 0.5. We like to sprinkle in bonus episodes here and there, but like, if we’re sticking to the number next week is 100 and celebrate. I’m going to give $100 cash away to one of you listening, perhaps. Um, this will be an Instagram contest. All you have to do is tag words that move me podcast. All one word, no spaces, no dashes, no nothing fancy, um, tag words that move me podcast and nine people that you think would enjoy listening to the pod. This could be in the form of, you know, your own photo that you post a talking head video of yourself, perhaps leaving, um, a few of your takeaways or sentiments about the podcast. You could also repost any one of our previous posts or episode posts, um, in your story, again, be sure to tag words that move me podcast and nine people you think would love to listen each time you do that counts as one entry. So if you do a lot of that, you stand a lot of chance to win $100 cash from my home wallet to yours via the US postal service. I’m so excited about this. I haven’t like put cash in an envelope in awhile.  Shout out Venmo, shout out PayPal. Um, so I’m excited about this. I’m excited to celebrate 100 episodes with you. Excited to ship out some greenbacks or probably just one greenback greenback. Did anybody else call money greenback? Anyways, I digress. That’s what’s going well in my world. I’m pre celebrating episode 100 and letting you know about our contest, if you’re confused about anything I just said, which might be the case because they didn’t have it written down. That was just stream of consciousness, head over to words the move me podcast for the next week on Instagram. I will be sure to be posting a lot about this contest. So you have all the important information. Okay. That’s it for me handing the mic to you. What is going well in your world? Tell me all about it.  

 Yes. My friend, you are winning congrats, so proud of you, virtual hug. I hope you felt it. Let’s talk Jonathan Batista. And then let’s talk with Jonathan Batista. Jonathan, as I mentioned is a tremendously passionate kindhearted individual with so much drive. His drive has taken him from his birth town town. Rio de Janeiro is not a town birth city. Um, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, all over the world, dancing for some tremendously renowned ballet companies. Hearing about his experience as a person of color in the ballet industry was fascinating to me. Um, brought up a lot of questions that I have a lot of concerns that I have. And I think this conversation, um, certainly is an ongoing one, but will be helpful for you to be a part of. I can’t wait to hear what you think about it. I hope that you learn a lot and, um, I hope that you keep it super duper funky. I’ll talk to you guys later. Enjoy this conversation with Jonathan Batista, 

Dana: Jonathan Batista. Welcome to words that move me. Thank you so much for being here.

Jonathan: Thank you so much for having me.  

Dana: I’m delighted. And I want to get in to this conversation because I know it will be illuminating. Um, but what did we start in the, in the, uh, in the lazy river, um, I want to hear to the degree of depth that you choose, um, any information that you would like for us to know about you? I think you’re certainly newer to me and might be new to my listeners as well. Uh, go ahead and dish. What, what would you like us to know about you?  

Jonathan: Yes, well, um, my name is Jonathan Battista. I was born in Brazil. I was born in Rio, uh, the city of so many great things. You know, you talk about culture, we talk about Samba, talk about art music and, um, so much to offer. So I come from a very wealthy cultural background, um, which is the country itself, which is Brazil. And I started training. Um, well, I would say I started doing a lot of things as a young man. Um, my parents kept me very busy. You know, I went from sports to martial arts, um, music, theater. Um, what else, um, you name it until I found ballet or I would say ballet found me. I truly believe that. Right. I truly believe that ballet was an art form art form that shows me because I was not interested at first. Um, I think there was a lot of resistance for me to dance, but I was a dancer, a natural dancer already. I started dancing with the ballroom in school, academic school, they would have a program or two  

Was this, uh, uh, I’m sure school in Brazil is very different than it is here. The equivalent of a public school and dance was part of the curriculum.  

That’s right. It was a public school and, and it was a part of the curriculum to take dance classes. And so I did take ballroom and my teacher just looked at me and said, look, I believe you have something there. You have a gift for dance. And you know, I’m a kid I’m here playing soccer and going to a karate class Capitol era and music, studying music history, and ballet would be the last thing that I would have thought about. Hmm. But in my journey, I think that my mom really took what my teacher, um, had said. And really, I thought, well, let me, let me introduce him to dance classes. And I started with, uh, Jess tap class for the kind of a combo class. Yes. Which is the usual. Right. And you go into a studio, you do tap and jazz, and then quickly, because I was also the only male down.  So the only men, the only boy at that time in the studio, you were also included in ballet classes, right there was signed up immediately. And so that’s how I started my journey. So ballet class started and I used to be teased a lot because I was the only man in ballet. And, and I don’t think that really had, um, this way to do it all. I’d say right now, I was just happy to be there, I guess. And from there I joined a, a more professional of a professional ballet school and with a full scholarship. And that’s how I started my journey. And from there on, you know, uh, I received a scholarship to go to Miami state about this school, uh, in Florida and I returned to Brazil. And then I was also, uh, awarded the, a full scholarship with college integrative college for English national ballet school. At 15 years old.

So is that, is that what brought you here?

Yes. So at 15 I went to London, actually I went to London and the United Kingdom to study, um, ballet and dance. I did a short stay at the Royal ballet school. I think it’s at the summer of 2009. And, um, and from there on, I stayed three years in England with a full scholarship. I attended Trinity college. Uh, we also had a few courses with Cambridge university and I was so naive to all of these great moments in my life because I, I always had a sense of giving my all to these opportunities that I didn’t even know that I was attending college at that time. I was just studying. 

What did you think you were doing?  

I have no idea. I thought, well, I guess this is the part of ballet.  

Oh, I see. Okay. This is like, this is your training training training in ballet means receiving all of this, this training,  

Correct. You receiving all the information, all of the training, all of the studies. And so it wasn’t until I moved to my uni because I, I suffered a, a, an injury. I moved to Miami and then from Miami, I moved to Canada. Um, and I receive a letter in the mail and that was my diploma or, uh, uh, my diploma in dance, but Trinity college and English national ballet school. And I was just like, wow, this is fantastic.  

I do that. You literally lived the dream of college and you woke up one day and it was over. And you had your diploma that way. I’m sure. There’s so, so many of my listeners are listening. Like, could it just be that way for me please? I keep waking up and I’m still here. That’s fascinating. Okay. Carry on. Keep going. What happened next?  

Yeah, I, and then from there I went to Canada, um, went to Canada. I was an apprentice with the national ballet of Canada. I had a great steak with a company. I learned a lot. And from that journey from veterinary, with the national ballet of Canada, I was forwarded or recommended to Boston ballet. And that’s how I came back to the United States. And with the Boston ballet, I spent two years, uh, and with the company, I had a lot of great opportunities. I think it really defined my career on that moment. Um, I had, uh, lots of soloist, uh, soloist opportunity to perform solos, uh, featured roles, principal roles as well. And, but as a younger man, I I’ve always been in search of more or exploring my story, exploring myself. And I’ve always thought, well, you know what, if I have to move somewhere, if I have to try something, I do have the energy to try it. Now I was about 21, 22. So I thought, you know, I don’t, I wouldn’t want to move at 30 or 30, 1 32. It’s a little bit harder. Um, and so I did move again. I moved to Cincinnati and at that time I moved back to the soloist.  

It was that exactly where you were before you were at, for Oklahoma city.  

It was right before.  

Okay. I didn’t mean to cut to the chase, but that’s not even the chase, cause that’s not where you are now. I, if we had, like, if we had little dots on a map of places, companies, you have, you have graced, um, we’d have, the country would look like the world looked like a little Christmas. Okay. So Ohio,  

Ohio, and then before Oklahoma state ballet, I went to Milwaukee ballet. Yes. I mean, it’s  

Kind of one.  

And from milwaukee, I, I audition to the Oklahoma city ballet and I got in as a principal dancer. I was actually a principal dancer with Milwaukee ballet as well. And, and then I auditioned to Oklahoma city ballet, I think with the works that I did with the Oklahoma city ballet as well. I needed to experience, I would say more of a freedom, right. Because I was the starter of so many things with your collateral, Oklahoma city ballet, being a company, um, that had its own rebirth, right. It’s a small company, a company that’s up and coming. So, uh, the structure of that company was still, um, in its building process, right. There were still building up. Uh, and I was a part of that building process during those four years. And I guess I just wanted to become just a dancer right.  

Hmm. Not so, so you found roots, you found a sense of community and then you thought maybe I will branch off. If I were to stick with the analogy, actually that would be not, not so helpful to the metaphor. Um, you, you felt in finding, oh, this is how I operate as a part of a bigger picture where you are wondering, I wonder how I operate as, as one piece. Absolutely. What does the individual, the dancer, you know, look and you went to, and there was, was, that was the opportunity presented before that thought happened, where had the thought happened and then the opportunity came and you said that  

If that happened, and then the opportunity presented itself, it was almost like it manifested with the energy that it put towards it. And the faith that I put towards, uh, coming to a company that it’s actually challenging to get in, I have applied before, um, it’s a top five company in the country. I thought about the visibility off a dancer and also Pacific Northwest Ballet offered a lot of, um, uh, experience with different choreographers from all over the world. And that’s something that I wanted to do

It’s really heartening to hear how possible it is to invest long-term and still have more distance to go. Like, it’s, you won’t run out of loving dance just because you’re leaving a city that the place you are doesn’t dictate the dancer that you are. Um, but there was, there will certainly be an, there will certainly be different opportunities in different places. I mean, location, location, location, that’s what that’s when the real estate agent, um, that, that makes a lot of sense, right? So you, you come from a very culturally rich place and you traveled to very many different culturally rich places and wow. What a wealth of experiences has given you and you, it, what I’m hearing is that perhaps even more than dancing, it’s a mission of yours to be giving back or sharing and creating more opportunities for others to do the same. So maybe that’s a, a good segway. Let’s talk about giving, let’s talk about doorways. Um, in a, in 2021, you won the art and culture and music award by TAF, the Taft foundation for your contributions in representation and activism. And I’m pretty sure this will be a very long answer, so let’s get into it. Uh, I am so excited to hear this answer, but what I would love to know is how, and you can get as granular or broad about this as you want. How are you being a part of making ballet more diverse, more rich, more cultured, more inclusive?  

Well, I, I think that journey started with the Oklahoma city ballet as well. Um, I’ve been, I am a black man right in ballet. And there was a time that I realized how fortunate and blessed I am for having a very fruitful career, uh, for going from company to company and perhaps being the first of everything and, uh, experiencing the lack of celebration of my culture and other cultures as well. I was the first black principal dancer in the 50 years of the company’s history and, you know, getting to 30, I realized, well, who’s next? Uh, we cultivating talents. Uh, we seen people of different background, uh, BIPOC, uh, people, artists, uh, we seeing them for their talent and for, uh, who they are and giving them the opportunity to be on stage, um, and to be seen, or, or to be, and to become, to exist within these spaces. They are predominantly white. And I guess I, once again, it was by opening the doors and paving the way for more people, because the work that that have been doing it’s for the current generation and the next generation as well, and how, and, and during that process, you know, there was a lot of pain, um, through it because, you know, we start talking about it. There’s a lot of confusion, a lot of resistance, and it takes a while for it to settle down and for us to start the work. So it took me a little bit, it was very challenging. And at some point I took my pain and, and, and, and, and this pain, or this process is process that comes from me from years, right? During school, through all the companies that I’ve been with until this moment with the Oklahoma city ballet. And I took my pain and it turned it into purpose. And my purpose was to bring diversity, equity and inclusion to ballet companies. And how do we do that? I often say is base that I, that the protests that we started having of the United States last year with the death of George Floyd, um, Brianna Taylor, and, and more, um, they started, they sparked more conversation about injustice throughout the country. And this conversation started everywhere. And dancers started protesting as to why we don’t have the visibility. Um, and so companies started listening to it, which was very important. It was a mark and the, by the world, like, this is, it’s not the first time that we do these conversations, but it’s the first time that it’s being noticed. Uh, it’s the first time that it’s been exposed, uh, to the audience,  

Uh, general, public’s looking at it, hearing it, seeing it.  

Yes, absolutely. Which obligates the company to do something about it to really, okay. Let’s sit down and, and talk about it. Yes. Right.  

It obligated though. Like how, how, how, how does diversity become more than a box to check? What is the incentive other than optics for companies to be inclusive? I mean, I think I know the answer, which is you have a rich and diverse lived experience in your company. The audience gets a richer, more diverse experience in the seats. I think that it seems plain as day to me, but I don’t think, you know, my experience as an artist and as an audience is the same as the experience of, you know, the people behind the desk or the people on the boards who are making those decisions. And it’s hard. I feel selfish to ask for, like, I want you to be more diverse and I want it to come from a good hearted place. And they want you to know why it’s important. That isn’t just like, you know, the optics. I, you know, I wish I had a different word to use, but it feels like I’m asking a lot in my, in my desires for that. Maybe it’s it’s, I, it’s certainly not important what I want, but have you noticed it becoming a box to check? Have you noticed meaningful shifts in the systems that have for so long kept people of color from being center in the ballet world?  

I think that companies have companies and artistic directors have made the effort to hire, um, black indigenous people of color, uh, into there are companies, but when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion, what I talk to these leaders about is that they all go hand in hand. I think that we have checked the box with diversity in the country, uh, with right.  

But do people feel included will feel like they belong there?  

Absolutely. That’s the question? Uh, because we are diverse, look, we have black people, we have blacks we have people of color. We have indigenous, or we have, uh, uh, Asians and more, uh, but are they being included within the system and how do we create this inclusion? How do we open up in order to, uh, include them? How do we, uh, have equity within this ballet companies? Right. Because they do go hand in hand first, obviously you have diversity. That’s how you hire, um, um, multiple cultures, multiple people, different cultures. And, and then you create the accessibility, right? When it comes through to a ballet company, you create the accessibility through casting, which is first, uh, van rehearsal, studio time on stage time, and then followed by performance. Now it’s only inclusive once you’re a part of that system and that order of casting studio time rehearsal on stage, time and performance.  

And that’s also, when we talk about, uh, representation and visibility, how do we create representation within a ballet company? And as a specific community, it’s having them go through the process of casting studio time, stage, time, and then performance. And that’s how the public can really, uh, identify themselves within that one person, uh, on stage. And then through visibility. How do we do that? Again, we go through the same process, but are these dancers being, um, marketed by a social media where we market most of our programs? Are they in the programs? Are they, um, are they performing a specific role? 

Um, I think position of leadership, uh, within, uh, a ballet production, uh, meaning are they performing a principal role or soloists role? Um, social media, photos, videos, images, uh, emails, and, and that’s how you create the representation and visibility. And then you bring it back to the system, um, actually through the system. And that’s how we’re able to create this, the idea of celebration of cultures, um, through the space that we are in. So, and, and, and the issue that we have we’ve faced sometimes it’s that, yes, we are hired, but where are we? We are not performing. And we have these examples almost every year. And companies now have made once again, that is proof and evidence that companies have opened subcommittees of, uh, diversity, equity and inclusion subcommittees to have more of a broad conversation, right? Yeah. Um, training and that’s one of the Pacific Northwest ballet is doing, we doing training as well, um, to identify these microaggressions that happened within the studio that they are not aware of. So there’s a lot of awareness that we are bringing, um, through education, right? Educating our audience, educating our leaders, educating, uh, the board of governors of alphabet ballet company, uh, to say, look, we have a community that we want to represent. We need to represent because we have dancers from those communities. And if you’re not on stage, then it’s just, we’re just back to the idea of diversity.  

No, I did not intend for that be an exasperated side, but I cannot help, but feel there is so much to be done. Um, after so many years of the championed social identity in the ballet industry was white, um, is white for so long. Um, um, I’m sure we have a long way to go to total equity, equality, and inclusion. Um, what do you see as being the biggest challenges set ahead, and how can the people listening who hold privilege in those spaces help?  

I believe it’s, it’s a matter of accountability, willingness and commitment. And there’s a lot of fear. Um, that goes on in the, in the world of ballet, even with artistic leadership, a lot of fear and pressure, but I truly believe that, uh, valet has been celebrating one culture for so long that they are afraid of going a different route. You know, you see that assistant system is not as inclusive because, you know, we don’t have, uh, many black artistic directors or artistic directors of different cultures and backgrounds as oh, had had experience, uh, other cultures as well. And so it’s challenging for them. I believe it’s challenging for them to just make that change because it goes against their reality and what they have been accustomed to.  

But isn’t that what isn’t that what creativity is, isn’t that your role as a creative director is to imagine something that doesn’t exist yet, or to imagine a way that is a way that isn’t the way it’s always been.  

Absolutely. But then you, you see the percentage of, uh, minorities, BIPOC artists within a ballet company, and it’s considerably, uh, smaller, small. When you come to 45 dancers in a ballet company, you only have four black dancers and you only have five Latin X dancers. And then you have about that say, uh, what does that, 30 some 30 plus light dancers, uh, by the time you make a decision to put a ballet on stage a production on stage, majority of roles will go for those white dancers. Uh, and so there’s not much, and again, we are becoming a diversity company, but the question is, are we included? We think that one system, right, right. And there is space like that is space for rehearsal on stage time, but we lack commitment and we lack willingness and accountability. And we do have to educate people. The, the, the people who come to stage these ballets, they have to be educated on the culture that we are trying to establish. And unfortunately, we fail to do that because majority of choreographers that comes to big companies, they are also Caucasians and whites. And so whenever they choose select a dancer, they will select the dancers that they will identify themselves with. And that will be another white dancer. And what I’m saying is that’s the priority. Sometimes it’s seeing one black dancer on stage and the company, the leadership sometimes celebrate the diversity through one person on the stage, right. Which sometimes can turn into tokenism.  

That’s the person on the flyer. And then you go see the show. And they’re not even in the, in the work that you’re saying that night, the one person before,  

And they are not even the works that was on the flyer. Yeah. And so it’s, those are the challenges that we have, you know, that we have to really educate and continue to educate these leaders in order for us to influence change. And one of the things that I saw with the Oklahoma city ballet that was so happy about it is we started the work. Uh, I believe it was in July. And when August came, we were doing the work immediately, immediately. And  

Is that not? What is the usual timeline of a lifetime of, uh, of a work?  

And here’s a line that I, that I always hear as a black dancer, you have to wait, change, takes time. And I remember saying this to an executive director, I said, change does not take time. Change takes action. Time is now, time is a constant time is now. And so there’s always this, oh, it was, you know, I didn’t perform on program. It’s just this program. Don’t worry. You’re going to perform again. And I’ve been through this experience where then I signed the contract and all those promises that you’ve had from a director, oh, you’re going to perform X, Y, Z was assigned the contract. You don’t perform those, those roles. You are not given that opportunity, uh, to, uh, develop your artistry or your, your skills. And it’s almost like it’s a trap once they signed that contract. And what I’ve talked to artistic directors, I said, I say that, yes, it’s going to be challenging to also conquer, uh, other cultures, uh, trust. Why is that the ass? They might think that it’s still organism because everything that we do, these new actions towards diversity inclusion and equity, we must take action with consistency in order for us to connect and engage with other cultures rather than white,  

And to make long lasting change. It must must be happening consistently, not just on one contract for one dancer on one company in one city, we’re talking about collective shift consistency all over.  

Yeah, absolutely not to mention that, uh, black dancers and dancers of different cultures, uh, they have to work 10 times more, right. And this work is not always a physical work. It’s equity, it’s sweat equity, mental equity, um, that go goes into these, these works that we do. Um, and so that needs to be a sensitivity awareness towards that as well. And because I think the conversation is going okay, how does a dance, how can we make you feel comfortable? And I answers will always be well by performing, by being on stage. You know, the life of a dancer is by performing. And I understand that sometimes you won’t perform a certain role. Sometimes you won’t perform a certain piece, but to exclude you from, uh, a system that organically excludes you is also not helpful. So, uh, yeah, we have a lot of work to do and, and I’m staying hopeful.  

Um, I’m, I’m inspired by your hopefulness and the path that you’re laying and the actions that you’re taking. Um, yeah. Thank you so much for being really transparent about what it, what it really means to be a person of color in the ballet industry. Um, I’m, I’m sure it is far more complicated and nuanced than I can ever imagine, and you navigate it so gracefully and explain it with compassion and understanding and patience. And that’s, uh, I can’t think of a better example to set. So thank you so much for that. Thank you for being here and talking to me today.  

Thank you for the opportunity. Uh, I think you know how you are a part of it. I know you’re a part of this journey. Okay.  

 Oh my goodness. He has signed me up. Tell me where I can. I can spend my privilege if I, if I hold any in the ballet world would probably  

Doing it already.

Know, it’s, I love talking about dance and I agree with you. I’m very much in alignment that I love dancers. I love people. And it is, has always been a focus of mine to serve the people who do the thing that I love to be doing, which is dance. Um, and I, I, I think that a lot of our training naturally, obviously is physical. And I wish that there were more of a, a mental component because a lot of the things that dancers and especially people of color come up against in, you know, our professional industry, um, are things that we were not prepared for in a dance class, certainly not standing at a ballet bar. So I’m happy to offer this space, the podcast as a resource to have conversations like these, and be an example of how to have conversations like these, and also, um, hopefully empower people to maybe, you know, in, in circumstances like mine, I’ll give a very specific example.  Um, after the summer of 2020, I stopped teaching hip hop, very easy decision for me that hit me like a ton of bricks. And it just was so simple and so clear that I could name more than fingers and toes on my body. People of color who live, eat, drink, love, hip hop culture. It’s true. I love to be dancing. I love funk. It’s true that my timing and placement in this world gave me exposure to some great training and I love sharing what I’ve learned, but are there people who can do this better than me? Absolutely. And I feel great passing that opportunity on to them. I feel very good about that. I don’t feel scared of that, but I know that I’m not, um, I know that I’m not alone, but I also know that that that’s not probably the majority rule in terms of like, how, how does it feel for white people to be asking to pass, work on to people of color? I’m imagining that to some people, it does not feel empowering. It feels threatening. And I think that I can see where the problem lies there. Um, and I don’t know yet the solution to that, but I think it starts up, up here and in here, I’m tapping my tapping my head and my heart.  It’s what humans get. Right. We have that. Yeah. We have awareness. We have the ability to think about the future. We have the ability to watch ourselves think and feel in the present. And I’m just hoping that we, as a greater community can elevate above and outside of our individual selves. And think about the big picture here.  

Yes. Well, thank you. That was, that was beautiful. And I, you know, I think the word is awareness and we can share of common knowledge and we could really, you know, just have that, uh, that trade, that experience. And I think the first thing that connects that connects us is it’s the heart, right? It’s the sow of an artist. Whether if it’s hip hop ballet, modern Samba, oh no. It’s, uh, you know, and whether you’re black, white, um, Latin X native, uh, do you understand? And it’s beautiful that, that thank you for that, that you’re aware it’s, it’s a system and it, that’s what I was even talking to. A friend of mine have said, uh, he’s a white male. And I said to him, I am not fighting you. I am fighting the system. And in that way, we broke so many walls between us, you know, and wait for it to not be personal. Right. It’s not personal. And, and then we were able to see that we truly appreciate each other for who we are and that’s the work. And that’s, it’s just, as you say, it’s fascinating. Ah, 

It is fascinating every step of the way, every turn, every new contract negotiation, every new first black soloist on every company they’re here, but I’m fascinated. I’m on the edge of my seat, but I also, I cannot help, but feel a little bit impatient. And you mentioned before, and it kind of stuck with me being told, you have to wait or change, you know, this change isn’t going to happen overnight. I have noticed in myself, and I know him, I’m a very small piece, but some changes can happen overnight. Yes, absolutely. I made the decision, you know, my decision about the type of work I will take on and the type of work I will pass along. I made that decision literally overnight and it felt awesome. So I would encourage, perhaps anybody who’s listening to be thinking about the changes you can make really fast right now that might have really long and rippling effects. And then where are the places where we can be, or where, where are the places we can bend and be more flexible so that we can have more endurance? Um, because yeah, it really is. It’s about the long game, huh?  

Absolutely. And I second you on that. And, and if I may add, um, also I really would love people to acknowledge that and encourage people to acknowledge that change starts with you. You know, um, it starts, it’s a small thing, right? Within your own environment, within your space. It, you know, when I wanted, uh, there was a time where I wanted to use my voice and it was so afraid, so afraid. And when I did use it, I had no idea that I had that power within me, that energy to influence change, and actually to see that there were people with me behind me, I saying behind me, was the generation that is up and coming really waiting for that moment. And instead of fearing, once I did that, once I looked around, I found so much love, so much support from every community, from every culture. So we have that power, we have that within us. And, and I understand it’s now that work takes time, you know? And, but when you do it, take your time when you do it, it would be at the right time for you to make a change within your own environment.  

Thank you so much for adding that. Yeah. I think that’s a fabulous place to wrap it up. You all have a lot to go and think about, um, Jonathan, thank you so much for being here with me today. I look forward to talking to you again.  

Thank you, Dana. It’s been an honor. Look forward to talking to you again. Thank you.  

All right. Y’all I know I already did my sign off at the beginning before this conversation happened, but I feel compelled to like wrap it up one more time. Jonathan is hopeful for change in the systems in place, um, that are the systems that determine who winds up on top in center stage, if you will, of the ballet world. And he’s all for making changes to the big picture, to those systems and starting with the self. So if you and I had any homework today, it might be simply to ask yourself what changes you can make and how those changes will affect the big systems that drive and move our world. I hope you have fun chewing on that. Again. I would love to hear what you think of this episode. Please feel free to contact me with any and all feedback I’m at @DanaDaners on Instagram.  And of course the podcast is words that move me podcast thrilled about our hundredth episode contest. Get in there and get paid and get real funky on your way. I’ll talk to you guys soon. Bye 
Outro: Me again. Wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review because your words move me to number two thing. I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye.

Ep. #98 Broadway is Back and Better Than Ever with Tilly Evans-Krueger

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #98 Broadway is Back and Better Than Ever with Tilly Evans-Krueger

Oh my friend, you are in for a sweet treat today!!!  In this Episode, Alexis “Tilly” Evans-Krueger  brings us backstage at Moulin Rouge on Broadway for a little pre-show dressing room chit chat… but only no, this isn’t a chit chat… it is a deep dive on several big and important topics.  Tilly talks about creating the feeling of freedom daily and her experience with college for dance.  Her journey from small town school to Company work to landing her first Broadway contract right before the 18 month lockdown is fascinating every step of the way.  Oh, and I think you’ll love hearing what she has to say about the *NEW* Broadway.


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

Dana: Hello, hello, my friend. How are you feeling today? Feeling good, feeling funky. I hope. I am feeling slightly more colorful than the last time I had jumped into the booth. Last week’s episode was all about feeling blue. Um, the sads are real y’all and I am not rushing them away. Um, I’m honoring them. There are occasional blues in my world still, but today I am inviting in the bright side of the emotional spectrum with today’s guest Tilly Evans, Krueger, holy cow, what a Sunbeam Moonbeam? Ray Sunray? Ray of sunshine, Moonbeam, all things celestial and of the sky. She is so bright. She is so free and I’m so stoked to share this conversation with you. 

But first we celebrate wins. Big, big, huge, yet soggy win this week is that the seaweed sisters have shot a new one. On Thursday of this week. Um, and wow, it came together so fast, so furious and oh, so fortuitous, which is my new favorite word. Um, really cannot wait to share that with you. Be sure that you’re following the seaweed sisters on Instagram, by the way. Um, that is probably a good place to be kept in the loop on all things seaweedy. Um, Ooh, which reminds me on the gram front words that move me podcast on Instha on Insthagram. (Instagram) is creeping up on 3000 followers, woot woot. It’s weird. Usually I write woot woot, rarely say it doesn’t really feel that great to say.   Uh, anyways, once we reach 3003 followers, which is a subtle shout out to the area code of Denver, where I’m from. Sup three oh three, um, once we reach 3003 followers, by the way, that also just kind of it real cause you know, the plus or minus game, um, I’m going to be giving away a bunch of words that move me podcast merch to random followers. I’m going to find a random follower generator and just be gifting some stuff out. So be on the lookout for that. Tell your friends if you’re not already following the pod, tell your friends if you’re not already following the seaweed sisters. And by the way, I don’t mean to make it out, to be all about the following, but that’s where the conversation landed the conversation with myself. Um, so that is where we are. All right, winning. That’s my win this week, new seaweed work coming soon. Holy smokes. I’m so excited about it. Um, now you go, what is going well in your world? Are you celebrating any new work? Are you celebrating relaxation? What is going well, tell me about it. It pains me that I can not actually hear you. Tell me what you’re celebrating. You know what we should do? You know what, that’s it starting now at words that move me podcast, leave me a little voice note. Send me, um, a little DM voice recording of what’s going well in your world. I would love to start sharing those on the podcast. Featured wins for me. You just re here it is. You heard it here. Exactly. First we’re doing it. Send me a voice recording of your win and it will play it on the podcast. I mean, not all of them, but maybe I’ll start a spinoff podcast called wins. And that’s just what we’ll do the whole time. Um, okay. Sorry. I interrupted you. Take it away. Hit me with your win.

Okay, great. Excellent. I’m so glad that you’re winning. I can’t wait to hear your wins. Really. This is so exciting to me. Um, but now I’ve got a lot to cover with miss Tilly Evans Krueger. So let’s dig right into it. This totally free flying dancing bird makes being an everything or look, so-so so good. And you’ll see what I mean by that in a second. Um, she’s all about all of the dance, but also people caring for each other. She’s all about women lifting women. She’s all about using art to make change in the world. And my friends. She is making some pretty sweet changes that I am very excited about. So without any further ado here is Tilly Evans, Krueger.

Dana: Tilly Evans, Krueger. Holy smokes. Welcome to the podcast, my friend. Thank you so much for doing this. I am stoked. 

Tilly: Thank you so much for having me.  

Dana: When I think about my listeners and who they want to be when they grow up, I think they might want to be you. So I’m really, really excited that you’re here to share your story today. Um, but let’s start with some, let’s start with the really simple stuff. Uh, tell us anything you want us to know about you  

Tilly: Tilly. That’s my name. I am from Madison, Wisconsin, and I love telling people that because they usually give me like a weird little  

Like Midwest. Really?  

Yeah. Um, I grew up with my grandparents, my lovely, beautiful selfless grandparents who I adore. Um, I think that my dreams have become a reality due to their encouragement throughout my life. And it’s never ending. It’s infinite. It’s beautiful. As you might know, I love dance. Um, so much.  

Got it, got it, got it. It’s got a hint. It picked up on, uh, on the essence of that working with you, In In the Heights, your drive, you were nonstop and the focus was tremendous. Such a fun time. Um, okay. Sorry. Keep going.  

Oh gosh. And what else? I feel like I’m an, everythinger, so I just like doing everything that is expressed, expression expressive. Uh, I dabble in painting and I love acting. I also figure skated growing up, obviously, Wisconsin who doesn’t skate there. Um, yeah, I don’t know. So I am just, I’m a life learner.  

Mm Hm. Yo tambien. I think we’re in a, in a room full of those right now. And whoever’s listening, we’re in your car or we’re in your house or wherever we are. We are that, um, and we’re expressive types. I noticed one of the things that I first noticed about you is your personal style. Um, on the podcast, we talk a lot about external validation and to use the cliche, like not judging a book by its cover, being more than our Instagram feed, more than whose class we’re taking more than whatever job we’re on. But when you are first meeting someone, you have the information that your eyes and ears are telling you. And I remember being like, Ooh, that is a stylish bird. She, she flies free. She flies in a very, very open sky. And then I remember feeling, uh, um, a kind of fortuitousness when we were creating Paciencia Y Fe the number that we worked on and In the Heights and you got to be the birds of La Vibora. I said, that’s so wrong. La Vibora. Um, yeah, you got to, you got to be the birds in the sky and you move like a bird. So there’s, I’ve always taken a sense of freedom from you. And I think that that is something that dancers pursuing careers in entertainment are very rarely feeling freedom. We’re feeling we might be feeling focus or determination or, you know, grit, but it’s very rarely freedom. Do you consciously think about being free? Do you move freely, deliberately? What is your, What does it feel like to be?  

I literally can’t tell you how much that means to me that you see that picked up on it right away. It’s not, it’s not like, um, I think it’s subconscious actually, because anytime I’m talking, like I’ve done a lot of, um, there’s this thing called freedom path in Ohio and my best friend, her mom would take us out on horses and we would like, uh, like have a partnership with these horses. And I just remember doing a mission statement as well. And all of it was about freedom, like, and how I, I want everything in my life. I want everything to feel free. I want to be free. Um, and I think, yeah, I think I am chasing that. Not chasing that I’m being that I’m allowing myself to feel whatever I feel in each day. And it’s, it’s sometimes, um, difficult because it’s like, I feel very different each day. Um, but as long as I am allowing myself to dress the way I want or to identify myself the way I want move the way I want not identify myself in whatever way I want, you know, like I think that’s so important. Um, to be honest and intentional. And my, I think the biggest thing intentionally for me is to find freedom.  

Cool. Cool. Um, let’s go back a little bit to Ohio really quick. So, um, in my, in my pre pod research, I learned that you graduated Magnum Cum Laude and I don’t know if I’m saying that word correctly, to be totally honest, because I didn’t go to college or graduate Magnum Cum anything. Um, but you have a BFA in dance. You went to Wright state university and that’s in Ohio. And I think that people think Ohio is boring, but I would like to, for the record, just announced that I had the most fun I have ever had at a club in my life in Cincinnati. And I’m truly like, I hold a really secret fondness for Ohio in my heart. I don’t know if I could ever even find it again. Cincinnati was wicked. Cool. I had some, I have no idea I had, I couldn’t. Oh, I can. I have no idea. Okay,  


Not because I was like smashed or hammered or drunk, but because it was like a hole in the wall kind of, you know, off chance, let’s try this out. I dunno. It was while I was on my first tour. So maybe that factors in as well, the place I was  

Feeling. Yeah.  

Yeah. Freedom. Um, okay. But all of that preface about Ohio to say, I love hearing and weighing in on this conversation about the value of college for dancers. Um, and I would love to hear your position on that. What did you, what did you gain from your college experience that you don’t think you could’ve gotten in the workforce? We’ll start there. Yeah.  

So in Ohio I feel like, um, I felt very isolated there in Dayton, Ohio. There’s not, I feel like in New York, I really wanted to go to school in New York, but that’s just not the way things worked out. And I think I would have actually been so distracted in New York. So I’m really glad I went to school in this isolated area where literally all I could do and all I wanted to do was dance. I couldn’t get enough of it. And really the only, um, fun, not the only fun, The only fun was riding my horse. I would go to movies for fun. That’s kind of all there was in Dayton, Ohio. Um, I once ran into Dave Chappelle cause he lives in yellow Springs and he described Dayton. Ohio has the city that could, but won’t, and that, I feel like that is kind of true. It’s it’s industrial and it, it feels, um, a little gray, but what’s the, what is amazing about Dayton, Ohio, from what I experienced is the people, the people, um, that I met are lifelong friends and they are, um, my family and I worked with this company DCDC while I was training. Um, while I was in school and those women taught me what it is to be, um, a supportive woman, a supportive black woman in this industry, how to one, one another up and knowing that we as individuals are special in our own, right. And without one there’s something missing in the puzzle. So there’s no point in competing. It’s all family, it’s all love. And it’s all as, as long as we are supporting this atmosphere and nurturing it each individual, then we can succeed.  

Hold on, hold on, hold on, hold up. Oh, I just, I have to get a little bit more granular about that because if we could, right now on this podcast, share with people, how you do that. If those women taught you to do that, those women taught you to nurture community, to rise while lifting others, instead of rise by pushing others down. If you learn that, how can you teach a little bit of that now? Like what are the, is, is there a practical thing? Is there a, I mean, I know philosophically what must be done or I can guess right. Lead with love, give love. Um, I think I understand the steps of nurturing, but what do you say? Is there, what are we missing? What, what is, what are the bricks of it?  

