Ep. #48 Gratitude and Indulgence

Ep. #48 Gratitude and Indulgence

 
 
00:00 / 00:13:06
 
1X
 
 The subject of today’s episode is GRATITUDE and INDULGING.  Specifically, indulging in celebrations that DON’T clumsily step on other cultures OR leave you and the top button of your pants completely undone. This episode is absolutely NOT holiday-exclusive or Thanksgiving specific. But if you allow yourself to indulge in the list of simple pleasures laid out in this episode (instead of the traditional holiday key players: Food, Booze, and more food), your whole life can become a little more like a party!

Quick Links:

Black Friday Sale: https://www.thedanawilson.com/shop

Promo Code: JAZZED (Limited time offer from Nov 26th – Dec 4th)

Sony A6000: https://amzn.to/3fHxOyB

Tony Testa: http://www.tonytestaofficial.com/about

Transcript:

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

Dana: Hello, Hello, my friend. How are you? I’m doing very well this morning. If you are listening to this podcast on the day of its release, then Thanksgiving is tomorrow. American Thanksgiving. That is, and we’re going to talk about it, but before you listeners that are dropping in from way out there in the future, stop listening before you hit pause. Let me just tell you that this episode is absolutely not holiday exclusive or even really Thanksgiving specific for that matter, actually Thanksgiving and several other American holidays are a really hot button issue right now. And, um, you know, therefore this podcast episode will not be discussing what Thanksgiving is about. Um, I’m going to stick with what I know, which is certainly not US history and or the genocide of indigenous people. Today. I am going to be talking about gratitude and simply celebrating and indulging in natural human pleasures that don’t, uh, step clumsily on other cultures or leave you and the top button of your pants completely undone. So whether or not you will be celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow, this episode is full of really good stuff. Stuffing good stuffing. Sorry. I will not do that anymore. I promise. Full of really, really good stuff for you. But first wins. If you’re new to the podcast, by the way, I start every week talking about some wins, that can be very, very big or they could be very, very small. And after I go, you go, so start thinking about your wins. Okay. This week, my win is that I stepped out of my comfort zone and actually stepped out of my house for that matter. After my bedtime, which is approximately 8:30 PM apparently. I don’t know about you guys. It is the middle of November and I am still really struggling to adapt to this new sleep cycle thing. Okay. Anyways, it’s 8:30 and I am going on a night photography walk with one of my very best friends.  

The one, the only Tony Testa. If you don’t know Tony Testa, I feel bad for you. Please go do some digging. You are in for such a treat. All right. So way, way back in episode two, I talk a little bit about my gear, all of the gizmos and gadgets that I assembled into. Basically my everyday carry when I was doing daily videos, way back in 2014, that is actually a really fun episode. I do recommend you give it a listen, but I’ll cut to the chase very quickly because I’m pretty sure you want to know the best camera for night photography and the best camera for dance videography and, or, you know, action shooting or high-speed, whatever, whatever I’m going to tell you right now, the best camera, the absolute best camera for all of those things that are just mentioned is the camera that you have. And the camera that you know, how to use last night is a perfect example. So last night I was shooting on my Sony A6000. If you’re fancy, you call it a Sony A6. It’s my favorite mirrorless camera. It is definitely my favorite camera that I have. I usually use it for video. If you are a Sony fan, you know that the, A series is just the coolest, what I didn’t say, Siri, you punk. Interrupting the podcast like that. Jesus. Um, such a great set of cameras, really, really big fan. Now last night, I was also using a custom lens that my husband put together, my super dreamy, wicked smart optical engineer of a husband. And, um, I swear every single photo is out of focus, but I’m celebrating it as a win because I got to exercise my eye for composition. I got to relearn this franken lens and start dialing myself back into it. I usually, when I shoot video, I usually use my zoom lens and everything’s on auto. That was not the case last night. Um, so really it was, it was a brilliant night. I got to spend time with somebody that I, that I deeply love and respect. I got to relearn my camera. I got to be behind it for the first time in a long time. And in front of it occasionally. So much fun. Maybe, maybe I’ll share a couple of the images from that night shoot throughout the week. So, so, so much fun. Um, all right. I have taken up enough of your Siri and I have taken up enough of your time now it’s your turn. What’s going well in your world.  Hit me.  

Okay, great. Congratulations. Um, so whether you’re winning, keep winning, keep doing all of those winning things. All right. Now, today we’re talking about gratitude and giving thanks and appreciation all the little shout outs to the lovely bits of life that you might be taking for granted. It’s about indulging in those things instead of indulging in a handful of other things. Now on any given holiday that centers around food and family and togetherness and mostly food and drinking, which let’s face it is many of them. I find myself usually uncomfortably full by like 4:00 PM. And then I stay about that full for the next few days of grazing on the leftovers. Well, this year on Thanksgiving and every day thereafter in perpetuity forever, I am committed to changing the way that I celebrate instead of indulging in Turkey and pie and wine and wine. Um, I’m going to indulge in the simple pleasures of life that do not affect the way my pants fit. And I would encourage you to join me. The following is a list of some of those simple human pleasures, natural pleasures, no matter who you are, no matter where you are, chances are, you can have at this list. Um, and if you really, really pause to enjoy them, they can make your whole life feel a little more like a party. Let’s get into it. 

Item number one, showers. Yep. Like in your bathroom, showers grooming in general, but let’s just talk a really good shower for a second. Thank you. Beeping noise, telling me it’s time to think about showers, the way the water hits your skin. Just think about the posture that you take when hot water hits your skin or your scalp, and you get to massage shampoo in your scalp and maybe give it a good scratch. And then the soap washes a way, then you do it all over again with conditioner, and then you get to rub your body with soap or a loofa or one of those weird little scratchy pairs of gloves. Or maybe you use a sea sponge if you’re au-natural. I don’t know what it is that you do in the shower. But I do know that if you really pause and take a moment to focus on the sensation of the water, hitting your body of your hands, touching your body or the loofa or the weird scrubber, whatever, that can be such a tremendous moment.  

And I think all too often, we blaze through that moment because we’re running late or we’re trying to get to the rest of our day. I’m not suggesting that you take a 45 minute shower. I’m suggesting that you tune into your five minute shower or let’s be real, probably your seven to 10 minute shower. Um, yeah, you don’t need to indulge by over showering, but simply tune into your body and the sensations in it, on it as you’re taking your shower. Now I know that some people, uh, do love a multitask. I know a lot of people listen to podcasts in the shower or in the morning as they’re getting ready, um, or listen to music in the shower, sing in the shower. I’m I’m here for all of it, but for your first go, after listening to this podcast, try it in silence. Just let yourself focus on the sensations of your body.  

Okay. I guess I’m going to kind of go in chronological order here up next is lotioning your body. Shout out to my husband who does not wear lotion and thinks it’s crazy that I wear lotion all the time. Um, think about, I don’t know if you’ve ever put baby lotion on a baby, that’s going to get a little weird for a second. But as you do, usually you kind of coup at the baby and you’ll talk to them and you’ll tell them how much you love their tiny feet. And look at these perfect little toes. And you know, you’ll, you’ll give them a tiny little gentle baby massage. What if you did that for yourself every day? Look at these tiny little fingers. You do such a good job typing all day. I love you knee caps, knee caps. You’ve been causing me a little bit of pain lately. I’m going to take care of you right now. I’m going to give you a little massage. It’s going to feel great. You’re going to love it. Feet. Holy smokes. I know you pups are howling. It’s going to be another long one, but I’ve got you right now pumping you up. You going to make sure you’re ready for the day. You too calves. I got you back. Speaking of back, it’s hard to reach, but I’m going to try, take a moment to love on yourself. Like actually verbally love on yourself while you’re putting on your lotion, such an awesome way to celebrate yourself. I honestly, I guess I could broaden the whole lotion bit to say, taking care of your skin, whether that’s your face. Um, take care of your nails. I don’t know if, if, uh, you guys are like me since the lockdown. I certainly haven’t had any professional manicures, but I really love painting my own nails. Something about it is meditative to me. I get very quiet. I try to be very still, I focus on one thing and that is not to paint on my cuticles. And it’s, it’s so calling for me. So weirdly and wildly restorative. Oh, and then because I have wet nails usually for the following hour or two, it’s pretty low impact in terms of my activity. I might be reading a book. I might do a little, um, you know, surfing the internet or watch a movie. But in the moment when I paint my nails, the reward is much longer than simply the moment of painting my nails. So that’s kind of a bonus. 

Okay, we’re moving right along. Now. Let’s talk, getting dressed. Specifically, wearing clothing that fits and feels good on your body. Now you could go a step further by, by dressing up in things that make you feel fabulous better than — better than your average bare naked person. But I, I’m not sure what it is. Maybe it’s that. I grew up a dancer with a seamstress for a mom, and I love a good costume, but I really love looking forward to and walking around the world in an outfit that I love. So I don’t know if that is something that you might need to be out there in the world looking for, or if that’s something that you keep in reserve in the closet only for special occasions. You know what? Today is a special occasion. Go put it on, look and feel. Fabulous, simple pleasure. 

All right, now this next one is a good one. And I must admit I have some work to do in this category reading, especially in quarantine times, this one is clutch. And really when you catch yourself in the clutches of a good book, you get transplanted. You get put somewhere else, another world, another time, it can be as good as a vacation. Go ahead and fight me on this. But right now I would say it’s better than a vacation because it does not require leaving your house and putting yourself and others at risk. Read a good book today. I challenge you instead of that second or third or fourth piece of pie or glass of wine, grab a freaking book, take yourself in your mind, your imagination to another place where you can indulge in having an imagination where you can indulge in knowing that somebody wrote those words on that page likely a very long time ago, and they have no control over how you decide to see them in your mind. I think that exchange is just so magical and cool, freaking awesome. Grab a book. I’m talking to myself now. 

Okay. Let’s keep it pushing another one. Not a big, not a big hit in my household, but nevertheless, an excellent go-to, especially in holiday together times instead of grabbing an extra plate of food, grab a board game or a card game.  Actually, my family used to be big on the speed and a game called BS, a game called BS. We loved this game. Um, also poker has some roots in my family. I remember learning Texas hold ’em when I was like 12 or 13. So much fun. Engage the mind, engage each other, play a freaking game. Oh my gosh. Scrabble. You guys really, really good one because well, fun one for me because I love words, but I am a terrible speller hence podcast right now. I know there are several other games that I’m not mentioning right now. Some that like actually bring you into some physicality, uh, like twister, for example, but I wouldn’t exactly recommend eating a bunch of food and then playing twister that could go way wrong. Um, I’m sure I’ve left out some of your favorites. I would love to hear what they are actually, because I would love to stock up the games in my house. It might be time to make this house game house. 

Uh, all right, let’s keep it pushing. Hear me now. I do not work out for fun, but I work out so that my body can dance better. Also. I do admit it does feel really good after the fact, but while I’m in it, I’m not chances are, I am not having fun unless I have a really, really awesome playlist. (don’t worry playlists are coming up.) Um, I do think that exercise falls on this list and I do think that you can indulge in it. I do think that being in motion, um, whether it’s a yoga flow or a Pilates mat, this doesn’t need to mean this doesn’t mean that you need to go on a several mile run. Um, but I do think that being physical and getting your heart rate up is an indulgence that, yeah, I think a lot of us don’t really tune in tap into as often as we could, or maybe as often as we should. One thing that we almost certainly don’t do while we’re in the exercise moment is to take stock and give thanks of our working bodies of all the things that are working. Usually I don’t know if you’re like me, but when I’m working out, I’m telling myself work harder, work harder. I’m not telling myself thank you for working. Thank you for working. So on your, on your post Turkey workout or on your next workout. Give that a try. Thank you for working. Thank you for working during your workout.  I can’t wait to hear how it goes. 

All right, here we are favorite favorite guys, listen to music, listen to it loud, listen to it. Often listen to it alone. Listen to it with friends, listen to it in headphones, listen to it in your car. I mean all of it, but while you’re doing it, really focus on how incredible it is that humans made those sounds in that composition, in that order, in that tempo, in that structure, with that style. I mean come on, it is just the coolest thing in the world. And when you’re a dancer or a choreographer, you wind up listening to music all day long for your job. I’m not saying that takes the pleasure out of it. I’m saying it’s very easy to forget how much pleasure is in it. So let that be a focus, get grateful for your ears and the way that they work.  Get grateful for the sounds coming out of whatever that whatever the, um, noise maker is that you happen to be digesting your music through, get grateful for the noisemaker. I mean, this I’m, I’m tearing, I’m tearing, just talking about it, go grab you some music. You know what actually blows my mind to think about because of the nature of what I do. I listen to music. Absolutely every single day, but not everybody does. Like I had that realization recently. There are probably people that go several days without hearing music. And I’m like, well, I don’t know how, I don’t know how that works, but I do know that I, that I slip into music for work more often than I would like to. Um, I’d like to bring back the balance of music for pleasure and music for work. Um, I’d like to offer that you do the same.  

All right. Now, an obvious next step, or maybe not so obvious next step to listen to music is make music sing. I am not a person with an excellent or even decent for that matter singing voice. And I still love it. Especially when I have a thorough vocal warmup, shout out by the way, upcoming episode, I can’t even wait. I’m so excited. I cannot actually wait. I will be talking to my dear friend, Mr. Raab Stevenson, vocal coach to the stars. I cannot wait. I’m so excited. 

Okay. We’re back on track next step, because I’m following a theme here. Listen to music, make music, sing and dance. Not for work, not for a daily video, not for a, tik-tok not for the gram for fun. Dance for fun. You’re like, what’s that? No, really just music or no music and boogie and right when you want to stop, keep going and see what happens. Just see what happens. See what comes out. And I’ll revisit the same theme that we, uh, that we touched on when I talked about working out as you’re dancing, celebrate every moving bit of that body, because it is worth your gratitude. It is a worth a celebration. Get into it.  

Okay. Up next. And this is another one that I don’t, um, indulge in as often as I would like to, but I always have a really good time when I do painting something about getting your hands dirty and something about rolling up a sleeve, rolling down a tube of paint and just getting bright for a second, make something beautiful, make something ugly, make something, make anything. 

Speaking of getting your hands dirty. This next one is a favorite of mine. Potting plants. In general, I find that getting my hands dirty is one way to clean out my mind. It is possible to celebrate yourself well, caring for something else, right? You’re like getting ahead of the next harvest. Oh, by the way, if you are an avid listener of the podcast, I should tell you that my tomato plant is thriving. Making lots of little tomatoes. They’re still green, but there are a lot of them. Um, and my Basil is still my Basil it’s overflowing. It’s everywhere.  Moral of the story is plant something, get some fresh air, feel the soil in your hands, nurture a tiny little plant life and feel like the same that you are. I mean, come on. Does it get any better than that? No, it does get worse though. When the plant dies, you feel awful. That’s when you can plant another one or hit the Google and start finding out what you’re doing wrong. That’s what I did recently.

Okay. The next one again, might sound really obvious, but I think it definitely deserves a mention showing affection, right? Gratitude, affection, they’re cousins. So it makes sense that in an episode where we talk about gratitude, we talked about showing affection that can be written, spoken or physical. Now we are still encouraging social distance here on the podcast, but do not forget about the importance of physical contact, perhaps with a roommate or a parent. Um, if you feel a need, maybe you ask for that back rub or that foot rub, or maybe you offer one before you ask for one. I think that so many of us forget about physical connection, especially when we are uncomfortably full and probably don’t want to be touched. So what if the next celebration you’re at you save that little, little, little bit of room you have that you always reserve for, for dessert, but fill it up with a hug. I know it happens all the time husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, boyfriend/boyfriend, girlfriend/girlfriend, don’t care who the relationship is between couple plans for a romantic evening, couple overeats or over drinks, couple falls asleep before romantic times.  So try as hard as you can to remember how good it feels to be physically intimate and save a little room for that instead of seconds or thirds or desserts in general. 

Okay. Last step on the list. And this is maybe because it’s fresh on my mind. I’m not going to lie this one. Isn’t really a natural pleasure because cameras are not natural fruits of the earth, but take pictures. Yes. Take pictures. This is a really, really, really good excuse to be just about anywhere and do just about anything. Let me explain what I mean by that dancing alone in a parking garage somewhere kind of odd, right. But put a camera there or a camera crew and all of a sudden that makes total sense. Oh duh. Yeah. They’re making a thing laying down in the middle of the sidewalk. For example, wouldn’t recommend it. But if you do it with a camera attached to your face pointed at a skyline, I totally get it. That totally makes sense. Might be totally unsafe, but I totally get it.  Now other than the fact that a camera just seems to be this passport, this like ticket to go anywhere and be anywhere and do anything or talk to anyone besides that. The other reason why I love taking pictures as an act of celebration and gratitude is because obviously it feels really good in the moment, but it also captures that moment. It captures the moment in a way that you can see it. You can duplicate it. If you print it, you can touch it, hold it, you can edit it and you can revisit it any time. It’s so incredible. It’s so special. So this holiday season, I hope that you spend more time in your camera app than an Instagram or Tik ToK create more than you consume. That is what it’s really all about. 

That’s my list. It is by no means exhaustive. In fact, I would really, really love to hear from you. What are some of the other natural ways that you love to indulge and celebrate life? That doesn’t mean you wind up kind of bulging over the top of your pants. I do think it’s interesting that indulge rhymes with bulge. Alright, so reach out to me with all of your favorite ways of celebrating of indulging in natural pleasures on Instagram, at words that move me podcasts, I cannot wait to hear what you have to add to this list. I hope that you find ways of celebrating. I hope that you get really grateful for all of the natural pleasures of being a human this holiday season and every season for that matter. And if you do decide to indulge in some not so natural human pleasures, like for example, shopping. Into the plug, I am giving all of my listeners a 10% off coupon code for everything in my store, on the website, theDanawilson.com/store  

That means words that move me stickers. That means keep it funky shoe bags for stinky stinky shoes. That means digital downloads that help you manage and get inspired about your creative projects. Ooh, and we just added a daily creative prompt calendar for 2021. That means every single day for all of next year, you will have a creative prompt so that when you’re sitting, thinking I have no ideas, you’re wrong, you’ve got at least one idea. It is right there waiting for you at thedanawilson.com/store Um, our daily creative prompts calendar. I think it’s super, super cool. Shout out to Malia Baker for putting that together and a great idea by the way, this 10% off coupon code applies starting black Friday and goes all the way through a full week until December 4th, to use the 10% off to get your 10% off, select your items, then click on the little shopping bag.  It’s the cutest little icon I’ve ever seen. Click on the little shopping bag in the top right corner. And then finally type the word jazzed J A Z Z E D in all caps where you see the words coupon code, then click apply coupon and get your 10% off every single purchase. Every single thing in the store, no limits, I mean have at it so much fun. So much a natural pleasure. Holy smokes. Um, perhaps the most fun of all though, you guys is hard to even talk about this because I am smiling so big. I have to tell you, hopefully by black Friday fingers are super crossed. I will be releasing my first ever words that move me. T-shirt in collaboration with my good friend, Jesse Soyer’s over at Getting Unlocked. Jesse, by the way, is a phenomenal tap dancer. She’s more than a phenomenal tap dancer. She is a, a visual musician. She’s an instructor and a coach and an advocate for mental health and body positivity. She and Getting Unlocked her company, um, which is an apparel and art company that really really champions self-acceptance and inclusion above all else. She is doing great things. She is an incredible person and it was so much fun to collaborate on this. T-shirt um, if you follow me, Dana Wilson, the human on Instagram, you have absolutely seen one of these t-shirts it says, I welcome your differences on the front. It is a message that I love getting behind. Literally every single time I put it on. And I hope that you do to super special edition words that move me plus getting unlocked. I’m jazzed about it. So be on the lookout for that on the story as well. We’re offering more than 10% off on that. So use the same coupon code jazzed in all caps for that. And um, yeah. Holy smokes. Now I think I’ve talked about, uh, natural pleasures for as long as I’ve talked about natural pleasures. So, uh, let me stop. I’ll let you go decide for yourself how you would like to indulge and celebrate your Thanksgiving. So yes, please do go to theDanawilson.com/shop It’s a great way to support the website and support yourself with some pretty, pretty sweet stuff. If I do say so myself, but most importantly, this holiday season and every season, tap in and get grateful for the natural and almost free pleasures of being a human. Thank you for listening. Everybody get out there, keep it safe. And of course, keep it funky. I’ll talk to you soon.  

Thought you were done. No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website theDanawilson.com/podcast Finally, and most importantly, now you have a way that moved me limber. So kickball changeover to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast to learn more and join. All right, everybody I’m really done now. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Ep. #47 Lady Boss: Diana Matos

Ep. #47 Lady Boss: Diana Matos

 
 
00:00 / 00:38:56
 
1X
 
What happens when the commercial industry doesn’t make you happy anymore… Reinvention, that’s what!  My guest this week is a pro at exactly that.   Diana Matos bridges the space between street and commercial dance.  She dives into the importance of using her creative voice, and the challenges of having a company with members all over the world.  We also go deep on the difference between SELFISH and… SOMETHING ELSE, so do a spinal roll down and a few jumping jacks to get yourself warm, and LET’S GO!

Show Notes:

Quick Links:

Diana Matos: https://www.instagram.com/dianamatos/

Motus the Company: https://www.motusthecompany.com/

Fenty Show: https://www.amazon.com/Savage-Fenty-Show-Vol/dp/B08JQNCY8R

Transcript:

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

Dana: Hello! Hello, my friend. And welcome to the podcast. Welcome. Welcome. If you are a first time listener and welcome back. If you are a returning mover and shaker, I am so glad that you are here today. I am thrilled to share this interview with you. I think it is simply solid gold and a very fun listen. But before we get into it, I want to draw your attention to a couple things, because I am seeing some new daily doers out there. I want to make sure that you guys know, I offer some support on my website in the form of an interactive PDF that can help you with your daily projects. If doing daily is a new concept to you, go back and listen to episode one and two. But if you are a daily doer, I do so strongly encourage you. Go visit theDanawilson.com Take a look at the store in there. I have a downloadable PDF that helps you organize your project and really make the most of this daily creative challenge. So want to make sure that I say that before I forget. Um, also before I forget last week’s episode was so much fun. I did my first ever live Q and a via zoom. And so many of my listeners were there with me asking questions, interacting. It was just so much fun. Um, go back and listen to that. If you have a chance, if you dig it, if you’re loving it, please do download these episodes and leave a review. If you’re moved, if it was helpful, give us a rating, leave a review. It makes it so much easier for other people to find the podcast. And that is definitely important to me. So thank you in advance for doing that. 

Okay. Let’s get into it this week. As my win, I am celebrating the reconnection to old friends. I probably am not alone in that during the lockdown I have indeed locked in. I’ve gotten I’m pretty self focused, and I think this is a very important win today because in this interview with our guests this week, the lovely Diana Matos, we talk a lot about being self-focused or selfish and the difference between the two. So my win. This is that I, I reached back out to a network of friends that have supported me for a really, really long time, but also to new friends, people that I’ve met during the course of the quarantine during the course of this time, since having a podcast. Um, and I definitely am feeling connected. I am feeling supported. And of course I’m feeling so grateful to have you and this forum to share. So yes, my win is my connection to my friends. And I would love to encourage you if you haven’t in a while to reconnect to yours. All right, now you go, what is going well?  

Awesome. Congratulations. I’m so glad you’re winning. Keep on crushing it. All right. My friends, I don’t want to spend too much time. Preambling here pre rambling here. I want to get straight into this interview. My guest this week on the episode is the one, the only Diana Matos in my eyes, an untouchable dancer, um, an incredible presence and incredible friend and an incredible role model. I’m so excited to share what she shared sharing on sharing. Um, and I can’t wait to hear what you think about it. Please. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us @wordsthatmovemepodcast on Instagram. She is @DianaMatos on Instagram. D I A N A M A T O S. If you do not already know her, or aren’t already familiar with her work, please do go get an eye full. All right. And with that, let’s get into it. Please enjoy this conversation with the fabulous Diana Matos.  

Dana: All right. Holy smokes. Let’s do this Diana Matos, everybody. Welcome to the podcast. Thank you so much for being here. 

Diana: Thank you so much. It’s a pleasure. It’s an honor. You are an inspiration to me and to everyone around me so down always. 

Oh my gosh. Uh, likewise and I’m, I’m honored, lucky, count myself extremely special to have been able to share the stage with you before we’ve gigged a little bit, nowhere near as much as I would like actually. Um, you are now a person that you have your own company. You’re still crushing it in the industry. Most recently performed in Rhianna’s Fenty fashion show, which I do want to talk about. I want to talk about all the things, but before we dig into it’s, uh, it’s commonplace here on the podcast that all of my guests introduce themselves. So tell us anything you would like us to know about you.  

Diana: Hi, my name is Diana Filipa Pereira Morais de Matos Koumaev originally from Lisbon Portugal, I have lived there till I’m was 21, uh, danced trained, um, moved to London 2011, started working commercially and 2014 moved to LA. Um, yeah, I’ve been working since then, uh, hugely in the industry, but also very important to me that I stay true to myself, to my voice, to how my body moves what feel as good and organic to me and trying to build from there, especially right now at this stage of my life.  

Okay. So let’s talk stages then if your, if your dance life was a book, what would the chapters be? What do you chapter it out by like Portugal, London, LA, or is there like training, touring, stage? Like how does that get compartmentalized in your brain? How do you think about your dance life?  

I think to me, it definitely, I definitely com uh, compartmentalize it, uh, it being Portugal, it’d be in London and it being an LA. Um, also because to me it felt like a restart every single time professionally and personally, I have to reinvent myself, I have to drop everything financially, everything. It just, it’s always like a big step where I really, I go through a really rough time and then things finally start happening. Um, and especially within that time, there’s crazy amounts of growth personally and professionally. Um, so I would say that’s the way I sort of, you know, separated looking back. Um, I guess I was a little bit lost in Portugal. I learned a lot very limited, but at the same time, I found a way to sort of teach myself and reinvent myself because it wasn’t a lot back then. And, you know, there was no social media, there was YouTube and it’s a really, really small, town. So I had to work with what I had. I had to sort of re reinvent myself, which those are tools that till this day I use, um, me moving to London, it’s me, you know, finally breaking through. I barely spoke English at that point. So it’s also me understanding, you know, the language and how to talk to other people, how to, how to network, how to audition, how to even submit for an agency, all those things. Um, and then eventually coming to LA where I felt like it was sort of like my last attempt to have a career. I really thought I was maybe only coming for like a year or something. And then maybe going back to Europe and truly that’s when my career exploded. Yeah, exactly. You know? Um, so yeah, that’s, that’s, I would stage it.  

I love that. I, and I think that a lot of the people listening can relate to this feeling of starting new and being leveled, being baseline, trying to navigate, trying to transition and really trying to skill up as fast as possible and by any means possible. So this like this hungry student in you has been there for every single chapter and, and even as currently, and now you are attracting hungry students, um, with your company, talk a little bit about motus, what’s the mission, um, to tell me everything,  

Um, motus, it’s something that I’ve always wanted to create, right? Because as much as I believe in training and, and, and being in the room with as many choreographers as I could, and to, to sponge as much knowledge as I could through my journey, um, huge, uh, on, on understanding where my voice is as an artist, right. And I’ve always felt that I had that and very much so because of one, my life journey into my culture, um, which is half Portuguese, half African from Mozambique. So, um, motus has always been something in the back of my mind where I wanted to create a group of people that I’m able to, to utilize my voice into create this voice in the industry. Right. Um, not only that within the, the, the, my experience as a professional dancer, I’ve understood that we sort of have two options, which is to be an artist behind, uh, to be a dancer behind an artist, or to be a teacher slash choreographer, where you travel the world or you do conventions or right.  And those are like the two big options that you have to me is start after, you know, after a, while it started feeling a little bit like, Oh, this, this is all I have. Um, as an artist, if I don’t necessarily want to dance behind an artist anymore. And if, either I don’t want to teach, uh, or if I, choreographing is not my thing, where do I stand? You know? Um, so I think the industry sort of lacks specially for commercials commercials slash street styles, there’s a huge gap when it comes to, if I just want to be an artist as a dancer, where do I fit in? So I think motus, motus, motus’ goal is to create a company where artists can come and can sort of create a career off of it, where they travel. You’re getting paid, they’re dancing, they’re exploring their artistry, but not necessarily either in the commercial world or they don’t have to, you know, there’s a lot of people that are not teachers and they end up being teachers because that’s really the only option, which is not a good thing, you know? Um, so I think motus down the line, the big, big picture is to create, to have a company commercial slash, uh, streets out a street styles company that, um, that we can, can give a voice and give a space to all these dancers and artists.  

Cool. I, 45 follow-up questions. I’m going to start with this one. Um, so does the company, or do you envision that the company performed together? I know at this point it’s a training based company and the people that become members, the people that get involved, get their butt kicked. I know that this training goes above and beyond what somebody might expect to find in an in-person masterclass. Um, but tell, tell me about how, like, how is this next level training and do you visualize in-person performances with a company in the future?  

Definitely visualize performance companies. I think when motus started with me with COVID in quarantine and lockdown happening and me, um, understanding, okay, truly this is a time for me to, for me to do something that I’ve always wanted to do. I was never really able to, cause I was just overwhelmed with, you know, job here, rehearsal there. Um, so it’s time to do this, but now I’m limited with the circumstances that I can do it. So it has to be online based. So it has to be as for now and is until I’m able to train these dancers to be able to, uh, create whatever I can with no limitations, I have to train them. So right now in this first stage is very much so a program, an online program, um, where not only you train with me heavily, Um, two times a week, 

Oh, I’ve seen the videos, it’s heavy training. I like I sweat and I’m sore as I watch. It’s incredible just to watch incredible, by the way, do you take drop-ins because I have got to do these moves. I need a full 45 minute warmup and then I need to do the moves.  

Absolutely. You’re allowed to actually, that would be a great segment to this. If you would come in and film like your whole experience. Good idea. Love it. You’re  

So down. So now coming soon, coming soon. 

Um, so you’re not only trying to heavily with me, but also, um, you ha we have a grounding, uh, class 30 minutes before mine to prep and to sort of, uh, condition your body for all this training. And then on Sundays you have a different style, every single Sunday different style. And that goes from foundations, from like Afro, from, um, whacking, voguing house, popping, locking, like all of it and stuff that actually we don’t have access to often. And, and, and with the variety that, you know, also at the same time that we can have people from Switzerland to, to South Africa, we also have teachers from everywhere in the world. Um, so that’s huge,  

Massive. I love that silver lining of this moment. It’s remarkable. And what’s odd. I mean, it’s not odd at all. It’s been there for years. I mean, zoom has been there for years, but we only see what’s right in front of us and now we’re looking bigger. We’re zooming out and it thrills me to no end. Um, and so it’s, let me just  

Let me just add that. It’s actually really good in the sense that it created this, this almost like this relationship between me and the members and the sense that, you know, if it’s a regular class, you come in, there’s 60, 70, a hundred people who teach, groups, thank you for coming. The zoom It’s so personal. I’m looking at Dance, I’m looking at you dancing individually. Like I’m stopping you and saying, you see how you did that leg. You see how you did that weight. Wasn’t right. It’s such a personal relationship so much more than a regular class.  

I agree. I know there are several people that disagree that think that the screen, the layer between is a disconnect. I couldn’t disagree more. And because you and I are people who, whose work does show up on screen a lot, actually understanding how you look on a screen is an important element that you might not achieve in a, in an in-person class. There is a difference to those dynamics to the way that your shapes and your lines look. So, although it might be technically easier to correct someone in three dimensions, like in person, hands on corrections, you might not have seen the thing that you want to correct in person because the dance on camera element, at least to me, is hugely important. And so appetizing, I love working in this medium. 

Its so detailed. 

I love it so much. So let’s talk about the beginning of modus. I would love to hear what was the most challenging thing about making it?  

I would say one, understand how to keep people engaged. A lot of these people, we have people from South Africa to Australia, to New Zealand, to Europe, to London, right? Um, there’s people taking class at 5:00 AM that just barely woke up in their little living room or their rented room, you know? Um, so how to keep people, cause also we’re challenging people so much to after three, four or five weeks, you feel drained almost right. So to me was how to give a lot and how to really push these people with information, with the level, with the how to keep them motivated, uh, to want to keep cook, to come back and to continue this so we can actually get to the end goal. Um, it was that it was how to structure it, how to, how to finesse having that many people. And how do I give attention?  Suddenly I have 45 little squares, what I have to have individual feedback. So how long do I determine that feedback? You know, there’s so many little levels, um, training who to choose to, to, to invite for these guests teachers for every Sunday. And then it has to be sort of, if I give a little footwork this Sunday, then that next Sunday, maybe you should be a popping or then it should be, uh, maybe it should be a salsa, like how to completely shift every single Sunday to keep them almost like to have their bodies, uh, be pulled so many directions. And that, that creates, um, a body development and a body flexibility that that’s what we’re trying to achieve. Right? So as a mentor, director, however you want to call it that’s those are like my biggest challenges till this day. Honestly.  

What you mentioned earlier about there being kind of a divide in terms of once you, once you reached the level of being a professional dancer, you have a few more commonly traveled paths. There’s the backup dancers slash commercials, TVs, film type, where you’re a contributing part of a big, big picture, or there’s the, you are the traveling teacher, choreographer person where there’s this kind of celebrity it factor, but you’re, you’re teaching your moves. And then there’s the kind of less glorified version of a teacher, which is the person in there doing the daily grind. These are our dance studio owners. These are our teachers who are putting together programs, making them attainable, making them feasible, doing the structure, like financing it, deciding budgets, like all of that big stuff. I want to put my focus there because those, those people get so overlooked. And I want to emphasize and highlight that that is a creative mega challenge to, to, to actually build a program is tremendously creative. To strategize and finance. You have to get creative. So I, I just want to do my part in kind of dismantling the stigma that the people behind JT or the creatives or the people, you know, the, the headliners on your convention are wildly creative. I think the people on the ground building these programs and getting them out into the world and changing lives one little dancling at a time, those are the creative heroes. And, and I think I’m just smitten by that.  

No, absolutely. And that’s so funny because to me at first, when I thought about the concept, I was like, okay, I’m going to have to teach, you know, four times a week. And I have to create something new every week. There’s a lot of creative choreography or, uh, as a teacher, uh, pressure, right. That I thought that that was going to be my biggest challenge and truly is not, is, is how to manage it all, how even I finish class and how do I have to come back and manage all this stuff that I’ve truly never done in my life. Um, you know, and, and then finding an assistant, find the, how to delegate. It’s a whole process.

Building the team. I’m with you, my friend, this is, this is my first time managing a team in my life and I’m learning so much all the time. So what would you say in a, maybe we stick on that subject on the subject of managing a team. What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned?  

And I think this might be my come from a perspective, from a personal perspective, but think how to always put myself in these people’s shoes and how to not let either my, my day, my emotions, what I’m going through really give to that. I’m very, I’m very passionate. And that comes with a level of perfectionism, a level of expectation that is quite high that I expect not only for myself, but I can handle that, but to other people. And then it’s to really understand that I, it’s hard for me to think that someone is good unless they’re at my level, which is not right for me to do. You know, so understanding that  

I call this, um, comparing somebody’s chapter three to your chapter 30, or comparing your chapter three to somebody else’s chapter 30.  

Yup. That’s exactly what it is. So, yeah, it was really hard for me to like step aside from me and myself and everything. And, and, and to understand that someone is as valuable and as competent to, to do that job, uh, perhaps just differently. That was a huge lesson  

Compassion. Right? Ooh, that is so important. It’s so important. Okay. Is there a lesson since you started the company that you, I mean, you probably expected to level up on managerial skills and to level up on the technical side of things and to level up an organization, but is there, is there a lesson that you’ve learned that you did not expect you would learn?  

I would say, I would say vulnerability because a lot of people, you know, I’m suddenly starting a company and all these people see me as a mentor and you call it director because you have to call yourself and then there’s a whole marketing team behind saying, Oh no, you’re this. And no, you’re that. And, um, at the same time that I own one and want to own this, I want to be, I want to pave my way. I want to climb the letter respectfully. I don’t want, I’m not trying to rush into any sort of name. Um, but at the same time I have to, in order to, to make people feel like I got this together right. And jump on my boat, but I got this boat together. But at the same time to see the, the, these members every day and to have vulnerable moments in the sense where I forgot my step, I forgot my counts. Or there’s days. There was one day my dog passed away right before class. I got it like out of texts, like two minutes before class. And I was just in tears. And how do I zoom in with 40 people around the world saying good morning. And I’m in, you know, so, so, so to find that vulnerability and to, to, to make people feel like they can count on me, even when I’m on I’m at my lowest. So am I, I’m at my most vulnerable self, you know, that to me was a huge lesson to be okay with that. For me to be okay. Cause I’ve always tough, tough to, I got this together. Always. I have to be smiley and ready to go professional. Right. And sometimes that just doesn’t happen. That’s just life. Um, so I think that was a lesson that I was ready for.  

Thats huge. I, one of the things that I’m working to embrace, especially I’m giving a Supreme opportunity to practice it during the lockdown is to embrace the full human spectrum of emotion. And to understand that even at my best, I can’t make you think that I am the best,  No matter what I bring to you, you might still think I’m full of shit. Or you might still think I’m lame or I could be, you could call me president of dance and somebody might be like, yeah, she’s all right.  

Its so subjective, yes.  

So if it’s up to them, what they think and what they experienced, it’s up to me, what I think and what I experienced. And if I’m here for all of it, then buckle up because we’re going on a ride. Like you never know what you’re going to get. You never know. I might be in tears. I might be in tears.  

Thats truly. Yeah. That’s truly the journey. Yeah. It’s just, it’s just being down, being okay with whatever it comes. That, that that’s. Yeah. That’s a beautiful lesson.  

All right. So let’s talk about the journey now and let’s talk about what’s next. What are you most excited about right now?  

I think commercial jobs is don’t fulfill me the same way anymore. Um, just where I’m at in my life. And I think now is to really, I think my whole life was to check, check, check what I’m supposed to do to either being deemed as successful or, or, or great or undeniable, however you want to say it. Right. Um, and I think now life has showed me or has been showing me that things have to come from me first. And it took me a really long time to understand that to be, to be very honest. Um, so I think now I’m relearning myself and understanding like what makes me happy with, uh, within what I do will make me happy. What will would, this would this spark? My, my, my, my creative juices where what I’m interested in, like all these things, even quarantine finding out hobbies, I’ve never had time or mental space for hobbies like, Oh, that right.  So I think that’s the future for me, motus is, is something that I’m super passionate about. And I truly want that to be my, my, my legacy also, I feel like it’s, it’s a side of me. I’ve been somewhat, very selfish my whole career. Me, me, me. I go here to get this for I perform here so I can have this to say that I had that it’s very me. Right. Even though I’m offering my talent to this artist, that whatever. Um, but I think with motus, which was huge is that I’m not only of course helping me and creating this huge thing, but I’m also helping me helping others. Like it’s a whole different level, a whole different level.  

Dana: Alright. I just had to pop out right here because I want to shine a light on this, on this idea. D said, I’ve been selfish even though I’m offering my talent to someone else it’s still for me, is this something I can really relate to after 15 years, I guess, 16 years now of gigging in LA for Target or Amazon or Microsoft or Southwest airlines or any of the pop stars and TV shows and movies that I have, um, sold my time and talents to, and now I’m creating the podcast for free. Now I’m doing coaching programs. Now I’m finding ways to share what I’ve learned and empower. I’m really becoming less self-focused in that. But to be honest, I work on myself and my project and I’m thinking almost exclusively about them for at least eight hours a day or more. So how is that not still selfish. I really wanted to get to the bottom of this kind of discrepancy here that I’m going through internally. Um, and I wanted to go a little deeper. I want to get all the way through it. So yes, I did the thing where I Googled the word selfish. And here is what I found with the Miriam Webster definition. Selfish means concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or wellbeing without regard for others. I’ll say that one more time. And I’ll say it a little bit quicker and I’ll say it in pig latin. I’m kidding. I won’t say it in pig latin. Selfish means concerned exclusively or excessively with oneself seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure or wellbeing without regard for others. Okay. Now hear me out. Some of that actually sounds kind of all right, to me, seeking or concentrating on pleasure, wellbeing, and advantage. That’s actually kind of, kind of rock solid. It’s the disregard for others and the excessive or exclusive that rubs me the wrong way. Now what Diana is saying here. And what I want to underline is that there is a way to put yourself first so that you better, your ability to service others. There is a way to concentrate on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or wellbeing, air quotes with regard for others. And to me, that looks a little bit like saying yes, and. My good old fashioned favorite improv principle. Yes, I can do well for myself. And you can do well too. Yes, I can go far in my career and we can go further, farther, further. What do you say further, further, further? I think together. Yes, I can have a successful career and I can tell you everything about it. Yes. That might help you. Yes. I want to help you. This can be, Yes, And this can be Me, and you. So to everyone out there listening who wants to change the world and who wants to do better for themselves, I would say start by taking care of yourself and end with sharing what you’ve learned. I know that that’s not the end of it, but I think that’s a pretty good place to start. And that’s where I will leave it for now, because I’m excited to get back into it with D. 

You, you mentioned success, and I think you might’ve just answered it, but I would love to, like, if we could wrap this up with a bow on it, what is success to you?  

Success is true fulfillment. True. And what is fulfillment though? Right. 

You know I was about to ask, I wasn’t going to let you off that easy  

Nothing. It’s so crazy. Cause nothing is black and white and that’s why it’s so hard to define anything.  

That’s why you have to answer with gray. Right?  

I would say success to me is understanding what will make me truly happy. What will make me feel fulfilled and made me make me go to sleep at night in peace and wake up excited for another day. I think that’s the best way I can explain it. I like that success is good.  

Going to sleep at peace and waking up excited. I love that answer. Um, to me and I’ve been working on this definition to me, success is simply doing what I said I would do.  

I can’t beat you. 

I say, well, girl, I’ve been at the table for like nine months. Now, since March 6th, I’ve been in here. Like, what do I think about things? What do I have to say? I’m going to put a microphone in front of my face. Every, every Wednesday. It better be good. So that really that to me. And then on the flip side of that coin, of course is the, the opposite question is what is failure? And to me, it’s not doing the thing that I said I would do. Even if it’s as simple as taking out the trash or calling you when I, if I said I would, you know, um, I really am excited about accountability.

What is the things they used to told yourself that, okay, I’m going to do this, this and this. I’m not necessarily. Cause you know, we go through journeys is not necessarily what pleases you. So even though you said that you were going to do it and you end up not doing how many times have you not done it and realize, Oh, that was actually great.  

Well, I’ll back up a little bit and say that, first of all, I don’t prioritize. I don’t always prioritize pleasure or things that please me or things that will make me happy. Um, I mentioned already embracing and honoring the full spectrum of human emotion. Even if it’s devastation, embarrassment, humiliation, um, disappointment, or a feeling that I’ve let somebody else down like, Ooh, yikes. I don’t like those. Wouldn’t deliberately show up on my list of things to do. But, but my pursuit of success is not. Is not a pursuit of happiness. It’s a pursuit of a full life.  

Dana: Oh yes. My friends were going in. We are definitely getting into the depths here. Now this news about my priorities, not being the pursuit of happiness might seem like a shock to you because I am a joy machine. My default mood is sunshine and glitter and moonbeams, but I think that in our human lives, like the full scope of them, we will probably experience a real natural distribution of emotions, half positive, half negative, half good, half bad, some really bad, some really good most of them falling somewhere in between. I don’t personally chase happiness because I believe that out there, wherever it’s led me, that, that pursuit, I know that out there, even if I, even if I catch it, life will be 50/50. I think there is a full episode here. And I do really want to dig into this idea of 50/50, but I’m going to put it in the parking lot for now and jump back in with D because I actually really, really loved her ideas about success. And we’re going to dig into those a little deeper  

To sleep at peace and waking up jazz. Yep. That’s it? That paints a pretty serious, like a pretty pretty specific fixture. And it’s simple as well. Yes, but also not easy, simple, not easy going to sleep at peace by itself. I mean, how many things are there in the world for us to get restless and wrecked up about right now? Countless impossible. I mean, come on. But really I do believe that the facts of the world are actually quite neutral. Once we apply that it should be some other way and we’re wrestling and we’re like on the mat, sweaty, you know, with all this effort, that’s not going to sleep at peace, going to sleep tonight, knowing that  A is A, B is B, C is C. I can apply whatever thought I want to that thinking that is going to keep me up for several more hours. 

It is what it is. 

This is the fact I have another favorite saying is simply to let the easy be easy and let the hard be hard. Some shit will keep you up at night. Let that keep you up. That’s hard. Let that be hard, but there’s other stuff that doesn’t need to be that hard. And you can just put that to sleep when you hit the pillow. Good night. 

Good night. Dana you’re my life coach. 

Absolutely. Let’s go. Um, all right. I love talking to you and I could talk to you all day. Um, but I digress. I’ll let you back out into all your fabulousness. It’s an honor. 

Again. Thank you so much.  All right, my friend. 

And I hope that you got a lot out of this episode. I know that I absolutely did. Um, and I hope you do continue digging into the wondrous work of Diana Matos. Um, I hope that you take a Me, and approach to your life and your career, and she is such a good example of that. All right, now, go out into the world, focus on yourself, share it with others. And of course keep it Funky while you do it. Have a great rest of your day. Everybody. I will talk to you soon

Thought you were done, No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website  TheDanawilson.com/podcast Finally, and most importantly, now you have a way to become a words that move member. So kickball change over to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast to learn more and join. All right, everybody. Now I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Ep. #46 LIVE Q&A Vol. 1

Ep. #46 LIVE Q&A Vol. 1

 
 
00:00 / 00:59:48
 
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Welcome to our FIRST but certainly not our last LIVE QUESTION AND ANSWER episode!  I am joined by a (fabulous) live (virtual) audience and we cover all the good stuff from dance to dollars and mentors to mental health! Talking to people is CERTAINLY more exciting that talking to a wall in my closet.  I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did!

Quick Links:

Riley Higgins Silent Disco: https://www.instagram.com/rileyhiggins29/

Toni Basil Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLmwrNFEzKj9BS45SN41mdIunfcr_sssT9 

The Money Book: https://amzn.to/3n6zCDr


The Art of Learning: https://amzn.to/3eJpX2T

John Baldessari: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eU7V4GyEuXA

Transcript:

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

Hello? Hello, my friends. How are you doing today? I may sound a little different in this episode, and that is because I am talking to actual people right now. Well, actual pixel pixel people. This is the first ever live zoom podcast with a live zoom audience. Thank you all for being here today. And thank you all that are listening that might have missed this live moment. Um, this is, this is a great time for firsts. So I’m excited to be making this first zoom podcast with you because at the moment, um, we are, uh, about 24 hours, um, into having a 46th president elect. Mr. Joe Biden has won the presidential election. The crowd goes wild. Um, but I think there are some other really important things to point out. Kamala Harris is our first woman vice president. She is our first person of color. We also have our first second gentlemen who is Doug. Uh, we have a first dog again in the, in the white house, and this is also the first ever thank you for bringing this to my attention, Riley. This is our first ever rescue dog in the white house, and I think that is important. Um, so that’s where we’re at everybody in, in the world today. Um, and I’m really, really jazzed to be sharing this morning with you. Um, we’re going to treat this just like a normal episode in that we will start with wins. And then I’ll ask for yours. I’ll give you a moment to take the, uh, to start thinking about your wins. And I’ll tell you that my win this week, I’m going to, I’m going to keep it election free. My win this week is that I danced three times this week for no reason, other than fun, release, and the simple fact that dance seemed a better option than words in that moment, three times this week! And it felt so good. You guys, one of those moments was in a silent zoom disco. I don’t know if anybody has participated in such a thing, but the one and only Riley Higgins hosted a silent zoom disco. And from what I understand, she will be hosting one every Sunday in perpetuity forever moving forward. And now Riley, that I’ve said it, you are silently committed to that. Um, Riley, do you wanna say a little bit about the silent disco? What is it, what does it mean for people that have no idea what that is?  

Riley: Uh, yeah, so silent disco in the, when you in the real world, not in the zoom world is everyone has headphones on and listens to different playlists and dances together. We can’t do that because of Corona. So I put it on the screen and it’s just a place to be yourself fully with other screens in the world and dance to your own music. And I’d have improv prompts halfway all the way through the thing, but it’s really fun. And it was fun to dance with you, Dana.  

Oh, it was so much fun. And your improv prompts were so great. I think that this type of dance is accessible to anyone. The prompts weren’t like HeadSpin for four, eight counts, or it was all very human range of motion. Anybody could be dancing. These dances, you dance it to your music. Uh, I did find it really, really cool to watch the contrast in the world. My audio scape was like probably queen, um, like I think six out of the 10 songs we danced to that day for me were queen. So I was like raging. Um, and but, but some other people moving really, really slowly dancing to some super serene, maybe like chanting, I don’t know. Um, but it was really nice to see all the worlds collide and all I was so much, so much fun, great dance. Okay. Now, as my listeners out there in the, in the listen sphere are thinking of their wins. I’m going to share a couple from the zoom room today. Um, this is really exciting. Rebecca made cookies last night and had one for breakfast. That’s the type of world I want to live in. Um, Oh, Rachel got time to read this week. Congratulations, Rachel. I started reading a new book this week. It is all about dance and politics in New York city, between 1929 and 1942. It is fascinating. I will definitely be sharing about it in a must read list coming up later. Um, uh, Andrea, this is such a good win. She has re-sparked her creative juices and reconnected with old friends. That is absolutely something to celebrate. I love this. Ooh, Jess Franco. All right. She has prepared a training schedule for November and reached out to friends to identify her strengths. It was actually a really cool thing. I got an email from Jess, um, asking, ‘Hey, like, would you be willing to share a moment that you remember me and what you about me in that moment in your memory?’ Um, I’m probably botching that prompts, Jess. Jess, do you want to, do you want to share actually what that prompt was this email that you put out to your friends that was such a cool thing to receive?  

Jess: Yeah. It had, um, it was an exercise to identify you at your, at your strengths. So reaching out to like 10 or 20 friends and just asking a moment where they remember you at your best and what it is about that moment, that they remember. A feeling together, the experience itself, the way you were, the way you were together. Um, just trying to identify things that I might not notice as my own strengths, cause everybody’s perspectives are a little different. So it’s nice to know what the world thinks of you. And then maybe you can identify new pieces and tools that you can use even more so and develop even more and or recognize where you can bring someone else into your world to fulfill any gaps that you might have. So self-reflection at your best. Identifying strength through your friend’s eyes, as well as your own awareness,  

Super win. I love that. Thank you so much for sharing huge encouragement there, do it, put it out into the world. Um, I’m going to share one more, win from a zoom chat because this one appears in the form of a haiku. You do receive extra credit bonus points. Also out there in the listensphere. If you can present your awareness in the form of a haiku, Stephanie, this one’s yours when veggie roasting beets in my toaster oven too big, too many, too big, too many. Many is. Yeah. Many is a two syllable word. Great job, Stephanie, super win, super haiku. Do we have any more haikus? Did I miss any, raise your hand and flap it wildly if I missed your haiku. Oh, great. Awesome. I’m checking your work before I say it out loud. Sell, wait. Here’s my wins haiku. Got it. Got it. Here’s my wins. Haiku celebrating, taking space, sharing, sharing together. Nice job Dinka. Oh my gosh. These are fun. Did I miss anybody else’s haiku. Okay. Homework assignment, homework assignment. Now everybody at home, you go, what is your win and silently? We can all think of this song.  

Yeah. Here it comes. The end. Big finish. Awesome. Congratulations everybody. And keep on winning. Keep on crushing it. Um, I want to quickly put a little magnifying glass on how easy it may seem to find wins when your side is winning. But I do think it’s really important to remember that half of our country right now feels the way that you might’ve felt around this time four years ago. So it’s a great opportunity to practice some compassion, openness, and understanding, and to be looking for wins. Always even when your team is losing.

All right, with that, everybody let’s get into this Q and A episode. I am riveted. We’re going to start first with Orianna. What’s your question.  

Orianna: Okay. Hey, what do you think? I know that you’ve said in the past that you didn’t know that much of mental health, but I still want to ask, um, what do you think that are the hardest things that dancers and choreographers have to manage regarding their mental health and what do you think that they can, how can they improve it or what can they do to have a better mental health in the industry?  

Dana: Uh, that is a really, really good question. And you’re right. I, because I’m not a doctor, I’m not a scientist, I’m not a person who’s studied the brain, but I am a person that studies my feelings day in, day out. And it’s where I make my art from. So I am always seeking to understand them better and to find ways of managing them and find ways of turning them into gold. Um, so I’ll start by answering your question on kind of a global level, and then I’ll shrink it down to the dancer level. I think that the most important thing I’ve learned about my mental health and that, uh, and the mental health of a lot of America is that it may be a problem to be constantly seeking just the positive end of the spectrum. We are really, really motivated to prioritize happiness and all of the things that we think happiness will bring, um, or will come along with it. Like the family, the spouse, the kids, the cool gigs, the lots of money, the car, the fancy clothes. Um, and first we know because we’ve seen people with all of those things who are very unhappy, that those are not, that those don’t come hand in hand. But secondly, I think that by only pursuing the bright side, you’re missing out on a really big portion and really important portion of life. And as artists, we know that some incredible work gets spawned from the darker side of the spectrum. Some of my favorite pieces don’t have a bit to do with happiness. So my overall observation is that I think we would all do better and our work might do better if we embrace the full spectrum, instead of simply, um, pursuing the happy side all the time. Now regarding dance specifically, I think the, um, I’ll call them like the mental mousetrap, these little traps that are set up for us around every corner. And by us, I do mean dancers. The, the mental mousetraps that are set up around all the corners are usually, or in my experience are, um, these are my three, my three favorites. And when I say favorites, I mean least favorites, jealousy, imposter syndrome, which is basically another word for self doubt. And maybe let’s just start with those two. So for me, jealousy happens a lot because, um, our work is visual work. So I see people it’s like, I wouldn’t be jealous of other if I were an accountant. Maybe I wouldn’t be jealous of other accountants because I can’t see their books. I don’t know how they’re doing or whether they’re doing, it’s not like, you know, those numbers, aren’t running side by side all the time. But you know, in, in, in a visual field like dance or other performing arts, you see other people’s work. So you are holding yours to theirs even maybe on a subliminal level. So I think that jealousy comes up for us a lot. And I think that we brushed past it because for our whole lives, we’ve told, we’ve been told don’t be jealous. I’m just now learning the value of jealousy, using it as a map and trying to find within that jealousy, what is, what is the thing that I really want?  What is that person doing that I am not, um, usually it means there’s a skill gap somewhere. Something that I’m not quite doing yet, that they are. Um, so I think jealousy can be a huge teacher, although it doesn’t feel really good in the moment. I’ve gotten a lot better at not resisting it when it shows up, but actually really looking under the rug of it and trying to find out what’s underneath there. Um, same is true for imposter syndrome and I feel it all the time. I’m a person that has, uh, an arguably decent resume to look at, you know, and even so I am afraid that someday people will wake up and be like, ah, no, she’s awful. She, that was all like a fluke. Uh, she didn’t deserve any of that. Like all the time I feel, um, like I don’t deserve the seat at the table that I have. Um, and that, I think also is kind of like a check engine light indicator that maybe there’s something I even know about that I’m not doing. If I didn’t know there was something missing, I wouldn’t feel that way. If I thought that I knew all the things and was the greatest and all the things I wouldn’t have imposter syndrome. So that’s me. The imposter syndrome is me like suspecting. I’m not topped up in all the places that I’d like to be. So yes, imposter syndrome and jealousy, those are the two, uh, or I’ll call them self doubt and jealousy are the two negative emotions that I feel most often or have felt most often in my dance career, um, that, that you guys might be facing up against as well. And I would encourage you to use them as check engine lights and an opportunity to look a little deeper at what might be going on in there. Does that help? Awesome. 

Okay. Next up, Rebecca, what you got for me?  

Rebecca: Hello. Um, my question is recently ish, you shared a video of an unreleased series of dailies where you talk about, you’re talking about your vow to not make meaningless work. And I’m curious what led you to that vow and like how that vow is going, right.  

Dana: Oh my God. You’re an angel. Um, thank you for bringing that up. I took that vow, uh, pretty shortly after, or was it before? Oh, my history. Oh, my self history. I was never bad at American history, but Dana history. That’s another question. Um, so I took on my daily challenge for more than a year. It was wound up being over 400 days and I stopped. I decided to stop doing daily one day when I saw, you know, I have a slogan, that’s always be rolling. And so my camera was just constantly on everywhere I went, I was rolling. And if I, you know, I’d put the thing down and do the little jig. And even if I thought I was done, I would keep it rolling because something else might happen. So as it was reviewing the footage that day, I saw my face in between takes in between moments.  And I was so bummed on what I was doing. I was not inspired. I was not vibrating at my usual, you know, sunshine and sparkles level. So I was like, okay, this, this might not be the thing. Um, so that I noticed on one day, then I kept going. I went for like one more week and I was like, okay, definitely it’s time for a pause. Um, and in that pause, I went to art school, which is not an actual place. Uh, well, it is, there are several art schools out there, but my art school was simply my husband, Daniel Reetz, who went to school for sculpture and then became a visual neuroscience, super extraordinaire. Um, he’s an obstacle engineer and rapid prototyper and, and, and, and musician, you guys he’s been cranking out some jams. So anyways, uh, my husband gave me kind of a crash course in art school. What he, he sort of boiled down his four year art school experience into a couple of weeks of like the most important people and things that you need to know about. And during that period, he showed me a documentary, a small docu short I’ll call it about John Baldessari, who I have talked about on the podcast before. And John Baldessari has a, uh, a famous piece of Val that he makes. Uh, and this is by the way in 1971, John Baldessari wrote over and over and over again, I will not make any more boring art. I will not make any more boring art. I will not make any more boring art. So I suppose, um, I adopted that, uh, mantra and that Val for myself, and I decided that I wouldn’t make any more, um, meaningless art, which, which after 422 days, I can’t say that every one of my pieces had a deep meaning.  And I had sort of diff sort of defaulted to ones that didn’t, they were simply silly. Now this could turn into a Tik Tok conversation if you would like it to, but, uh, silly dance seemed right there at the surface. And I got really good at silly dance. I could fart out a little 15, second silly dance faster than you can blink your eyes. And it was no longer lighting me up. So I decided to see if meaningful dance lit me up. So that’s where it came from really long way to answer the first part of your question. Second part of your question is, do I still have that. Oh man, I’ve really, my mind is so strong. My mind has found a way because making meaningful art is hard. It takes more time. It takes more effort. It doesn’t necessarily get more rewarded. And so my brain is found an offering for me that makes it easier for me to make silly art is that, um, meaningless art can be meaningful to some. Intention doesn’t necessarily mean impact. So I could intend with every fiber of my being that something be mean of meaningful and an audience could think of next. And I could also just like have one of those farts of a piece that I think is meaningless and somebody might be profoundly impacted by that. So once I’d made that distinction for myself, I simply made the commitment to be deliberate in what I was making. If it was going to be silly, it was a decision that it’d be silly if it was going to be meaningful, even if my audience didn’t find it so. It was my decision that it meant something to me and I don’t care what anybody else thinks. It’s so, so the distinction for me just came, became the decision. 

Okay. Um, we’re going to do Max next what’s up Max. It’s nice to see you, my friend  

Max: So good to see you! Something that we’ve talked about a lot is liking your reasons for doing something. And I feel like I have struggled with finding this boundary between liking my reasons for doing something and being defensive about why I’m doing something. I found it very difficult to find this balance between supporting myself and the things that I do and feeling like I need to defend myself. So do you have any tips as to where to find that boundary and how to get out of that mindset of defensiveness?  

Dana: Okay. Question. How do they, how do defensive and supported show up differently in terms of your body? Like your actual behavior? What is, what is defensive Max behave like? And what does supported Max behave like  

Max: Supported max can exist in public. Where if I feel really good about something I’m thinking about doing, or if I have an idea that I really like, then I feel like I’m able to create that in the presence of other people. Because I think it’s a good idea. When there is, when I’m having like more defensive thoughts, there is a certain amount of doubt surrounding that, where I feel as though I’m trying to make myself like the reasons, even though I don’t necessarily. 

Dana: Right. Because there’s doubt there because your brain is like, you’re lying to yourself. Okay. So what’s the thought that makes you feel supported?  

Max: Uh, let’s see. I guess the thought that makes me feel supported. It’s just like, what I’m doing is interesting. And what I am doing is making me better or making the world better in some small way. 

And maybe in a big way 

Max: And maybe in a big way.  

Dana: And when you think that though, how do you feel supported? Yeah. And when you feel supported, you go out into the world and how do you walk? How do you talk? How what’s like, if I was really, uh, like, Oh my gosh, you guys, my husband and I have been very into corvids lately. We watch the crows. It’s like our new favorite Corona Corvid COVID experience. But anyways, if I was a crow, just flying around, watching max out there in the world, what would I notice about your behavior? Your supported, like self,  

Max: I look comfortable where I am able to sort of hold myself up. I’m not trying to hide in any way, because I feel as though I am supportive, but I don’t need the support of other people to make feel that way. I’m able to do that myself.  

Dana: Amazing. So the person that thinks what I’m doing, what I’m thinking is important in a big way, or, or it can be a little bit and can be really, really important. You feel supported. And when you feel supported, you go out into the world, supported, believe it or not. Um, the, the difference in thinking that thought and thinking one that makes you feel defensive is, you know, the difference shows up in your actions in the way that you feel, but it stems from that thought when your, your, your, your thought that leads you to feel defensive is what? 

Max: It’s usually trying to make myself believe. Those same things where it’s like, Oh, trying to make myself up. But what I’m doing is beneficial.  

Got it. Right. So you’re fighting with yourself and that’s why you feel defensive because you’re fighting max, have you read The Art of Learning? I haven’t, this is mandatory reading for everybody out there. The author is a guy called Josh Waitzkin. He is a child prodigy chess player, world champion, and a push hands, Tai Chi world champion as well. Multidisciplines multi champions. And he’s like 20, or I don’t know how old he was when he wrote this book, but he was a child pride at each prodigy child prejudi, um, child prodigy chess player. And then I think by the time he was 18, he had won a national push hands title. Anyways, one of my favorite takeaways from the book is this concept of being a blade of grass in a hurricane, the winds around you can be wailing and big, big, strong trees will be snapping, but you can just be flexy and nimble and your, and your mind can be the wind and it can be like, and you can be like, *woooooosh* it’s cool. I’m just a little blade of grass. And you don’t need to fight the wind. You don’t need to fight with yourself. You could just blow. You can identify, Oh, here I am fighting with myself and that’s okay. These winds will pass. And I will feel supported once I decide to think that what I’m, what I’m doing is important. So roll with it. That’s the other awesome. Like, it’s the fundamental, like it is the, uh, uh, that like the ethos. I mean, that’s the wrong word, whatever, it’s the, it’s the mom’s laughing at me. She’s like, God bless find the words, honey. Um, my mom is in the call today. Shout out, mom. Thanks for being here. Uh, I think like the underlying underlying principle of Tai Chi is to be like a ball in a socket, any force that strikes you rolls off instead of meeting it with equal force, you just roll. Um, and that, and that is just such a beautiful principle. I think we could all get a lot of out of adopting something similar. 

Okay. Um, I think next step is Alyssa.  

Alyssa: Um, my question is, if you can, can you share about your love story with Locking? Like, how did you meet, how do you start dating, like training and like, how did you, how do you use locking now?  

Dana: Wow. Thank you for bringing your locking to the podcast. I don’t think I’ve ever talked about my love affair with locking here on the podcast. Think of what a great question. Thank you so much. Okay. Let’s rewind. The year is 2005 and a half. Um, on Lankershim Boulevard is, was, was well, is at the time located  millennium dance complex and the dome. I was 18 years old and some change. And I was taking as many dance classes as humanly possible. I took everything that Marty Kudelka ever taught. I took all the Misha Gabriel, all the Nick Bass, you name it also shout out JR. Taylor. I miss your class. Um, and
Toni Basil used to take Marty. Kudelka his class religiously. Toni Basil, by the way, if you don’t know is a living legend. Um, she is the woman that sings, Hey, Mickey, but she is also, so-so so much more. She single-handedly bridge the gap between street styles and classical ballet specifically, but other more formal dance styles. Um, and she brought them to the forefront. She brought them to the mainstream. She’s, you know, she’s the reason why we see those things on TV. Um, I’ll link to a couple of my favorite Toni Basil performances in the show notes to this episode. So Toni Basil would take Marty’s class. And, um, she, at the time, you know, she’s older than most people in Marty’s class and Marty’s style. Although it looks very pedestrian is not easy at all. His ear is insane and his style is, is challenging. It’s also very far from Toni Basil’s personal style, but she loves a challenge and she loved it to put herself in class. Um, and to my understanding, this is how this transaction worked out. She asked Marty for some privates coaching on this, on, on a certain combo.  And he was like, honestly, Basil, I love you so much, but I, I do you mind if I hand you off to my assistant? I think you guys would be a great fit. You, you know, you can learn from her, she can learn from you. Perfect handoff. And I remember him calling me and asking if that was okay, that he put us in touch. And I was like *GASP*, and I’ll never forget. The first day I went over to her garage to dance with her. She had a CD player that adjusts the pitch of music, and we were dancing to Neo Addicted to Sex was the name of the song and at like half speed. So it was like, No, uh,  It was the funniest thing, but we, uh, yeah, we, we did a trade swap. So in exchange for me working with her on Marty’s combos from many, many weeks in a row, we would do this and she would teach me some locking. So I am very fortunate, very lucky, very proud to say that my first taste of locking came not from the source, but pretty darn close. Toni Basil’s one of the original lockers locking. Uh, obviously I said obviously, but maybe not obviously was created by a guy called Don Campbell Lock. Um, and the original lockers are, if you ask me today, what’s my favorite. Who’s my favorite dance crew. I would tell you the Original Lockers close, second Electric Boogaloos shout out Pete. Um, but I fell in love with it from her. She just looks so cool dancing it. Uh, and then I started training.  I took several classes from Suga Pop who was teaching at evolution at the time. That was a weekly if possible or every week that he was there. I was there. Then I started taking from a woman called Lockadelic, Celine Um, she is now back in France. She doesn’t teach in LA anymore. Um, but that’s one funky woman in her class was drills. We were dancing solid for an hour. There’s no teaching eight counts or no talking it from the top. You follow the leader and you dance around the room for an hour straight. And that’s when I found Funk. Honestly, I didn’t have it until Lockadelic’s classes. I would imitate Basil a little bit in her garage, but yeah, Basil I guess, would be the dating phase and then taking Lockadelic’s class and just jamming with her. We would jam every now and then that was my like, Oh, we’re exclusive. I think he might’ve had another hidden question in there, but I’ll leave that. I’ll leave that at that for now. 

Um, okay. Gaby, you are up next.  

Gaby: Yes. Hi. So, uh, my question is an episode you mentioned Money Monday, uh, and I was curious to know what that entails and what you could share about that.  

Thanks for asking Gabby Money Monday, um, was definitely a habit of mine. It shifted a little bit now because now I have a bookkeeper. I call her Money Michelle, because her name is Michelle. Um, so on Money Monday, Monday is actually, this is great timing. Another book that you guys absolutely must read. This is called The Money Book. It was on one of my required reading lists earlier on The Money Book for freelancers part-timers and self-employed, there are a couple of nuggets of wisdom in this book. One of them is, look at finances frequently, just stop making it mystery, stop, letting it sneak up on you around tax season. Stop, pretending to know like, you know, how much you have and just look at how much you have once a week, just get familiar with what’s actually going on in there. So I decided, um, I would take on a Money Monday and for me that meant reconciling receipts. So I would keep at the time all paper receipts, and I would make sure that what was on the receipt was what was, um, debited out of my bank account. So that was step one. And I was shocked actually at how often those numbers did not line up some restaurants, some shady business there. Yeah. So, so step one is reconciling. Step two was categorizing my expenses. So if I had went to, uh, if I did any Amazon shopping and let’s say I bought like, um, an adapter for my computer and a new eyebrow pencil, these are actual purchases that I’ve made in the last 24 hours. Um, although that’s one receipt from Amazon, those are actually two different categories of expenses. One of them is technical than the other ones, what I would consider maintenance or a personal upkeep. So I got really good at getting specific with my categories. Um, and then I would also pay any bills that were due, anything like that. So step one, reconcile receipts, and then it would get rid of all the paper. Once I like taking photos of them and put them where they needed to go, made sure that the proper amounts were withdrawn. Um, then I would do my categorization, which means taxes at the end of the year. Just went a lot faster. You don’t have to do it all at once. Just small bites. Um, and then yeah, paying any bills. That’s the general Money Monday. That’s gotten a little bit more elaborate since I became incorporated. I am now an LLC, um, Money Michelle is extremely helpful in all of my finances. If you are looking for a bookkeeper, I would be happy to pass her information along, but yeah, that’s Money Mondays in a nutshell, highly recommended. 

Cool. Emily, Jo, you are up next. What you got?  

Emily Jo: Hi. Okay. Um, so my question is kind of a broad one, but as dancers, um, we’re often told to find what makes us unique. Like what’s our thing, that one thing that makes you stand out. Um, and I feel like personally, that’s kind of been a struggle for me. Um, cause I like to dabble in everything. Like I, I just love it all. I don’t, I don’t ever really know how to choose. I love doing other forms of art even. And even though I might be above average and a lot of them, I feel like sometimes I have trouble honing in and specializing. And so to find that thing, like, do you have any thoughts on how to hone in on a specialty or is that even a necessity or an important thing to do or is it good to really diversify? Like where do you find the balance and how to do that? 

It is a story that you have to be a specialist. I think that specialists do very well, especially in our world, but the fact that you have to, the fact that you have to be one is simply made up. That’s not true. I’m not a specialist at anything except for being me and I’ve gotten, and it took several years. Number one, I had to start liking myself and all of my interests. Number two, I had to find out how to fuse them and how to put them together. So that, that might be like, how do you do that is a really hard question to answer, but I want to start simply by saying that it’s, it’s really just a thought that you have to be one or another, that it’s not good to be a generalist. Um, I think again, specialists will do very well at their specialty, but a generalist, especially if you really like all the things that you’re doing, you’re going to have a very fun and full life, um, with all of your many different interests. So I guess my, my stance on this question in general is to start liking the fact that you’re a generalist instead of fighting the fact that you’re a generalist and then learn to be weaving the ch the, all of your interests into one thing. Um, uh, does that, does that help more or less? 

Emily Jo: Definitely. Yeah. 

Right. It’s like, Oh my gosh, I love all these things and that’s awesome. Lucky me. Oh my gosh. How do you even get through with life? Just loving one thing. Oh, feel sorry for you.  Um, I think when you come at all of your, your interests from that place, when you really like champion all of them, you don’t downplay any of them, then you, then, then you, you become a really special entity that way. Great question. 

Okay, Jess Franco, you are up next. 

Jess Franco: Yeah, buddy. Hey, how is your neutral listening experience going for you? 

Oh my gosh. This is so great. Okay. I’m going to give a little backstory, Jess Franco and I, so I did, I don’t remember what episode it was, but I did an episode about the overactive listener, um, or the overactive like collaborator. Who’s always like, yes. Oh my, Oh yeah. I love it. Oh my goodness. Everything. Oh my God. And you’re like constantly nodding or smiling or, you know, I’ve, I’ve gotten some criticism from this in the past that like that I’m a very open book and sometimes that’s nice. Right? Cause you don’t have to work too hard to understand what I’m thinking or feeling, but it can also, um, I w I won’t say it might be damaging and it can just simply not be the most useful thing to do. So I’ve been working on neutrality and Jess Franco reached out to me and she was like, yo, same, let’s go. So we started an accountability group as friends, every Friday, we checked in, we got to get on this, um, about how we were with our visual feedback when we’re listening, I’m not going to lie, Jess. I have not been doing very well in this last week. I’ve been extremely, extremely, um, expressive in my likes and dislikes for things and statements and situations. Um, but I think that, um, awareness of it is still there. And even though I was like, I was conscious, I was like, look at me responding right now. Look at me getting ugly right now. Look at me getting bright right now. I was conscious. I just chose not to get neutral. So I want to share something that, um, I found actually a gift that I received from my, uh, a vocal coach that I was working with in the past, who is all about relaxation. I think it’s a good place to start anyways. And she gave me this, um, this visual imagery of hanging as if they were little earrings that hang from the corners of my jaw bones these little sandbags. So just hang these sandbags from the corners of your jaw and feel your face, get a little bit more relaxed through your voice shift, to being in a different place. And that definitely helps me not respond with my usual perky cheeks, which kind of strains my neck which kind of strains my voice. So putting those sandbag earrings on my jaw jaw rings, we’ll call them. Um, and then I started hanging one, like directly down the back of my head as well, like the opposite of the princess from the never-ending story, what was her name? You know, how she wore that cool Tiara with that little bead and how all kids at that moment started wearing their mom’s necklaces on top of their head. Cause that was the coolest, um, I imagine a little sand bag hanging down the back of my head and that really helps this forehead area. So to answer your question, Jess, I’m not so great with the neutrality lately. How are you doing with it?  

Jess Franco: I’m doing better in person. I’m not killing it on things like zoom, where I find myself on mute and I want to let you know, I’m participating. And I see all these faces and I’m smiling to smile with you. I’m here, you know, energetically on the mute button. I find it hard not to visually participate, right. But in real life, I can provide that space for another human, but on the screen, it’s a little bit more challenging for me.  

Awesome. Observation of the distinct distinction between the two. And I think like all of us here in the room right now, we can practice really quick. Just give like a, a real neutral response. Good freaking luck. Here we go. Like, how does that look and feel to you guys? Does anything feel missing? Okay. Now a gentle smile and maybe a nod or a floppy thumbs up. Hmm. Okay. Right. All I can like the, the biggest difference for me is motion. And I think it’s normal. Um, Like, uh, like  Kind of on an animal instinct level, motion catches our eye. You know, if we were like scavengers in a forest, in a Bush rustled over in the corner, we’d go. And so our attention goes to things that are moving. So it makes sense that in a, um, in a zoom conference with, with no audio information, our eyes go, okay, what’s what’s happening? Where do I get the information? So maybe in a zoom, it is important to be a little bit more visual with your feedback. So that the person on the other side, isn’t just a man walking through a forest that’s empty.  So maybe there maybe there’s a place for both. I like that. Your visual, your amount of visual feedback right now. Thank you for it. It’s something that I’ve really cool thing for everybody that might be listening to start practicing, like being a neutral place for, for the conversation instead of taking a stand one way or the other, especially at this time in our world right now, a little neutrality given all the polarization a little neutral might be just what the doctor ordered. So put, put your job bags on and, um, and have a ball with that neutral, Neutral listening.  

Okay. Sarah, you are up next.  

Sarah: Um, hi everybody. My question is who were your biggest dance choreography role models growing up? Like who was it that made you feel just like sparkly inside and what is it about them that resonated so much with you?  

Okay. I will go back now. Uh, before I moved to LA, when I was at a dance studio kid, as they call them at Michelle Latimer Dance Academy in Inglewood, Colorado, I was very inspired by a dancer that was older than me by three years, I think maybe a little bit more, um, named Nina McNeely. And some of you may know Nina Mcneely because she is still, she’s a force to be reckoned with in the dance and choreography realm, but she’s also branched into directing. She is a wicked video editor. Um, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear someday. She decides to become a recording artist or something she’s so talented and art just, she can draw, she can paint like art just flows from her body. And that was one of my earliest inspirations and examples that this life was a possibility for me. She made it look so cool and she made it look doable. So Nina McNeely, um, her dancing was full of abandon, which to me is one of the most attractive qualities in a dancer. This borderline recklessness that’s supported by so much technique that they don’t fall off their leg, but it looks like they really should have that. That’s Nina to me. Um, and she was the first person, um, really close to me, like in my people that I see every day group that moved to, to do, you don’t have to edit that out. Riley. That was funny. That was a good stutter, uh, that moved to LA and we kept in touch. So I kind of got acquainted with what happens out here and what the life in LA at that time looked like to be a person that moves here to pursue dance. And I was just so curious about it. I remember being really, um, excited about it. And since I have her in the room, I’m going to ask my mom to weigh in on what you remember about, uh, w do you remember me talking about Nina? Do you remember the way that she impacted my life? 

Stan (Dana’s Mom): Absolutely. And I was going crazy when that question was asked, because I knew that your answer would be Nina McNeely. Um, she choreographed a dance for you for NYCDA national title, and it was dark and dramatic and deep. Um, I remember the makeup that you wore on your face of tears. Yes, totally like that. So it was so dramatic. You guys totally knew it had that. Like, she absolutely touched that thing in you. That that is totally there. Um, and she, I think she knows she’s a year older than your sister. So maybe four years older than you. The other person who I think in my, in my memory, 

Dana: I know who you’re going to say.

Stan: Okay. Nicole, Nicole, Nicole Harshbarger she, she made you love jazz, I think. Okay. And I’ll,

Dana: I’ll agree with you on that hundred percent. Thank you. Thank you, Stan. That was, Nicole is a really important one. I grew up at a dance studio where we had ballet five days a week, all the guest choreographers, all the rehearsals, all the, um, you know, across the floor, class and stuff like that. And Nicole Harshbarger at the time, she’s now Nicole Carr. She, uh, taught a late night jazz class on Wednesday nights and only the grownups got to stay for that class. And I remember when I don’t, when it, when it became okay for me to stay for that class, I don’t know if she asked me to stay or if you allowed me to say, or whatever, some combination of the two, but once I was allowed to stay for big kid jazz class, it went into like 10:30, um, which for a 15 year old that’s legit. Um, and yeah, she definitely tapped into, um, an artist voice inside of me that up until then had been pretty much a technician and a showman.  Um, but it was her and that late night, big kid class that helped me feel like I had something to say and teach me how to practice saying it. 

Stan: She lit the fire in your belly for jazz. I mean, I could see it. And maybe you said those words, or maybe I said them, but she made, she brought you alive in dance and actually she made you receptive to Nina. 

Dang, listen to that. Look out. You’re right. She, yeah. She’s the catalyst. Yeah. So cool. Hi Nicole. Oh, awesome. This is great. Okay. Does that answer your question in a really cool, beautiful, poetic and family type of way? Awesome. 

All right. Noga, you are up next and I think you’re up last. This is it. Final question.  

Noga: Oh, hello team. Hi everyone. All right. It’s words that move me. So I have to bring in the thought model model. The infamous thought model. I’ve been doing a lot of work lately on the thought models specifically on building intentional thought models. And a reaction that I’ve found is that it feels very inauthentic to me sometimes. So my question is, what advice do you have for embracing intentional thought models slash is that equivalent with embracing new beliefs about ourselves?  

That’s exactly what you’re asking about. Like how do you create new beliefs without feeling like a total phony? Great. Okay. I’ll do a little, um, uh, a little backstory in terms of context here. What Noga is talking about the thought model, um, is a model to help you understand and organize the circumstances, thoughts, feelings, actions, and results of your life. The thought model was created by a woman called Brooke Castillo. At least that’s how I learned about it. Brooke is a life coach and entrepreneur. And, um, the thought in the thought model, your circumstances, which are the neutral facts of the world, be they, the weather, the weather, other people, um, the temperature outside the temperature of your body. Um, although the ice man would probably argue with me there, these are things that are outside of your control. Those trigger, your thoughts, your thoughts are just sentences in your head and you can control those. They’re different from person to person. They are arguable, they are subjective. Um, and you can author new ones. So that’s what Noga’s talking about in an intentional model, you would work backwards from the bottom line of the model, which is your results. So you would put a desired result there. The results, by the way, are simply your experience of the world. Whatever you want to experience that would go in the result line. Then the second to last line is your actions. Simply your behavior. You would fill that line in with what are the actions you need to take in order to achieve that result. So you put all your actions in there, then you ask yourself, what do I need to feel in order to do those actions? So that’s your, the third line, there is your feelings. And then what thought gives me that feeling? So I just, I, sorry, I jumped around a little bit there from top to bottom, we go circumstances lead to your thoughts. Thoughts, trigger your feelings. Feelings leads you to take action or inaction. Your actions give you the results of your life working backwards. You have, you have a desired result. You decide what actions you’ll take. You decide how you want to feel. You decide what thought will make you feel that way. And I, I understand, especially if you’re making a big reach, the example I like to use is I hate my neighbor as the thought, and then trying to go to, I love my neighbor. That’s just not something that, that one thought model is going to help you do without you feeling like you’re absolutely bullshitting yourself. Damn it, Riley. Sorry. We, I really tried to keep it clean. Um, so we talked about this a little bit in ABC, my mentorship program, that that Noga was a part of. The concept of what I call monkey bar thoughts. The thought right now is I hate my neighbor. Somehow. I want to get myself all the way over to, I love my neighbor and in between there is, I hate my neighbor, most of the time. I didn’t hate my neighbor for one moment this week, uh, which opens up options for, you know, what actually all day today, they didn’t really piss me off today. It was kind of a great day actually on the neighbor front. And then that, that kind of thought might lead me to take actions that start nurturing a friendly neighbor relationship. Those actions might get reciprocated. Eventually my, I hate my neighbor, thought about monkey bar over to my neighbors. Not that bad to, Hey, I kind like my neighbor too. You know, those kind of like my neighbor, thoughts, lead to feelings and actions. That’s a really important one, you can’t just will, it, you can’t just sit there by yourself thinking it and watch it happen.  But that, that leads you to take actions that might foster a relationship where you could get to the point where you might love your neighbor. So the answer to your question. Well, that loga, wow. The answer to your question. Noga. In a very long-winded way is you’ve got to start getting better at monkey bar thoughts. It sounds like you’re expecting yourself to jump from, I hate my neighbor to, I love my neighbor and there’s a lot of work and action to be done in between those two. So start, start finding some monkey bar thoughts that you can actually get behind. Is that what got the monkey bar thoughts? Well, thank you for reminding us all about our monkey bar thoughts, such an important tool. Um, and Oh, okay. 

We’ve got one more question here. This is a good one. Great  Question. What advice would give to somebody looking to possibly start their own podcast?  

Oh, I’ve got a lot. This might be another podcast actually in and of itself. Um, okay. Top three things, Practice. Before you start,  don’t start with episode one, do like plan on there being four episodes that suck before you put any out there into the world. During those episodes, you’re trying out new microphones you’re playing with what happens if this piece of foam goes behind you, uh, behind the microphone or behind you, you’re playing with where you put stuff you’re playing with your voice. You’re playing with. If it sounds better, if you script it or if you totally wing it. So I would really encourage, first of all, I encourage everybody to start a podcast because it’s important for us to all become that familiar with what we were thinking, because you really have to think and write a lot. Now that I’m putting a microphone in front of my face every week. I think it’s a great idea. Everybody should do it. Um, but definitely practice in play before you get started. Um, and I also do, I would say is a pretty full-time job. So you might need to assemble a small team, shout out Malia Baker, shout out Riley Higgins, shout out Andrea Viable, new addition to the team. Thank you guys so much for your help. Um, yeah, it does. It takes a village. 

Okay. Oh man. We have one more question. You guys, I can’t, you don’t do this because you already know. I can talk.  Ooh, I can talk.  Okay. This is a good one. And this one, I actually do have a really awesome and concrete answer for it. I talk a lot about confidence in my mentorship groups and in my coaching groups. The question is how can you be confident? Or what advice would you give to boost self confidence? I’ll just talk very briefly about this. Um, although it is something that is super important, I’ll just give you a nugget to chew on. I think there’s an important distinction between confidence and self confidence. I think that confidence, um, specifically related to tasks like actions comes from the past, your number of times, having done it successfully. I have poured a glass of water so many times that I, and not spilled some of those many times enough to have a lot of confidence when I pour water, I can be brushing my teeth while I pour water. I can be having a conversation while I pour water. I can be like doing  Middle-school Level mathematics while I pour water. It’s not an issue. Um, that’s because I’ve done it a lot and self-confidence is different. Self-confidence has nothing to do with the past. Self-confidence to me is simply a willingness to feel any feeling. Without any past experience whatsoever. I directed my first music video recently, and I walked onto that set as if I was Steven Spielberg. I was like untouchable because I was willing to be humiliated. I was willing to not know the answer. I was willing to look stupid in front of my crew and say the wrong word for stuff, which I may have. I don’t even know nobody really reacted. So I felt fine all day. Um, but that willingness feels in my body a lot, like task based confidence. And it looks a lot like task-based confidence to the outside world. Um, and people who are confident get treated differently than people who, who hide in self-doubt. Um, so that I think is a really important distinction. Self-confidence being your willingness to feel anything or try anything. And task-based confidence coming from the past. Of course, you wouldn’t be confident in doing something you’ve never done before. You’ve never done it, but you won’t ever do it until you’ve done it. Literally up until that moment, you will not have done it. So something’s got to get you there. It might as well be willingness, willingness is so important. Um, I do just want to add a quick caveat to my self-confidence speech, which is the difference between being self confident and being arrogant. To me self-confidence is I’m good. I know I’m good because I have my own back. I’m good at feeling feelings. Um, I know I can dust it off and try again. If I happen to fail that self-confidence, it’s like, I’m good arrogance on the other hand is I’m better than you or I’m better than everyone. And that doesn’t rank anywhere in my head. When I show up on set as a self-confidence person. Not better than anyone. Definitely not, certainly not on my first day. But, um, I, I, I think the arrogance is dangerous because all it takes for you to crumble in that state is simply somebody else who’s better than you showing up. And then your whole world gets rocked. So, um, definitely rather be a self-confident than arrogant. And I think so many times we avoid self-confidence because we think it’s arrogance and they’re actually very, very different. And I don’t think anyone in the room right now that I’m looking at could be arrogant. Even if they tried, you guys are all so compassionate about the outside world. So careful and deliberate in the way that you talk to people and treat people and make art. Um, I don’t, I don’t think you could be arrogant if you tried, so you might as well try self-confidence cause it extremely useful. All right, everybody on that, I’m going to wrap it up. This was so much fun. I think it went really well. I think I will be doing these more often in the future. Thank you for being part of the first go get out there into the world, make stuff and keep it funky. 

Thought you were done. No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned this episode can be found on my website. TheDanawilson.com/podcast Finally. And most importantly, now you have a way to become a words that move member. So kickball changeover to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast to learn more and join. Alright, everybody now I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Ep. #45 Emotional Backpacks

Ep. #45 Emotional Backpacks

 
 
00:00 / 00:17:16
 
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This episode is about emotional backpacks… as in backpacks that you put your feelings in when they are not useful in your body (which is where most feelings are kept most of the time for most of the humans 😉  Allow me to explain.  Your feelings (all of them) are important and worthy of your attention, but some of them (especially negative emotions like self-doubt, worry, anger, frustration etc.) when kept in your body for long periods of time, can lead to unwanted results. Honor and recognize these emotions ALL emotions as part of the human experience and as such they are valuable so you keep them with you… but they do not need to own your body.  You own them and you put them where you put your other belongings.  In your backpack!

Show Notes:

Quick Links:

The New York Branch Video: https://www.instagram.com/p/CG31kHqjdIS/

Episode 17: https://www.thedanawilson.com/podcast/ep-17-the-process-of-processing

Transcript:

Dana: Hello, Hello, my friend, how are you doing today? Little disclosure. I am recording this episode before election day. I voted, I voted by mail and I voted early and I do not know what the results of our presidential election will be. It is possible that even if you’re listening to this on the day of its release, which is actually the day after the election, it’s possible that you still are uncertain of the results. I’m sure there are a lot of factors at play here, actually. I’m not sure, but I can only imagine. Now whoever is announced to be the president of the United States for the next four years. There is sure to be a lot of disappointed people out there, a lot of upset people, and here is what I have decided. I will tell you about that. This is what I will tell all of the upset people, all of the victorious people and, um, my future self that will be listening to this episode as well. I will say, that there is much work to be done, period. And you can do work. You actually love doing work. Yes. Quitting feels really good in the moment and blaming other people, oooooo that also feels really good in the moment, but doing the work and owning your good work feels so much better. It feels incredible. Now it may look hateful and unsafe out there, but you’ve got this. It may have even gone your way and you’ve still got this you’ve got work to do. And this episode is about one of the many ways that I work on myself. And I think that starting with the self is a really great way to get big, big work done like global type of work. Alright, I’m excited to get into it, but first let’s do wins. Shall we? Depending the results of this election and depending on what side of the aisle you sit and depending on when you listen to this episode, it may or may not be really hard to name a win today.  So let this be an opportunity to practice, not hanging your emotions on the circumstances of the world, but rather on your own decisions and your own creations. Today, my win is that I have made a place for people like you. Yes, you exactly. You, you smart and funny and emotionally intelligent and imaginative and resourceful listener you. I am celebrating that. I have made a place for you to come and listen and a place for you to come and be heard and a place for you to meet other people like you. Other smart, funny, emotionally intelligent, imaginative. What else are you? Oh, resourceful people. Now last week, I got a gift from a few of you. A few of my listeners who have taken on the doing daily creative challenge and also took it upon themselves to actually meet and actually make something really, really special together. A Broadway worthy piece to my damn fantastic, If I do say so myself, opening, jingle, shout out to Max Winnie, AKA the, make it on Instagram, my composer and longtime friend. Um, such a good job with that jingle. I mean, I do still listen to it often and it makes me smile. Okay. Anyways, four of my daily doers put together this piece and I’m linking to it in the show notes of this episode because it is simply too good to miss. So thank you, @DinkadoingdailyWTMM. Thank you, CourtneyDarlingt0n That’s with a zero instead of an N. Instead of that, that’s with a zero instead of an O in Darlington. Thank you, @SarahDoingDaily Thank you. Kristindoesdaily and thank you, @FrancesBrooks Now fondly deemed the New York city branch. I see you. I appreciate you. Thank you so much. Now it is your turn. What do you decide to celebrate today? Something that’s yours, something that you made, something that you decide is worth celebrating.  

Awesome. Congratulations. And thank you. You are crushing it. Okay. Many of you know that I am a backpack enthusiast. I have spent countless hours in my IG stories, reviewing different backpacks, even hours in my personal life, criticizing your backpack or praising my backpack. If you know me, then you already know my backpack. By the way, is the LuLu Lemon Cruiser from 2014. I should tell you, and I haven’t been paid to tell you this. I should tell you that there are two varieties of this bag. One of them has a hard shell, outer zipper compartment for glasses. I’m assuming. My bag is not that bag, the bag that you want is the other cruiser. It has all soft compartments and it is better. I should also tell you that this bag is no longer in production. I am sourcing them from eBay and I am on my fourth Lulu Lemon cruiser.  

Yes. I have decided to share this information with you today on the podcast, even though it could potentially mean that I am less likely to find these bags for myself, that my friends, is selfless. My backpack has everything. It has everything it needs and nothing that it doesn’t need like a super sleek black interior that makes it impossible to find my phone. My cables, my pins, my mascara, my Bobby pins or anything that is black. I mean like impossible, good luck. The black interior is a fatal flaw. I will not purchase your backpack. If it has a dark interior lining the dark interior lining of the bag matches the dark interior lining of your heart and your sick sense of humor and your design errors. No thank you, to bags with dark colored interior linings. Bright interior linings are for bright people, such as myself and such as you. You deserve a bag with a bright interior lining. Trust me, trust me now, thank me later. Okay. Anyways, this episode is really not about actual backpacks. Dana, please resist the urge to make this episode about actual backpacks. It’s been like 15 minutes of me talking about backpacks. I’m moving on. 

This episode is about emotional backpacks. As in the backpack that you will put your feelings. Nope, Nope, no, please don’t hit stop. Your feelings are important. They are worthy of your attention and they’re worthy of a backpack all to themselves. Let me explain. In episode 17, I talked to you through my process of processing negative emotions. In that particular episode, I walked you through how a coach helped me through feeling stuck. I discussed and described every single detail, every single inch of that feeling. I discussed how it felt in my body, how it looked in my body, you know, what color it was, how much it weighed, if it had any motion to it. And if that podcast were a video episode, you would be able to see how it felt in my body, a visible physical tension that turned into hot tears and eventually flowed from my face. And it took about 25 minutes to do this, by the way, this, this whole processing of the emotion thing. Now, when I don’t have 25 minutes to process my feelings, I like to employ this concept of an emotional backpack. My emotional backpack is the place that I put the most important feelings instead of keeping them in my body where they might not be very useful in the moment. Let’s take a look for example, at self doubt, when I feel self doubt, I feel it like in my sternum area, it feels like a black hole looks dark, icy, cold, vast, and sucky. I can’t think of another word. Like literally it sucks. Like it’s sucking everything around it, into it. My collarbones collapsed towards my diaphragm, my shoulder blades round forward, my face and eyes dropped to the floor. Everything gets sucked into that. Sternum suck. And I shrink. That’s what happens to my body physically when I carry self-doubt. And as a result in that shrunken state with my eyes low and my mind collapsed on itself, I don’t see the world. I don’t see opportunities around me. I don’t see teachers. I don’t see solutions, my doubt, and that darkness, that void are perpetuated and it keeps sucking. Everything keeps sucking as a result. So here it is. Here’s the big secret instead of carrying my self doubt and other unwanted emotions like overwhelm or worry or rage or shame, instead of carrying them in my body, I carry them in my emotional backpack on my back. And my emotional backpack is not my Lulu Lemon cruiser. It is an invisible metaphorical tool that I use that I happen to carry on my back, but yours doesn’t have to be a backpack. Yours could be a satchel or a fierce clutch or a lunchbox. I mean, you name the container of your choice. The point is that you honor and recognize these emotions, all of these emotions as a part of the human experience and as such, they are valuable. So keep them with you, keep them in the place that you keep your valuable things like your wallet, your keys, your tools, your cameras, your chargers, all of the things that are important to you. Count your feelings on that list of important things that you carry with you always, but you don’t need to carry inside of you. You own these things and you put them where you put your other belongings, in your backpack.  

Now give a negative emotion that you have experienced recently. Give it a name, guilt, embarrassment, imposter syndrome, overwhelm devastation, disappointment. You name it. 

Now, where do you feel that feeling in your body when you’re experiencing it? Where do you feel it most in your body? How much of your body does it take up? Close your eyes if you’re not driving right now and imagine it really feel that feeling. What color is it? Does it move? Does it move faster? Slow. If you were to touch it, would it feel warm, hot or cool? Would it feel wet or dry, rough or smooth? What does it do to the shape of your body? When you feel that feeling now with a deep breath, take that feeling into your hands and move it into your imaginary backpack, purse, satchel, shoulder bag, Fanny pack. What have you. Now zip it up. Feel the weight of the zipper, and now feel the weight of the bag. Take another deep breath.  Do you feel like you’ve made space in your body for something else? Do you feel lighter? Now, pick up your emotional backpack and put it on. It may be heavy, but heavy, like a jet pack, heavy like a jet pack that might actually boost you forward instead of hold you back. Pretty valuable. Huh? Now this new emotional jet pack. This is the thing. This, this is the real thing about the emotional backpack. It’s not just for negative emotions. Like the ones I mentioned before, or like confusion or embarrassment or anything like that. It can also be used to contain your positive emotions like exhilaration, pride, accomplishment, confidence. I keep all of those in my emotional backpack as well. Those are the feelings that fuel my life. Now, here is the best, best thing about the emotional backpack. Possibly the most important thing about it. When you finally make your way home or to a place where you take off your actual real backpack, that is your cue to take off your emotional backpack and unpack it as well.  Unpack all of the feelings that you’ve kept in there throughout the day and process them. Look at them, touch them, feel them, give them a color, honor them, turn them into art. Should you choose. Now I know that this concept is a little bit abstract, but if it speaks to you, please do revisit episode 17, where I talk more about the process of processing and please do enjoy or don’t enjoy what it feels like to feel all the feels. If you have any questions about this concept or actually anything at all, please feel free to write me @wordsthatmovemepodcast on Instagram. Yes, I suppose this is the beginning of an ask me anything. Call for questions at all times at any time on any subject, please reach out with questions. Um, full disclosure. This was not my idea, but that of my dear friend and brilliant human Emma Portner. Thank you for asking the good questions. Emma, bring them on everybody and bring on the funk. That’s somehow not as good a closer as Keep it funky. I don’t know you guys. I tried, I tried. Keep it funky. Everybody. I’ll talk to you soon. Have a great day or night or you know what? Grab all of it have, have at it. Yeah. That and everybody I’ll talk to you later 

Thought you were done. No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website though. theDanawilson.com/podcast Finally, and most importantly, now you have a way to remember. So kickball changeover to patreon.com/wtmmpodcast to learn more and join. All right, everybody I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Ep. #44 WTMM x CLI with Dexter Carr

Ep. #44 WTMM x CLI with Dexter Carr

 
 
00:00 / 00:42:13
 
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 My guest this week is the picture of hard work + talent + a winning mindset.  Dexter Carr is dedicated to his work ( from the cell phone screen to the big screen and to Broadway, and back again).  He works hard, and he knows how to get it done (with a team!).  Listen in as we talk everything from sweat pants to perfectionism.

Show Notes

Quick Links:

CLI 2020 Experience: https://2020-experience.clistudios.com/

Dexter Carr’s Clothing Line: https://dextercarr.com/shop

Transcript:

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

Dana: Hello. Hello friend. Welcome to Words that move me. I’m Dana and I, as per usual, am jazzed about this episode. I’m exceptionally juiced up because.. juiced up? Is that a thing that I say? Um, um, I was just trying to not use the word jazzed quite as much, but I can’t find a better substitute. I’m exceptionally jazzed because I just came back from my vacation. Spoiler alert. I did not really take a vacation, but I did take several baths and I painted my nails. So I didn’t leave town, I did work for several hours a day, but not all day, certainly not the 30 hours a week on zoom calls that I had become accustomed to during these quarantine times. Um, and when I wasn’t working, my thoughts really turned kind of tropical. I thought that I had all the time in the world, so I didn’t even set my alarm in the morning. Um, I thought about the sun on my skin, so I spent more time outside. I really, really sought out inspiration. Um, so I watched some of my favorite movies back. Oh my God. Friends, Wings of Desire by Wim Wendors, which is actually spelled with W’s W I M W E N D E R S. Holy smokes. Maybe the most beautiful film I have ever seen. I genuinely cry thinking about it because I, I really don’t think that there’s anything better.  It might be the best film ever made. Honestly, the only thing missing from this film is a dance number, but there is a beautiful trapeze artist and not one but two musical performances by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. So really how can you be mad at that? It’s just so good. Please do check that out. Oh, also go head over to Words that Move Me podcast on Instagram, because we just posted the third series of mandatory lists. I do a post that is your mandatory reading list. I do a post that is your mandatory watch list. And then third of course is a mandatory freestyle list. Those are my favorite to freestyle, to my favorite movies and documentaries and series to watch. And my favorite books. Yes. We just posted our third series of that. So head over to IgG, take a look at what those are. Um, wings of desire is definitely on this list three, but I kid you not. When I tell you, I think this is my favorite movie of all time, okay. We’re back, we’re focused and we are talking wins. I start every episode with wins because I think it’s important, especially now to celebrate what’s going well in the world. And the wind that I’m celebrating today is that the podcast has broke 2000 followers on Instagram and more than 1200 videos have been posted with the hashtag #doingdailyWTMM, which stands for words that move me. But that is not the actual win, the numbers themselves, they aren’t in the win. The win is that these words are moving you. The win is really that when you share you move others. So thank you so much for sharing this podcast with your friends. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for getting out there and moving. Um, that really is the reason why I talk to myself in this podcast booth every week. Also though, I do really love talking to you guys, um, over there in the comments @wordsthatmovemepodcast on Instagram. I love, love, love seeing the new daily doers. Shout out to my new doers. Rachel Gale, Elena X Valencia, Sarah doing daily Frances Brooks, just to name a few. Um, Oh, and while we’re at it, I could go ahead and super shout out. My climbers. Um, Chris McCartin recently passed 50. Sarah Victoria is well past 50 Oriana doing daily @oriana.doingdaily is well past 75. Um, Jojo Carmichael climbing into the nineties, Frida Dawson, AKA at Fridawson has passed 170. And Rebekah Wrangler is past 225. Holy smokes. So good. And I definitely feel like a Peloton instructor right now, shouting out all of my milestones. Man, No wonder they can’t shout them all out. I almost passed out and I’m not even riding a bike. Okay. If you’re interested in digging into some of those daily doers, go search the hashtag #doingdailyWTMM and be inspired. Um, all right. I guess I should mention if you haven’t been with me since episode one, doing daily, then I should inform you that doing daily is, um, I suppose I could call it a challenge that I’ve posed to my listeners in that episode, in the first episode, to help you restore ownership of your creative life, to put it very broadly. And to be honest, that I did not expect that that episode would create a community of daily doers, really a support system, an audience of performers. That is what it is, and that is super special. It wasn’t what I intended, but it is exactly what has happened.  And I am thrilled about it. I am also thrilled to tell you that I now have a tool up on my online store. It is a digital download. It’s called the doing daily diary and I designed it to help you organize and manage and really keep yourself accountable for your daily project. It is the companion that I wish I had during my year plus of daily making. And, um, I’m super excited to offer it to you. So go visit theDanawilson.com click on the store and there you have it doing daily diary, along with some other fabulous goodies, please enjoy. Wow, that win turned into a lot more than a win. So let’s go back to you. How are you doing? Are you doing daily? What is going well in your world? Talk to me.  

 Okay, great kick butt. I’m proud of you. Congrats. Keep on crushing it. All right. Speaking of really crushing it. In this episode, I talked to the incredible Dexter Carr. Now preface this interview is from the vault. We recorded it several months ago, back in the summer before your feed and your mailbox were pummeled with political campaign ads and voting materials. Just want to say that outright. I recorded this episode as a series of three interviews that I did from a friends over at CLI over the summer of their, um, 2020 dance experience, which was awesome by the way, check that out. We’ll be linking in the show notes of this episode. Um, but I had an absolute pleasure with all three of my guests. Um, the other two guests being Josh Smith. You can find him in episode 38 and the fabulous Heather Morris. She is episode 42.  So get into those for more action packed, family fun. Now this week, Dexter and I talk about a lot. I mean, really this is an action packed 30 minutes now, Dexter got a relatively late start with dance, but he got his career up off the ground and like into the cosmos. Really, He is living his dreams. I mean, he’s got a clothing line. He has a tour… He has a tutorial membership platform. He’s done Broadway. He’s done the big screen. He’s done all of it. Dexter is truly an exceptional human being. But I want to quickly say that you don’t need to be an exception in order to make your dreams come true. And I don’t mean to get like sugary pop sweet on you right now. But honestly, if you want your dreams to come true, you must simply know what they are and then show up for them. You have to use your voice. So please let this interview be a reminder of how much is possible when you advocate for yourself. When you put your work and your words out there into the world, when you let your voice be heard, please let this interview inspire you all the way to the polls and vote in this election vote because our schools, our workers, your work, the arts, our freedom to make our dreams come true. Truly does depend on it. And on that note, everybody let’s go ahead and get into it. I hope you enjoy this conversation with the one and only Dexter Carr.   

Dana: Yes. Hello everybody. And welcome. I’m Dana Wilson. This is Dexter Carr, and this is Words that Move Me on CLI today. I’m so excited to be here. I’m so excited to be here with you. 

Dexter: I’m so excited to be here with you. 

Dana: Okay. Um, really I can talk, uh, for, um, at great, great lengths and at great speeds. I’m learning. I’m kind of a fast talker as well. And I have a lot of questions I want to, I want to know so much about you. So why don’t we start at like the beginning of dance for Dexter. Cool. Weird to use the third person when you’re right in front of me. I heard that you’re the first in your family to have a musical inclination or like a rhythm bone in your body.   

Dexter: Yes. First and last. I think there. 

No signs of a followup?

No signs of followup. Yeah. Um, I was born in Miami, Florida, um, and my family is all in Florida. So Tallahassee, Tampa, Ocala, all the state, all the cities in Florida. And, um, we are very, uh, business people. So people are insurance agents. People are marketing people, just all of that brain. And I was not that brain. So, uh, I started at I started a really kinda like late age, I guess, for dance, uh, 13. 

Right, relative to the 3 years old. 

And you know, I’m, I’m old considering, starting as a dancer and I just really dove into it. I was so obsessed with every dance movie. I saw every, every music video I saw every live performance I saw, I was just obsessed. Like I couldn’t get it out of my head. And even in school while studying, you know, doing the academic thing, I just still couldn’t get dance or music or art off my brain. So yeah.  

What has changed if anything? 

I don’t think anything. Family still does business  And I still don’t. So yeah. 

You still don’t.  Although I would argue with you on that, I think that you have a strong business thread woven into your creative mind. 

Yeah thank you! 

Right, right. That’s in there. Um, and I do want to talk about that. Um, actually, maybe that’s a good segue right now. I think that you are like this bright shining example of how you can use social media as like a 24 seven round the clock storefront and audition. And you actually, you call it by those words, like, it’s, it’s an audition to you when you create a piece, whether it’s a combo intended to be taught in class or kind of a concepty  thing, you put it on Instagram and you at mention or hashtag the artists and you ask people in comments to do the same. Right. And it seems like from the outside looking in, and please stop me if I’m wrong, that you’ve seen, you’ve covered a lot of ground in a relatively short amount of time by working that way. So what do you think are the advantages, or what have you learned from auditioning on Instagram? 

Right. I, um, from the beginning, I think Instagram has been such an awesome tool for every industry. Uh, not even just the dance industry for every industry, to be able to get your voice, your product, your idea out to a large audience of people at a rapid speed is like the flyest thing ever. Right. Um, and with me, I’ve always thought that I wanted to perfect my art. Like that was my thing. Like, I didn’t want to put anything out there that was just kinda wild or just not together or whatever the case is to my standards. You know what I mean? Cause art’s subjective. But to my standards, I wanted it to be ready. And once I started realizing that you could put together a piece, you could put together a combo or whatever the case is and have it shown to the artists, whether they like it or not, they’re going to appreciate just the effort alone of you creating to their music. You know what I mean? So I kind of used that idea and just kept, kept going with it and really just use my own creativity and all the ideas that I had to just keep posting.  

I love this. I kind of love the idea of like making somebody a love letter is way more romantic than like the sterile audition, 

With the depth and presentation. And, and it’s like, you want to see what I, you want to see how I feel to your music. You wanna see what your music makes me feel. So I want to show you that in the best way, I know how  

I love this and then it lives. They think they’re like the secret bonus there is that it lives there forever versus an audition. Even if it is a self tape has like this moment

Right. 

Where it’s being watched. 

Right. 

And then it’s onto the next project or whatever. I love the, the kind of archiving that and to see your relationship to music over time and then relationship to the music turns into relationship with people. So tell me how many, how many times, like, could you give a ratio? How often has that been successful for you and like actually generating a working relationship?  

Yeah, it’s been awesome. Um, perfect example is, uh, so, uh, Tinashe uh, Die a Little Bit. I did the music video for that and 

Big fan. Really big fan. 

Thank you. Um, and yeah, that came from me choreographing to one of her songs in class and the director reaching out to me and being like, Hey, I saw this, I actually took your class. I had no idea. She took my class. So that was also very nerve wracking. But then have you went well? Wow. So yeah, uh, she saw that video and she basically said, I think your style is what we want for this video. And we would love to just have you come in and just start working. And it was literally like a seamless relationship off of that. So I know that it can sometimes seem strenuous and almost like, what am I really doing this for? And like, they’re not gonna see this. Or they don’t really care about this. There’s so many videos to this song. You just don’t know what the label or artists or management or assistant, whoever is going to see that video and say, okay, this, I feel this, like this resonates with me. Yeah. I’ve seen a hundred, but this one resonates with me. You know what I mean? So why not give yourself that audition or that opportunity to just to show what you got, right? 

Cause you can be one of the hundred or you could be the one on the other side of the screen, that’s looking at the 100 thinking. Yep. I would have done it differently.

I would have done it different. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And then you’re regretting like, well, dang, I wish I did it, but you know  


Yeah. I think you’re a great example of doing it. Like just doing it, if something speaks to you do it. Yeah. Super cool. Um, I want to circle back to something that you mentioned that I think, um, I know I relate to, and I’m assuming that listeners do as well. Um, dancers, I think might be more subjective to the syndrome I call perfectionism and it’s, I honestly, most of the dancers I know are perfectionists with their craft, in their life, in their, you know, in their home spaces and in, in all sorts of different areas in your life. Um, do you think that applies to you in inside and outside of dance?  

100%! And it’s and I, and I have to say that it’s so I am a fan of, of you and Ava’s and Brian Friedman’s and Jerry Slaughters and Marguerite Derricks’, and y’all are perfect to me. And you know what I mean? It is what it is. I’ve just always thought that, that, that, that group of dancers, that class of dancers was perfect, whether you know, we have our own notes for ourselves or not, but I have always strive to make my work look like that or feel like that, or, or, or come across like that. And I think that it’s not going to be perfect. It’s never going to be perfect. It as much as we believe it to be perfect we’ll never be perfect, but I think there’s nothing wrong with working hard and striving for a level of satisfaction within yourself that you feel good about it.  You know what I mean? Like not, and being like, Oh my God, I’m gonna delete it. I’m gonna delete it. I’m deleting it, I’m doing it. And then you put it away, you know what I mean? Like we’ve all done it. It’s cool. But like, sometimes it’s cool to be like, all right, I like that. I like that. And then just being like content. Yeah, of course, you’re going to watch it back and be like, Oh my God, my pinkies out of place. But it is what it is. And it’s, it’s art, it’s art. It’s supposed to make it. And you have also no idea what it’s going to make somebody in, like in, in like the mountains in Iceland, how it’s going to make them feel, just seeing your passion, seeing your movement, seeing your joy, like just that alone is kind of what makes me also keep putting out content too, or posting things or doing things just because there’s so many people, especially right now who need joy and just a little bit of something, you know what I mean? And if you could be a part of that or a, a, an attribute to that one. Yeah. 

Even if it’s your imperfect, that’s being that for someone, because just like art is subjective, I would argue that. So is perfection. Yes, exactly. Because a thing that squeaky squeaky totally perfectly like Apple design. Perfect. Isn’t really that interesting. It’s not that perfect because my perfect is human. Like I want to see a fingerprint on it, like glue dripping out of the edge or like a scratch a scuff, like something, something that shows that it’s human and useful instead of like, you know, completely veneered pristine and polished is a little, a little less interesting to me. Um, so I love that you make space, like you, there’s a difference between striving for perfection and requiring demanding perfection before you ship something.  

Exactly. And I’ll just tell myself, like, I’ll, you know how we go through like eight different moves and then you kind of just go back to that same move. I’m just like, okay, Dexter you know just do it. Just do the move, just do it. Cause you like it. So just do it. So that’s how it ended up.  

I’m like number one, move rejecter Oh my God.  

The inner battle in my head, I talk about myself, like a horrible person in my head. Like I just go in on myself and then I’m like, no, no, no, no, no. We’re good.  

Can I tell you what it was that made that helped me? Well, it hurt me in that discussion. I started learning about art, like, um, sculpture, painting, architecture, stuff like this, and this notion that there is no such thing as a neutral stroke. Like if we’re talking, painting it either contributes. Or it takes away. And those words got emblazoned upon my mind and they made it very hard for me to create dance because I found myself like, you know, in a, in a kickball change prep, like I’m preparing for the turn and I’m like, okay, is the prep taking away? Is it contributing? How can it contribute more? We’re talking a prep. Like it’s just preparation dance. So I got, I got very caught up about this idea of neutrality in dance steps. Like there not being a neutral stroke. And, um, I did sort of wind up releasing that and now I definitely feel like what’s neutral to me might not be to someone else. It might be their favorite, most impactful, most poignant moment. And to me I’m like, Oh no, it’s just cause I needed to get my weight on the left leg.   

Exactly. I just want to transition y’all that’s it  

So interesting. Um, okay. Gentle segue for a quick for quickness. Um, because I would be very not okay with myself. If I let us talk forever and not mentioned this, can we talk style for a second clothing? I know it’s important to you because you have your own clothing line, but I think it’s important to all dancers. Yeah. The way that things look and feel on your body can really inform the way that you move. So I want to hear as much as you want to tell us about the clothing line, where it came from, what you hope to achieve, how do you design it? How does it get to people? I mean, I have all the questions.  

All the things yeah. Go for it. So I, um, about two years ago, I started with, uh, just an idea. Um, I, I had been teaching at playground for, at that point a year and I had just met so many incredible people and people from around the world were coming into LA and taking class and just talking to them and hearing their experiences or just like, I don’t know, just getting some sort of insight about things that were going on around the world that I wasn’t privy to being in LA. And even when we travel, you’re there for what, a weekend, a week. You don’t really get to, you know, feel the energy of other places. And people were just talking about their style and, you know, seeing people come into class and what they were wearing, just everything was just sparking my brain. You know what I mean? Cause I hadn’t taught a regular class in LA before I started teaching at playground. So I would see dancers here and there, but it was like the ones we knew, like the ones you work with are the ones that are on the job, whatever. But to see different people coming in and out like different hairstyles,  

Submerged in it weekly returning, studying it.  

Exactly. And like how they would change and how their style would develop too. It just inspired me. So I thought about how can I get kind of my steeze out to the world in, in a, in a non cheesy way. That makes sense.  

That actually is really the hard part. How do you create a thing that’s authentically that’s made for many  

Mass produced? You know what I mean? That’s hard. And that is literally my still to this day, my biggest like battle when it comes to myself. Yeah. Because I don’t want it to be corny. I don’t want it to be whack. And I think that, you know, everything has its place and everything has its, you know, corny is cool sometimes wack is cool sometimes, but I wanted to feel like it’s like literally coming from me, given to you. So that is really my main point in designing all this stuff. It, is it something that I want to wear? Is it something that I would wear? Is it something that I would want to see somebody else wearing? If I saw somebody walking down the street, would I go, Oh, that’s interesting. Like, cause that happens too, but you know, I mean I want it to be interesting.  

Interesting being code for uh… 

So I wanted it to be real. I want it to be authentic. So I, um, got a awesome team, uh, through which is based in Vancouver and they reached out to me on Instagram, another Instagram, great moment. Um, and they basically said, I want to help you. I want to help you design clothing line. I want to help you. I want to help you get your voice out larger than it already is. 

And in the form of a hoodie

In the form of a hoodie. And that developed into me, just literally going into every website that I loved, every clothing line that I loved and just like getting inspiration, like looking around at stuff, watching people in the street, I was probably staring at so many people. They had no idea why, but I was just going like this and just staring at people what they’re wearing, like how their sweat pants fit, fit. Like if it does that weird thing where it goes inside, you know, you already know, I already know, you know, what I’m talking about, but like the fit like everything and I’m so big on fit and like the way things drape when I dance to cause you know, a bad outfit, well, I mean,  

Oh, make or break, not even a bad outfit, I’m wearing the wrong socks and I’m having a hard.. 

Literally right here. And then one side, it’s just all the things, all the things. 

So, so particular, 

Everything was, uh, everything was a factor in that. And I pretty much spent the whole first year of just the development process. Designing, thinking about ideas. Yes. No, absolutely not. Maybe. Okay, fine. We’ll do that. That whole process took pretty much a year. And then they came up with an idea, um, and said, well what about tutorials? And I was like, Oh, that’s a good idea. 

Dance, dance tutorials.

And I was like, that’s a good idea to write. People do want to dance. Right. That’s what I want to do. Right. So yeah. So why not? Like we’ll do a tutorial option two. So that then took six, four months trying to figure out the software and the, this are the 

Ohh the conversations 

You already know 

And so much learning 

That I’m learning about like hosting sites and coding and this and that like I’m who knew that I would ever even need to know any of this stuff, but I’m so happy that I do now just, you know, for my own sake. And then now we’ve kind of transitioned into this apparel plus tutorials plus masterclass like podcasting thing. And it’s, it’s awesome. It’s a, I have an app on the app store. It’s called Outlet by Dexter. So yeah, it’s been awesome. It’s been a learning process for me honestly. And I’m still learning every single day about what people want about what, you know, what people are interested in, what people like, what people don’t like, what, what do people need? What should people have more of? Cause I think whenever you’re putting out a product and that’s even your art, as far as a choreographer, what are you, are you helping the situation? Are you giving people what they need? Are you giving people what they should be seeing as far as also doing the job you’re supposed to do, but like you can push the envelope too a little bit and kind of add your voice, amplify your voice a little bit and say, Hey, I love this song or I love this idea, but I think it would be really dope if we, you know what I mean, if you have the freedom to do that, but yeah, right. 

Check the temperature of the temperature of the room. I think that’s awesome. This kind of idea of there’s there’s learning that you can do, that’s free, right? You sit on a park bench and you just watch the way people’s clothes fit and how they move. Or you, you know, as you’re teaching, you have this like sub um, uh, agenda of like watching, watching what people tend towards terms of clothing and that’s all free learning. Yeah. And then you find a team that presents you with ideas and then you learn together. I think that’s a really awesome thing to do. And I think in terms of teams, if you don’t mind talking a little bit more about like, could you have done this by yourself? What parts are all you write? Parts are supplemented by, by the team.  

Right. I can say that I could have, I do think it would have taken a lot longer. And I don’t think that I would have, because my brain is, like I said before, I’m very like, ah, and then I’d come up with a decision later, but I think they’ve helped me kind of say Dexter, it’s fine. We’re going to go with this. Dexter stop overthinking. It’s cool. We’re going to go with this.

The decision making process?

The decision process for sure,  those are like kind of nitpicky with just, you know, we get a little nervous about, is this going to be like, it’s going to be well received. That would have taken me longer as far as producing. So I’m just happy.

That is lead me to another question. Yeah. Um, do you have any awesome decision-making techniques? Like what it is? Do you have a golden rule? That’s like must be boom, boom or else? No.  

Okay. Um, as far as the clothing line or, Oh yeah. Okay. So as far as, as far as the clothing line, if we’ve ended up at this point, come up with a majority rules situation. So there’s 10 of us on the team. So now we have a voting system. So I’m usually always the one that’s like no, and everyone else is like, yes. And I’m like, all right, fine. But, um, that’s kinda on the stuff that is more so like geared towards kids or geared towards like the, the merch side. And um, I’m always like, well, no, we need more of this. We need more of that. And they’re like, no, one’s buying floral on a hoodie. And I’m like, okay, cool. Let me find it. I’ll tell you, I’ll take that one. Can I, can you make me one,  

That’s cool that you have the ability, even on your own projects. I mean, that’s so individually yours to say, I might not have all the information here. Yeah,  

Yes! Yeah. And, and I, and that’s been a learning process for me because in our industry we’re always made to feel like we need to know everything. Like you need to know all the union rules. You need to know all the hours that you’ve worked. You need to know all the, you know, you want to know the crowd for the director of the DP. Like you were always told that we need to be our own like superhero, which is also a dope quality to have. Right. It does help. It helps for sure. And then it also helps to have people who do the marketing side or do the design side or do the fashion side, or do the other things that you don’t know how to do and give you a little input. So you guys can put all your ideas together. That’s I mean, teams there’s nothing can be no, no great, great entity can be done without a team. I don’t if, unless it happens and I haven’t seen it, let me know. Okay.  

I’m telling you, I think it ha I think so often because we see on the scroll the face and it’s so often, I mean, way more often than not, there is a team behind the face and it will take that opportunity to shout out my team, Malia Baker and Riley Higgins. Hey ho. Yeah. It really does take a village, especially in a creative effort. Um, yeah, so many steps, so many, so many things to do. Um, before we leave, before we segue out of clothing, Whoa, don’t take that the wrong way. Um, question. I’m sure a lot of people would aspire to start their own clothing line, do something similar. What advice would you give?  

Yeah, just design design, make as many designs as you want as many prototypes as you want. Go to downtown, get it printed on a t-shirt, go to, you know, do whatever it do. Draw it yourself. Like there’s a Nick Baga. A really good friend of mine literally just started his own. And it’s started from his drawings, like literally him drawing on a tee shirt and they’re so awesome. They’re so cool. And just to see that it came from such like a, you know, a genuine, honest me, just drawing on a t-shirt, in my house to what he has now. It’s so awesome to see. So I don’t feel like especially right now, everybody has the opportunity to do whatever they want. Everybody has the opportunity to do whatever we want from from great tragedy comes great success, I think. And that is what we’re all on right now. So if you have an idea, if you have a, a step you want to do, if you have a concept video you want to do do it, everybody just do it. That’s I’ve been telling everybody that I know that that’s okay.  

Beautiful sentiment. Yeah. Yeah. Um, that reminds me of a saying that I call on often, instead of fake it till you make it, I would much prefer to make it till I make it, make it thing. You got it. I love this. Okay. Um, so talk about Instagram, talked about clothing brand. I, in my plan, which I swerved from a little bit, I thought that the audition story of Instagram could segue nicely into your experience with Broadway and music videos and film. Um, okay. You are original cast member of Bring it On. 

Correct. 

Little known fact. I helped Andy Blankenbuehler skeleton crew, not for the entire process, but several days of skeleton crew. So it’s very possible that we danced the same moves for that show. Is that wild? Just another example of like things crossing over without you knowing, right? Yeah. So what was your audition experience like for that? Oh, good. I’ve had a, a kernel have I?

It was, it was a mess. I mean, it was amazing. I had never auditioned for a, uh, a Broadway show before. Um, I was, I was completely new to the, you know, we do musical theater at the studio, but that’s one number a year or a one combination. You know what I mean? Yes. So when you go in and audition for a Broadway show, eight times, you’re not, Oh yeah. Eight times. And I was auditioning for a principal role too. So that part was up. That was a part of that, but I mean, learning four different combos and they’re not, none of them are the same, you know what I mean? All different styles and you know, Andy, he’s a genius, so he’s like, he’ll do everything. And you’re just like, okay.  

And extremely detailed oriented,  

Really detailed. If the books are not here on the chest, you’re not getting the job. So it’s awesome. And books are here, you know what I mean? That’s the detail, but it was the most amazing experience of my life. We went on tour first. Um, so that tour lasted a year. And then they came out to like, I don’t even know where we were in some random city in the Midwest. And they were like, so how many? And it was all, it was, we were all young. Like there was like two people who had been on like, I think off-Broadway, but nobody had been on Broadway yet. So they came to like the like last show or something like that. And they were like, so what are you guys doing in the fall? And we were like, we don’t know, like everyone was like stressed. And they were like, well, you’re going to Broadway. And we just, I remember flipping something and we were just, I mean, 19 years old to say, you’re going to Broadway is like, I mean, who would have ever thought, especially me coming from where I came from that was not in the projected goal at all. So that also kind of helped me realize, okay, there’s something that could happen here. Like you could really do something with your career here. And that was a really dope moment for me. So thank you, Andy and Lin and everybody for giving me that moment that let me know, like, I can do this, like, this is, this is something that I never thought I would do in my wildest dreams. I had seen so many shows like on TV in New York, but being onstage, there was no way I was like, there’s no way, but there was a way  

There was a way! What a refreshing reminder to, to, to hear about trusting a path, right. And being open to it, whatever it may turn into. Um, on my interview with Heather Morris, we talked a little bit about how pathways are less like, you know, a path on the ground and more like a tree, right? Like you start climbing up the trunk and you could take that branch, or you could take that branch. And that branch has little tiny branches that actually also kind of flirt with the other branch over there. Um, and you wound up on Broadway, so did Bring it On come first for you or In the Heights?

Bring it On came first. And then we did a Heights after that. And then that was another incredible experience because I did it with all the OGs. So like all the original cast members were kicking my butt, telling me when I was doing something wrong. Tell me when I was in the wrong window, tell me when I was coming out of the wrong wing. And I love that, Oh my God. Oh my God. And it was just so dope to hear them talk about stories and you know, like the first time that they performed that show and what it meant to them, and that’s a very meaningful, you know what I mean? And that’s that to be immersed in that, with those  

Thats a very meaningful project. To be embraced into that family.  

That was incredible. That was incredible. So my Broadway experience is very, very special for me.  

Cool. I love hearing that. That’s tremendously inspiring. Um, selfish question, because I’m curious, I worked on in the Heights. I’m with Chris Scott, Ebony Williams, Emilio Dosal and Eddie Torres jr. And Princess salsa guru. 

Baby. I know y’all are hitting it. 

Oh, they go, Oh, I know that club scene OFF

I can’t wait.  

Okay. So my selfish question is what’s your favorite number in, in the Heights.  

Okay. So I have a story. Yeah. I can’t wait. So there’s this number called? It won’t be long now. I’m sure you know it. And then, uh, me and Jose Luis shout out, uh, we sit on the stoop and dance while Vanessa sinks her song and does the things and dah, dah, dah. So we usually were playing cards and everybody who’s been on Broadway knows that you’re never doing what you’re supposed to be doing on stage. Whenever you have a moment on stage, you’re always doing something else that’s not supposed to be doing. So I, we were playing our cards or whatever, and Jose Luis and the other, uh, one of the other guys thought it would be funny to not really tell me when we’re supposed to be getting up. Cause I wasn’t paying attention cause I’m 19 years old on Broadway and I’m just having a good time. So I’m just playing, I’m enjoying myself, I’m enjoying the set. I was like, Claudias coming out. I’m like, what’s up? Like, it’s a whole thing. And I’m playing my cards and I don’t even realize, I don’t even know why, but I was looking down and they had all gotten up and started the Choreography. 

And now you’re playing solitaire on the,  

And solitae with my job as well. Cause I may be getting fired at this point. So that was, that’s definitely, always going to be my favorite number. Cause of just that story in that, uh, the, yeah, the, the boys and just being around that environment. But uh, the club was major and then the fight at the club and all that. 

Good, good, good stuff.Be on the lookout 2021 In the Heights. I think you will love it. I haven’t seen the whole thing, but from everything I’ve seen, I am very impressed and tremendously proud. I cried at the trailer. Yeah. It was very emotional. Yeah. It’s a beautiful story. It needs to be told very important. So excited by it. Awesome. I’m so excited. I’m on the subject. Do you have any dreams of returning to Broadway and what do you think will be, what do you think Broadway will be looking like on the other side of coronavirus?  

Um, my dreams are actually to choreograph a Broadway show. That is my,  

I want to see that dream come true.  

Oh my God. It would make, it would literally like put a, another valve on my heart to do that. Literally just a triple, you know, like that’s what I would love. And honestly, you know what I think, I think people are so thirsty and so hungry for the arts. I think that when we are safe and when it is allowed or whatever the conditions are, I think people will rush back to it. I think there’s a need and a want and a desire for live connection and like connection period. And while, you know, as everyone’s kind of has their own rules with this whole thing, it’s we can not have the same connection that we had. And I think that when we can again, and it’s safe and it’s smart, I think people will want to get right back to the arts because that’s what made that’s what got people through this. How many shows did we watch? How many, all the Netflix, how many times did we watch Hamilton? How many times do we like listen to the soundtracks? How many times do we listen to old albums? I’ve been literally rewatching Moesha for the past three days. Like just to feel that what I was feeling in those moments. So I think, I think we’ll be okay. I really do.  

Oh, there will be a calling for more content for sure. Because we’ve reached the bottom.  

I’ve definitely reached the bottom bottom of it.  

Okay. In our last couple minutes, then talk to me about the bottom quarantine. What was the worst thing? Hardest thing for you and what’s the silver, what are you walking out? How are you walking out better?  

Yeah. Um, hardest thing for sure was not being able to teach my class, not being able to teach on Kaos, my convention, not being able to teach on just not being able to be around and do what I love with the people that I love. Um, I really take my week of class, maybe a little bit too seriously. And I just love seeing these amazing people come in there and fight for their life and, and, and do what they love. And you see it on their face and you see it in their body and you feel it from their energy. And I missed that those first two weeks was like really hard. And then we kind of got that little, like little teaser back and then they took it back from us. But yeah, I mean, that was, that’s what I miss the most. And that was the hardest for me, but I can’t say, and I don’t think anybody will disagree with this.  I don’t think anybody’s been more productive that they had been in these past four or five months. Because if you don’t, if you didn’t have a hustle before you have one now, and if you weren’t pushing hard before you push it hard now, because when there’s no other option to, and when you have nothing but time, if you choose not to that’s on you, you know what I mean? And I don’t think anybody wants, nobody wants to fail. Nobody wants to just let things just kind of go downhill for them. Right. Everybody wants to get to that uphill. Bam. Everybody wants to get over that Hill that we all have been kinda like, you know, running towards since March. But I think it’s, I’ve seen so many dope people start businesses and just I’ve changed my hair 80 times. And I’ve literally like  

Get creative.  Get resourceful 

I’ve just, I’ve had, I’ve had more ideas and I think I’ve ever had in the past, like three, four years of choreographing. So I think there’s, there’s a silver lining to all of this. And like I said before, nothing with tragedy comes success. And I think we all see success after this.  

Oh yes, my friend. And I’m out, we will wrap it up. You guys have a cipher to get to, um, we have a 107 degree heat out there to get to on our way back home. Thank you so much for talking to me today. I learned so much. I feel juiced. I’m excited. 

Thank you so much Dana

Thank you. Thank you guys soon. 

All right. My friends, I hope you are as jazzed by that conversation. As I was my biggest takeaways from that conversation are about Dexter’s attitude regarding social media. He doesn’t use it for approval. He doesn’t seek permission. He just simply shares. I love this approach. I also really, really loved the way that Dexter talked about his team. Um, so very humbly, he talks about the way that they check him the way that he will admit when they know more than he does about certain things. I thought that was pretty special. Now I could talk about Dexter for a long time, but what I really want and what I hope you really want to go do right now is about go get out there, make your dreams come true, get out there and vote and get out there and keep it funky. Thank you so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon.  

Thought you were done. No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website. theDanawilson.com/podcast. Finally, and most importantly, now you have a way to become a words that move me member. So kickball, changeover to patreon.com/wtmmpodcast to learn more and join. All right, everybody. Now I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Ep #43 Find Your Stage with Joe Lanteri

Ep #43 Find Your Stage with Joe Lanteri

 
 
00:00 / 00:57:15
 
1X
 
 Usually Joe Lanteri is the one making the introductions, but this week, I get to introduce you to him! The one and only Joe Lanteri!  Joe is the man behind the most renowned training studio in New York City, he started one of the first (and certainly the finest) traveling dance conventions, NYCDA, and he is the founder of the foundation responsible for over 3.5 million dollars in college scholarships to young dancers across the country.  Joe. Is. The. Man. And in this episode we get to find out what the man stands for.  Joe talks about making decisions, the value of money, the value of working hard and he makes a strong point about priorities.  Grab a seat (and a notebook) and ENJOY!  

Show Notes:

Quick Links:

NYCDA: http://nycdance.com/

Steps on Broadway: https://www.stepsnyc.com/

NYCDA Foundation: http://nycdance.com/foundation

Outliers:https://amzn.to/3595MXQ

The Creative Habit: https://amzn.to/35cC04i

Transcript:

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

Dana: Hello, Hello, my friend. And welcome to the podcast. Or welcome back if you are returning. My name is Dana. This is words that move me and I’m jazzed that you are here. This episode is super special to me for so many reasons. We’ll get into it. But first, today I’m celebrating a big win. But when I’m celebrating is that I have scheduled myself at vacation. And if you are listening to this on the day of its release, I am on that vacation and loving it, man. Even just talking about it now, I feel relaxed. I hope that you are finding time and space to relax as well on that note, actually, what’s your win this week. What’s going well in your world.  

Alright. Awesome. Congrats, stellar job. Keep winning. All right. Now let’s dive in. If you are a person that knows of me through NYCDA, which is the dance convention that I’ve taught for for years, then you are really in for a treat. If you do not know of me through NYCDS, you are also in for a treat, but if you’re a dancing that came up through conventions, and if you’re convention days were a movie, then my guest today is the voice of your movies trailer. I guarantee it. Today, I am joined by Joe Lanteri, the founder and CEO of NYCDA one of the first and finest dance conventions out there, If I do say so myself, he is also the executive director and co owner of Steps on Broadway. One of the largest and most renounced studios in New York City. Joe is my boss. Joe is THE boss and Joe is much, much more. So buckle up and enjoy this conversation with Joe Lantieri. 

Dana: All right, Joe Lanteri, we are finally doing this. Welcome to the podcast. 

Joe: Thank you, Dana Wilson. You know, I am honored to be sitting here and I would be lying to you if I didn’t say that I am nervous, but I’m excited to do it.  

Dana: Oh, I understand. Right. When you commit something to digital foreverness, there can, there can kind of be a nerves. Um, you and I can talk though, forever. So let’s treat it as if we were on a convention weekend that had no classes and we had nowhere to run off to. 

Joe: How interesting would that be? Right. 

Um, sort of maybe like what’s happening now as a matter of fact, convention weekends with no classes,  

Right? We’re on pause. Exactly.  

Man, okay. So it’s par for the course on the podcast, all of my guests introduce themselves, let us know what you want us to know about you.  

Uh, so my name is Joe Lanteri, as you mentioned, and you did allude to convention. So let’s start there. I am the founder and executive director of the New York City Dance Alliance. I say that with much pride and the New York City Dance Alliance foundation, um, I’m a new co owner and maybe not so new anymore co owner and executive director at the Steps on Broadway. Uh, we also have a sister company for New York City Dance Alliance called Onstage New York. I’m the producer and executive director of the Chita Rivera awards. I wear way too many hats in my life, but I cherish and love them all.  

Joe, you forgot to mention in that very illustrious bio, that Dance Magazine has also named you one of the most influential people in dance period.  

First of all, I don’t think about that. And to mention it, it’s not like it was at the top of my brain and thought, Oh, I’m not going to say that. I just wasn’t even thinking about that. You’ve done your homework because

I will say that I will say that 

I don’t think about that whatsoever. And yeah, I am. I’m very honored that dance magazine made that distinction. So I’m not sure where it came from, but I’ll take it.  

Well if I had to guess, I would say it’s because you make big, big changes. You do big business, you run big organizations, you do big important work, and I’ve been inspired by you for as long as I’ve known you, which I should mention is a long time. I’m not going to say exactly how long cause I’m a classy broad. Um, but I, I attended NYCDA as a young kid. And I remember looking up to you, I’m at stage like, wow, that’s it, man. And then I, you know, graduated, pursued a career in dance. I remember you called me one day and offered me a position as a faculty member on NYCDA. I wish you could have seen my face. I wish I had a photograph of that moment. Um, a very, a very prideful moment for me. And then the last 10, how many years of working together, um, On NYCDA. So I should let everybody know that because I’m going to say a lot about how NYCDA is one of the first, definitely the largest and certainly the best convention on the face of the planet. But I am biased of course, because I call it home. You guys are definitely my family and I’m so proud to be a part of that team. Um, so big businesses, big changes and, and you must be constantly making big decisions. So I want to start here cause it’s something that I personally am really interested in in my life. How do you make decisions?  

Great question. You know, and if you want to know the truth, I try desperately not to let the enormity of what I have going on in my life overwhelm me and I try and go back to the root of it all which often speaks to whether, whether it be the mission or the original vision or what I consider to be the integrity behind it. So if it’s something to do with, for instance, NYCDA, and it’s interesting, we’re having this conversation because I often say this now at Steps, because I’ve taken that mentality there. If I’m unsure of what that, how to make that decision. And this is the God’s honest truth. The first thing I asked myself is how will this affect the kids? How does this, and I’m being honest, how does this affect the dancer? And I start with that and I look at the impact on the dancer and based the final decision on that piece.  And I think, you know, in the conventional world or in the dance world in general, even in the open class world, you know, uh, people get into the mindset of counting heads. They look in a room and they count it. And it’s, I think it’s unintentional. I don’t want to think that it’s, you know, people intentionally go in there and do that, but they count heads and they think that that’s what this is all about. And it’s really not, you know, it has nothing to do with that. It really has to do with why is that class? Why is this organization? Why does it exist? And at the end of the day, it really is because you are investing in that group of dancers. And so that’s how I make the decision.  

That that’s a beautiful answer. And the beautiful segue actually into what I want to talk about next is, you know, you’ve, you’ve been teaching for a very long time. You’ve been running these enterprises for a very long time and I am constantly reminded. And I tell people all the time that you do it because you love seeing students succeed. And I don’t know how else you would be able to still be doing it if you didn’t get some kick out of that. But you’ve seen, I mean, how many students come up through NYCDA over the years?  

Well, we see 15 to 20,000 a year we’re in season 26, you do the math. I mean, that’s, that’s crazy. I mean, even for me, that it’s crazy. And if I had to be really honest, I already had a whole life and a career and saw many dancers and all that before NYCDA in fact, that’s, that’s what sparked me to want to start NYCDA, cause I already had a lot going on. So  

Yeah. Okay. So let’s talk about that for a second. What are the differences and what are the similarities of running, you know, your life in a performer sense and your work in the sense of all of these, you know, these institutions that you’ve built.  

That’s a great question. And it’s, um, it’s almost challenging a little bit, cause I, I, I feel so far removed from that person, um, which is interesting, cause I still live my life with the energy. Like I was when I was 25 years old and doing all of that, but I will, I, but I do have an answer. Cause I think the answer really is, is that you have to know what you offer and you, you have to have the confidence to put it out there. Uh, whether you are standing at an audition or launching a new enterprise or a new business, you really do have to know, uh, what you stand for, what your strengths are and that’s what you present and you can’t dwell on the naysayers. You can’t dwell on the negative. You can’t dwell on the challenges you chip away at those one day at a time and you just take those baby steps forward.  

I wish there was an audition for me to go to right now because I feel all puffed up by that. Um, okay. So let’s, let’s talk foundation for a second. So you started the NYCDA foundation 10 years ago. And how many millions of dollars in scholarships have you awarded since then?  

So the foundation itself, yes, we started in 2010. We made our first awards in 2011. And to date we’re at about roughly three and a half million dollars, which was a humbling and daunting number to even utter. Those words is kind of an amazing thing, but we’re at about three and a half million dollars.  

Okay. Well it makes sense to me then that you have developed this reputation for being a person that’s very pro college. But what I want to say right here and now and loud on a microphone is that you are a person that is pro success, whether it’s college or in another direction. Um, I, myself, as an example, I don’t hold a college degree. Many of your other faculty members don’t. Yet, I feel tremendous support and encouragement in my ventures, in my work. Um, and I know that you provide that to other students that, that don’t pursue dance in college. Um, so I just want to give you the floor to talk about how you would encourage somebody who’s thinking about the decision, you know, making that seemingly daunting decision. I say that because it wasn’t very daunting to me. I just knew. But what would you say to people weighing their options between dancing college and jumping right into the workforce?  

Um, first of all, I appreciate you making the distinction that we are not necessarily only about college. Um, I do think the majority of dancers that I meet, uh, based on where they are themselves at that point in their lives might benefit from continuing with a structured program of some sort that makes them accountable. They have to get out of bed every day if at a certain hour. And you know, I do think college has its benefits in almost teaching you a work ethic of what might be expected of you. Once you do have a job and show up every day and put in an eight hour to 12 hour rehearsal process day in and day out. Um, but I don’t think it’s necessary for everyone and yourself being a perfect example. And we could go down a long list of people that I think are incredibly talented that I admire tremendously that did not go to college and have done wonderful, wonderful things.  Um, but I do think from a maturity standpoint, a lot of people would benefit from building their community, uh, starting their own network and investing in themselves in those four years. So I think that the foundation has taken off from the college standpoint because I think parents like hearing the message of we are investing in dancers. We, and we are promoting education and supporting the arts. I mean, that really is the trifecta of what our foundation is all about, but I do get often misquoted that Mr. Joe says everybody has to go to college, which is totally just not the case. And in fact, we are trying to develop new things. You were involved with our dance discovery showcase, which we launched is one of the, one of the silver linings. They came out of this whole COVID situation where we started this mentor program, which came with a scholarship. It was supported by the foundation and that money is not meant to go to college. It’s meant to go to training. So we are pro training. We are pro you’re not done at 18, regardless of how much success you may have had enjoyed in the convention/competition arena. You are really just beginning. The truth is you are, that’s your foundation that that is your that’s your base, but you’re now going to step into a professional setting, which is going to require you to really continue to train and learn so much more. And some of it is just learning in life experience, you know, not only do is in the classroom  

Or even, or even on set, you mentioned, uh, building your own calendar, being accountable, being responsible with your time dollars and your dollar dollars, um, networking, all of those things. Yeah. That, that sort of structure is certainly not, um, already in place, you know, outside of a college environment, there’s no systematic way of climbing that ladder into being a working person. You just kind of close your eyes and jump

To be really honest Dana. You know, especially as a teacher and as a teacher at steps for all those years and being in the hallway with all those dancers that are waiting to take my class and overhearing conversations, and some of it is about not, you know, why am I not? Why don’t, why didn’t you get a job or why didn’t, you know, all of the things that come with pursuing your career? Um, I think for some people, their big plan at graduation is, my best friend and I are going to move to a big city would whatever city that might be, and we’re going to get an apartment together and we’re going to dance and as great as that might be, that’s not entirely a plan of attack. You know, that’s not really, that’s not enough. That really is not, you know, and the other, the other thing I’m going to interject, just because I said those words, the other misconception is because we are the New York City Dance Alliance is that we expect all of our dancers to move to New York, which is ridiculous. That’s absolutely ridiculous. Again, you are a perfect example of that. You know, what we stand for is a standard of excellence and a level of training that you are then supposed to take that and go do whatever you want with it and thrive and flourish and do all of that. But wherever you go, you’re going to be held to a standard and your training is going to is going to resonate. And that’s why that’s, that’s who we are, but not because we think you have to be in New York, do it wherever you want to go, wherever, wherever, follow your heart, go find your stage. Those that, that is a direct quote for me. I use it all the time. Go find your stage.  

I love this quote and that is another beautiful segue. Joe, you would think we had had a rehearsal. I’ll tell you what, um, you’re famous for your talks. I hear them ringing in my ears ever because I’ve been hearing them since I was a kid. And you know, we’ve been working together for years and years now and I they’re so meaningful and I’m glad that people are willing to step away from the steps for a second and just give a strong verbal message, like no interpretation, this is what’s important to me and any alumni who is listening, anybody that’s been on a Dance Alliance weekend, who’s listening knows exactly the talks that I’m talking about. Um, and in those talks, one of the things you say a lot in addition to following your heart is to invest in yourself. I would love to know how you invested in you when you were on the come up as a dancer. 

I think that’s a great question.  And I will start by saying, um, when I use the words, invest in yourself, very little of it has anything to do with finances. It is not, it’s not about, you know, spending extra money or call it your even college tuition, as much as I do think colleges part can be part of that investment. But I think it’s really learning to find your path, um, to answer your question about my own journey, uh, both as an individual, as a performer, as a budding teacher, as an entrepreneur, all of those things, my greatest investment in all of those things was surrounding myself with incredible people. And that circle your own personal family that you develop and that you grow with, that is one of your greatest investments because that they’re there to support you. They’re there to support you in the great times and you all you share in that celebration, but they’re also there to support you in the difficult times. We are living that right now and not to go into a COVID place on this beautiful conversation that we’re having. But what a better example you being part of that family that I have, and you understanding many of the conversations that we’ve had in the last six months, uh, we couldn’t be doing any of this if it wasn’t for that, that to me is really the essential investment that we all need to make. Um, especially in our industry because our industry allows us to get caught up in our head and get caught up in comparisons and get caught up in the cattiness. And I work, I, my whole life have worked very hard to not buy into that and not to not to go down that path. You know, I, you, you, you joke about, or you mentioned my speeches. Um, my talks, I often, I often carry characters, might characterize myself as being a little corny quite honestly.  Um, and I’ve owned it. I own it. I absolutely own it. Those, those talks, I have genuinely come from a heartfelt place. They are a little borderline. The world is the world should be sunshine and roses. Um, I consider myself, uh, one of the most, you know, um, positive. Uh, there is a, there there’s always a rainbow. There’s always a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. That’s just the way I live my life. And I think for some people that’s difficult because they’re not that way. And they’re, they’re the, I call them the eye rollers. What a hand goes on. A hand goes on a hip and the eyes roll back. And I can’t do anything about that. And that’s one of those moments where I stay true to myself. I know what I want the moment to be. I know what I want my message to be. I know what I want a kid to feel. Um, and one of the most rewarding things for me is when I, you know, if you know me well enough that in that moment, when I’m talking to a room full of the older dancers, that’s also the moment where I take a quick break and go change my clothes and come back and we’ll do the whole end of the weekend. I will have dancers run after me. I will have parents run after me, grab me by the arm, tears in the eyes and just say, thank you for what, for whatever, whatever came out of my mouth at that moment, not preplanned. And just having even one person wrecking, have that effect, then I’ve done my job. Then I’ve done my job.  

Um, sort of as a followup through those pot of gold glasses, that’s what I’m going to call. I’m sticking to it. What do you see as being, um, kind of a hopeful result of the COVID moment on the dance convention world specifically, but maybe broader even dance education in general?  

Um, I think it’s been interesting for me now. I’ll be honest. I have yet to teach on zoom. Isn’t that interesting? I’ve not 

I didn’t know that! 

And part of it is because this whole thing that whole quick change has been so overwhelming that I have really been wearing my business hat as opposed to my dance teacher hat. Um, but the dance teacher in me does, has been a part of hundreds of zoom classes and situations and events and things like that. Um, so I’ve learned and watched and observed and seen a lot of what goes on. Um, I think, and again, not to sound corny, but I think we’re seeing dancers step into an ownership of the situation. Uh, definitely an accountability for themselves when they’re now alone in a room, they are not able to hide behind 30 people in a classroom or 300 people in a ballroom. They, they, they are accountable for their work. They are accountable to show up and I applaud the dancers even for showing up. When I think zoom burnout and being hours on a device, all of that is real. It is understandable and real. And yet there are many dancers that have embraced what this now is. Embrace this reality and have basically said, I’m not going to let this deter me from following my passion, my dreams and my training. So I’m going to make the best of it under these difficult circumstances. And I think that characterization for those people, that’s, what’s going to remain. I think in general, I think zoom and virtual learning has brought the world much closer. Um, you know, scheduling for myself, scheduling guests, even to teach at steps or even some of the intensives and the work we’re doing again yourself, a perfect example. I wouldn’t have the opportunity to bring you in its steps like right now, because we’re in different coasts, but now you can teach a guest class at steps and you have, and it’s been great. Yeah. I don’t think that’s gonna go away. I really think that, that, you know, we have numerous international students that take class at steps, people from around the world, uh, travel to New York and take class, and now they’re able to continue to have that feeling from their home. So I think that that’s going to stay with us. I really do.  

Thats awesome and I hope so. To me, that really is that it’s massive that the change that’s happened in the last eight months is tremendous and it’s important. And I think it needed to happen because the cost of entry to training with top tier professionals was A. you had to be in the city where the top tier professionals were. B. they had to be not working on other projects. C. you had to have enough money to take the class, to actually buy the class package or get in the room. And, you know, big cities like New York and LA are expensive and they’re not easy to get to for everybody. And I, I do believe in the value of in person exchanges, but I also believe, and I know you’re with me on this, that you’ll get out of it, whatever you put into it, if you are, if you are open to having a transformational experience on a zoom class, you just might. And so now the cost of entry to having those experiences is wifi basically. Um, which is still not everyone, but I do think it’s a massive change and I think it, I think it’s awesome.  

But I want to just piggyback on what you said. You were only going to get out of it, what you put into it, and if you can only give 50%, then you can’t expect to get 300% back.  

That’s massive. Okay. I know Joe, the executive director pretty well. I know Joe, the human being pretty well. I wish that we grew up together cause I would’ve loved to be training with you. You mentioned earlier that you still have the energy of a 20 something. Who’s like, you know, grab your coffee and take eight classes and then go to an audition and then go to a show that same night. And I just wonder if you could give us a peek into your world, maybe a cross section of your time at USC, um, a college day, Joe, what did your life look like?  

Wow, wow. Uh that’s um a flashback, but a welcome flashback. Cause my days at USC were amazing and um, I’ve had the opportunity to go back and visit the campus since the Glorya Kaufman School has happened at USC, under Jodie Gates. And besides the fact that they’re doing amazing, amazing things, it was surreal for me to walk down the street and find that building, which is literally four buildings down from where I used to take class every morning. Um, I was not a dance major, there was no real dance program at USC at the time theater. Right? I was a theater major. Yes, but I was the first year, uh, John Houseman who developed an acting program at, at the Julliard school left Julliard and moved to Los Angeles because at the time he was filming the TV series Paper Chase, this is really now dating me.  But, um, he started the BFA acting theater program that I became a part of and any, uh, movement classes. And I’m saying movement, because they’re not dance classes per se were movement classes for actors. But the fact that I lived in LA was my introduction to the Dupree Dance Academy. And you’re smiling as an LA girl. That’s where I took my first dance classes. And you’ll appreciate that. The two people that I credit the most for jazz are Carol Connors and Jackie Sleight because they, they were my, they were my two go to teachers and I didn’t know what I was doing. It was very difficult for me because I looked like I should know what I was doing when I walked in and my jazz pants and leg warmers in my little dance outfit at the time. Um, but the room was filled with the scholarship dancers of the day who were the best dancers in Los Angeles at the time.  And, uh, it was extremely intimidating, extremely humbling, but that was after an entire day of acting classes, voice classes, um, Feldenkrais movement, all the things that were part of our program, scene study rehearsals. And then if I could sneak a class in at seven o’clock at night, I would get in my car and drive to Dupree’s and take class. I mean, so I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t trade my time there for anything, but it is funny again, I just going back to my visiting the campus in the last couple years, since the Glorya Kaufman school, uh, there is a church down the, down the street for four buildings down from where Glorya Kauffman is on the USC campus. There is a church and in the church basement, there is now a coffee shop that has a little outdoor landing. Um, it’s got these beautiful iron iron and glass doors. Well, that’s where I took class every morning and that, and it’s still set up very similar now that it’s a coffee shop, but it’s still very much resembles what it looked like when I took class, except that the wall that had my mirrors now has been built over. And it’s part of where I guess they, their pantry, but the bathrooms are the same. The entrance is the same. It’s all exactly the same, but it’s, it is a, it’s a coffee shop.  

So cool. I love this. Um, alright. I, I wanted to go like three different directions a little while ago. Um, it’s hard for me to stay focused cause I really, really could talk to you forever. Uh, you talked about setting a high bar, keeping a high bar and having high expectations delivering at a really high level. And I cannot think of a better example of a high bar than our NYCDA uh, national finale gala night. I have seen, and I am not just saying this. I want to be clear. I haven’t seen some of my favorite dancing period on our stage at closing night gala. Specifically. And I w I am prepared to get specific. Um, Jermaine’s Fivey and Cindy Salgado dancing their duet from Dark Matters. Um, I really cannot wipe Ida Sakis. Uh, the year that she won title, I cannot wipe her solo away from my memory. It is it’s, it might be my favorite thing that I’ve ever seen at NYCDA And I tell her that, and she’s like, no, and I’m like, um, I also very distinctly recall, um, the ball, the ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria, Danny Tidwell and Melissa Hough. Um, I remember sneaking into that ballroom when they were rehearsing their closing night solos when they were handing over their title. And it just brings tears to my eyes to think about all those, all of those moments. So I know this is like asking a parent to choose their favorite child. Um, yeah. Could you share some of the moments that really stand out for you and  

Well, you’ve hit, you’ve hit quite a few. I mean, I think, I do think Ida Saki was groundbreaking, uh, literally breaking that fourth wall. And I mean, she really, uh, took on that moment in a, in a different way than anyone else we’ve ever seen do that. Um, the, the, I will be honest and I don’t mean this in an offense of anyone that has come thereafter, but the days that the Waldorf were a very, very special time, uh, part of it was just where I was in my life. Part of it was the evolution of what we were doing as a company and watching that success start to happen, that there was a true understanding that we were trying to do something different and you’re exactly right. That it, it, um, it manifested itself on that stage. And you saw it, uh, one of the things, one of the, uh, Melissa Hough and I’m being honest in her day, I had never met anyone like Melissa, and she knows, I’ve said this publicly before she knows this to this day. At that point in time, I had never met anyone that was as versatile, as dedicated as technical. Um, just as special as a Melissa Hough, you would think she was a hip hop dancer. Oh no, no, no, wait, she’s got point shoes on and she’s a point dan-. Oh no, but she’s got tap shoes on. And she was a tap da-. I mean, she was phenomenal in everything that she ever did and her final solo as a dancer, she came back many times as guests. Those are all beautiful, but I don’t know if you remember the Stevie wonder in a chair. Do you remember this? 

I don’t 

Mia Michael’s choreography. 

I don’t. 

Oh my gosh. I wish I almost should have prepared it to have, we should have shared screen. I should have prepared it for you.  

We could get a live feedback of me just like choking on my own air.  

Well, you know, audio visual presentation, uh, it was, it was a very, very special, very special moment.  

Have you shared that on your Instagram throwbacks?  

I have in the past, I could probably, you know, we’re probably due to do go back and find some of those things as well, but that whole, that whole era, Melissa, Danny Tidwell. Well, of course Travis Wall, uh, the list goes on, the list goes on and on and on. And there was something really magical about being in that particular space, which also in many ways, defined New York city. It was a Waldorf Astoria. It was the grand ballroom of a Waldorf Astoria in New York city where presidents speak and things like that. And here we had some of the most talented kids from all across the United States, you know, come to perform. It was, it was special. And it’s exciting that you were a part of that and that, that has remained with you. I mean, really it was very special.  

Absolutely can cannot forget it. Couldn’t, wouldn’t, don’t want to ever, let’s talk about it daily. Um, let’s talk about talent and kids for a second because you know, maybe it’s the training. Maybe it’s just, there’s more exposure. I’m seeing more young people dancing now, but am I alone in being absolutely jaw on the floor at what young dancers are capable of right now and how are they doing that? Like what’s going on.  

It’s amazing. I think, um, you know, with all due respect to all of us, kudos have to go to the local dance studio and what they are doing and the decisions that they’re making, uh, because obviously they’re doing great things, training their dancers at those studios and deserve all of that credit for making that happen. Um, I think that the world and the internet and television, which has embraced dance over the last decade, uh, has exposed dancers just so much more. Um, and as much as I’m not a big social media fan and that’s a whole separate, separate topic, 

Oh, don’t tempt me. 

And as much as I do get, I do have my concerns that it, it pushes what we do to not the best place, if I had to be very honest, um, when done right, the, the level of exposure does have a positive can ha can have, can have a positive effect on what we do. And it allows each generation to learn from the generation past and take it to another level. And I, I think you’re absolutely right. What we see young dancers do is phenomenal.  

There’s so much to talk about, um, on the subject of social media specifically though, I did want to pop out. Joe’s point of view is very clear. He’s seen both sides of the spectrum, both the joy and the pain that can be brought on by literally having a global audience in your pocket at almost all times. Now to find out where I land on social media, you will definitely want to go check out episode 10, where I really, really unpack, um, my views on the socials. Granted that was before I saw the social dilemma.. I stand my ground enjoyed episode 10. Now I want to back up a little bit because when I asked Joe how he’s invested in himself, he mentioned that very rarely was that investment, a monetary type of investment. And I wasn’t surprised by his answer there, but Joe and I actually went on to talk quite a lot about finances. And let me tell you that is an episode unto itself. Um, so we’ll jump back in now to a part of that conversation, but know that future episodes have money moves all over them. I want to talk about money. I want to talk about money, words, and words that move me, but for now let’s get on with it and let’s get right back to Joe.  

Let me share this because we’re just talking honestly. And, and, you know, you’re, you’re, you’re delving into my past in some way. Um, I have to give all props all thanks. Uh, cause I’m pretty good with money I’m I have a good, pretty good financial, uh, mindset. And I thank, I am a product of my parents. Um, and many people don’t know this, but my parents were Italian immigrants. They didn’t speak much English whatsoever. They never really assimilated to this country. Uh, they remained old world, uh, to the day they all the day to the day, they both passed away. Um, and they’ve given me so many incredible gifts. One of them being my ridiculous work ethic to a fault, but one is understanding the value of money and the value of working hard for what you have and then taking pride in that. And, uh, in that ownership of, I I’ve earned this, you know, um, and I have, they had that pride because they came with nothing and, um, in my own way as well, I’ve I, you know, I’ve built my businesses from nothing. I, I, you know, just from decisions and I invested my own money in making it happen. So I’m right there with you with the financial planning. And I often sit down, we’re walking, we’ve never done it, but we could, we should do it at some point. I have often taken part in financial conversations amongst our people, you know, just in terms of like that next step or what do you do and how do you do it and all of that. 

I would love that. 

but it’s an important part of all this  

It’s so important, you know, and that there is more to it than work hard and save. That’s where I’m so curious and excited to learn and to take some next steps. Um, okay. I do want to ask. I would be, I would feel awful if I didn’t, it feels terrible to say to somebody what’s next for you when their plate is so full, but I, I, I guess I’ll reframe this question to be what excites you most right now.  

Good question. What excites me most, very honestly, though, is opening a new door and finding yet a new opportunity, uh, frankly for the kids, you know, um, I will share this with you and I’m saying this completely off the record, but on the record that my next, uh, desire that I hope to launch as things settled down and we’re going back to the foundation is something more to do with diversity and dance scholarships that we really collectively as an organization, as an institution, as, as a country, really support that movement to a greater extent. Um, and I think this is the time the, the, the society is demanding it. Um, I don’t think that we’ve been far from it ourselves and all the time that we’ve been doing what we do. Um, so it’s not a new message for us, but maybe it’s time to be louder. Maybe it’s time to use our voices in a different way. Um, and I think creating more scholarships in that diversity realm is important to me and had, had, have started having some conversations, frankly, in terms of how to pursue that next.  

I am so glad to hear that I’m absolutely tickled by it because it’s you’re right, the world is demanding it. Um, but that’s not why you you’ve mentioned already. That actually is your message has always been your message, um, to open doors, to people, to encourage greatness, to provide tools, to do that. Um, so the message is the same, but the audience is everyone. The audience is truly everyone. It’s got to be everyone because if it isn’t, who’s, who’s getting to draw the line in the sand or hand out the numbers like your first, your second, your third. I am so excited at the potentials of that. And congratulations is going to be amazing.  

I do think our, our audience has always been everyone. And I think our alumni, our past our, you know, our previous recipients already speak to that, but I think to underline it, is important. I think that’s the difference. I think we, we go, okay, we’ve, we’ve all in some ways we’ve already been doing this, but we really want to show you that this is important right now.  

Joe is really underlining his statement here. And I want to double, triple, quadruple underline and highlight that message because yes, our society is demanding inclusivity and equity, and yes, it is about damn time. But I think that a lot of businesses and leaders believe that they’re already doing a fine job of this. As Joe mentioned, and he’s not alone by any means, many companies truly believe their audience is everyone. And that their message is for everyone. But as Joe put it, maybe it’s time for that message to be a little louder. Maybe it’s time to underline it. Maybe it’s time to put it front and center. How could you do that in your business? How could you do that in your life? Take a moment to pause and think on that, like actually hit pause, take all the time that you need. And when you’re ready, I’ll be here, ready to get back into it with Joe. 

Um, I, I wanna talk about routine for a second. Um, because I know that a lot of people listening, uh, don’t only aspire to be incredible performers, but they want to run businesses. They want to become an entrepreneur to stay as connected to dance and dancers. As you have, while building out brands and taking existing companies to new levels. What is, what is your process? Your, Hmm, it’s hard to break it down to a daily thing. Cause I know it is so much bigger. It’s like all of the steps leading up to this are, would have helped you to be able to do this, but is there a part of your day, or is there a thing that you do that might help people, um, not recreate the work that you’ve worked, but perhaps it’s, perhaps it’s a lesson that you learned that helped you to do what you’ve done?  

I’m not sure. I would wish that on anyone, frankly, Dana, but, um, you know, do you want to hear something funny that resonates with that question years ago, I was having a conversation with our friend Andy Blankenbuehler. And, uh, this is probably pre Tony awards for Andy and we were discussing that he had just read Twyla Tharp’s new book, creative habit at the time. And I remember him sharing with me that what he took away from that book was that she dedicates two hours a day in a dance studio to do what she does and that two hours. And I think that has to be nonjudgmental time. Just time that you just get in a room and do what you do. Have you ever read The Outlier Book

By Malcolm Glad…Smith haha 

Or go back and read, or just read the pieces about the 10,000 hours? Because he attributes to some of this to literally just the fact that people dedicate this much time to a sole thing. And that speaks to success. That would speak a little bit. I don’t consider myself any more talented, any smarter, any more resourceful, any more gifted. Um, I’m not afraid of the work. And if you, you ask the question and put it in under the phrase routine, my routine very honestly is I get up in the morning. I go right to the coffee pot. I splash water in my face. I go right to the coffee pot, pour a cup of coffee. And I come right to this chair to, this is my home office to this laptop. And I start to work. I look at emails. I, I, um, I’m very hands on.  I look at all the finances what’s coming in. What’s going out where, where things are going. That’s how I start my day. Um, you are, you, you are benefiting from me actually stopping and taking a shower today because the time during this COVID time, I am apt to, I actually have a shirt on, I wear sweat pants, which I have one from the bottom down and just a white v-neck tee shirt and just go to work. And I like that routine. It serves, it serves me well. And for me personally, I’d have to learn to carve out different times of my day to get things done. And one of the things, if so, if we’re really going to talk about this, one of the things that I’ve learned from my own process and everyone’s process is going to be different. It’s two things. One actually is there are, there’s no such thing as a priority because at the point that you, for me, this is just for me at the point that you make something really, that much more important, those things on your ever-growing list that are at the bottom of your priorities. You’ll never get to those. They will forever continue to fall off that list because other things continue to get higher and higher on your priorities. So something that I like to do, and I refer to it this way, I like to plant my seeds early in the day. So before I came to you today, I already put out 15 emails out in the world in different directions for different things that I’m hoping by the time we get off of this call and we wrapped things up today, I will have a handful, half a dozen responses later this afternoon. And I’ve planted those seeds for my day. I do that every single day. Yeah, for me, it’s it’s um, on Sundays, if I’m home, um, I am a spiritual person. I go to church. So if I’m not traveling, I’m at this point in my life, I like to go to church. I like to, I like to give time to God. I like to, I like that. To center myself that way. Um, and in evening time is entirely about my husband. He gets, he gets all that time. He deserves every moment of that time. I don’t check my email. I don’t sit with my cell phone in my lap. I don’t, I don’t do any I don’t my cell phone. Doesn’t sit by my bedside at night. I’ve already devoted so much time of that from 6:30 in the morning to probably 6:30, 7:30 at night. So unless we’re working on a huge project, that is a crunch. And then we all have those where you do work around the clock. I’m I do. I give that, give my business those hours. That’s my routine. And nighttime is my personal time.  

I love your nod to repetition, to focus, to doing the work as well as setting the boundaries and saying in this time no work will happen. And I think that might be the real key to that recipe. Um, I do want to give a little pushback is something I’ve been thinking about on the subject of this 10,000 hours idea. And I had a conversation with Andy a few days ago, we got really into it. It was our first catch up in a while. It was awesome. Um, I think that the notion of 10,000 hours, that it takes that much time of which you you’ve already invested 10,000 hours. I’m sure Andy has Twyla Tharp also, especially if she’s logging the hours that she says that she is in that book. But if that is the case, if it does require 10,000 hours to really reach a degree of extreme competency or mastery of a thing, then I at 35, I’m not very motivated to do anything else.  If I don’t think I’ll be great at anything else, then why would I try? Um, I’ll answer my own question. When I say that here’s my belief. I believe that 10,000 hours I am working to invest. If I haven’t already in being an excellent mover, contribute to the 10,000 hours, that will make me an excellent teacher. That will make me an excellent movement coach. That will make me an excellent coach coach. That will make me an excellent parent. That will make me an excellent entrepreneur. That will make me, I think there is a lot more, like I joke about this and I’m going to have to put it on a T-shirt at some point, Chloe and I, Chloe was my guest in episode three. And the title of that episode is Dance Lessons are Life lessons. And I believe that to be true, I’ll say it till I die. Joe’s like co-sign  

Preaching to the choir here. No doubt.  

Yes. So what if those 10,000 hours are not kept in individual buckets, dance bucket, teacher bucket, theater director bucket, entrepreneur bucket. But what if this all just one big bucket and I think it can be really discouraging to think of a career transition as being, wow. I’m starting back at hour one. You’re not starting back at hour one.  

I agree. I fully agree with you. I mean, we learn, we take all of that. Why, why do so many, uh, performers go on to be so successful for the wrong it’s because they have logged those hours? You know, I will just in, um, speaking about the book, the outliers, the 10,000 hours is actually just one example of how they talk about how people get to where they are. So it’s not logging in 10,000 hours, but I agree with you. I think those 10,000 hours contribute to who you are as a person. Um, it’s the, it’s the aggregate of all that you’ve done. Not strictly just that one field. I agree with you. We’re the same.  

Um, how much, Oh, there is a saying I’m going to get it wrong. Um, hard work, beats talent, beats talent, but Oh, what is it?  

Talent doesn’t work hard. I say it all the time. 

This is true. There’s a variation on this same sentiment. That’s like hard work, beats talent. If talent doesn’t work hard, but if somebody talented works hard, get the hell out of the way. And I think those are the people that you attract and I’m so happy to be, um, witness to them and among them. And man, I just think the world of you and this world that you’ve built for all of us dance-lings . Um, so with that being said, is there anything else you would like to commit here to digital forever furnace today?

You know what, for me, it really is. It’s piggybacking on what you just said. I do believe that we as a community and I forget dance, first of all, I believe strongly that we’re a product of our choices. I believe that I think there needs to be ownership in our lives that we’ve, we are, we are where we are because of some of the decisions we made in our past good or bad own them learn from them, move on and you know, be where you are. But I, I will underline the need to surround yourself with wonderful people, uh, people that are there to support uplift, uh, nurture, teach you I, as a, as a business person, I say all the time, I’m excited to hire new people that are going to teach me something. I love that, you know, I, I love that. So it piggybacks a little bit on what you just said.  Um, I feel blessed to have you in my life, frankly, I feel blessed to have all of the NYCDA team, all the different people that, that really, that the paths that I’ve crossed. I live my life in a way that if, if you’ve, if I’ve invested in you in some way along the way, then you will always have that little special place in my heart. Um, because it comes back. It really, it really does come back. And so this is meaningful. The fact that you even asked me to do this was very meaningful to me. So I, I thank you. I do time for you anytime Dana, you know that I would, I would make time for you.  

Thank you. I appreciate it. And I’ll be totally transparent and honest. I, from my earliest, you know, in brainstorms of the podcast and guests and topics and things, you’ve always been on my list. And I’ve reserved you for about this far in my podcast journey. Cause I wanted to get better at doing this before we did this. I was like, I’ve got to have my setup dialed in. I’ve got to be a good question asker. I’ve got to be a good listener. I’ve got it. I, I, I know you hold a high bar and I love that about you. I see the value of doing that. And I don’t think that we underdelivered today with this episode. I think that we overdelivered.  

You are incredibly gracious and generous. Cause I, I, I live my, I live my life with my feet really on the ground. So I do appreciate all your kind words I really do. And I, and I’m grateful to be a part of it, you know, and whatever I can do, you know.

I appreciate it. I appreciate it. Um, perhaps there will even be a small series of NYCDA podcasts. We yeah. What a, what an incredible group of people doing really incredible work. Thank you again for all of it. I’ll talk to you soon, Joe.  

Bye. Thanks so much, Dana. You’re the best. Thank you. 

You’re Welcome. You’re welcome.  

Well, my friends, how is that so much inspiration, so much information. I will absolutely be linking it to our NYCDA tour. cchedule two steps itself to the scholarship foundation and so much more in the show notes of this episode, please do be sure to check all of that out. I hope that it has instilled in you a sense of confidence and capability and furthermore, a sense of responsibility  to invest in yourself and the people around you. I hope to see you soon at an NYCDA near you. And of course I hope you keep it funky. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon.  

Thought you were done. No.  Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website, theDanawilson.com/podcast Finally, and most importantly, now you have a way to become a words that move me member. So kickball change over to patreon.com/wtmmpodcast to learn more and join. All right, everybody. Now I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Ep. #42 WTMM X CLI with Heather Morris

Ep. #42 WTMM X CLI with Heather Morris

 
 
00:00 / 00:42:05
 
1X
 
Heather Morris and I talk about how dance lessons are life lessons…AND THEN we dig into all the things dance didn’t prepare us for.  We talk about our paths that have landed us where we are today.  We talk about success, failure, and we laugh through everything in between.

Show Notes

Quick Links:

Heather Morris: https://www.instagram.com/heatherrelizabethh/
CLI 2020 Experience: https://2020-experience.clistudios.com/

Transcript:

Intro: This is words that move me, the podcasts 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, movers, shakers, friends, and family at this point, really, truly some of you guys that have been with me from the beginning, it really is starting to feel like family. I see you out there. Well, of course I don’t actually see you. My field of view is almost entirely dominated by a microphone and a pop filter. I don’t actually see you, but I so appreciate your engagement on social media. Over at words that move me podcast on Instagram is one of my favorite places to connect with you guys. I’m seeing such awesome daily doing out there. If you are new, by the way. Hi, hello and welcome daily doing might be a mystery to you as of now. That’s probably because you haven’t listened to episode number one or episode two strongly encourage you take a moment, go check those out. I mean, it’s not essential listening, but that doing daily is definitely at the heart of the words that move me podcast community. I see you daily doers out there. I feel you. I appreciate you so much. All right. I’m jazzed as always about this episode. So I want to get into it, but first wins. Oh, by the way. Yes. If you’re new, I start every episode by talking about wins. I think it’s very, very important to celebrate wins, especially in the creative fields where our work is a reflection of ourselves, our human values, our emotional state and so on and so forth.  And we are especially critical of our own work. We’re critical of our work. We’re critical of ourselves. It definitely pays to celebrate your wins. Even the small ones, especially the small ones. Man, they are money in the bank. So let’s invest together. Today the win that I am celebrating is that I am taking responsibility for the living things in my home. Let me explain. I do not have any human babies or children or teenagers or adults actually, for that matter. I don’t have any pets. What I do have are plants. And what I don’t have is a very green thumb. Historically in my life It’s been hard for me to keep plant objects alive. Maybe it’s part of me. Maybe there’s a hint. Maybe I consider them objects, not living beings. Um, I struggle with plants. It used to be because I was in and out of town a lot I had a pretty irregular schedule and then the COVID crisis. Okay. Can’t use in and out of the house as an excuse. So what is it really? I think for me, it was that I simply didn’t know what to do or when. What’s too much water?What’s not enough water? When should I mist them? When should I wipe them? It just was also overwhelming. So I’ve committed to doing a little research, figuring out what I’m doing and keeping my plants alive. And let me tell you what I am loving this journey. I love that the plants in my home are green and not yellow or brown. I love that they’re all perky and lifted. Um, and I love learning. So I’m learning about plants right now. I’m learning how to keep them alive. And the next phase of this, which I’m so excited about is going to be to grow my own food. Now I’ve got training wheels. I’ve been using a little hydroponic, um, kitchen, pod grower thing for, uh, it’s called Aero garden. Total. Disclaimer, not advertising, not paid to say that, but I love my Aero garden. I grow, grew, growing. I am growing, um, basil all of the basil Thai basil, Genovese basil, all the basil. Love the Basil, um, mint, chives more basil. The Rosemary didn’t do so well. I’m not gonna lie. The Rosemary didn’t do so well. Um, basil.. Is that really all I’m growing? What else do I have over there? I can’t. Oh, dill and basil. So I’m growing the basil in the hydro, in the Aero garden, and then I’ve been transplanting them outside when they get too big to keep their in their little pods and Holy smokes, the garden, the herb garden is taking over. Someday soon I am going to be growing food.  You watch it happen. I’m announcing it here. You heard it here first. So I’ve been so enjoying caring for the plant beings in my home. Um, I’m counting this a win because I’m now seeing and feeling and thinking rewarding thoughts about my ability to keep things alive, my ability to take care of things other than myself, which by the way, pretty darn good at taking care of myself. Um, but to extend that care, to see the fruits, no pun intended of my research, my focus, my labor, if I could call watering labor, then yes, feeling good, counting it a win. All right, that’s me. Now you go, Oh my gosh. I just thought of an awesome pun. I usually say, what’s going well in your world, but I’m going to now say what’s growing well in your world. Do you like what I did there? All right, but really what’s your win. What’s growing well in your world. Take your time.  

Amazing. Keep winning, keep growing really truly I mean it. Today I am sharing with you an interview that I did with the one and only Heather Morris. This interview was conducted in partnership with my dear friends over at CLI studios during their 2020 dance experience this past summer. And Heather and I got to sit down and chat one-on-one. This is the first time this had happened in a really long time. Heather and I moved to LA around similar times. I believe. We would see each other, always at the studio, in class, pretty regularly at auditions. And, you know, we were a part of that come up together. And then I had the absolute pleasure. And so did the rest of America in watching Heather come into her own as an actress, performer and full fledged movie star. Thanks hugely to her role on Glee as Brittany. Now, watching Heather in Glee is one of my favorite favorite things, truly like I wish you could see the smile on my face right now, just thinking about my favorite Brittany moments, but sitting and talking to the person that is Heather Morris was as exciting as it was grounding. I say this because this is a very genuine, honest, open and thoughtful person that has been both student, performer, teacher, mother, so many of the things and so giving so willing to share her experience and her lessons learned. I do want to mention that this podcast was recorded before the death of Heather’s dear friend and colleague Naya Rivera. So if you’re tuning into this episode to hear more about that, you will not find it in this episode, what you will find, however, is a ton of information and inspiration about navigating this Wild West of an entertainment industry. Especially if you’re a person who is interested in nurturing a family and having a life outside of a studio. In this episode, Heather and I talk a lot about paths and how the thought that there is a fork in the road, a moment where you have to choose one thing or another is really usually just that. A thought, not the reality of our worlds. In this episode, Heather and I talk about how our life’s paths are more like trees than actual paths. Take a listen and see if you agree. I hope you enjoy this conversation with Heather Morris.  

Dana: I’m Dana Wilson. This is Heather Morris, and this is the first ever words that move me and CLI collabo cross cast. 

Heather: How does that feel? 

Dana: It feels really good. I feel very good about it. So excited. I’m excited. And I’m glad that you’re here. Thank you for doing this. Thank you for being here and talking to us today. I have to admit I’m a little embarrassed that we’re friends and have been friends for so long, but I will be asking you these questions as if I’m, I don’t know you and I kind of I’ll be learning you. I’m very excited about it. Yeah. Okay. So you just taught jazz class. Yes, it was awesome. I saw you going to the ground and coming back up. Great job. And you made it, um, so other than being a jazz teacher here at CLI, just tell us everything that you want us to know about you  

Heather: As a teacher or just in general human, beside being a teacher and like human being? Heather Morris is two different people because I am a Heather Morris but I’m also a Heather Hubbell at home. Oh my goodness. Isn’t that crazy?  

So you you’ve kept your professional name?  

I kept my professional name, Heather Morris. Um, it was just, I mean, financial reasons, maybe, you know, you have to pay and I’m like, whatever, let’s just leave it. People know me that let’s keep it there, keep it simple. And, but I did marry and take my husband’s name, Taylor Hubble. So I am now Heather Hubble, which I love that name kind of obsessed with Heather Hubble. Yeah.  

I really love doubles. BB L E. My husband is R E E T Z. I love it a double. So we lucked out, both of us. 

Yeah. Um, so I don’t know. I think like we, um, I’m at home right now. We’re trying to start our own YouTube channel. I’ll I’ll tease it called Hubble Home. So I’m kind of bringing my Heather Hubble home life into the reality into people’s minds, into people’s hearts. Um, cause they know Heather Morris and of course I’m goofy. Just like, you know, we both are very goofy people have a lot of fun. Um, so I’ll just bring, I’m bringing people into that lifestyle. Um, you know, I, I like to be consistent. I’m a consistent person and I like to have fun. I like to be, I’m an adventurer. I like to go places. I get really like mucky when I’m stuck. You know, like when I’m somewhere for too long, I get really antsy and I want to like move. I got to get out of the house. I got to do stuff. That’s kind of the person I am.  

So how’s quarantine going? 

Quarantine.. Actually It’s good for me. It’s learning, it’s learning. It’s helping me learn to take breaths and take moments and really practice sitting still, especially for my children, because my oldest is just like me. So he likes to nonstop walk around the room, nonstop, chatting, but talking, you know that like when you like keep talking, when you’re moving, cause it like makes your mind go. And I’m really trying to like figure out how to communicate with him. Like that might not be your best self, your best route. You know? Like as you’re getting older, let’s maybe like learn techniques to just have conversations without riling ourselves up. So,  

I’m all for techniques. I’m all for conversations. This is a match made in heaven.  

It’s hard. So I’m teaching myself at the same time that I’m teaching him like learning. Yeah. Let’s finish up this conversation. Let’s move to the next. We don’t always have to plan out our day because sometimes when you plan things out too much, you don’t end up enjoying it. So yeah, that’s kinda my quarantine life and now we’re traveling. They’re done with homeschool. So I went to Arizona, I went to Sedona. I saw the beautiful weather and the beautiful rocks. And now we’re going to Del Mar for summer week vacation.  

So you’re moving. You’re still you’re out in the world and you’re yeah,  

My husband knows me enough. Like he knows that we go. We got to get out to do stuff. 

I love this. Um, one of the things I talk about a lot on the podcast is this concept that dance lessons are life lessons and your sons are not dancers, correct? 

No. 

Okay. So how are they learning the things that we learned in dance, like how to communicate, how to be in touch with yourself emotionally, how to manage your time and schedule and listen to authority and all of the things that I value most, I think I learned from dance. So how are they, how are they learning and how are you teaching the things that you value most that you learned from dance? 

Yes. It’s really funny that you mentioned that cause existentially, I’m thinking about that throughout everything that I’m doing with them daily. And maybe sometimes I feel too outside of myself when I’m talking to them like this, where maybe they might not understand my words. So really trying to water and dumb our conversations down to like this works, but what would help it work better is if we did this, like that’s, it’s hard to communicate that young age. Um, but that’s a really good point that you brought that up because there are life lessons we learn listening to authority is huge. So with my second one, he is a real pistol and he loves to question authority, which is great. It’s good to just, you know, those memes are like, it’s good to question. It’s always good to have opinion. Yes. To an extent  

And,  

But give and take, Ooh, that’s a good one with my oldest is he’s not a good give and taker. That’s kinda what I’m looking for right now is he likes to talk and talk and talk and it’s constantly maybe taking from somebody, but I’m trying to teach him with his friends to stop, listen to what they have to say, then respond. Yeah. How hard is that? Well, not crazy. Like trying to teach your six year old that like, yeah.  

It’s, it can be definitely hard. I just stepped on your toes as I did. Like, how do you share space? This is another dance lesson that is a life lesson. You see somebody freestyling in a circle and you – you develop this sense of when are they wrapping up? When can I start to head in? How do you share space? How do you, I mean, I think a social distance is an incredible skill that a dancer I’m noticing are not as good as we thought we were about. Um, distancing something. Cause yeah, I, I think dancers are close types. We like to be close.

Like to be close with, like to be touching my kids for some reason really understand it. They will wear their masks maybe because I will wear my masks so definitively they will. Yeah. Um, but yeah, yeah. But the distance thing is really interesting.  

Oh, I think dancers, I think dancers are a remarkable period, but I also know a lot of people get similar training from being a part of a sports team or something like that. Sports was not a part of my family, but your husband is a baseball player. Yes. And are the boys?  

Yes. They both played baseball and we were starting flag football. Well, we’ll see how that goes. My oldest is kind of a, he’s emotional. So, you know, I don’t know. It’s a flag, which is fine, but once they start to get into the touch, that might be, um, a one and done. Maybe  

Interesting! I can’t wait to find out. 

Yeah. We’ll see how it goes. 

Okay. Question for you outside of the parenting mode, what dance training. Cause you you’ve been dancing for what like 

32 years

Since, since the Dawn of time

I was seven months old. 

Um, so I would love to know since you’ve had such a multidisciplinary career, what was something that dance didn’t prepare you well for?  

Ah, good question. Something that dance didn’t prepare me well for, I would say into the acting space was I wasn’t prepared for my own opinions. I was never taught to give my input. I was never taught to have my own voice as a dancer. You’re really taught to mesh your voices, kind of shut up, do your job. And that’s what I grew up doing. And then I got put into a spot where I was spotlit. If that’s a word spotlit

Um, spot spotlighting, spot  Spotlighted. I think  

I was in the spotlight, but I didn’t quite have the voice. So it felt like this whole new thing for me, I didn’t know how to use my actual voice. I didn’t know how to let my ideas like sputter and go, I mean, naturally conversationally it’s easy, right? Like we can sit here and chat, but then I went into, uh, interviews for a camera and I didn’t know how to like express myself because I was never asked to. So I felt really uncomfortable in my own skin. During interviews, I felt like the attention was too much. I was never used to that. I was never somebody who grew up on the third of three girls who people asked me things. I was always just kinda like quiet in the corner. And then you get to, um, people wanting to know more about you. And I always like in a shell, shy, not loving the attention. So it took a while for me to like break through and feel like I could use my voice and express myself just as I am and not feel embarrassed about it. You know?  

What gave you that training?  

Uh, I think just time, I think.. Americans have this funny way about ourselves where we like to a lot of fun. It was a lot of funny where we like to learn the hard way first. And I’ve noticed it about times right now, maybe with the COVID pandemic, we’re learning the hard way first because we want to feel good about ourselves. And I think I learned the hard way first. Um, and I was just doing all this press or I was just going for it, not thinking twice. And then dumb me would watch the tapes back later. And I’m like, that doesn’t sound like me. Who was I answering for? Like, that’s not my persona. Like that’s not who I’m representing. I just was kind of like filling this spot, I guess, to fill the time that’s I guess that’s really personal, but it’s how I saw it. So then I took a step back and I didn’t do any of that stuff cause I felt so uncomfortable because I was giving such a fake voice off. Hmm. Um, yeah, I dunno. It was kinda my voice, but it was fake and I just like would listen to myself crazy. So I learned the hard way with mostly everything. And I think I’ve done that my whole life.  

And it sounds like you were able to remove some of this notion that you should be happy or should be a certain way all the time. And when you embraced that. No, no, no. It’s not all that all the time. Then you were able to step into it.  

Yeah. Once you watch other actresses who really embrace themselves and like are just cool and happy and fun. Yeah.  

And, and, and sad and dark and broken and hopeful and all of these.  

They are not always Perfect. Yeah. And they don’t care. They really don’t care what you think. Not to the extent of like F you, I don’t care, but like, this is my time. Let me, let me recoup and then I’ll come back and we’ll be a better, um, so that was the hard way.  

That’s awesome. I love this. That’s very powerful. And that’s a good segue too into my next question. Something I want to talk about is this idea of a creative path or a career path. And visually in our minds, we see that as being like an actual path, like a hiking trail that goes that way, or it goes that way. So you have these really limiting thoughts of like college or dance or acting or dance or acting or family. And you’re a person that’s been able to really keep, um, a flexible path in your career and in your life. I think it’s really unique and admirable and special and cool. So I would love to hear about the interests that guided you on, on one direction and how you were able to, um, be in more than one place at once. 

Yeah.  That’s really interesting because it’s not planned. It’s never planned. You do make a plan and it never falls into place the way you want it to. But in the beginning of my career, I went to college for a whole year because when we would sit in class with Mark Meismer and whoever, and they would say, raise your hand and tell me if you want to be an, a dancer. And I would never raise my hand. It wasn’t in my cards. I was not interested in being a dancer. It, it didn’t pay enough. Um, it didn’t seem like it was fulfilling. Maybe because I was just like, starting out learning technique.  

Or because you subscribed to the idea of the starving artist. Sure. This thing that like, if you want to do that, you can’t have other things.  

Yeah. Right? Yeah. You’ll live at a certain level. Um, which money was never my thing, I don’t know, but so I never want to do it, went to college for a year and found out that dancing was actually the love of my life, aside from my husband, but it was the love of my life. And since then I pursued acting because I always had wanted to act when I was growing up. And I thought, why not? I’m out here. I’m going to study it. I’m going to do it because dance still, to me, wasn’t my end goal. I thought acting could be. Um, and just like dancing, acting is really tough. There are a lot of people out there and they’re all searching for not 20 spots in a gig, but they are searching for one spot in a gig. So I’m auditioning with 50 people, 30 people.  Yeah. Maybe I have a name doesn’t care. Me, guarantee me a spot. Maybe they want, um, you know, a different ethnicity. Maybe they want whatever it is they’re looking for. So living it at the time, living through it, going through every emotion and not settling and giving myself a limit to it, not saying, okay, I can’t do this anymore. Has helped me find the, the paths I want to go down. Because I love the arts. And I like to come up with ideas. I love to create, I don’t care if it’s not successful. If it is a good idea, I know it’s successful and I’m going to keep going for it. 

Um, Oh, this is great. 

So I just keep exploring things. If acting’s not going to be it right now, if I’m not going to get those jobs, I’m still gonna write stuff and I’m still gonna, I want to be a producer, like more than anything. I just have seen it unfold with everything I’m doing. I love to get people, artists, writers, directors, together, and making a really awesome project. 

I love this. You’re stoking me up. It’s very exciting. And you’re also answering questions that I had downstream. One of which was, I mean, you’ve in your career from, I mean, you have a podcast of your own with Ava Bernstein, shout out whatupgirl dancer, but also voiceover feature, film, stardom, super acting, dancing with mega pop stars, uh, reality type TV shows Dancing with the Stars. And So You Think also way back, way back in the early times, um, and TV and all the things. So you’re answering the question my, that I had in mind was what, what is the next creative rock that gets lifted and looked underneath? Is it producing? It’s also the channel with your family. 

Absolutely. Yes. YouTube we’re like, okay,  We’re having fun with that, but that’s also its own thing. Right. You know, you have to edit it 

and you’re fully,

I’m fully involved hands on. Yeah. We’re doing it ourselves.  

You also mentioned, even if it doesn’t make money, you’re interested in doing artistic things. Yes. So what makes a successful artistic endeavor for you? What makes it successful?  

What makes it successful? Um, I think if people are passionate about it, which is very broad. Yeah. I, you just, you have to have a good attitude with your projects. A lot of people will come into work and maybe they take like past trauma from other jobs and they bring it to their jobs, whether they’re in it for the right reasons or not, they might not seem like the right people to work with. And I think listening to that doesn’t seem like the right endeavor for me at the moment. Cause I’ve been there and done that. And that’s just, it’s not a fun workplace to be in. Really hard to say no, but it’s good to stick up for yourself. Um, so I just think that people are in it for the right reasons. It really grounds it.  

So you keep your finger on the pulse of group energy and like the feeling of a project? 

Yeah. You can’t, I’ve tried to carry things for  Myself. I’ve tried to be the only one doing stuff. And it just takes so much  

Out of you. 

This is why they say it takes a village, takes a village,  

Not just at your home. So I have a home life and then trying to balance producing or writing or editing, whatever it is. It’s like, it’ll just end up taking too long, you know? 

Okay.  So let’s jump back to past them. Cause that’s like eight different paths. I think that the imagery of the fork in the road is dangerous and limited. I much prefer to think of paths and creative careers as being like a tree. And you start climbing up the creative tree and out here’s dance branch and dance branch is close enough to acting branch. So you could even like jump from this branch to the other one. 

But You don’t have to let go. You don’t see that branch. 

Yeah. You can reach right across and grab it. And, and there’s a great Shirley McClain quote that I am afraid I will botch.  

Um, she says that she likes to live. She likes to go out on a limb because that’s where all the fruit is. So you can stay very close to the trunk and you can feel pretty safe here. Or you can branch out as we like to say, and you go to the ends of the branch and you find like, Ooh, I really, really like this. This is fruitful. This is beneficial. This is success. This feels good. And then you can also decide, Oh, you know what, college I’m going to go back over here. And I’m going to try this LA thing for a second. Yeah. And from the LA branch, you can look at acting, look at improv, look at making a family, finding a different thing. And I think that’s so interesting to see somebody without a plan. That’s so good at having a structure. That’s having this, climbing this creative tree and being able to make things work. Even without it being mapped out. It’s not a path that can be map it out. It’s a tree, it’s three dimensions.  

I don’t understand how people can, people can dream board and have a map. And they’re still like living their life. Good. I can have a map because if I have a map, I stick too hard to it. I had this tattoo on my shoulder that says, let go, because I’ve just learned the hard way of grasping something too hard. Um, and then you kind of like, you lose everything you loved about it. Yeah. So I, I really learned to let go

The let go, analogy doesn’t work quite so well. Or the leg, let go, quote, doesn’t work quite so well with the tree analogy. You should hold on the tree. But if you hold onto the tree, okay, here it comes. So if you’re on this tree, this career tree, and you’re out on the branch on the very end and you look over at family tree and you’re like, man, I kind of want to do that thing and kind of want to have a family. Then you can do the little spider monkey thing or sugar glider or whatever it is, where you let go and you jump from this tree and you can be like, and be in a new place.

And Hollywood make you feel really bad about that. Yeah.  

Will it? Tell me what Hollywood would make you feel?   

I feel like not that I’m suppressed, but that because I chose to take a break and I’ve because I’m always trying to find other people that are like me or just take people’s stories and liken it to mine. I I’ve noticed people who’ve done that. Who’ve gone to have a family. Who’ve taken a breath who felt overwhelmed with work because God knows it. Working in the industry is so tough. 16 hour days working on a set six days a week. Most of the time, because you end at like 5:00 AM. I like to sleep. I’m not, I just can’t work that hard. So I needed a breath when you need a breath. And all these people in the industry go to take a breath. It’s like an iron door closed behind our back, trying to get back in. And that’s a challenge is trying to get back and challenging to switch my brain on to say, okay, how do I get through this iron door?  This is probably a learning experience for me that I’m supposed to be taking, because maybe there was some traits about myself that- that how I was working before that weren’t right in that moment. And I needed to get out and step out the door, work on them so that when I do come back in and they’re fixed so that I can work the right way for longer periods of time. Do you know what I mean? So I don’t feel burnt out.. 

You develop skills and know how to set boundaries, how to work smarter, not harder. This is the sweet spot always. And that line kind of wiggles and is a little different on every project. I’m curious about this door. Um, because I think that a lot of people listening are probably people interested in breaking into the industry, not necessarily reentering, although some perhaps as well. And I’m wondering how you would relate the door that you’re knocking on now to the one that you had to knock on to get into the industry?  

In the very beginning, I think there is a naive, um, and a naive outlook we have when we’re first coming here at a younger age that we maybe don’t have one we’re growing a little bit older, maybe in our thirties, in our thirties, we have settled into ourselves. We’re not questioning at 18, 19, I was exploring everything. Um, I was willing to give up dong sure. I took every class. There was, I just want it to be in class. We were always in class together. I loved class and I’m not a person that’s gonna talk your ear off. I’m not going to try and pitch myself to you. I’m not going to give you my best part of my personality to wow you. Uh, I just, I don’t know. I don’t know why I’m not like that. I feel weird doing it. So I’m gonna go prove myself. I’m going to go take class until I’m blue in the face. Even if I’m not good at that particular class, I’m going to go back and I’m going to learn how to do the movement. Like the teacher wants me to do it. I’d say maybe the same for acting roles. So when you’re going into meet with casting directors, not the class per se, but when you’re going to meet with casting directors, they want to get to know you and they want to feel you personally. Um, and they want to give you adjustments and they want to know, you can take it just like a dance class. If a teacher comes up and gives you an adjustment and you don’t do it, they’re going to be like, I don’t want to work with that person. 

Theres no time for that. There’s no time for that. 

You need to hire someone and you need to get it in a second. So if that’s the hurdle, you need to jump to be a dancer that you want to be. Maybe start working on that now. Like if you get adjustments, you don’t have to do hard every time. Maybe you work on like the specifics, the, the, what is it? Like the, all of those adjustments. Yeah.  

So, so I think what I’m hearing is that when you’re younger, you’re able to make adjustments quickly. So knocking on all the doors is actually fun and it’s exercise. And now you’re like, listen, I’ve done my exercise. I’ve done my training. I am here. I am full. I am complete. But you also know that this, this whole student thing and progress is forever. Like you will always be evolving and always be changing. And that door just might not be the door that you really want to be opening. 

Maybe it’s ready for me when I’m 50. Exactly. 

Oh my gosh. 50, 50 year old Heather.

50 year old, Heather

I think that if 50 year old Heather came knocking, I would open the door and I would have like teams of, of welcome party behind me. Yeah. I love this.  

Yeah. I always keep my eye on. Like, there’s always  

The long game. Super important. I love this. I love this like multilayer approach to getting stuff done. There’s like, you get stuff done today on the ground with your kids. You’re teaching, you’re doing this thing. Yeah. In the longterm. You’re developing this, this project, whether it’s a YouTube channel or producing this something else, that’s like, kind of now ish, because you gotta be working on it now. Otherwise it will not happen, but it’s also not here right now. And then there’s this 50 year Mark. Right? Okay. Talk to me about that. 50. What are you doing there?  

Listen, comedy like 50 is just the prime 40s maybe, but like 50 is just prime, especially in women. Right?  

Live our lives and be loud and make jokes. No

Nobody cares anymore. 

Or people care and it’s just that caring. And it’s like, I don’t know. I’m very interested between the fine line between grief and comedy and the older you get, the more real stuff gets right. You see, um, you’ve seen more tragic things. You’ve experienced more trauma. You, the people in your life, maybe passing on, maybe getting divorced, maybe losing children or you know, loved ones. And that like that’s life out there. It’s not necessarily better life. Just because you’re older. We may be like a fine wine, but we aren’t a fine wine. We don’t necessarily get better with age. So out there, you need different tools that help you deal with life as it gets that way. That’s why the funniest people in my life are Toni Basil, who is 75 years old. She might be 76 by now and my parents. And I just like tap. I love talking to people that are older than me. I love talking to you too. Don’t get me wrong. But there’s like, there’s a perspective and a way of coping a way of inviting things, specifically humor into your life.  

And what is it about young people feeling like a threat? That again, like younger, younger people, when you’re younger, everybody seems like a threat to you. I never felt that way, but I always sensed it from other people.

Interesting. 

That was a, it was always weird. Maybe more so than acting because it’s so limited. It’s very competitive. Dancing, It’s so inclusive and everybody wants to hug each other and we’re kind of all in it together. And then you like go into a smaller box and you become this actor. And like, it just seems like everybody feels like you’re a threat to them. And 

And we’re,  We’re in this together, this human thing. So how can we think more like our future selves right now? Because I’m telling you what we don’t need any more competition. We certainly don’t need any threats. We don’t need to be threatening anyone period. So how can we invite future us that, that, that future selves that are funny and compassionate and smart and, um, all the good things.  

Yeah. It’s tricky because when you are a teen into your twenties, you hear scientifically your mind is not fully developed and that’s a big hurdle. And whenever I do, um, these cameo things, you can do these, uh, celebrity cameos, where somebody will pay you to do a video. And they’re younger. And I’m always telling these kids, I’m like, y’all are going to feel threatened, or you’re going to feel like people are judging you or people are looking at you. Maybe they do make comments. But what I need you to learn right now is that your mind might not be fully developed. Always remember that so that you can trigger your brain to go. My brain’s working this way. Let’s work around that. Yeah. Let’s steer our, our reaction to a positive one, or just mind your own business  

Or mind your own mind at the very least. I think there’s kind of circles to what you were saying about talking to your sons, how you have to explain things to them in a way that they will understand, right. And how old are they? Six and four. So here we go. This is the lesson today. Everybody gets the lesson today. The lesson is, if you can parent yourself, if you can parent yourself with compassion and curiosity, the way that you would talk to a five-year-old talk to yourself, treat yourself with kindness, treat others with kindness. That is how we have the future that we want to have. And that’s how we have it. Now  

You heard it first guys. 

Wow. Thank you, Heather. I wouldn’t have got that on my own. That was very much a collaborative roundabout that we came across. Yeah.  

Its true, you gotta be so gentle with yourself. Yeah.  Yes. Be kind, be kind to yourself. Be kind to other people, Respond to haters with kindness, you know, Sarah Silverman, she does she’s on Twitter. Have you ever seen her responses? So when there’s a troll and someone’s very unkind to her and calls her something, she gets their information and she finds out how to help them. She, if they are suffering from something, like say, they said I don’t, blah, whatever. And she finds out she’ll direct message them. Find out details about these people. Maybe they’re overweight or something like that. She’ll get them like medical help. Like she’s like respond to negativity and find the kindness. I just love that. This is awesome. Once I found this out about Sarah Silverman, I’m like, Hmm. I wish.. 

Has that changed the way that you absorb or not absorb that you handle haters? 

Yeah. Kill them with kindness. 

Its funny my mom has said those words for my whole life, kill them with kindness is my mom’s famous words. But it somehow takes like, watching that in practice for you to actually be able to be like, Oh, like  That. Yeah. Aha. 

Yeah. Cause it’s easy. Our primal selves are, you know, like you’re gonna fight me. I’m gonna fight you back  

Survival. This is what we’re, that’s what we do. That’s how we’re human. But we can do with kindness because we’ve evolved. We’re solving. Exactly. Okay. Guys, be kind, be good. And definitely keep it funky is something that I say on the podcast and in my life. And when I was watching your class, I was like, dang. She’s funky. Thank you so much again for being here. Thank you everybody for tuning in.  

I loved it. Thanks for joining. 

See Ya!  All right. My friends there, you have it. The one and only the extravagant, the phenomenal, the very, very real Heather Morris. I hope you soaked up a lot of goodness out of this episode. And I hope that this episode has made you want to go climb a tree, be safe, be smart. And of course keep it funky. I’ll talk to you very soon.  

Thought you were done? No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website. theDanawilson.com/podcast finally, and most important, you have a way to become a words that move kickball, change kickball to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast to learn more and join. All right, everybody now I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Ep. #41 Your Voter Checklist

Ep. #41 Your Voter Checklist

 
 
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This episode is a voter checklist!  NOTE: If you are 18 and have figured out how to order food online, you are absolutely capable of registering to vote.  If you have ever done a jigsaw puzzle with more than 11 pieces, you are capable of following this checklist.  Furthermore, if you are a person who is interested in freedom, it is your duty to follow this checklist.

Show Notes

Quick Links:

https://www.vote.org/ 

Pledge to register to vote: https://www.vote.org/pledge-to-register/

Become a poll worker: https://www.eac.gov/help-america-vote#section-sign-up

Check registration: https://www.vote.org/am-i-registered-to-vote/

Register to vote: https://www.vote.org/register-to-vote/

Register reminders: https://www.vote.org/election-reminders/

Polling place: https://www.vote.org/polling-place-locator/

How to Vote in Every State: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7SMwipBlDwBPEwxq8QD8sw

Ballotpedia: https://ballotpedia.org/

Make your voting plan: https://www.ballotready.org/

Track your ballot: https://ballottrax.com/

Transcript:

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

Dana: Hello. Hello and hello. Welcome to Words That Move me. I’m Dana. And this is my super tired voice. Today was a seven hour zoom day. I was in seven hours of audition callbacks and man, no, man. I’m speaking at my computer screen apparently is something that I do not have much stamina for. I’m working. I’m learning, I’m getting better at it. And I am so stoked about the subject of this podcast today. Tired voice or not. I am here with some important information.  

If you are listening to this podcast on the day of its release, October 3rd, 2020, then voting day is exactly one month away. And you may be a little overwhelmed right now by all of the pressure, not just to vote, but to make an informed vote. You may be thinking “God, everyone is telling me to vote, but nobody is telling me how.” Well I am certainly not going to tell you how to vote. And by that, I mean for whom you should vote, but I’ll leave that up to social media. Kidding. Not really. I did just discover that advertisers spent $1.4 billion on digital political ads during the 2016 election. Whoa, honestly, though, that makes sense. Think about how much time you spend on the internet. How much time do you spend scrolling? That’s where you spend your time. That’s where they’re going to put their ads. I guess it makes perfect sense. Which brings me to my win for the week. My win this week is that I learned a lot by watching the Social Dilemma on Netflix, highly, highly recommended. Yes, some of this information may be common knowledge by now. It’s not really a secret that there are teams and teams of engineers, whose job it is to ensure that you will spend more time on their platform. Yes, these are people who are working explicitly to make social media more addicting. Oh man, Oh man, we will probably be getting into that in a future episode. But for now I want to hear about your wins. I want to hear about what you are learning right now. Let’s hear it. That doesn’t feel right. Does it? It doesn’t feel right when I don’t say what’s going well in your world. What are you learning in your world? Yeah, that feels right. Hit me. 

Alright, great. Rock on, rock steady, keep winning. Okay. This week we’re talking about how wildly important it is to use your voice, to make your own decisions and to know not only how, but by when you’ll be casting your vote, this election. Warning and full disclosure, this episode is going to make me sound much more together than I actually am. I have a research assistant. Her name is Riley Higgins and yes, she is the best. And yes, I have a research assistant. I have a research assistant so that you don’t have to have a research assistant. Consider this episode, your voter encouragement assistant. And my first piece of encouragement is this. It is honestly no harder to Google your questions about voting than it is to Google best restaurants near me. Really, really, truly. If you have ordered food online, you can absolutely register to vote and become a well informed voter.  Listen up people over 18 people under 18. You’re up next. Here we go. If you remember one thing from this entire episode, remember vote.org All of the important information is there in one place, vote.org And then if you remember two things from this episode, remember, A. vote.org, but also remembered that it is really cool to vote and it’s even cooler to be an informed voter. So let’s get into it. 

Step number one, to get the most accurate information on how to vote, visit your state election office website, just Google your state’s name and election office website. There you have it. Step Two, to register to vote at. Yup. You guessed www.vote.org/register-to-vote On that website you can also check when the last day is that you are able to register to vote in your local County. If you are in LA, then the last day to register to vote online is by Monday, October 19th, 2020, to register my mail.  Your mail has to be postmarked by Monday, October 19th, 2020. If you’re in New York, you must register online by October 9th or by mail host marked by October 9th or in person on October 9th. Again at vote.org You can check when the last state is that you’re able to register in your local County. Go while you’re there vote.org Step three, double check to make sure that your registration went through. You’ll do that at vote.org/am-i-registered-to-vote So practical, right? Easy peasy, lemon, squeezy vote.org Am I registered to vote? You got this step four. You can add yourself to a list that will remind you of upcoming elections from now until forever because let’s face it. Yes, this election is super important, but every election is super important. Let’s go! To make sure that you’re registered for reminders. Go to you, guessed it. vote.org/election-reminders That takes us to Step five. If you’re able to vote in person, look up your local polling place. Do not leave this to the day. Have a plan. To find your closest polling place. Visit vote.org/polling-place-locator  Again, super logical, totally obvious. And if you go to vote.org, all of this is literally right there in your face, but I’m going to say it because I don’t want anybody to tell me that I didn’t say it. So here I am saying it. vote.org/polling-place-locator Now you know where to go to find your local polling place. Alright, step six. And this one is technically optional, but listen up. Cause it’s also technically really important. There is a national shortage of workers to help at these polling places. So if you are able become a poll worker, guys, don’t take that the wrong way.  The best way for you to volunteer, to work at a polling place near you is to go to www.eac.gov/help-America-vote#section-sign-up that’s eac.gov/help-america-vote#section-sign-up That is how you can volunteer to help at your nearest polling place. Super important, super cool. Step Seven mail in your absentee ballot. There is a deadline that’s different in every state of when you can request your absentee ballot and a deadline for when you have to mail it in, it must be post-dated by November 3rd, no matter where you live, but your deadline to request the mail in ballot is different depending on where you live. Usually you would need a reason to request an absentee ballot. Like I’m a dancer on tour, but because of COVID almost everyone can request an absentee ballot depending on their state. In some States you’ll automatically be sent a mail in ballot in LA, you must request an absentee ballot by October 27th, you have to return it by mail postmarked by November 3rd, or you can also return them in person at a polling place near you on November 3rd, by 8:00 PM. If you’re in New York, your absentee ballot has to be requested by October 27th. And if you’re returning it by mail, it has to be postmarked by November 3rd, you can of course return it in person on November 3rd and in New York you have until 9:00 PM. Awesome, amazing. So important. Moving on Step eight, if you don’t know if you’ll be voting in person or by mail, get a mail in ballot. This gives you options and we love options. This gives you convenience and we live convenience. If you decide to vote by mail, you can. And if you decide to vote in person on election day, you still can. Even if you’ve already received a mail in ballot, either you will exchange your uncast absentee ballot for an in-person ballot or you’ll complete your absentee ballot and hand it in in person. If you forget to bring your absentee ballot with you, you may be able to cast a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots are counted only once your election officials verify your voter status. The deadline to a completed absentee ballot hand delivered is Tuesday, November 3rd, by 8:00 PM. If you’re in LA or 9:00 PM, if you’re in New York, okay, Step nine. We’re getting so close to the end. You guys, if you are in college, every state is different, but you may be able to vote in the state that you’re going to college in. So check with your college and check with your home state as well. Super, super important. All right. Step 10. Most States have early voting this lets registered voters vote on specific dates before the election day.  So just do that because one of my favorite people on the planet, Marty Kudelka says ‘early is on time. On time is late and late is fired.’ It’s important that you know that the election is already underway. Statistically, most people still vote on November 3rd, but there are a ton of ways for you to vote early. If you are informed vote.org alright. Now for my  under 18 years, step one, and you guys only have two steps, how about that? Step one, some States actually allow you to preregister to vote so that when you turn 18, you are automatically registered to vote. Is that the coolest thing? I think it’s the coolest thing. I think that’s a very cool thing. Step two. If your state doesn’t have that option, then vote.org has a pledge to register page and they’ll remind you when you turn 18 to register and how you can do it. So yes, even if you are under 18 vote.org is the place for you to go so that you can make sure you are preregistered or at least pledged to register to vote. Okay. Now that we’ve talked about the, how let’s talk about the, what, this is not just a presidential election, although that is certainly what is getting the most buzz. Local elections and amendments are up for vote in this election who represents you locally has a direct impact on the way you live. So make sure you’re researching your federal candidates, your state candidates, your local candidates and your judicial candidates. These are our favorite websites to help you understand what is actually on your ballot. ballotpedia.org

That’s B A L L O T P E D I a.org. Rockthevote.org That’s R O C K T H E V O T E.org and vote411.org That’s V O T E the number four, the number one, the number one.org. Also you can get involved with local candidates by looking on their websites. You can also find the virtual town halls where they might be speaking about specific issues. And you’ll also be able to ask questions in those forums. How amazing is that actually be there, actually get the answer to your actual question. That is available to you. All right, wrap up summary, vote.org is the place. Also, if you’re a first time voter or an anytime voter who wants to feel a little bit more supported and their knowledge and understanding of what is going on right now, How to Vote in Every State is the YouTube channel for you. They give very clear information on the how to vote, but also how to be informed, how to digest political ads, how to do your research, how to follow where the money is coming from.  So, so valuable. All right, everybody, that was me serving as your voter encouragement assistant. And right now I would like to encourage you to take the rest of the time that you would have spent listening to a full length podcast to go through this checklist, visit the websites that I’ve mentioned and call or text a friend, to tell them about everything that you’ve learned, help somebody. If they’re struggling to get this done, do it for yourself, do it because you have a voice do it because it matters so much more than ordering food online. All right, my friends, that’s it. Go use your voice and go keep it funky. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Thought you were done. No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website, theDanawilson.com/podcast Finally, and most importantly, now you have a way to become a words that move me member. So kickball change over to patreon.com/wtmmpodcast to learn more and join. All right, everybody. Now I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Ep. #40 Partnering Solo with Taja Riley

Ep. #40 Partnering Solo with Taja Riley

 
 
00:00 / 00:44:01
 
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This episode shines a light on talent, transition, and  trauma.  Taja Riley and her alter, Kim Visions, join us to talk about our responsibility to create (the work of our dreams, and a legacy for the future), but we also discuss our responsibility to dismantle… our stigmas around mental health.  Please continue with curiosity and compassion… and enjoy!

Show Notes:

Quick Links:

Mental Health Resources:

National Institute for Mental Health: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/find-help/index.shtml

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Helpline: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline

Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health: https://dmh.lacounty.gov/our-services/

Mental Health America Alternative Medicine: https://www.mhanational.org/complementary-alternative-medicine-mental-health-conditions

Mental Health Services (CA) https://www.dhcs.ca.gov/services/Pages/MentalHealthPrograms-Svcs.aspx

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 everybody. And thank you for being here today. I’m Dana. This is words that move me and I’m jazzed about this episode. Yes. Um, if you are new to the podcast, I start every episode with wins. I’m going to tell you mine, and then I’m gonna leave you a little bit of time to tell me yours this week. My win is that I have graduated from a coach certification program. Yes, I am now a certified coach. My area of interest and specialization is in career coaching specifically for individuals in art and entertainment, which if you’ve been listening to this podcast for a while, should come as no surprise to you. Um, if you’re curious about what career coaching is, what coaching is in general or what it might look like to work together, head on over to theDanawilson.com/coachcurious, that is theDanawilson.com/coachcurious. Okay, that’s my win. Now you go, what’s going well in your world.  

Alright. Nicely done. Way to go. Congrats. I’m proud of you. Keep on crushing it. Okay. Today I am joined by my longtime friend, Taja Riley and her alter Kim Visions. In this episode, we get to learn about the Riley record industry, Royal family, and we discuss mental health. I learned so much about stigmas that most of us carry around mental health disorders and the importance of really personalized treatment. Really. I actually learned the importance of listening, and I hope that you enjoy and learn from listening in on this conversation with Taja Riley and Kim Visions. 

Dana: I’m so excited to be doing this thank you so much for joining me on the podcast today. Um, I, this is, this is common practice. I like to have all of my guests introduce themselves. So have at it my friend. What would you like us to know about you?  

Taja: Okay. So my name is Taja Riley. My parents gave me that name. Um, but I have also discovered there’s another person that would like to be introduced that I, um, I guess the host of her name is Kim Visions. And, uh, she may answer some of your questions today, but I’ll always refer to, this is what Kim is saying because I am in the driver’s seat so.  

Dana: So lucky to be the recipient of two guests, but only one email, one email thread, um, welcome Taja and welcome Kim Visions. I am so excited to get to know you. Um, I’ve been watching Taja grow up on a stage, um, as a competition dancer, since what, like, I think the first time I watched you dance, you were probably 12, maybe 13. And, um, men that, that entire time I knew it was very clear that you are a force to be reckoned with on the performance level, on a creative level, on a technical level I might add. And, um, I, I’ve always been fascinated with your work. You are captivating to watch. Um, so I might might just start if we could, by talking a little bit about the way that you grew up, um, which was as a competitive dancer or a studio kid, as they are affectionately known, I watched you grow up on a competition stage. I knew you more or less in and out of, you know, studio workshops, summer intensives, things like that. But eventually we became colleagues teaching for NYCDA. We spent every summer for how many summers in New York city, Midtown at that Sheraton every year for nationals. Um, your trajectory, so many nationals. Um, but your trajectory has fascinated me. I’m hoping you can talk a little bit about your training at Denise Walls and how that prepared for you for the quote real world. And what does real world look like?  

Taja: Okay. So real world back then, I started training at Denise’s funny story, very quick one. Um, but I started training at Denise’s when I was seven. I used to go to this other studio. I’m not going to name the name just in case they’re listening. Um, but, um, it was tech rehearsal day and my mom got me and my sister’s surprise tickets to spice world concert. And it was like, this is like the day before the show. And I was like, I’m not missing Mel-B or Mel-C. There’s just no way. And, um, we went and we went to tech rehearsal and then we were like, you know, we have to leave early because we have to get ready for the concert and they were not having it. She was like, if you walk out of this though, you ain’t coming back no more. And that’s literally what happened. I said, I said, okay, um, you clearly don’t have my best interest at heart. I would really like to go see SpiceWorld. And I went and we got kicked out of his studio,

What a fateful day 

but it was thanks to the spice girls. You know, I found Denise’s and it really was, we were out of like a place to train me and my sister. That’s why I’m saying we, and, um, my dad was rehearsing at Denise’s at the time doing his stuff for black street. And, um, I guess it came up in conversation one day, Denise brought it up and she was like, “you have daughters?” like, cause he said, he mentioned something about us and she was like, you have daughters and you have not brought them to the studio. And she was like, live it. And so he was like, okay, okay, okay. I’ll talk to, I’ll talk to Donna. That’s my mom and my mom ended up bringing us in and yeah, I just like, from there, I think, uh, Denise and the whole faculty at the studio just kind of fell in love with us. We became those regulars and um, yeah, I mean, I, I had like three recreational years and then moved into the junior company, which is what Denise wanted to test out. And I remember just feeling so electric about dance just from, from that time that like, you know, when people are like, when did you start dancing? And I’m like, uh, well, technically I say like seven, because that’s when I was on a comprehensive level where I was actually taking things in. And it’s also when I started dancing at Denise’s. But, um, but yeah, like I remember like this feeling, it was, um, it was it’s raining men. That was the, that was the dance. And I remember like they gave me a little solo to, no, it was 1999. It was 1999. It was 1999. And they gave me a partnering solo.

Wait, what’s a partnering solo?

Okay. A partnering solo is when they ask you to partner with somebody, but then it becomes a solo. 

I love, Taja, you might have just named the episode. Partnering Solo with Taja Riley and Kim Visions. You heard it here first. Okay So that’s when it kind of jelled for you. When you really felt like a dancer?

Yeah, it did. It really felt like I’m a dancer, but it was even more than that because I felt, I think because my music is my first love. Like I was born on the same day as one of my dad’s concerts. So I do think that there’s such a musical, um, tie that I have outside of the fact that my family’s a music entertainment family. Um, but I was also the kid that did not have rhythm. Um, my dad was actually very embarrassed by me and he was like, Oh my God, Donna. He was like Donna, Oh my God, I can not have a child that has no rhythm. This is just so this is not good. Like he was like, you have to throw her any and everything. So my mom put us with four instruments. We were in the choir at school and we did dance and I did gymnastics and it was rhythmic gymnastics that I had to do because I had to get musicality.  

We can’t just be having you on those parallel bars. You need to be parallel bars on beat 

On beat on beat.  

I had no idea that that is how your relationship with Denise Walls started. So that’s fascinating. So Taja’s, dad is Teddy Riley. He is a legend to put it very simply. Um, he produced Michael Jackson’s Dangerous. He is credited for pretty much single handedly, creating new Jack swing, which is one of my favorite genres of music and dance. Um, he and his group Black Street brought us No Diggity, which is for the record. Like if you really had to ask me for one song, like if I had to listen to one song over and over and over and over again until the end of time.  It would probably be that. 

No way 

Close sec. Well, yeah, It’s a tie with a superstition by Stevie wonder.  

Okay. Okay. Yeah,  

A fair up toss up. But I would love to see those two songs do get out by the way. Okay. Anyways, so that is Teddy Riley in a nutshell. So let’s talk a little bit about other than him, um, at first being suspicious of your rhythm, what is it like growing up with a music mogul dad and how did that shape your relationship with dance and music?  

You know, it’s funny because well, the entertainment industry, as you know, it’s, there’s so much, it’s a whole nother, it can be high school sometimes it can be this workplace of a community or a village that you find, but it can also be very like cutthroat in terms of relevancy. And I know that there’s like this inward battle with even people that feel like they, um, have a place in the industry or they feel like they have to stay 

On top

It’s the battle of now I have to stay on top and how do I stay on top? How do I one up my top? How do I one up myself? How do I one up my competitors? How do I bring something different to the table? And then also you’re probably collaborating with people and passing on your formula. And then those people that you’re, you’ve actually helped and, you know, through God or whoever you answer to divinely, they, they become a competitor. And so, and they become like, you know, obviously, um, it’s just, it’s just a, it’s just a, it’s a constant cycle of try, try to survive, try like it’s that rat race to try to survive. And with doing that, uh, some people’s priorities, you know, are simply that, that those are the top priorities for them because it actually is. They feel like it is the excuse for what they, what they call their priority, which is family, you know? And so for my dad, his belief was I believe to my perspective, right. Um, I think I saw and observed that he wanted to provide so much for my family, that he, you know, dove into a zone of his work and, and that allowed him so certain doors to open for himself, even certain doors to open for us. And in, in a way that’s kinda like your, your trust fund, right? You’re uh, as you, as you get older, that, that cushion, um, that allows you in a, in like a Royal family, it’s like you you’re underneath that family. So you automatically have that favor, you know, um, or people automatically see you in this light or this class or this cast system. Um, so in that way, I think it was a great help. But then in other ways, you know, did I ever really play ball with my dad? No. And I’m like a tomboy. So like sports were my thing. I’ve never played a soccer game with my dad. I did get a chance to share moments with him at like, you know, the movies and going bowling and, you know, different like really, um, like family outing type things. But it did seem a lot, like he was very focused on other things, you know, and I don’t blame him for that. I think that, you know, we’re all human and we’re all just trying to figure it out. And I think whatever is passed down from the other generation, we’re also trying to learn or separate ourselves from that, or try and try and up that ante. And I think for him that was his major priority, but he kind of lost sight of, you know, maybe the, the extra personal time he could have spent what that said though. I think he, um, is teaching me so many new things now, you know, as an adult and, um, he’s still my dad, but he’s not, it’s not the same kind of responsibility of like, you know, pick me up after school and make sure I get my lunch on time. Yeah. Yeah. It’s more of like, uh, there’s a nurture that comes into play where I’m realizing that, um, this is an even bigger coaching and mentorship than I could’ve ever desired from myself because music and entertainment is truly where I need the tutelage, you know? And he has so much to offer that in terms of, even if I were to just go on the internet and search through him and see his interviews and see the things I can still get that coaching. And then I have the extra personal time backstage, you know, 

I’m so glad that you mentioned that not only does he have so much to offer in terms of being a mentor in the field of music and entertainment, but he is actually also your dad. So he has a lot to offer and he has a lot of interest in you, right? So many people, especially today, the climate for mentorship programs is, is, is thick. Like this is a, it’s a time when people are able to be training. It’s a time when people are capitalizing on their experience, their education and their interest in connecting in a deeper way. But could any one of those mentors offer their mentee as much individual care, compassion and genuine interest as your dad gives you? I mean, he’s your dad. So maybe, maybe yes. Maybe no. It’s very interesting that I hadn’t thought about that in terms of a mentor, mentee relationship, your dad is invested in you because you’re a part of the, the family band,  

The family band. Yeah. No, but you know, I love the guy. I love that guy. And I think he’s great. You know, I think he, what he does is absolutely it’s astonishing to have this sense. Like, there’s this one thing that I can’t shake. I haven’t been able to shake over my entire careers that I don’t know my whole, my dad’s whole discography, like from top to bottom. But if I were to ever hear a song on the radio that was either influenced by him or created by him, I know instantly. And it’s like a, it is a second sense, but not a second sense. I think it’s six. Maybe it’s a six. I think, I think we have five senses. If I’m, if I’m correct.

Some movies try to tell you there are six and that the sixth one is love or, or something, but I don’t know.  

Never heard of that one. 

That’s what I think. The movie,  Um, Oh, what’s his McConaughey. Matthew McConaughey the movie about space. Was it called? Not, Oh God, I don’t interstellar. I think that movie was trying to tell me that love is the sixth, sixth dimension and that if we’re going to time travel, we talk to each other through love and connection and bookshelves. That’s what I walked away from that movie with. But that’s neither here nor there have you seen it? 

I have not.  

That’s why you’re confused. Go check that out. Check that out and tell me I’m wrong 

I will. I will not probably tell you you’re wrong. I’ll probably agree with you  

Well dang it now I’m wishing I haven’t tainted your, um,  

Oh, it’s fine. I’ll probably forget. I’ll probably forget while watching it. And then when it occurs to me, I’ll be like somebody said something about bookshelves 

This reminds me. Yeah. Okay. You’re going to love this. Okay. I’m sorry.  

I sideswiped us. I got distracted. I feel like, you know, on the subject of your dad and his signature, his musical signature, he’s very clearly left a legacy and imprint on the industry and on the sounds. Um, but you know what I was, as I was researching, um, you and your dad, matter of fact, I discovered something I did not know. And I think many people don’t know that your dad is actually the first African American producer to use, uh, to actually produce K-pop and bring it to America. And so I, his legacy is even deeper than what I knew or expected to find out. Um, so my question for you let’s get back to you is what do you want your legacy to be? What is the imprint that you are making that will last long after  

I think what’s really important to me, because I feel like you leave a bit of your legacy in everyone you encounter. Right. Um, so I think for me, it’s just to be an example of my core values, you know, continue to be that example. And I think, I don’t know, I have this like big desire over all of my other desires to, to be the matriarch of my family, you know, um, of the family that I create. And that’s like, I want to love to be able to look back on grandkids and great grandkids and know that, you know, I built a solid foundation with either just even me through me or with me and my partner or me and my village, or, you know, me and my alter, who, whoever is entangled in my life, that I’ve been able to create multiple generations or have a hand in involvement in multiple generations, watch them grow, watch their process and have been able to live it and be present with them. Um, I think that in itself, if I can remain present in every moment, whatever legacy I end up creating in the end will be something I’m like super proud of. Um, I don’t know if that answers your question and I think I generalized it. 

Spot on. It’s beautiful. 

Just want to keep it open. 

You know, I think it’s, to me, If I were to, um, write the Twitter version of that answer, um, if, if your dad put his fingerprint on, you know, his time in this world, it was in music and when you do it, it will be through a network of people and you have a network of gifts, a huge variety in ways of expressing yourself. Actually that might be a good place to go next. Um, you DJ, you teach, you perform at like insanely high levels in an insanely diverse range of styles in terms of dance. Um, absolutely. I mean, I, you are, you’re one of my favorite dancers that there is,  

Oh my God. What. That is like the biggest compliment ever! 

Oh my gosh Taja watching you is such a ride. It is such a ride. It is. I think maybe my favorite reason if I could really back myself up here in saying, why is that when I watch you dance, I watch you experience your dance as opposed to just demonstrating or performing your dance. I’m watching you experience very viscerally. And that is a quality that I’m very attracted to. So you are definitely tops my friend, but you do so many things in addition to performing, um, as I mentioned, the DJ-ing, the teaching, you assist you choreograph a question, what is your favorite mode for creating?  

I don’t have one. You know what, like I read somewhere that they say that when you wake up, the very first thing that you want to do is what you were born to do. But I feel like every 24 hours, like something, something, it just changes. Re-invent updates. You know, I think I find if I can say for right now in this particular phase that I’m in, I think I find the most, um, enthusiastic for me is definitely just conceptualizing, creating a full idea and then trying to make it as interactive and immersive as possible, of going into the dimension of my mind. And I think that that is like, it’s, it’s so challenging for me. And it’s equally pleasurable for me to experience because I really get to get very clear on what it is that exists in my frame of mind, my perspective in my, like in the metaphors, within the metaphors of what I’m trying to mean and what I might mean for that moment and what that could mean for other people. Um, that is, yeah, I think that, that, that’s where I’m at right now, but yo give me two, two decks. I will be DJ the most delicious set ever in the world. You know,  

That’s a great answer. I feel like that question is a setup and anytime you set up, when people ask me, you know, cause I, you know, I love to edit. I love to capture, I love to choreograph. I love to teach. Um, but I think what you’re like, what you’re shining your light on, is that any opportunity that you get to do, all of them is really the sweet spot. Like yeah. That’s, that’s the coolest and it sounds like, and I, I don’t, I know you’re not able to say too much, but it sounds like you’re working on right now, exactly that a project where you can call on all of your many interests and talents. Um, what are you able to say about where you’re working on?  

Right. Okay. 

So don’t get in trouble.

I can’t get in trouble cause I’m the boss and that’s why it’s really fun. But, um, but what I can say, cause you know, like, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen fyre festival, but nobody wants to fyre a festival. Right?  

Except the the internet, the internet had a heyday with that. The internet loved that internet loves it.  

Netflix loved it. And I think Ja Rule loves it as well, but yeah, but yeah, I mean, like getting away from that, um, but what I, what I am creating right now started off as just a project, even like a few years back that was just portions of other projects, all coming together in one. Um, I can say that, you know, originally this started off with two meetings, um, I had gotten approached by a digital platform, um, and that digital platform gave me the opportunity and the permissions to create my own virtual event. And, uh, immediately after like I had another meeting with, uh, a VR company, um, that decided to move forward with me and forming a relationship and green-lighting um, my dance VR video game concept. So I basically, I sat with it for a while and hadn’t, I had a conversation with my sister and she was like, ‘Taj, you’re so good at everything, but you’re so ADD’ like really, like, she was like, you should just pick like one thing and I’ve had a couple people tell me this, that like, you know, I will start in, you know, consume myself with one idea and then I’ll just like float to the next.  It’s like some segue, you know, to, to another idea. And then another idea is born and another idea and I love ideas. I really do. But she was like, ‘if you just put all of your focus and attention on seeing this one idea all the way through, she was like, everything else, you pick that one idea that it’s going to be that, that base and that foundation for all these other ideas to STEM off of.’ And I just kept going back and forth in my head. Like, but like, but both of these, like I wish I could get both of these to work. Cause I think both of them are great. And what ended up happening is I decided I will combine both of those ideas into one and treat my development stage, um, as my show and as the event. So on a subconscious level, I’m teaching other people how to play my video game before it comes out.

Interesting. 

I think that’s like the most fat I can give you  

You certainly piqued my interest. Um, and it sounds like you are creating a solo duet. 

That’s what it is, another partnering solo. 

So you’re bringing two ideas together to be one thing. And I understand the challenge of focus in that way. When, when you are weaving so many different ideas together, it takes extreme attention and focus. But my friend between all of the things that you are and find interesting, I cannot wait to see what this partnering solo becomes I’m so excited 

Oh my God, I will say this because she will not let me live it down. If I don’t mention that this is not my idea alone. This is an idea that actually is very much coming from her mind and her dimension and her vision and what she’s given me in her, meaning Kim. Um, and I’m still on that journey of figuring out what, what exactly this walk is, mentally, spiritually for me with this other voice that I tendency here and this other. Um, yeah, I don’t know if you want to segue into that a bit.  

I would love, and I hope that we can segue with some compassion. This is my first time talking about, um, a person with a person that is an alter. Is that perfect? Is that the correct word to use? Do you consider Kim an alter ego or, um, what, what’s the verbiage I should be using?  

I would think, I would think it was an alter ego, but funny thing happened, right? Like couple of years ago, um, which, you know, I was in a, I was in a cult and um, I got out and it was a pretty deep way, um, that I got out and there was a start over restart that happened. I do believe in a lot of ways that when that night occurred, that there was a rebirth or a transformation, I just feel very far from any of the other previous lives or phases that I have gone through. Um, as a person, I don’t really feel connected to those, that persona or that part of myself anymore. Um, I feel a different energy and I think a lot of my friends have shared that it is different. Um, even the way that I look is very, very different. Um, when I did actually start seeing a trauma specialist, they shared that this is my brain’s rewiring. The brain is so powerful and it wants to protect you. It wants to make sure that you are you’re good.  

Dana: This is where the conversation gets real. Now I may be a certified coach now, but I am not by any means a neuroscientist, a therapist, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a behavioral scientist, or even a person that knows what is best for people who are dealing with trauma. I don’t have the tools, the training or the experience to speak to the way that our brain handles traumas. But I am a person that thinks it’s tremendously important to shine a light on discussions about mental health. In the next part of our conversation, Taja talked about the way that she got out of the cult and the things that she experienced afterward. I’ve edited that conversation to be age appropriate for my young listeners, but in the edited portion of the interview, Taja talks about having difficulty, recognizing people, not eating, not sleeping gaps in consciousness, sensitivity to certain materials and textures and even colors and various other experiences. If you or somebody that you know are experiencing something similar, I don’t personally have the tools to help you here, but in the show notes of this episode, I’m including links to the international society for the study of trauma and diassociation. I’m offering links to resources where you can find professionals or more professional help visit the department of mental health at dmh.lacounty.gov That’s a great resource, especially if you are in the Los Angeles area and don’t have insurance. Other resources are MHAnational.org for complimentary and alternative medicine, as well as the national helpline for substance abuse and mental health services. That’s SAMHSA.gov All of those resources will be linked in the show notes of this episode, along with some recommended reading from Taja and the mental health center locator, that’s www.nimh.nih.gov One more time. That’s the mental health center locator, N I M H dot N I H.gov. I hope that within those resources, you are able to find someone you can trust and that can help you. All right. Let’s jump back in now with TaJa and Kim. 

Experiencing one of my first episodes was so catastrophic for me in terms of my emotional intelligence and where I felt like I was, but like, I literally went through a weekend where I could not use my hands. Like it was preventing me from that. And after coming out of that, um, and getting a sense of, okay, you’ve got to do something about it. Having a crying moment is not going to help. How do we, how do we, uh, navigate this? What, what do I need to learn? How do I need to get educated, um, to define, and, or even, I don’t even need to define it right now just to collect right. And ha take data, take inventory and examine things that maybe I’m adding to the pool. That is, that’s making me go into this crazy time, you know, to a point where I’m locking myself inside my door, you know, like I’m locking myself in my room at night, so I don’t go traveling that’s that’s not okay. You know? 

And with that data, did you take all of that information you’d collected and seek help or, or get medical attention? What was your, you know, what does that help structure look like for you right now?  

Yeah, I mean, at first I wanted to find somebody that could spiritually keep tabs, you know, and going that route without God in it, for me. Um, I thought worked out, but I, I don’t think I actually found what I was looking for in terms of receiving that truth. I dived into, you know, the trauma specialist route after months of being like, I’m not going to any hospital for a number of reasons. One because of the whole COVID experience that we’re going through. And then on top of that, I’ve always felt squeamish about, you know, being treated or being diagnosed, AKA, somebody speaking something on your life that you, you feel like you can lose power. I’ve, I’ve, I’ve heard friends of mine that even with Denise, you know, hearing, hearing a doctor tell you, you have cancer is way different than you saying to your body there’s something weird. I need to go fix it. And yes, sometimes learning that information from other people is helpful, but there’s something about multiple people knowing that and thinking that, and being in agreement with that, that can change your, your recovery process or change the energy towards getting better, finding health. You know, somebody gives you a certain title. You feel like you have to act that certain way, or you feel like you have to prove that you’re not acting that certain way. When people say that you’re crazy, anything that you try and demonstrate to them to prove that you are otherwise makes you crazier, to me. Like, yeah. And I think that just even the term usage of disorder, that’s what makes me squeamish. It’s like, it’s like saying moist, like it’s really about, you know, you’re like, um,  

Dig into that. You’re saying .. Are you saying that the word disorder makes you uncomfortable the same way that the word moist makes you uncomfortable?  

Yes.  

Yeah. It is not my jam. That way. I’ve got three words that drive me nuts, but are you saying that it’s the sound and the like the look of the word disorder or what it means?  

I think it’s, I think it’s what it means. I was thinking the feeling in terms of how moist makes me feel. Um, but, but in terms of the actual usage, I have a problem with people saying disorder. So I I challenged, it was saying, if I do I experience, I am experiencing these symptoms right now that you would put in this category of dissociative identity disorder, but I’d like to refer to it as if I’m, if I have that multiple personality that I’m multiple personality proficient, or I’m a multihyphenate human being that is hypersensitive to triggers. You know, I feel like for anybody that is dealing with their mental health, and I would say, I would venture to say, everybody’s dealing with their mental health right now. And, um, it could be in a, in a, in a place of, you know, trying to figure out what, what is the key to happiness or success in isolation, uh, even that, um, on a mental level, it’s a lot to handle. I just think that that’s where I’m at right now, but the usage, the usage of the way people position things, sometimes I think could use a little re-up, a little update, you know, and I think it’s time we’re at a place where people are, are experiencing the reform, you know, of many things, you know, so

I think reforming and reevaluating language and terms, um, the way that we speak, the way  that we address each other, I think so much of this is, is necessary. And I think that even when it comes to like the DSM four like describing conditions, medical conditions, I do think there’s language changing all over the place around certain things. Um, I’m glad to see language changing. I’m glad to see human beings taking advantage of our, uh, self-awareness and this, like this evolved brain that we have, where yeah, we are actually able to think about thinking, like, we can think about our thoughts and we get to decide what we make certain words mean, but you can see the problem where if everybody had their own meaning for every word, we, all of a sudden are a completely disjointed, broken community that can’t connect on anything. If we don’t know what anything means or what it means to you is different than what it means to them. And what it means to you today is different than what it means to you tomorrow. And how do we move forward?  

Dana: How do we move forward? When language is always changing? How do we understand each other? When words mean different things to different people? Are words neutral or are words and their meanings set, rigid, binding. And in that ultimately powerful, I don’t know the best or the right way to answer those questions today. But if I’ve learned one thing in recording a weekly podcast, it’s that words are important. Especially a word like disorder. The public stigma towards mental health disorders has built a pervasive barrier that prevents so many people from access to jobs, education, and even prevent some people from engaging in mental health care. Again, I’m not a brain scientist. Again, I am not a brain scientist or a scientist of any sort. I am a dancer. I am a choreographer. Yes, I am a coach. But I think that to say this discussion is none of my business or not my problem is a disservice to myself and to others. This conversation with Taja and Kim has reminded me that I can be a part of a peer support system. I can share resources that connect them to professional support systems, and I can evaluate and dismantle my own stigmas around mental health. That is my personal goal. I don’t think it’s reasonable to ask for a world that is completely free of judgment, but I do think we can help each other find more freedom by being better listeners and encouraging personalized treatment. 

Dana: This, this quest for freedom to me, begins with awareness. And it sounds like you are doing the work to become aware of your, uh, your feelings, your experience of this life. It’s, it’s cool to hear you writing the empowering stories and taking stock, collecting data on what you’re experiencing and using all of your many gifts, tying them all together to create value in this world. Um, and I’m, I’m so interested. I’m very curious in what it is that you’re experiencing, um, you know, sensationally in your body, but also mentally and what’s going on in there. And, um, man, I’m, I’m inspired by your journey. I’m very interested in it. I think I’ll be going to do some more research myself, man. I just thank you so much for sharing so openly. I really appreciate,  

Taja: Of course. Yeah, no. Um, thank you for being open with me so that I could do that and have that platform. I really appreciate it Dana and, um, everybody out there stay safe. Okay.  

Yes. Thank you, Taj. I’ll talk to you soon.  

Yeah Bye!

Alright. Everybody. That is it for me today. I am so glad to have had this conversation and so happy to be sharing it with you. Again, don’t forget to check the show notes for all of the helpful resources that I’ve mentioned. And if I have missed any, if you are a person that has found support in other ways and places, I would love to hear about it. A great place for us to be in touch is over at words that moved me podcast on Instagram, I look forward to hearing from you. And of course, I look forward to talking to you. Thank you so much for being here everybody, talk to you later. 

Thought you were done. No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website, theDanawilson.com/podcast Finally. And most importantly, now you have a way to become a word that I remember. So kickball change over to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast to learn more and join. All right, everybody. Now I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Ep. #39 Holding the CREATIVE Space

Ep. #39 Holding the CREATIVE Space

 
 
00:00 / 00:26:19
 
1X
 
Either you KNOW an overactive listener, you ARE an overactive listener or BOTH!  This episode is dedicated to the importance of neutrality and HOLDING THE SPACE (for yourself, for others, and for the project!)

Show Notes

Quick Links:

The Overactive Listener by Caitlin Reilly: https://www.instagram.com/p/CEpuG81pnQs/

Dr. Katrina Ubell’s Podcast: https://katrinaubellmd.com/podcast/

Man Talks Podcast: https://mantalks.com/

In the Heights: https://www.intheheights-movie.com/

Transcript:

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

Dana: Hello. Hello, everybody. Welcome to words that move me. I’m Dana and I am so stoked that you are here. I’m stoked to be talking to you. Number one, because the subject matter of this episode is near and dear to my heart. I think it’s very important, very valuable, but number two, because right now I am talking to you from my homemade podcast booth, which I have appropriately named the pod. Um, my husband and I worked on it together. And I think it sounds really great. I dunno, you tell me, I would love to hear some feedback either over @wordsthatmovemepodcast on Instagram, or you are always welcome to leave a comment on theDanawilson.com/podcast Also, if you’re digging what you’re hearing, I’m not sure. I think, I think my listeners are pretty split 50, 50 half of you guys over listening on Spotify. And half of you are listening on Apple podcasts, but if it sounds great, if you’re digging what you’re hearing in terms of quality and content, please do leave a review and a rating. Download these episodes, keep them with you all the time. I do so appreciate it. Your reviews and your ratings help other people find the podcast more easily so it really is so, so helpful to me and to the community. Appreciate that. Um, okay.  If you’re new, let me introduce the format of the show. I usually begin every episode with wins. I think it’s really important to celebrate what’s going well in all of our worlds, especially in times where it might seem like nothing is going well. It’s important to celebrate your wins no matter how big, no matter how small. So this week I will start by celebrating my larger than a bread box size win, which is my podcast studio. I’m so jazzed about it. It feels so good. So glad to not be crammed in my closet, ruffling against items and jackets and, you know, rubbing my shins up against this awkwardly sized step stool so that I can be at the right height to reach a microphone, the pits. Um, now I am not crammed in a closet. I am actually standing very comfortably in front of a closet and inside of this awesome booth that reminds me of my husband and all of his many talents. So that is my win today. Now it is your turn. What’s going well in your world.  

Oh right. Congrats. Keep winning. I’m so proud of you. All right. Now in episode 36, the assistant, I talked about how to be and how to have a great assistant spoiler alert. There is really just one thing that you need to do on both sides. And that is have a great relationship. I actually do give some specific steps to achieving and maintaining that relationship and really all relationships truly in that episode. So if you haven’t heard it think about tuning back into episode 36. Um, in that episode, I also talk about a few of my assistant fails, like big ones, big, big learning opportunities that I share with you so that you don’t have to learn the hard way. This episode is a branch off of one of those stories. So last year in 2019, while I was working as an associate choreographer on, in the Heights, under our supervising choreographer, Christopher Scott, he mentioned to me one day, not in a good way, not in a bad way, but just as something that he noticed that I give very noticeable feedback sometimes verbally, sometimes non-verbally is it possible to do both simultaneously?  It’s true. I’ve noticed this about myself even before he said the words, but once he said it, it was like somebody had just held a magnifying mirror right up in my face and my head is nodding blatantly. Um, yeah, I, I, I do think I kind of report the news constantly with my body non-verbally and with my voice, if any of you have taken class with me, you know, that to be true, I’m a pretty vocal class taker. It’s obvious when I’m loving it. Um, and it’s obvious when I have questions. I love asking questions during class. I do try to ask them at appropriate times, but when Chris gave me this feedback, I started to notice it more and more often. I nod a lot. I smile. I grin really, really big when I’m in favor of, or in agreement of what’s going on, or I hold really, really still, if I’m not in favor of, or don’t understand exactly what’s going on.  So I started noticing, noticing this about myself and in other people a lot. And then I saw this brilliant human on Instagram. Her handle is at @hicaitlinreilly I think R E I L L Y. So that’s at H I C A I T L I N R E I L L Y. I found her thanks to my assistant and technical director, Malia Baker, Caitlin has this parody impression of the overactive listener. And I was like floored by it. I’m like, yes, this is a thing. And I have thoughts about this thing. I’ll be sure to tag Caitlin’s Instagram video in the quick links of the show notes of this episode. So if you’re interested in finding that, go to the show notes too, to check that out. So when I saw this very masterful piece of comedy, I knew that this is actually a pretty serious thing. And I have thoughts about it. Let’s dig in to being an active reactor and how to hold this space.  

Alright, Most of the relationships in your life, like the ones you have with your parents, your friends, significant others, teachers and so on and so forth are not focused on objectivity. Those relationships, typically very openly without pause, either show agreement or disagreement or approval or disapproval likes or dislikes. When I say show, I actually should say demonstrate perhaps the demonstration of agreement or disagreement is verbal. “Oh my God. Yes. Oh totally. Oh my God. Yes.” Or, “Oh God. No. Oh my God. Why would you think that? I can’t believe he just said that.” Or perhaps it’s nonverbal the shaking of a head or the crossing of arms either way, be it verbal or nonverbal disagreement usually causes discomfort that we either avoid or embrace super shout out. By the way to episode 30 with Spenser Theberge and Jermaine Spivey, where we talked about how to disagree with people that you love.  Oh my gosh. So good. Well, all that to say, I’m learning a lot about conflict. I’m learning a lot about how my dance training can help me to see opportunity in conflict. I’m learning a lot about how to manage unwanted feelings that crop up around conflict, like guilt, regret, feeling misunderstood, et cetera, and okay, sorry. I’ve gotten sidetracked. Most of the relationships in your life are not rooted in objectivity. Most of our training tells us that it is good to agree with people and to be agreeable, and that it’s bad to disagree or be in conflict as a result. So many of us are trained into this physicalizing and verbalizing of our agreement, our approval, our being pleased and our pleasantness. And this might not be a bad thing, but there are certainly times when it isn’t the best thing to do this episode zooms out to really observe the effects of that verbal nonverbal feedback and it considers the alternatives. One in particular being neutrality, the alternative to being an overactive listener is holding the space. You may have heard of this phrase, holding the space, um, because it’s actually become a bit of a popular saying, but what does it actually mean? One of my favorite podcasters, Dr. Katrina Ubell has a great episode about holding the space. It’s episode number 157 of her podcast, weight loss for busy physicians stay with me here, and it is called holding space for yourself while you lose weight. Okay. Again, stay with me here. Don’t get distracted. Doctor Ubell’s podcast is geared towards physicians and weight loss, but the concept of holding the space can be practiced by everyone and applied to darn near any conversation. Dr. Ubell, his episode is a fabulous place to continue learning about this concept. If it’s interesting to you, and if you want to hear more after this podcast, her podcast is also an exquisite resource If you’re interested in weight loss or finding freedom in your relationship with food, yes. Even if you are not a busy physician. I think of the phrase, holding the space as kind of a modern, more specific way of saying ‘being a shoulder to cry on,’ you’re allowing a safe and open space for somebody to discuss something difficult or painful. Sometimes involving tears holding the space is a specific practice, but it’s not by any means. One specific thing that has one specific definition. To explain holding the space. I’ll describe, um, kind of a hypothetical situation here. Imagine that a friend has just gone through something awful. Perhaps let’s say they’ve lost their job. And they open up to talk to you about it. Not holding the space in that situation might look something like you saying, “Oh my God. Yeah. You and like half the country, I completely understand Trust me. Like the exact same thing happened to me. And I’ve been unemployed for like all of quarantine and I totally blindsided me. I know how you feel. I mean, I feel awful. I am right there with you and here’s what you need to do. Let me just tell you, you need to stay positive, pull up your big girl pants and like, get your resume together. You should definitely go on unemployment like now and blabity, blabity, blah,” you, you get the picture. This person may be very well intentioned, but this is definitely not holding the space. When you’re holding this space, you’re listening more than you’re talking. You’re not distracted. You’re not giving advice. You’re not making it about you. You weren’t even trying to make the other person feel better. You’re simply honoring the, they are feeling right now by listening and staying present and gently holding space for them to be exactly as they are.  

How does that sound to you? Does that sound like holding the space might be really challenging? Does that sound difficult to you? The process of keeping a neutral zone for your friend to sort of be not neutral in. Dr. Ubell describes holding the space, like holding a really big pillow, kind of with your arms out in front of you really gently, really light doesn’t require much effort. You know, kind of like the way you would hold a big empty box. It shouldn’t require much effort from the listening party, but here’s the real caveat. The real important part is that holding the space requires no effort from the other party. If you’re the person holding the space, the person in this space shouldn’t need to worry at all about holding you. In Dr. Ubell, his episode, she mentions another podcaster named Connor Beaton and his podcast called Man Talks Podcast. Connor describes holding the space as holding a metaphorical bucket for someone else to mentally and emotionally vomit into. Well, me and my seven year old humor really do find that quite appropriate. It doesn’t take much effort for me to hold this bucket for you. Go for it mentally and emotionally spew into this. High five If you just caught my Wayne’s world reference. Alright, So holding the space requires that you listen to hear people’s thoughts. It also requires that you manage your own thoughts and don’t make the moment about you so that the person in need of the bucket doesn’t need to hold the bucket for you. So that’s how you hold the space for others, but you can also hold space for yourself. This can be sticky because if holding the space is not making it about you, then how do you hold the space for you without making it about you, but it’s you, that’s in the space and you’re holding the space for you? It’s kind of a mind trick, but believe it or not, you can allow yourself the space to mentally and emotionally spew without telling yourself “Ew gross, dude, pull it together, Ugh, how could you let that happen? You’re so sloppy. Yuck.” So for me, holding the space for myself usually starts with a totally judgment free download a thought download, a thought dump or a kind of a free journaling. Usually I do this with pen to paper. Sometimes it’s fingers to keys, either way It’s a stream of consciousness writing without any judgment, whatever crops up comes out. Then I read what I’ve written and I hold the space for the person that wrote those words. I hold the space as if person who wrote those words was my best friend. I get curious. And I ask questions when it’s appropriate, I get compassionate, and I use kind language with myself. Now, whether you’re holding space for yourself or for someone else, holding space requires clean thinking. Now you’re gonna make judgments. You are a human being, and that is what we do, but it is possible that you can make judgments and set them free and get back to holding the bucket. You don’t need to use your hands to hold your judgments, use your hands to hold the bucket. It’s possible that you can make judgements and not voice them or show them physically. So now we’ve talked a little bit about holding the space for someone else and holding the space for yourself. I want to broach a new subject, holding creative space. In other words, holding space in a creative setting, be it a rehearsal, a brainstorm meeting, or even an interview. New ideas are presented as as little seeds, sprouts, tiny hatchlings, little fragile, but full of potential. Not fully formed yet, in those early stages. Ideas have no walls and they have no ceilings. And when you give a verbal yes or no, or even a nonverbal, “Oh my God, I love it.” Or “no, not quite working.” You wind up putting up walls and setting the ceiling for that tiny sapling of an idea. What happens if you just let that seed fall into the ground and hold the space while it sprouts? Yes. You can give it a little water by asking questions that reveal what it might become. Yes. You can ask it. How do I help you grow? But you don’t need to immediately claim what that seed will become. A big evergreen, a tomato plant, a basal plant. You guys all know I’m super fond of the basil. So here’s the other thing about showing your approval right away. And I’m speaking, especially to myself, as I say this, because I am actively working on this is when you respond with kind of an all in attitude at the suggestion of an idea, it can be kind of suspicious. Who in their right mind would fully agree and jump on board with something that’s not even be, that’s not even been fleshed out yet? That’s not even sprouted. You know, it, it can be a little bit concerning. In addition to that, one enthusiastic nod turns into another. That can limit the type of questions that get asked. If any, at all, speaking of nods of when somebody has presented a tiny hatchling or a thought, an idea, and you nod in approval, it’s very likely that you’re nodding in approval of what you see, not what the person has said. As the idea is new, It’s possible that they’re not even seeing it fully yet either. Now that can be risky because from that point on, you’re claiming that idea’s yours. Mine not theirs. Great not better. So how can you help hold the tiny seed, the little hatchling, the new idea and care for it as ours, not yours. How can you let it be best? Not just great, because let’s be honest. Some very early ideas are great, especially those first reaction, gut impulse, Holy cow, listen to this ideas. Yeah, they probably are great, but you might be keeping a great idea from being even better by putting your exclamation mark at the end of a sentence that could be an ellipsis. You know what I’m saying? What happens if you let it be open-ended. Now here’s the tricky part, when you’re in a creative, especially in a collaborative situation, you’re likely expected to not just hold the space, but to step into it and contribute. So one of the most important things you can do as a collaborator is check the temperature of when you should be holding space and when you should be jumping in, okay, these are the two questions I like to ask myself. The first question is, am I being asked for my opinion, if no, then keep holding the space. If yes, then go ahead and jump in. But immediately after deciding to step in to this conversation, I asked myself the second question, am I leaving room for other people’s opinions? See, even from the inside of the creative space, you can still hold space for other ideas. I like to think of this as like a swimming pool. It is definitely possible for more than one person to be in the pool. But if one person is splashing around like crazy person, then it makes it hard for other people to be seen and to be heard and to well swim. So let’s get out of that metaphor and let’s jump into another example to kind of illustrate the difference between leaving room for other opinions and not leaving room for other opinions. Let’s say that, um, collaborator A says, “Ooh, what do you think about breaking into a tap section right here?” They say, what do you think? So I’m taking that as an opportunity to share my opinion and opinion that doesn’t leave room for others might sound something like this, “sick that would be so dope. Yo, you have to get Chloe Arnold. Nobody is better than she is. It has to be Chloe. That’s it period the end.” or something like this, “maybe. Ooh, um, maybe, but they’d have to wear sneakers or something soft in their feet because otherwise we’d have to buy mics to capture the sound and then get hardwood flooring. And really that’s just a total mess. And like kind of out of our budget.” that’s an example of not leaving room for other opinions. Here’s what it would sound like if you were leaving room for other opinions, collaborator A says, “Hey, what do you think about breaking into a tap section right here?” A person who’s holding the space might say, “Ooh, I love that idea. Is there a world where it’s like kind of a golden age of film type song and dance soft shoe thing? Or I don’t know what other styles call to you?” or we could take the yes and approach one of my favorites. And if you’re not familiar with the concept of yes, and you might journey back in time to episode number 15, where my seaweed sisters and I talk a bit about our creative process and how we have kept holding the space for each other for over six years. Alright. So a Yes. And approach to an answer to this question. What do you think about breaking into a tap section? Might look something like this. “Ah, I can see that as being a super grounded and soulful moment. And could it be done with plastic cups on our feet instead of traditional tap shoes that might give it the quirk and the comedic element that is at the heart of this piece?”  I’m saying yes. And I’m contributing an additional idea. I love asking questions. Like, is there a world where, or is it possible that we and I love playing? Yes. And. Can you see how holding the space even from inside the creative space, affords that creative idea to become ours? Not mine. It leaves no pun intended a room for the idea to grow into something. Instead of committing that idea to its current state, a tiny little seed. Now, trust me, it’s easier said than done. I think it’s pretty clear the value of holding space in a creative setting, not just from the outside, but from the inside as well. One last thing I’d like to include is that you should have a plan for what you might do and say, and think if creative space isn’t held for you.  In that moment, hold it for yourself. Try not to get distracted, keep holding space for yourself, especially, but also for the room. Collaboration is really quite simple, but it’s not always easy. Trust me. It’s much easier said than done to hold the space in a creative setting. I am not a master of that, but I am committed to practicing it. And this is the great thing about holding space. You can practice literally any time, whether you’re in conversation with someone else or with yourself or in a room, creating a work. The other great thing is that the more you practice in one area, be it holding the space for yourself or someone else or in a collaboration. The better you get at all three, because they are more the same than they are different. Just like us I imagine.  

And with that ladies and gentlemen, I will bid you adieu. Thank you so much to listening. Thank you for being open to holding the space and please, as this is a concept that I am absolutely working on myself. I would love to hear your feedback about this episode, about any tricks or trials that you’ve encountered in holding space, especially in creative collaborative circumstances. Again, please leave comments on Instagram over @wordsthatmovemepodcast or leave a comment on the website, theDanawilson.com/podcast And um, let’s see what else? Oh yeah. Don’t forget to keep it funky. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Thought you were done. No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website, theDanawilson.com/podcast Finally, and most importantly, now you have a way to become a words that move me member. So kickball, changeover, patreon.com/wtmmpodcast to learn more and join. All right, everybody. Now I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon.