The dance podcast where movers and shakers like you get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. Master mover, Dana Wilson, taps into 15 years of industry experience, and talks to some of the best in the entertainment biz, who have been there and done that so that you don’t have to… do it alone.
Ep. #69 Three Heartfelt Life Lessons from 7-10 Year Olds
I hope this episode reminds you of the brilliance of children… and gets you more in touch with your brilliant inner child! I have started to look at young people as little Baby Yodas. Full of potential, wisdom and plenty of life hacks up for grabs! In this episode I focus on the willingness to play (and walk into every game like a winner), the bounce back (after our losses), and the importance of asking questions… especially the BIG questions. ENJOY!
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.
Dana: Hello, my friend. And welcome to the podcast. I’m Dana, this is Words That Move Me. I’m so glad that you’re here today to talk about three heartwarming life lessons that I just learned from seven to 10 year olds. Um, so let’s get right into it. I think this is a really, um, a really lovely topic and a nice moment to take pause and look back at our young selves, um, and also head forward with some new perspectives. Um, now before I get into it, I do want to do wins and my win this week. We’ll give a bit more context to this episode this week. I am celebrating that. I just, I mean, just like a few days ago taught at my first in-person dance convention in 14 months. Wow. That is a long stretch for me. Um, I’ve been teaching on a dance convention at New York city Dance Alliance. Uh, super shout out to my episode that I did with Joe Lanteri, which is episode number drum roll 43 episode 43. That is our winner. Um, so I, I teach for this dance convention, New York city Dance Alliance, and, uh, the due to the pandemic. Um, the convention was completely canceled for, uh, most of 2020. They slowly trickled back at the, uh, a few months ago. Um, and it is now April and I’m finally comfortable, you know, traveling and being in rooms full of lots of heavily breathing humans and man, Oh man, what an experience I’m not going to lie a little bit of shell shock. Um, I went from, you know, pretty much myself and my husband in our house, occasional distanced hangs with the homies to pretty crowded rooms and dancers doing a really great job, staying in their little taped off squares, dancing and masks teaching in masks. Holy smokes. Um, so wow. I did it. I felt safe. That is a tremendously huge win. Um, Oh, I will say traveling the actual airplane portion, not my favorite. Uh, I forgot. Oh, and LAX also. Definitely not my favorite. I was very much okay with not visiting lax 30 times a year. Um, yeah, that drive that number dropped down dramatically in the pandemic, uh, to zero. So anyways, that’s my win at first convention back out and feeling great about it. Thank you, Joe and NYCDA for keeping a really safe environment for us faculty and the students alike. Um, thrilled about that and excited to share with you guys. Some of the things that happened over the weekend. Um, always a good story to be told first, let me hear your wins. What is going well in your way?
Okay. Congratulations. Very well done and do, keep doing all of that very well done stuff. Um, all right. Let’s jump into it. Shall we? Three heartwarming life lessons brought to you by seven to 10 year olds AKA my mini ballroom from this past weekend in Greenville, North Carolina. My aim for this episode really is to remind you of the brilliance of children. If you’re looking for inspiration, look no further than the mini ballroom. Um, so my goal is to remind you of that and to perhaps get you more in touch with your brilliant, younger self. I really do believe the kids have it all figured out as challenging is that age group can be, especially in a dance education environment. Um, my favorite moments came out of that mini ballroom this past weekend in Greenville, North Carolina. So shout out minis. If you’re listening, I had such a ball with you. Um, and for all of my adult humans that are listening, I want you to remind you that these people minis, uh, the convention world affectionately refers to them as minis. They’re seven to 10 years old, which places their birth year between 2011 and 2014. So for context, some of these people are younger than Game of Thrones. Um, so here’s what I think in these three different areas. We have a lot to learn from seven to 10 year olds. Number one, self confidence, totally off the charts. Number two, the asking of questions now. Sure. That can get a little out of hand from time to time. But for the most part, this is an admirable quality and part three, the bounce back or the bounce in general. So we’re going to dig a little bit deeper into those three areas of expertise of, of this particular age group. I’m so stoked about it. Here we go.
I want to start with this illustration of confidence and enthusiasm. Certainly something that we could all learn from a 7 to 10 year old. Um, I’ll start with this story. I’ve been putting a more pointed focus on history when I teach even to the young ones and, um, basically to start every class, to see where the group is at in their understanding or exposure to history, um, making it a habit to kind of check the temperature in the room. Before I start my lesson this week, I was teaching what I call jazz plus, which we could do an entire side episode on jazz plus by the way, and I probably will someday, but for now I will say this jazz plus is my dance history, mostly jazz plus a whole lot of other stuff. And that is exactly what you can expect to find when you take my class. Um, but most of the 7 to 10 year olds, uh, in my class over the weekend had never seen jazz plus on a schedule. So before I addressed what jazz plus is, I decided to ask the students for a show of hands and fingers, um, to show me if they could explain jazz, like a one finger up, it means I’m sort of, kind of not really. And five fingers up means. Yeah, totally. Uh, so I said to the room, all right, um, show of fingers, everyone. How confident are you in explaining jazz on a one to five? Hands started flying up and overwhelmingly. They were displaying in many cases more than five fingers, like were tagging both arms shooting up five fingers on each hand, 10 out of 5 confidence here. Now their enthusiasm did start to dwindle a little bit. Once I started asking them for their answer, what is jazz, but for those who did answer the question for those who kept their enthusiastic fingers up, I was shocked actually to hear some very broad and not so technical, but kind of true answers. Like for example, jazz is energy. Jazz is energy or jazz is fun. Or my personal favorite jazz is kind of everything put together. Like everything put together. These are exact words. ‘Jazz is kind of everything put together,’ which really that’s that’s, that’s not true. Jazz is not ballet and braking and ballroom and a grilled cheese sandwich put together. But when you consider that jazz dance and jazz music spring from roots of rituals and celebrations of black people from way, way, way back as early as the 17 hundreds, then yeah, I can absolutely see how you might find elements of jazz in many, many other styles and in many, many other things, but I digress that is not what we’re here to talk about today for now. Let’s simply Marvel at the fact that although these young people have very little experience as humans, like only 7 years of experience as humans when asked for their level of confidence at something these littles jumped straight to a 10 out of 5, like they weren’t thinking, I don’t know, or I have no experience. They were thinking, yeah, sure. Why not? Let’s engage with this. Let’s yeah, let’s jump in. Yeah, I could, I could probably know the answer to this or I could probably be good at this thing or yeah, I bet I could be really, really, really good at this thing. That’s where the mindset of the mini is at. And I was very interested to find that when I asked the same question to my teens and seniors who are between 13 and, and 17 or 18, I barely saw a single hand with five fingers raised, I saw mostly ones and twos. So, but you, I mean, could you explain to a friend, what jazz is, how confident would you be to have that connection? One out of five? What is jazz? Right? It’s it’s, it’s not an easy or simple question to answer, but what this exercise really illustrated to me other than the general lack of understanding of jazz and jazz history in a convention setting is that a lot happens between seven and 17 years and beyond. Um, we, we really lose that 10 out of 5 confidence and enthusiasm, and I can only speculate at how we lost it or why we lost it, but I can think of a few ways that we might get some of that, the good parts of that anyways, but I can think of a few ways that we might get some of that back regarding the confidence specifically.
One, one could argue that kids have more confidence because they don’t yet know complete humiliation. Right. They haven’t experienced being broken up with or cut from an audition or fired from a job job. Their experience is that they learn and they play and sometimes they get in trouble and that’s life and that’s okay. So what if we could think more like that? What if, what if we could think yes. I’m game, even if I lose playing is fun, let’s go. No, I’m not suggesting that you risk it all or pretend to know things that you don’t know. This lesson in confidence and enthusiasm is actually, we all about willingness to play, just willingness to play and the willingness to go into the game, like a winner before you’ve already, even started, versus walking into the game like a beginner who’s never or tried anything ever, right? It’s likely that even if you’re playing a game for the very first time, you have some other skills or training or experience that will give you some foundation to stand on. Maybe not a competitive edge per se, but by the time you’re 18 years old, you’ve got to experience some rudimentary exposure to a lot of things. So let’s, let’s lead with that. Shall we? The willingness to play and to walk into the game like a winner. Now that’s actually a good segue.
Let’s skip ahead to, um, lesson number three, the bounce back. Kids don’t just jump into a game like a winner with 10 out of 5 confidence. They bounce back fast. Even if they get completely leveled by the game. Even if they find out that they have zero confidence in the thing, that moment usually quickly resolves with something else. That’s interesting. Yeah. So, um, you actually, you made, we’ve seen this more in babies and toddlers than in 7 to 10 year olds, but it’s this really remarkable, quick shift, um, on the emotional spectrum, uh, extreme discontent moments, moments away from like total satisfaction, these quick recoveries like crying, crying, crying, and then we’re moving on. Like we’re literally skipping on and I love this. I aspire to the bounce back like this. Um, I aspire to let go of drama that quickly, man. I have so much to learn. Uh, now I know that that, uh, this anomaly is not because young ones don’t feel as much. Actually they, I think they feel tremendously even loss or a rejection or failure. I believe they really do feel those things and they feel it fully. And then they move on instead of the adult way of handling it, which looks more like ignoring it or resisting it or denying it or reacting to it with an alcoholic beverage or a shopping spree or a scroll down Instagram lane. So what if we get, allow ourself to lose just, okay, I lost that round, right? Or what if you could allow yourself the bummer of not knowing the answer to something or of getting the answer wrong or of not getting the gig and then literally skip along on your way to the next game or question or gig like actually bounce, truly hop. Now, this is where your homework comes in before the next episode comes out. I do challenge you to actually skip somewhere and tell me that you don’t have an absolute ball when you get there. Skipping is so powerful, like fully be sad and then be hopping up and down and tell me that you don’t giggle. Honestly, I think laughter and tears are very closely linked. I call it the laugh cry, happens to me all the time. Um, but yes, knees permitting, bounce back, try it, just try it.
Okay. And that brings me to our final lesson, a very admirable quality of the 7 to 10 age range. And that is the asking of questions. Oh man. In my mini classes this weekend, so many questions, I’m sure some of them were, can I go to the bathroom? Even after I said, you do not need to ask permission to go to the bathroom. I still got that question like four or five times, man. I really could have taken questions top to bottom the whole class without ever teaching a single step full of questions. Um, but I did want to share my favorite question with you here. Uh, today I’m in the middle of teaching combo and I see a hand raised into the air. Adorable young person raised their hand and, and approached the stage. Even though she’s supposed to stay in her little taped in box. And she says, “what do you do? When someone tells you, you should know something and you don’t know that thing” like arrow through my heart. What do you do? When someone tells you, you should know something and you don’t, this was a full stop moment for me. I asked everyone in the room to sit down because we were going to engage in this discussion. So I asked, all right, what might you do when someone says that you should know something and you don’t know that thing, you might feel bad. You might feel sad. You might get angry at them and walk away. Yes. All valid. We discussed these options, but none of those options get you the answers. So I asked, okay, what else, what else could you do? When someone tells you, you should know something and you don’t know it. We as a room collectively decided that you could get really curious. You could wonder why they think that you should know that thing you might wonder who might know that thing. And who would be willing to tell you, you might wonder, well, geez, I’ve made it this far. So maybe I shouldn’t know it. Why is it really that important? You might also wonder what else should I know, what else do I not know? So we discussed all of the different ways. You could respond to someone saying that you should know something. And we decided that getting curious was the best thing to do. Not. So surprisingly after we had this discussion, I got another great question from the same dancer, she was my gem. She asked, “what do you do when this part is hard?” And she demonstrated the parts, me, what do you do when this part is hard? And man, I just love this question so much. And I wanted to ask you for your answer to that question. What do you do when this part is hard? Like, what do you do when anything is hard? What do you do? When it gets hard? I either stop or keep going. Those are my two options. When I keep going, it usually gets less hard. And when I stop, it stays hard to me, but I’m not doing it. So it doesn’t matter. So in both cases, things are less hard. But if you’re a person who enjoys being able to do hard things, I strongly recommend you keep going. And that’s what I asked my little mini in this moment. I said, do you like being able to do hard things? And she said, yeah. And I said, then keep doing it. Even if it’s hard. And I thought that was a marvelous adult moment as well, a healthy adult reminder. So as, as adults, as grownups, I’m assuming listening to this episode also. Hi, again, minis. I love you. I had so much fun and I loved talking to you. I’m learning so much from you. Um, but to all of my more grown types listening, have you stopped asking questions? Like, do you ask questions in your head and not say them out loud deliberately? Do you sensor your questions? If so, why do you think that, you know everything like do you generally genuinely not have questions because you think, you know, everything, which trust me, I met a few of you in Greenville as well, teens and seniors who think they know it all I’m talking to you. They’re probably not listening. That’s okay. Um, but are you, are you genuinely not asking because you feel like, you know, things or are you afraid of looking dumb or inexperienced? That is probably likely the case. Well, interestingly you learn when you ask questions. So if not dumb is the goal, then not asking questions is not how you get there. I think that was a triple negative that I just said. So here’s the question. If a double negative is the same as a positive then is a triple negative. The same as the single negative? Negative. I’m I just confused myself. Okay. Enough. I would like to suggest to you that you don’t ask questions for no reason. Don’t ask questions just because Dana said that minis asked questions and you should do that too. No, I’m suggesting that you ask questions when you have them and that your questions reveal how much, you know, instead of how much you don’t know, super shout out to Episode 28, how to ask good questions. If you have not given that a listen, strongly recommend you do that. Um, all right, so, wow. Let’s wrap it up. Three takeaways for my seven to 10 year old students who schooled me this weekend. Number one, be willing to play and walk into the game, like a winner. Number two, bounce back and walk out of the game a winner, even if you just lost. And number three, ask more questions, ask questions that reveal how much, you know, not how much you don’t know. And no, you no longer need to ask permission to use the restroom. Please just handle it now.
Now before you go, I want to draw one really interesting parallel or at least it’s interesting to me. And it might be interesting to you this right now is a huge blinking neon sign to me in my life because I’m reaching peak interest in my clown training. Yes. Uh, but what I’m noticing is that much like children clowns wear their hearts on their sleeve, like right there, their feelings, their observations about the world, their willingness to play on their sleeve. And perhaps it’s this, you know, childish newness that gets clowns and comedians alike into the hearts of an audience member, right? Perhaps this is actually why children and clowns and comedians can get away with all sorts of stuff and still be loved. Perhaps this is why comedians are among the most important artists in my eyes. So if in the heart of audiences is where you would like to be. Then these lessons from children are what might get you there also take clown class, huge, huge, so important. Okay. My friends, that is what I have for you today. Take it from the children, take it from the clowns and take it from me. Thank you so much for listening. Everybody get out there into the world with that childlike confidence, enthusiasm, that willingness to play, the ability to bounce back and the where with all to ask questions. And of course keep it funky while you do it. I will talk to you next week.
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.
This episode is a response to something I have noticed coming up A LOT lately. I’m calling it FOMAD (Fear of Making a Decision), but you can call it whatever you’d like. I created this acronym to address the feeling of immobilization that comes along with thinking: “It’s HARD to choose a path when I don’t know exactly where I’m going and I have so many interesting paths ahead of me!”
Let’s uncover how having many different interests is a STRENGTH not a weakness, and let’s find the adventure in GOING at our own pace… even if we don’t know exactly where we are going.
Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight. But don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: All right. All right. Hello, my friend I’m Dana. This is words that move me. I’m stoked that you are here today. This is a fun one. Um, last week we talked about FOMO, fear of missing out, which is of course the anxiety that so many of us experience when we think that we’re missing out on something, good, something cool and exciting and rad. And we aren’t a part of it that is FOMO. And, um, I, I suppose as much of the world comes out of lockdown and some of the world goes back into lockdown. That’s a pretty timely subject. So if you’re feeling that FOMO, or if you’ve ever felt FOMO, go check out last week’s episode. But, um, something else recently slightly related has caught my attention. And, uh, for now I am calling it FOMAD. That is the working title. We might evolve it to something else. FOMAD: the fear of making a decision, I’m calling it FOMAD, and it’s real. It pairs quite well with this moment in time. And honestly, many moments in time. Uh, so lace up and hit the rosin box. I said that hit the rosin box because we’re going to take this new conceptFOMAD for a spin. We’re going to address having many different interests and that being a strength, not a weakness. And we will find the adventure in going and going at your own pace. Even if you don’t know exactly where you’re going. Even if you have no idea where you’re going, we are going, but first wins. If you’re new to the pod every single week, I start the episode with wins because I think it’s important to celebrate. What’s going well, big and small. This week, I’m celebrating well, is it okay if I celebrate two? I’m the host I can. I’m going to celebrate two. Number one win, I am really loving clown school, I mentioned I think two episodes ago, I don’t know. You guys.. They really do blend together. Um, I enrolled in clown school. It’s called the clown school. There’s an online program kind of at your own pace one-on-one feedback every so often. I love it. I’m having an absolute ball. Uh, so that’s win. Number one, shout out the clown school. They didn’t tell me to say that. Win number two, is that I recently got to talk with, uh, a dear friend. I almost said an old friend, but we were both quite young relatively, I guess anyways, a longtime friend. Um, that’s been part of my dance life journey since I was probably nine years old. And I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time. Uh, lucky for you, by the way, we were rolling on that conversation. So be on the lookout for an upcoming episode with Erika Mori, um, fascinating woman with a very interesting story and some exciting wins of her own that I’m jazzed about sharing. Okay, that’s it for me?
What is going well in your world,
Keep it up. You’re doing it really doing it. I’m proud of you. Super stoked for you. Keep winning. All right. Now I have gotten word from many of my students, some coaching clients, my coworkers, um, words that move me community members and friends and family all alike hearing that people have used the lockdown, the quarantine to spend time working on themselves. A lot of soul searching, um, honing in on strengths, strengthening weaknesses, um, focusing on self care, focusing on self love, growing, centering, giving back all of these lovely, lovely things, right until FOMO creeps in or real life, quote unquote comes a knockin. Um, which by the way, I would like to remind you, everybody was asking for everybody was like, why can’t we go back to real life? And now real life is here and we’re like, wait, something’s not right. Um, so somewhere in, in our minds at, or around the time that FOMO sets in or real life comes knocking, we, we start to think that some imaginary gate has been opened and some imaginary starter pistol has been fired and everyone’s off the blocks and running full speed ahead. And you’re like, wait, where am I? What am I doing before I start running? Just, I don’t want to exert any unnecessary energy. Where am I? Where am I going? What am I doing? And do I even want to be running right now? Everybody’s running. Wait, I want to restart, right. Is this sounding familiar? Now it might look like everyone who has their one focus and one desire. And one thing that they wish they’d been doing for all of lockdown, it might look like they’re running full speed ahead, getting closer to their finish line. But what about the rest of us that have many different interests, many different creative callings projects, people, things to tend to, what basket or baskets do we put our eggs into? Oh, drats, just missed Easter. We’re going to leave the basket analogy. Let’s go back to this race thing. What finish line do I run towards? What track do I take? And also, is it bad if I don’t want to be running, I got you, my friends, this episode, we’ll be answering all of those questions. So I’ll use this example.
One of my words that move me, community members brought up an awesome story and I’d love to share what it uncovered. They talked about being a very goal oriented person in the past and that serving them very well. They studied the people. Who’d accomplished great things. They did interviews, they set goals, they stressed. Then they achieved the goals. And that went pretty much according to plan. But now with much new growth, new perspective, but without having a specific material or hard coded goal, this person is feeling lost. Now they mentioned that in school, they had a professor tell them that people with many passions or skills are often paralyzed to take action because of not knowing which avenue to pursue next. Yeah. That’s why we’re here. And what I would like to offer you today is that the story that people with many passions and skills are being paralyzed to take action because of not knowing which avenue to take that story. That story is exactly that.
It’s a thought. Just because a professor said it does not mean that it is true. And it certainly, isn’t always true. Always the case for all people, right? Certainly not. And furthermore, it is probably not helping you. So if you’re still reading that story, the one that says people with many interests get paralyzed with not knowing what to do next. If you’re reading that story, I beg of thee, put it down, put that story down. Here’s why I say that. If you hear “people with many passions and skills, get paralyzed to take action because of not knowing which avenue to pursue next.” If you hear those words and you think, “Oh my gosh, yes, that’s happening to me. I’m totally immobilized by all of my interests.” And you’re probably feeling lost or frustrated. And when you feel lost or frustrated, the action that you take is probably more widely inaction, right? You retreat, you have cyclical thoughts, you lack follow through. So on. And so on the result of that, the result of feeling lost, feeling frustrated, because you’re thinking that you’re immobilized by all of your interests. The result there is not only are you immobile, but you’re likely losing interest in all of those wonderful things that used to interest you. All of those things that sparkled to you, you’re letting them dim. You’re likely sparkling a bit less yourself and that’s okay. That’s totally okay. We do not all need to be full voltage, electricity all of the time, but it’s important that you know that there is another option. You don’t need to buy that story. So what if you could choose the thing that your many diverse interests, all of the things that sparkle to you are, what make you sparkle? What if, what if all of those various interests put together are your superpower? What if, what if, all of those unique and varied interests? What if those don’t make it hard for you to decide what to do? What if they help you to enjoy where you are no matter where you go, what if they help you to enjoy where you are? Even when you’re lost? That is the true beauty of having many different interests is that no matter where you are or who you talk to, you can get interested in something. You can make something sparkle. You can sparkle no matter where you are, no matter who you’re talking to. And that is an interesting person. My friend, that is an interesting person with an interesting life. Now I’d much prefer to feel that an interesting person with an interesting life than to feel immobilized and to be losing my shit. So if you’re a person who’s looking for some sort of harmony and balance and shine in your life yet you don’t have a clear material goal, fear not to get there, to achieve that life of harmony of balance of shine. All you have to do is explore you, follow what shines and what sparkles. You try things. You course correct. You trust your gut. You don’t go too fast. You don’t go too slow, but mostly you don’t quit. And in order to do those things right, in order to trust your gut, don’t go too fast. Course-correct all those things in order to do that in order to do that and to not quit, you probably want to feel something like adventurous or open. Or how about, I don’t know if this is an actual, actual technical feeling. Like, I don’t think this is an actual emotion, but I’m going to try it. What about cruising? Like when I feel like I’m cruising, I don’t go too fast. I don’t go too slow. I don’t stop. I course correct. Check my lane, check my mirrors. I follow what’s ahead of me when I’m cruising. That feels good. And to feel like I’m cruising, I might need to think a thought like I am in the driver’s seat. And my drive is the perfect kind of drive. My drive is never over or under. I am driving and my drive is perfect or this is not a race. This is the ride of my life. And I’m driving a convertible and it can change shape and change route. While I write multi-dimensional thoughts for multi-dimensional people with multiple different interests, this is what I’m talking about. So can you see how I just turned multiple interests and modes and directions and options and things into a strength. I went from feeling lost to feeling adventurous from feeling frustrated, to feeling easy, open cruising. That is powerful. My friends. And it is an option for you.
Now let’s, let’s stick on this road, car driving analogy thing, because I had another words that move me community friend, come to me this week, struggling to get off the blocks, like trying to get out of the garage off the starting line. Oh man, my analogies are getting weak. Um, so she has also done a lot of work, very impressive work, finding her creative voice, refining her tools. Um, yet she still doesn’t know how to direct her focus out there in the big world. That seems so, so, so much bigger now than it did maybe pre quarantine. And what we discovered in her particular case, and you might relate was that the real problem here was the thought “I can’t crack where I fit in. I I’m, I’m starting to know who I am and what I can do, but I can’t see where I fit in .” Classic. I’ve thought this thought 1000 times. And when I think that thought, I don’t know where I fit in, I feel uncertain. And when I feel uncertain, I procrastinate. I don’t follow through. I engage in self doubt, negative self-talk I retreat. I isolate. Oh, and here’s one of my favorites. I busy myself with mindless tasks that get me nowhere, but keep my mind very busy. They keep me from taking risks from putting my feelers out from initiating new projects in general. My busy-ness keeps me from putting myself forward. I stay right where I am and when I behave that way, right. When I feel uncertain and I do those things and I don’t take risks, I don’t put myself out there. The result of thinking, I don’t know where I fit in is I do not stand out. Hell. I don’t even step out. And when I don’t step out, I’m much less likely to find the places where I feel I truly belong. Right? So the result of thinking, I don’t know where I fit in leads you to not standing out and not finding places where you feel you belong. The spin-off struggle of that as if that wasn’t enough, right? That is so not the dream. The spin-off struggle there is that, so many of us find in this situation, when you, when you don’t know exactly where you fit, right. When you can’t see that crystal clear destination, people find it hard to make moves, right? Hard to leave at all without a clear idea of where you’re going or where you belong. Again. Of course, that makes total sense. It’s hard to get somewhere that you don’t know how to get to because you don’t know the location of it, but there’s always a but, right? What, if you could think that it was fun to not know exactly how things will work out or where you’re going to land. Think about every time you go to a movie where you don’t know how it will end. If you’re like me, you beg people to not tell you how the movie ends. Like, honestly, raise your hand if you like being surprised. And I don’t mean like the jump out from behind a corner type of surprise. I mean like, what do you want for dinner? I don’t know. Surprise me like that type of surprise. Not knowing is okay. Now hear me out, I get it, I am a huge fan of goal setting, but nobody, even the people with iron clad, crystal clear goals and tools and life coaches and all the things, no one, no one actually knows where they’re going or exactly how to get there. Because humans cannot 100% predict or see the future. None or all of us have any idea where we’re going or how we’re getting there. Some of us just think that we do, and that makes a really, really big difference. So pretend for a second that you do know where you’re going, I’m going on an adventure, right? I’m going on an adventure. And I might start by thinking of a place that I wouldn’t mind ending up. Career-wise that might mean, um, I w I ended up a featured dancer in a film or a soloist for a company or, or, or et cetera, et cetera. I encourage you to fill in that blank for yourself. What is a place that you really wouldn’t mind being a place you would like being now, you get to ask yourself, what do I do to get there? Surely if I am a feature dancer in a film, Is your desired, uh, destination. Then dance training would be on your list of things to do probably exposure and familiarity with casting directors, agents, choreographers, understanding, dance for camera, probably some acting training, possibly voice training, solid materials, like a headshot, a website, resume, et cetera, et cetera. Oh, also being in the right place at the right time. And in order to be in the right place at the right time, time in order for that to happen, you must trust your gut and go with the flow and you must leave the cave. You have to get out of the bubble, get out from the inside. And of course you must not quit. Even when you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, you must not
quit. I know that kind of sounds like a lot, especially for somebody who previously didn’t know what to do. And now you’re like, Oh my goodness, all of these things, I know what to do now. You’re like, Oh my goodness. It turns out I know a lot of things that I could possibly do, or a lot of different route routes, routes, routes that I could take to end up at this destination. That wouldn’t be so bad. Okay, cool. So you leave, you go, you don’t quit. And one of the things that’s tremendously helpful in doing that is a feeling, how would you need to feel in order to train, expose yourself to agents, directors, choreographers, understand dance for camera, take some acting classes, take some voice classes, get your materials all solid together. Um, stay the course, right. Be in the right place, be in the right time, trust yourself. How do you need to feel in order to do those things? How do you need to feel in order to not quit? For me? I think optimistic would help. I think determined would help. I think excited might help, but it might burn out. So I, I really do prefer determined or optimistic really when I think like, Oh, absolutely, yeah, this is going to work. Or this is going to be fun or, Ooh, that’s going to be great when I feel optimistic. I think I do. I take a lot of those actions that I just mentioned. Oh. And I don’t quit because I’m thinking of how of how great this could turn out. One of the thoughts that helps me feel optimistic is I love adventures or a new, personal favorite of mine that I found as a meme recently. And will 100% be sharing with you in the show notes is ‘chances are slim. Hopes are low, but I live for the gamble. So let’s see how it goes.’ Um, and this, this photo of a cat jumping over flames, it’s not a photo, it’s an illustration. And I love it. Chances are slim hopes are low, but I live for the gamble. So let’s see how this goes. Um, I suppose, with a gamble involved, that thought doesn’t have me feeling optimistic per se, but adventurous for sure. Okay. So we just remembered that it’s not actually hard to go when you don’t know where you’re going. You’re just not thinking that it’s fun yet. Right? Remember all the times that not knowing exactly what’s going to happen is fun is exciting. And remind yourself that that’s life you won’t always know. In fact, you will never know. Even people who pretend to know don’t really know, raise his hand silently in podcast booth. Alright. So the next time you’re feeling stuck, lost uncertain of where to put your efforts or unable to decide, simply decide that having a lot of interests or options does not immobilize you thinking, I don’t know where to go or how fast to go. There does immobilize. You decide that this creative life is not about fitting in, decide to stand out and decide to step out, knowing that no matter where you think you’re going, you have no idea how you’ll actually get there. And that’s okay. Nobody does. Which reminds me any expert that you talk to about their journey. Any, any person that’s quote made it there. They’re talking about their journey in retrospect. So of course their route looks clear. Of course it looks like they know exactly what they did to arrive where they are, because they’ve already done it, but they likely are not telling you about all the dead ends and the flat tires, et cetera, et cetera. Remember driver’s seat. You got this. Learn how to fix flats with your mind. Okay. Enough with the car analogy. I think I need to move on.
Listen, Super duper, shout out to my words that moved me, community members for bringing these topics forward for coaching. I know you are not alone. I know that I have struggled with this in the past. And depending on the day, my friends, you might find me coaching myself into the driver’s seat right there with you. Um, so thank you words that move me members. And if you’re relating to these topics, if you’re digging what you’re hearing and you aren’t already a member head over to theDanawilson.com and click on the membership tab, I would love to see you in the words that move me community and work with you, uh, along this journey on becoming a person who is not afraid of making decisions. Yes, I will help you tackle that FOMAD and maybe rename it. I don’t know if I’m FOMAD fan. I think I like the nomadic nature. I’m not sold. Give me your feedback FOMAD is on the table. Um, thank you all so much for listening. I hope you found this episode useful and I hope that you head out there into the world and keep it super funky. I’ll talk to you later.
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 things 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.
This one is touchy my friends, and I’ve been getting smoke signals from near and far to do a podcast on this topic. FOMO is REAL… but it is not tremendously useful… This episode is full of ways to turn it into something that IS!
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. And welcome. I’m Dana. This is words that move me. And this is a fun one. This is a fun one. That is about a, not so fun topic. Um, but, but while we’re on the subject of fun topics, can we really quickly discuss the last four episodes, which were the money March episodes? How awesome was that? If you haven’t had a chance to listen, please go back and give March Madness. That’s not what it’s called Money March. Give that a listen. Um, also if you’re, if you’re digging the podcast specifically, if you dug into money March, those, those four episodes check out the, um, words that move me worksheets. They are like companion guide, interactive PDF jams that are made for every single episode, but we’re selling the money March bundle. Whoa, excuse you. Out there. Even in my podcast booth, we were not completely isolated from sound. Sorry about that. If you could hear that, or even if you couldn’t, sorry about that. We’re back money. March PDFs are on sale at thedanawilson.com/shop And they’re only $4.99. That’s four episodes worth of interactive worksheet for less than a coffee, less than less than a pack of gum. I think less than a Hey, I’ll tell you what $4.99 is less than that is less than $5. And that is not the only good news I have for you today. Um, on April 14th, 2021, I’ll be hosting a free career coaching zoom call from 4:00 PM to 5:15 PM Pacific standard time. Um, God, everybody is making noises today. Sorry about that. Beep you know what? I’m not sorry about that. Beep I have the option to find whatever it is that’s making that be being sound. And I, I have not actively done that. Um, every time I’m in here recording an episode, something beeps at least once. And I have no idea what it is and I could just set aside some time to figure that out. And I don’t, I think I, I think I secretly like it anyways, April 14th, put it on your calendar, a free career coaching zoom call from 4-5:15 Pacific. Um, I’ll be explaining some of the key concepts and the tools that I use to navigate my own daily, creative life. And you will have an opportunity to actually get coaching on anything that you’d like, honestly, almost nothing is off limits. Um, it’s going to be so good. I’m excited.
Okay. FOMO, let’s talk about it. After we talk about wins of course, I am so excited to announce my win today. So loud. What kind of day are we having? Okay, so this one’s kind of twisted, but today I am celebrating that I’ve had a couple of really exciting projects, not pan out. Like you think it’s going to happen and you’re pretty sure it’s going to happen. And then it doesn’t happen. That’s happened to me a couple of times. Um, so far this year, like a few times actually in the past month and I’m celebrating that I don’t feel this doom. Like I’m not absolutely destroyed by that. Um, as I have been in the past and I feel like perhaps the year of quarantine helped me with that, um, I discovered that not working sometimes is not the worst thing. So I’m, I’m definitely celebrating this, uh, um, kind of acceptance of not all of the things will work out all of the time. And I love that feeling because man, the doom, the destruction, the, the disaster that I decided to have every time a gig didn’t work out well. Um, so I’m just celebrating that that is, it’s a strange win, but I promise you it’s an important win.
So I’m stating it, proclaiming it, and owning it and celebrating it here. When you think now is your turn, what’s going well in your world.
Congratulations. I’m thrilled for you. Keep winning. That’s it actually just keep going and wins will happen. Keep going. All right. Speaking of keep going our world, as it seems is turning back on, waking back up, opening back up, there are a lot of different things that people are saying about the world right now. We’re coming out of the pandemic. I think, uh, just in, in one or two weeks, um, vaccines will be available to all adults in Los Angeles where I am. This is very exciting. Um, but today we’re talking about very specifically something that I’ve noticed happening with my friends. Um, even some family members as the world is fill in the blank, speeding back up, opening up, whatever. Um, as that’s happening, I’m noticing a lot of reports of FOMO, fear of missing out. Um, so today we’re going to talk about what that is and how you might manage it forever, but especially in a time like this, all right, FOMO, what is it fear of missing out is the anxiety that’s resulting from thinking that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening somewhere else other than where you are and it’s happening without you? Um, I think FOMO really stems from the, the social media age where a post, a certain image or video where you get to see a carefully curated, edited, and probably adjusted best of type of moment from other people’s lives, which will likely trigger an immediate comparison between you and your real life that you’re living in that moment. As you scroll through your phone, which is probably not as exciting as the moment that you’re looking at, you see where this is headed. Now I do think it’s interesting. I want to point out that FOMO can happen at any time, not just when someone is doing something awesome. And you happen to be scrolling on your phone. Um, I, 100% dealt with FOMO on my first world tour with JT. I was freshly 20 years old. I turned 21 on the road and I had this classic like want to be everywhere, want to know everyone want to feel all the things want to, you know, not miss out on anything. And with that, um, I established some pretty unhealthy sleeping habits, uh, on the tour bus where you’re living with 11 other people. Um, I made it a habit, me and my FOMO of going to sleep after the last person went to sleep and waking up as soon as I heard any noises. Like I went to sleep when the last person went to sleep and I woke up when the first person woke up because I was afraid of missing something. I wanted to be around for all of it. I wanted to hear it all and see it all and learn it all and be in all the places. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but it did lead to some pretty unhealthy sleep habits. Um, probably some unhealthy eating habits too. Now that I think back about it, it was eating like fully around the clock. Okay. So that’s what FOMO is. Okay. The anxiety or the actual fear of missing something exciting or interesting.
If I were to put it another way, however, fear of missing out or FOMO is actually almost useless, unless of course that feeling that fear or that anxiety gets you up off your bum and doing something awesome or simply remembering that you are awesome. Even as you sit and scroll. Now, FOMO doesn’t happen a whole lot for me anymore. Um, not because I live the most awesome life, but because I like my life, I like my home. I like my work. I like being with myself. But when FOMO does strike, there are some things that I like to remember. Some, some thoughts that I like to think that helped me out and they might help you as well. First, I like to remember that you can have fun and you can be fun. And I am both. Also, I like to remember that there is enough fun in the world for everyone to have some there’s enough success in the world for everyone to have some. I also like to remember that doing stuff is not a finite resource. Other people can do stuff. I can do stuff. You can do stuff. Everybody can always be doing stuff and there’s still more stuff to be done. Isn’t that amazing? Doing stuff is not a finite resource.
Another one that I like to think. And it’s very, very important. Especially in that moment. I am deeply loved. Right, in the moment when you’re comparing your life with someone else’s I’m deeply loved might not be the first thought to come to your mind, but it is one of the most helpful. I am deeply loved. This next one is one of my favorites. Very philosophical argument here, suffering because other people are not suffering makes no sense. Me suffering because someone else isn’t suffering makes no sense. That’s not the life I want to live. I don’t want to suffer when other people do well. I want to celebrate when other do people, Whoa. When other do people do well, I want to celebrate when other people do well, that’s the type of person I want to be. And that’s the world that I want to live in. Shout out wins. See what I’m saying? All right. And this last one, I also really, really love what you do does not make you happy. What you think does. What you do does not make you happy, what you think does. And I like this one because it works on two levels. You get to think about that, that person living that picture, perfect life on social media. And remember they might not actually be happy. That place, that they are might not be better than the place that you are, the way they are feeling might not be actually better than the way that you are feeling. So again, any combination of these thoughts, you can have fun and you can be fun and you can be both. There’s enough fun in the world for everyone to have some. There’s enough success in the world for everyone to have some. Doing stuff is not a finite resource. I am deeply loved. You are deeply loved. I mean the loudest day today, it’s I think that that car horn was just co-signing that sentiment. Suffering because other people are not suffering makes no sense. And what you do, doesn’t make you happy. What you think does.
So let’s do a little, a little practical application here. Let’s imagine that you’re scrolling through Instagram and you see a friend of yours or an acquaintance, a person that you follow has posted a hashtag #setselfie because they are hashtag #bookedandblessed. And you’ve got thoughts about it. Um, probably a lot of thoughts about it in that one moment you might think, ‘Oh, it’s so tacky. Really? You’re just gonna rub it in my face that you’re you have a job and I don’t,’ or you might think ‘dammit, I really, I just can’t catch a break’ or you might fully think ‘that should be me, why isn’t that me?’ But for the sake of this discussion about FOMO, let’s just say that you think in that moment, ‘damn, I really want to be doing cool gigs and I’m not here. I sit not onset’ or hell you might even be on set, but there will always be someone on a cooler set or show or with a cooler outfit or in a cooler living room or whatever. So now here is what is important to remember someone, some other person could look at that exact same photo and think, Oh my God, yes. Good for her. Oh, she totally deserves it. So cool. Or someone, someone might look at it and think, Oh no, they’re not wearing a mask. What an idiot. Right? So many thoughts are available to you in that moment. And you’re choosing the thought that you’re thinking your brain pitched it to you and you catch it. And if you believe it, you hold on to it for awhile. And sometimes you hold onto it for a very long time. Now, when you hold onto a thought, like, I really want to be doing cool gigs and I’m not, you might feel illegitimate or discouraged or hopeless or angry, all valid, totally valid. When I hold a thought like that, when I hold, like I should be doing something and I’m not, I usually feel frustrated just straight up frustrated or fed up. And when I feel frustrated, my typical response is to beat myself up by showing me evidence against myself. Um, I literally ground myself in that moment. I stopped moving. I stopped being active. I probably sit and keep scrolling or try to distract myself with some other mindless and meaningless task. And the result of all that action and inaction is that I don’t do cool work.
What in the heck. When I think I’m not doing cool work, I feel awful. And when I feel awful, I don’t do cool work. Imagine that. Okay. What I really want to underline here is that the person’s photo or even the fact that the other person is on a job and you are on your couch. Like, even if those are the facts of the situation, that’s not, what’s making you feel awful. It’s what you think about that photo, that person and yourself that’s making you feel awful. So let’s manage our minds, shall we? Let’s say that instead of choosing, I should be doing cool work and I’m not. I decided to buy a different thought. Let’s say I decide to buy the thought that my coolest gig yet is right around the corner. And I damn well better be ready for it. Like my coolest gig ever right around the corner. It’s in the neighborhood. I better be ready. Have you ever, actually, this is a great example. Have you ever had a friend or maybe even a potential boo, like a potential romantic partner. Have you ever had that person hit you up and say, yo, I’m in your area? Do you mind if I swing by? And you’re like, ***** Oh my God, my place is mess. But you don’t say that. You’re like, Oh yeah, of course. Totally. Because you’re very into this person coming over. So then you hang up the phone and you spring into action, like a madman or like, um, um, is it quick silver from X-Men AKA the fastest man alive anyways, all of a sudden you’re moving at like mach speed and you’ve done more in 10 minutes than you’ve done all day. Just because your friend was like, I’m in the neighborhood. Do you mind if I stop by you like take a shower, do your makeup, clean your house in 10 minutes. That feeling I’m going to, I’m going to call it propelled. Your gig is in your neighborhood. Your gig is your potential boo or your friend. That’s calling you up to say I’m around the corner. So hang up and get ready. When I think my coolest gig yet is right around the corner. I feel propelled. I spring to action. I organize my space, my materials, my body, I train. I work on myself. And as a result, I am ready for that gig. Can you see what a dramatic distinction that is? Thinking my gig is close and I better be ready, helps me to become ready. Speaking of which super shout out to episode 9 with Jason Bonner, where we talk about how, if you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready. Classic words of wisdom.
So you get to choose a thought like I should be doing cool gigs. And I’m not which lands you with not doing cool gigs or a thought like, woo hoo my gig is in the neighborhood, literally around the corner. This photo is proof. This photo, by the way, I’m looking at imaginary Instagram at someone else succeeding. This is proof that great gigs and success is literally in my neighborhood. It is out there. It is available to people. I want to invite it in. I better be ready. And a thought like that helps me to become ready. Now, this is just one example of how dramatically different the results are when you make a simple shift in your mindset. So my final thoughts, keep your wits about you. As the world, quote opens back up, you will certainly be having a lot of thoughts about what other people are doing and how they’re doing it and how they should be doing it and how you should be doing things and what you should be doing. And because you’re the only person that you can actually control. I encourage you to do that.
Control yourself, manage your mind, watch over the thoughts that you pitch yourself. Get really curious about the ones that you catch. How does holding onto that thought make you feel? How does that make you act? What results does that leave you with? Is there any other thought available, one that you can actually believe that can land you with a desired result? Get curious, do not get FOMO. That is what I have to offer you today. My friend Short, sweet and simple, but not easy. It really does require quite a bit of awareness to make those shifts in the way that you’re thinking, but it’s worth it because the way that you are living will be dramatically improved with just a touch of curiosity and awareness over the way you’re thinking. All right? So you’ve marked your calendars, April 14th. It’s going to be incredible live career coaching, zoom call, bring the good stuff again. I’m going to share some of my favorite tips and tricks, but this session is really about you coming in, getting what you need. Hopefully that is clarity and confidence. I’ve got it by the boatload. All right, everybody. I really, I think that’s it. Yes. There’s enough success out there for all of us to have some there’s enough fun out there for all of us to have some you are deeply loved and if you’re doing it right, you are also deeply funky. Thanks for being here. Everybody have a great rest of your day, night, week, month, all of it. And of course, keep it 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 because your words move me too! Number two things 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. #66 Money March Pt. 4 Q&A with Dancer and CPA Julia Grubbs
What are the biggest mistakes an independent contractor can make? How important is it to file quarterly? What can you do to get on the same “money page” as your partner? 1099’s… there are so many, what do I do with all of them? THIS episode is all of your money questions… ANSWERED! Thanks to my very special guest, Julia Grubbs, Dancer, Aerialist, Personal Trainer, and CPA!
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. I’m Dana. This is words that move me. Welcome. I’m really jazzed about this episode as usual, always jazzed about the episodes. Um, but today is special because we are rounding out Money March with a really special question and answer episode. Uh, today I will be joined by the lovely Julia Grubbs, who is not only a dancer and aerialist and personal trainer, but she is also a CPA super bonus points to you. If you know or remember from the vocab in episode is 63. What does CPA stand for? Yes, you are right. CPA stands for certified public accountant. So for the next almost hour, Julia CPA, and I will be answering the money questions that listeners have submitted over the last like three or fourish weeks, um, during the course of money March, but first let’s celebrate some wins. We’ve got massive wins around here. And, uh, the one that I would like to celebrate today, I can’t even get it out without laughing. I am celebrating that. I have finally, I’ve been wanting to do this for like years. My friends, I have finally enrolled in clown school. Yes, the clown school to be exact. The Clown School was based here in Los Angeles, but they have an online program, which I should mention right out the gate. This is not a paid promotion. In fact, I have not even started yet. So I don’t know if this course is any good at all, but it came recommended to me from people that I think are funny and talented. So that was good enough for me. I’m jazzed about beginning, um, and that in this week, and now I’ll pass it off to you. What is going well in your world?
I’m jazzed for you. So stoked. Please keep winning. You’ve got this. Okay. Now, before we get into this conversation with Julia, I want to let you know that my team and I have put together a special PDF companion for all Money March episodes. Actually we do PDF, um, companion, like interactive worksheets for every single words that move me episode. They’re all available in bundles of ten at thedanawilson.com/shop But we put the four money March episodes together in their own little bundle, because we really think that this information is important. And specifically these last four episodes are doubly useful. If you have that reference point that actual, you know, digital or tangible, I guess if you print it out place where you get to actually learn these things, instead of simply listen to these things. So, um, that special money March bundle of PDF worksheets is available to you thedanawilson.com/shop And, um, now we’re going to talk about that, that sensation, that you’re feeling in your chest right now, and the kind of tickling that’s happening in between your ears, that my friends is the desire to learn about money. Yes. So let’s get into it right away. Grab your pen, grab a paper, grab your words that move me worksheet or grab QuickBooks. I dunno, grab chalk and a sidewalk for all I care, but you definitely will want to be taking some notes. Um, all right. Without any further ado, everybody enjoy your money questions answered with Julia Grubbs.
Dana: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome my guest today, Ms. Julia Grubbs Julia Hi, thank you so much for being here. I’m really excited about this episode. I’m very grateful to have you thank you so much for making yourself available.
Julia: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so happy to be here.
Dana: Yeah. Um, okay. So this is how it works on the podcast for better or for worse all of, for better. Is that how you say it for better or for worse? Not for better or for worst, but for better or for worse? I have all of my guests introduce themselves. Now you are a woman that wears many hats. So this might be an interesting challenge for you, but, uh, let us have it. What, what would you like us to know about you?
Julia: Yeah, I know you do this, so I’m just a little bit prepared, but not over-prepared. Um, my name is Julia Grubbs. I am from Paducah, Kentucky, um, small town. I live in New York City. I am a dancer and aerialist, a personal trainer and a writer, but most importantly, I am a CPA or a certified public accountant, which I know have told your listeners.
Dana: Absolutely Indeed. Um, I’m thrilled that that combination of titles exists in one person because it would be very difficult to organize the schedules of all five of those people to have a podcast episode about money and finance for dancers. So I’m thrilled about you and your skillset. Um, and I’m really excited to be asking you some questions that I have garnered from my listeners over the last, uh, three weeks or so of podcast episodes that were specifically focused on dancers, choreographers, the way that we earned money, the amount of money that we earn and what we do with that money. So I’ve got a boatload of Qs to A and I’m thrilled that I don’t have to do it by myself. Um, so I suppose we might just get into it, shall we?
Yeah, why not? Okay.
I think you’re probably better suited to answer this question than I am. Um, because I know that you work with a lot of small businesses. You work with people who are, self-employed the question coming from listeners is what is the biggest mistake that an independent contractor can make?
Honestly, I think it’s just not being prepared for tax time or just with a general plan for your money at all. Right. So often as dancers, we have money coming in sometimes, but not other times, um, irregularly from a lot of different sources. So really just having a plan and an approach to what you’re going to do with that money when it does come in, uh, making sure that some is set aside for taxes, some set aside for bills, you know, general emergencies, um, you know, for all of our expenses that we have, as well as making sure that there’s fun money in there as well, but just having an approach to it, instead of saying, great, I got $2,000, what do I do with it? Right. We want to make sure we have an approach.
Um, do, do you mind if I ask what is your personal approach?
Sure. So, um, I am a full-time employee as, uh, as an accountant, as a CPA. Um, so I do have regular money coming in, but as for my dance income, you know, there’s a couple of different approaches you can have, there’s a 50, 30, 20 rule sometimes that people have or a one number approach. So the 50, 30, 20 is what you would say 50% is going to our fixed expenses, you know, 30% for fun. And then 20% is going to what I would call future you. Right? You’re saving, you’re investing. Um, so that works well for some people. And they’ll kind of do that on a monthly approach. Um, the one number approach is a little bit different. It makes it easier because it’s just one number that you have to remember. Um, so the idea is to calculate, you know, how much money you can afford to spend on flexible costs, right? The things that we have to actually make decisions about, not our rent that’s kind of fixed. Um, and then you only have to remember that one number on a date day basis. So you can start with your total take home pay that you expect to earn during the month. Right. We know that can be different as dancers, but you’re going to subtract all your monthly fixed costs, things that we know that, um, have to go, you’re going to set aside the money for future you and then, um, money for your non monthly expenses. You know, Christmas gifts, things kind of like that. And the money leftover is your flexible spending money. So you’re going to divide that number by 4.3, it’s the average number of weeks in a month. Um, and that’s your one number. So then you can go out into the world and spend money on things, you know, as you do. And all you have to do is check and make sure you haven’t hit your one number for the week. Right? So that’s, um, a good approach that some people like to use.
I love that approach that is different than my approach. Um, I talked a little bit about, um, a dancer and a dancer spending in, uh, two episodes ago now. So I think episode 63, and I got this incredible gift of a book called the money book for freelancers, independent contractors and the self-employed and they, they talk about the divine trilogy of savings accounts. So I made a habit of 10% going to an emergency fund and by 10%, I mean of every check and that’s even my residual checks that are for like $2 and 74 cents, 10% goes to emergency fund, 10% goes to retirement fund and then 15% goes to a tax fund. Um, and by fund, I actually just mean online savings account that has a pretty healthy interest yield. So, um, I made habit of that way back in 2016, it is absolutely what I do once all that money is done. And once my, um, monthly fixed expenses are paid, everything else is freedom money. And what I find is usually, um, I feel best about putting that freedom money also into one of those savings accounts versus leaving it in the checking account where earns 0.01% interest, which is the biggest buzzkill ever. Um, so that’s sort of my game plan, but I like this one number. It seems like less math and I know for most dance types, math, isn’t our favorite thing. So maybe less math is more good. Um, thank you for shining light on those couple of options. Um, okay. So our next question, I love this question when negotiating contracts, what are the phrases to avoid? What’s the best thing to bring up an ask? What are the best questions to ask, um, in terms of a negotiation and I might head this one up, um, I’ll speak specifically to dancers and choreographers because that is the world of negotiating that I know. And actually in full honesty, I have had a dance agent for 15 years. I have never had to negotiate the terms of my own contract. Um,
But every year my general service agreements with my agent comes up for renegotiation. Most GSS or general service agreements are for the term of one year. And I think it’s an important thing to note, that’s the contract that dancers will sign most often. It’s a GSA, it’s a general service agreement of some sort. You’re usually you have one with your agent, you have one with a manager, you might sign a GSA for a particular job. That’s addressing some sort of agreement for usage or something, but we, we, the dancer don’t sign the SAG-AFTRA contract, you know, or we don’t stipulate the terms of every working agreement that we’re on. We we’re, we’re not writing that language. Those contracts already exists. Our agents sign them on our behalf, or we will sign paperwork on the day. Um, but the, the contract that you’ll wind up signing probably the most often outside of paperwork that says, yes, I work these hours, um, is the GSA and what I would love to, um, underline for this, for the person asking this question, and for everybody listening is that general service agreements are standardized, right? That’s why they’re called general, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be adjusted or modified or changed in some way. Um, you absolutely have the rights and the ability to suggest and offer changes to that GSA. And I’ve, I’ve never made amendment to a GSA that wasn’t accepted. Or every time I resigned my GSA with my agency, they send me a copy. I Mark it up in red. I send it back. I say, is this okay? They say, yep. And we sign. And in one more year, we do it again. Um, there was an awesome course offered by SAG-AFTRA. I think it was called understanding your GSA. And it’s one of the many perks of being a union member. You get to take this free course. And I learned all the jargon, Oh, sorry, circling back. Um, the question asks for what are some phrases or things to look out for things to avoid in perpetuity? My friend in perpetuity means forever for all time. I really encourage, anytime you see the word in perpetuity forever, you ask if that’s, um, uh, yeah, that’s a point where you might be able to set a term instead of in perpetuity forever. It’s for the next five years. It’s for the next 10 years. It’s until the usage changes, at which point we renegotiate strongly recommend looking out for that language in perpetuity forever. Um, but yeah, these, the, the terms of contracts are important. In other words, the amount of time that they cover, um, always make sure that you’re filling in all blanks. You don’t want to sign your name on something that has open blanks that other could fill in numbers that you didn’t necessarily agree with. Um, on GSAs specifically, that will usually be a percentage number or, um, a length of time. You definitely want to make sure that you don’t leave any, any important fields like that open. Um, and then I guess my, my only other encouraging factor would be simply to ask if you don’t understand language it’s I know it might feel embarrassing to not understand what a word means or what it means in this specific context, but contracts are not designed with dancers in mind. Most of the time, there is no shame in asking for the meaning or a breakdown of legal ease of this jargon that can sometimes be intentionally confusing. So I really encourage you ask questions, either asking to your agents or from production, just for a little additional clarity. Hey, what does this mean? Um, and then of course there’s the good old fashioned habit of take a photo, take pictures of all of the things that you sign, um, and then put them someplace on an encrypted hard drive. Uh, but I, I, I see it happen often for myself and for others, is that something might come up long after the job has happened. You don’t remember what you earned. You don’t remember the hours that you worked. There is some sort of discrepancy and you have to call on that information. So, uh, yeah, that was, uh, a long way of wrapping up that question. Um, when you’re negotiating contracts, the phrases and terms that I would look out for are the length, the term of the contract. Um, some specific language in there, for example, in your, GSAs your general service agreement with your agent. They’ll usually say I Dana Wilson here by give, enter name of agent or agency permission to act as my __ words come after that. You just want to make sure that those words are agent not, not necessarily representative legal, anything. This is I’m looking for an agent. That’s what I want to make sure that the word that follows there is, you know, the actual word that you’re looking for. Um, so there’s that, what else today? I think I covered that whole question. Best thing to bring up is anything that you don’t understand always. Okay. I think I did it. Julia, do you have anything that you would add to that?
Um, sure. You know, uh, you know, contract negotiation, I won’t say is my entire specialty, but I will say, especially in New York, I know I’m not sure as much about LA, um, but some might not realize that agents will be happy to represent you on a particular deal, even if they don’t represent you generally. So especially if that deal and you know, is a union job or a job that pays well. Um, but regardless of who represents you, you know, one clause that possible to negotiate is the so-called favored nations clause. So basically that ensures that a performer is paid the same as others on the show. Um, so, you know, say you’re doing a certain show and you’re on in the ensemble, and we’ll just to make sure that all the other ensembles, what, whoever negotiates basically the highest, if this is great for an unrepresented actor or dancer, um, that whoever maybe might represented, negotiates the higher rate that you get this same pay as they do. And then you can negotiate that in terms of salary or in terms of terms and conditions, um, all sorts of things,
Definitely important to bring up that the, the concept of favored nations certainly can work to your favor as you’re an up and comer. Um, but if you’re a person who’s used to negotiating above scale or has a specific day rate for yourself made by yourself, based on your experience and skillset, that’s, you know, above average, then looking at favored nations language is, is not going to be such a friendly thing to, to, to behold. And of course there is always room for a conversation. I think that all too often dancers and creative types in general, except what’s on the page as like I have to say yes or no, there is a third option, which is, I can say yes if or yes, when, and then go from there. Um, Oh man. Oh man. And I think in addition to having a bounce board for my ideas, my feelings about work, you know, my calendar in general, I love having an agent because of that, because I do not like being the person that negotiates, I like being the person that dances and teaches and moves and choreograph. So, um, yeah, I think that a handful of a lot of the questions that I got were, um, coming from a place of a dancer or choreographer who is not yet represented, I cannot stress enough the value of that relationship. And, um, I know right now, specifically, right now being March of 2021, a lot of agencies, uh, that represent all sorts of talent are doing virtual submissions, not a lot of people holding auditions in person these days. So it might be a really awesome time, even if you’re not living in a big city or hub to get the attention of some of these people who are sitting at their computer all day long, looking for new talent in, in, under rocks that might not have been lifted up before. So if you’re out there looking for representation, don’t be shy. Come forward. The world is ready for talent
And thousand percent.
Okay. Uh, let’s keep it pushing. The next one is interesting. I have an idea about this and I would love to hear your thoughts. My listener asks, what are the practices or tips or tools that you would recommend for getting you and your partner on the same page with money? Um, having two incomes in one household, in other words, and I’m fascinated by this, my husband and I have been married for, uh, five years, almost six years. And
Thank you so much. We root that is a win, especially because I am so in love. Um, and especially, especially because I haven’t like left in over a year, we’ve been in a house together for over a year and I am still smitten. Um, so I’ll, I have a couple of them. I jotted down a couple of the things that we do that work. And I’m not saying by any means that I am a professional at this. Um, but one of the things that my husband and I have adopted and I see tremendous value in is that we treat our goals, financial and otherwise like a business. And we treat parts of our relationship, like a business. We have a weekly meeting where we sit down and talk about the nuts and bolts of it. Right. Um, and I think it helps to build trust. We talk about financial goals. We talk about updates in our financial lives. We check on accountability. Like, did you send our CPA this? Or was I supposed to do this? Or did you pay this? Or, you know, it, it really helps keep clear who’s in charge of what, um, and what’s been done and what is yet to be done. Um, uh, yeah, that, that is one thing I really am a huge proponents of is the weekly meeting that’s set. It doesn’t happen over the dinner table. It happens over Skype. He and I are both in separate places. It’s standing on the calendar. If we cannot make it, it gets rescheduled. Like this is kind of coveted time. Um, the other thing that we do at least once a year is we really put it all out there, look at every single account, how much is in it, how much was in it, how much do we want to have in it? And we, I have a Floor to ceiling mirror in my dance studio area. We get a dry erase marker and cover that thing with just all the numbers really helps build trust and get a clear idea of the big financial picture instead of what comes up in our weekly meetings, which is usually kind of, kind of short term. So that’s, that’s another one. Um, and then in terms of like the actual structure of our money, I don’t know much about this, but my husband and I have a, um, yours, mine, ours approach. He has his money that he earns and he uses, I have my money that I earn and I use it and we have really different spending styles. Um, but we then have an account that is ours. It’s for our goals, our trips, our dream purchases, our, you know, shared items and emergency things. And that sort of like the, I guess it’s not a divine trilogy anymore. Cause I have, I have, I have taxes, emergency retirement. And then DanDana, which is our joint account. And every check I get, some of it gets shaved off and put in there and that, and when you have two people doing that, that account grows pretty quickly so that I would super recommend. Um, and then, Oh, one more thing, celebrate, celebrate the small things and celebrations don’t have to be expensive. I think what my husband and I have started to do is establish what we what’s important to us. Um, since the quarantine actually a cool change is that we found out that neither is not important to either one of us to eat out. Um, I much prefer his cooking to most of the restaurants in my area and I prefer efficiency speed. And I love like I love not spending more money than I need to be spending. I found this awesome farmer’s market. I get a box for 25 bucks every single week. I know that’s become a definite fixed number for me. And when I find myself spending the same amount on one meal than I do on my entire weekly food, I’m just like, Ooh, I don’t love that feeling. So we’ve decided like certain things are not important, eating out for example, but certain things are for me, one of them is travel. So I am willing to save scrupulously in other areas so that I can spend in the areas that really light me up. My husband’s the same. He’s like I do not need new clothing ever. He will wear his clothing until it does not cover his body anymore, but he will absolutely be buying new tools, new equipment. And my husband is an engineer. His tools and equipment are not like the cost of a new pair of shoes in my world. Those are my tools, my equipment, right? These are like thousands of dollars of, you know, machinery and stuff. So we save where it matters and we spend where it matters and we celebrate meeting our goals. That is my advice for the couplage in the world. And, and Hey, five years, um, I’m celebrating, I’m celebrating, but it’s not 60. I mean, get out there and ask that question to every couple that, you know, that’s such a smart question. And I’m, I’m really curious. Um, Julia, I’m curious to hear your input, but I would pose that to any couple that’s listening. Like what do you do? I want to know, send me a DM. Words That Move Me podcasts, holler, Julia throwing it to you.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, as much as people say dancers might be frivolous. The system that you just described was so detailed and you know, you’re making that systems based approach that everyone needs to have success and this area of our life, right. As dancers, we know how to hustle. We are hustlers like no one else, but in our financial world, you know, sometimes we don’t do that, but you are showing that we can. We do have the skills to be able to do it. We just have to apply that same kind of energy we have in the rest of our lives. Right. Um, yeah. So, you know, the weekly check-ins, those are amazing, you know, a yearly check in. I would answer these questions for yourself. I would say on a scale of one to 10, you know, how much, how much you worry about money or how much, how often do you think about, or talk about money? Um, and then you want to take a forward-looking approach and say, what does our most amazing life look like? Right. Let’s see each person answers that individually. And then we’re going to come together and see, okay, what do we want our life to look like? Right. Um, where do you want to be in 5, 10, 15, 20 years. And once we settle on what we want, then we want to take a systems based approach of how to get there, right? Automatic saving, investing, right? Like you’re talking about automatic debt payments. If we are in debt, know our exact debt payoff date the year and the month, so that we can have a date to look forward to and then use all of those skills that we are all of those systems that we’ve built to get us to our most amazing life in the future. Right. What do we love spending money on? What do you hate spending money on? We’re going to cut costs, mercilessly on those things that we don’t really care about and spend a ton of money on the things that we love spending money on. Right. That’s going to make us a generally happier person, happier couple in general. Right? And we, each person in that relationship might have different answers to that. And so they can then just act accordingly, right? I like spending money on convenience, having my groceries delivered to my door. I love cooking. So I don’t eat out as much, but I just love having all of my groceries delivered, you know, having a personal trainer, I could, um, create my own workouts. Right. But I outsource it to someone who also trains dancers and does that for me. Um, so we work to find out what we actually care about and not what other people care about, right. What our person and our relationship cares about.
That’s huge. Um, I love this idea of forward thinking and then kind of reverse engineering back from that point. Like I know that if I want to be fully debt-free by X date, then I want to be half debt-free in half of that time. And it can get pretty practical and reasonable and drama free when you just look at the numbers and really focus to hit your marks. Um, okay. Now let’s actually, let’s sidestep from the math of it, the, the math part, and just talk a little bit about mindset or what I like to call drama. Um, and, and it’s funny because money, which is math has such a hold on our heartstrings on our thoughts on our, on, Ooh, it’s deep. It is very deep. So I, I would like to talk a little bit about mindset and I know that you, um, specialize in this department. So I can’t wait to hear your thoughts. Uh, I have a listener asking what is the suggested mindset for an artist who’s looking to increase their earnings and kind of achieve a more sustainable minimum. Um, and I think the caveat here is like, while still doing fulfilling work, what do you think about that? A money mindset? What’s the, what’s the mind, what’s the type of thinking that will get you earning more without necessarily having to sell your soul to the devil?
Well, I, I think you can’t really address the problems with money until you address the psychology behind money. Right. So what is your money mindset that you had growing up? What did people in your household talk about? Right. Did they not talk about it at all? You know, I always felt like I had somewhat of a scarcity mindset and that there would never be enough. So it might help to start to journal and, you know, unravel well, why you might have that certain mindset and tap into that emotion and that it makes you feel and combat it by saying I’m not a child anymore. You know, I don’t have my parents’ fears. I don’t have, I don’t need to bend to that fear anymore. And I am in control of my current money beliefs. But in order, in terms of, um, increasing your earnings, you know, I often think about how happy future me will be if I am not worried about money, right? Money is people’s top sources of stress. 73% of people said that they, if they felt clear about money, then they would report being less stressed. So if I feel less stressed about having everything covered for me currently, and for future me, then I can focus my time and my energy on things that do artistically fulfill me.
That’s huge. So in other words, You’re taking on now, which something that might be maybe just an uncomfortable conversation, right? Like something as simple as asking for a raise or something as uncomfortable as asking for what you actually think you’re worth versus giving the homie deal to everybody right. In the moment that might be uncomfortable, but your future self will thank you because your future self will be that much less burdened by, uh, a scarcity mindset or a money struggle moment.
Yeah. And going back to that, um, that what we talked about with couples, you know, we, that forward thinking approach, what does my most amazing life look like? Let me backtrack and how can I get there? Okay. I need to make more money in order to get to that. Cool. I’ll start doing that now. Right? It’s all about consistency over time, as opposed to just, you know, one, one thing right now, I’m going to increase one paycheck that I earn right. We’re looking to do it over a long period of time so that we’re successful successfully set up financially.
Yeah. Small bits, making big difference. This idea of like compounding interest over time, a small change. Even if you ask, you know, let’s say you’re a dance teacher and you ask for $5 more per hour, small change in this one conversation that we’re making. But over time, a really, really big, a big shift. That’s huge. I appreciate that. Um, another listener asks, uh, I feel very motivated to work on projects that fulfill me artistically, but I’m less motivated to work on the sufficient income type of projects. And that might even fully mean a day job. What do you think about that dancers taking on a day job outside of, um, their, their creative work? Is this something you see with clients often?
Absolutely. Yes. I think some people have, especially right now during this past year, I think people are spending their energies developing side businesses, side hustles, as well as just, you know, um, nannying part-time things, um, in order to kind of cover those bills.
And is that something that you, um, I guess the followup to this is like, is that something you encouraged, do you see, do you see creative clients of yours achieving some degree of financial freedom, thanks to say Starbucks or, you know, having, having some other regular income?
Yeah. I think it depends on what your goals are. So, you know, my goals are flexibility so that I can go to any audition I want to go to. It’s not limited by time because I can work on my own whenever I want. Right. Others might have to work the morning shift at a gym and so that they can go to an audition later, um, or work on contracts later. Uh, I think it depends on the person and what they’re willing to do. You know, um, oftentimes there’s kind of a negative stereotype. I think between a lot of people would come to the city and bartend and then not be able to wake up for their 8:00 AM audition cause they were bartending till 3:00 AM. Um, and if that’s, if that starts to take away from what they actually want to do, then it might be time to invest, uh, their skills that they, they definitely have into a different side hustle.
Awesome. Thank you for making that distinction. I worked at urban Outfitters when I first moved to Los Angeles and for a full calendar year, I rocked that opening shift from 6:00 AM to 3PM and that, and that worked for me. I was a person that thought like talk about money beliefs. I believed that that stability helped me in my life. I believe that like the regimen, the order, the, uh, certainly the health and the health insurance that I was provided, all my taxes were automatically taken out of my check. I found, I found great convenience and comfort in that it didn’t bother me at all. And so I think the combination of the job itself, which provided a little bit of flexibility and hours, that didn’t really conflict, that mixed with thoughts about it made that a totally reasonable thing for me to do at 18 years old, living on my own for the first time in my life, you know, but there, but that, but that’s not everybody’s experience. This is not a one size fits all fits all type of answer. You have to really get, get real with yourself about what you’re thinking this side hustle means to you. Um, because there are ways that it can fill your cup emotionally and financially. Um, if it’s the right gig, man, I, I really enjoyed my Urban Outfitters gig. I’ll tell you what it made shopping for my audition outfits, much easier and more fun, and cheaper I soaked that employee discount up for as long as I possibly could. Um, okay. So maybe the side hustle conversation is a good segue to my next question, which is one of my favorites. It goes like this, I love it so much. 1099, How do I deal with all of them? And I have this exact same question.
Yeah. I mean, a ton of, uh, dancers will come to me and say, Oh my gosh, I have so many, 1099 nines. My taxes are going to be so difficult. And my answer kind of is that doesn’t necessarily mean your taxes are going to be that difficult. I will say. Um, all it is is basically a couple of extra data entry, you know, in order to get all of that uploaded into the system. Now, if they are in different States, which often happens, you know, if they’re working in different regional theaters across the country, those kinds of things that can make it a little bit more difficult and we can get into that a bit later, but basically 1099. And I know California also has AB5 that makes independent contractor versus employee. Um, yeah, I know we don’t, we don’t, we don’t love it, but, um, if you are getting 1099, then that means that employer not the right word, but, um, considers you self-employed. So when you are self-employed you then will file a schedule C and then you conduct deduct business expenses against that. Right. So you’ll then pay self-employment tax on that the, which is the employer and the employee share of social security and Medicare. Um, but half of that is deductible. So basically all the 1099
Back up, back up, back up. Yep. So half of Medicare and self-employment tax are deductible
On the front half of the 1040, well, the 1040 is now just kind of technically one page, but yes,
I’m just underlining that for everybody that’s listening because that’s very important. Carry on.
Yeah. So yeah. So if your income is all W2, um, then you won’t file as self-employed and then you don’t get to deduct business expenses against that. The only way you can is on the state return, if those, if that state allows it. So I think New York, California, Pennsylvania, and a few others have a combinations that still allow showbiz expenses. Um, but not all States do. Okay.
Here’s a question from me specifically about this subject on a normal year. I might, I do a combination of W2 and 1099 work. Let’s say I teach at four different summer intensives. I go set choreography on a couple of different studios. I am in a couple TV episodes and I teach on a convention. So a mixed bag, right? And while I’m working during the year, I’m not thinking about which ones of those will be W2’s and which ones of those will be 1099 nines. So I find myself at the end of the year, wondering if I have all my documents ready to give to my CPA, I, it never fails. I will send all my tax documents to my CPA. And then two weeks later, I get three more from this dance studio or this project or whatever. Um, do you have a system, a recommendation for tracking projects as you do them that helps you kind of line item yourself and, and know when you’re ready to be like when you’re done at the end of the year, um, or when it is tax time, how do you know that you’ve got it all?
Alright. So the deadline for the, um, employer to send those documents to you is January 31st. Um, so technically they should mail those all to you as of that date, right? That’s when they have to submit it to the IRS. And technically, technically, if they have paid you more than $600 for each project, then you will, are supposed to get a 1099. W2, any amount of money that they pay you. Um,
Question for clarity, $600 per project, or $600 total. Let’s say, let’s say I go to a studio two times in a year. Is this per visit or is this in total?
In total for the year.
So they have to send something by January 31st. And if they’ve paid me more than $600, they have to send me a certain thing. And then what happens?
Yeah. So that is the 1099, um, which they have also sent to the IRS. So if you get a 1099, that means that he’s also sent that to the IRS.
Okay. So they told the IRS, Hey, I, I paid Dana this much money. And then if Dana doesn’t report receiving this much money from them, then the IRS goes warning warning, look closer, which we don’t love that. Right. Um, so that’s why it’s important to make sure that you are reporting all income as what it was, right. Be it W2 or 1099, or, um, even interest earnings and stuff like that. Correct. Okay. So to answer this person’s question. 1099 nines, how do I deal with all of them? I personally scan them all into one document. I call it 1099s, and then I send it to my CPA. But what if this person is doing their own taxes?
Uh, so whatever, however, they decide to file. So if you do make under 72,000, anyone can file for free on the IRS website. Um, and some States allow that as well, Free File. Yes. And then there’s a couple different softwares. I believe that you can choose to do that. So if you are doing that, basically, like I just said, it’s going to be just a little bit more data entry. Each 1099, you have to enter in the EIN how much money was received, those kinds of things. And also it was new for this year. We got 1099 NECS instead of 1099 miscellaneous. I don’t know if anybody noticed that this year, but yes, that was different. I didn’t know.
I did I noticed that this year and I didn’t know what it meant.
Yeah. So NEC non-employee compensation
Look how much learning I’m doing! Thank you for that. Okay, cool. Um, let’s move forward. Our next question is, do dancers get paid royalties? This is a great example of there. Isn’t a yes or a no. Um, if we look really broadly, I could show you many dancers that do get paid royalties. I could show you many dancers that don’t the distinguishing factor is the type of work they’re doing and the type of contracts they are on strongly recommend taking a wander back to in the show notes to episode 63, which is the first it’s part, one of Money March. I do talk about residual structures and SAG-AFTRA contracts. Those are, uh, dancers appearing on film or television and a new media. Um, many of those contracts do, uh, include residual structures and we love that. Um, right. Yeah. So answer to that question is Yes, and if you’re doing that type of work, um, and next question, how, and when do I negotiate pay? Again, this more or less depends on the type of work that you are doing because I have an agent, my agent is always the one that negotiates my pay and, um, I, I always seek for that to be done before my first day of work. You want to know what you’re making before you’re on the job. Simple as that, I am making it part of my money practice to talk about money first and frequent. If the terms of the project change while it’s happening, we’re going to talk about money again, before I signed the dotted line, we’re going to talk about money first and frequent is when, uh, you should be discussing your money. That’s my, that’s my answer. Anything to add to it?
No, that’s, that’s got it covered. You know, we have to make sure that this is, it is a big part of our lives, right? So we have to make sure that it is in the conversation, um, frequently, as you said.
Which actually also helps it, it becomes less of a big deal when you’re talking about it more often. It’s yeah. It’s, I guess it’s kind of like fouette turns in that way. Like it used to be a really, really big deal before I knew how to do them. And when I didn’t do them very often, it was like, Oh, here we go. We’ll go. And then when I learned how to do them and did them all THE TIME, unstoppable, you could not keep me from doing four to turns in my kitchen. I will be doing for tutorings everywhere. Video coming soon.
Do you do them now?
Um, it’s been a long time since a fouetté turn, but I bet I could still, I could still hit a footy turn right now for sure. Um, okay. Julia, talk to me about IRAs. I’ve gotten a lot of mixed information about which type I should have, um, be it a Roth or a CEP. Um, I I’ve gotten overwhelmed with this question and my, my dives on the internet of trying to find a simple answer were not so simple. Um, so I’d love to hear from a dancer, what, what you recommend for obviously everybody is different, but what would you recommend for the average dancer when you take it out? At which point tax rates might be much higher because you know, people say, what goes up, must come down. I have noticed that it’s not entirely true. Uh, I have not seen taxes actually go down. Have I, I don’t know, honestly, I don’t pay that much attention, but it’s an important thing to consider when you’re making that call. With a traditional IRA. Are you only able to withdraw funds and earnings from that account after you’re 65? Or is it a number of years from when you started it? What’s that? What does that timeline look?
Um, for traditional the withdrawal ages 59 and a half. Um, but there are, uh, ex exceptions, you know, if you’re buying a first-time home buyer, you can you can withdraw up to $10,000, um, for a home purchase and you don’t have to pay tax or penalty on that. Okay.
Oh, that’s important. First time only asks the woman that owns her condo. Okay.
Now, if it’s not a residence, you know, and you’ll maybe own property that you don’t live in there, you know, you have to look into that a little bit, but if it’s your first full time residence, then, then you can do that.
Cool. Awesome. Thank you for that. Okay. Um, a couple of questions now coming from me, I’m really curious about the, this is me just trying to, um, trying to get all the goods without having to do all of the work. I’m wondering what are the quick fix type questions that you get often? Like somebody comes to you with this big deal. They’re like, dude, this is so hard. I don’t understand, blah blah. And you’re like, actually it’s really easy. All you have to do is blah. Like what what’s that? I want to know the answer to that or those questions if there are more than one.
Yeah. I think as you said, sometimes it’s, it comes to be drama maybe. Um, but when it doesn’t have to be basically, uh, people say, Oh my gosh, I’m a dancer. And I have so many, 1099s. And so tax time is so hard and it’s stressful, right. Basically keep a spreadsheet and total it for your accountant. If you do that. Um, or, you know, if you’re going to do it, keep all your receipts and say, okay, how much did I spend on my website on, you know, um, any kind of marketing materials, headshots resumes, any of those kinds of things, um, and then just keep it all together. So that way, when it comes to tax time, you have everything that you’ve done, right? As soon as you bought classes, you might have all of receipt of all classes you paid for in one year, take that, put it into your spreadsheet, say, cool. This is how much I spent on classes this year. And the answer is done.
Could you give a rundown of, in your eyes, which are in, in your CPA dancer eyes, what are the categories that you, what are you, what are your itemized deduction categories? I remember struggling for years trying to decide what to call certain things. And I would call, let’s say, I called, um, apparel. Let’s say I called it a uniform one year. And then the next year I was calling it, um, maintenance and maintenance and upkeep or something like, I really, I got very confused about where to put what, because in this way I do think we are unusual, like me buying this new pair of sneakers is not for vanity it’s because I danced holes in my other pair of sneakers and I danced in sneakers. So that isn’t, you know, I, if you could just take us through a gentle walkthrough of like the big categories and examples of what might go in each category of deductible expense.
Sure. Um, yeah, so these aren’t the itemized deductions, but these are on the schedule C when we deduct, um, our business expenses, right. As a self-employed individual, um, anything from advertising. So I would say website, uh, headshot, resumes, you know, anything that goes in there, um, you have a decent amount of leeway, um, in that other deductions category at the bottom to put something and then just call it that, that year. And then when you go to do your taxes the next year, right. You can just move it on over, you know, you just keep it simple year to year. Right. And so if you have that say Google sheets spreadsheet that says, okay, this is where I put everything last year. Cool. Move it over and just do it the same thing this year. Um, but yeah, those things advertising, marketing, you’ve got your, um, auto expenses, you know, if you’re driving those kinds of things or travel in other respects, um, yep. There is repair and maintenance as well. Uh, professional fees, um,
Like your, like your union dues, things like that. Where would you put bodywork massage, physio, acupuncture, meeting with a dietician.
Yeah. I would stick it in that other detections category, um, other, the, you know, health and wellness, that kind of thing. And just put it under all of those.
Okay. I have a feeling our listeners will want to be knowing a lot more about a lot of this stuff. So don’t let me let you out of here without leaving a way that could find you and, and, and potentially work together. Um, okay. So the opposite side of that coin, like the easy fix question is what are the questions that you wish nobody ever asked? Because they’re so complicated and dense and difficult to answer. And will you answer those questions so that we so that we don’t have to ask them so that we don’t have to ask you individually?
I would say honestly, the biggest challenge, and it’s hard to answer without going into each individual person’s experience is each state, right? If you’re working in multiple States, each state has completely different laws and you’ll have to see if your state conforms to the federal laws. And that’s really a big deal right now with COVID and all the tax changes that are going along with that, you know, some States tax, all the income you earn, and then you get a credit for taxes received. Um, some States tax only income earned in that state. And or if it’s under a certain moment, it’s not, you don’t have to file. Um, you might have to file in multiple States. I know that’s a question that comes and can be difficult. I always had a file in Pennsylvania. And then the one year I thought it was not going to have to file in Pennsylvania. I had to file in Pennsylvania again, and I was just talking to filing that’s something.
Okay. So it’s that there is no, yes, there are rules and there are a lot of different rules and it’s okay to not know all of the rules. Um, but it’s not okay to break all of the rules. So you must find somebody who knows what the rules are or find a place to look things up. Um, I’m guessing that would just be the state.gov or
Yeah. The department of revenue usually. Um, you can find it on the department of revenue website for any state. Yeah.
Okay. My move, because I believe I am a unique and individual snowflake is to work with a CPA that understands unique and individual snowflakes. I have not tried to file my own taxes since I was probably 17 years old. I did it once. I cried so hard and I’m not going to lie. I still cry when it’s tax time, because I feel stupid when I don’t know how to do things or the answers to things. I had a little chuckle to myself when you were talking about, um, a Google sheet and like, just do it the same every year. I not only have a Google sheet now, but I have also a Google doc that reminds myself the answers to the questions that I always ask, which is like, where does the individual, or does my LLC pay for my health insurance? I have the answer to that. Cause I w I ask it every single year. Um, where do I put this? And I write the answer to that. So as you’re asking questions and getting answers to them because taxes are, Oh, I have another question for you. I was just about to say, because taxes only happen once a year. And then that made me look directly into your eyes, Julia, and ask, how important is it to file quarterly? Cause I’ve got my boxing gloves on. I don’t, I, if taxes are going to ruin my life, let it be once a year, not four times, I get really stressed out at this time of year, certainly because of the way I’m thinking about it, obviously, but I get really mixed information. Like it’s going to save you money. You should definitely file quarterly. And then all of a sudden when I don’t file quarterly, cause I’m like, you know what? I I’d rather pay more and worry about it less that I’m fine with this. But then I get to the end of the year and you’re like, why didn’t you pay quarterly? Now we have to pay penalties now, like talk to me quarterly WTF. What’s that?
It definitely just depends on, this is another one of those BS answers I’m going to give you depends on your situation and year per year. Right. So how much did you earn last year? How much tax did you pay last year? That’s going to affect, you know, um, estimated taxes this year. Um, as well as just, um, what was I going to say?
Filing quarterly? Should I do it? Should I not do it? What does it depend on? What is the answer to that question? Depending on, yeah.
You know, as well as just, um, how much 1099 income you’re getting, right. If you’re getting a bunch of taxes taken out from your W2’s, you might not have to worry about it as much as if you filled out, you know, that little spreadsheet that they give you at the beginning to say how much you want to deducted Right? So if you do have some W2 income and you can have more taken out of that, so that it covers, um, maybe some of your 1099 income, right? There’s a nice little worksheet that you can do on the IRS to see if you’re being withheld enough from the W2 income that you do have.
Oh, that’s exciting. Do you see how I just went from being like hot and sweaty and enrage to like genuinely curious and interested in something because you called it a worksheet. So I get excited. Um, okay, well, that’s, that will be added to my master document of questions answered. Although I don’t know that I will ever become a person that pays quarterly, unless I have to, like, if you tell me that I have to, I will definitely do it.
Not telling you that,
Oh, drats. I wish somebody weren’t somebody, you know what? My, my poor CPA might listen to this someday. And he’s like, Dana, literally, I am telling you that you have to.
Listen to him.
Uh, I don’t know what my deal is with that, but I’m working on it and becoming a person that is not like it. The world doesn’t come down on my actual head. I get a little grumpy when I have to pay taxes, but don’t wheel, I’m not unique in that way. We are all of,
And this year, just so we make that clear, the filing deadline has been extended this year until May 17th. So you don’t
By like, I’m. Well, I’m annoyed. Like we had a dumpster fire of a year. These are my thoughts. I’m getting so hot. I have to take my shirt off, not my, not my whole shirt, just my outer outer shirt, 2020 happened. Right. Nobody can deny that 2020 happened and we’re pushing our tax deadline back 30 days or like 32 days. I’m sorry. That does not seem sufficient to me, but I started early. I’m prepared. My CPA is also prepared. I’m going to be okay. You’re going to be okay if you don’t think you’re okay. Here is where you can find Julia Julia on your Mark. Get set, go. Where do we find you?
You can find me at Juliagrubbs.com Um, my, all my contact info is there. Um, I’m on Instagram @JWgrubbs. Um, two B’s. Um, yeah. So any of those you can there’s I have a contact form on my website. You can feel free to send me an email. I love answering questions, helping dancers, you know, feel better
Thank goodness for you. I appreciate that so much. Thank you for making yourself available to me today. Me and all my thoughts and feelings about money. And, uh, I, I do think I will be reaching back out with a few more followup questions. That is all I have for you today, but in, in my life as a curious dancer person, I’m sure you will be hearing from me again.
Absolutely. Can’t wait!
Thank you for coming. My friend. I’ll talk to you later. All right. My friend, I hope that you learned as much as I did, and I truly hope that you visit Julia with any other money or tax related questions that you have. I am certain that I will be. Um, so she won’t be shocked to hear from you lovely words that move me listener. Thank you so much again for being here. Um, just a few more things before you run off and go organize your 1099s. Um, I will be holding a free career coaching session via zoom coming up in April on Wednesday, April 14th. Now that time is TBD. So if you are not already following me on Instagram, I’m @Danadaners D A N A D A N E R S, or the podcast on Instagram, which is words that move me podcast. Um, all one word, no spaces or underscores or anything fancy like that. Um, but make sure you follow us over there because we will be blasting this information loud and proud free career coaching, a group call on zoom. It’s going to be awesome. I can’t wait to share what I’m all about. Um, tremendously valuable tools here that we’ll be sharing with you. Now go get out into the world, keep it organized, keep it financially free and flowing. And of course, by any means necessary. Keep it funky. I’ll talk to you later.
My goal for this episode is NOT to tell you what you should or shouldn’t think about money, or even THAT you should or shouldn’t think about money. My goal is to hold a safe place for you to explore, and discuss your RELATIONSHIP with money. By the end of this episode, you’ll understand your beliefs about money, how (long it takes) to make a billion dollars AND the very significant role your emotions play in managing your wealth.
Columbus and Billionaires: https://www.truthorfiction.com/if-you-made-5000-a-day-starting-in-1492-would-you-still-have-less-money-than-jeff-bezos/
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. Hi, and welcome to the podcast. I’m Dana. This is Words That Move Me. I’m stoked. This episode is a really, really special one, a subject that is very close to my heart, question mark.. I take that back immediately. Um, close to my mind, at least pretty close to my mind. Most of the time, um, today we’re talking about money mindset. This is part three of money March. We’ve already discussed dancer specific dollars. In episode 63, episode 64 was all about choreographers and the unique challenges that we are looking at in our industry right now. And today we are talking about your mindset about money, and I’m very simply put separating the math from the drama and I’m jazzed about it. But first we’re going to talk wins, and I love my win this week. I’m very excited to share. I’ll tell you mine, and then you will take the floor and share with yourself, or whoever happens to be around you, uh, something that’s going well in your world. So here we go. Uh, this week I am celebrating that there is finally an in theater and HBO max release date for In the Heights, which of course is Jon Chu’s feature film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes’ Tony award-winning musical coming to the big screen. Holy smokes. You guys, I’m extremely emotional about this one. Um, for, for much of 2019, I lived in New York city and was an associate choreographer along with Ebony Williams, Emilio Dosal, and Eddie Torres Jr. Um, working under the fearless leadership of dance and choreography champion, Mr. Christopher Scott and wow friends. I cannot wait for you to see this film. And, uh, I’ve been fortunate enough to reconnect with some of the team in the last few weeks. And that is my win. I am. I’m simply smitten with admiration and awe and pride, um, at being a part of this team and a part of this project, I am thrilled for you to see it. Okay, now it’s your turn. What is going well in your world?
Congratulations. I commend you for your grind. Please keep going. There are important stories out there that need to be told, and they are demanding and they’re calling for you. So keep going, keep winning and dammit. Even if you’re losing lose forward. I think the more eloquent way to put that as fail forward, but just, just keep going. All right, congrats. You got this.
Now my aim for this podcast, for every single words that move me episode is to help you listener become more informed and empowered and capable and actively creating more than you consume in terms of value in the world. Um, but my goal for this specific episode is not to tell you what you should or shouldn’t think about money or even that you should or shouldn’t think about money. My goal is to hold a safe place for you to explore and, um, discuss. And in general, become more aware of your relationship with money. Uh, I suppose you might think of this as, as a relationship counseling session, but since money doesn’t have thoughts and feelings about you, this is going to be a pretty one-sided session. Now, before I get too deep into it, uh, the lovely Riley Higgins, who is my assistant engineer on the podcast, she creates interactive PDF worksheets for every single words that move me podcast episode, the worksheets are designed to be a companion to each episode, a place where you can really apply and study what you are learning, what you’re listening to really recommend you check those out worksheets are sold in bundles of ten at thedanawilson.com/shop And we are making a special deal and bundle out of the money March episodes. So all four parts of our money March series will be turned into worksheets, bundled together thedanawilson.com/shop And they will exist for you there forever. Um, so that you can keep your financial flow locked in and lovely. I love alliteration. I really can’t help it. Um, I really do encourage you to go check that out. Especially this episode’s worksheet will be particularly useful because today I’ll be asking for a lot of crowd participation. Um, I’m going to ask you to look to yourself for a lot of answers to questions instead of to me or to my guests. Um, I suppose I should also make a quick warning that this conversation can bring up a lot.
Yes. Money. When I think about money, I think about my dad. I think about my childhood. I think about this country. I think about my car. I think about my house. I think about homelessness. I think about inequity. Wow. I mean, this subject of money is loaded and we’re going to start unpacking it. We’re going to unpack it because it can teach us so much about ourselves and our world. Now, before we even unzip to unpack, let’s talk about the suitcase that we’re unpacking. I am very interested in social and economic justice yet. This episode is really not directly about redistributing wealth from the haves to the have nots from the oppressors to the oppressed. This podcast assumes that you are listening to this podcast, which means that you have a phone or some sort of device, possibly a computer or tablet. And you have wifi. This episode was created with an audience whose basic human needs are already met in mind. All right, let’s jump right into it. Shall we? The first idea that I want to introduce is this concept of a relationship. I already touched on it once already, but whether, whether you’ve said yes to that relationship or not, you are indeed in a relationship with money and just like in a friendship or a romantic relationship, your thoughts and beliefs about your partner affect your experience of the relationship. If you think your partner is the greatest thing since sliced bread, which Holy smokes let’s be real is so good. I have a loaf, the sourdough bread on my counter right now. And it’s so, okay. We’re back. Money, money, not bread, money, not bread. Oh my God. Money, bread. Okay. Moving on. If you think your partner is the greatest thing since something great, you probably feel wonderful about being in a relationship with them, or perhaps you think that your partner is cheating on you. And that makes for a very different experience of the relationship. You might even be able to remember a relationship where the harder and harder you to get the interest of someone, the less interested they became is this a, is this a scary parallel for money or what it might be? It might not. The point is the thoughts and the beliefs that you have about your partner affect your experience of the relationship. So let’s uncover your current beliefs about money. I’m going to start by asking three questions and I’ll leave a little bit of space here for you to answer. If you’re using the words that move me worksheets by all means have a heyday. If not a plain old pen and paper or note in your phone should do just fine.
Question number one is this, what comes to mind when you think about money? What comes to mind, when you think about money? Do you think about catch phrases? Like money equals power or time is money or you have to work hard to make money? Or do you think more personal thoughts? Like, Oh, I’ll never be a millionaire as a dancer. When you think about money, do you think about the stuff that money buys do you think about the people who have it? Do you think about the people who don’t have it? When you think about money, do you think about disparities, pay gaps and equity? What comes up for you when you think about money, make a list of all your thoughts, or I suppose you could simply think them, but we will be coming back to this in a moment. Feel free to take a little more time if you would like.
Question number two is a two-parter part one. Do you have a lot of money? And why? Part two? Do you want a lot of money? And why do you have a lot of money and why? And do you want a lot of money and why? Yes, my friends, we are doing it. We are uncovering your beliefs about the greenbacks. Okay. Next question. What were you taught about money from your parents, from your teachers, your role models, leaders, key figures, and even friends in your life. What were you taught about money? Were you taught that, that you need to hold on tight because you might lose it at any time. Were you taught that it takes money to make money? Um, were you taught that high risk equals high reward? What were you taught about money? Of course you can take as much time as you need here, but I’ll keep moving.
My fourth question is simply what is money factually? What is money? Not your thoughts about money, but what actually is money. Of course I consulted the internet and the Internet’s definition of money is a current medium of exchange in the form of coins and bank notes. Yep. That’s it. Coins and bank notes. Uh, current medium of exchange money. Factually is neutral. There’s nothing in that definition that says money is good or money is bad, or even money is essential. It is a piece of paper or a coin that humans have all collectively agreed is worth something. Imagine an alien descends on earth lands here and finds a $100 bill on the ground and a dime. And let’s say a crushed up Carl’s Jr cup. They would have no idea which one has more value because humans have invented the construct that is money and humans have a lot of different thoughts about what it means. Do you love that? In that scenario, I made this subtle assumption that aliens are real and that money is in fact neutral money itself by itself is a circumstance. It’s not until we think about it, that it holds any rank or pull on our lives. We think that it’s essential for survival. We think that we don’t have enough of it or that other people have too much of it. You can, and you probably do think many different thoughts about money than I do. We, the universal we, will all think different thoughts about money. And that is a beautiful and slightly scary thing. But the bottom line is that most of us think thoughts about money, not facts about money. The facts are the simple math, but the thoughts are usually simple drama. You know, that friend who makes everything extremely dramatic, nothing is okay. Everything is either amazing or awful. Yeah. That might be you a little bit with maybe it’s possible. So let’s focus on separating facts about money from thoughts about money. Take a look at your answers to the questions that I’ve asked. What comes to mind when you think about money, do you have a lot of it? Why do you want a lot of it? Why, what were you taught about it and look closely at your answers there? How much of that is money math and how much of that is money? Drama. Challenge yourself by asking is this is, this is what I’ve written here really empirically true, or could someone else think something differently? Could someone else even with similar circumstances think differently. In other words, I’m asking, do you have a money problem or do you simply have money drama? No matter what the answer is to that question, the good news is that both the circumstance of money and your drama about it can be changed. Check that out. Pretty sweet. Huh? I think so.
Now I want to deconstruct a very popular idea. This idea, that hard work putting in your time, saving up your money and making a budget will make you rich. Time does not make money. Hard work does not make money. A budget does not make money. It might save money, but the only thing actually makes money is value. Value is a measure of the benefit provided by a good or service. And my friends, we definitely want to create benefits just like we want to reap the benefits, right? So how much benefit are you providing? How much potential do you have to create value in the world? What skills do you have that the world could use? What ideas do you have that the world is begging for? You can go ahead and start a list for that too. I love that list. Now, as a demonstration of this fact, this idea that time doesn’t make money and hard work definitely does not equal money. As a demonstration of that fact, I am going to call on a, um, a tweet that was made back in 2019. If you used Twitter or the internet in 2019, you probably this tweet floating around. I think the original author of it was Zach Walls. Um, he, he, he wrote, if you worked every single day, making $5,000 per day from the time Columbus sailed to America, to the time you’re reading this tweet, you would still not be a billionaire and you would still have less money than Jeff Bezos makes in a week. Yikes. Let me just call that back. If you worked every single day for $5,000 a day from the time Christopher Columbus sailed to America, which was, I believe 1492. If my rhyme serves me correctly, um, until today, quote unquote, which was sometime in 2019, you would still not be a billionaire and you would still have less money than Jeff Bezos makes in a week. Well, my friend, there has been some pretty intense fact checking and math mapping on that tweet. And at least the first part of it is still true to this day and will be true. The first part of it, um, meaning $5,000 every day from 1492 until today, you still would not be a billionaire. That part is true and will be true until 2054, indeed. It would take about 562 years at $5,000 per day to become a billionaire. So what does that tell us? Well, a, it tells us that Jeff Bezos has an almost unthinkable amount of money. Um, and that if you’re a dancer earning the 2019 median average hourly rate of $17.49 per hour, that’s about $139 and 92 cents per day, which is a far cry from $5,000 a day. Um, yeah, if you’re a dancer making the average median hourly rate, you’re far from becoming a billionaire, unless you think outside of the billable hours in a day, let’s take a look at Oprah for example, always let’s always look at Oprah. For example, Oprah didn’t become a billionaire by increasing her day rate or her hourly rate and simply working more hours. She did it by creating value that works and earns even while she’s sleeping, that my friends is the dream, no pun intended. So yes, do everything you can to build the skills that earn you top dollar in your field, create and contribute benefits in the world. And yes, and also look for or create ways that your money can make money without you lifting a finger. This might mean licensing your choreography. Shout out to last week’s episode or writing a book perhaps, or selling a product, or of course, keeping your money in a safe place with a high interest yield instead of under your mattress. I suppose, in, in the words of my dear friend, Marty Kudelka what I’m trying to say is work smarter, not harder and let your money do the same.
Now, the next thing I want to talk about is emotions. Dana, why are you talking about emotions? This podcast episode is about money. Well, chill out and find out. I want you to take a moment and list all of the emotions that you associate with money, either having it or not having it doesn’t matter. A couple of examples are settled, safe, or struggling, glamorous, guilty, happy, scared, embarrassed, um, proud, free, greedy, accomplished, jealous, indulgent, superior inferior. Just rattle them off all of the emotions that you associate with money.
Now I’m going to say something that you might not like money cannot make you feel any of the things on this list. Now you might be thinking, uh, no Dana, for sure. I’m telling you. I swear to God. If I had money and could pay my rent, I would be happy. I would feel safe. If I can just pay my rent again, I’ll ask you to challenge yourself here, strip away the drama. You think you would be happy if you could just pay your rent, but is it possible that you could pay your rent and still be very unhappy? Is it possible that someone with a lot of money paying their rent could feel unhappy or insecure even? Is it possible that someone with very little money could feel happy? Yes, of course it is. I like to think of, um, Bernie Madoff. When I talk about emotions and money, Bernie Madoff, I can remember his last name because he is the financial advisor slash market maker slash fraudster who, I think that’s a word, but I’m not sure. Um, who made off with a bunch of people’s money. He’s the confessed operator of the largest Ponzi scheme in world history. Um, the amount missing from his client’s accounts was almost $65 billion. And we’ve already talked about how much a billion is now. Here’s the thing. Bernie’s clients felt great investing their money with him because they thought keyword, they thought their money was in good hands. Their money was long gone, nowhere to be found, but they felt fine until they found out their money was gone and enter the drama. PS, Bernie Madoff must be in his eighties by now and is still in prison. So yahoo. Now of course, money itself, coins, paper. They don’t affect our emotions, but if you happen to believe that money and your emotions are directly linked, you may actually be avoiding money to avoid the feelings that you don’t want to associate with. You might actually be avoiding money to avoid feeling greedy or indulgent or self-centered or ego maniacal, or you may be chasing money thinking once I have it, I can finally feel free or happy or glamorous or proud or accomplished. And this is a problem. This is a problem because all feelings are available regardless of money. Period. I know some very, very wealthy people that are very, very unhappy and extremely insecure. I know a lot of people living paycheck to paycheck that are thrilled with their lives, Joyful, grateful, generous, giving. These are just two examples of the evidence that money itself and the having of it is not directly correlated to your emotions. So are you avoiding money because of the way it makes you feel? Are you avoiding looking at your checking account or balancing your books or emailing your CPA because you feel stupid when you do it? Past itself raises hand. I’ve definitely gotten better at this, but these are two really important questions to ask yourself, are you avoiding money because of the way that it makes you feel or are you chasing it because of the way you think you’ll feel when you have it? If the answer is yes to either of those questions, take a super pause and really zoom out, actually better yet. Zoom in, zoom in to that feeling that you’re, that you can’t handle feeling or zoom into that feeling that you’re chasing that you think is sitting there with the pot of gold under the rainbow. Zoom in on that feeling. Can you feel it? Can you imagine what it feels like in your body? I bet you can feel that feeling right now. This, my friends is why managing your emotions is an excellent first step to managing your money now to show the importance of the way that you’re thinking with regards to money, we’re going to do a little experiment.
Notice the difference in the way that you feel. When I mentioned these different scenarios. Imagine you go to the store and you buy $10 worth of food and drink or anything that $10 can buy. All right. That’s scenario one. How does that, how does thinking about that scenario make you feel? Scenario two is a little bit different. Let’s say when you went to the store, you had a $10 bill in your back pocket. And when you got to the store to buy the stuff, the $10 bill is not there. It’s fallen out. You’ve lost it. You’ve got all your stuff up on the conveyor belt, $10 not there. How do you feel? Next scenario. Let’s say you’re eating out with a friend and they have lost or forgotten their wallet. So you say, dude, no worries. I got you. It’s just 10 bucks. You from your friend, your friend, 10 bucks for them. Yeah. How does that feel? Say this next scenario, you pay $10 for an online class. This is a teacher that you love. You get a great class. How does that feel? Notice the difference you feel when you think you are losing money versus spending money versus lending money versus investing the actual math of it is all exactly the same money goes out. That’s what happened in all of those scenarios. You bought things at the store, you lost the $10 bill. You covered your friend, you loaned your friend $10. Um, you paid $10 for an online class. The math is the same $10 out. The rest of it is drama. The drama says I should get something. When money goes out, the drama says that when you lose money, you get nothing but inconvenience in return. The drama says that when you loan money, you’re helping and that feels good. And depending on the situation, you might even think you’ll get it back. The drama says that when you invest, you think you’ll get it back plus some, but all are simply money out. So what if you could think of the dollar falling out of your pocket as paying for a lesson, maybe not a dance lesson, but a lesson in where to put your money. What if you could think of the money falling out of your pocket as lending money to someone else thinking that you’re helpful? Certainly it feels better than thinking that you’re reckless or that the universe is somehow unfair and his targeted you. What, if you could think that you will absolutely get that $10 back someday, 100%. That’s going to come back to you. If you truly believe that you would get that $10 back, I bet the way you treat the person at the checkout counter, when you realized your $10 was gone would be different. I bet the way you talked to yourself in that moment would be different. I really encourage you to start noticing the language that you use with yourself. When you think about money, not just the money out, but the money in as well. Think about making money versus earning money versus creating money. Do those generate different, different feelings in your body, different modes of being. For me It sure does. When I think about earning money, I am absolutely thinking about working. But when I think about creating money, there’s all sorts of different possibilities. There, possibilities that don’t necessarily include me busting through the cartilage in my knees.
Now, while we’re on the subject of trying on new words and new thoughts, when you’re thinking about money, you may notice that I have not yet mentioned abundance mentality and his entire episode about money mindset. I haven’t talked about abundance mentality. That is because I think there is a lot of, uh, excuse me, bull*** around the power of positive thinking. When it comes to money, taping a $100 bill to your ceiling and looking at it every morning and night will not make you rich thinking that you are a millionaire, doesn’t make you a millionaire, but thinking like one and then taking massive action, sometimes massive risk. Well that might help you to become one. The numbers are the numbers. What you earn is what you earn, what you spend is what you spend, what you have is what you have. And what you’d like to have is what you’d like to have. That’s all math, everything else is drama. And it’s optional. Please. Don’t forget to take a look at the worksheet companion to this episode and the rest of the money March episodes. I’m really hopeful that they will help you gain clarity of your thoughts and feelings around money. They are also a very interesting time capsule type project, a really cool thing to do once, maybe twice a year returned to reference back to, and really kind of clock how those thoughts, feelings, and yes, the math changes over time. Highly, highly recommend, okay, everybody that is it for me today. Next week I will be joined by not only a dancer, but a CPA as well. And yeah, that’s one person I’m super excited about next week’s episode. It’s entirely Q and A. So anything that’s come up for you in this episode or in the last two, all things money March, bring your questions about money, bring your questions about contracts, my guests, and I will do our very best to answer all your Qs. Get out in the world. Everybody be kind, and please Keep it 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 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, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye.
Let’s talk ORGANIZATION! Choreographers and their teams (assistant choreographers, associate choreographers, co-choreographers etc.) along with production assistants are the ONLY category of workers on Film/ TV/ Commercial sets that do not have Union representation. What does that mean? It means no minimum daily rate, no Health & Pension contributions, no residual structures, no penalties for overtime, or turnaround time. Why does that matter? Because DANCE and the people who make it are pillars of popular culture (to say the very very least).
In this episode, I talk to two time Emmy award winning choreographer, Kathryn Burns and Craig Baylis. Craig is a former dancer who has gone onto work in damn near every sector of entertainment from Artist Development & Tour Marketing to Product Management and even SAGAFTRA member and Staff.
In this episode we scratch the surface of several deep and delicate issues from daily minimum rates (and what’s so great about em) to supply and demand, licensing, and even copyright of choreography.
The learning curve set ahead of choreographers is steep. We must teach ourselves AND the record labels and studio big wigs on the other side of the negotiation table what we do and what that is worth. Grab a pen and paper, and get ready to study up!
Dancers are unique in many many ways, not least of which is our income. It comes from MANY different places, at inconsistent intervals, it’s often not taxed… and then there’s the actual numbers! We might make $17.49/ hour, we might make over $1k per day, we might make $0.00 in a month, we might make $250,000.00 per year. Still interested? Yea, me too. In this episode, I break down the rates, tips, and trades that helped me understand and OWN my full financial picture.
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. And welcome to Words that Move Me. I’m Dana, jazzed that you’re here stoked about this episode, even though it is about not my favorite subject. Yes, it is money March on the podcast. And in this episode, we are talking about the money side of dance life. Um, we’re going to focus specifically on dancers. We’ll talk about choreographers next week, but if you are an actor, a singer or another type of creative human or performer, um, or the parent of one for that matter, keep listening because there is a metric boat load of information about personal finance, uh, for people who do not so regular work. Uh, but first we’re going to talk wins. I have a very not money-related win today. I have taken ballet class three times in the last eight days, which is more than I have taken ballet class in the last eight months. And it’s feeling very good on my body. Um, I think this particular brand of ballet is a compassionate one. I’ve been taking class from the fabulous Spenser Theberge, and, um, I’ll be real with you ballet, and I have have had a rocky past, uh, we’re we’re not known for getting along and Spenser acts as such a marvelous mediator for me in that relationship. So if you’re looking to get back into a, a ballet class or a ballet practice, I really do recommend Spenser Theberge’s class. He’s been teaching on zoom lately. I don’t know how much longer that will continue. Um, but I will link to Spenser and some more about where to find him in the show notes for this episode, Shout out Spenser. Thank you so much, my friend. All right, Now, it’s your turn. What’s going well in your world.
Awesome. I’m so proud of you. I’m glad that you’re winning. I’m glad that we’re here winning together. Um, and this episode togetherness is important. Having it together is important. In this episode, we’re going to talk about the uniqueness of a dancer’s income and exactly what a dancer’s income might be. Um, we’re going to talk about the importance of a solid money system. I’ll give you a few tips there. Um, I’ll give you some essential vocab and I will also give you a very broad stroke outline of what kind of dollars you can expect to be making. When you’re working as a dancer in movies, TV shows, commercials, music, videos, industrials tours, and live shows. Am I missing anything? Oh yeah. Even student films, um, and projects made for the interweb. So this episode is full and it is for you buckle up.
All right. I want to start off by saying that I think it is fascinating that most dancers and choreographers for that matter, who decide that they want to pursue a career in dance do so without having the slightest idea of how much a dancer or a choreographer makes. I think that actually most creatives are in a similar boat. Um, most of us don’t pursue this creative career. This self-employed life for the money, right? We don’t do this for the money. We didn’t get into it for the money yet. Chances are that if we quit, if we abandon this creative life, this freelance life, it’s probably because of the money. So let’s get a grip on that. Honestly, it’s wild to me, but it is real. I packed up my Volkswagen bug and moved across the country without a clue about the money I would make or without a clue about how much it costs to be alive in Los Angeles. It was my first time living under my own roof. I paid all my own bills and I had no clue what to expect. And that’s not necessarily for lack of trying. It’s actually pretty easy to look up estimated incomes for various professions, but you’ll find that the range of income for a dancer or a choreographer is extremely broad yet the numbers for salaried professionals like software engineer or a nurse or a pilot, for example, those numbers are pretty firm. And I think that people who decide to become doctors, pilots, pharmacists, whatever they do so, considering that number, and they probably have an idea of that number when they’re pursuing training. But do you, my dear mover and shaker busting your balls for a career in dance. Do you have any idea how much a dancer makes in a year and to all my more established movers and shakers, do you know how much you made last year?
You might because it’s tax season, but do you know how much you spent? Could you tell me that number without running and grabbing your last year’s tax returns? Do you know how much you would make in one day on a SAG-AFTRA theatrical contract, where there are two other dancers? Do you know how much you would make in one day on a, on a theatrical contract where there were eight or more other dancers, I’ll give you a hint. Those numbers are different. Now, listen, there is no shame game here. No shame at all. In fact, I had to look half this stuff up as I was preparing for this episode, but simply put, I have to say this stuff because in the intro to this podcast, I say the words, if you’re looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then stick around blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. What I should’ve said is if you’re looking to rewrite the starving artist story, stop being afraid of money, stop being afraid of looking at your balances and your bills and your contracts, and start talking about reading, about learning, about making and managing money.
This episode exists to help you do exactly that at very best. It might be boring to you, but I’m going to start with some cold, hard facts today. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about half of the dancers in the workforce made less than the average American in 2019, the us census median individual income. So the average American individual made a little over $40,000 in 2019. The median hourly rate, I always say rage. I say rage on accident, but I don’t know if it’s an accident. The median hourly wage for a dancer in 2019 was $17 and 49 cents an hour. That’s $36,501 and 63 cents for a full-time year. Now let’s be real. Most dancers don’t work full-time. So if the average full-time American is making $40,000 in a year, and the average full-time dancer is making a 36,000 a little more than 36,000 in a year that median hourly wage $17 and 49 cents leaves you at a little less than $700 for a 40 hour work week. Discouraged? Maybe, but don’t get discouraged, get deliberate, get deliberate about how you earn, spend and grow your wealth. I’m going to give you a little encouragment moment. Also, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of entertainment professionals is projected to grow 7% from 2019 to 2029. That is faster than the average for all other occupations. What does that say? It says that people want to be entertained and they always will. It also says there’s a chance. So you’re telling me there’s a chance. What was all that one in a million talk? I digress, man. I love movies. Um, let’s see, in case you need a little more encouragement as of today, which is March, 2021, a dancer hired as a soloist or part of a duo on a SAG-AFTRA theatrical contract, theatrical, by the way, it means films. AKA features that dancer will be paid a minimum rate of $1,030 in one day. And that’s just for the initial work. That’s not including the residual payments. It will get into, uh, the terms in the contract, specifics of all that in a moment. But for now I’ll wrap up this section by saying, dancers are unique. For many, many reasons. One of them is that dancers might make 700 per week, or we might make over a thousand per day, or we could make zero in a month or we could make 250,000 in a year. I would love to see dancer rates and dancer employment go up. But I don’t only think there’s an income challenge here. I think that most of us self-employed dance types actually have a cash flow challenge. Um, I think we never learned how much we ought to be charging. I think we never really learned how to manage it once we make it here are, if you other things that make us really, really unique, um, other than our exquisite fashion sense and physical superpowers of course consider that the traditional employee has their taxes paid automatically. When they receive their check, their taxes are already gone. They’re taken out already like Macavity. They’re not there. Sorry, Cats. I can’t help it. Wow. Movies shown up a lot for me today. Um, also traditional employees receive health and pension plans through their employer. Imagine that they get paid vacation, sick days and personal days. They have a fixed income that usually comes from one place. We do not. In fact, if you’re good at what you do, you’ve got money coming from a lot of different sources for varying amounts on a super irregular basis and through different money channels. For example, PayPal, for all your zoom classes, residual checks from SAG-AFTRA direct deposits from your agencies, um, direct deposits from productions and various payroll companies like media services, entertainment partners, dance studios, all of it. Oh, and if you have an LLC, if you are a single member, LLC, then you’re hopefully also receiving payroll from yourself. So well, this can make tax season really woo exciting. And that is exactly why it’s important for independent contractors like us to organize our money lives and to our own personal financial systems. And that is whatever works my friend, because we truly are unique, little dancing snowflakes. And um, Oh, I wonder if the sugar plum theme music is creative commons. I should be playing that right now. I could probably use that anyways. What I’m trying to say is that we, we independent contractors have to be more disciplined than the average nine to fiver in order to keep all of this creative freedom in our daily lives.
Okay. So let’s get into some vocab, shall we? Um, I mentioned already the median average dancer hourly rate, and I want to make sure that I’m explicitly clear about what that means. Um, it means that half of the data points fall below that number, that $17 and 49 cents per hour and half of the data points are higher than that. So if Sarah let’s say, makes the median average dancer rate of $17.49 an hour, she makes more than half the dancers in the workforce. And half of the dancers in the workforce are making more than she does. So to revisit math class for just a quick second, the median number is the number smack in the middle of all the data. The mean average in this case would be, um, every dancers hourly rate added up together and then divided by the number of total dancers. And the mode average is the number of most commonly occurring. Great math. We did it. Um, okay. Now let’s talk about some fun acronyms. Let’s start with SAG-AFTRA, shall we, SAG-AFTRA is the labor union that represents 160,000, probably more than that. Right now, actors, announcers broadcast journalists, dancers, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists, and other media professionals. SAG-AFTRA stands for Screen Actors Guild, which then merged with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. There you have it, SAG-AFTRA. The stage equivalent of SAG-AFTRA is called Actors’ Equity. They represent more than 51,000 actors and stage managers.
Now let’s talk DA. DA stands for Dancers Alliance, a group of dancers, including myself who advocate for equitable minimum rates and working conditions for all non-union work. That’s any gig that falls outside of SAG-AFTRA’s jurisdiction. For example, Paul Mitchell decides to do a hair show. This is not on camera. This is not a Broadway or off-Broadway show it. This might be taking place in Austin, Texas. For example, that work would fall under the jurisdiction of Dancer’s Alliance. Now let’s talk about a slightly less sexy acronym. I R A or individual retirement account, which is kind of like a savings account, but you can’t use the money quite yet. And it has tax advantages. We’re honestly, we’re not going to talk much about IRAs today, but I will link to a really helpful video on the subject, um, in the show notes of this episode, enjoy that. Okay, let’s talk P and H. P and H is V important. Um, P&H stands for pension and health. These are contributions that go to a pension fund and healthcare. In my case, I received these through SAG-AFTRA now because dancers are typically young and healthy. Most of us don’t care too much about P&H, but Wowza, if this last year is any evidence, we can all become sick. We can all become injured and you cannot dance if you don’t have your health. So I strongly encourage you start recognizing the benefits of health and pension benefits. All right, let’s talk CPA’s. A CPA is a certified public accountant, and I’ll be real with you. There are a lot of online services that boasts the ability to save you money on your taxes. But I find that working with a real human being CPA, whose name’s Jeremy shout out Jeremy, um, on my taxes every year is really the only way to go. I have a lot of that software out there isn’t designed to handle the uniqueness. That is me and you. So that’s a CPA certified public accountant. Now a CB as in bargaining, a CBA stands for collective bargaining agreement. This is the agreement between the union and the employer that you work under when you’re a part of a sag after contract, for example, uh, people who support collective bargaining and unions in general, believe that employees have a better chance at getting what they want in terms of rates and working conditions. When they negotiate as a collective, as a union, rather than individually. Now, when we talk about SAG-AFTRA contracts or CBAs, we’ll discuss four broad categories of work, TV, theatrical, commercial, and new media. Oh, another fun acronym, S V O D subscription video on demand like Netflix, Apple+, Hulu, Amazon, all of those guys, they’re making this conversation very interesting. Okay. Now, when I get into talking about SAG -AFTRA commercial contracts, I’ll go deeper on the concept of residuals, but just for the purpose of this vocab section, a residual or royalty payment is sometimes known as a use payment. That simply means that an additional compensation will be paid out when a production is shown at, beyond its original covered use. The rest of it is not so simple. Okay. That was not simple. I’ll be real, but we’re going to get into residuals in just a second. Now I’m not a financial advisor. I am not a fiduciary, but I do financially advise you to purchase this financial book. It is called The Money Book for Freelancers part-timers and the self employed it’s by Joseph D’Agnese and Denise Kiernan. Um, um, it is in the show notes for this episode and it is very well-written. You will laugh. You will likely cry, but that’s not because of the writing. That’s because you love moving your body. You think it’s fun. And this book has nothing to do with moving your body.
Um, but it has everything to do with moving you towards financial freedom. I owe a lot to this book, which now that I say that out loud is really funny because the book itself is only like $15. And I paid for it all at once. So I know I owe nothing to this book yet. I know yet I owe so much to this book. Honestly, it’s like a handhold. It’s like a financial partner all the way through guiding you. Uh, I honestly, I got straighter answers from this book than I have gotten from previous CPAs and financial advisors who wiggled around concepts for hundreds of dollars. And this book was 15. So there you have it. Oh, and it was not paid to say this, by the way, uh, the money book outlines system for organizing your financial records, it helps you get a clear picture of how much you earn what you spend and what you owe, which by the way, with just a few hours of very focused time, you could probably, and should probably do that today.
Um, the book also explains how you might prioritize paying off debt. It helps you evaluate not only the number side of your business, but also encourages you to evaluate how good you are at doing what you do and kind of offer some ideas about how you might do it better, truly awesome. Um, but there were three massive takeaways that I, that I gathered from this book, and I want to share them with you. Number one, I learned the importance of web only banking. I moved most of my money to a web only bank, which means they have no storefront. They have no like in-human exchanges there. Um, but this web only bank had a much better annual percentage yield, which by the way, the yield is how much the investor, in this case you receives from the investment, the amount of money that you have sitting in the bank, the interest rate on my old checking account at the Bank of America, shame on you was 0.01%. When I switched over to the web bank that I use, which is ally, I got 1% on that same amount of money. I got 1% interest. Now for math sake, let’s say I had a thousand dollars in that account. At B of A, in one year, that thousand dollars would have made me 10 cents of money that the same thousand dollars in my ally account would have earned me $10, 10 cents versus $10. And when the amount of money in the account goes up, that disparity goes up a lot as well. .01 and 1% are really different at the end of the year. Um, for the record, I should state that ally at the time that I signed up boasted that 1% interest rate, um, at the sign-up time. But I believe now it’s dropped 2.5%. So I might be shopping for a new bank holler. Let me know what you know. Um, Oh, I also have to tell you while we’re talking about interest rates, high interest rates on savings accounts, high interest rates on savings accounts equals good. High interest rates on credit cards, however, equals bad because the cash is flowing in the other direction there. Um, for a credit card, you are paying the interest, not earning it because in that, in that case, you’re the borrower, not the lender. Okay, there we go. So that’s lesson number one, the value of web banks and higher interest rates on savings accounts.
Lesson number two, what the book refers to as the Holy Trinity of savings at the time that I read this book, read it, wow. At the time that I started, um, I started shaving off 10% of every check that I made. Every single check I received. Hence percent of that money went directly into an account dedicated for emergencies. Another 10% got shaved off and went over into a retirement account, which would later be shipped off into an IRA. But let’s skip that for now. Um, where were we? 10% to emergency fund. 10% went to a retirement fund and then 15. And when I say fund, I mean savings account, and then 15% of each check went to yet another web bank savings account to be paying my taxes. So, yeah, that’s 35% of each check that I would ship directly off to a high interest yielding savings account. And each of those accounts has made me hundreds of dollars. Yay. Great. Oh, on the subject of those of the Holy Trinity of savings, I also learned the value of naming your accounts. Most banks, especially online banks will let you give a nickname to your savings account. I am here to tell you that you are more likely to feed a savings account called the house of my dreams or my first film versus a savings account ending in numbers. Right? Um, but you could call yours whatever you want. You could call it F You, Uncle Sam, whatever makes you feel funky, whatever inspires you to throw money in that direction, you could get very creative here. See there is creativity to the financial side of the dance life. Um, okay. So all of that is to say there are a lot of small changes you can make on your own that will really change your big financial picture. But I do want to underline the importance of having a solid team, um, throughout the rest of this episode. You’ll hear me say, ask your agent or ask your CPA a lot again, don’t be afraid to ask questions about money. It’s okay. If you don’t know, in fact, it’s your CPA’s job to know more about taxes than you do, and your agents exist not only to send you on auditions, but to help you understand the terms of your contracts, to make sure that you are agreeing to a fair wage. And then yes, of course, to make sure that you are receiving that fair wage. Um, super shout out, by the way, to all my friends at CTG clear talent group and to Tim O’Brien and Misha Goetz specifically who joined me in episode 34, that one is must listen, go ahead and give that, uh, give that a listen. Okay.
Moving right along now, I’m going to move into some more gig specific numbers. I want to say that I have advocated for unionizing in the past. I helped unionize music videos and when a union contract for a tour, but this episode is really not about union versus non-union work. Um, and while we’re on the subject, I really want to address this common misconception that union contracts are about making you more money. Um, this is just simply not true. Union contracts don’t mean more money, but it also does mean more protection and more support in terms of what’s covered in terms of where the money goes like health and pension contributions. And it also means that you’ll have much more support to make a dispute in the event that something goes wrong or the terms of the agreement aren’t met. All right, here we go. Dancers and dollars. Mind you. This is specifically dancers as in dance performers, not teachers or studio owners or choreographers. Also keep in mind that these numbers do change over time. I’m recording in March of 2021, and I’m using the numbers relevant to today. Also, just to keep it focused, I’m only going to discuss rates, not penalty fees or working conditions like dressing rooms, warm up spaces, releases, breaks, turnaround times, et cetera. So we’re going to start off by taking a look at the industry standard rates for non-union projects. I’m referring to the Dancers Alliance website, which is dancersalliance.org That will be in the show notes, um, which is by the way, super user-friendly and all of this is there in plain English. I really encourage you to do a little deeper digging yourself. All right, Dancer’s Alliance live shows industrials and non-union music videos. Your rehearsal rate with agency fee on top of these minimum rates would be $175 for a one to four hour rehearsal day. That’s a half day at $175. Anything over that four hours becomes time and a half a full eight hour rehearsal day would be at $250. Anything over eight hours becomes time and a half for a show day or a shoot day. We’re looking at a $500 minimum. The, the rate for a rehearsal on the same day as a show is open to negotiation. You would expect to receive $150 minimum per travel day or retainer day. If you’re working outside of your hometown, you would also receive per diem. On top of that travel day, pay a per diem, by the way, is a Latin phrase that translates to by the day. This term also refers to the amount of money paid to employees for different types of daily scenarios. Um, most common uses for per diem are tips, food. Um, you know, other odd incurred costs that you have when you’re out there in the world, working away from your normal workspace in Los Angeles. The average per diem rate is $66 per day. In New York, It’s $76. In Las Vegas, It’s $61. In Atlanta and Miami, that’s both $66. There is a full list of those on the Dancer’s Alliance website. Go check that out. All right. Now, if performers are requested to supply their own costumes, uh, including footwear wardrobe items will be compensated at $25 per outfit. That’s total, not per day and $15 per pair of shoes. Ah, while we’re on the wardrobe, subject fittings outside of a rehearsal day will be paid at $50 per hour. Fittings on a rehearsal day are applied to the time that you’ve worked. So most fittings usually happen on record. Okay. If the terms that I just stated, aren’t met on a project, talk to your agent, simple as that. Now music videos are now covered by SAG-AFTRA. Yeah, yes, we are celebrating this because music videos used to be the Wild Wild West, and now they are slightly less wild. A dancer, It’s it’s not common that a dancer would be paid in food like in pizza and beer to perform in a music video. Now, dancer rates are determined by the video budget. Um, dancers make a minimum of 500 for a 12 hour shoot day for all videos with a budget of 50,000 or higher all performers receive safety, provisions, health and pension contributions and usage fees. This is great. Now the DA website has a super helpful cheat sheet on their website that I have included in the show notes as well. Um, but because I mentioned safety provisions, I want to talk about that for just one second. Although it deserves an episode entirely unto itself, music videos have language for quote, extraordinary risk circumstances and quote. This is AKA hazardous conditions. Um, anything from dancing on unusual surfaces to aerial work or trampoline work, or even wearing gear that’s not made for dance like ski boots or skis or a head dress or mask that compromises your vision. All of these are considered extraordinary risk circumstances, but on a music video, even significant floor work on concrete may be considered hazardous. So on a music video specifically with a budget of a hundred thousand or less dancers are entitled to an additional $50 per day videos with a budget of above 100,000 are entitled to an additional one, $100 per day. Now, no matter what the project, if you feel that the work you’re being asked to do is a threat to your safety or wellbeing, talk to your agent period, the end. Um, and also the next time you open your phone to scroll through Instagram, just go scroll through Dancer’s Alliance website instead. Okay, the end, moving on.
Okay. Moving on SAG-AFTRA contracts, as I mentioned for dancers, these usually fall up or four main categories, but there are so, so, so many more like dubbing, voiceover, um, news broadcast, et cetera. There’s a lot, but, um, we’re going to focus specifically on TV, theatrical, commercial and new media. Now it bears mentioning, there are a lot of changes going on, um, especially in the TV and theatrical contracts, like literally as we speak. So even if you’re a person who works on these contracts regularly, you should consider taking a look at the, 2020 TV theatrical summary, which is linked in the show notes of this episode, and absolutely be standing by for the new net code contracts. Um, but for now we’ll give a brief outline of these four categories and their rates as they stand today, we’ll start with theatrical because let’s face it. Everybody loves the movies. Theatrical means film or feature. There are basic theatrical agreements, low budget agreements, modified low budget agreements, ultra low budget agreements, short project agreements and student film agreements. Um, each of these contracts, if you couldn’t guess is determined by the budget of the project, um, they’re each slightly different, but pretty well outlined on SAG-AFTRA’s website. If you’re curious about those, um, uh, I suggest you go take a look, but I’ll tell you about the dancer rates for the basic theatrical contracts here. If you are a solo or a duo being hired on a theatrical contract, you’ll be making $1,030 per day. If you’re in a group of three to eight performers, your rate per day would be $902. And if you’re in a group of nine plus, your rate will be $788 per day. All of those are at a $607 rehearsal day rate. Now weekly rates are higher, um, obviously, but significantly less than all of those numbers. I just mentioned times five. So, uh, bears taking a look if you’ll be on a weekly rate versus a daily rate, um, all right, let’s move into TV contracts. Whoa. This can feel really, really confusing because a contract for scripted episodic, um, like Big Bang Theory, for example, are different from non scripted network shows like competition shows ie. Dancing with the Stars. So you think you can Dance, World Of Dance, um, and award shows like the VMAs or the Oscars or the Grammys. Those are all non-scripted shows and those will fall under what is called the NETCODE or network code. Um, the other slightly muddy element here is that there are countless episodic or scripted series shows now being made by and for SVODs. Do you remember what that stands for? Scripted Video On Demand?
Yes, we did it, or we did it. We did it together, anyways, actually at this point in the quarantine is hard for me to name five shows that are not Amazon, Netflix, or Hulu or Apple+ originals. These are TV shows in air quotes that are not on TV. Um, to simplify this a little bit, your TV rate and your TV contract depend on the budget of the production, the number of episodes and the episode length. For example, if you’re being hired for, um, the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which is an Amazon original because of its high budget and the episodes are longer than 20 minutes, you’ll be on a TV contract. But if you’re hired for a YouTube series or another streaming show with, uh, with a script, um, that has a budget of less than $1 million, you’ll likely be on a new media contract, which we are talking about next again, I truly do suggest that you ask your agent what type of contract you’ll be working on if they haven’t already told you before your first day of work, simply so that you know what to expect.
All of these contracts are slightly different now, new media contracts for all streaming platforms, whether they be Amazon or Instagram, whether they be film spots, series’s or commercial spots, as long as the budget is between 50,000 and 1 million, it will be on a new media contract. New media rates really fluctuate depending on the scale of the budget. And, um, again, to be sure if you are on a new media contract or not check with your agent, um, so that you can know how much you should be expecting to make this is important stuff. Okay? Lastly, the coveted commercial contracts, which let’s be real, there are no less complicated than the TV contracts, because so many commercials these days are intended exclusively for online use. So they fall under the new media contract that I just talked about. But if you’re a commercial, your piece of media is intended for TV. Then there are different classes and different rates of agreements. Class A is the most popular. That means the spot will air in over 20 cities. Class B applies to commercials that will air in six to 20 cities. But if New York is one of those cities, the rates will be higher. We’ll talk about that more in a second, um, class C commercials, these are the least used contracts and they apply to commercials that will air in less than six cities. Okay. Last but not least, there’s the wild spot. The wild spot is a commercial that is aired in over 20 cities like the class a, but these are specific cities. So, um, let me think of an example. Okay. A commercial for In and Out for example, is not going to be running on the East coast because there aren’t any in and outs out there. So these commercials don’t run on specific networks, per se. They run in specific regions and for specific markets. Um, so all those contracts are slightly different, but in one way, they are all the same. They have a rate for first use. That’s what you get paid when you shoot it. And that rate covers the initial usage of the spot. Then the more, the spot airs you will be paid in a residual payment that is of course, unless a buyout was negotiated. Again, we’ll get to that in just a second. Let’s talk class A for a second, if you are a Class, A on-camera performer, that means there’s less than three of you. Your rate is $712 per day. If you’re on a Class A contract and there’s three to five on-camera performers, that rate would be $521 and 20 cents per day. If there are six to eight of you, the rate would be $461 per day. And if there are nine or more performers, that rate would be $381 per day. So you see how that goes. The more performers there are, the lower the rate, the final group nine plus is also known as group nine. Now we’re going to touch on wild spots for a second, just a quick second, because the rates are the same as the Class A rates, which makes sense because they’re also aired in 20 plus cities. So if you want to know what you make on a wild spot, rewind 10 seconds and you’ll have it. Um, okay. Class B rates, they vary depending on whether or not New York is one of the places your spot will air. So that’s fun. Um, but the rates are much higher. If New York is one of those cities, uh, a principal might make $1,347 and 14 cents per day. But without New York as one of those cities that same performer would make $1098 and 75 cents per day. Fortunately, the numbers get a little easier from there because if you’re in a group of three or more New York or not New York, doesn’t matter. If there are three to five performers, you’d be making $857 and 96 cents. Six to eight performers, you’d be making $758 and 66 cents per day and a nine plus we’re looking at $620 and 24 cents per day. That’s our class B which again, not very commonly used because you can imagine that. Or at least I can imagine that why use that contract with all those fancy New York adjustment, higher, higher rate adjustments when it could just be made on a class, A contract. So I’m so curious about if that even gets used. Really curious, anyways, moving right along. Class C, okay. Class C on camera principals, we’re talking $654 77 cents for the first day. For first use per day, a group of three to five, we’re talking $567 and 44 cents. A group of six to eight performers is looking at $504 and 33 cents per day. And your group nine is looking at $412 and 39 cents per day for the first use. Of course, all of those rates I just mentioned are for the initial use. That’s what you’ll be paid for the shoot. Now, the rest, rests with the residual gods. Again, a residual payment is simply additional compensation, which is paid once the production is shown beyond its original use covered by the initial compensation. For example, for theatrical film, residuals would be triggered once the film is released anywhere other than theaters, the theater release is the original use. So residuals would start coming in once the film is released as a DVD or aired on TV or online or something like that. Now that is a very grossly, gross get it, gross pun. Um, not gross, like nasty, but gross as in like total.
Okay. Just to go one tiny layer deeper, there are two different types of residuals. Fixed residuals, which are based on the run of the spot. Um, these exists for TV and new media contracts only. So the amount that you would receive are based on how you were initially paid, and they’re tied to the number of reruns they’re due within 30 days to four months. And that is your fixed residual. The more popular residual structure is a revenue or gross receipts based residual structure. This one’s the most popular it’s tied to sales. Um, they’re due quarterly, or as soon as funds are sufficient enough to cut checks to the entire cast, which by the way, I have been on the receiving end of 1 cent residuals. So I guess that number is substantial enough to cut a check, um, that sort of thing happens. It’s really actually incredible. Um, so these type of these revenue based residuals, um, they’re based on time and salary units. So the person with the smallest residual is probably the performer who, who worked maybe one day at scale on the project. The bigger slice of the residual pie would go to the person who worked at or above scale for multiple days. And so those, those residuals scale accordingly based on time and salary units, I hope that’s been helpful in, in your understanding of how residuals work. If you are into a deeper dive, I’m going to point you in the direction of, um, a video starring SAG-AFTRA’s own Jennifer Gaudry, it really gets into the nuts and bolts of residuals. Um, if you’re interested in that, God bless you find the video in the show notes. Um, I do want to heads you up though. I usually watch YouTube videos at 1.5 X speed. Um, I watched this one slow and multiple times to understand it. Definitely some layers of understanding here. Now, since we’re here talking about residuals, it’s worth mentioning that most non-union commercials and new media contracts can form to industry standard rates and safety measures, but they do not offer residual structure. Instead you’ll likely receive what’s called a buyout, AKA a usage fee that is a flat rate one-time payment usually bundled in with your initial fee. Um, and it’s intended to cover all additional uses in perpetuity. I’m not thrilled about buyouts. If you can’t tell, I am thrilled, however about these contracts and the fact that they are always getting slightly better, thanks to the work of our brothers and sisters over the union. It truly is an incredible thing to watch progress happen over time, and to watch the benefits of these contracts start being rolled out. Very, very cool thing. Um, also I want to point out with regards to these SAG-AFTRA contracts, All of the numbers that I just mentioned, all of the numbers that you see on the rate sheets on SAG-AFTRA is website. Those are minimums. There are performers who have their agents negotiate above scale, and I want you to be one of those performers. I want you to become so capable, so exceptional that you are an exception to the minimum. I want to see you not only working, but working above scale, absolutely working above that median $17 and 49 cents per hour. And I believe that you can. Now we are dancers, not mathematicians. Although I do know several dancers that are very, very good with numbers. We can all count to eight at least. And we know how to add. We especially know how to add value. So please danclings know your worth, know your rates. And if there’s something that you’re confused about or concerned about, or don’t understand, choose curiosity, instead of confusion, refer to DA’s website, check the SAG-AFTRA website, check Actor’s Equities website, talk to your team of agents, talk to your team of friends, choose curiosity, get that information, get a clearer picture of your financial life and what you should expect. And then of course choose compassion always for yourself and for others, especially set as things can get heated, especially when we’re talking about money. Remember that when you’re on a gig, you represent a part of the professional dance community and being treated and paid as a professional comes along with behaving professionally. All right, my friends, I truly hope this episode has been helpful to you. Um, it has been helpful to me in making it, I have learned so, so, so much now, uh, go take these resources and run with them. Do deeper dives, do deeper digging and do make good habits of understanding your contracts before you sign them. All right. Now, go get out into your day, keep your money on your mind. Keep your mind on your money and yes. Keep it funky. I’ll talk to you later
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 the theDanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon, Bye!
The chapters of the Nika Kljun story read a bit like a fairy tale of a girl who followed her heart, but if you read between the lines it is the story of certainty in uncertain times. Nika is an example of dreaming big and achieving BIG THINGS. This episode dips into the strategies behind big moves (geographically and otherwise). Movers and shakers, (and fellow ambassadors) Please welcome the Dance ambassador to Slovenia, Nika Kljun!
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. And welcome to the podcast. This is Words that move me. I am Dana. I am thrilled that you are here. This is an exceptional episode. I’m very excited to share it. Uh, today on the podcast, my guest is my friend Nika Kljun. And let me tell you what if, if there is an example of dreaming big and achieving big things, it is Nika Kljun. And if, if there is a bright and vivacious explanation of doing exactly that it is this episode between Nika and I both, uh, there, there will be a lot of smiles in the next hour. I’ll put it that way. Um, and while we’re speaking of smiling, let’s go ahead and do wins. If you are new to the podcast, I do wins in every episode. I do think it’s super important that we celebrate the things that are going well in the world. And today I am celebrating, nurturing my space, specifically, the podcast space. Now we’ll give you a little bit of backstory. Uh, when I moved into my place, it had those popcorn ceilings and I spent a sum of money and a lot of convenience to have those replaced. I’ve flattened the ceilings, this beautiful even drywall ceiling top, and ever since then, which is 2009. I have been very resistant to hanging anything from the ceilings. And just this week I decided, you know what, I’ve had it. I’m putting a hanging plant in my podcast booth because my technical director, Malia Baker gave me a disco ball hanging planter. And this thing is just the coolest, Oh, I’ll for sure. Go ahead and link to this, a photo of this in the show notes of this episode. Um, so I, I spiffied up the place and then like, right as I completed this task, something started going wrong at the carwash across the street from me. One of the vacuums that they use might’ve sucked up, uh, a hairball or an, an actual living creature, perhaps because it is making a sound that is inexcusable it’s right at the top of the frequency I think that humans can hear, um, and I’ve had a headache for three days. So actually the podcast booth is one of the few spaces that I am seeking sanctuary. Um, so I, I, I love that I’m feeling good about this space. And all I had to do was drop a couple drywall screws into my precious perfect drywall that was precious and perfect for years. So I’m thrilled with the job that I did and I love my disco ball hanging planter. Thank you, Malia. That is my win this week. Okay. Now it’s your turn. What is going well In your world?
Congratulations. Keep on winning. I’m stoked for you. All right. Now let’s not take another beat. I’m so excited to share this conversation with you, particularly because although this story, this Nika Kljun story, reads a little bit like a fairy tale about a girl who followed her heart. If you read between the lines, it is actually a story about certainty in uncertain times. And I can’t think of anything more fitting than that today. So enjoy this conversation with the dance ambassador to Slovenia, Ms. Nika, Kljun.
Okay. Nika Kljun. I am so excited that you’re here. Thank you so much for being on the podcast. Yes!
Nika: Thank you so much for having me.
Dana: Oh my gosh. I’m thrilled about this. This is a really big moment for me because you and I go back years and years and years, although we haven’t overlapped much in our professional life, I’m really, really excited to just sit uninterrupted and get to know you and your work a little bit better. Um, as, as the first step to that, it’s hard. It’s challenging. My guests hate me for this, but I’m going to ask you to introduce yourself. What do you want us to know about you?
Nika: This is very, very hard part for everyone. I’m assuming. Well, um, okay. So very simple. Um, I’m a human being that absolutely loves to dance. Um, its in my blood. My parents were also dancers. They still teach dance. We have dance school Bolero in my country Slovenia. So yes, I am not from here. You can hear it in my, in my voice. So, um, my accent is from Europe, small country, 2 million people. And I was just, um, you know, small girl with big dreams. Um, as a dancer, I wanted to be professional dancer, choreographer, international teacher, and here I am, I achieved everything. And I also achieved that I moved to LA in 2010. So, um, that’s just real quick.
Dana: There it is in a tiny nutshell. And I think Nika you, might’ve just named this episode, small girl with big dreams. That is what you are and a big appetite for learning. I would like to add, um, we actually met in 2007.
Nika: I don’t remember the year.
I do remember that I was assisting Marty on a teaching tour in Europe and I, and that’s when I first met you. I don’t know it was, uh, Who Got Skillz workshop. Oh my gosh. I’m so embarrassed that I don’t know the year Marty would, Marty would absolutely remember. Um, and I recognized you right away, long blonde hair, phenomenal dancer. Um, and you really do stand out, you sparkle, but the thing that stood out about you most, to me, it was your curiosity and your, like you followed the workshops, you took several, I mean, it’s, uh, workshops in Europe are a little bit different than in that travel between countries is simpler, right. Quicker relative to in the States, perhaps. But, um, I remember you taking several classes, asking brilliant questions, but asking questions, not just about dance, but about life, about all of it. Um, and I would like to start this interview by asking, what are you curious about today? Like, what is, what lights you up right now,
Right now? Um, you let me up, you are such a, you don’t even know you’re such a light, you know, that you’re a light, but for me, you are one of the biggest inspirations and reasons why I moved to LA and, you know, just dreaming big watching you on TV. Uh, when I came from home on MTV music channel, you know, with, uh, music videos and tours with Justin Timberlake. Yes. So I was just like, okay, I want to that blonde girl. At one point you were blonde and I’m going to be dancing with her on tour period. So I just followed, I followed my guts and I was just really working hard. And you know, you like lit me up yesterday. I couldn’t even sleep well. Cause I was like, I was so thrilled because yeah, you’re such a big inspiration. I have like few people in my life that, um, inspired me when I was in Europe coming over here. And that’s you that’s Teresa Espinosa . Oh yeah, that was so I was like, I’ve got to be that red very next to Brittany and Tiana Brown next to Christina Aguilera. Oh yeah. Um, the younger ones were Tucker and Laura Edwards.
Love, love. All of these are great inspirations. Thank you for those shout outs. And for those extremely kind words, I am sweating and I have an ear to ear grin. It’s actually, I’m wearing these giant headphones right now and it actually creates pressure on my like makes it actually harder to smile, but I am grinning ear to ear. Thank you so much for your kind words. Um, okay. So I had Diana Matos on the podcast in episode 47 and we talked a little bit about her move. Uh she’s from Portugal. And she talks about how, um, she sort of compartmentalize is or makes chapters of her dance life based on where she was living at the time. Um, that’s sort of like how she sees, you know, there was the London chapter, there’s the LA chapter and maybe somebody has a New York chapter and there’s the home chapter. Um, could you talk about how you chapter your dances?
All right. Okay. Very fast. Cause I know you’re cutting this right. So very fast. Um, my big chapter of course is Slovenia. I was born there. I was a competitive, very.. Yeah, I’m competitive person, but I was a competitor on competitions. That’s our life in our country. So I did so many years of that. So basically when I was nine years old, I went to London and with my dance teacher for jazz, cause my parents always wanted to educate our teachers so that they could teach our students better. And that teacher was like, well, your daughter is extremely talented. I think I should bring her with me to open her eyes and introduce her to- to musicals. And you know, maybe, maybe one day she will have big dreams. We don’t know, let’s try and boom. I was nine. I was dancing in my pink outfits in all hip hop classes and jazz and tap and pop and lock and uh, everything that’s possible basically in Pineapple dance school in London. And then I saw so many musicals and I was going, I was back. I was actually going there with my teacher for quite few summers. And then at one point I came to the audition DANCE2XS where, um, I was 14 years old. I got introduced to DANCE2XS company that the owner basically is in Chicago, Patrick Chen. And that basically opened my world. Um, and I started going, you know, flying just to London sometimes for the weekend on to have rehearsals with this, um, uh, company. And that’s, I feel like now looking back, that’s a big commitment, you know, and such yeah. I was so enthusiastic about my, my future in dance, you know, so that was not no problem for me. So basically dance success company, Sisco Gomez and Kim, Kimberly Taylor, they were my teachers, they opened doors for me. Patrick brought you guys with Marty to Euro, have workshops with, I had workshops in Europe with American choreographers and that’s where I kind of started getting to know you guys. And so basically I was professional dancer in Paris and in London for quite some time. But at the same time I was juggling my school, my high school in Slovenia finishing my high school, uh, and also teaching about hundred students in my dance school. And because, um, I want to say this very humble humbly. I was pretty much always, um, first, so unbeatable as a soloist in jazz, tap, you know, and a lot of other different hip hop styles and that pressure of me teaching that many people. And then also people expecting these groups to be amazing as well. It was very, very hard for me, but I somehow did it. And, uh, we were national European World Champions and, you know, I was just missing always something. And that was the real move. And that was in 2010 with visa to America. But I did Monsters of Hip Hop show before that and all this stuff. So that’s where I actually, I got my agents so that, that visa started, you know, easier for me, that process. And since I did so many things and work with, uh, in Europe with American choreographers, they already knew me so much. I started coming to LA when I was about 16 or 17, I was still going to dome at millennium.
Oh I miss that room!
Oh yeah. So, you know, um, I’ve been in and out of LA, what would I say right now for like 15 years or more, you know, but I just moved here when It was 2010 and close my chapter in my school with my students and being European, you know, professional dancer and I opened one in America. So it was a tough decision.
Okay. I have a couple spinoff questions from that. We’ll stick with where we stand right now, but don’t let me forget. I do want to go back to having an agent, getting the visa. I have so many questions about that and I know it’s changed. I think it’s much more difficult to do that today. I know several people going through the process and, and the requirements of getting a visa are, are harder. Now becoming a citizen is much harder. Now I do want to touch on that a little bit, but I want to know how do you make difficult decisions? Like when you find yourself with that, you know, on one hand, I really want “blah”, but on this other hand, I’m making the situation up, but I love my home studio and I love my parents and I love teaching, but I really want to pursue a career for myself. How, how do you make decisions like that?
Okay. It’s a very simple question for me. Um, because everything in dance, when it comes to my career, um, it came spontaneously. So to me, these decisions were never, I need to make a decision. I knew that this is going to be my life. So there was no decisions. So it’s very, it’s very hard to understand with the, for the people that are very connected to families and they need to have, you know, family around and close friends. But I never, I was so driven, Dana. I never, that was not an option. Me being in Slovenia or me, you know what I mean? So don’t ask me about dance. Like I do everything in dance because I love to dance and you know what? It comes to hard decisions for me, it’s an everyday basis. Okay. Which restaurants do I want to go eat? Or order food from? Like, this is crazy when I’m telling you, sometimes it takes one hour between me and my boyfriend to decide he is also, um, he’s also, I’m a Capricorn, so I don’t know why I’m not, I’m so bad at making decisions that he’s a Libra. So we’re both just undecisive. So for me, it’s like more, you know, every day I can make choices and then you, I mean, you just have to make it at one point, but like, I know it’s funny. Right. But when it comes to life of my career, I it’s very clear to me, you know, very clear what the hardest decisions were. Um, do I take all the workshops abroad when I was already living in America or I say no to what I love to do the most and no to money. And I take time to go to auditions here in LA as a dancer.
Okay. Let’s talk about it. So you have, so, so on one hand you have, you know, you’re a new transplant to Los Angeles or establishing a career as a dancer. And yet you’re coming off of this European teaching circuits, which is pretty high dollar, you know, there’s this celebrity element to being a teacher on one of those circuits. So you’ve got this known quantity, that’s praise and it’s, um, profit. And then you’ve got this uncertain thing in LA. That’s like hard work, not a lot of recognition, but you know, you have to climb the ladder. That’s the type of hard decision we’re talking about. So what, what did you do? What was the move?
Um, I, you know, I always ask myself about the integrity. I always want to have integrity. And if I said yes to people, let’s say in Asia, I’m coming, then I’m going to come to you and I’m going to teach you, you know? Um, unless there was a job that it absolutely was like on my priority top list, you know, and goals. Um, but if I make a decision prior to something to some audition, then I usually always went with teaching. And, um, and I, I’m not regretting, I’m not regretting anything because I feel that sometimes we need to listen to higher powers because they are guiding us. They are guiding us and tell us, telling us where we should go, what we should do. What, why are we here for, and I know when I’m on stage or okay. I say stage, cause I do convention so much now. So I’m always on stage, right. But when I’m in front of the room, when I teach, this is where I, I need to be, this is my purpose. I can feel it in every cell, in my body. It’s a very interesting, um, topic to talk about. But if you feel me, you understand what I’m saying? Right. And, um, and I always wanted, I always was listening to God or something, what you believe in up higher in the universe. And, um, I had this feeling for people since when I was very young already. I saw my mom teaching to so many students right. In Slovenia. And I think I can adapt to that automatically came in me, you know, how she’s teaching. And she also is not just a normal teacher. She’s actually, um, teaching other teachers in our country how to teach so psychology of teaching, how to work with people. So I feel like I got these in my genes. And, um, I always said, you know what? I booked as a dancer, as many jobs as, uh, it was given to me, I was supposed to, you know, even that deep down in my heart, I still wanted to dance some more till now, but I believe God. And I’m, you know, choosing to believe that I’m here for the bigger purpose, not just to be a dancer behind a singer
Copy that, that that’s a gorgeous segue. You’ve done the background. Uh, I almost said singer, you’ve done the background singer thing before. Um, you’ve done the background dancer before, right? Uh, Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Bieber, Pitbull, Neo, Jason Derulo. I’m just naming a few. Um, and you’ve also done the choreography thing. So you’ve made it abundantly clear that, that you find tremendous purpose and fulfillment in teaching, but when it comes to dancing versus choreography, do you feel more comfortable in run in one role or the other?
I don’t feel more comfortable in, I don’t feel, I feel like every role is so special. And, um, and I love them both very, very much, uh, when it comes to choreography, there is way more way more other things you have to, you know, just deal with and responsibilities that comes with it. And, um, you really need to have a lot of patience, uh, with celebrities that we work in, we are in Los Angeles. We are not in small Germany, a German city where everybody’s kind even the artists, right. So we deal with so much
What are you trying to say here, Nika? Hahaha
Celebrities are one of the kind, it’s very hard sometimes for me to navigate through managements through the right words, because I am very much, uh, I’m very much honest. I very much am genuine. I feel like I kind of created my name in this, um, in this industry because of that, because I’m so genuine with what I say or how I am with people and being genuine. Sometimes it’s not the best when you work with such a big, you know, not problematic people, but it’s just, it’s just different. Right. So, um, I would say if I have to, if I have to rank things, I would say teaching and being a dancer is on first place. And then second is choreography.
I think what, you’re, what you’re talking about here or what you’re pointing to is one of the things that most people don’t plan or prepare for when they embark on a career as a choreographer, they’re learning about movement, they’re learning about techniques, they’re learning about their creative vision and taste. And, uh, they’re learning about composition and structure and story and all of these things, but very rarely do people put navigating different personalities on their list of things to, or on their list of muscles to strengthen when becoming a choreographer. And, um, it is such an important skill, um, in our industry because you will be working with powerful, I’ll call it powerful in one direction or another, right. You’ll be working with powerful personalities, right and left and navigating relationships is 100% part of, um, uh, of our job as choreographers. So I think that’s, I’m glad that you mentioned that, um, and having a strong personality yourself in a very honest one, uh, I believe is, um, Oh, what’s the word I’m looking for? Uh, I believe it’s virtuous. I believe it’s an asset or it can be, but I can see where there might be situations how that could come back and bite you in the butt.
Yep. Absolutely, yeah.
Okay. I’d like to segue a little bit. Um, I, for some number of years, I don’t know the actual number of maybe four or five years was in ambassador for SAG-AFTRA our performers union. And I’m actually quite proud of that. I loved that. I love that 10 of my life. I would go on set visits, um, with sag after reps talk with the members, make sure that everything on set was going according to contract. Um, I would help if I could answer questions or point people in the direction of answers if I didn’t know the answers to these questions. Um, and anyways, long story short, I just found out that you are a dance ambassador to Slovenia I’m blown away. And I’m so curious about what, um, the responsibilities of a dance ambassador to your country are like, what does that look like?
You’re so sweet. Thank you very much. Yeah. Um, well, um, I don’t have any responsibilities, um, written down, but I got a title because, um, I achieved so much outside of Slovenia and, um, and I was first one in modern dances. So that’s in modern dance. That means in Slovenian, it means hip hop, um, jazz funk, you know, not Ballroom and Latin or rock and roll and stuff. Right. So street stuff, uh, nobody before me did anything like that or achieved so many achievements outside Slovenia. So, um, also when it comes to teaching worldwide, so my, I was always very proud Slovenian. So I always, always said and introduced Slovenia to other countries and to other dancers. So I think Slovenia, just got very, very proud of me
Because you were proud of it.
Yeah. Because I’m very proud of it. And I’m spreading my Slovenian roots around the world and I am a big idol to our dancers in our country that it is possible to dream big and to achieve something big. Um, we only have to believe in it, you know,
That’s a beautiful sentiment. And I think that this might be a perfect opportunity to do a little audience participation. We don’t have a live audience right now. You and I we’re, we’re the only people here, we just have my assistant engineer Riley Higgins in the room, in the zoom room with just us. But everyone that’s listening could get involved right now because Nika, I want you to teach me how me and us, everyone listening, how to pronounce the name of the city, where you’re from, it’s the capital city of Slovenia. And I, I can, I can see it in writing. I can spell it, but no way in hell and I pronounce it. So I’m hoping you can, we can, we can all just jump on for a little, um, a little lesson in Slovenian.
All right. So this is, this is the cutest, everything Dana, you’re so awesome
Should we do a before and after, should I try to pronounce it first? And then you teach me and then
You go, go,
Okay. Okay. Here’s my guess. Um, Oh, *gibberish* Hold on. *gibberish*
Dana. You’re making it away harder. Okay. So that was cute. J in our country is pronounced like Guh
Really? Okay. Yeah. Beautiful. Thank you. I hope everyone, everyone listening got a kick out of that. I think it’s a beautiful thing to be proud of where you’re from. Um, and I do think Sylvania has a lot to be proud of, but I think the thing that I’m taking away in this conversation is that you put where you come from first and you’re proud of where you come from. You’re not ashamed of dreaming big, you are not afraid of claiming ownership of your accomplishments. Um, and I, I think that’s, I think that’s stellar. So congratulations, ambassador to Slovenia. I’m so honored to have you, um, okay. So on the subject of big accomplishments and worldwide, um, aclaim, I want to talk about social media for a second. It comes up on the podcast a lot. Oh my gosh. The face you’re making it. She’s going, Ooh, here we go. Um, I guess what I am curious about, maybe we start broad and then we can work our way, uh, to specifics. What would you say is your relationship to social media? Um, if I had to answer that question, I’d say it’s a little bit of a love hate. I find a tremendous value in connecting with people. I get inspired there. I love sharing my work and I love sharing what I’m learning. I love sharing I’m working on. Um, but I also, uh, have watched the social dilemma and I’ve watched what social platforms can do to behavior. Um, I don’t think it’s any secret that they are designed to a T to be addicting. Um, and I know most artists don’t dream of spending 12 hours a day on our phone. We dream of spending 12 hours a day in a studio or on a stage or on a tour. So, um, I’ve got a love, hate relationship, and it sort of depends on the day, but I see it as a useful tool. And I see it as a tool that can also be harmful. Um, and that all depends on how you use it, of course. But I see you as being a person who, uh, you know, you mentioned being genuine before. I see you as being a person who is genuinely comfortable in front of, uh, a device, whether it be a cinema camera or an iPhone, and you simply show up and share what is lighting you up and you dance and you twinkle and you sparkle, and you do all these things. Are you deliberate in how you interact with social media? Do you do it because you love to share, do you do it because your manager told you, you have to, like, what is, what’s your relationship? How do you work with social media?
First of all, I don’t have a manager. But I do have an assistant. And my assistant was specially, um, her name is Johanna. She is awesome because, um, you know, she was first here for the emails and very quickly it turned into, can you please help me with, um, getting these texts together on Instagram or like, you know, just make me on, on, on my toes, like, okay, Nika, I think you have to post something about you now. You know, I know he like to post others, but people following because of you, as you know, she started guiding me a little bit. Um, and it’s much easier right now for me to relax. Um, but I do come up with all the, all the topics I want to, you know, talk about or, uh, if I post a photo, what topic I want to talk about in that, under that photo. So it’s very genuine in one way, but I physically don’t want to spend an hour and a half on posting. So it’s different with stories, stories I love to do. And also, you know, I, I love to engage with my, um, followers and fans and people that they love me. You know, sometimes family actually, I connect through Instagram with my family, you know what I mean? So, um, I love to be genuine and then, and show myself without makeup, show myself with makeup, just see that we are all normal people, because I think that so many young, young dancers, they think that we are, I don’t know, such a, such a idols that we don’t, we are not same as them, but we are. And I want to really share that with them so that they feel better on everyday basis, you know, that they need, they don’t need to post every time when they’re happy. They don’t need to put that. I’m not happy every single day. Like it’s important for me that they know what’s real world, you know, so I don’t have problems with being me on social media. Um, I must also say the social media and I would say starting with YouTube and also Instagram Facebook, that was very spontaneous with me. I’m not one of those, um, choreographers or dancers who were planning on gaining followers. So, um, I always, I would say I’m still kind of old school, but I got lucky. I was there at the right time as well. That Instagram really picked, picked me up also, you know? Um, but I know that that is all connected with YouTube because I had a lot of views on that years ago, but I started with YouTube when it was nothing. I started literally when it opened, I started also uploading my YouTube stuff. So, um, I think that everything is connected. And, um, when I started teaching, especially posting more at Millennium dance school, you know, there’s so many great dancers in my videos as well from there. So, um, it’s just wonderful that when you follow me or if you follow me, I think I, all I wanted you to see is a light, bright, light, um, happiness that is genuine and that I dare you to be, to be you I’m daring you, cause it’s so much fun when you go to bed and you know, that you are trying everyday to be the best version of yourself to be right. So I dunno, it’s just something when it comes to that and, and that connection that love between people. I want to, I want to share that, you know, with people genuinely.
Yeah. But I wanted to say so much more, but it’s so much like, I didn’t say like we are, it’s so important that we are, um, uh, like we have big platform and we can change people’s worlds. We can change people’s, um, people’s day, you know, just by connecting through social media with people around the world. And we, we have to think very smart, how to, what do we put out there and how do we guide our audience to, so did we lead to, to better worlds. Um, you know what I mean to better new generation, that we are good leaders. That’s very important. And that’s what I didn’t say,
Except for we’re still recording. So you just said it,
Okay. Haha awesome!
Step away from the social conversation for, for a second, but thank you for sharing your perspective on that. That’s, that’s, that’s enlightening and you know, it’s interesting to me about that actually is that everybody’s relationship is a little bit different and rarely is their relationship. What it looks like it is from the outside. Um, I’m sure there are people that on upon first glance, I would say, Oh my God, they must be obsessed with their socials. And then I find out, Oh no, they have a small team that’s obsessed with their socials. And they don’t actually even look at it, not even once a week, or there are people that I might think don’t care much about it at all, but they’re quietly in their rooms scrolling through it three hours a day. You know? So it’s an interesting question. I, I love hearing the various different answers that I get to that question. Um, okay. So we talked a little bit about your journey to the States. Um, it did, from what I gathered, uh, did you already have an agent? Did you already have representation when you made your way over?
I did. I did. MSA Agency, um, saw me at Monsters of Hip Hop show and, and helped me sponsor me for first visa, uh, Patrick Dance2XS company that I was, you know, in London with, uh, they gave me a deal memo. So that’s how I will always be quite grateful for this one. You know, these people for the first visa and then second visa came. It was a little easier. And then I, now I have green card.
Nice congratulations. Um, would you make any recommendations to people that might be listening overseas that want to make that jump?
I, I want to say that think twice, what are your, really your dreams? Don’t be a sheep and just follow everyone to Los Angeles because it’s cool to be here. It’s not, uh, such an easy life out here, especially now. And I feel like, especially in the last few years, I think it’s so many dancers and, and not a lot of opportunities. And, um, but if you are that girl that actually was me, right. Completely knowing like that, is it like, can I be different then, um, focus, uh, on how you gonna gather all the information and all the, proof that you are good enough to come here to LA so, or to America. Right. So the biggest problem is, um, that to, to have proof that you are legit enough that in America with like very simple words, you are not, um, you will be able to pay Taxes. What I mean? So did you will be something, so that’s what they care about that you are good. So if you’re just a phenomenal dancer without any proof, it’s very hard to get visa. And I think it’s so unfortunate and I’m so heartbroken for so many European dancers. They wants to come here or around the world, but, um, really you have to think stretch strategically, what, what get, where can I have, where can I get all of that? So I usually recommend European dancers to move to London or Paris, Germany, Amsterdam and create their, you know, career their first, um, or if they are lucky already, they live there, you know, dance with a lot of celebrities, people that they know, be a brand for big, you know, Nike Adidas, whatever big companies, um, have a lot, a lot of views on YouTube, like all that, like, it, it it’s, it branches in so many ways, you know? So just have to be very smart about it.
I appreciate your transparency. Thank you. I can, I can only imagine, um, to, to be in a position where you have to prove that you are able to make money doing a thing before you are actually making money for a thing, it’s kind of what came first, the chicken or the egg conversation. You know, if you’re hoping to aspire to be a professional dancer in LA, but you have to prove that you are professional level, it’s sort of comes, uh, it comes actually, and this might be a beautiful, a beautiful place to end. One of my favorite concepts and ways of being in the world is by making decisions behaving and, um, treating myself as if I were my future self already. So I imagine what I, I imagine how I would talk. I imagine how I would treat people. I imagine how I would behave. I imagine how I would train. I imagine how I would wake up and make breakfast. If I was already doing all the things that I Dana today in 2021 want to be doing. And that, that really changes something in your perspective, it changes the speed with which I move. It changes the efficacy with which I with which I operate. And, um, I obviously am saying this from a tremendously privileged position of, of so many things, but being an able-bodied white woman who grew up in suburbia with access to a lot of training and access to a lot of people I’m already in the States. I don’t, I am certainly not the person to advise a European on what to do, but it might be helpful just to treat yourself with that kindness, to embody your future self now, and that might help you get to a place where you’re presenting or where you’re producing and presenting more professional level work simply by treating yourself and talking to yourself like a professional.
Absolutely. I believe in visualization. And I believe that if I was not visible, visualizing me on big stages with big artists, with, you know, my idols, um, on stage, I don’t know if I would actually work with them, you know, because I put this out in the universe, I, there was, um, I never, ever doubt that I am not going to get visa because I already saw it happening, you know, and this is exactly what you said. And, um, and I just want to say that it is very, very true. And I, I tried it in my own skin. So visualization, it’s a real thing. You do have to 100% believe in it, but it all comes, comes down to how much you love yourself and appreciate yourself. So if, if that’s why self love is so important. And in these days, it’s very important that you work on that. I personally am going to share something that I didn’t share with anyone before. Um, but I feel like this is the moment. Um, I am working on my mental health, um, with a woman every week from Slovenia. We are on zoom and we are having the best time ever. And that is, she’s not a psychologist, she’s anthropology, she’s social, she’s so much, right. She’s very clever woman, but it is some type of, you know, I need to learn how to stay stable. And, um, how do you say, um, I need to clear all the trash that is this in my mind. Absolutely. So that you can continue being grounded and see what is important in life and love yourself. Because if you don’t love yourself, it’s very hard to also generally love others, because you always interfere with some kind of fears and, you know, jealousy and you’re angry at someone, but it all comes down to you. I stopped pointing fingers at others. I came, I started searching in me and you cannot visualize yourself, you know, somewhere with big dreams, somewhere in the future. If you don’t first believe that you, um, are worth of that, did you deserve that? You deserve that. You see what I’m saying? It’s so complex. Our mind is complex. So I always believe, and I say that if you are, um, mentally stable as a person, I believe that your career can also shine even brighter than it shines already. Now,
I think that that’s a beautiful sentiment. I happen to agree. I think that, and I do not. I mean, that is a gorgeous high flying note. I don’t mean to bring it down, but that type of training isn’t taught in most dance studios. That may be something that you need to seek out for yourself. And as you mentioned, you’re just now starting to do that work for the first time as an adult woman. Uh, and it is, it is work and that’s hard to hear maybe that it takes work to love yourself. But the good news about it is just like with dance with the fouette turn, there are techniques, there are tools and with practice, it does get easier and you do get better at it. I’m thrilled to hear that you’re on that journey. Um, I love you unconditionally. I’m jazzed that you are loving yourself and learning to be, um, uh, a proponent of self-love and self-care. And, um, I think that’s such an important message. Thank you for sharing it today. And always you’re you just, you sparkle.
Dana you are, you are so wonderful. Please don’t ever change. Like, you know, if I have a bad day or something, I just, I go to the grocery store. I just put your podcast on and you’re with me on the way to grocery store and home. Like, it’s really tremendous what you’re doing to a younger generation or just, um, you know, people that are listening to podcasts and, um, it’s, it’s wonderful. Cause you always been smart. I’ve always felt sense that, um, not just in, on stage and mean in dance space, but like you, I feel like you always loved, um, words. I don’t know. I don’t even know you much. So I feel like I’m so I’m so glad that you open this path for you and not just being a choreographer teacher, dancer, creative, whatever you’re doing. Right. I think it’s very, very important. And you actually inspired me. You don’t know that, but you inspired me to start doing professionally makeup. So I’m in online makeup school and, um, that’s completely something out of my world. I never done anything but dance, Dana. I never had any job that was not connected to dance. That’s completely different worlds. Right. So I started going to makeup school and I also learned how to do nails professionally because of your podcast.
Get out of town. I’m floored. I’m so thrilled for you. Congratulations.
Thank you. But thank you. You know what I mean? You’re doing big thing. Um, so keep on doing it and I’m going to keep on listening to podcast. We have to support each other. We have to support each other dancers, choreographers, friends. That’s so beautiful to feel that, uh, how, when you’re happy for someone else, it makes you happy. But you cannot do that if you don’t love yourself and checking with yourself, right? So again, it comes back to that. So I wish everyone love and you know, calmness in the wild wild times and keep on going, keep on going. It’s not over. We, they time can, I mean, this situation that we’re in right now, right? Especially us. We are in California. Nothing is open since March. We can’t even go together and dance in the room. Right. So you just have to believe in, in good. I always believe in good focus on the good and I feel like the good times are coming soon. I feel it
Well you’re creating them. You created one just now for, for a whole hour. Thank you so much for that Nika. I appreciate you so much. Let’s do this again sometime.
Yes, please. Thank you for having me. Bye everyone.
My pleasure. Bye.
Alright, my friend that is that. And I do hope you enjoyed it. Um, I really love this idea about worthiness, the importance of self-care and self-love and um, I hope this conversation has brought a bright spot, um, and enduring twinkle to your day to day and far beyond. All right, everybody. That is it for me today. Take care. Be good. And of course, keep it funky.
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. Number two things 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. #61 Giving Black and Passing it Forward with Eartha Robinson, Will Simmons, and Dominique Kelley
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. And welcome! This is words that move me, I’m Dana, and this episode is different than most, and I am biased, but I will also say it is better than most, podcasts period. Better, because today I’m with you. I’m the listener. I’m not the host. And when I tell you that, as I listened to this episode, I laughed. I cried. I shouted. I learned, and I hope that you do too. I simply cannot wait another moment to share. So without any further ado, I am passing the mic to my friend and guest host. For this episode, the incomparable Dominique Kelley, who will introduce you to the young and talented and wise beyond his years Will Simmons AKA big will. Along with the sensational, the seasoned, the sophisticated, the soulfull Eartha Robinson Enjoy.
Dominique: Boom. Good morning, everyone. Um, I am happy to almost Take over Words That Move Me Podcast. Uh, thank you, Dana Wilson for creating this space for us to talk. And I have two wonderful guests here today. I have Ms. Eartha Robinson and Big Will that’s what I love to call him. I’ll have them introduce themselves to you. Um, so why don’t we start with Eartha Robinson, please introduce yourself to not only the people listening to, but also to us.
Eartha: Um, okay. I am Eartha Robinson. I was, uh, raised and I trained in Harlem in New York. Uh, went into performing arts. Um, I started dancing at 15, got my first professional job at 16. Been working ever since. Um, I have a wonderful family, two amazing daughters. I’m a choreographer, director, producer, uh, dancer, actress. Um, I do a lot of things. I’m um, uh, what could I say about myself? I’m the worst person to ask me about myself. Everybody else can speak my resume, but I just like,
Dominique: Yeah, well that just goes to show how much you’ve influenced the dance community, because you have so many slashes that we can go on and on and on. I love it. All right. Big Will, do you want to introduce yourself?
Big Will: Yeah, I’ll do it. What’s up. Y’all it’s my name? Wilson. AKA big will I am 20, almost 21. So, you know, a little quick little turn up for me. Um, but I’m 20 years old. I had been dancing at the age of five and professionally at the age of 10 and then my first professional job at the age of 11. So I’ve been working ever since I’m a dancer, choreographer, actor, and social media influencer as well.
Dominique: Boom, good morning. And, uh, for those of you I’ve been on this, uh, podcast a couple of times before, but for those who don’t know, my name is Dominique Kelly and I’m just like, well, I started young I’m from Bridgeport, Connecticut. And you know, just like most people starting out with dance studio training, I was like, this is the pits. And, um, I remember there was a moment that I told my mother, I was like, you know what? I think I want to do it. And I stuck with it and I got my first job at the age of 12 and I did Black and Blue, the European musical. And then after that, I did Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk. And from then on, literally just worked my way from Broadway to TV, to film and you know, dancer, choreographer, educator. I try to do diversity seminars. I try to do all the things. So with that being said, let’s get into our first like, you know, question. So opening it up to both of you. What specifically inspired you to choose dance as a career? Because it’s different. When you get bitten by the bug of dancing, you can just, you know, dance around, but what specifically inspired you to want to do this for a living?
Eartha: Well, uh, you want to go first Will or should I go?
Big Will: I can go first. I think the one thing that made me choose dance was my older sister and Michael Jackson. My sister is five years older and she was actually born with a club foot. So she had to get surgery. And the only way for it to really fully heal was for her to take ballet. So she was really born into dance. Um, for me, I actually just ended up just watching her and I was like, you know what? Like, I can probably do the same thing as she can do. And I started dancing and I think what made me choose and want to pursue dance was I tried multiple different sports. I tried baseball for four years. I tried gymnastics for three years. I tried football for a year and you know, they all kind of failed in a way, but the one thing that stuck by me was dance. And I think after that first job, I looked at myself and I was like, huh, I can really do this for a living. Like, let’s take it, let’s just go for it. So I think that’s the one thing that really inspired me to dance is my sister overall. And then obviously watching so many other dancers that made it on So you think, like Twitch and, you know, Hok and all them. So I think that’s what really made me choose that. Got it.
Eartha: Wow. That’s something, when you said your sister was born into it, because I fought for as far as I can remember, as long as I can remember dance, I always wanted to dance, but my family didn’t believe in that. That was, it was hard work. It wasn’t dance was a hobby. So I grew up thinking that dance was a hobby until I went into PA and my first dance concert, I was just thinking about this, Uh, yesterday. My first dance concert, I got $10 and I was like, what is this for? I couldn’t believe it. That you got paid to dance. And in my co, you know, my Co- company members, they were like, girl, that’s $10. Do you know? That is nothing. That’s like tokens. So I didn’t know that, um, I didn’t know that, um, you could get paid doing that. Um, my mom started taking me once I started training. She took me to a few Broadway shows and I was like, I don’t want to do that because it’s, they do that all day, every day. And I wanted to do, you know, concert work. I wanted to be in Ailey. I wanted to do that. And then I saw Guys and Dolls with Debbie Allen in it and the backstage door was open and I got a glimpse of what was going on backstage. And that’s when I said, I’m doing that. I want to put on the costumes. I want to be in the make up. I want to do for the first time. I realized that, that’s excitement. That’s, I want to do that.
Dominique: I love that.But yeah, something like that. Um, it’s very simple for me. I didn’t understand people getting nervous or having stage fright. And till this day, till this day, I’m the kind of person that when I see a down special onstage, whether it’s different, like a sound check or a light, a lighting cue to cue or anything, I have to stand in that spotlight. And God forbid don’t let me have a hat because it is over. And from that moment on, I was like, I don’t understand how people don’t have that magnet to jump into the spotlight and on a full stage, also being tall for a good amount of my life. The stage was the only place where I could stretch my limbs totally and fully, you know, so I was like, let me be on stage. I got this open air. Let me do this. Let me swim.
Eartha: It’s nothing like moving through space. Isn’t it? It’s nothing like defying and just soaring through space. It’s the best feeling in the world?
Dominique: Definitely. Definitely. Okay. So next little question. Um, what kind of jobs did you gravitate to, and in those jobs where you othered?
Big Will: I think what gravitated me the most was mainly, well, when I was younger, it was mainly TV. You know, I grew up with, like I said, watching, Shake it Up, watching a lot of Disney channel. So what gravitated me the most was being on that television, being on Disney and Nickelodeon and ABC, those kinds of shows. And then the older I got and the more experience I had, I started seeing myself more on tour and traveling because you know, having dance, thankfully we’re able to travel the world now with it. So I was like, what’s one way to see the world on a budget. And I was like being on tour. I think that’s what really got me, especially right now. Um, that’s, what’s gravitating me, is being on that tour.
Eartha: Wow. That’s something it’s it’s I remember you as a little boy. Well, I don’t know if you remember me, but I remember you as a little kid, so it’s, it’s amazing watching you and just so grown up now. My thing was, um, I never looked at, Oh, I, um, I want to do this kind of dance or I want to go on tour, but it just, my life just unfolded that way. It just, um, because my first, the first love was concert work. I did concert and then I went on to Broadway and then I love stage. And then the next thing you know, I was doing film and then I loved that and it was just, it just kept, you know, it kept unfolding. And to me, um, it’s just it’s God, I guess. And so I just, I, I was just led doors opened and I stepped in and that’s how, so I’ve done everything from stage to television, to film I’ve choreographed, uh, artists and conceived, you know, all kinds. It’s just, you, you know, that feeling you guys, when, when it, when that creative juice just keeps flowing, it’s just like, wherever God led me, I was there, honey.
Dominique: I feel you. Sometimes I tell people that I asked God for a bus pass and I got a limousine instead and I was like, Oh, these doors are going to keep opening. Sure. Why not? Exactly. So let’s bring it back to Will, because like Eartha I met will when he was younger also. And if you know, well, when you met him, when he was younger, you also remember his mother. And I remember we did a job, I believe it was Macy’s and it was so great to see a young African-American, uh, male that was not only talented, but humble, eager for a lot of information and whatever you threw at him, he was like, sure. And then even recently, when we worked on, um, a TV show for Disney, it was great to still see the same gentlemen, but just a little bit more grown up. And it’s been a joy to watch you flourish and bloom and have everybody notice that too. I mean, Eartha, do you remember, do you remember meeting him when he was younger?
Eartha: Yes. Yes I do. And, and you know what, I think you might’ve been like nine or something and, and you were dancing and it was just so full of spirit. And I was like, wow, look at this kid. So respectful and professional at such that never left me that he was so young. And so professional. I said this an old, I remember calling him an old man.
Dominique: Yeah. And also let’s shine some light on Miss Eartha too, because I think I met you once a while ago from Keith and Sharon Young and it was a while back. And not only that, we have a lot of mutual people like William Harris loves you, just like, I love you. And you know, I’ve, I’ve known about you for years upon years upon years, and we’ve never gotten a chance to work together, but I followed your career and Leslie, and that’s why it was an honor for me to talk to you because not only to see that chocolate skin on stage, you know what I mean? Or like in the movies and just your spirit and there’s, there’s something about your movement and then not only that to, Fame because you and I did the remake in 2009. So of course I went, Oh yeah, of course. I went back to do that research.
Eartha: It’s that’s that’s show. Um, that was really something, I didn’t know, um, how much I impacted, um, a lot of girls, my color. It makes me well up now to see, you know, here, this #blackgirlmagic and Brown ballerinas and, Oh my God, it makes me. Um, because we didn’t have that, you know, you had to be, can I curse?
Dominique: Maybe we can bleep it out.
Eartha: You had to be really, really strong to, to navigate your way during that time. And then there were people before me that was even so, I mean, because they did hire black girls, but not my black, you know, so I didn’t know the impact that Fame had on so many young black dancers and girls period until, you know, after it was over, you know, I was just in work mode. You get, you know, you miss the moments sometimes when you’re there, when you’re, you know, just working, just working, just working, you just, you can’t see the forest for the trees sometimes. So, you know, always stop and look, you guys always be aware of your surroundings. Yeah.
Dominique: And speaking of that, which is, it leads me to my next little thing that I want to bring up. And Will, you know, even though you’re wise beyond your years, you’re still, still younger than we are. But what advice would you give to your younger self in regards to navigating the industry as a person of color?
Big Will: Oh, as a person of color, I would say, no, your self-worth. I think because a lot of people try to, in a way, use me to get that, Oh, I do support all races. And when I walk in the room, I’m the only person of color in the room. So I’m like, their special token. And I feel like as a younger, so just know your self worth, know that you have to work twice as hard to get noticed as, as well. And to keep that going, because at the end of the day, what I’m leaving on the table is my dancing ability, my personality, the, my work ethic, and so much more that they’re going to remember me by so they can always try to bring me back. So I think that’s kind of something I would tell my younger self for, you know, especially for people of color is to be very humble, be they’re respectful. Cause to get into this room is an honor already as it is. So don’t forget that.
Eartha: Wow, He said it all, you know, it’s um, uh, to be the only black person in the room. Um, I never felt uncomfortable. After the age of 17, I should say, because I grew up there. I didn’t, I, I didn’t mingle with white people, period. I grew up in Harlem and there were, you know, the, the teachers maybe, and then I’m from, you know, my whole family were Gullah. So on the islands, you don’t, we didn’t mingle. I didn’t get that until I went into Performing Arts. And then I had to build my, my strength and being with all these different people that not just Caucasians, but all different nationalities. And what I found after I brew and brew. I remember this moment doing Academy awards and, uh, Peter Allen was choreographing, Liza Minnelli. And it was this whole line of females and they needed one more female. And I was like I said, you know what I want to be. I want to break that color line. I want to break that — And I stood in that rehearsal. I stood in my rehearsal and Peter came over and he just looked around and he said, “Eartha come here.” And I broke that color line. He didn’t put me on the end he played me like fourth girl in. And so it was like, it was amazing. And that was something that I always wanted to do. I always wanted to show that my talent speaks first. What I do says who I am first, before you see the color of my skin. And another one real quick, you guys
Big Will: I’m loving this
Eartha: Auditions, back in the day. You know, it was black and white photos. You know the headshots. I know.
Dominique: I remember, oh I do.
Eartha: Will, you probably don’t remember, but you would go to these auditions, you’d go to these auditions and you think they’re asking for everybody. But as you, as you get down to the second call back, you’re looking around and you’re like, they just got me in here, dancing. They are not going to hire me. They get ready to hire all these white kids. They’re not going to hire me. So instead of me dancing, one more time being that jigaboo, performing, I was not doing that. So I just walked up and go, are you using any black girls at all? Cause you got two light-skinned girls over there and you got me. I got a lot of stuff I can do. So you can get me my 8×10 and I can go do my laundry. Thank you. So I did that for a few auditions, like, because they would keep you all day long, dance you to death and then don’t hire you. And then when you see the show, there’s nobody that looks like you. So why are you using this audition, got wise and was like, shut it down.
Dominique: I get it, and, and I love that. You’ve always demanded that respect because a lot of times we go into a room. So like thankful and extra thankful to be there. And you know, it’s something to be grateful. Of course you’re grateful to be in that room, but you also have to know once you’re in that room, a lot of times people are just looking at your sauce. They’re just looking at your vibe to be like, Ooh, we can get inspired by that. And they will not use you. You know? Um, one thing that I feel like I would tell my younger self is the baggage that you carry into the room is your baggage alone, but it also makes your arm stronger. So, so a lot of times, um, you know, when you come in as the quote, unquote token you, the weight of your community in the world, on your shoulders, you feel like you have to do you feel like you have to be the best one, you know? And that’s just what it is straight up and down. But what I also realize is I’m the only one carrying these bags because sometimes I walk into those rooms and the people are not expecting that of me. So I realized my baggage turned into my super power because I feel like, myself and maybe you both might agree with me. That becomes what keeps you going that drive to be that, that drive to be in them, splits that drive to make sure you can effectively communicate what you want to communicate, whether it’s with dance or your mouth, you know? And, and I felt like that’s what I would tell my younger self. Like the very thing that you think is, is weighing you down is the thing that’s making you stronger to rise above everybody else.
Eartha: Yes. And that in a work, you know, start that as soon as you possibly can building yourself up, talking to yourself, look in the mirror and talk to yourself. I made that a habit and it’s worked for me, you know, to, you have to stand strong in your power. You have to, because it’s just, you, really. So you must work hard to preserve you and be stronger in whatever you do.
Dominique: Yes, exactly. No, I mean, that makes the most sense in, in turning it on his head. Sometimes it’s literally just, you like. Who is bring all this madness causing all this drama. Its just you. So you have to shut all of that and just be like, I just want to be my best self today. That’s what it is. Speaking of speaking of best self, a hundred percent agree, go for it. Will, do you have anything to add before?
Big Will: I mean, I was saying was that like, you know, taking care of yourself, especially with, you know, mental health, you know, being such an issue recently with COVID and you know, not having that, that extra source of dance nowadays and you know, that human connection, I would say, just making sure it’s okay to take a break sometimes as well, because we always become so stressed with, you know, the type of work we’re putting ourselves into, like you said with, okay, I have to be the best in the room. I have to get everything right. And if you don’t, you actually burn yourself out a lot faster. So it’s okay to take a step back, breathe a little bit meditate or whatever you need to do and say, nice little prayer before you head into rehearsal again, and step in like a new man, you know.
Dominique: Exactly. And I feel like a lot of times as dancers, we don’t take care of our dance injuries. And you know, now we’ve been better about body maintenance, but I like to think about, we need to take care of the injuries on the inside too, because we’ll stop rehearsal. If somebody sprains their ankle or if you’re out and you need to do rehab. But a lot of times we don’t work on the inside to be able to stay in those rooms, and to fight those giants. Because you know, a lot of times whether it’s just black community or, you know, dance community, the trauma response is to be yelled at into greatness or to be berated into greatness. You know? And a lot of times I just refuse. I said, the trauma stops with me. I’m not going to pass it forward now, Motivational screaming different. Yes you can do it. Anything, anything beyond that? I’m not going to scare you into greatness. I want you to be so great that it slips out.
Eartha: But I am going to tell you if you’re lazy,
Dominique: for sure
Big Will: We will call you out. Yeah.
Eartha: But I, that whole thing of degrading dancers and tearing up apart, I was never into that because you build them up better because they want to please you, they want to be there for you. They’re there in the room. So why strip them apart like that? Those shows and those people that do that just make me so uncomfortable because nothing in the world deserves that it’s all, if you come from love, you can imagine so many things that you can accomplish together. If everybody just came from a loving space, that’s how I feel. If you came from a loving space and your approach to getting someone to hit that Arabesque or to, to hit that combination, the more love that you put into that and support, it’s going to be much better than just strip somebody apart, burn them out and then toss them to the side. You know? So, and I would say to every dancer, find a strong center you have got to. And just for, for your life, just like how you trained and just piggybacking on what you said Dom. Just like how you trained for this moment. You have to train your insides. You will have to find a core. You gotta believe in something other than all the external stuff, because that is, what’s going to take you through that. You believe there’s a core in you that you are not swayed by all this other stuff, because darling, that’s what a lot of mental issues come in because you’re being pulled to and fro you’re all these things on social media. People are saying this about you it’s. Have a core honey, find a belief in something. If it’s out a P or a pair of glasses, I don’t know, honey. Find your life, and hold onto it. You know, that is a must
Dominique: You better preach Eartha and catch a mean step on this podcast real quick. But no, that is, that is the truest statement of all statements and keeping in the love sphere. What do you enjoy most about living in your body, as this being as this Brown being, as this person who walks about the earth, being able to change other people’s lives through dance and speaking love into everybody, and this I’m just going to open it up. W what, because a lot of times we talk about the trauma and the bad and the obstacles, but let’s talk about what we love about ourselves
Eartha: Life experience, the knowledge that I’ve gotten and who I am right now. And that Will, I am like three times your age, baby. So my, so I look at you big with that little face and I go here to be a beast when he’s 60 because your, everything comes from that. And that’s in my skin right now. I could, I, I feel like a queen because I lived through, I’ve gotten over, I’ve crossed so many bridge, birth, none. And I’m like, I know who I am even more so now I’m good to people. I support people. I’m- I’m so comfortable and so happy in my skin. And I’m, you know, I had a hard time when I was coming up in this dark skin, a very hard time, but I am loving it. I wish I was three shades. Even darker.
Dominique: Come on now. Come on.
Eartha: So, no, I feel because of all of that, I’ve been through because of my experience, this pot that I carry underneath the skin, I feel joy. I feel good. Even through the COVID and all of that has gotten to renew. I am, and I just feel really good right now. That’s a great question. And I love it. I feel really good in my skin.
Dominique: She said I feel good all over. I wish we had that queued up All right. Will, same question.
Big Will: I think the one thing that just like, like she said, with like the history and everything that she’s gone through, I think what that makes me feel good within my skin, as well as seeing the people I’ve looked up to, you know, and seeing them, you know, make a pathway for people that are in my generation. Like Eartha, we probably wouldn’t have caught as far if it wasn’t for people that were in your generation, I’m a hundred percent thankful for that. I think that’s the one thing that I love so much about it is that there’s, we have so much history, so much history that, you know, I’m always in the room willing to learn. I come in there, I’m never a teacher. I’m always a student. I think that’s my mindset I have, because I don’t have the many years that you guys have. So that’s the one thing I love is that we have so much history and I feel like one day I’m ready to be a part of that history. And that’s what I love about myself. I love about my skin is that I know within 20 years, I’m going to be having the same conversation to the next team.
Eartha: Passing it, always passing it forward, always giving back and passing it forward. You know? And that’s the thing. This young man is talking about the history and it makes me feel like. It makes me know that there is hope, that there is hope because I see kids have no clue of what, what, before them, no respect of who went before them. Don’t know ’em, don’t care and just going on with life. But it’s the ones, the ones that care, the ones that research, the ones that know you’re always going to have more on it than the rest. And those people usually, you know, fade out because they’re not, they’re not keeping in alignment with what is true. And that’s an issue.
Dominique: A big issue. So this question, um, let’s go superficial. I like that. I can wear any color and make it look good. I like the fact that I can change my hairstyle every single day If I wanted to. I like that. If I comb out my hair, it stands up to try to meet God,
Eartha: The sun.
Dominique: I love that whenever I step into the room, just because of my skin tone people automatically think I’m the hottest thing and the coolest thing at the same time. But on a, on a deeper level, I love that the blood coursing through my veins, um, is built with rhythm and it’s built with strength and it’s built with being grounded. And it’s built with a language in a spirit that is only oral traditions. I love being Griot. I love being able to do a simple nod and everybody knows what that means. I love that. The way I clap my hands commands people to pay attention. I love how deep my voice is. And when I’m on the phone, I guess people automatically know I’m a black man. No, but more importantly, I love spaces like this because this is what the African-American community does. This is family. This reminds me of talking to my family members. It reminds me of talking to my aunts and my cousins and my grandparents and my younger brothers and sisters, and, you know, new family members to literally pass on and to give love. Because a lot of times people don’t have mentors. You know, they don’t have somebody they can go to, they don’t have somebody that they can pass on things to. And I love to have mentors older than myself, because I love to just go to people and go like, Hey, have you been through this before? And then I also love having people who are younger than I am to be like, look, this is what I went through. Let me, let me help you out. So you don’t go through that same thing. And, uh, you know, speaking of that,
Eartha: The young ones and the young ones are because I have no clue Will about how this whole social media, it gets on my damn nerves. So when you guys, you know, because my daughter, Élija, I, you know, she comes in and she’ll help me mom know that you don’t want to say that you want to take that out. So, you know, and just to see the power and the strength, it only, it takes me back to look at you guys and go, damn, did I have all that energy, did I just keep moving all the time? And my older ones, my mentor say, yeah, we used to say, could you sit your ass down? We’re on a five Eartha, take your 5 Eartha! so you know that it keeps me, um, energized your, your generation. When I say your, I would say, most of your generation, you, and a couple of other people that I’ve met so strong and so fierce and so committed and knowing, have intention on where you’re going, I love that, you know, and then I look at some others in your generation and I go, why, why is this happening? And who’s not helping them. And there’s no guidance there, you know? And I want us, I want to help everybody, but you can’t because they can’t be 9 million of you Will because then nobody will know what the other side looks like. So, but I want 9 million of you.
Big Will: I will say. It’s hard from my, from my perspective is growing up in this generation, I’ve seen so many people come and go. I’ve seen the different transformations of people. And I even had a moment when I was 16, 17, and I lost myself. And I think that’s what makes me so grounded and so humble. And so, you know, straight forward it’s because I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen people a hundred percent get lost and never find their way back, or they lose their passion for example, within dance. And they can’t find it again. And they’re only doing it for the money or only doing it for the views. And they know it hurts to see that. And there’s times where I have to call certain people out and be like, Hey, what you’re doing, isn’t right. I just want to make sure, are you good within yourself because you’re not posting like how you used to, or you’re not acting the way you used to, or, you know, just a simple, Hey, I haven’t seen you in a while. Let me, let me talk to you just because we kind of get lost in that social media world. And I just have to make sure, like, especially with my friends and my closest people around me, that everybody that I know is so career driven and so focused because it’s so easy to just lose track of that.
Eartha: Yeah. And, and, you know, um, water seeks its own level and the cup, this is, I’m just getting this from my grandfather, the company you keep, birds of a feather flock together. The company you keep is what they see. So you want to always surround yourself with people who are going and who are like-minded. They call it equally yolked. You know, some people aligned yourself with the people who are doing what you want to do, because it’s so easy to be, you know, go off the path. You know, you gotta stay on that path.
Dominique: Yeah. It’s extremely important. Especially when you go into a situation saying, this is exactly who I am, and this is what I’m doing. And you get met with some challenges where people go, okay, so we want you to either choose this or choose that. What are you going to do? And in those moments are when you really realize that you’re made of the good stuff and really what you’re made of and go, okay, well, I can do this and do that. Or I can remain who I am. And a lot of those moments, I think people have to remember that the business will test you. And it is good to have people around you who have either been there or are supporting you through it, you know? Boom. Okay. So, um, maybe a last little question here. Um,
Eartha: I wanted to ask something really quick.
Dominique: Sure. Go for it.
Eartha: Um, um, how do you guys feel about, um, uh, say a film comes up and it’s African dance or it’s, um, Lindy Hop or something like that. And someone not of that culture gets the chance to work on that project. And no one of that culture is on that project. How do you guys feel? Have you ever experienced it? I know it happens. So say, um, say I’m doing The Village and it’s all African and Dunham dance and they get someone that is not of that culture of that race or whatever, to choreograph or direct this thing. And it’s, how do you feel about that? Um, do you think it’s just an art artistic choice, or do you think that, you know, that
Dominique: I can jump in here? Um, I’ve had, I’ve been torn between both of those things because, um, a lot of times the things that I choreograph, I wouldn’t say a lot that’s alive. Let me bring that back. Things that I choreograph did not start with my culture, but sometimes I like to see it through the lens of my culture. Like for example, I choreographed Oklahoma, the all black version of Oklahoma at Denver Center for the performing arts. And what was nice was it was a golden age musical, but I saw it through the lens of the African-American community at that time. So the difference is of course, I put things that the African-American community did in that choreography. Um, but then I also came back and choreographed a play that was, um, mainly about Jewish the Jewish community. And it was very interesting because people were asking me like, what does it feel like to choreograph for something that’s not a part of your community? And I had to really A. put my wig back on asked that question and I had to go well with the, the story that’s being told. I can only do the parallels from the African-American community. I know joy, I know transcendence. I know what it feels like to be beaten down. So the only thing I can do is do my research with that culture, then try to parallel the human experience. Now, on the other hand of that same argument, I feel like if it’s not in you, pass it to the side to somebody who’s going to kill the game. Because a lot of times when it comes to certain art forms, um, or certain jobs that are, that are passed to me, I will gladly pass them to somebody else because I feel like, the way that I felt choreographing for Oklahoma, everybody should feel that way. Everybody should have a chance to choreograph where they step into themselves to go. I can’t make the wrong choice with movement because it is so inside of me that there’s nothing I can do wrong. I can step here. That’s something that would happen. I can do that. That’s something that would have happened. And, um, it, it rubs me the wrong way. Sometimes when I see jobs that people get where it’s like, you know, you didn’t respect the culture, you didn’t research the culture, you didn’t, you know, nothing about it. At least in that moment, bring somebody on of that community to be co choreographer or somebody of importance to open that door instead of just taking it for yourself. And then looking up on YouTube and being like, I think I can do this. You thought wrong. Now it’ll get done. It’ll get done. But at the end of the day, what will get done with such gravitas as that would take for somebody from the community?
Big Will: Yeah. A hundred percent agree with that. Well, they get done with such grace with such effort, you know, with the right intentions of it. And there has been jobs where, especially for me being the dancer, if it’s someone from that community that knows the art style and the art form, and really knows how to teach it, then I’m learning at the end of the day. For example, I didn’t know much of Lino, the African movies when it comes to like Gara Gara and like the shotgun and all that kind of stuff. I didn’t know anything really about it. I’ve seen it, but I didn’t know how to like, not perfectly do it, but I didn’t know the techniques of it and the form of how to do it correctly. And I was thankful that there was a choreographer named Sherrie Silver, who was the choreographer for This is America with Childish Gambino, You know, and when I tell you, we had maybe a four hour rehearsal on just the movement alone, not even the choreography, just the movement, because she was like, if we’re doing this, you need to make sure you’re doing this right. And that’s a main reason why I say that you have to have somebody that knows that art form that knows that art style, because you’re going to, at the end of the day, they’re teaching it and they’re bringing down that knowledge to somebody else. And if they’re teaching it wrong to you, that means that you’re going to perform it wrong and bring it down to the next person. And it’s just going to keep getting worse and worse and worse.
Eartha: Watered Down.
Big Will: So I’ll keep getting watered down
Dominique: and lost in the sauce.
Eatha: Yeah. And it’s like, it’s, you know, we have to make sure that, um, we have to speak out because, um, our culture is shrinking because so many people have appropriated it. So many people have taken it and it’s, it’s being taught and being watered down. So we have to be, um, we have to be, uh, more mindful on how much we get at, this is me speaking. Um, how mindful of how much we give, because they’re taking so much that now we look at it and we don’t even, it doesn’t even look like our city
Dominique: And Profiting greately and they’re profiting.
Eartha: Oh, yes. Oh yes. I mean, I’m looking at, take one, for instance, twerking, it’s called it’s twerking, but it’s African movement. It’s Africans, it’s all African, all of that stuff. It’s African, and now I see other people doing it and I’m like, okay, well there’s goes another step.
Dominique: Well, good. Well, this leads me. This leads me to another thought that I randomly had. Um, because I know what steps I’ve been taking. And, you know, a lot of times, especially with everything that’s happened in 2020 and a great awakening for a good amount of groups of people, even though, you know, other people have known for a while, um, what steps are you taking or are we taking personally to decentralize white supremacy in the dance community? Like what, what different ways of thinking have entered into your brain that you would like to share if it’s anything new or it could just be what you’ve been doing?
Eartha: I think it’s what I’ve been doing, you know? Um, it’s just what I’ve been doing because I’m going to call it as I see it, you know, I’m just, I, you know, and that goes for anything like that goes for anything. Um, I just finished working on this project and, um, Bob Fosse inspired. There’s no way that I’m going to take Bob Fosse’s work and do Bob Fosse’s work without getting the proper consent from the right people. The man is gone. We have to respect the legacy of what he’s left behind. So I reached out to Valerie Pettiford,
Dominique: Who we all love and know
Eartha: Valerie and I were in the same class and performing arts. So we were partners going across the Memorial. So I reached out to her and she introduced me to Nicole. When I talked to the Verdon Fosse Legacy, sent them all the tapes that I was doing, Valerie came into rehearsals. And I knew when I did Frug, as soon as I went into Frug, she said, I said, I know, I know, I know I was just thought I could get away with it, but I’m constantly going to respect, um, other people’s, uh, the integrity of their work. I’m constantly going to say, you know, that shit came from somebody else and you are dreadful to use it. That is not, you know what I mean, if you’re going to do it, say that you’re inspired by someone who, you know, you got that piece of work from, I was inspired by, but you’re not going to do that step verbatim. You’re not going to do the exact choreography that, that man did 50 years ago, just because he’s gone, does not mean that his legacy is still not alive. And that should be for anyone. You respected that the Jewish community, because you were so close to that, you know, you know what that is. So I just ask that people do the right thing, you know, give credit where credit is due and just do the right thing. Stop stealing from people. Yeah. You know, and let people know where you got it from or who inspired you, or, you know, just respect the culture of people’s, um, work, the body of that respect, you know, it should go just, it should be that across the board. So yeah, I’m constantly on the lookout for that. That’s like,
Big Will: I, a hundred percent agree on that because of social media. There’s so many ways people would try to get away with it by not having that choreo credit or saying, Oh, I really got this choreography from the music video but I’m going to act like it’s my own and people on the internet when they don’t know their own research, they see it. And usually you don’t, you don’t see a post and then you go on YouTube and try to find it. You just see the posts, look at it and say, Oh, this is cool. And you expect it’s their choreography. So if they don’t say it, you assume it. And it’s really just a few words like, Oh, that’s the only thing I have to do is just add a few words. It’s really that careful that can change the entire input of the video. So I understand that point of view, and I think it’s also, at least for me is, you know, whenever I see a quote or a dance quote, like for example, uh, one of my friends posted a whole essay for about dancers and about, you know, when it comes into teaching, are you really taking the right class? That’s going to help you upgrade yourself and elevate yourself, or you’re really just taking the class because of the views or taking the class because of this. And I love reposting it because it’s going to get my viewers in the right mindset and kind of like in a way, inspire them to say, okay, make sure they’re doing the right thing rather than it just saying, Oh, okay. He’s just an Instagram person. And I just happened to follow him. No, he’s an Instagram person. I want to follow in his footsteps. I want to follow in his, his pathway. I want to be inspired by him. And I think that’s the one thing I can at least do for my part is doing everything through social media.
Dominique: Yes. Great, great. I love it. Um, I’ve talked about it on this podcast before, but one main thing I’ve been trying to do lately is, um, keep asking questions and keep asking why and digging and digging. Uh, one thing I talked about with Dana was ballet and how I’ve had some minor tiffs with people who wanted me to teach. And their philosophy is ballet is the foundation of every dance style. And I had some pushback because I said ballet is good for what ballet is good for. Ballet is the foundation of derivatives of ballet. But if it’s African dance or if it’s salsa, or if it’s anything dealing with any, uh, Bollywood, or if it’s, you know, any indigenous dances that has nothing to do with ballet. Not a thing, like even if you tap and you’re a hoofer and you do all these other things, ballet may not help that, at all, not at all at all. So then if you dig a little bit deeper, it’s like, why does the White art form have to help the Brown art forms? You know, especially with all of that stuff, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s just, you know, mind boggling. And then sometimes you have to relearn and unlearn things that you’ve put out there, because there were many times where I would watch a hip hop dancer and go, Oh, if they only had ballet technique, no, they have a technique. They have hip hop technique. That is something totally different from ballet. Ballet will not help that. Now, if anybody wants to broaden their horizon, sure. By all means, take everything. But as much as I’m telling you to take ballet, I’m telling you to take modern and I’m telling you to take African too, you know, because a lot of things came from those dance styles. So that’s one thing that I had to do to decentralize white supremacy for me in, in my thinking.
Eartha: Yeah, that, that ballet run is a great one because, um, I’m not calling names, but I have, um, there’s one school that I keep saying. This child is not going to be a ballerina. She’s in the class, she’s crying. She hates it. But she’s major in African. She kills modern, tap outrageously why to make her suffer five hours a week doing this. She’s got the booty, she’s got the boobs, you know, but this has got to be good for her. This is what she needs is. I said, she’s never going to do that. She’s never going to go into SAB. So why make the child suffer. They don’t hear it. They don’t see it because that’s really good Dom because that is not the core and the end all for a lot of our techniques for a lot of the things that we do.
Dominique: And I think it’s just being mindful of that too, all the way around all the way around.
Big Will: I’ve never, ever seen it like that. So I’m happy. You you’ve even brought it up in this podcast because my whole entire life, a lot of people have always told me, ballet is the core of everything, ballet’s the core, all styles. And then the older I get, the more realize we have Chicago footwork, we have light feet. We have all these other styles within the hip hop world. We have, you know, Bboy, what does that have to do with ballet?
Dominique: They both have a B and that’s it.
Big Will: They’re completely different. I’m like, what does that have to do with ballet? And I’m learning these styles. You know, I was training in Chicago footwork for about a few months before the choreographer went on tour. And I was like, what does this have to do with ballet? It always boggled my mind. So I’m really happy you brought that up because I wasn’t aware of that.
Dominique: Yeah. It’s just, again, it’s just something, if you keep asking the why and keep digging with a lot of different things, I think that’s what leads you to the gold. And the goal is the, the digging and the digging and speaking of digging, I’m glad I’ve dug into both of you too, because you’ve just made my day speaking to both of you. Um, I appreciate both of you for this, this talk. Hopefully we’ll have many more on the podcast and off the podcast and we encourage everybody to do that too, because this is how you learn. This is how you grow. This is how you learn your community. And again, I want to give a special, special thank you to Eartha Robinson and Big Will Simmons and a special thank you for opening up the space to Dana Wilson, with the Words That Move Me podcast. Um, yeah. So thank you very much. Or is there any partying thing?
Eartha: Thanks for inviting me. Thanks for inviting us onto the podcast. It’s just been absolutely amazing. The time has gone by so fast. So we know we have more to talk about and another.
Big Will: Yes. Well, thank you guys for all of your knowledge and your wisdom within just an hour. I know I can talk to you guys for way longer than we can get into depth about it, but in reality, I just want to say thank you for my generation to yours for just, you know, paving the way of the way we are now within our dance industry and, you know, creating so many roles that are now opened up to us. We want to say thank you to both of you.
Dominique: Thank you. I appreciate it. I appreciate it so much. And on that note, we’re going to stop it here. Remember Words that Move Me Podcast
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, then 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. Number two things 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. #60 Clean Up, Read Up, Open Up with Terry Santiel and Co-host Ava Flav
THIS is history right here; past, present, and future. I am honored to be co-hosting this episode with my dear friend and long time (tour time) bookend, Ava Bernstine Mitchell (aka Ava Flav). Ava is a journalist, world renowned dancer, choreographer and educator, podcast host and much more! In this episode, Ava and I go down memory lane AND look to bright and wealthy futures with the one and only Terry Santiel. We all met back in 2007 when Terry was playing percussion and Ava and I were dancing on JT’s Future Sex Love Show Tour! This episode peeks behind the curtain of the recording and touring industries, and will leave you inspired AND in stitches. So, get ready for giggles and some very teachable lessons about legendary hits, building your financial foundation, and keeping it clean with Terry Santiel and Ava Bernstine.
Ava Flav: https://www.instagram.com/avaflav1/
Terry’s email: email@example.com
The Dance Room Podcast with Ava & Heather: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-dance-room/id1470544579
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: Ladies and gentlemen. Hello, Hello. My name is Dana and this
Ava: Is Ava Flav here with you.
Dana: Ava will be joining me as co-host on this episode and I could not be more thrilled. Um, I’m jazzed that you’re here and I’m really excited for this episode because today will be, we will be talking to our friend, Mr. Terry Santiel.
I mean, we’ll let him do the speaking the introduce of himself, but, uh, we met Terry back in 2007 when we toured with JT on the future sex love show tour. Terry plays percussion and Terry is exceptional, and we’re going to get to that. But first, you know how we do on the podcast, and I think this is important, All my guests introduce themselves and maybe it’d be cool for you for you to do a little self intro real quick.
Cool, cool. Well, my name is Ava Bernstein Mitchell. I am a dancer choreographer teacher worked with lots of artists, toured with many artists, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears. I am heavy in Dance advocacy. I am on the board at SAG AFTRA and on dancers Alliance and fighting a lot for dancers rights and what not and I just all around just loved dance.
And you are also a podcast host, and I am borrowing you for this episode. Tell us a bit about your podcast.
Oh, my podcasts called the dance room. It is a podcast that I co-host with Heather Morris and we basically talk about dance shows and have wonderful guests on there. But at the moment it is on a hiatus, but you can always go back and listen to these episodes. We have some great guests and go over some really cool stuff. So yeah, The Dance Room,
Your library is good. I went on a, I did a road trip once I was doing a long drive and that’s just what I listened to top to bottom the whole thing the two of you together. Hi, Heather, love you. Okay. But first Ava, you know the deal we’re doing wins and I’m going to let you kick it off today. What are you celebrating today?
It’s might sound not like a win to some people, but it’s a win because I’ve been teaching three-year-olds, which is a struggle. I’m not going to lie. Three-year-old is tough. I’m five and up and recently that class just got canceled and I’m so excited. It’s a win for me. So yes.
And do you know what? I think that might be a win for them as well. You know, they have this time freed up now they can be yes.
Now they can play with each other. That’s all they wanted to do. They want us to play with each other and I’m happy for that. You didn’t need to dance.
Congratulations. Thank you. I’m glad that I’m glad that you’re winning in that way is it’s important. Cancellations are not always a loss.
No, not always a loss.
Okay, great. I love that. Um, this week I am celebrating that I’ve decided I can’t believe it took me so long to decide to do this, but I’ve decided to choose a donation organization to send all the proceeds from my podcast shop. So for the next 30 days, all proceeds from my Words that Move Me online store are going directly to Chloe and Maude Arnold,
My sister, friends. Yay.
I, I love that too. And I, I love that. I love what they do. I love how they lead. Um, and I’m really thrilled to be supporting them. Okay. Um, now it’s your turn. What is going well in your world?
Phenomenal. Congratulations. Maybe, maybe without any further ado we jump to, how do you feel about that?
I think we shall let’s do it.
Dana: I think we’re doing it. I think this is it.
Ava: Yes. Well hello Terry Santiel, yeah.
Terry: Hey Ava. And now I’m saying hi, Dana.
Dana: Hi Terry. Welcome to the podcast, my friend. This is amazing. I’m jazzed about this. The first thing we’ll ask you to do, unfortunately, because this is a challenge is to introduce yourself. What would you like us to know about you?
Somebody who’s never met you?
Terry: Well, my name is Terry Santiel. Terrell Santiel is my legal name and I’m born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Um, I went to school all over this city. I am, I guess I’m a rolling stone of Los Angeles. You know, where my mom and dad were when I was growing up, my mom and dad were separated. So I moved a lot. That’s why I sent him a rolling stone of Angeles. Cause I’ve lived everywhere from the Valley, to Compton to Watts, to South central and now I’m here near Hollywood. So anyway,
Amazing. I love it here. That you’re, uh, a native Ava is as well.
Yeah, I think I know that about Ava. Yes.
Isn’t it odd that things that we’ve learned about each other and the things that we remember and the things that we, that we, don’t. Ava and I were just talking the other day about how our memories are so selective. Like I remember the oddest things about being on tour and then full-blown chapters that are just, I have zero recollection.
I do remember one thing about you on tour when you were watching the tour bus bus to carwash.
Yes! We washed the bus! Terry thank you for reminding me. And actually that is, is one of the things that I would like to talk about on this, but, but maybe we’ll get there oddly enough. I talk about car washes on the podcast a lot. Not because they’re interesting, but because I live across the street from one,
Literally across the street
I hear it often. I don’t think, I don’t think we can hear it today. I’m in the booth as it were. Um, but, but let’s, uh, let’s go pre carwash for a second. Some people listening might not even know what we mean by that, but we’ll get there.
Ava: I would love to know where your lover percussions came from.
Well, that’s a very interesting question. My, um, family grew up basically playing percussion, my uncles, my cousins, my brothers, everybody. Sort of kind of played, but with me they sorta kinda like wouldn’t let me play. They told me, I didn’t know. You know? And then they set out to be a challenge for me to learn. And then I learned, and I got better than everybody. I hate to say that, but better. I got a little bit more skilled than the rest of them. And my career started from that point. But man, I can remember my uncle junior. He would like, we would play on the bottom of oatmeal boxes, the Quaker oatmeal boxes at like three years old, four years old, just didn’t know we were doing just, it was fun and it was noise cause they had to real drums. So yeah, it started at a very young age. I was like 13 though
Okay. So it started young, but when did it take off, like when did you start getting paid to do this? How did that happen?
Started getting paid at a really early age. I, um, well first, uh, before I guess I must’ve been 16 and my mother used to sign for me to be able to play in clubs, the local bands on the waiver. So we could play because they sold alcohol in these places and, you know, go in and play with some of the bands. And then I ended up getting my own, you know, being in a band that I was involved in. At the time the band was called Total concept Unlimited
That’s a good name
I really loved that name. Total concept, unlimited LLC incorporated unlimited.
That’s a point. Maybe I’ll start LLC with that TLC total.
Come on. Okay. So, so we get a tiny picture of the early days and then Rose Royce happened. So you’re one of the founding members of the group Rose Royce with that mega hit carwash, uh, which I will not sing because although I did do my vocal warmups today, the voice of the little subpar, there it is. Don’t let it stop please. Uh, that crack crack, crack, crack, Terry that’s you. And my question about that track is as you were writing that song, as you came up with that mega catchy super clap, did you know that that was going to be a hit, like as you were making it, did you know?
No. When you know, when you’re doing these things, when they’re, when they’re happening and they’re in their infancy, you don’t know what’s going to happen with these songs. And that, by the way, that song was written by Norman Whitfield, if you guys Google Norman Whitfield, you’ll see his catalog is pretty extensive and like that. So anyway, but yeah, but those are my hands on that hand clap that you hear all the time.
That is remarkable. I just think thats so cool
Let me say this about Rose Royce. Since we went there, Total Concept Unlimited became Rose Royce. We changed the name to Rose Royce.
Oh see, now I’m conflicted because I like both names. Uh, and when did, what brought about the change?
Well, we met Norman Whitfield, the producer, and we ended up getting a girl in the group and we decided to change the name to Rose Royce. So a lot of people got it mixed up with Rolls Royce, the car, right. It’s actually Rose Royce like the flower.
Like the flower. So that’s an important distinction. Yes. So I did a little, a little digging and I know that you were one of the, uh, early incorporators of using electronic instruments. Like you would use an electronic drum pad. I would love to hear a little bit about the differences making music then versus making music now.
Okay. Making music now. Well, let’s start with making music now. Making music now is a little easier with all of the computers and all of the easy ways of making music. Now you could play, say a shaker for four bars, and then you could copy it and paste it, make it go throughout the whole song and cut it and chop it back in the day we had to physically play all of the parts. Whether you said play as shaker as an example, whether you sit there and play shaker 10 times on a five minute song, you know, your wrist will be on fire because the weight it gets heavy, you know, and holding your arm in a certain position for so long and not trying to mess up a tempo or anything like that. And then a lot of times it wasn’t your fault that you had to do it, you know, as many times as you’re going to doing it because we recorded everything together with multiple people. So one person could make a mistake that starts the whole thing over. So that’s how that works out. Yeah. Even back when we did carwash, when we did carwash, there were, um, before we got it all the way, right. I think there were 47 tapes. So that song had to be played that many times with a whole band together. A whole group of people together from top to bottom. Yeah. Well, if we even got to the bottom, right, right.
Top to Middle. Yeah. Wow. Okay. This is, that’s giving me flashbacks of, I think the same is true for dance in video, especially. That’s flashbacks to the opening scene of Lala land, which is this big ensemble highway moment. And it’s a oner and to get all the way through, without everybody messing up, like camera, props that yeah.
So speaking a la la land, the percussionist that was on the back of the truck is my cousin.
Get out of town! Yeah. So much fun in that moment, we got Liz Imperio dancing in front of that truck. That’s so cool. The entertainment world is the size of a tiny acorn. At very least it could fit into the back of a truck. Um, okay. So that’s one of the key differences is like the duration or the actual recording process. Having to be a steady all the way through. I’m sure that damn near everything else has changed as well. But maybe this is the better question. What has stayed the same?
What has stayed the same?
My, my drum set stayed the same
Because you’ve got it tuned in. You’ve got that.
That set up is nice.
Well, you know, the drums I used for my real recording sessions. I used the same drum set I use since they, the first drums I ever owned and the original Mahogany Congas, and they’re all everybody’s stuff. I mean, I played on a lot of records, but they’re from carwash back in the day, you know,
Will you name drop a little bit for us. Yeah.
Tell us you’ve, you’ve played on a lot of records, but don’t, don’t be shy. I mean some Motown classics, the Temptations, Smokey Robbinson.
Yes. Yes. Actually the temptations were, those were temptations was the first group I’ve ever recorded with. And interesting about that story is the Temptations Runaway child, running wild song was the first song I learned how to play on congas, you know, like very young.
And then, and then you found yourself working for them.
Yeah. It was the first thing that I did professionally you recording wise. So did the 1990 album with the Temptations. Yeah, it was, it was amazing experience back then, but the same drums are used on like all of that stuff from Marvin Gaye to Smokie. Can you everybody’s yeah. Even recordings with Berry Gordy over there. I did a lot of Mo-Town stuff. It was amazing. I had a, I had a great time over at man.
So funky that music. Oh, but you also, you, I don’t want to, um, pigeon hole you or, or pin you as being this old school guy. Um, we obviously know you from touring with JT, but you play for Janet Jackson, um, and, and, uh, a host of others. So your, your musical talents and sensibilities are not, I couldn’t put a date on them.
You transcend generations
So how, how is it that you do that?
I just try to stay current and I don’t feel like I know everything or think that I know everything I’m always progressing and learning, you know? And I think that’s what keeps me current, you know? Um, now, like right now I’m like, uh, I’ve sorta kinda like figured out the whole trap thing and
Yes, what is it? Please explain it to me.
Well, what I’m trying to do now is a corporate rate, low am, percussion stuff to match the stuff that goes on within those rhythms and groups. That trap is all about, you know, it’s and the whole trap thing. It’s like, it’s fascinating to me because it’s all low end, and A lot of people can’t hear that frequency, but it moves them. You know what I mean? That’s what I mean about
Figuring it out on a Sonic level, you’re figuring out the trends and how to do it and how to make complimenting things, right?
Yeah. Yeah. Like I can do it. And I know how I’m just trying to figure out how to incorporate my instrument in it and make it like, make it crazy like I’m in that process now. How about that?
Cool. I can’t wait to hear what comes out of it. I know
This, this is the reason why you stand the test of time is because you, you keep current and you’re always learning, like you said, and that is fascinating to see and a good lesson to take away. Honestly,
I agree absolutely
The thing is too, is just to stay humble. That’s the, that’s the main thing. Stay humble and try to not, I guess, try not to feel like you’re more than you are. That’s the best, better way, uh, way of putting it. But then when I say that, there’s, I see a lot of people all the time on a lot of tours and throughout my whole career, they think they’re as important as the artist. And you’re not, you’re there to compliment the artists, you know what I mean? And do what you do. But I see a lot of people, you know, over the years just doing things that just in my mind make absolutely no sense at all, you know, with the life. Because when you go on through life, you’ve got to, you’ve got to set up your future, you know, and a lot of people don’t do that. They live for now. They want to go to all them clubs. They want to be a part of the, I call it the hype crowd. They want to be, you know, they’re not artists, they’re just a part of something, you know? So,
You know, that’s, that’s a lovely segue. We had planned to talk about touring. I think one of the areas where musicians and dancers overlap almost in an identical type of way is an a tour scenario. A dancers’ experience of tour is very similar to a musician’s experience of tour. You’re away from your loved ones. You’re unnaturally like living, eating, sleeping, you know, breathing, working with your, you know, uh, cohorts colleagues. Um, and I think that’s really unnatural. And I think you do it very, very well. How many, how many tours have you been on Terry? Is that even a number you can count?
You know, I’ve been torn since forever.
Did Terry did Jesus’s Birthday Tour.
I’ve been on several tours, but I’ve not been on a lot of tours because I will pick and choose who I like to work with. And a lot of them have worked for, you know, I’ve worked with them for a long period of time, You know? And you could take JT as an example, you know, I’ve been working with JT since 2002, it’s been 20 years. It doesn’t even seem like that long. And in the same, same thing, you know, with like Janet, I worked with her for at least, at least 10 years, you know, and Mary J Blige, I worked for her for a long time. I mean, you know, Barry White, I was part of the whole Love Unlimited Orchestra. And, you know, I worked in that for a long time. You know, I haven’t been on tour with a lot of different people. I’ve been on tour a long time with different people.
Right. You can be on many tours with a few of the same people. Right. You mentioned, you mentioned staying out of the hype, um, is that one of the secrets to touring? Well, to like not combusting or going broke? I mean, trust me a tour is a great way to make money, but it’s also a great way to spend it. So what are the secrets
If you’re caught up in the hype? You know what I mean? I, um, I try to do my thing. I tried to study and learn a lot of different things and then I try to stay out of harm’s way. And what I mean by that is you could see people doing things that, you know, are going to get them fired. So I sorta kind of stay out of the way, you know, like, okay, I see that I know where that’s going to lead because I’ve seen it so many times I’ll move, I’ll move on. I’ll go another direction. So yeah,
You learn from people’s mistakes, just as much as you can learn from their successes. I learned that on tour as well.
And then what are you going to, I mean, I, I learned, I made when I was very young and we were talking once Lionel Richie and myself, and he was telling me one of his secrets to success is not to be, not to be too familiar with everybody, you know? And I sort of kind of live by that. And you guys know that too. Everybody knows me, but you don’t know a whole lot about me. You know what I mean? I just try not to stay too familiar because it, it sort of keeps you out of harm’s way. You know, people have a lot to say about you, then it could, it could go either way, it could go negative or positive. Right. We’ll just sorta kind of stay out of the way.
Well, speaking of knowing about you, I remember on tour that you were a collector of Air Force Ones, and I wanted to know, do you still have a love for the Air Force One? And how many do you have?
No, I used to do that and I used to, like I said, I was caught up.
If there’s something to get caught up in, I’d say it could be worse. Yeah.
Well, you know, it was like one of those six now look at it. I was like, Oh, that’s a waste of money. But there’s like this kid that lives down in San Diego and he sells and collects like sneakers. So I ended up giving him a bunch of that stuff just so he could make some money. You know, he’s a little entrepreneur, I think it’s like 12 or 13 years old. His name is Eric, you know, and love this. Like, go make some money because a lot of that stuff I was buying and collecting back then and Ava I’m never get rewarded ****. I know there was a thing. And I was like, Oh, I got all of this stuff. So I stopped minimalizing my life. You know what I mean? And just getting, I have no clutter in my house, you know what I mean? It’s just, if I don’t use it, it’s gone. If I don’t wear it in a year, it’s gone. I have no problem taking it to the shelter and giving it to somebody that’s going to use it. You know what I mean? I don’t throw anything like that in the trash. I’m not going to try to go on eBay and put the stuff on sale. You know what I mean?
Terry, you are so patched in to the questions that I wanted to ask you today because I would love to talk to you about money. Um, I remember being on tour and you being the voice of reason so often, uh, like, you know, you’re, you’re being smart out here on the road, save your money. You knew I was, uh, I think Ava and I were both in the same situation. We got rid of our, um, apartments when we went on tour. So we had almost zero expenses and you encouraged us both buy a house, get yourself some investment properties. Um, you were really were a voice of financial reason to me at a very early age. And I would love for you to just shed a little wisdom on that. Um, because most of my listeners are young artists and I simply don’t believe that we need to be starving. I believe we can be thriving and I believe we can live under roofs that we own. Um, and I know you believe that too. You could you talk a little bit about, uh, your thoughts about money, how you manage it and how you’ve grown your wealth.
I think that everybody should think, think for the future, you know what I mean? Where are you going to be in 10 years? Where do you want to be in 10 years and establish yourself. Uh, when I say establish yourself, I mean, set up your future, set up your foundation, which I believe is the most important thing, is where you live. You know what I mean? And if you could get yourself in a position where you could own something, rather than paying rent, you’re in a better position. You know, I’ve got, you know, I mean, I’ve, you know, but I’ve got, you know, different income properties, but I always encourage people who live under my roofs, you know, to buy something. I will not hold somebody to a lease that I know I can hold them to if I wanted to. If they’re like, wow, I found this out like, Oh, cool, I’ll let you go do your thing. I’m happy for you. You know? And how, you know, find somebody else to occupy that space because it is a business. And for me, when you’re doing something like that, even if you dove into something like I dove into, like with real estate, you have to take it very seriously and not look at it. And you have to look at it as a business, you know, get all kinds of equity and capital and money and taxes. A lot of things come along with the home ownership thing. So, but you need to set up your life and you need to build your future and you shouldn’t be playing around with it because people who played around with it found out how serious it was. They when this whole COVID hit it’s like, now you can’t work. Now you getting kicked out of your apartments, you know, and there’s all of these other things come into play as like, wow, what am I going to do for money? You know, what is it? Unemployment checks. And I can imagine it’s not a good feeling. You know what I mean? And it’s not a good thing. So I just think that we all have to be conscious of what we’re going to do with our lives going forward.
This is, this is perfect. I want to, I want to ask a question. I’m sorry to interrupt. I think one of the notions that I myself, I had this thought and I’m sure a lot of my peers in similar situations thought, well, if I have to focus on a building, I won’t be able to focus on my craft. Or if I buy a, if, if I make my home, my business or this income property, my business it’ll take me away from the thing that I really love. And I love that you’re the person saying this because you are a living breathing example that that doesn’t have to be the case. I mean, surely could you get distracted? Absolutely. There’s enough. There’s enough enough, you know, uh, things of being a homeowner to distract you for a very long time, but you have been more working, more touring, more learning, more building than anybody I know. And you’re still doing all those other things on the sides. It’s possible to do both without losing focus on one or the other.
You set your foundation.
Okay my friends, DW here popping out with a quickness, because we’re getting a little technical here with some financial jargon. Talking about residual payment structures and so on and so on. And it dawned on me, that we have never really gone deep on money on the podcast. So, I am deciding to dedicate 4 of the 5 Mondays in March to money, March. Were we will get into all things Dancer contracts, choreographer contracts, money mindset and the difference between math and drama. So buckle up and get ready for that, but in the mean time lets jump back in with Ava and Terry.
But go ahead. What was your question?
Yeah. Um, so Ava and I, and a lot of dancers in our, our field. It’s, it’s not uncommon to work on a two day shoot for a commercial. And the, the amount you make for those two days of work is not, not a ton of money, but the residual income you make from that point that’s, that’s, that’s starting to look, that’s a real number, right? So you’re you play a, you’re a session player as well. Am I calling that the right thing?
Yes, it, yeah. And I try to write it. Yeah. Session Artist.
And how does that look for you? Do you feel like that’s a better use of your time and talent?
Let me tell you, let me tell you something. Like I said, I’ve run everything through the union and I do a lot of, and have done a lot of recording sessions like throughout the year. So this was just a story. I’ll just throw it out there. My neighbor down the street picks up my mail when I’m on the road, things that are important, she FedEx them to me. Like I said, as part of the business, you have FedEx numbers and all these things. So things that get to you the next day, you have to have these things set up. She told me once, if you’re like, dude, I have never seen anybody get as many checks as you in my life.
That residual income is real.
You know, and I’m not saying that in a braggadocious kind of way or anything like that, it’s just, when you set yourself up a certain way, when you’re young, everything has to be processed through you because these companies don’t want to lose their livelihood to get sued or anything like that. So you just have to do it, you know, and it may seem like at the time, I, well, I’m spending money on this, but it pays off. It really does. It pays off. I get calls from people. Sometimes I do just the song you played in this, on this. I heard it in this new movie. And for me, since I’m in the union, it’s just a matter of calling SAG AFTRA or the musician union.And saying, I was in this movie and their attorneys go after the money, their incentive is they get paid. They get their little portion of whatever they collect from me. So, man, I found, I found tens of thousands of dollars
Because you’re smart again because you treat it like a business and you know how to go after it and when to go after it and where to go to get it. And I think there’s not much help in like in a — man, My husband and I were just talking about this the other night, a lot of big labels put tons of money into copyright claims. You’re not allowed to use this song on Instagram. You’re not allowed to use that song in this. And there’s a lot of money tied up in copyright. And it’s only any good if somebody actually makes a claim, like it’s only, you’re only protected if you’re looking out for yourself. So it’s, as you, as much as it is about having a union for protection, it doesn’t mean that the ball is not, is totally not in your court. You do still have responsibility to keep an eye in an ear out for your work that might be out in the world.
And a lot of times people won’t tell you, they use it. You just have to sorta kind of stumble upon it. The union doesn’t go out and try to track that stuff for you. You know what I mean? So a lot of times you know, you rely on your friends and loved ones and people, you know, that you’ve made contacts with. And sometimes it could be a music exec somewhere in, Hey, you know, and they will help you out. I heard this and that, you know, and they will turn your onto where your stuff is being played or used without your consent. That’s huge. Yeah. So that’s sorta kind of one of those things you have to stay on top of you. Can’t just slide and go to the club.
So, um, I remember Ava and I got involved more heavily with SAG-AFTRA around the same time. And for me, that was after the future sex left show tour, I was a union member before the tour and the tour was over, lasted over a year. I didn’t do any union gigs during that time. And I lost my membership. I had to rejoin after the fact. And I remember being pissed about having to rejoin because that, you know, as I mentioned before, the, the, um, to become a member is not cheap. And so I’m doing it twice. I was frustrated. So I decided with my arms folded that I was going to go into that union building and find out what they’re all about. So I went to one of these, you know, one of their member — member, only meetings. And I just fell in love with so many of the people that work there. I started seeing the member, or I started seeing the union as a membership. And that’s, and that’s the truth. The union is made up of its members. It’s only as good as we are.
Real people, yes!
So it became less a them versus us and more of a we. And that really changed the scope for me, um, changed my relationship and it helped me do more for the union and in return, I’m getting so much out of it. Yeah. It’s awesome.
Yeah. I’ve got these numbers down. I know who to call now. Question my phone. Yes. Yes.
I’ve got numbers like that too. So yes. Yeah, yeah. And they’re really helpful, man. They’ll stick there. They’ll stick their neck out for you and they will follow through. They won’t just say, okay. Yeah, we’ll get to that. Then you have to call them two weeks later. No, they’re calling you back the next day.
I will say I’ve had both. I’ve had, I’ve had both experiences where if you stay on, then they stay on. If you stay on and drop off the face of the earth and stop returning your emails then,
But the people you have that you know, now that you could contact, they get right back with you.
Oh, for sure. After those relationships have been made 100%,
The know when Dana’s calling it’s business,
Um, okay. Terry, this is brilliant. Thank you so much for offering, you know, my husband calls you “The Real Deal Terry Santiel” Yeah.
That came from Marty.
Daniel’s still, he might, he might hate me for saying this. He still credits you for introducing him to the single product that brought, I don’t, I don’t know if I can say the most comfort or joy in his life, but, and by the way, my husband is not a person who prioritizes comfort. He’s fine with not being comfortable, but you introduced him to this little mechanical, uh, tweezer thing, like hair, a hair, trimmer.
Yes the nose trimmer! Let me tell you about those nose trimmers. I’ve seen people, man. And it’s like, if you don’t keep those nose hairs trimmed,
Its all you’re going to stare at
They catch things and it’s, and it’s crazy because if you’re having a conversation with somebody that got something in their nose your focus is not on the conversation.
Should I say something? Should I not? Is it going to move? You’re distracted.
It’s a crazy, it’s a crazy thing, you know? And then, and then that could be sensitive. You know what I mean? It’s the type of person you would say that to. How are they? There’s all kinds of things that led me to think about another crazy story. I was in a, I was presenting some songs to a music exec once this was many years ago. And I’m not going to say any names, we’re going to start with not saying any names. So I’m in the office, they’re playing the song. It’s a woman. Right. And she’s in a very high power position. We’re in her little small office in this building. I’m being so political.
I see, I see where this, and I don’t like it.
She farted, but she..
I did not, I did not expect that.
But it wasn’t silent giant. You know, it was one of those. It wasn’t like I would rather, she did a regular fart.
Silent, giant hahaha
So the rooms filled up amazing air. Right.
How do you know this person? Is it only the two of you? How do you know it was her?
Well for us in this office. There’s so now in my head, I’m going okay. Is she checking me to see what type of person I am? Am I going to say anything
Its a part of the audition.
Was it an accident? And maybe I should. So all of this is going through my head. So I’m just, Oh my gosh, I’m stuck. You know, I don’t know. Okay. Well, how do you deal with this?
What did you do?
What I ended up doing was saying something about it. So, you know, when the song finished playing, I was like, okay, are we address the elephant in the room? Those are the words. And that’s it.
Well, that’s a great, that’s a good one. The elephant in the room.
I didn’t know what to do. I mean, I really didn’t know. And by me saying something was probably the worst thing because she took it really personally and she acted like nothing was wrong and nothing happened. And that’s how that ended. It couldn’t be any worse.
Terry that is not the story I was expecting This Terry, this might be the first official fart story on the podcast.
My, well, it happened,
You know what I like, you know, what I like though about that is that you gave the opportunity for her to ignore it. You said, are we going to address the elephant in the room? Instead of did you fart? Like you gave a little grace, you give a little grace. And, uh, and then she took it and ran.
And that was how that ended. And I was on the project, you know, and it was a pretty big project. It was a movie thing. So,
Oh God, I’d still say you’re winning. So it’s okay. You’re winning. It’s a great story to have.
Um, it’s it. That is a great story. And I’m this close to letting us end on on that story. Okay. I do have one more question. You you’ve been around for a long time. You’ve done a lot of incredible things. You’ve, you’ve not only built a foundation, but uh, a fully sustaining thing. It’s not just the foundation. It’s, uh, it’s the whole body. It’s all of it. And I’m wondering if there’s anything that you haven’t done that you want to do, like a, a project that you’re looking forward to, or a prediction for music that might happen in the future.
Um, you know, I’m open for anything that may come my way. You know what I mean? As far as helping other people out or doing things like that, I’m at the point now where I want to pay forward or can pay it forward, you know, and I’m into talking to people and just, if I can sweat a little bit of knowledge or insight on, on something for somebody, those are the things that are important, you know? Um, yeah. You know, I have money coming in all the time, so that’s not an issue. So you don’t have to about. How you’re gonna, yeah. You don’t have to worry about the hustle. So you just, you help you help everybody until the next thing comes along. And then you go move on that. I’m never going to stop touring and making money or doing anything like that. I’m going to do this till I’m 90. That’s my retirement. Yeah. Yeah. Well, I could be, I could be Uncle T. You know what I mean? I can be the old, you know, I don’t care about that.
When you look when you’re 90, you’re probably going to look in your sixties, come on. Like, you know, I could get away with a whole lot.
Yeah, yeah. You too. Look at you, man. You look like you’re still 20 years old.
It’s true. You do. And you got a baby. Terry did you know this?
Say that again.
Did you know that? Ava has a little one.
Yes I did. Congratulations. Ava, thank you for that. Somebody cause you guys have like three, you guys had babies at the same time. Tammy had a baby. Nancy has a little one.
And AJ! You guys like look at you guys, all moms and you know what the best now the beauty of your life starts because now you have another. And that’s the other thing. Cause I, I grew up doing the same thing. I had to raise a son through all of these other things that I was doing. So now you have to balance all of it together. You’ve got to balance your career, your life, marriages, all of these things are all factored into life, but you all have to move forward together.
Terry, do you have a guiding principle in terms of balance? Is there, is there a compass that keeps you, you know?
Yeah. Keep an open mind. You know what I mean? And don’t get caught up in your own personal ego. Cause a lot of people get caught up in their own personal ego and, and everything goes crazy at that point because people get stubborn and stuck in their, in their reality that may not even be a reality, but yeah. Yes.
That’s huge. And that’s helpful. I will remember that as I am in the market for maybe a goldfish, uh, Not, not quite, Not quite to the human being point yet. My husband and I are talking about getting a Roomba, one of those, uh, vacuums that lives it own life. Yeah. We’re thinking about it or thinking about it. But I know
I used to have, um, a person to come clean the household once, once a week, but I don’t even do that anymore. Since this whole COVID date. I’m like, huh, I can do this **** myself. So I’ve got all of this time.
I Got it.
Yeah. And it’s unfortunate for them cause they’re not making as much money, but I still paid for that one day as much as for two weeks, you know what I mean?
It’s safer, safer for you.
I don’t want, you know, cause I don’t want people in the house. It’s crazy, but it’s just this is spotless now.
I was just going to say you, you keep a clean house. You keep a clean nose clean. Clean Life. Clean life. He’s clean. He’s clean. Well, Terry, I cannot thank you enough for joining us today.
I don’t even want to get off the phone.
Well, we do have, I mean, we might call this episode rap, but I have a special question that I need to ask you. I ask all of my questions. I ask all of my quests. I ask this question to all of my guests. Um, and this might, this might be a whole another conversation. So I will put a pin in this one. Although I would love for you to be able to tell the listeners where to find you, if they’re interested in finding more of your work or in talking to you or in, uh, renting a property from you possibly. So what’s, what’s the best way for people to find you.
You could just, you can email me. How about that? That’s the easiest and it’s um, email address is my name Terrell — T-E-R-R-A-L with, four Zs — Z-Z-Z- Z @aol.com. (firstname.lastname@example.org) And it will come through
Can we find you on instagram?
Yeah. I do have an IG. You know what? I’ve got it. I’ve got to be quite honest about it. I got bored with it. You know what I mean? And I haven’t really posted or done too much on that. I’ll look at it from time to time Facebook. I will never go on, I do have Facebook account and you know, but it’s, everything’s at my name, but it’s @TerrySantiel everything’s @TerrySantiel and it’s a last name is spelled S-A- N- T -I- E- L. And Terry is with a Y — T -E -R- R- Y.
I’ll be sure to put that in the show notes to the episode as well. So everybody knows where to find
Yeah. Twitter, uh, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are all the same.
Yeah. Okay. Awesome. Well, thank you Terry. I couldn’t thank you enough. I adore you. This was the best, so much fun. My cheeks hurt
For your listeners. If you go on tour with anybody, don’t get caught up in the celebrity a hundred percent.
How do they do that? Terry tell them how to do it or how to not tell them how to do that.
I guess that’s on each individual. You know what I mean? Because everybody’s paths is going to be a little bit different in their connections with the different things that occur. But you just have to, I guess the way to do that is just to understand that you are not the artists.
Hmm. Yeah. I, I think one of the other like Ava, I’ll, I’ll speak for our relationship from my behalf of our relationship, but that, that was one tremendously grounding thing for me was having a real relationship with a person that wasn’t about visibility or, uh, a red rope anywhere or a fancy outfit like that, that friendship kept me very in touch with myself, my, my actions, my words, um, and it was fruitful and it was real and it was beautiful. And so having a real relationship on the road, other than just a relationship with the crowd or a really relationship with the club or a relationship with the money, that was huge for me. And the thing, this, this wasn’t until 2020, but on the 2020 tour, Terry, you remember I had, I did my daily videos. I had, I had a personal project that I was as accountable for as I was for my gig. And that was also tremendously helpful.
I remember being in Scotland and watching you dance with the guys,
You Probably where I’m going to find that I’ll put that in the show notes as well. Yeah, that was a good one. That that’s, that’s huge though. Like stay, don’t get caught up in the hype and there are a thousand different ways to do that. Um, it’s actually quite simple actually, because there’s one way to get caught up in the hype, but there’s many ways to not. Have a project, find a friend, you know, read, invest in the future, make decisions from the future, with the future in mind, not from the present moment and the present moment, always, almost always once the immediate gratification of like go to the club, get a drink, have the expensive mood, uh, have you.
And I’m not saying, but don’t not do those things. You just,
Everything in moderation.
Yeah. Doing the moderation that’s you know what I mean? It’s like, ah, I don’t really need to be there tonight. I shouldn’t be doing right. And you know what, let me just say this to me. I don’t, I’m always, I got like me and they used to say like with me one night, how I ended up getting in to that whole real estate thing is I saw one of those infomercials on TV and I was like, Oh, you can make money off of other people’s money. And I was like, well, I don’t need other people’s money to make money. How do you do that? And I tried it, I flipped the property. And I think I made like my first one maybe $40,000. I was like, Oh, that was easy. That was fun. And that only took a couple of months to make 40 grand. So then I did another one and another one and I ended up, um, you know, in the course of a year, you know, I did well.
I mean, I love you so much.
I could have been at a club and miss that information. That’s my point. So anyway. Okay. That’s okay. Sorry. I know we’ve got to get off, so
We’re doing it. I appreciate you. I just think the world of you. Thank you, Terry.
Thank you. Love you too.
Love you so much. Bye bye.
Okay, so that was “the real deal” Terry Santiel. Terry’s right.
That was so much fun. It was wonderful reconnecting with him.
I just can’t get over the fact that the same guy that gave us real estate advice was telling us fart stories
So good. Um, what were your biggest takeaways?
Oh, my biggest takeaway is that he is literally a part of history. He is history. He is a living legend, and I know we tend to use that word loosely, but he really is. He has stood the test of time. Um, he’s, we’ve got so much to glean from him. I just really enjoyed this little sit down here.
I couldn’t agree more. He he’s, he is himself and his work have been hugely prominent in the past, in the present. And from the sounds of it, he’s really investing in the future. He’s figuring it out, I adore. I’m very happy to be sharing that episode with you all. Um, I hope that you enjoyed hearing from Terry as much as we enjoy talking to him, I wish you could have seen all the faces, just smiles.
And I think we said we surmised this episode with Terry as clean it up, read up and keep an open mind.
Clean it up, read up, keep keeping up. That’s it. Yup. That’s it. Those simple things. And you too will still be producing top tier content when you’re, how old is Terry? Do we even know?
I didn’t ask, you know what?
This might be a moment I’m going to go ahead and I’m going to check the Googles.
Okay. So Terry’s around 72. We just took 15 minutes to do a math break around 72.
We had to research.
Yep. That’s true. That’s true. And we want to save you time so we didn’t share with you how long it took us to do that math. So that puts him in, in around the same ballpark is Miss Toni Basil. Yes. Um,
I mean they are a fountain of youth.
It’s true. That that’s really important to notice because I don’t like, and, and, and the thing that unifies them, is this ever learning yes this ever practicing and I do think it’s an open open-mindedness open-mindedness yeah. All right. I’m open. That’s it. I’m open. I’m going into the world open. I’m staying forever young. Um, and I, I hope that you all are forever inspired by that. It was so much fun. Ava. Thank you so much for joining me.
Thank you for having me! This was fun.
My pleasure. We’ll do it again. Sometime love you to bits.
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.
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