Okay. So I will say that it’s not necessarily an easy human task because it does take loving oneself. Right? Um, being, I think shifting that perspective is really important. So if I’m in an audition and I feel like I’m not necessarily killing it and there’s other people killing it, I’m of course going to be insecure because, and then you, you think about yourself, right? You’re like, oh, I’m not doing well. I’m not doing this. And like, so that starts to spiral you instead. I think in those moments of comparison and insecurity, how can we flip the switch? How can we flip our perspective and say, Hey, I’m going to send them great energy right now. And I am going to allow myself space to be wherever I’m at, but maybe if I’m not doing the best and I see other people living in their light and their truth, I’m going to send them even more beautiful energy and maybe even pray if you will, um, talk, uh, to the universe about, I know it’s getting a little woo

I mean, I’m, I’m here with, um, I’m interested in all of it. I’m interested. I’m, I’m interested in philosophy as much as I’m interested in religion, as much as I’m interested in, not religion. I like, I really believe in dance and in life, that technique is whatever works. And if you find a technical value in believing in God or believing in the universe, then I’m curious about it. What, what is it? Tell me more so, so, well, go ahead. Go ahead.  

Yeah, no, I was just going to stay. I like, I practice like praying for people when I’m feeling down. And then that takes all of that negative energy off of myself, puts positive energy onto other people. And that is some, that’s a circle, a circle of energy that, that gets recycled, that comes back to me. Um, so yeah, I think that’s the first thing. Um, I learned about a nurturing space and that’s what we all did for one  

That’s special. I like the idea. I often find myself asking myself how I can love me more so that I can do better for other people. I think the notion of like giving and giving and giving and caring and caring and caring is great. And I have definitely felt before my cup go towards the half empty side or more than less than less than half, um, in that giving. So I think the balance of knowing the self, loving that, the other, and then having some general sense that we’re all connected anyways. Like I don’t know the, the, the notion that we’re all links in a chain and if one of us feels weak, the whole chain isn’t strong. Um, but that being said, I also don’t believe in feeling strong all the time. So I don’t like, I think there’s a lot of value to being down, being hurt, being sad. Um, and creative lives certainly benefit from feeling the full range of the emotional spectrum. Um, but, but having a finger on the pulse of that is what sounds like you got to be very good at I’m feeling this way. The room is in this state, this person is, you know, vibrating this certain thing. And I’m feeling this certain thing. What’s the relationship between all of that and how to navigate that, that comes, right?  

Yeah. I think as a Pisces too, I feel like Pisces are always like feeling into everyone and trying to find balance of it all. So I blame my sign. 

I don’t know much about my sign, so I rarely blame it, but I will. 

What is your sign? 

I am a cancer. That’s on the cusp of Leo

But you know, a cusp situations. 

I do you’re right. I do. I know a cusp, I had my chart read years and years ago by Tony Testa Mother’s friend. So Tony’s mom, Nancy is legendary. She’s one of my favorite women, such a strong figure. Resilient is like scratching the surface. If we use that word to explain her, she is a tremendous force. And, um, as a gift when Tony and I and our friend, Randi, Randi Kemper and Misha Gabriel, uh, at the time Misha Hamilton, we all moved to LA around the same time. And as a parting gift, she had all of our, our charts read. She gave us a session with an astrologer astrologist Astro, astrology, human astrologer, astrology woman. And I do remember finding like at that time, nah, this isn’t real. Nope. That doesn’t sound like me at all. And then listened again, five years later, it was on an actual burned CD. And five years later, I was like, holy smokes. That’s not that that’s, that’s impressive. So I’m, I’m in an in-between depending on the day and my willingness to suspend disbelief. That’s fair. Um, but I, but, um, like I said, I think technique is whatever works and our way of making sense of the world. Yeah. I mean, yeah. So call it woo. Call it whatever, but I’m here for it. If it works, if that is where he’s working for you. Excellent. Um, okay. So back to college, what you learned was focus. How to be working on dance?  

Yes. Yes, definitely. Um, and I think that I needed that, uh, schedule that regiment and that time to just allow myself to be whoever I was, um, because I think not going to school, you have more responsibility, right. To like pay your bills and like really deal with, um, the reality of things. As I feel like college is more of an incubator, you get to like focus a little bit more. Yeah. Yeah. And that’s something that I needed. I know that not everyone needs that. I’m not saying that the college is for everyone at all, but it was for me.  

Cool. Okay. So then the flip side of that original question, which was, you know, what’d college do for you that the workforce couldn’t have, what have you encountered in the workforce? And by the way, I don’t, I just don’t know what else to call it. What have you encountered out here in the real world, um, that college did not prepare you for that wasn’t ever in any textbook or course or seminar or anything you ever like, what was that?  

Yeah. Um, first I do want to say that I did want to leave college pretty much every single year. And I would call my grandmother and I feel it. Yes. I’d be like, grandma, I need to go. I gotta go. I gotta move to New York. I’m done with this. Like I was so antsy and so not patient. Um, so I don’t want to pretend like I knew it back then that I needed it. I didn’t know about them in hindsight. I know now, but, um, yeah, she was like, no, Lex, Lexi, Alexis. She was like, no, you need to like, just stay, just have patience. New York is not going anywhere. Like, just know I’m grateful that she said that to me over and over again, what I was not prepared for how hard it is, how hard it can get, um, balancing life.  

I can imagine that. Yeah. Yeah.  

Right. Like just not knowing that things aren’t going to come right away, always. Um, they don’t prepare you for that. I feel like it is this, this softened version of life colleges. So, um, going out into the world and having these expectations, which isn’t a bad thing, but like, knowing that things may not come as easy, but just to keep going  

Or they don’t come on a schedule the way they did college.  


Interesting. Yeah. Okay.  

Um, I can’t think of anything else right now, but I’m sure that’s great.  

No, the, the  


Yes no, that. Is what I just got. You’re catching me on a day. I just got an email from my CPA. He’s like, it’s time to start planning. And I was like, my guy, listen, we’ve been emailing all year long because I keep getting letters. I keep being confused. I keep trying to do my estimated thing and why the thing that happens once a year, why does it drive me insane all year? What is going on? I have some serious work to do on this subject.  

Ya but also, I’m sorry off we’re off, but why wasn’t it taught in school?  

Because someone is benefiting from people not knowing how that shit works. Right. Okay. We digress. I will be doing another. So last year I did money March on the podcast will 100% be doing that again in 2022, because I think, yeah, there, I mean, stop me if I’m wrong, but I don’t know of a dance program that teaches finance for independent contractors, contract negotiations. Nope. That’s not a part of the curriculum. Um, but right here on the podcast, it is. So last year I had a CPA, uh, who is also a dancer on the podcast. She answered a lot of questions, but of course now almost a year later, I’ve got boatloads more. So tune in tune in Money March, we’ll be learning how to do our taxes together again. Um, okay. You, you, you touched on ever so slightly. Your name is your birth name is not Tilly. Tell me, tell me about this and the decision to make that change.  

My birth name is Alexis, Alexis Charice Evans-Krueger. And when I got to college the first year, uh, I was a freshman, like I said, I was also studying with DCDC Dayton Contemporary Dance Company and the director, uh, Shauna Hickman, Mablack, who I call my Mama Shauna, uh, very first day I walk in. She’s like, you look like a Tilly, I’m going to call you that. And I was like, great. I was like, great. Yeah.  

Okay. Before the day ends, I will be meeting a stranger and naming them. I cannot wait to try this on. You strike me as a Jeff. I’ll be calling you that. Okay. So did you do, does it resonate with you?  

Oh yeah. And right took to it. 

You look like a Tilly to me.

I love that. Right? She, she knew what she was doing and she gets, she gave so many people, um, nicknames throughout the years. And then I, uh, I studied with Donald Bird, not studied. He came and choreographed on the company and that following year. So he knew me as Tilly and that following year I auditioned for his company and got in. So I moved to Seattle after Ohio and he was calling me Tilly. So it kind of just stuck after that.  

Well, yeah, Tilly, Alexis Charice. I am so stoked that you’re here and now I’m stoked to dive into a topic. That, to be totally honest, I do not know a whole lot about, I’ve been involved in pre production for a small handful of Broadway shows, but I’ve never been a performer on Broadway. I’ve never choreographed on a Broadway show, but I do know that for a time in my life, dancing on Broadway was it. And I do know that for many of my dancers that is still it. And that is the goal. You landed yourself in your Broadway debut this year in Moulin Rouge. Tell me how that happened. And then we’re going to get into some, like maybe, maybe advice we’ll call it or, or thoughts to think guiding principles for those people navigating into that space right now. Um, and then I have a couple of random questions that I’m just dying to know answers to, but we’ll start with like your evolution. How did this happen? How did this come to be for you?  

When I got to New York, I was fully concert dance, like, uh, I was dancing for actually Sonya at New York live arts. We did a residency there and Peter Chu came, uh, quickly after that, but I started getting into theater, uh, because Sonya was actually doing theater and I fell in love with it. Uh, did a production of the lucky ones off Broadway, and then just started auditioning more. The first time I auditioned for Moulin Rouge though, I couldn’t, I couldn’t sing a note. I’m telling you it was not good. I, to me, like, I, I’m not, I’m not even lying to you, someone in high school. I remember this is why I really thought I couldn’t sing. Someone was like, you should audition for one of the solos. And then someone else was like, no, you definitely shouldn’t. Like someone told me that. So I was like, oh, I can’t,  

Oh, you bought that story. That there was a lie.

Totally. And so whatever I auditioned, I didn’t get it. And I think two years later as I worked on my voice more, and it was more about being comfortable with it being comfortable with what I have not, not thinking that, oh, I need to belt like this, or I need to sing like this in order to be a good singer. Um, I went in to the audition, not really thinking anything at that point. I was like, kind of in a point of like, well, if it’s supposed to be, it’ll be, but I’m not, I don’t need it. And so saying and got the audition. I mean, I got the contract and that was in 2020  of January. So I booked this before COVID and I was rehearsing, um, for a month and a half, I believe. And then COVID happened. So I never got to go on stage. Um, so I didn’t have my Broadway debut until 18 months later.  

Wow. What were you thinking and feeling in that, in that, in that incubation different kind of holding chamber?  

Totally. Those 18 months, I was like, oh my gosh, is this ever going to happen? We’ll move on Rouge. You then come back. I mean, all of those questions are happening, like to, to be wanting something or so long. And then for it to be taken away in a way, um, it was, it was devastating. Um, but we were lucky that our show is back I’m so grateful for that. Um, yeah. And then my debut I’m, I’m so happy that I had 18 months to think about my first draft, because as a swing, you, you can go on at any moment and whether you’re comfortable or not, that’s your job. And I got to be so comfortable that I got to have my freedom that I wanted on stage.  

So you started as the swing. Yes. And you were able to find freedom in maybe less than total, right? Oh, this is brilliant. I love this takeaway. You can feel free without feeling fully confident, right? It’s something that I teach. A lot of my coaching clients is the difference between self-confidence and task based confidence. Task-based confidence says you have to do it for 10,000 hours before you can feel confident with it. I disagree. I think you can feel fully confident having never done something or having not done it as many times. And you’re, you’re kind of echoing that sentiment in that you could be not totally comfortable with a track yet perform it freely, perform it with confidence.  

I mean, it, it comes from that non-attachment, like not being attached to what you think you should look like on stage and just feeling what it is. And each moment I think that’s that confidence of knowing like, okay, each moment is just what it is and letting go of  

There are went. Yeah. Yeah. Very cool. Oh, I miss doing that onstage. The awareness, the being watching of the moments as they come and go body body is in motion in your case, voice is in motion. That was never the case for me. Um, but like body is in motion and I’m hovering someplace above that, watching it happen. Oh, wow. I missed that feeling so much. Um, okay, cool. So, um, I’m, I’m thrilled that you got to experience that. Um, what do you sense from people in this moment on Broadway from audiences and your, and your cast and crew? Are people just beyond grateful? Is this the best place on earth? Is this, is it awkward? What’s going on out there?  

I think there’s such a mixture of emotions. Um, so there was a lot of turmoil before COVID happened and meaning like people just didn’t feel seen. And I think that obviously like things that were acceptable before COVID are not acceptable anymore, whether it be, um, like having to do with race, um, where we weren’t as aware of our words and how effective they are. Um, so I think, so my company, Moulin Rouge, we met with, um, Jake Hulan, who is a conflict resolution, managerial, um, person. And they, they are, they are actually an attorney and a consultant who specializes in conflict resolution and leadership. So we would talk to him, um, like once a month through COVID about all of the trauma, like, I mean, seriously trauma that we experienced, um, uh, more so the company members before me, because I was only there for a month, but I still experienced whatever I did from the trickle down of my, my company members.  

So we had to talk to him once a month. And then we had, um, equity, diversity and inclusion, a person who represented that for us. And then we had HR and this is something that not all probably companies have, not everyone has the HR that’s, that’s crazy to me. Um, so we, uh, as we showed up, back up to our job, Moulin Rouge, not everything had been sussed out. So we were still dealing with this emotion or emotional turmoil while putting up this show. And we would meet once a week now, as rehearsals began with these people. And it led to us having a real conversation with our producers and then being transparent about the power that they have and the power that they don’t have, what they knew, um, that was affecting us and what they didn’t. And they didn’t know because we didn’t feel like we had to speak on it. Right. And how could you, because what if I lose my job? Remember we, we, as dancers have been taught that we’re replaceable  

The scarcity mindset. Ooh, yes. The ripples of that reach far and wide.  

Yeah. And I think, I don’t think the producers knew that mindset that we have. And so we got to tell them all of these things and why we weren’t speaking up and what not, and to be in a room like that after months of talking about it was life-changing. And I think for the energy, for the energy of the company. And, um, so after that, I think we all just got to be happy that we heard now in this show, but it didn’t come right away.  

It didn’t come for free for, from the sounds of it. There was probably a lot of uncomfortable happening in those rooms.  

Absolutely. Absolutely. And I’m grateful that we didn’t just go back and pretend like everything was okay. And that we were brave enough to have those conversations and stick up for ourselves.  

Oh, my friend that is powerful. Thank you for sharing. It sounds like reform and it sounds like real change. Oh, I’m thrilled to be hearing that. Um, okay. Well, on the subject of this scarcity mentality in this new way, a new consciousness, a new workflow, a new order of operations, new ways of communication, what would you recommend to the incoming generation of talent? Who probably dare? I say, even more than your, or my generation might feel that scarcity mentality, because technically, I don’t know numbers wise, if there are fewer shows now than ever, but I could imagine a world in which people would feel even more scarcity now than we felt before. So what, what would you recommend to people entering?  

Yeah, so I would say that, um, I would, I would say aspire to be intentional, learn what you actually want because Broadway, isn’t everything. That’s not the only avenue that you can go down. And I do believe that what is meant for you will be for you and what is not, is not. Um, and I think the more that we can learn ourselves and learn our love and what we don’t love, then the universe will provide what is actually for us. So what kinds of shows do you actually want to be doing? Is it, um, kick your face? Um, just 40 10  


Happy? Yeah. Like that’s amazing. Go and do that. And the show that is supposed to be for you will come, it will come because you are writing it as you’re living. And I mean, do you want to do something that has to do with social justice? That show may not be here yet, but it is for you because you are writing it as you are living. And I’ve seen that happen throughout my career where I don’t want to go after Broadway. I don’t want to go after the thing I want to go after what I love, what I think is going to make me happy, happy, how can I serve? Um, and I think that scarcity mindset doesn’t happen. When you think about what is true to you, because you’re operating from a place of love, you’re operating from a place of, um, I lost my train of thought 

No, it’s okay. What I’m hearing is like when you’re focused on an object, especially when that object is outside of your control, your field of vision is narrow. And so is your power that you put in yourself. When you think of the object that’s out there, it’s someone else’s, at least someone else’s decisions are partly involved. Your power is a bit less, but when you think about the thing you want, because it’s yours, you have all power, you have all of arriving there. You have such a, um, you have a whole world of power and opportunity versus a pretty like needles. I, and a tiny piece of thread. That’s kind of limp to fish through the, the eye of the needle. And when you think a little bigger and you focus on the dare, I say the result of the work that you want to be doing versus the actual work that you want to be doing. Cause I can imagine young me listening and hearing like, well, the work I want to be doing is a tour with Justin Timberlake. Dammit like that’s what I that’s the work I want to be doing, but it wasn’t actually the work that I wanted to be doing was being an example of a woman who could evoke a wild range of emotions from an audience member or give permission to feel a range of emotions and in a massive pop show, it’s exactly what they do. Drink wildly sexy, wildly bright and fun. And like, can’t stop the feeling right versus dirty versus mirrors. Like when you go to a pop show, you know, you’re getting the full spectrum because that’s what pop is. It’s a little bit for everybody. And so it’s not a shock to me that I, that I wound up there, but I wound up there because what I was thinking was I want to be a person who can do all the things and pull it all out. And so pop world was a great place for me to land. If you want to be a person who speaks specifically to one group of people, a small group of people, a unique group of people, Bradway probably ain’t it it’s, it’s the, it’s the pop star of the other half of the entertainment industry. It speaks right to general audiences. And I I’m seeing changes there. I’m seeing changes in the type of stories that are told on Broadway, in the representation of the cast members there. I do think that’s changing, but yeah, I, uh, now I’m losing my train of thought. When you think about the result of the work that you do versus the, the show that you want to do, that might be kind of liberating in terms of your pathways and, uh, you know, the avenues you can take to get there. And it also is certainly more empowering than thinking I have to be the right thing for whoever is producing Moulin Rouge.  Right. So I think that’s at least that’s what I’m taking away from what you’re saying. Great. Cool. We’ll keep it. Okay. Keep on trucking. Um, okay. I’m loving what I’m hearing. This is amazing. I do have a couple very cheesy, but very real Broadway slash musical related questions that I want to ask you because I, people will not be shocked. Grew up a musical theater kid. I have seen Phantom of the Opera probably seven times. Um, in person don’t even ask me about Cats. The VHS got played. Like I broke it. Got it. We, we burned out right out. Um, I love musicals. I love them. So you mentioned that you grew up with, uh, a more contemporary background. Was, was musical, something you was ever on your radar is like being aspirational for you. Was this even a thing that you cared about?  

Um, I, so, like I said, someone told me that I couldn’t sing, so I was like, I’m probably not going to really do that.  

Honestly. That’s why I didn’t move to New York because I thought I couldn’t sing.  

I bet you can sing. I love your voice. Like just you’re speaking words that amazing.  

 Do you know the journey that I’ve been on? I had vocal cord surgery. 

No, I  didn’t know that.  

Yeah. Oh girl. So the last time I saw you then was in the Heights 2019, um, during 2020, obviously the podcast picked up, had so much fun with it, but was definitely noticing fatigue in my voice, very raspy voice. And in July of 2021, late June in late June of 2021, I went to see, uh, Justin Timberlake’s ENT to have a little scope. I was thinking maybe I’ve got some soft nodules perhaps. And he was like, so when are you available for surgery? And I was like, what are you talking about? He was like, there is a cyst, the size of a school bus on your vocal cord, and we’re going to need to get rid of that post haste. Um, so I had, I had surgery in July. The recovery has been emotional and, um, informative. Yes. I, I taught my first convention weekend after surgery this past weekend. And Monday morning I woke up and had a voice and it sounded like this. And so I know it worked, it was worth it, but wow. What a recovery, what a, what a process. And thank you about my voice. I do have scarring. I don’t know that I will be able to sing, but I never thought I, I really genuinely never thought I could maybe thought maybe I’m tone deaf. I have a very funny, Andy Blankenbuehler story. Oh my God.  

 I need to hear it.  

We were, uh, working on a show that he is developing a personal jam of his, I should say personal jam because Ooh, it’s going to be good. And I was part of a skeleton crew several years ago. Um, and it was, uh, I don’t remember the word he used for dance narrative. Um, I’m calling it a dancesicle because it wasn’t the dance ensemble didn’t sing only. Um, and so with that assurance that dance members would not be singing. I was like, yeah, sure, absolutely. Sign me up. So, um, we’re doing this thing. I don’t even remember the length of the process, but I remember coming up against a challenge. He was couldn’t figure out how to either transition or get, get this important plot point across. And it was like this hurdle and yeah, for, for a couple of days, it was like, ah, if only how do we bump it?  It was a challenge. And then one day in the middle of rehearsal, man, that guy has ideas constantly, but he got this idea. He was like, everyone gathered around the piano and my heart dropped straight out of somewhere and onto the floor. I was like, fuck, okay, here we go. Walk over to the piano. And I’m in a room full of very capable professional Broadway types. And he starts saying, okay, you sing, um, the E you take the sharp, I’m making shit up right now. Cause that’s how little I know. And then he pointed at the person on my right. He said, you take a third above that. Dana, you take a third below that one. It was like, I’m like, I was like, do you guys know what he just said? That he thinks that like speaking another language to me 100%, I had no idea what he meant. So I raised my hand. I said, Andy, I don’t know what that means. I don’t understand what you just said. If you sing it for me, then I will try my best to like parrot what you just did. And then we’ll see how long I can hold on to that in my brain. I don’t know if I’ll still have that in 20 minutes, but I can try. Um, and then I tried, we tried and then ultimately he relieved me of singing duties. He was like, you know what, don’t worry about it. You’re fine. And it was like staying and also thank you, but that’s what happens when you have I had, at that time, literally zero, zero training. Now, since voice has been a focus of mine because of my condition, I have had three or four awesome voice coaches and more voice pathologists than I can count. Um, because the journey has been up and down and sideways. But I do, I know so much more now than I did before. I think I would fare very differently in that room today, but whoa, okay sorry.

No, no worries. Also, maybe he was just like, I see that you’re stressed about it and I want to relieve you of that stress. Not like you can’t sing.

Right. I don’t need to make it mean that I can’t, but like, that’s not necessary for you to carry that too. Um, okay. So you didn’t, you didn’t think New York was an option because somebody told you you can’t sing.  

Oh yes. I didn’t like musicals. Well, New York was always the option for me, but I didn’t think musicals because I couldn’t say  

Let’s not, let’s not conflate the two  

Let’s not conflate senior year was funny, but yes. So no, I didn’t, I don’t, I I, I was a show choir kid actually in high school. So I did have a little bit of music under my belt and I loved singing, but I thought, I couldn’t sing so. I wasn’t aspiring necessarily to be in the next musical. Uh, but when I moved to New York, I, I just started falling in love with it in love with it. And when I started training and actually working on my voice, then did, then I was like, okay, maybe  


Maybe it is cool. Um, and then Moulin Rouge. Like when I, I do a lot of pre-pro for Moulin and I became connected to it in a way that was like, no, I like, I, I want to do this. I want to move like this on stage. Like, if this is what musical theater is becoming, this is what I want. Um, and the lucky ones it was just such a gut wrenching play. So being able to, I mean, doing these contemporary works were really awesome. And I also auditioned for and got The Wrong Man, which is  

Which I saw this.

Yes, yes. With, with Joshua Henry as the lead. And I got to work with Alex,Llackmore, um, Tommy, Tommy, Kale, uh, Ross Golan and Trav Travis wall. And that was, I mean, it was a piece that was like a, for social justice. It was about a man who was wrongly accused of murder. And those pieces that are, that are a purpose, are a message trying to fight for something. Those are the pieces that I love. And I wasn’t really seeing that in Broadway until, as of recent,  

Are you kidding me? Cats? Wasn’t about a message. I’m kidding. Um, I, I honestly, it still gets me. I will go see it if it is around, because it’s still, it’s, it’s a  

Nostalgic thing is  

Insane. Okay. All that said, let’s wrap it up. We’re going to do a quick burnout round of musical slash Broadway related questions. Are you ready? Tilly. I’m ready. Favorite musical,  

Honestly, the wrong man. Sorry.  

Um, most overrated Broadway show and I am now opening show to include plays other, other, other things than musicals.  

 I mean, I don’t want to hate, and I haven’t seen a lot of, I haven’t, I haven’t seen a lot of,  

Oh my God. Do it. Just hate. 

Just, just let it say hello, Dolly. 

Oh, yes, you can. Absolutely. Let’s be real. Hello, Dolly. And a lot of it, like a lot of those classics do not do not age well. Yeah. I’ll take it most underrated Broadway show?

Underrated Broadway show. Um, um, oh, um, choir, boy. Feel like that needed more, more time. Okay.  

More time. We’re love. Okay. Um, what is your go-to audition song?  

Oh, ain’t no other man by Christina Aguilera. It’s like the only one I sing

You better work. That tempo is bright. Do you sing it right up there? That tempo of how do you breathe? It’s so fast.  

I mean, I’m telling you I’ve been working on it for five years, so like,  

That’s what I needed, what I need to do. Just choosing one song and work on it for five years. Okay. Okay. Um, you, I hope that you and I see each other before then, but I’m going to hit you up in five years and let you know what has been going down. Is that what you auditioned with for Malone Rouge?  


Uh, okay. Two more questions. What’s the song from the show that gets stuck in your head of the most often,  

How wonderful life is now? Well,  


What is that?  

Um, don’t mind me. I’m just like a super fan of the film Moulin Rouge and I love the Broadway version. It is quite different in, in songbook, but really well done. I loved, I loved the show. I did not see you in it unfortunately. So way back in the before times. Um, okay. Final question. What is the song that, oh, maybe two more questions. What’s the song you’re like. Okay. Maybe it’s from the show. Let’s stick with, from the show that you would be totally okay if you never, ever heard again.  

Oh, um, oh my God. Oh my God. There’s so many songs in this show and dance Dana, shut up and dance. Walk the moon.

That is a great answer to that question. Okay. And then final question. If you got to listen to only one song for like, from the show for the rest of time, what would it be?  

Ooh. Oh my gosh. I don’t know. Okay. Um, I think it might be Your Song.  

Cool. Oh, it’s good. I’m just a sucker for Ian McGregor singing that song. When he hits that high note, I’m not going to do it. I don’t want to hurt myself. Um, yours are the sweetest as, I’ve, give me chills. I love it. Well, I really, really hope that I get to see you in the show. I hope that all of my listeners that are in New York, get their butts in those seats and, um, get their butts on that stage. Let’s let’s go, let’s have more stories like yours on stages. Like those. That is what I want to see. So welcome. Thank you for being here. I appreciate this so much.  

So lovely. I want to hang. 

Yes. I would love to cross paths with you again, make some more dance, be birds together. Definitely. I love it. Have a good rest of your night. My friend. I’ll talk to you soon. Okay. 


Dana: All right. What do you think? Ooh, I’m inspired. I am going to go find a song to sing. I’m going to go watch Cats probably. Um, and then Moulin Rouge. Definitely. And then maybe I’ll try to find a horse to ride question mark. Um, all jokes aside. I, I truly hope this episode has helped to bring you focus and the feeling of freedom. It certainly has done that for me. Um, Ooh, also I heard through the grape vine, AKA the dance edit podcast just announced, um, the cast of Moulin Rouge will be performing on the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade. So that’s exciting. Be sure to catch Tilly performing with the rest of her cast. Um, and now if you will forgive me, I just received my booster shot, super win. Um, so I’m going to go lay low, um, and leave it up to you to go out there and keep it funky. I will talk to you very, very soon. Bye 
Outro: Me again. Wondering if you ever noticed that one more time? Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review because your words move me to number two things I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit the thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye.

Ep. #97 Feeling Blue

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #97 Feeling Blue

Those that know me/ have been listening to the podcast for awhile, might call me a “Joy Machine”.  My default setting is “SPARKLE”… but my ratio of joy to sadness has been inverted as of late.  I am deeply sad as I am recording this episode, and that is OK.  Stepping into the booth and talking to a microphone was my Minimum Viable Effort and I am so glad I did it, because it turns out, this episode (and feeling blue) is really really important to me.  I hope it can be for you too. 

In this episode, I remind myself to “feel it first” (before trying to do the thought work to “change” sadness into something else). I also talk about taking a page from the rapid prototyping playbook and aiming for MVP (which probably doesn’t mean what you think it means in this context). 

Is this my best episode ever? Probably not, but it is one of the most important because I didn’t beat myself up to make it, and I am not pretending to be any other way than the way I am. 


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: Good morning, my friend. It’s morning for me. I’m recording in the morning, which doesn’t usually happen because of the voice. Um, yeah, usually she’s not ready to go at this ripe hour of the day, but I have a flight this afternoon. So here we are. And here we go. 

This episode is going to be short and not sweet. I don’t think it’s going to be sweet. Y’all I don’t think it’s going to be spicy either or salty. What other S word sou sour. Not going to be sour. Um, it will probably be a little bit sad and that is okay. I think there is value in sad. And if you know me, if you’ve been listening to the pod for awhile, you know that I think there’s value in all of the feels. Um, and today I’m honoring the sadness. Honestly, I’ll be totally straight with you as your guide. I don’t know what this episode is about yet. I don’t know what I’m going to call it. Um, I don’t know what the, what the point is other than simply to be an example of me doing what I said I would do. I said, I will make a podcast this week and here I am on Friday about to go to the airport and I’m doing it. Why? Great question. Because it’s important to me, period. Like I could stop there, but I’ll keep going. Um, you know, me, it’s important to me to share the lessons that I’ve learned and am learning. It’s important to me to be an example of what is possible for creative types, such as yourself. And today I guess that means I am showing up to show you that it is possible to do what you said you would do, even if you feel sad. I will immediately follow that up with, uh, a warning into a favor. Please do not use this episode as a weapon against yourself. Please try not to think that well, if Dana can get over her sadness and get shit done, then I should be able to also. My friends that is not at all, what is happening very much, not the case. I have not gotten over my sads. I am not pushing through them so that I can quote get on with my life end quote. I am truly letting them be here with me today. Just like I let my enthusiasm and my sparkle and my giggles be here with me most other days. And actually, maybe that is what today is about, being blue and leaving room for blue. Which is funny because I am the blue seaweed sister. So I know a lot about being blue. Yeah, the blues, my little blue friend. I like it. 

Today we’re going to talk about feeling blue, but first we’ll do wins. See, here I am being an example of how you can and maybe should celebrate what’s going well even when you’re feeling down Today, I am celebrating that it is my first convention weekend back after the summer break, and my first convention weekend, back after my vocal cord surgery, I feel ready. I feel in tune, I feel safe. Um, and I feel those things because I am thinking that I know how to modify. I have my finger firmly on the pulse of my comfort level speaking. And by the way, right now, I did a few things this morning that were ill-advised. I did do my vocal warmups, but, um, I just made my bed and I have relatively new sheets, which is another win, holy love my sheets. Um, but they’re so new that they’re so quite linty, linty, that’s a funny word. Um, and it just made my bed and there’s lint everywhere. I’ve been sneezing like crazy. So the voice in this moment doesn’t sound great, but I do feel like I have a good grip on it. Um, I’ll be bringing my clave, the instrument, not the rhythm. Those claps were weak. I was trying to not blow out the microphone. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap. If you have seen in the Heights, you know, the clade rhythm. Well, um, but I received a clade. The instrument, there are two pretty girthy, another great word, wooden, um, pieces of wood. And they’re called the clade. Uh, I got, I received this clave as a gift from the fabulous Rebecca Rangel. um, daily doer, Rebecca Rangle, past guest, Rebecca Rangle and friend Rebecca Ringle. Can I say that one more time? So now I have an actual clave. I’m going to bring it with me this weekend to capture the room’s attention instead of yelling or using my lame claps that are just demonstrated to you. I also have a microphone. I also am bringing my very own headphones for judging. I’ve got this. I’m winning. I can already feel it. Okay. Now you go, what’s going well in your world. 

Wins Music

Dana: Awesome. Congratulations. Keep winning. Thinking about ya. Okay. Now today, blue bleh, a few reminders to me and to you in case you might need to hear this. The thing that I want to remember today, as you can tell, I do quite quickly default to chipper. Um, and I think that there’s a huge emphasis on people in general, but especially Americans and perhaps even more especially creative leaders in, in the entertainment industry and other industries who people are looking to. People think that we should be happy all the time and that projects will flow best when everyone’s happy or that our best work happens when we’re happy. And maybe it does, but also maybe it doesn’t. The bottom line here for me is that I won’t be happy all the time, period. I shouldn’t be happy all the time. I don’t want to like look at the face of racism and inequality and injustice and you know, all the terrible things that are going on and be happy about that. I don’t want to be happy all the time. But pretending to be happy, doesn’t give the same results as actually being happy, like white knuckle gripping myself to feeling happy feelings and changing my thoughts to thinking happy thoughts without believing them? In other words, just reading the happy script. That doesn’t make you happy. So, before you even consider trying to do those things. Before you consider faking it as an option, maybe just feel sad for awhile. Like feel sad. First, feel the feeling first before you try to change the feeling. Yeah, that’s me feeling it right now. You can just feel it for awhile. How long, how long should you feel it? I don’t know until it changes, morphs evolves into something else. Last night actually was a brilliant example of this. I was sitting in various places of my house, feeling sad, kitchen floor for a little while, yoga ball for a little while on the couch for a little while. And I watched myself evolve from feeling small and inconsequential, you know, is a good word, but it’s a tough one to feel. It was wild. Like genuinely, I felt like a grain of rice, wild rice. I felt small and dry and crusty and sad, like the one grain of rice that didn’t make it into the bowl and just fell onto the floor and gets lost in the like, uh, what’s it called floorboards. Yeah. And then while I had some friendly conversation with myself and my husband and I was having my, having my back, I watched that feeling, the rice feeling kind of warm up and puff up a little bit, kind of rise up and fill up till eventually I felt more like kind of like a slice of bread when I think about it. Ooh, progress rice to bread. Um, and I know that my goal in life is not to feel like a slice of bread, but that was enough for me in that moment. At least a slice of bread can be easily picked up when it falls on the floor. Even if you have acrylic nails, I digress. My point is to let sadness or whatever is going on in there. Be there to let it be there, especially before you try to change it into anything else. Watch it closely, and you will absolutely notice that it will absolutely not be there for far too long. It’s going to change. It will shift slightly or subtly into being something else. Something else that you can be fascinated by and watch. Hmm. This is the note to self that I need today. We are not our feelings. We are the watchers of our emotions and we are not our thoughts. We are the Watchers of our minds. It’s really helpful for me to remember when I feel like my thoughts are crazy. So I must be crazy. And my thoughts are sad and dark. So I must be sad and dark. I’m just watching them. I can just watch them. They are not who I am. And that’s okay. The last thing I think I want to say to myself and to you sort of underlines what I said earlier about, please don’t use this episode as an excuse to white knuckle grip your way through things. When you feel sad, this isn’t an example of pushing through. If you will. You don’t have to do all of the things when you’re sad or anxious or angry or whatever it is, but you should do the things that are important to you. In other words, try not to stop completely. I’ll take a page out of the rapid prototyping book and remember that unless we’re trying to change the laws of gravity, anything is possible, right? Anything outside of those few limitations is actually possible. And sometimes it helps to be critical along the way, but you don’t usually start by aiming for perfection. Take for example, one of my favorite, um, acronyms, M.V.P not most valuable player, although it is a very, very valuable player in my toolkit, uh, MVP, in this case, I’m referring to the minimum viable product, which is a version of the final product that works exactly well enough to be usable, just well enough to be usable. And I do use the word just deliberately, barely right there. Just barely similarly, the minimum viable effort is, or can be a way of working to move forward with baby steps, not big leaps, not massive to do lists, but the minimum viable effort is a way that you can do the minimum and do it every single day consistently so that you succeed in the end instead of burning out or breaking down by being too ambitious in the beginning. So today I am calling on my minimum viable effort. I am standing in this podcast booth. I am talking into a microphone about the way that I feel and the things that I think I need to hear today probably will not be the best podcast, but I’m sure that I needed it. And if I needed it, then maybe one or two of you did too. And that is enough for me today. That is my minimum viable product. And I made it without beating myself up for feeling sad, telling myself that I’m stupid for feeling sad. I should be grateful. Look at this cool podcast booth and these listeners in this cool thing that I do. I didn’t do that. I didn’t put myself through that thing. I didn’t pretend to be any other way than I am. I’m a little bit blue. 

All right, told you it would be short and sweet and sour, spicy, salty, funny. Um, but I have to have to call this out real quick. I simply can not let myself, an artist, off the hook for getting through an entire episode where blue is synonymous with sadness and only sadness. I’d be a fool to let you go on thinking that. Blue is also the color of the ocean. Well, not the ocean in Los Angeles, which is murky, murky, gray brown, but some ocean somewhere has blue and blue can mean depth and power. Blue is the color of the sky. It can be synonymous with clarity or calm or dreaming or opportunity. Blue can also be cool. Blue can be calming and relaxing. And as I have shown you in the past, in my work with the seaweed sisters, and as I will show you till the day that I die, blue can be very, very funky. So please get out there, keep it funky and feel whatever you’re feeling. No matter what you’re feeling, you can be funky. Thanks for listening everybody. I’ll talk to you soon. Bye 

Outro: Me again. Wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review because your words move me too. Number two thing, I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye. 

Ep. #96 A Slice of Professional Performer Pizza Pie with Jessica Castro

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #96 A Slice of Professional Performer Pizza Pie with Jessica Castro

Today’s guest means BUSINESS, and she’s been in it for 26 years.  She got a late start (relative to most dancers) but it seems like there’s nothing she hasn’t done: films, tours, TV, TWO Super Bowl halftime shows, and her very own training program Lipstick Diaries. The great thing about Jessica is that it seems she is only getting started. This episode holds so many golden nuggets of business wisdom, tons of social media best practices and  guide rules. I think anyone who is interested in being a long-lasting career will benefit from this episode, but especially those starting out and picking up momentum. ENJOY!

Quick Links:
Jessica Castro on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/iliajessicacastro/

Lipstick Diaries Website: http://www.lipstickdiariesnyc.com/


Ep. #95 Camera & Film Terminology for Dancers & Choreographers

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #95 Camera & Film Terminology for Dancers & Choreographers

This episode is NOT an A-Z glossary of camera and film terminology.  It IS a deep dive into  why “film speak” is important for dancers and choreographers… and also why it is a total set up.  Yes, I’ll demystify a few of the basic terms and technicalities, but I also dish out some of my favorite resources for a deeper dive on jargon, and I zoom in on (sorry, couldn’t help it) a few simple cues you can take from the camera to better craft your performance on screen.

Quick Links:

Every Frame a Painting: https://www.youtube.com/c/everyframeapainting

Team DeakinsPodcast: https://teamdeakins.libsyn.com/

Protecting the frame Podcast: https://www.protectingtheframe.com/

100 ideas that changed film: https://www.laurenceking.com/product/100-ideas-that-changed-film-2/

30 second film photography:



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, my friend. And welcome to Words that Move me. I’m Dana. And as always, I am stoked that you are here. This is going to be fun. As we’re speaking, I am monitoring my pitch using a, um, pitch monitoring app. My vocal recovery is slow, but sure. And I am. I’m working to use all the tools available to me to fully recover as quickly and fully as possible. So forgive me if I’m a little bit distracted, I’m fascinated watching this little device record my voice, move up and down. Okay, moving right along. I’m excited about this episode because the subject came up in a words that move me community conversation recently. Um, somebody asked for the best resources for film terminology. They had never worked with film before. Um, and by film, honestly, I, I actually mean video, um, should be more specific with that language since this is the camera and film terminology episode. Um, but I, I started writing a response to this person who asked for some tips, pointers, vocabulary, et cetera, started writing this massive reply of an email, all of the words, all of the definitions. And I had to stop myself. This is a person who has not worked with dance on film before, and I was completely intimidating them, I think with this metric boat load of jargon. So I deleted my massive body of text and instead gave this person my very best advice, which is to have a clear vision in mind and be able to explain it with words or with other images and video references, and then be ready and willing to learn as you go. I encourage you to the same attitude. Throughout this episode be ready and willing to learn as you go heads up. I am not going to read a film or photography glossary to you in this episode. So if that is what you are here for, you can 100% do that faster and have the bonus feature of pictures and video examples. Um, you can have all that quickly by doing that Google search yourself. Actually I think a podcast might not be the most natural place to teach camera terminology because those visual aids are so important. So towards the end of this episode, I’ll give some of my favorite resources. But what I really want to dig into today is why “film speak” in quotes is important and also why it is a trap. I will try to stay focused, see what I did there focus. Um, and I will try to hold off on the puns, but I will not hold off on the pans and tilts. Okay, I must stop. I will stop. 

Let’s do wins. Yay. Here at the top of the episode, um, my win today is that this evening I’m going to see LA’s very own body traffic. I have a few friends on the company, super shout out, Joe Davis, Tiare Keeno. So excited to see you perform. And of course the creative director, Tina Finkelman Berkett. Tina is a long time friend and Ooh, she’s gotta be coming on the podcast here soon in the future that just got real. Tina it’s official. I mean, it’s not official yet, but it will become all right. Anyways, I know that as Broadway is opening back up, theaters, opera houses shows in general are opening back up. Um, I am probably not the only one with a win like this right now. And I hope that if you don’t have a live show on the books on your calendar, maybe this month that you think about doing that, um, if you’re comfortable going out in the world right now or ever I’m saying that also to my future audience, trust me, I am feeling the home life. Oh, wow. I told you I would try to stay focused and look at what’s happened. Okay. Now it’s your turn. Tell me what’s going well in your world. What are you celebrating today? Hit me.  

Okay, great. Congratulations. I’m so thrilled for you. Glad that you’re winning. Keep winning. Now let’s dig into this. We’re going to start by talking about why it is important for a dancer and a choreographer to understand camera and film terminology. I’m just going to put on my obvious Oscar Grouch, obvious Oscar Pants, obvious. What are some other O names? Olivia or O’Ryan? Anyways, this first one might be quite obvious, but understanding what the director and the choreographer are saying is a plus. Speaking the same language so to speak helps you work well and quickly, it definitely speeds up the process when people can explain what they want in a few words, instead of in several phrases. It helps when people can ask for what they want, instead of have to teach what they want. So that’s an obvious one. It helps you work well, and it helps you work fast to understand what people around you are saying, boom. Now this next point might also be obvious, but I’m going to dig into things from a movement perspective for a couple minutes here. These are a few of the ways that a dancer can and probably should take cues from the camera to craft their performance. 

First let’s talk scale, performing for a closeup and performing for a wide shot are very different things. The smallest perceptible movement in a close-up is really small. Like a micro movement is, is it’s small, but you can see it versus the smallest perceptible movement in a wide shot is significantly bigger, big, like sometimes large. So knowing the framing of the shot is extremely helpful when crafting your performance in terms of scale, I will call upon the opening scene of La la land as an example. I am a woman in blue getting out of a rusty kind of reddish colored car towards the beginning and the expression I have on my face, which is of course, you know me, quite cheerful. Um, in that beginning moment, like in the first verse ish versus the expression on my face during the final chorus, when the camera has pulled away, way, way back and up like the face I was making and the scale at which I was moving in those final moments of that opening scene would look actual nuts, like crazy nuts in a closeup. If the camera had been close up on my face and body, in those moments, it would have been a horror film. It would have been a scary movie. So that’s scale. The importance of crafting your physical energy in relationship to the frame period. 

Now I want to talk about, um, a phrase that I made up it’s called oops tolerance to me, ‘Oops Tolerance’ is a performer’s ability to mess up and keep going without anyone else knowing. Note always, always, always, always, always keep going until you hear the word cut, no matter what the camera is doing or what you think the camera’s doing, no matter how bad you think you messed up, keep going. We’ll talk about that more in a second, relating to the camera or specifically the framing of the shot. My oops tolerance goes way up. In other words, I get way more relaxed, way more confident, less stress, less pressure on my physical dancing. When I know we’re shooting a close-up like head and shoulders or even a cowboy shot, which means from the knees up or a mid shot from the waist up. Um, I know that in those cases, if I mess up my foot work, it really doesn’t matter unless I show it on my face. The opposite can also be true. If we’re shooting a closeup on my hands, for example, it’s okay that my expression is super concentrated or that my lips are pursed in, in focus.  Focus again. Um, or that my lips are chapped for that matter. Awareness of the frame helps you focus your attention on the part of you that will be getting most of the attention. Again, this is kind of obvious stuff, but I really don’t think most dancers know what is in the frame when we start moving. And if for no other reason than your oops tolerance, it can absolutely be helpful to know that information. Before I move on, I really do want to underline keep going. You might think your flub has ruined the shot, but you’d be surprised how useful even a really bad take can be. Movie magic is real. I think we mentioned during the, um, in the Heights choreography team podcast episode, I think we talked about this. It was fully raining while we shot some of 96,000, which is the pool scene from In the Heights. Um, it was actually fully nighttime for some of those shots and truth be told I shutter when I hear the words, we’ll fix it in post because I have been the one trying to fix it in post and that ain’t fun. Um, but you really would be surprised to see and hear how much can be fixed after the fact. So always be rolling and always keep going until you hear the word cut. Okay. Sorry. That sort of turned into a special effects conversation. We’re back. 

Another camera related cue that can bring extra awareness to you. Um, your expression and your placement is a high frame rate. Now I am not as cinematographer or an optical expert of any kind, but I would consider anything 60 frames per second or higher to be a technically high frame rate. Um, frame rates by the way, since we’re talking basics today are usually measured in F P S or frames per second. And it means like what it sounds, the number of individual images or frames captured per second. In the edit, the individual images can be stretched or squished to cover any desired amount of time thanks to digital nonlinear editing. Um, so you might imagine that if you wanted to stretch or in other words, slow down one second of capture over, let’s say one minute of video, having more frames, more data, more information is more better. So a higher frame rate, more samples to stretch is more helpful. Okay. I hope you’re still with me here. It is for that reason, having more information, more data to spread out that shooting at a high frame rate is usually an indication that the director intends to slow the footage down. Alternatively, if you plan on speeding up footage or even playing it at normal speed, um, normal for a human’s eyeball is somewhere between 30 and 60 frames per second. That’s totally fine. Some experts actually maintain that It’s not really possible for the human eye to perceive more than 60 frames per second. So, uh, there’s that? Okay. Technically I hope you’re grasping the concept of frame rates and how more samples is more useful. If you plan to play back what you captured over a longer stretch of time than what you captured it in. That was confusing. Okay. Let me explain why this matters for a dancer. If you are shooting at a high frame rate that will be getting slowed down in the final, edit. A facial expression, a line, a transition that you made for a very, very small fraction of a second while cameras were rolling could last a very long time on screen. So it’s crucial that you be aware of facial expressions, body placement, and even performing transition moments versus considering transition moments what gets you between performance moments. That transition could last 30 seconds on camera? If you aren’t performing every single fraction of a second of it, the performance can fall flat in the final edit. I got some hands-on experience with this, myself playing with my husband’s, um, Sony RX 100, which is a little point and shoot kind of pocketable size camera, but it captures 1000 frames per second at full HD, which means 1920 by 1080 pixels. We’ll talk about aspect ratios in a second. You’re down, you’re down. Anyways It can only capture that much data for one second at a time. So in our little exploration, I tried to fit as much dance as possible into one second of movement that wound up, you know, that got stretched into 30 seconds of a movie. We made a 30 second movie out of one second of dance. And holy heck, I learned so much about my face and where I hold tension in my neck and my shoulders and my hands. Um, so if you have access to high frame rate cameras and you want to learn about yourself, I strongly recommend giving that some play. Um, and I recommend going easy on yourself as you review that footage, some hard truths buried in those frames. Okay. Those are a few examples of the movement cues that a dancer can take from camera. But I think that a lot of maybe even most dancers who want to learn camera terminology want to, because they aspire to choreograph and or direct. And yeah, if you plan on choreographing and obviously if you plan on directing, it’s very, very important that you be able to communicate what you want to see and understand what is wanted in the language of film.  I would like to embed a little caveat here. I think that choreographers and directors need to understand each other period, but what I see happening a lot is that because choreographers understand movement so well movement of all things, not just the dancers, but movement of the camera movement of the story. So on and so forth. I think it’s, it’s common that choreographers wind up directing the camera throughout their dance scenes and sometimes even beyond. And for that reason, yeah, it’s, it’s very advantageous for choreographers to understand and speak camera, but I actually don’t think choreographers should wind up directing their scenes unless it’s made clear that that’s what’s happening right from the jump. And unless they receive a director credit like Jerome Robbins in west side story, for example. Yeah. It’s a thing that happens a lot and I don’t feel great about it. I’m fully on board with empowering choreographers to take the ball and run with it on set. But if we are indeed directing the camera, if we are indeed directing the scene, then let us be directors. I would love to live in a world where directors understand dance as much as choreographers understand the camera. I think, kind of a funny thing to think about, actually that seems like a trap and speaking of traps, Ooh, that was a juicy segue. 

Now I want to talk about why and how learning camera and film terminology can be a trap because the first film was made in 1902 at a whopping 12 frames per second, for a little perspective, the camera that I just mentioned, the little point and shoot Sony RX 100 captures a thousand, the iPhone that is probably in your pocket captures 120 at full HD.  So all that to say a lot has happened since since then, since, uh, I think it’s called the Man on the Moon. I think that’s the name of the first film. I know it was 1902. Um, but yeah, a lot has happened since then technologies are evolving so quickly right now that it can feel incredibly intimidating and expensive to try to play catch up and stay caught up in that field. There are simply so many different words and terms probably as many as there are in the entire dance lexicon actually, now that I think about it, but add the complexity that some of them sound like they mean the same thing, but mean different things like depth of field and depth of focus. And some are literally the same word that have different meanings like frame, for example, which means the single individual picture on a film strip or the still section of the many images that make up a video, like in a frame rate, what we already talked about, but frame also refers to the borders and what’s visible within them. Then you’ve got aspect ratio, which is the images width to height ratio, which is usually given in numbers, pixels, but sometimes not. Um, depth of field and depth of focus, which is sometimes called lens to film ratio. So there you have it two totally different terms that explain the same thing that happens a lot. Um, lens to film ratio or lens to film tolerance, or depth of focus explains the distance between the lens itself and the sensor, the sensor’s sensitivity, which is called I-S-O or ISO, which is actually different from exposure, which is the amount of light that reaches the sensor. Some of you are still wondering what is a sensor and where is it sensor? We haven’t even gotten into the names for camera angles, the names for camera movements. Yeah, it’s a lot, I guess what I’m trying to say is the same way you and I have dedicated our time and focus to dance or choreography or whatever it is that you do. Photographers and cinematographers, camera operators have dedicated probably the same amount to what they do this. So although it is tempting to think that you can figure this out with a few YouTube videos or even by the end of the year, if you have some time on set and really ask a lot of good questions. Even then, it’s probably not going to happen. And that’s okay now I don’t mean to be discouraging or to be a Debbie downer. I am here to help you, but I’m also here to tell you that. Man, I made a micro movie every day for over 400 days and I am on set a lot and I still hear words that I’ve never heard of. Shorthand, code words for other words. Um, I’m still figuring this out as well. So go easy on yourself, take it slow and apply what you are learning. Get a camera other than your iPhone, probably, um, get a camera that you’re comfortable with actually using get a camera that you’re comfortable, potentially harming because sometimes use does that, but then go play. That’s how you learn. That’s how you learn. Now you’ve heard the tough stuff. You’ve heard the obvious stuff. Now I’m going to give you a few of my favorite resources when it comes to cinematography and photography and film terminology. Um, step one, marry an optical engineer. And if that doesn’t work out for you the next time that you reach for Instagram or Tik-tok open your camera app, instead, explore every single setting, tap every single number or icon or word on the screen and play with the settings, adjust settings, take pictures, take videos. Notice what changes. And if you don’t know what something means, take for example, what is that tiny F in the top right corner when I’m in portrait mode, that means f-stop Google it, read what it is, read what it means to use it, and then see how it works for the record iPhone’s camera app really works hard to hide a ton of the most fun and exciting settings to play with. So I really do recommend, um, doing this little exploration with a handheld camera, like an actual camera. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Um, in fact, a very wise man once said, the very best camera to use is the one that you have. So use that one or use the one you can afford and then use the one, you know, how to use that means there will be a learning curve. Next I recommend you watch every single episode of Tony Zao’s every frame of painting on YouTube. That is the name of the channel, every frame of painting. Um, there are a series of video essays about cinematography and film, um, less about the terms and the tools and more about their effect. So, so good. Also strongly recommend the Team Deakins podcast, which is Roger Deakins podcast. Roger Deakins, one of my favorite cinematographers ever. So good. Uh, also the podcast Protecting the Frame. That was a handout from my dear friend, DevinJamieson. Thank you for that. Devin. I’ve been loving listening to Protecting the Frame so good. Um, also buy and read 100 Ideas That changed film. That is a book by David Parkinson. Another, another good bang for the buck is 30 Second photography. That’s edited by Brian Dilger I think I’m saying that right. Those are both really comprehensive, yet small and sticky bites that lead to really big learning in an even bigger field of information. It really like the way they have curated and explain some pretty difficult like scientific concepts in a way that I, a dance type can understand it.  Um, yeah. Okay, great. I think, I think that is it until, of course I get DevinJamieson on the podcast to talk even more about the camera. 

Um, all right, let’s wrap it up then. Speaking Camera can be at least a very small part of what separates the pros from the rookies, but as a choreographer or a dancer, you do not have to know the difference between depth of field and depth of focus to have a deeply profound effect on your audience. So don’t let the terminology stop you or get you caught up. Honestly, sometimes I think it’s designed to be intimidating like taxes, maybe just to keep, to keep people out. Um, but stay in it. Keep asking questions, keep playing. And of course, keep it funky. That is it for me today. I will talk to you soon. See that right there that bye was too low, that was at 150 Hertz, trying to get 160 and above. Okay. Enough bye!

Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating and review because your words move me too. Number two, I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops and so much more. All right. That’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye. 

Ep. #94 The Key to All Creative Collaborations

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #94 The Key to All Creative Collaborations

“Negotiation” shouldn’t be a scary word.  Advocating for yourself and your values is cool, AND it is part of the job! In this episode, I discuss the role of intimacy coordinators and how much they can teach us about establishing and communicating boundaries in our work (and in our lives).  We practice using the terms Yes, AND” and “No, BUT” to set clear parameters that will help to protect your mental and physical self as well as your time, money, and energy! So, if you are someone who struggles with setting boundaries, THIS ONE’S FOR YOU!

Quick Links:

Tits and Teeth Podcast Intamacy Episode: https://podcasts.apple.com/il/podcast/christina-pitts-jazzar-intimacy-coordination/id1417619719?i=1000526228784

Episode 15 with the Seaweed Sisters: https://www.thedanawilson.com/podcast/ep-15-the-seaweed-sisters-who-are-we-and-what-is-this


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: Good day. Good people. What’s up and welcome to words that move me. I’m Dana and I, as always am stoked about this episode. The subject for today’s episode came up from one of my beloved Words that Move me Community members. And I actually cannot believe I haven’t done an episode about this yet, so thrilled about it. Um, but before we dig in wins, would you wins at the top of every episode? And this week I am celebrating last week’s episode with the one and only Nina McNeely was officially our 100th episode that is including bonus episodes and our first episode, which was episode 0.5, which is funny, but also how many times can I say episode in the introduction to the episode? So many times it turns out. Um, so yes, I know last week’s episode was number 93, but, uh, yeah, I’m celebrating it as 100. That is my win. Um, because that’s how many episodes I recorded. So I celebrated by taking myself to my favorite vintage shop in the valley. It’s called Yes Baby, by the way, it’s quickly becoming my favorite vintage shop in all of Los Angeles. I spent $100 there. I got a jacket, a hoodie, a sweater, two t-shirts one of which I’m wearing right now. It’s gigantic, almost comes to knees. Oh, and an enamel pin. Pen, pen pin. I’m really still working on the voice you guys. And it turns out being a girl from the Midwest. I have some interesting speech patterns and inflections. An enamel pin for Smac. Smac Mcreanor. Or if you’re listening, I have a gift for you. Um, yeah, total jackpot. I love you Yes, baby. I love you listeners. I love you. My team, Malia Baker, Riley Higgins. Thank you for helping me reach that 100 mile marker. And for actual episode 100, which is still out there in the distance. Uh, numerically speaking, we are having a $100 cash prize giveaway episode. 100 will come out on November 24th. So this contest, this giveaway contest will happen for the whole week of that episode. Starting on November 22nd, ending on November 26th, we are going to have an Instagram contest, $100 cash prize giveaway. It’s exciting. Stay tuned here and also follow us at Words that Move me podcast on the gram for more details about that. All right. Woo-hoo for winning. I hope you win the contest by the way. And I do hope you’re winning, uh, in your life and in your career. Go ahead and, and take the floor. Take the mic. If you will, for a moment. Think about and tell me or someone that you’re with about what is going well in your world. Let’s hear it.  

*Cup Bubbles* That’s just me and my cup, bubbles working on my voice. Okay. Congratulations. I’m so glad you’re winning. And I want you to keep winning, keep celebrating all of the good things going well in your world. Now, speaking of things going well, I want you to use your imagination for a second. Imagine your hero. This could be a real person in your life. Someone that you know, someone you don’t know yet, or it could be a full-blown superhero action, figure, animated character, your call. Imagine your hero. And imagine that they have just handed you a gold token, like a coin, but I’m going to go with token. It’s heavy. It’s gold. It’s shiny. It’s perfectly new and glorious. It’s about the same size as your favorite slammer. For those of you who used to play pogs dammit. Now I have really dated myself. Anyway, your hero hands, you this slammer coin token thing, and they tell you that this token can be exchanged for success in any creative collaboration. Yes. This coin buys you a happy, healthy, fortunate, flourishing nourishing experience on any slash all creative projects. And you take this token coin slammer thing, and you’re like, thank you, whoa, whoa, dope. You sure you don’t need this? And they’re like, yeah, hang on to it. So you keep it and you take a close look on one side. There is a picture in your imagination. Just use your imagination, a vast boundless body of water. Maybe that’s California king size water bed. Maybe it’s an ocean. Maybe it’s a river, vast something almost endless as far as the eye can see. And on that same side of the coin are the words, “Yes, And” on the other side of the coin, there is an image of a lifesaver. No, not the candy. Okay, fine. Maybe the candy I did ask for your imagination after all. Um, but I was imagining, you know, the, the rings, the, you know, the, the inner tube type inflatable hoop, what is that thing even made of probably foam. I digress on the side of the coin that has the image of the life saver. There are the words. “No, but.” Yes. ‘No, but’ is the focus of our conversation today? If you are a person who struggles with setting boundaries, this one is for you, my friend. Way back in episode 15, the seaweed sisters, and I put a magnifying glass on the power of yes. And the seaweed sisters trademarked this philosophy that we 100% borrowed from improv comedy. Um, if we coined the technique, ‘yes, and’ then on the flip side of that coin would be ‘no, but.’ No, but is equally as powerful. And oddly, I really haven’t talked about it on the podcast yet. Honestly, that’s because it’s newer to me than “yes, and” so in this episode, I want to unpack how the “no, but” mentality can empower you, your physical and mental self, but also your time, your money and your sweet, sweet energy.  

So let’s dig in. Okay. “Yes, And” is powerful because it makes room for new ideas and growth. It fosters safety, freedom, collaboration, risk, and no, but is powerful because it sets boundaries. It protects you. It also fosters freedom and respect, but for your physical and mental self, that can mean big, big, really, really important stuff. One of the best examples of the “no, but” mentality in action came to me last summer when I was deep into listening to other people’s podcasts, I was listening to an interview with dancer, choreographer and intimacy coordinator, Christina Pittz Jazzar . She was on the tits and teeth podcast. So super shout out to them and big shout out to intimacy coordinators all over the world. I will 100% link to that episode, um, of tits and teeth. It’s a, it’s a really good lesson. That’ll be linked in the show notes.  If you haven’t heard of intimacy coordinators or aren’t entirely familiar with what they do by all means, listen to that episode, but we’ll give you a very brief explanation now, just for context, intimacy coordinators advocate for the actors. And they are the liaison between the director and their vision and the performers who will be portraying intimate moments, which don’t necessarily mean simulated sex scenes or nudity or romantic affection. They could also include any spectrum of physical contact with minors like mother/daughter, or father/daughter scene. Any, any minors, any physical contact exchanged, um, between minors, the intimacy coordinator basically communicates consent and make sure that everyone feels comfortable and safe well before. And also as the cameras roll in that episode, Christina talks about how her job usually starts by dissecting the script and any scenes that call for intimate exchanges between characters. She also communicates with the director to get a grasp for their vision, and then discusses that vision with the performers. That’s where “Yes, And,” and “No, but” come in very handy, no pun intended during these conversations, performers get to voice their concerns, questions, sensitivities, et cetera, and a negotiation may follow. For example, “are you comfortable simulating sex?”

“No, but I’m comfortable with kissing” or “no, but I’m comfortable with partial nudity” or “no, but I’m comfortable using a body double” or “yes, And I would like to add to the writer that my partner or representative be present for all rehearsals and the shooting of those scenes.”

Can you see how important these conversations are to have period and how helpful “yes, and” and “no, but” can be in having those conversations. It should be pointed out that dancers are often asked to physically engage in some sort of intimate or sexually charged connection. I’m thinking specifically of like 75% of the VMs from 2021, it was a very sexy year and sex sells. Should not be shocked that that is what shows up, um, in the recording industry. But, um, I do think it’s important to point out that whether that type of contact be in the form of partnering or a big ensemble group moment, A la: slave for you, that music video is still one of my all-time favorites. Um, we rarely have an intimacy coordinator there to advocate for us in those situations. And I think it’s a really interesting thing that it’s not discussed, um, people’s degree of comfort being involved in that sort of thing. Um, so anyways, I really hope that all dancers listening understand that you don’t need an intimacy coordinator on set to say yes and or no, but, um, you don’t need a writer or a contracted agreement to advocate for yourself. Um, I really do encourage actually that even as you’re listening, you start thinking about what you’re comfortable doing and what you’re not comfortable doing, how you might frame those parameters using “yes, and” and “no, but” um, in a rehearsal space. Also I think that sometimes those conversations are good to be had in private. You can see how the role of an intimacy coordinator is so important because I’m sure as you’re listening and imagining yourself in a large group environment, how having that conversation might be slightly uncomfortable. Yes, this is, this is why we love intimacy coordinators. Um, okay. Back up, back up, I think intimate scenes, aren’t the only times in which a dancer might use this type of language. Um, in other words, when, when we’re doing like sexually charged, it’s the best way I can think to put it right now, um, movement with other people. That’s, that’s not the only time we could use. “Yes and” / “No, but” to advocate for yourself, um, I’ll give you an example. One of my favorite least favorite questions that I get asked in auditions is can you do any tricks or can you flip well, um, never really been a, a trick type of performer and I can definitely not flip. I don’t like being upside down. I blame it on sinus pressure and also the fear of breaking my neck. Um, I truly, I think it’s too late for me to gain any acro skills. Uh, so my answer to that question is always a firm. “No, but I am super funky and I hear I’m a pleasure to work with” or “no, but I can do this big smile and two thumbs up.” Um, that’s a bad example, let’s imagine that you are someone who is skilled in the Acro department. You can flip, you might empower yourself by responding to that question. “Yes, And I have about 15 to 20 good takes of a tumbling pass before that might get a little bit risky in terms of energy” or “no, I can’t flip, but I can do an Ariel, a HeadSpin six pure pirouettes,” or fill in the blank with any move you’d be comfortable doing for eight hours.  This “yes and / no, but” approach is so much more informative than a simple yes or no. I think it’s not just informative. It’s empowering. It’s professional. Now those are both pretty clear examples of how yes and or no, but can be useful to protect your mental and physical self. Now I want to explain how “no, but” boundaries can protect your time, money and energy. Now I’ll, I’ll reach out out my dear friend from the Words that Move me community who brought this up in a, in a group coaching forum recently. They’re new to Los Angeles. They’re wildly talented. And of course, everyone is asking them to be a part of their projects. Some number of which are unpaid. They found themselves in a position where they felt over committed, underpaid, exhausted, and afraid of being forgotten under some pressure that if they say no, something bad might happen, this is the crux of loving what you do and doing what you love for a living. It’s also a huge part of being human. The bottom line here for this human is that they believed that they weren’t yet in a position to say, no, they believe they’re still in the early stages. We’re doing things for free is pretty much a given. So they did, they did things for free and in doing so, they donated their time, their talent and their energy. And yes, there probably were some non-monetary exchanges being made like exposure. My other favorite least favorite. Or good-looking material for the real, that’s a real thing or networking opportunities. So on. So on. So on, I agree. Those are all metaphorical money in the bank, but they don’t actually pay the bills like today. So something has to change for this person. And it’s not necessarily the number of jobs that they say yes to, or the number of favors that they do.   It’s the way they are thinking. And it’s the boundaries that they create and communicate for themselves. So let’s practice doing that, setting those boundaries, having those conversations in a little role-play, let’s say that someone asks you to help them out for free or do a gig at a quote homey rate unquote, which somehow means for less than what you should be getting. And that doesn’t make sense to me because I want my homies to make more money than they quote should or shouldn’t be getting. But anyways, someone asks you to do something for free or at a seriously discounted rate. You might say, no, I can’t commit to that amount of time, but I would love to drop in for an hour. If that’s an option, another option might be no, but if you need help or input styling, editing, story-boarding, I’m really interested in helping in those ways. Or also you don’t need to give a reason why you can just straight up say no, no, but I’m thrilled that you thought of me. And I hope we can kick ass making stuff together in the future. Boom, it’s so simple, right? Simple, not easy for people who are not used to saying no, this can be a challenge, but you know what else is challenging? Paying your bills and making no money and saying yes to all of the things and not protecting your time, your talent and your energy. Now, I don’t want to totally blow your mind here. No, but is definitely the soloist of this episode. But while we’re here, we might as well consider a few other options. Like ‘yes If’ or ‘yes, when’ that opens the floor for things like, uh, yes. If I meet my fixed expenses for the first or yes. If food travel gas and wardrobe are covered or yes. If I can be credited as co choreographer. Yes. When I finished my work on this other paid gig, there are so many details in between. Yes and no. We get to negotiate my friends.  And when you get clear with yourself about what you are willing and not willing to do, and when you advocate for yourself, you might be shocked to find out how much is actually in your power to change, to set as standard. You have that power to make that change. In fact, a power dynamic is exactly that a dynamic, if only one side had power, it would be a power solo. It’s not, it’s a power dynamic. It would be a power ISO. It would be a power isolation, but it’s a power dynamic. You are included in that dynamic as having power. Don’t give it away. You aren’t threatened. You are wanted, you have. Yes, you have. No, you have. Yes, And. Yes, If. Yes, when. and you have No, but. Don’t take that the wrong way. You have a great butt you have a beautiful butt even if, whether it is a Debbie cake or a wedding cake, you have a glorious perfect cake. Your cake is great. Good butts, everyone all around. No, but is powerful though. Don’t forget it.  All right. My friend, that’s it. That is the key to success. The token that I hope you keep in your pocket and use often. Yes and no, but, and all the terms in between, they are so helpful in collaborative processes, process, processes, process, you can and should advocate for yourself. And those terms can help. You can negotiate your own terms. In fact, it’s part of the job. Do you see all of the ways that you can be excited about people, be excited about together, be excited about opportunities and still set boundaries. You can be available and say, no. Advocating for yourself is sexy. It is professional. And if you’re dealing with another professional, be they sexy or not, they will likely be open to working with you. When you set those terms, they’ll likely be willing to set terms that make sense for you both. And I hope that you do that. And I hope that while you do that, you keep it funky. That’s it for me, my friend. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating and review because your words move me too. Number two, I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops and so much more. All right. That’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye. 

Ep. #93 Outside the Box with Nina McNeely

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #93 Outside the Box with Nina McNeely

This episode’s guest is the reason I pursued a professional career in dance,but she isn’t only an inspiration and a hero in MY life, she is a creative leader in the entertainment industry at large.  Nina McNeely’s work is singular… it is dark, it is bright, and so is she.  I can’t wait for you to hear her thoughts about social media and the way it has changed BRAVERY in art.  We also explore the side effects of “fitting in” and being too precious with our work and each other.  We discuss the value of repetition and the impermanence of LIVE dance, and we go deep on what she thinks about thinking outside of the box.  You’ll laugh, you’ll learn, and on the other side of this episode, you’ll be ready to experiment and be bold with your work!  ENJOY!


Black Midi – John L: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GT0nSp8lUws

Caroline Busta’s article on Counterculture: https://www.documentjournal.com/author/caroline-busta/


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: My friend, Dana here. Welcome to words that moved me. I must admit it was a big talking weekend. You can probably hear it in my voice. I’m taking it easy today. I’m going to let our guest speak for herself. I am so beyond excited for this episode, but I am taking it easy on my voice. So let’s get right in to wins right now. This very moment. It is thunder storming in Los Angeles and I love it. This is a perfect win for today’s episode because today’s guest is both bright, like lightning and dark like a storm. She is simply so phenomenal. So celebrating my guest today, as well as this beautiful Los Angeles thunderstorm. What are you celebrating, what’s going well in your world? 

Nice. Congratulations. I am so glad that you’re winning. Now. There are 100 ways I could go about introducing today’s guest. I could get nostalgic. I could fan girl. I could scream with enthusiasm, but I can’t, several months post vocal cord surgery. I am encouraged not to scream. So I will say this. If I were Harry Potter, today’s guest would be my dark arts teacher. She’s someone I admire respect and has taught me so much over the years. I am thrilled for you to learn from her as well, and I cannot wait for you to find out how thoughtful in hysterical she is. So without any further ado, go ahead and enjoy the eighth wonder of the world as far as I’m concerned, the fabulous Nina McNeely. 

Dana: And we’re live, um, the dance duet, the virtual dance duet. That just happened was pretty epic. My heart rate is in fat burning zone. I’m sweating from both armpits and I am so excited to have you here. Nina McNeely. Welcome to the podcast.  

Nina: Thank you for having me.  

Dana: I’m so, so stoked about this. Um, okay. The first part, maybe the easiest part, maybe the hardest part kind of up to you. I’d love for you to start by introducing yourself. Um, simply let us know anything you would like us to know about you. I’m so curious to see how this goes.  

Nina: My given name is Nina McNeely, and I would describe myself as a troll and that’s about it.  

Dana: Uh, troll Nina McNeely, the troll, everyone. Um, I will only add to that, that you are a wildly talented troll. I have mentioned you on the podcast before as being the reason why I pursued dance. We sort of grew up together, shared a couple years at Michelle Latimer dance academy before making our way to Los Angeles. You a couple of years before me. And, um, I just so admired your career then, now, always. And so I’m really excited to get to talk about work with you today, work in life and things. Um, so I want to start actually by talking about, um, a moment that started to happen and then we put it in a parking lot. So I I’m thrilled by the way, to be like still getting to know you in our adult lives. Because in our teenage years we were teenagers. I came over recently. I was telling you about this movie, um, Mitchells versus Machines and the hero of this animated, like kids movie or family movie, I guess I would call it is a content creator. She’s a filmmaker and about to go to school in LA for film. And she’s explaining herself in her weird family and how they’re misunderstood. And she says, so I did what any other outsider would do and made weird art. And you were like, oh, weird. And it had this moment of like, don’t get me started on weird. So I want to start the podcast by getting you started on this concept of weird art. Like what adjectives would you rather use? Number one to describe your work and what would you say is out of the box, shall we say these days?  

Nina: Well, I think it’s interesting that we’ve been reduced to weird. When you look in the art world, we have, you know, in the fine art world, there’s surrealism, impressionist, Renaissance, all these descriptive words. And we’ve just been reduced to weird, which I don’t understand how that happened. I don’t know if it’s because we abandoned those labels before or something, but if I would describe myself as one of those fine art things, I would want to be a surrealist or I would want my choreography and artwork to be viewed that way, because I do find myself making things in this more kind of like fantasy dream state kind of place that I think to your regular Joe, they’re like, wow, that’s weird. And I guess with the outside the box thing, well, I mean, I just get asked that all the time, like, Ooh, this new pop star is looking for something really outside of the box.  

Oh yes. That’s code for weird. Okay. Yeah.  

Code for weird. And I’m always like, well, what’s outside of the box to me is not what they think is weird. You know what I mean? Like to me outside of the box is like something ancient and old or based in tradition, you know, because we’ve gotten so far from that recently, you know, our, I even was, you know, one of my last pieces was kind of based in religion a little bit, also something unpopular right now. So I guess, you know, it’s in the eye of the beholder, what outside of the box actually means. And I definitely, I definitely think people try to be weird, um, which is very kind of obvious at first glance or something. But maybe to me, the people that I’ve found there are just subversive and interesting. And like, I can’t wrap my head around at first, like takes me a minute are maybe people that are just extremely like intuitive and trust their instincts. Like when I think of people like that, I think of like Kitty McNamee like when we danced on Hysterica back in the day we used to ask her like, you know, what’s my, uh, what’s my motivation on this part? Or what, what does this part mean? Or, you know, what am I supposed to be thinking of? And she’d be like, I don’t know. And we’d be like, what? She’d be like, what does it mean to you? What do you feel? You know what I mean? And I always admired that kind of openness where she isn’t trying to force or hyper control this idea, but she let something like take on a new life or become created in that rehearsal instead of being a control freak. You know what I mean? And I think I’m really trying to do that more and more with my work. Like I’d like to know less what my work is about and just trust it.  

I love this notion. I think I would have a very hard time achieving that type of distance from my self in my thoughts about my work. I think that’s usually where my work begins thinking about thinking, um, partially, possibly, because that’s sort of a new space that I’m living in metacognition and just being, thinking about my thoughts, it’s a place that I like to be, but I can see the value in art and certainly in the creative process of openness and not knowing, I mean, in creative fields in general, they spring from not knowing or from not having already done. So there must be tremendous power there. That’s exciting to me. Um,  

Thank you. 

It’s hard though. It’s hard though, because I’m an extremely analytical person and I like, you know, I like being prepared and knowing what I’m doing, but sometimes in our industry, we are not given that, that luxury.  Exactly. Like it was going to say on, uh, the Black Midi music video, John L, that I did, I tried to just like, listen to the music, go on a walk and see what was like the first thing that popped into my head. And first off I was like, well, this sounds like Primus and it’s fucking awesome. And uh, I love Primus. And then that somehow triggered this memory of the mascot of Domino’s Pizza in the nineties, which was this little guy called The Noid. 

I remember this! 

Yeah. He was in this red unitards with these bunny ears and he moved really fast and he was like a stop motion. Playmation kind of guy. And I don’t know why that song made me think of him. And I was like, fighting it at first. I was like, you are such a fucking weirdo. Why are you thinking of the Domino’s Pizza mascot right now? And then I was like, you know what, no, fuck it. Let her in, let it in. Hence the dancers being in red unitard. Yeah. 

Yes. And then, and then turn it up. Like let it in and dial it up to 12. Turn it way up. Big, big fan, big, big fan of that work. It stopped me dead in my tracks. I’m not going to give away the ending. I want everybody to go watch it. Um, the Black Midi video, I will link to it in the show notes, click on over to the show notes for easy access. Um, I watched it two times back to back, laughed hysterically was concerned genuinely, um, may have, may have started sweating cause it really, it escalates and it’s wild and in, and playful and smart in so many ways. But one of the things I wanted to ask you because outside of my senior solo in 2004, you and I have not worked together professionally. So I am curious about your process when I watched that Black Midi video, which you, by the way, directed, designed and choreographed, correct. Edit, uh, edited. Did I say that as well?  

Yeah, I did all the animations and compositions and stuff in a crazy time crunch where also when that happens, that’s another time that’s really good to trust your instincts because you don’t have any other choice.  And you’re like, I don’t know what this is, but I’m going with  

Nice. I don’t know an answer to that question in order to move forward. No,  

I also knew with that one, because there were so many elements that I was like, you know, if I just make the dance really strong, everything else will kind of fall into place. And so I kind of made the dance, like the choreography kind of the first thought and then let you know, put all like put, made sure we had a lot of rehearsal, which in our world means four rehearsals back to back, no time to let it sink in for the dancers, just go. And that song is like five and a half minutes or something insane.  

It’s an opera. I think it’s has different phases and life’s of its own.  

And I was like, this song is pure fucking chaos to the dancers. I was like every five minutes. I was like, do you need water? And they were like, no, we’re good. And I was like, God Bless a dance company, Entity Dance Company. You know, now they’re not just music, video dancing. They’re used to being in rehearsal and like training all day, eight hours a day, they have a synergy with each other, you know, they can like, they, like as soon as they know the choreography that kind of get in sync through their peripheral vision. Ooh. You know, because  

Yeah, that’s the thing that we, and we don’t have that as much in the gig to gig economy that is, you know, freelancing in LA. Um, I am, I didn’t know, by the way it was the Entity Cast. I recognized a few key players, um, Karen who I absolutely adore and, and a handful of others, but that was the company that was entity.  

Raymond is not a part of the company, but he’s one of my favorite dancers in the world. And I just kept telling him, I’m like, you just need to give me that crazy Liza Minelli energy. Like every time just wide-eyed and insane. Yeah.  

Okay. Brilliant reference Liza plus Domino’s guy equals Black Midi Nina McNeely. Okay. So here’s my question though. I’m going to call on two, uh, of my favorite creative types. This might surprise you by the way, Jack Lemmon, honestly, I fancy Shirley McClain, but Jack has this famous saying, he obviously is a comedian to choose the five funniest things that you could possibly do commit to the funniest one and then play it deadly serious. And then David Fincher has a saying something. He, he mentioned about fight club once. He said, fight club is, uh, a film that is about a very deeply serious subject made by deeply unserious people. And I think part of the reason why I was initially attracted to you and your work and am still is because of that intersection of serious silliness. I remember like watching you dance in that big room at Michelle Latimer Dance Academy was like watching someone be possessed. It could be terrifying. It could be beautiful. It was very serious in your execution and in the way that it made me feel, but you were one of the deeply funniest people I have ever met. And I think in your recent work, both are being explored this, this humor. Um, I would love for you to talk a little bit about how humor factors into your process, if it does and where it shows up in the work.  

Yeah. Well, I was going to say, I should have mentioned earlier when I was listing all of the art forms. Um, but absurdist is one that I’m all that’s, what’s missing in the world right now. Nothing’s absurd. Everything’s so serious. They’re like very hard to be funny. Yeah. Instead of just ridiculous, you know what I mean? And I was like, yeah, I, I remember there being a lot more absurdist style work like in the nineties, like in the, even in the music video kind of realm, but I’ve always kind of felt like, I mean, I like extremely tragic and serious and dark things, topics and people, but I think when it takes itself too seriously, it almost like loses the darkness or the seriousness, like, I mean, any good horror film has all of this light, joyful dream-like stuff to create this amazing contrast for when the darkness comes and it makes it more unpredictable and surprising, you know?  

Yes. It unpredictable and surprising that pretty much sums it up, especially for that video. Um, and I think we could be here for a very long time if we were to assess all of your works, even my favorite ones, um, all of your projection mapping feels that way to me. It is extremely dramatic and precise and odd. Um, but I mean, obviously the nature of projection, it feels bright. It feels thoughtful. I wouldn’t say it feels funny. Like nothing about it makes me laugh, but I definitely don’t get the feeling. That’s like this isn’t for you. This is for art people. This is this isn’t for you. This is just for dark people. It feels like I don’t care who watches this because it’s what I think is important.  

And Surprisingly. Yeah. Surprisingly, my work does get laughs sometimes even when it’s a really serious piece, because I think it’s the sort of laugh of like, ha ha ha. How clever of her to do that? Like, there’s sometimes the strange giggle that comes out of the audience. That’s not like, oh, you tickled me. But something about the cleverness like caught me off guard and I have to be like, ah ha! 

We laughed for all sorts of reasons that are not jokes. We laugh when we’re uncomfortable. We laugh when we’re jealous. We laugh when we’re oh yes. I think all sorts of reasons for that.  

I also, I also love madness in general and I love laugh. Laughter can really have that feel it. You know what I mean? Well, that’s why I love Deena Thompson. She can always go to like a pure, that’s why she’s been my muse for so many years. She can just go completely mad in a matter of seconds. You know what I mean? Like when she laughs it’s terrifying, you know, like in a piece or something, because you’re like, fuck what this woman is on, on a good one. Like she’s losing it. I just love, I do love possession and madness. And like, I think I’ve been kind of digging into like what truly inspires me. And I’m, I really think it’s people and psychology even more than dance. Like I, that’s why I’m obsessed with true crime. Every, you know, I’ve watched every cult documentary ever made. I just put like cult new cult documentary, 2021 and YouTube, like everything to make sure I’m keeping up to date.  

That is such a move. Such a strong move.  

I just love that the power that people have over others and the confidence they have in their own bizarro ideas, you know, and I love to how something, I mean, we see this all the time, how something can start great with good intentions with pure intentions and then it can be so easily corrupted with greed, power, all of those things. And I just, I think people are absolutely fascinating.  

Uh, I want to go in seven or eight different directions from there. If we were having a barbecue, we could do that, but I’m going to try to stay streamlined here on the subject of madness specifically. I did not see the film of Climax, but I did see the trailer. I listened to an interview, a podcast that you did. And you talked a lot about the production of the film dance induced, and drug-induced probably both in equal parts mania. And I could only imagine what the behind the scenes of that project looks like, looked like was there a behind the scenes, was there an on and off camera or was that a 24/7 rave? And there happened to be a camera in the room for it.  

I mean the ladder, I, it was pretty like, I mean, just the energy of those style of dancers, like the way that they enjoy themselves as to like put on music and battle, like, you know, like all day, we’d have to be like, you guys need to save your energy. Like the camera’s not even on and you’re going insane.  

Okay. That’s good to know. And that’s what I would, I sensed might be the answer to that. I do want to point out that my first film, my first feature film, I was, uh, I was technically a dancer, but what I was doing was more background material. Toni Basil was the choreographer. The film was Charlie Wilson’s War, Tom Hanks. There’s a hot tub scene. 

Tracy Phillips is in that. 

She is incredible

Shooting her sexy sword dance.

It’s riveting. I it’s, it’s the most memorable part of that movie, other than every single thing, Phillip Seymour Hoffman doesn’t says yes. And the girl in the red dress in the hot tub scene raises hand, kidding will not even recognize me. I’m off on the side somewhere. But in that scene, we were party goers, you know, fancy people hanging out with other fancy people. And we were asked at some point by the director, Mike Nichols, no big deal to go do some cocaine quote over in the corner. And I remember being like Basil, Toni, Toni, I don’t, I don’t know how to do that. I’ve never done. She goes, you’ve never done cocaine. I was like, and was like kind of embarrassed. And then she showed me like how a lady would with her little pinky fingernail. And she just taught me how to do cocaine for a second surreal moment. Um, but there’s a, by the way, I’m not condoning drug use. I am encouraging a broad view of human life and the things that might be a dancer’s job that you never expect it to be your job, by the way. I don’t think you have to do drugs in order to book movies or know how to do drugs in movies is actually very different. But what I’m trying to get to, and when I talked to Reshma about, is dancers being human first, before they are dancers. I think that’s why I love dance actually is because humans do it, not robots, not, um, silks or flags or, I mean, I do think it’s cool sometimes the way trees move, but I like dance because humans do it. Um, the cocaine story was a sidebar. I don’t know how that came up, but actually, well, in climax, you probably did have to be teaching or choreographing behavioral, like conditions. Like the condition of  

I had to make, I had to edit together. Um, cause none of the dancers had done psychedelics before, which my jaw was on the floor. When I found that out, I was like, seriously, all you Europeans, have never dropped any acid or eaten a mushroom damn. Um, so Gaspar is like, we really need to help them because you know, as Gasper and I know not everyone acts the same on that drug. Like he would say like, you know, someone needs to be in heaven. Like the whole night never stops dancing. Is just on cloud nine in their own world. Cause there’s always someone like that at the rave, you know? And then cause at first when we’d be like, okay, you guys are starting to feel the drugs. They started all acting drunk. And we were like, no, no, no, no, no, no, not that, no, not that. So I edited together this horrid, terrifying, uh, video of people on PCP, Flakka, acid threw in some Butoh facial expressions for fun. And this is one where the sky just has all this drool doing that, like primal scream face. And I was like, this is also powerful. Um, but yeah,  Yeah, Yes, this is an option, you know? And like some people really lose themselves on drugs and some seem like they’re barely affected even though perhaps in their mind, they’re going through something crazy. They’re more like still and kind of chill, letting the experience wash over them. So I did have to help them with a lot of that to give like a variety to all of it and not for everyone to just look drunk.  

I think it’s important to point out to people listening who are aspiring choreographers, that there is so much more to this job description than making up cool moves  

Or an eight count. Honestly. Like I always tell upcoming choreographers, like you’re going to be amazed that the amount of times you don’t have to make up a phrase, zero. Not that no, you have to like it’s movement direction or like storytelling or, or composition a still composition with a bunch of bodies. There’s so many, you’re painting a picture a lot of times for film. And it’s not really about the moves. So many things when it comes to like cam the camera and dance that you usually won’t do a phrase because or you do and then they don’t catch any of it  

Or they cut away from it.  

Yeah, exactly. Yeah.  

It’s it is possible that you can love dance intensely and know that it is not the most interesting thing to watch.  

Yeah. That’s why I think I will. I’m always attracted to dancers that are also actors where they can really be human in a moment. Like I think we were talking about this the other day. Like I prefer to just see two people stare at each other and that electricity that happens when two people look at into each other’s eyes over someone doing some long phrase of choreography. Yeah. Yes. I also was going to say like, I’ve always been a huge fan of Pina Bausch because she does praise work, but I love how she’ll just drill it into the ground. And it keeps repeating and repeating there’s something too about like young choreographers always want to make like every count and every move is something new and different, which I used to do also when I was young, you know? And then I started to learn about like the power of repetition and it’s like, once the audience is familiar with something and they know that it’s coming, then they can start thinking about, but what does this movement mean? Or like, what are they going through while they’re doing this movement? You know what I mean?  

So you get to watch emotional trajectory instead of physical trajectory, physical movement in space. The, the idea of repetition has helped me tremendously in my freestyle as well, specifically in a circle or free-styling. I had this made up completely self-imposed notion that everything I did had to be cool and new and look good from all 360 degree angles. And it wasn’t until I started, like, let’s just do a jazz square this whole round. I’m just going to do a jazz square, except for you won’t recognize it as a jazz square. So is power obviously, but also great freedom in repetition. And it directs our eye to something other than the moves, which if you’re a choreographer working in the entertainment industry, it will almost always be moves to serve another purpose. Even if that purpose is make the pop star look desirable, make the pop star look dangerous. Um, explain that these two characters are now in love. I don’t recall ever seeing a breakdown or a treatment that’s like this video is about cool moves.  

No, no, there’s always like a purpose and it’s usually not that. And I also feel like I can always spot a truly good dancer by seeing them on a dance floor at like rave or party and that they don’t feel like they need to do all this impressive phrase, work, freestyle insanity, but they just groove and like let the music wash over them. You know, it is funny when you see all these trained dancers on the dance floor, you’re like, this is embarrassing.  

Yeah. Ironically, that is the thing that is not taught. And I know art people would argue that it can’t be taught. I happen to disagree. I don’t think I was a very funky person for much of my life. I moved to LA fell in love with  fell in love. I, well, I just, I fell in love with street styles and got very lucky in my timing and in my placement and happened to have like in-person influence from some really key people who like were there at the beginning, Toni Basil Popin’ Pete Sugar Pop. I really don’t think I learned how to feel music in a non, like driving in the car headbop type away, like in my whole body, through my fingernails. And in my feet, I didn’t learn that until probably Lockadelic’s class at the old millennium. She taught locking every, I think two times a week maybe. Um, and we did not stop dancing for the hour and a half. There’s no like, okay then the right foot steps on one, let’s go from the top. That’s left on eight, right on like there’s no talking about it. You’re actively dancing for an hour and a half. And that’s how I learned to be funky. So I do think it can be taught, but it is interesting that people who have trained so intensely have such a little awareness of how to do that.  

Yeah. And I, I also think that, you know, at Michelle’s like when I was younger, like I was pretty efficient in both hip hop and contemporary, but always was like obsessed with technique and contemporary ballet. And like, I just was, that was my jam. And so definitely 

I can still see your passe. I can see your freaking posse hips are so square and that’s the highest possible you ever did see,  

But I think it’s interesting. Cause at first, like when I started teaching and choreographing in LA, I did, it was very contemporary and like technical. And then one day I was like, I am denying my Michael Jackson Obsession. Like I’ve kept her in a closet, no pun intended,  

That was funny. 

Uh, for far too long. And as soon as I started, like letting that out more, which I don’t think people maybe recognize how many Michael centric kind of movements there are that I do. I love neck-ograohy and, uh, you know, hands and kind of intricate things that are very much him. Um, that that’s when I started feeling like I was starting to get a little bit of an aesthetic and everything I made, wasn’t like a brand new idea, brand new idea. Like it started to have a little bit of a shape, you know? And so I really just let it in. Yeah, yeah, yeah.  

I don’t have a gentle segway, but I do have a lot that I want to talk to you about. And actually, perhaps this does relate to the signature and what we were talking about earlier, um, being weird or out of the box, and I really want to talk to you because I know this is something that I’ve dealt with in different ways, in different phases of my life. But listeners I’m assuming must have is this notion of popularity and YouTube and Instagram have given this quantifiable number to your reach, your influence and to some people, your value. I would love to hear your thoughts on what is your relationship with popularity and social media in general? I’m just so curious.  

Yeah. When I thought of that question, what is my relationship with popularity? My answer is that I try not to have one. You know, I try all that matters to me is like the pursuit of truth and self-expression, and if that is becomes popular. Cool. And if not, that’s cool too. And if it doesn’t happen until much later, you know, sometimes takes a little time for the world to catch up or whatever. That’s. That’s cool too. I think like you were saying, it’s quantifiable, that’s questionable to me because I think as a working choreographer, sure. Some people might be looking at your Instagram and your followers and stuff, but I think for a true, like for there to be longevity in a career and integrity, it’s a more about your it’s about, are you dependable? Are you easy to work with, do you know how to nurture someone else’s vision? Like those are the things that bring you, keep bringing you back and also  

And those things don’t get a follower account.  

Hell no, no one knows about those. You know? And it’s more about like your relationship with directors and them talking to other directors that are looking for a choreographer and actually most of the time has nothing to do with Social Media or your YouTube. You know, it’s more word of mouth because I think in the entertainment industry, people want to guarantee that they’re going to have someone dependable more than who’s hot right now. You know, because who’s hot right now might not be experienced enough to handle the job. You know what I mean?  

Thank you for sharing that. I think that may come as reassuring or slightly intimidating depending on where the person listening falls on the timeline of their career. I can imagine somebody aspiring to be a choreographer like, well, how do I become dependable if I have not worked yet? How do, how does the word of mouth support me? You know, this chicken/egg conversation.  

I will say though, that what I’ve noticed is it’s about like for a choreographer and I think times are changing. So it’s a little different, but you know, when I was younger, it’s like, there wasn’t any social media you’d have to be like in this group show and even carnival or whatever, but it’s about being prolific and like constantly making and constantly creating and not just being like, here’s me doing my process in my house and my sweats, no, put in the effort, put it on stage, get people there and, and be okay with maybe like being experimental and sometimes making some questionable, you know, the quality is questionable. Like that’s okay. I think before social media, we were so risky and brave because you, no one was going to see it. No one was filming it and you didn’t have like a fucking brand to protect, you know what I mean?  It was like, you could just be really risky and experimental and just go for it. And sometimes like be maybe too experimental and it didn’t work and that’s okay. But I think that’s how you learn, learn yourself. And I feel like with all this editing and filtering and preciousness, like you might be just pigeon holing yourself. Yeah. You’re just putting yourself in even branding. Like you’re putting yourself in a box. Like what if that changes? Like what if one day you wake up and you want to do something totally different? Like then you’re going to feel ashamed that you want to change  

Or no one that you think that you have to rebrand first before you can do that thing.  

Yeah. I think there’s like a lack of flexibility and malleability. Like I’m totally okay with like my opinion changing, my art form changing, like all of that. Like I also get bored easily, you know what I mean? And I just want, I want to keep learning and trying and getting into new things. Like, and I think when you’re really confident, you know, that you will keep making great work. You know what I mean? I think if you really push yourself, you don’t need to be like someone stole my idea. You should be flattered by that. And you should also know that you’re going to have more great ideas. There’s too much preciousness these days. Definitely  

On that thought. No. On one of the thoughts that came right before that, this notion of, of you being able to change your mind. I wonder how tightly, if at all, that relates to your, um, ability and willingness to change your medium as well. You talked about getting bored easily. You are absolutely a person that wears many hats. We’ve talked about your choreography, but, and a little bit of your animation and design skills, but you are also a full-blown editor, creative director, all of these things without having to stop being anyone being any part of the other. But it seems like you allowed your, you gave yourself permission to be a multi person without losing or making it mean something about the other parts of you that you also love and are good at. Is that a fair assessment?  

Yeah. And I think, you know, anyone that wears many hats or is interested in many things might be worried about that, you know, that famous saying jack of all trades master of none, you know, and I, I always worried about that too. Like shit, I should probably just stick to one thing and really master it, you know, instead of always being like spread out like an octopus with my tentacles in so many jars, you know, that’s how I sometimes feel. But you know, like take animating for instance, like I have stopped myself from going into the world of 3D because I feel like it will suck all of my time and my soul and I’ll be obsessed technically with this 3D thing. And because I cut myself off from that, I’ve just keep diving further into like 2D and collage kind of like, you know, the Black Midi videos, like total collage, you know, it’s green screen with backgrounds and stuff that I’ve actually over the years have started to find like an aesthetic in that. Because I think people don’t realize that like how much restraint and restriction like actually opens new doors, you know, and pushes you, it pushes you to just think in a different way. And sometimes it’s good to just put rules on something and see what happens. Cause it forces you to think in a new way. But, um, I would encourage anyone in the realm of dance or choreography to try editing because a basic editor edits so boring for on the floor, you know, on the snare where we’ve been training our whole lives to like push the music, like go againist it. Yeah. Use, use the silence. Like, you know, go where the song might be really fast, but there’s this one underlying slow tone, like dance to that instead. So I think that most, most types in the dance realm would be surprised at how good at editing they are. You know what I mean? And that, and I’ll say to anyone to that, like if you have other things that you’re interested in and you found that you are skilled in them or that you’re really interested enough to like learn the skill, like do it because like, it was such a crazy lesson for a lot of people this past two years during the pandemic, like I had really geared my focus into like touring and live and creative directing for live stage and all this stuff. And then it was just all cut off, over. I was like, dammit, but I was so glad that I have also editing in my pocket and animating, cause I was able to do a bunch of jobs like that during this where I didn’t have to go anywhere. And I was in my own house just being a nerd, you know, for 14 hours a day. Um, but like it’s really helpful. I think it is scary though for most people. Cause they, they think they’re going to be too spread out and not good at all of these many hats, but just kind of mediocre at a bunch of things. So I don’t know. I think it’s powerful. I think if you are really interested in other things, like try it, you know, dance is the most like time consuming art form and it is kind of fleeting in a way, you know what I mean? Like it’s not like a painting. You can take a photograph of a dancer, but it’s not the same. You know what I mean? It’s something to be watched live. And in real time, you know, even like a film of a dance, doesn’t really capture what it feels like to see that live. You know what I mean?  

No, it is fleeting. It is singular. The moment of it happens and then it’s gone.  

And thats the beauty of it too. 

It’s so special. I think I love it. I get really excited by it. I’m really grateful to count myself a person who has experienced that and helps other people to experience that or invites. I think other people do experience that. Um, and I also am a person, as I mentioned before, dance is not the king of my universe. It might be the queen, but people, I think dance is interesting because people don’t get me wrong. I will watch a Boston dynamics, robot dog dance for an hour straight, but I love humanness. And I mean, what is humanness, if not fleeting, changing, we’re mortal, it’s going to stop. So why not? Why not try a thing that interests you? I just, it makes, I understand the fear of not being good. I really do. But the only way you can assure that you will never become good at it is by not trying it

Its good to fail, if you want to be good at anything, you should be failing sometimes. You know, and I think the preciousness that we were talking about is like, you know, the first few things that some of my favorite things I’ve ever directed, just got canned and never saw the light of day. Some, some in some cases the music was never even released just a tragedy, but they know, uh, I had to learn, I think rejection is such a powerful thing for people to experience. And I think right now we’re really sheltering ourselves and the children from it. But I think it’s important. 

By championing inclusivity and things. Yeah.  

Yeah. And I think that is, I think that is a little dangerous. Like it’s cool to not be a part of a community or a group. It’s okay. It’s okay to be a loner. Like if we know anything about history, it’s that those loners created the best poetry, the best artwork, philosophies, all of these things. And that I think if everybody’s included, what is the art of the future going to look like? I’m a little scared, you know, I don’t  

Think about let’s talk about it.  

Yeah. I don’t think people should be just bullying kids left and right or anything. You know, I think we have to be gentle with each other. Absolutely. But I think it’s okay to not fit in and to not be popular that might actually really build some character and a unique voice. Like I, I try to not be like seduced by trends. You know, it’s very hard these days because they’re all over the place and they’re in your face 

And they’re designed to be so seductive.

Right. And, and the, like this desire to be relevant again in the eye of the beholder, what does relevance even mean? You know what I mean? Does it mean that you’re getting 500 emojis a day from people? What does that, we know what happened to like conversation, phone calls? Like I’m sad that things, social media sometimes reduces our connection instead of increasing it. Like, we really think that like, oh, it’s so cool. How we’re all connected. I’m like, yeah, but you just watched something that I put so much of my heart into and you replied with a smiley with star eyes. I’m getting nothing from that. You know what I mean?  

This is my philosophy. I believe that connection is a feeling and you can feel connected to someone through a two dimensional screen. Um, and if I can feel connected to you here, I can feel connected to you anywhere. I don’t think we have to be talking in person to feel connected. That said I would much prefer to be hanging out at your house right now. And I would much prefer to see your work in person, opposed to watching it on YouTube. Um, and, and the preciousness of knowing that it’s about to be gone versus this ‘Oh, I’ll just hit replay and I’ll watch it again.’ I there’s pleasure. I get pleasure from both because I can binge watch a thing. I have probably watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy 25 times the extended editions. And so I’m like, I love the availability to really go in on something. Um, but I digress. So that’s another direction I want to go with this.  

I think I was going to say it’s more even like the difference between a text message and a phone conversation and a face to face conversation. You know what I mean, where they’re cool that we’re connected, but the electricity that happens between face-to-face like in a face-to-face conversation there, nothing compares to that. I don’t think, I mean, and unfortunately we’re in a situation where we can’t do as much of that, but I even mean like a phone call, you know, hearing someone’s voice and feeling their energy and feeling their tone and all of that stuff.  

And, and, and understanding, pause and silence. Um, I, this is something that I got to know very intimately during my vocal cord recovery, and we all have different ideas about what silence means culturally, personally. Um, and I think that really is hard to detect through texts. Um, so interesting. I, I wanna dig into really quick counterculture. I want to share a reference. A reference is there’s an article that my husband shared with me in document journal by a woman called Caroline Busta. I think I am saying that, right. I hope I’m saying that, right. It is called the internet did not kill counterculture. You just won’t find it on Instagram. 


And she writes, and I love this. I wanted to share this quote to be truly counter-cultural in a time of tech hegemony. One has to above all betray the platform, which may come in the form of betraying or divesting from your personal public online self. And I think it’s so true. This article has a lot of like peak insights and talk about old punk old, you know, underground type of art. Um, I’ll send you this article, Nina. I’ll put it in the show notes, but you know, when you, what year did you get to LA?  


Okay. And you talked about creating work for clubs, where, what were these shows? Who, who was going to them? Like what was underground then? And what is it now?  

Wow, interesting you bring that up because I did see, I’ve been kind of running into old homeys from that time. And I saw one the other day that I was like, oh my God. Remember when we did that cheerleading number and you guys threw me like two stories in the air and I almost shat my pants and yeah. And it was like, and it started with like a pollical ribbon dance. And he was like, yeah, but were you in the version with like the spaghetti and the kiddie pools where like rough the spaghetti all over ourselves? And I was like, no, but what the fuck happened? Like we fucking go in, so bizarre. So ridiculous. Like, it was all about props, like, okay, we’re going to fucking dip our face in Elmer’s glue. And then in this bowl of sequence, boom, look change, you know, or like, whatever, like we just used to do nutso stuff or like I bought the super high powered fan from home Depot, shout out to home Depot. They don’t know how much they have supported dancers club performances and careers.  

I do not test me. I will come back with a sponsorship or endorsement deal.  Um, everybody’s addidas except for us just solid orange home Depot.  

Yeah. Well, for club wise, God, and I just saw some homies last night that we were like, you guys, we know I’ve known each other for like 14 years, like from when we were babies in these club environments at these raves and stuff, but like one of the most prevalent was Mustache Mondays, um, uh, Nacho Nava who rest in power, um, really started a whole counter-culture world in downtown LA when downtown LA was like gross and scary and no one wanted to be there. Um, and Marlon Pelayo, and I did a lot of duets over the years, some good, some horrible, but we always showed up, you know, and it was on a Monday night, Monday night. Yes. And it was weekly, not even monthly. We were all there at one point, maybe in like 2006 or something, there was something every night, there was also a party called Shits and Giggles. Um, that was in this huge space with like a balcony, like weird, like a gorgeous theater that we just did the most rowdy rug rat crap you’ve ever seen. And then, uh, Ryan, Heffington also had a show called fingered, which is incredible. That was a monthly, there was different themes, like back to school, fingered back to school, like a monster themed one or whatever. And Ryan, I mean, it’s so incredible. And also doesn’t take himself too seriously. There’s so many funny numbers he’d make all of our costumes we’d rehearsed in his house. Like it was incredible. Um, but yeah, we just used to do a lot, like every time someone’s like, oh, we need performers for this. And it was, we’d get like a hundred bucks, you know what I mean? And we’d use that mostly for materials and to like get some cheap wine after. But, uh, but yeah. And also, yeah, we didn’t need money to do shit back then either. Like, he’d be like, perfect. You’re going to come out of this cardboard box and like, yeah, me and Marlon did to duet once where I came out of a cardboard box, there’s a bag of Cheerios. That’s prop. I, my costume was like a little kid’s Rambo costume with like the bullets or two of those just duct tape pastries. I believe not very healthy, but, um, we just, we just went crazy and we, like I said, like sometimes there’s no one there, you know? And we were like, well, I guess we’re still going to just wear our heart on our sleeve and go, go the fuck in, even though there’s 10 people here, you know, but we learned so much from that. And also it was kind of cool to be like, oh, well, if you weren’t there, you missed it. You know, that was kind of like how you could be in. You have to know, you know, and you had to like, and you know, you couldn’t see it anywhere. And if you missed it, you missed it. Also there’s something to be said about when I first came to LA and started doing more like group shows that, you know, we’re not like in, that were in theaters and not in clubs. We’d get written up, uh, by the Dance Critic in the LA times, every time you did the live performance, like what incredible, where they, he was, what’s his name? Lewis Segal. He was so mean, but brilliant. He’d be like, this is a scatter shot of ideas. It makes no sense. I mean, you’d be like, oh, like you were actually getting critique. Cause I think that’s something also missing. Like, everyone’s like, oh my God, I love your stuff. It’s great. And I’m all I need some haters. Where are the people that are like, I hate how you always do this boring witchy, troll crap. Like I wish you would, you know, I’m so sick of seeing this. I feel like you can get a little bit of that on YouTube.  

A little bit of that.  

I don’t know who said this, but like, if you don’t have any haters, somebody lying  

Or you, or you’re not doing something, right.  

Yeah. Or you’re not pushing yourself. Right. You’re staying in something safe or whatever. So I don’t know. 

All right, everybody go out there and get yourself some haters. That’s it for me, Nina and me, my mom is going to be so pissed. I do that wrong all the time. Nina and I, no, Nina and me, shit. I don’t know. Um, okay. This is, this has been lovely. I love this insight. I think you’re brilliant. I am just shouting your praises forever, but yo, if you want me to tell you that your shit is awful, I will tell you that. I don’t believe that it’s true, but I’ll say, uh, that’s very, that’s a very, um, LA thing to do. Like, wait, what do you want me to be to you? What do you want me to say? But, um, it’s not an LA thing. No, it’s a people pleaser thing. It’s uh, I grew up being a dancer thing. Really, really aiming to please. Yes. Um, okay. Here’s how I would like to finish. Speaking of, I grew up a dancer, we both grew up in Colorado and I want to play a quick little round of how do you know you’re from Colorado burnout, round of super questions. Are you ready for that? Yes. They’re going to come so fast. Okay. How often do you wash your car?  

Just got a new one. Just got a new car, covered in dust.  

Yeah. Yes. The answer is like almost never.  

Yeah, almost never. And I think I need a shamwow. Well, I need to order one of those, I can just use the hose at my house and spray her down.  

Um, everybody listening is probably thinking, well, not everybody listening. People who listen often are probably thinking of me fondly. I have a carwash across the street from my house. And as a person who has a podcast, that can be a tremendous challenge. I have, I hate them. Number one. And even when I liked them, when they were a hand carwash before they got the screeching eels of vacuum death, before that, I still never got my car wash and it was literally in my front yard. So 

I do love the experience of going through the old school carwash with the flipping flap. It really feels like you’re going into a different dimension.  

And when you do that, don’t you feel like you’re seven.  

Yeah I love watching videos of kids going through them. Screaming How they terrified  

You’re in the mouth of a beast and it’s got multiple good esophagus is a soft guy and tone 

Its the birthing experience all over again 

Too soon, too soon. Give me out. Okay. Were so much for rapid fire. Um, how do you get the ice off your windshield when you’re going to school senior year, let’s call it that  

The scrape, a small enough hole that you can see through it with one eye  

With what? With, what do you scrape?  

Uh, it’s usually like a glove contraption, a little scrapey do at the end of it.  

I usually, I don’t know how I would always be misplacing the scrape dues. I have used CDs. I have used my school ID. I have like taken off, taken off a shoe and stood sock foot. Okay. Good. Good. Don’t check, check, check. Um, what are Rocky mountain oysters?  

Uh, those are, uh, bull balls. Yes.  


Testes. I’ve actually never really tried those and I’m pretty adventurous with food.

The next time we go back home and do that. Okay. Final question. 

Yeah set a date for balls.  

Hot balls date done. Uh, what is the name of the theme park in Denver? 

Elitch Gardens. 

Yes. Only a tourist would call it six flags. Congratulations. You passed your from Colorado. 

It was an actual garden. You remember the old one with the white, with the white rollercoaster. That was, yeah, that would rattle your brain because it was so old.  

Terrible, terrible. They probably called it the brain scrambler. It was called the twister.  

Yeah, the twister. Yes.  

Wow. Good job. Okay. Um, all right. Final thoughts. This is how I would like to wrap it up as your PR uh, unofficial PR person. I strongly encourage everybody listening to go check out Nina’s website. I genuinely think that being there is more fun than going to a movie. It is more thrilling than going to a haunted house. It is the best of both of those worlds. Please go visit her work and get lost. Um, and we’ll see you later. Just go get lost for a while. Enjoy yourself. Um, I think the world of you, thank you so much for being here. 

I love you so much, so much  


There you have it. My friend, I hope you learned a lot from Nina. I always have, and I get the feeling I always will. I loved what she had to say about social media and the way it has changed our bravery in art. I loved what she had to say about preciousness and the impermanence of live dance. Oh man. The takeaways from this one, the list is long. I hope that after listening to this episode, you’re ready to think outside the box experiment, be bold. And of course keep it funky. I will talk to you soon. Bye

Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating and review because your words move me too. Number two, I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops and so much more. All right. That’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye.