The dance podcast where movers and shakers like you get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. Master mover, Dana Wilson, taps into 15 years of industry experience, and talks to some of the best in the entertainment biz, who have been there and done that so that you don’t have to… do it alone.
Ep. #90 You Don’t Have to Do It Alone… But You Probably Do Need to Simplify
In this episode, I talk about why many creative people feel the need to take on the world by themselves… Then, I hand out all of my favorite ways to do more by NOT doing it alone. The key is to simplify. It really is that simple. Not EASY, but SIMPLE.
Wyzant and Lynda.com <- for general Tutoring). I’ll ask obvious but GOOD questions Contest fines or enrollment fees: https://donotpay.com/ My tailor in the valley: Master Shoe Repair
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 welcome. I’m Dana. This is words that move me. Welcome to the podcast. How are you? I am stoked that you are here. Thank you so much for being here. I am exceptionally jazzed on last week’s episode. Thank you all so much for your feedback and for loving Reshma Gajjar as much as I do. Wow. That was a good one. Um, if you haven’t already go give that a, a swoop swoop was the first word that came to my head, swoop that out and enjoy. Um, all right, today I am talking directly to myself and also to you, but I think I really need to hear this right now. So there’s a chance that you do too. I remember finding at some point during the lockdown, a love for simple life, simple pleasures, simple, but not easy tasks and so on and so on. And you know what? Life is so sneaky. I feel like it has crept up and all of the sudden I’m over committed. Again. I am overwhelmed again, and I’m like, what? I swear I already figured this out. I have already learned how to be productive and calm, motivated, and relaxed, focused, and feeling free. I swear I have done this work already, but apparently it is not at the forefront. So I’m going to stand myself in front of this microphone and re-do re-learn. Remind myself of some of the work that I have already done about simplifying my life. I’m excited to do that for myself. And I’m excited to share some of my favorite tips and tricks for simplifying. What can seem like a very complicated life in a very complex world. Uh, but first wins. Yes. I have like a grand slam of wins today. So get ready. Sports references are not my thing, but you know what? I’m going to run with it. Okay. First one is that I’ve been watching a lot of maybe too much Ted Lasso. We’ll talk about it later. Here’s what I’m really celebrating today. I’m celebrating a visit back home to Colorado and spending some safe and quality time with my family. My beautiful family. Ugh. Shout out Aunties, Uncles, Maya, my brother, my sister, my brother and sister in law. The nieces. Oh, Swoon my dance teacher, the one and only Michelle Latimer. The one and only Chelsea Latimer, AKA my best friend since we were tiny, tiny tots and Chelsea’s daughter, Sunny,double swoon. Um, oh, and also our guest from episode 70, Erika Morri. So in general, shout out Colorado. I love that place. I loved my time there. I made a peach jam. You guys with peaches from my sisters peach tree. Um, it rained. It was gorgeous. Oh. And I did an art project with my mom. Shout out, Stan, stay tuned for more on the art project and yeah. Um, back to top thewins off, Mr. Ted Lasso watched a lot of that. Um, which is probably why my wins list is so long wink, wink. Um, if you are not watching Ted Lasso 10 out of 10 would recommend, okay, I’ll stop there. Ted lasso winning. Now you go, what’s going well in your world.
Awesome. Rock on. Congratulations. I’m so proud of you. Please keep winning all, keep coaching. I will stop with the Ted Lasso references eventually. Um, but here’s, here’s what we’re going to talk about today. Somewhere along the way, somebody, some very clever someone wrote and sold the story of the self-made man. They made this story about this person that climbed from the bottom to the top, all by their lonesome, the story of rags to riches, and we all bought it. We bought it in hardcover. We read it every night before we go to bed. We are so subscribed to the story. And now that I think about it, I’m thinking that it was probably the same person that bottled and sold the virtue of the one man band, um, that we drink, like it’s water. And I am just rocked by how deeply I believe. And I’m sure so many of us believe and might not even be aware of the thinking that we should be able to succeed on our own. That’s what I want to talk about today because lately I’m starting to disagree. I really am. But I see it all over the place in my friends and myself and people I work with. I see us showing ourselves evidence of other people who’ve done it. We’re always talking about the people who are self-made or who did it themselves. And we hold them on a pedestal. We think it’s virtuous. We think either that I could never do that. We just look at them and reserve that story. Just for them. We think that I’m not talented or determined or financially backed enough. Like I’m not wealthy enough. I don’t have what it takes in terms of like time, talent team money, um, or worse. We think I know exactly what I need to do. I have everything I need to do it. I’m just not doing it. Woof. We just aren’t doing it because we think I don’t have time. I have other commitments. I have to wait for something else to happen first. Or maybe I could save myself all that work and someone else could just reach out and offer me some help or someone higher up the food chain might just reach out to me, take me under their wing and teach me all of their wisdoms. I could just, you know, leapfrog this whole hard work and managing my mind bit. Well, I hate to break it to you, but big name working people. The ones that you are looking up to right now are likely not going to come knock on your door and offer their time to help you figure your stuff out. Time itself will not outstretch its metaphorical hand. It will not extend itself for you. It will not stretch itself for you. Nobody is going to gift you time to work on your career. You have to gift it to yourself and you don’t have to do that alone. Let’s talk about it. On the subject of time, the slippery little sucker, it gets full of things that are important to us. And sometimes things that are not important to us, but pretend to be important to us. And then all of a sudden, another month has gone by another year, has gone by the year, is coming to a close and you might be feeling no closer to accomplishing your goal than you were back in January. When you set it for your new year, new me moment. I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve been in and out of there actually several times, but I want to, before I, you know, help you get out of there, I want to point out why there is actually not the worst. There isn’t so bad. There is probably going to happen. I think our creative lives kind of happen in cycles. Very, very productive modes, rest recovery, inspiration, modes, learning modes, sharing modes, all sorts of different kind of, you know, ebbs and flows of a creative life. It’s really, nothing is wrong with that. Unless you are thinking that something’s wrong with that. We add insult to injury of not accomplishing our goals. When we let our lack of progress, slow us down. Even further. We blame time. We blame other people for taking up our time and we blame people who have time or resources for not offering those to us. And of course we blame ourselves for simply not getting down to business. What we are doing is beating ourselves up. We’re down on the mat, wrestling with our circumstances and our thoughts about ourselves saying, I should be X or I should be doing Y and I’m not, which makes me bad, not good, not able to fix this hopeless unworthy. And then we don’t get help because we feel unworthy.
So here in lies, the problem and here comes the truth. If you weren’t getting the results that you want, it likely isn’t because you don’t have time or don’t have determination. It’s because something else is missing because if you already had everything you needed, if you already had everything it takes in terms of tools, skills, et cetera, you would already have the results that you want. If it were true that you could do it yourself, you would have done it. You don’t need a different body. You don’t need more discipline. You don’t need more time. What you need is to evaluate the ways in which you are spending your time. And I know this is a strong word, but I’m going to say it wasting time. You need to evaluate the ways and the reasons for which you are wasting time. The reasons in which you are wasting time, the wasting you need to evaluate is the time wasting. For example, let’s evaluate more. I pick up my phone and scroll because I think I deserve a break. And I think I have a few minutes to spare, but then a few minutes turns into much, much more and boom, wasted time. I waste time in the mornings because I think I can get away with less time. So I hit that snooze button. I hit that snooze button again and again and again. Boom. I think I can get away with less. And therefore I have less wasted time. How about this one? I watch another episode of Ted Lasso because I think that I have to, I think it is so good. I have to keep watching. I don’t. In fact, when I keep watching it, I get to the end and I wish I hadn’t binged it because now it’s over. There’s no more left. Tier 1 time wasted. Here’s another one. It might be me. Might be, you might be both of us. I go shopping. I go shopping for all the things I go shopping for groceries. Totally not scheduled. Just whenever I’m feeling like. I think the thing that I need is out there in the world instead of in my head, that’s when I go shopping and I will shop for anything, mind you, but the feeling that I don’t have, what it takes or I don’t have the thing I need instead of being met by managing my mind is met by me, going out into the world and looking for something and then paying for something. Usually something that I don’t need. Holy smokes, time wasted and occasionally money wasted. And I do those things with full consciousness. It’s not like I black out, like there’s a moment. Although usually a very quick moment where I decide to waste time. I commit to it like, oh my goodness happens a lot, but I’m getting better at it. I’m getting better at recognizing when it’s about to happen. And I’m getting better at clearing those hurdles versus running into them, just running into them, full speed and then collapsing on the floor. So cheers. I, I, I truly am getting better at this. And I know so many of you are too, so many of you who I get to work with in the words that move me community, come to me saying things like I know better or intellectually. I know what I need to do, but I just don’t feel ready like in my gut or I know I can do it. I just haven’t a lot of this conversation comes up this knowing what we should do technically theoretically, you know, hypothetically from the critically, um, I digress. I digress sounds wow. Somebody’s glad to be talking again anyways, we’re back.
All of that knowing, but not doing or hypothesizing, but not testing. That’s all happening because knowledge, knowing what you should do in should (in quotes) do on its own will not get you the results that you want. You have to apply that knowledge. You have to stop beating yourself up with the shoulds and the shouldn’ts. Instead, remind yourself that becoming the person you want to be will require, require experimentation, exploration, evaluation, re evaluation, correction, and probably some overcorrection. If you’re a dancer. And if you want to do that all on your own, you absolutely can. But you can also find support. You can find a peer, a partner, a community, a group of people with a similar focus and hunger for doing the work. Of course you can find an agent, a manager, a person who knows things and applies knowledge about things that you don’t yet have. Oh man, I highly recommend getting to know some producers, people who understand project management find a coach or a mentor, find yourself a Ted Lasso and then get to work. And if you are listening to this, that means you have access to all of that. So come and get it.
But first I will give you right now. You don’t even have to come and get anything, just sit right there and I will donate. I will gift. I will give gladly a few of my favorite ways that I do more by not doing it alone. When I catch myself feeling confused or thinking, I don’t know, dot dot, dot, fill in the blank. I hollered at my friend, Google, which I know most of us have gotten in good practice of, but I do not simply Google the subject that I am looking for. I Google the subject plus blog or podcast or expert witness or book or consultant. That is how you weed out the 16 year old YouTubers who in general are there to practice their video, making skills, not to help you. They might even be there to make money. That’s fine too. They might be there to be exercising their new, what is the word I’m looking for? I don’t know why they’re there, but for some reason, when I searched for things, the first seven results that show up are a very young person showing off their fancy tutorial skills. Um, not necessarily the experts in the field. So that is tip number one, Google plus blog podcast, expert witness book consultant. That is a good jumping off point. If that doesn’t solve the case, I’ll hire someone who can I love. And it was not paid to tell you that I love Lynda.com That’s where I learned to edit in Premier Pro is where I’ve learned. So, so, so many things. Um, I hear that wyzant.com, W Y Z A N T is also great for general tutoring. If you don’t know how to teach yourself, ask someone else to teach you. Speaking of asking, this brings me to point number three, ask obvious, but good questions. I’m going to link to our words that move me podcast episode about how to ask good questions. What I really want to underline is that asking questions is a good thing. Even the obvious ones. If you can ask them in a way that shows how much you know, not how much you don’t know.
And finally, when I catch myself feeling confused, thinking all the, I don’t knows, I stop talking too much. I stop myself from talking too much by saying, I don’t have an opinion on that right now. What do you think? And then I listen. Those are my pointers for dealing with confusion. Now let’s talk about overwhelm when I feel overwhelmed, because I’m probably thinking I don’t have time. I’ll stop wasting it. I’ll stop reaching for my phone. I’ll delegate to my lovely, lovely team. Shout out Riley Higgins, shout out Malia Baker, or I’ll reach out to apps like Task Rabbit, fancy hands I hear is helpful. Um, oh, and this one is important. I’ll stop over committing. And I won’t lie about why I can’t do things. I really think that’s important. And I know there are probably a lot of people pleasers out there who might think it’s easier to lie about why they can not commit than to just explain the truth. And I will tell you something very reassuring. It is possible to tell the truth and to still be kind, give it a try. Here’s another one that’s been cropping up lately, perhaps it’s because I’m on the tail end of recovery from surgery, perhaps it’s because the world is quote, picking back up. I mean, for how long have we been saying that now? I don’t know what it is. That’s making me think that well, I do actually, it’s my brain. That’s making me think that, that I am outgunned, that I am outnumbered or that I don’t have what it takes when I hear those thoughts start cropping up. I immediately, but gently remind myself of my strengths and my skills. I don’t just think about them. I don’t just write them down. I use them. And then with my new found self confidence and willingness, I’ll ask for things I’ll ask for help or ask for a raise. I’ll ask for an upgrade. I’ll ask for a coupon. I’ll ask for better terms. I’ll ask for therapy. I’ll ask for romance. I’ll ask for things. This is huge. I think you’ll find that you’re way more likely to get things that you ask for than the things that you secretly wish someone would give you.
Ooh, speaking of super secret, super resource www.donotpay.com This is the website that will help you contest fines or enrollment fees. Did you even know that existed, that exists? You’re welcome. Do not pay.com. They also do not pay me to say this, but they claim to be the world’s first robot, lawyer. This is how you can cut through the tape, beat the bureaucracy and find hidden money by not paying money for things that you don’t need to. So there’s that work? Here’s the other one big, big fan of this one. Stop wasting money on things I already have, for example, Hm, coffee and clothes. Those foes jumped to my mind. I will instead drink the coffee that I already have, and I’ll give the clothes that I already have a new life by maybe modifying them. I used to do this in high school. You guys, all the time, the thrift store dates were so real and so romantic, by the way, I love a thrift store date. Um, and then it would get all my stuff home and immediately take to it with scissors and bleach add like leather straps. And, oh, this was high school. I can still do that. I can still find that joy, that pleasure in repairing or otherwise altering items that I’ve had for a while then maybe don’t fit very well. Um, or that have taken two, looking, not like a million bucks and moved them up into looking a little bit more like a million bucks, so much fun. Please do send me photos of this. If you take that advice, I want to see what you do. Also, if you are in the Los Angeles area in the valley, I would like to recommend my tailor who is on Burbank somewhere. Hold on, wait for it guys. I’m the pits. I was not prepared with that information today. Um, but it will add in the show notes, the name of my favorite alterations place in the valley. So good. So honest, very reasonable, very fast. Get into getting your stuff to fit you. It’s the best. Okay. I think we’ve covered all of it. Lastly, I will say this to simplify my life. My biggest plan is to stop saying that I should be able to do it alone. And to simply start simplifying simplified does not mean take on the world by yourself. It might mean delegate. It might mean outsource. It might mean cancel. It might mean say no. It might mean scheduling your binge-watch of Ted Lasso so that you can feel great about sticking to the schedule instead of simply clearing your entire life, um, unannounced and committing to eight hours in front of the television. Holy smokes, that actually happened. So when you wrap up this episode, when you get to where you’re going today, when you have a moment, make a quick list of the ways that you can simplify your life. And before I let you go, I simply must remind you that I am one of the ways you can simplify your life. I offer coaching and tools that help you manage your time, your money, your mind. Well, literally everything falls under that category. So that’s, we’ll just stop right there. Awesome. The words that move me community is a membership that has formed in support of the podcast and in support of creative life. And it is an excellent resource. I really, really hope that if this episode spoke to you, you take a look into it. I adore everyone that I work with there. Um, we have some exciting projects coming up as well within the community, like internal exclusive stuff. So I urge you come check that out. TheDanawilson.com/wtmmcomm
affectionately referred to as WTMMCOMM. Um, yeah, this is just, it’s such a great place to team up to get that swift kick in the buns that you need, or maybe that gentle boost that you need. Um, a whole, whole lot of good things. So hope to see you there. And I hope that I, Hmm, here we go. Here’s the segway that I was looking for. I hope I see you there and I hope you keep it funky. Yes. Way to bring it home. Wilson when I’m calm, keep it funky. Anything else? Oh yeah. Simplifying might mean that doing less means you can do more. So go on and get at that. I’ll talk to soon.
Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating and review because your words move me too. Number two, I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops and so much more. All right. That’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye.
Ep. #89 Where Natural Meets Magical with Reshma Gajjar
Reshma Gajjar had to be my first interview back after vocal cord surgery no doubt about it.In this episode, Reshma and I discuss the importance of humanness in dance and how silence and meditation can help to achieve it. She also speaks about how stepping away from dance helped her change her definition of success, and how her ethnicity has both helped and hurt her at different times in an ever changing industry. As the entertainment industry changes, one thing is clear: Reshma will always show up, and she’ll show up directly in the center of the venn diagram that represents all things natural, and all things magical.
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: Hey Friend, how are you doing? I’m so glad you’re here. I’m so glad to be talking to you with my six weeks post vocal cord surgery, voice, I’m learning so much about breadth and pitch and modulation and in general, not misusing my voice and I’m excited to be practicing with you here today. I’m even more excited to share my conversation with this week’s guest, but first wins this week. I am celebrating that. I got, I bought, I bought myself a record player. Yeah, vinyl let’s go. I’m so excited about this in my silent recovery, I spent a lot of time appreciating music and experiencing sound with great focus, tremendous focus. So this desire for a record player didn’t necessarily come from wanting the unique sound that a record player and vinyl records actually produce, but rather wanting to not lose focus. Every time I click through Spotify or iTunes on my devices in general, I find that one click leads to three clicks, which all of a sudden becomes 30 minutes of standing at my machine, my laptop, or my desktop, or, or hovering over my phone. While I scrub and in general, get distracted when the goal was simply to listen to music. So now with my record player, I dropped the needle. I drop into what I’m hearing. I drop into my body, the end hands-off ears on body glides into the zone. I am obsessed with this. It has many favorite thing. That is my win, my record player. Now you go, what’s going well in your world. What is spinning your world around? See what I did there. I’ll be patient, hit me. Congratulations. I am stoked for you. Keep winning, keep spinning, and then find yourself some stillness because today’s guest is both a riot and a rock, which I guess makes her a rockstar. Maybe I would call her a rockstar. Yes, she is solid. She is fluid. And in this episode she shares some golden insights that I think will help you to unlock a humanity in your art. We discuss subtlety. We discuss silence and the guiding principles that have led her through a most incredible career that just keeps going and going and going and going and getting more interesting and getting more. Awesome. I will stop there and I’ll start introducing you to the lovely Reshma Gajjar. Oh, and that reminds me, make sure you listen to the very end of this interview because her name is well, actually, I’ll just let you wait and find out for yourself. Enjoy this conversation with Reshma.
Dana: Holy smokes. Reshma my friend. Welcome to the podcast. Hi.
Reshma: Hi. Oh my God. I get to hear your voice. This is so such an honor to hear your new voice. Be one of the first
Dana: You are the first podcast interview
Reshma: To interact with the voice!
Yes. How do you feel about that?
Reshma: So I’m so like I’m flattered. I can’t believe that I was the one that you wanted to speak to first.
There is no other one I’ve been wanting to speak to you since the day of the surgery. Um, and, and, and all the days before actually, um, we’re, we’re going to get into all of the reasons why this is the perfect first interview with my new voice. Um, but first, first, first, will you please introduce yourself? I think that everyone listening should know you, but they may not. So this is the part, the hard part where I ask you to tell us anything you want us to know about you. That could be bullets off the resume. It could be your favorite color. Um, but I’ll, I’ll let you drive what cha you got.
Okay. I am a first generation American. I am of South Asian, Indian descent. Born from two immigrant, cute parents. Um, I’m a performing artist. I’m a collaborator. I started my career as a tour dancer touring with pop stars. And then I moved into working in the industry. And now, um, I dance and also act in films, television commercials, music videos. I also love art and being immersed in the art world side of things. When the opposite of commercial industry, I love being part of the art industry. And so I also participate and perform live performances with like companies or immersive interactive theater. Um, I love fashion. So I like doing shoots and fashion films. During the pandemic, I started a tiny little shop in my backyard called Inheritance Bombay to LA which Dana contributed to.
Um, couple pieces. Yes.
Beautiful pieces with great stories.
Well, actually explain, explain this shop. I know what the shop is. What are you selling in this shop?
I sell stories and I, so, um, vintage second-hand loved clothing curated by me. I’m a meditator. I’m a fan of old people. Um, I’m a Muppet and I’m currently also officially a filmmaker.
I am celebrating you so big and so hard. All of those elements of you are some of my favorite elements to find in humans. Um, and think you embody them all in a beautiful ratio. Um, do you know what did today?
I watched the opening scene of La La Land
Was coincidental or
No, no, that was deliberate. I, I was preparing I I’m a big fan of you. And if you do not know Reshma you actually do because you’ve seen La La Land guaranteed If you’re listening to this podcast. Um, and Reshma is the introduction. She is the introduction to the introduction of the highway scene, uh, that we call traffic, um, Another Day of Sun and I watched it this morning and I cried because number one, all of, I mean, not all, but so many of my favorite people, I had honestly sort of forgotten you set it off so beautifully, so naturally. And I feel summer heat when I look at you do that performance, but I also feel really cool. I’m like, oh, I’m with the cool girl. I’m going to be fine. Um, but then you’re joined by Hunter and then you’re joined by DMO And then rejoined by Jillian, Michael comes out, Liz Imperio comes out. I mean, Nathan Prevost who was just my on-camera husband and
Oh my God. This list is long, this list is long. And the shot was also long. The shoot was long, it was long. And this is brilliant. I could talk about La La land for a long time. I’m not going to, but I am going to talk about how grateful I am to have shared professional space with you. Um, La La land was the first time I think that we worked together also Hosiers Work Song choreographed by Jillian Myers. And don’t, you dare forget that Kinzo short film
I will never forget
Choreographed by Megan Lawson and looks were so on point on point 100%, be sharing some photos. Um, but that’s absolutely the tip of the iceberg. In terms of your work, you mentioned you toured for pop stars, including Madonna. Um, you are in a few of my favorite movie musical dance scenes, 500 days of summer, which I also watched recently American beauty.
Oh My God. Oh my god.
So all that to say you have a career that I think anyone, but especially my listeners would envy. And this is a podcast about creative careers. So will you, um, start us off or continuous us off, I should say by sharing some of maybe the guiding principles that have helped you make your moves, the, the, the ideas, the lessons that have helped you navigate your career.
So I find that I found that in my career, the thing that I knew that was really important to me is that I wanted, well, one I wanted to work, right. And in the beginning it was really challenging for me to work. It was very challenging because, um, I can only assume it was, um, how I looked and I don’t, I don’t think that the industry was fully receiving people of color of, of my ethnicity and the, our stories weren’t being told. So we weren’t part of the narrative. And, and even though, uh, dance jobs can be diverse. I was like the most ethnic and maybe a little too exotic. So there was a long period of time where, when I came to LA and started auditioning that I found challenged, I was very challenged in working. And, um, one of the first things that I realized was I was defining my success on work. And that was the first thing that I realized. I was like, oh, this is, this is a little bit a recipe for suffering and disaster. So I, um, after having a moment where I like quit and moved to India and gave everything up, um, to, uh, do social work and give back because I was like, wow, this job, this career path is so it’s all about the self. And I’m like, I can’t do that. I have to, I have to, I have to do something outside of myself and like, let go of all of, all of these things that were like causing me to one, not like the craft that I had trained my whole life doing because the business aspect was getting in the way the not working part. And, um, so I like totally let it go. I gave it up. And, um, in that process, that whole journey, I realized that I needed to define my own own, like my own definitions of success had to make my own definitions of success. So to me, that meant that I am a performer. I am all the things that I am if I’m doing that thing. So it doesn’t matter if I’m working and making money doing it. I can work at a coffee shop. That’s fine. As long as I am in class every day, working on the craft, loving this thing that I love so much to do. And so that was a first thing that I did. And when I let it go and went back to the basics, I think that’s when, um, things really shifted around me too. And I think that also was, um, something showed up was timing that as much as you can, like really work towards something. And I am a hard worker, I really believe in being a hard worker. There’s a level of professionalism that I really believe in and hard being hardworking is one that like, um, I really abide by, but that can get exhausting sometimes. And then you can question like doing all this hard work and like nothing’s coming out of it. And like, what I found is the work is never lost. There’s just this really magical thing called timing that like lines up and you don’t have control over that. And so there’s like, that doesn’t mean you don’t work hard. You still put in the hard work, but you let it go and you allow for the timing to happen, which is what happened. As soon as I define my success, I changed my, my outlook. It happened to be, I didn’t do this, but the world was also shifting in a way and it all kind of lined up. And then I started working like suddenly, like Madonna was like one of the first people who like hired me. I mean, there were others who hired me before that, but big job because of my ethnicity. And like, it was this whole, like this interesting thing where I’ve been faced with my ethnicity being, uh, helping me and also hurting me and finding who I am and all of that. Um, another really, really big thing for me has always been showing up and I think showing up has spread out. And what that means, this is the long range as far as like what showing up means. But in the beginning showing up was like, I’m going to go to every audition. Like I don’t care if they even want someone like me, I’m just going to show up. I’m going to say yes to all my friends. I’m going to do say yes to all the projects I’m going to say, yeah, I’m going to show up and to show up to class, I’m just going to show up. Really good at showing up and then fine tuning it to now where I’m on another side of my career and showing up, it’s still showing up as one of my like principles, because now, even though I’m not having to show up so extremely in that way, because I can now I have thankfully, um, more opportunities coming to me. I can make choices. You know, I’m more in the control control seat aspect. Um, showing up now looks like for me, that representation matters. And so I have to show up because, um, people need to see people like me, people need to hear my stories. And so it’s just interesting how the showing up is still there, for me, it just, isn’t a different way.
This is a beautiful kind of peek into a long timeline of somebody who’s found. One thing that, which is showing up and even while the world changes, the showing up is never the wrong thing to do. The showing up is the right thing to do. And the way the world shows up will change. But the fact that you show up does not. Um, I think that that’s a lovely takeaway. Um, I, I want to talk a little bit about how you show up. I think the showing up on its own can get you very, very far, but the how you show up also is extremely important. Um, I’ll approach this subject through the lens of style, um, personal style, dance style, style of communicating, um, style in humor, like your, the things that make you laugh, the way you share your laugh, the way you, uh, not only curate the vintage closing in the shop of your backyard, but you curate the experience when you’re around people, by the topics of conversation. When my husband and I started dating and he started spending more time with dancers, he’s a non dancer. Um, he, he noticed very early on and he tried to ask in a very gentle way. Did you notice that dancers almost exclusively talk about other dancers? Most of the time, the subject matter is people. And that makes sense to me because people are our material. We are the, you know, the medium that we work in is, is bodies in space and time. Um, but I noticed when you and I started like socializing that very rarely were we talking about people, we talked about our experience of the world, our feelings, emotional arcs, things that we’re interested in, not people that we’re interested in and ever, you know, ever since our, since the beginning of our friendship, when I look back at conversations with you, I can’t name one where we were like talking about the people. So I think that you’re, I think that your style, and this is again, I’m going to, I promise I’m going to make a point. I think that your style is equally human. Like, I can tell that you’re interested in humanity, very human things, but also you must know this, you are a magical being, you are whimsical. And like etherial and this kind of magical thing. So what I notice about the opening land of the opening land of la la scene, the opening scene of La La Land is that I think you are the center circle of the Venn diagram that is natural and magical. Like, if you want whimsical realism, you get Reshma. If you want somebody who is like, yeah, natural and whimsical in equal parts, I think you do that very well. Um, is that how you would explain yourself? Is that how you would explain your style?
So, um, well first I just want you to know that there is a, post-it literally on my table that says you are a magical creature.
That tracks. Yeah.
It says in quotes your mind just gets in the way and
I wrote that down because someone told me that and I, I didn’t believe them. I’m like, I’m not a magical creature. She’s like, you’re, I love that. You’re telling me this right now. I had to write it down on a post-it note. And sh and that person told me your mind just gets in the way, that’s it? Like, if you move your mind, you will see that you are a magical creature anyway. Sorry. You know? Okay.
I’ll take that. That brings up. That brings up a secondary question, which is how do you move your mind? What does that look like for you?
You know what, I’m struggling with that
Struggling with finding out, Yeah.
No, moving the mind. It’s like, I’m the muscle. And so it’s, uh, that’s why the post-it’s here. Because someone told me that my mind is getting in the way and I don’t disagree. And I think it’s a muscle that I have to remind myself, remind myself. Right. I’m a magical creature
Thats cute. I see what you did there. Yeah. Okay. So is, is, okay. Back to the original question. Now, the style in which you dance, or would you explain it?
Um, you really explained it so nicely. Um, I definitely feel like it’s grounded in it’s grounded in reality, but there is a level of, um, lightness to it at the same time. And I feel like my, I think that was the style that I really like is grounded in humanity, but also is telling a story. So like there’s intention. And that is actually what moves me is when I watch is what I, what I like is what I want to, uh, emulate. Right. And I’ve seen many performers, dancers and actors, we all have, and there are incredible technicians out there who are, to me are like Olympic athletes or, you know, super heroes. Um, and then there are performers who like move you, right. And they move you not with their head, like down, like get their leg, kicking their head, or the technicality like that. That is like I said, Olympic athlete, athlete move, moving me. But someone who moves my emotions, like moving my emotions versus moving me into awe, right. A superhero will move me into off, but like a performer that moves me to my emotion and feel something and connect is the kind of performer I and style I want. And so I always try to remind myself of that when I’m moving. That there what’s the intention, what is, who am I in this? Like? And so it is really grounded in humanity because I want to relate and I want to connect. And I want people to feel connected and that they’re not alone or all the things I want to be that connector, you know? And I think that all kind of came from when I was younger, my sister told me I was really intimidating and it hurt my feelings.
And so it became your life’s work to be
The most connective approachable.
Yes. And that’s exactly the turning point. I never, I never forgot that she was like, oh, the reason why boys don’t talk to you or like, you know, it’s, or just, you know, people are just really intimidated by you. And I immediately felt frustrated by that because I’m like, I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just being myself and like, what am I doing that’s intimidating. Like, I don’t want to push anyone away. And in that moment I was so young. Like, it, it led the trajectory of my personality because I, that is when the Muppet was born,
That is when Muppet Reshma was born. And I was like, okay, I still want to be like an authentic, um, version of myself, but I want to be like an approachable version of myself. And so I, you know, kind of turned myself into a Muppet because I think Muppets are adorable and I love Muppets and it just happened naturally. They didn’t think about it and like, be like, I’m going to be a Muppet. I just, I naturally just like became a Muppet,
Explain, explain your muppet self is, you know,
Um, ex I mean, I think I was always expressive, but I just mean like, um, open and like, and, and loving and cute. And yeah,
You’re, you’re hugging the air. She’s hugging the air times since we started talking about the Muppets
A Muppet. I don’t think a muppet is intimidating at all right?
Wow. I mean, I don’t think they are. Yeah maybe the cookie monster, maybe only because only because they might steal my cookies, Oscar, the grouch is not the most friendly look, very cuddly.
You know where I’m going with it.
So I think it’s very interesting how this is a great example of how the stories that we believe about ourselves really shape our lives. And that was such a huge, impactful moment for you. Yeah. Okay. So your sister said, you’re intimidating. You created a Muppet version of yourself who champions love. Embraces otherness and humanness and all the people, so that never, could you be feeling that you are excluding anyone, um, that yeah. When I watch you dance, it does feel very inviting and inclusive. I think, you know, when you talk about the people who really move you to me, when I watch a performer that makes me want to do what they’re doing versus makes me want to sit down and behold where they are doing that is like, that’s the mark of a magician to me of a magical performance.
I agree. I agree. That is exactly right. Because I will watch a ballerina. Right. And I will be awestruck, but I will want to stay in my seat and watch them. Right,
Right, right. Yes. Want to applaud you with my jaw on the floor, but yes.
Yeah. Jaw on the floor, mad respect, like I said, Olympic athlete, superhero person, but I don’t want to jump on the stage and do that. But yeah. People who do that to me, where I’m like, I want to be in that, I want to do that. I want to be in that next show. I want to work with that person. I want to, that is, that is usually someone who was moving me from a different place than the technicalities and, you know, steps and, um, skill, high skill level. It’s something beyond that. It’s subtle. Sometimes, sometimes you don’t even, it’s not like this. It’s not theatrical you know, it’s something super subtle.
Yeah. Let’s talk about subtlety. Something that I’ve noticed lacking in, uh, the upcoming generation, the art of subtlety and sometimes, I mean, with face sometimes, I mean, with hands or wrists, sometimes, I mean, with the whole body, there can be a very subtle shift that manifests in the entire body that is very subtle. Um, and I’ve been working lately on several projects that call for real people dancing or real person range of motion dancing or real people, slightly elevated to be dancing. And it’s difficult for a lot of the younger generation to achieve. Very difficult. I think the most readily accessible example, I will call back La La Land you in the car. In the opening scene, you have very specific choreography to unbuckle your seatbelt. You have very specific choreography with the sunglasses. There are counts. You must be a professional dancer, but you must not dance those things or before the movie even starts, we will have been taking, taken out. You establish the tone of the film with that subtlety. How did you learn how to do that? And do you have any tips for people to do that? I think it, if I could, it would be stopped taking dance class immediately and go outside and watch people in the world or take an acting class and find out how much you actually dance all the time to portray a normal person who has moved to be dancing is a completely different skillset than to be a performing dancer.
Yeah. It is a skill set that is being asked for more and more and has been for the last, like, I don’t know, 10 years, I feel like I’ve been seeing that a lot, but it’s interesting because like, what you said was you have to be a dancer to do that job. People can’t not, they, they want normal, real people, but normal will, people cannot hit a mark I mean, no offense. I mean, maybe they can, but with the training, we are trained to hit marks, consistency, um, you know, counts and all of those things mattered. I mean, they matter, and time is money. And when you’re on set and you have to hit the mark and everybody else is allowed to make mistakes, but except for you as the performer, everyone else camera can make mistakes and everyone’s okay, everyone, but the dancer or the actor needs to kill it in every take. Like they have to hit their mark. And, you know, depending on, you know, you want to be the last reason why they need to do the take again, you know, and, um, you have to be the consistent one.
Do you attribute your strength in subtlety to being acting training and what acting training do you actually have? I’m actually, I have a gap in my knowledge of you in this area. I know you were an Edge scholarship kid, but what supplemental training do you have?
Um, so I actually, what’s really interesting is I took Theater Arts in college and I saw it. There was a moment in time where I really was considering acting at the beginning and I took an acting course in college and it was really traumatizing. And I thought, oh, wait, this feels really toxic. I don’t know if acting is for me, actually, this is what acting is. I don’t want to do this. I’m very protective of my, like health mentally and physically, um, which is why as a dancer, longevity was really important to me. And I was like, not trying to like, you know, do things that I felt would harm my body. You know, it was very smart about like, okay, I’m going to be, um, know how to look like I am full out like full out bleading on the dance floor, but also holding a space or an energy for my body to know when, to really disperse the energy and when to bring it in that I think comes with time and experience learning when you really need to bring it and kill it and when you really just killing yourself and that just only harms you and then your longevity of your career and is not so long because now your knees are shot and no one else cares about your body except for you. And you have to be the advocate for your body. I don’t care about what anybody says, but if I don’t want to jump on the trampoline in heels, I’m not jumping on the trampoline in heels, someone else wants to figure that out, you know, skeleton crew that out, go for it. But to go back to the, to the, the subtleties of being an, being a person who is asked to be pedestrian, that scene was definitely like riding the line of being a performer and a human at the same time. And they really wanted the human aspect. And what I do is take, I literally have to take the dancer out of me It’s like, I remove that identity out of me, um, and just focus on who I am in all of it. And so I know that sounds simpler than it is because it’s not that simple. It is really hard for dancers, right? How, how do dancers take the dancer out of them? Well, for a long time, I only identified as a dancer. And so therefore everything I do the way I sit, the way I walk, the way I dress a dancer, but I’m like, okay, no, let me expand my identity a little bit more. Who else am I, what else am I, I, I, I’m not just a dancer. I had to expand my identity. And so by doing that internal work, it kind of started to move on the outside of me. When I started to find out other parts of me, I was able to take it out of my body. It was like an energetic thing. And so the other identity started to take over. So I don’t, I don’t walk and dress and do anything that, that says screams. If I’m walking down the street, she’s a dancer, right. But once I start to dance, it’s like a magic trick. It’s like, and I can check this out. You didn’t see that coming. You know what I mean? And so feels like a fun, like surprise instead of like someone being able to like, know that I am a dancer. And so that started to happen around the time when I One was starting to get more work that was asking for that. And I wanted to be an actor more, also start acting all those things kind of started happening at the same time. And, um, yeah, I don’t know if that really answers the question. As far as acting training, I found an acting method called the Barrow group that teaches out of New York, but because of the pandemic, it was all on zoom. And so the silver lining of being during quarantine, they started teaching online and I was able to start taking those courses. Um, I was, I’ve been training, um, the Barrow Group method, which is basically like a way that empowers the actor with tools to, um, be their most authentic self in these moments. And so it’s more about script analysis than it is about character analysis, because this has us in these situations. Right. And we all can relate to any of these situations that we’re given in scripts. I really love being empowered with the tools. Yeah. And it’s not about the teacher or the teaching or anything like that. It’s all about the tools. They’re like, literally give you a tool belt tool belt, and then you can pull from it what you need in the moment.
Don’t tell me, they literally gave me a tool belt because I will sign up. I love a utility. I have a utility vest that I wear when I clean my house. It’s actually like a tactical vest. It was a gift from my brother-in-law it says Chef. And it’s meant to be a joke, the chef
You don’t get a real tool belt. Yeah, I wish that’d be amazing.
It like, it’s powerful enough to think of it as such.
Yes. And, and what I also loved about it is that it’s so clean. Like it’s so squeaky clean this method. There is no, like, there’s nothing that feels unhealthy about it. Like I go back to me being like, I’m very protective of my health. Um, yeah. It, it just, it’s never about what’s good and what’s bad. What we liked, what we didn’t like. It’s, what’s different. That’s what we’re talking about. Do to do the same scene twice. And let’s talk about what’s different. Not what’s good. What’s bad.
I love, I love what’s different versus what’s right. Or what’s wrong. It leaves so much more room
Because Art is.. So like everyone has their own opinion about some people
Its so subjective in every single way. And so perhaps the ways in which we learn it are as well, but tools that help things to be clean in a world that is, that can get very muddied with all the different techniques and rights and wrongs and do’s and don’ts and absolutes really nice to have something that works. My favorite acting teacher in LA, his name is Gary Imhoff I shout him out all the time, says that technique is whatever works. I love that. I love that. So many different things that work. Um, I wanna circle back really quick, something that you said, um, rang so true when you talk about being a magician. I remember having learned in my, in my stint as a magician’s assistant, uh, I was never a magician.
I would love to be a magician’s assistant.
You could see it. I did. I assisted Wade Robson on Chris Angel’s believe show so I was around magic and very much loved the Illusionist and the Prestige. Do you remember those films? I think they both came out the same year. Anyways. I, you probably know where this is going, but there are three parts of a magic act, I’ll call it an act. Um, I, I hope I get this right. The pledge, the turn, and then the prestige. Um, and the pledge is where you show something normal. And I think that’s the part that dancers miss, and that’s the part you do so well, you present like in normal person, right. And then the pledge is, but watch me turn it into something else. And then the prestige usually is it goes back to normal or it shows up somewhere else. So again, the opening scene of La La Land and it’s like, not only do we all go back to normal, but you see all of LA something else, and then you find out it’s winter. Like there’s, there is a, there is a punchline at the end, but I think you’re right in that, by expanding our identities, we stand to gain more turn and more prestige than starting off as what we’re, what we’re saying. We’re going to turn ourselves into.
So starting from this most human place somehow makes the dancing, the turn and the prestige
That what makes it more magical and also more connecting to others because then they see themselves in you. And then they’re like, oh, I connect with that. I relate to that. And then also, I don’t know, there’s a level of believability that they could also be that, you know, or do that, you know, which is great.
Hmm. Yeah. Yeah. We want people to believe in can-do versus sit and watch me do. Yeah. Um, we, by we, I mean, you and I, I think we relate on that. I don’t, I don’t mean to speak for the entire collective of dancers in the world, but it’s something, uh, I feel kindred with you on that. Okay. Let me be very real. This is the mark of a master because when you’re watching La La land, that can look really simple. Real girl, real car, real sunglasses, real battement. But let me tell you something, those aren’t real cars. Those are prop cars reinforced with two by fours. Those aren’t your sunglasses. That’s not your dress. There’s a massive camera, three inches from your face. It can be hard to remove the dancer and just be a human. When all of the visual stimuli, the audible stimuli are telling you that you’re a freaking dancer.
And let me tell you like, um, that yeah, the, the why I love being a dancer first always is because there are things that being a dancer trained me to be that will advance me in all aspects of my life that have nothing to do with dance. That benefit me and I’m will forever be grateful to being a dancer because it is the ultimate super hero power. And, um, one of those things as being like a major multitasker in the moment, and that, by the way that car, the door was jammed, the seatbelt was jammed. I had to like figure out I was having voices and like three, three different voices telling me different things
Where you wearing ear wigs or no?
I had like, uh, I had, um, like I had something in my, I think, sorry. No, there was like a mic in the car, but also, I mean, they ended up using different, um, audio, but they had mic and car and then I had a musical director, a director, and the choreographer telling me three different things. And then, um, I had to, yeah, the battement, I had to be very specific angle. It could have had to be at a very specific height, not to like, it was like a very specific angle. I had to hit that mark exactly with my hands. Exactly. He wanted it very specific. And then my, the glasses, yes, didn’t totally fit. And then I had to throw them into the window without looking at the window with the window open and they have to land in a certain place and hit the mark and then remember all the lines and then also find my human in all of it. There was a lot.
And then, and then you had to have pulled that off and then every person down the line since then had to also know that many things y’all please go watch. It’s just truly, I cried watching it this morning because I remembered all of those things and I remembered making it to the end, pull the door and hearing somebody’s door closed slightly late and just shrinking knowing that we would ultimately be doing it one more time.
That Also is like, another thing I love about dancers is that, like, there are moments where we take turns where it’s like, it’s such a group effort. It is such a group effort. And then there are moments where you have to also shine whether or not you want to, you have to shine and knowing like when you have to shine and when you have to blend, right. And when you have to work hard together, you know what I mean?
What is your metric for achieving that? How do you do that?
Um, I mean, I take it off of the, the director usually. Yeah. I feel like I can tell by the story that’s being told, like what’s important because the story overall is more important than anything else. And so the story that’s being told is the most important. It’s not me. It’s not us. It’s not anything. And then how do I make that story come to light? Like how do I participate in making that the most important thing? So in that moment, if it means I have to shine, then I have to turn. I have to, even if I’m uncomfortable or I don’t feel like I deserve it or whatever. And then there are moments where I’m like, oh, this is where I have to, we have to be unison. Like we cannot mess up. We have to close the door at the same time. Don’t mess it up no matter what you do. And it’s no, it’s everybody’s fault. We all go down one for all, for one, and like being humble and hardworking enough to blend too, you know? And like be together, dancers are the best.
It’s so much. Yeah. It’s so much. I love dance. I love being a dancer and I love dancers. Okay. Let’s shift gears. I would love to talk about silence. Um, last week’s episode on the podcast, I talked about the things that I learned in my, uh, 21 days of silence. There were two exceptions. I’ll be real. I was on my patio one day in a big June, June bug flew at my face. And I swatted. And this is maybe five days after my surgery, swatted my hand. And I said, no, thank you with this tiny, tiny little foreign voice. And I was so upset that this June bug provoked, oh, not like, ah, but three actual, fully formed words. No, thank you. Anyways, outside of that, I did well with silence. Um, but I want the listeners to know before I had my surgery, I called Reshma because I know that each year you participate in a silent retreat. Could you tell us a little bit about what you do and what, what it entails?
So I I’ve been for the last like 10 plus years have been studying meditation from a Himalayan Monk. And, um, it’s a Vedic, indigenous oral tradition. Sanskrit, All of it is like comes from the source. And every year we find a place in nature. You know, whether it’s like in the mountains or another like retreat center, because there’s no like property that we, that the nonprofit that this is all kind of run through has, and every year for 10 days, sometimes a little bit more, sometimes a little bit less. Um, we, we review our practice and then learn more. If we are at a level where we can learn more. And in that, in those 10 days, part of the retreat experience is that you’re in complete silence. And the reason why is so that the teachings can go in deeper and deeper in silence, and it really works. And, um, I remember, um, when I, when I say silence, I mean, like, there’s no phone, there’s no books. There’s no music. There’s no eye contact,
No communication, because communication is not silence. So no eye contact, you know, no speaking, no body language as a dancer, like not being able to be like, are you going in the bathroom? Like pointing that’s communication, no, nothing. So completely going in going totally inside. And while you are doing that, you’re also in class. I mean, the teacher, the monk who is teaching he’s speaking, but we’re not speaking if we have a burning question and it better be a burning question, just kidding. You know, maybe you can write it down on a piece of paper. You can add, you can give, you know, but these are like, you don’t, you know, when we’re talking about Himalayan Monk, you better have burning questions because questions just lead to more questions. Dana, let me tell you, I’ve learned that hardcore.
Actually, that was my biggest misconception about my 21 day journey is that I would have an answer at the end. I was like, oh, this will be great. I’ll know. So much all come out as this, you know, actualized person with a plan, um, with answers and you, yeah. You said it. Questions begets questions.
Yeah. And what’s beautiful is the more you meditate, you learn discernment. And then the discernment allows you to answer your own questions. And so this is a long process. Meditation doesn’t happen overnight. This is like, like lifetimes. Like I’m not going to master this. I suck at it. Kay. To be honest, like I’ve been doing it for years and I’m not trying to put a judgment on it. So I take that back. There’s no sucking at anything. It’s just, again, here I showing up, it’s coming back again with meditation, because there’s so much for me, it’s so subtle. And with my craft, it’s not subtle. Right. Except for when we talk about the dance acting like taking the dancer out, those types of things, scale
The scale of perceptible performance versus like the work, the work is not subtle. You are working so hard.
Right. And in meditation, it’s all about subtlety. You could feel a little bit like nothing’s happening. Right. Cause it’s so subtle. And, um, I had to really work hard on again, defining my success. Right. I, these themes keep showing up. It’s not about the successful meditation that day. It’s about, there’s no such thing anyways. It’s never going to be, I mean, the goal is for it. You to consistently find it every day. Right. But for me, it’s always about showing up. So if I showed, I show up every day and I sit down. Now, if I’m sitting for five minutes or an hour, that is, I can only show up and then see what happens. And I’m not gonna put a judgment on it, but I’m gonna always show up for myself. Because for me, meditation was like me marrying myself. It was like, my first marriage is like, I, why am I such a bad wife to myself? I don’t show up for myself. I don’t like, I can’t even sit with me myself for like two seconds. Like what kind of, what the, what kind of partner, what kind of partner my, to me. And so meditation became my first marriage to me being a good wife to myself. And so I show up every day, no judgment what happens. Happens.
Thank you. Um, I remember when first I came to you, I was expecting to leave with tips, like how to make it easy, how to get the most out of it. And you said, Ooh, how does one prepare someone for a life without speaking, when that person loves to be speaking? And I was like, yep, I’m asking you to do something hard. And I didn’t even realize the depth of the retreat that you go on. It Inspired me. Again, I was ex I was expecting, you know, a plan like meditate once in the morning, eat this for breakfast journal this many pages, read this book. Um, go on a walk that’s this long. I really had this urge to calendar and schedule my days. And your, uh, our conversation really inspired me to take it one degree further to disengage from more, to engage more with myself. So I stopped social media. I only checked my email twice a day. I deliberately did not try to communicate. Um, my mom was going to come be with me post operation, and I love her more than anything in the world and actually asked her, I think it would be better if you don’t. I will try to communicate with you and the thought of trying to talk for 21 days versus allowing silence for 21 days. And that was a no-brainer. I was like, Hmm. I would like to allow this to happen. And I am glad that I did. I am very curious. And if you send me some information about your retreat or your type of retreat, um, oh 100% seek that out during a non post operation time of my life and maybe listeners would too. Um, but one of the things I wanted to ask you a little bit more about that you mentioned, uh, that day that we talked, uh, okay. So two things from that conversation that I wanted to bring up and allow you to share or expound on or not. Um, you said that when you can’t talk to anybody, you get louder to yourself. I definitely experienced that. I would encourage all of the artists listening to engage in vocal rest, or a vow of silence. If you are feeling out of touch with your voice, your values, your taste, uh, your sense of direction, it really gets turned up when you turn other things down. So we’d love for you to talk more about that if you want to, but also you mentioned something called the law of nature. This, that no itch will last forever. If you find yourself sitting in meditation and something’s bothering you and you really want to tend to it, if you don’t, it will go away. But if you do, you’ve broken the, your, your, uh, what is it that’s been broken. Watch me try to explain this thing. I know nothing about. Could you talk about the law of nature?
Um, you know, it’s that thing that like this too shall pass and like sitting, I mean, there are, there are meditations that are training you to literally burn burn, um, and sitting in your, sitting in your pain and watching it. And I think even this morning, I was just talking to Miles about how, like, I’m understanding my meditation more and more and how it’s like reflecting life and like, with what’s happening on, on the outside in the world and what’s happening inside of me. And like that idea of just being like a witness and like witnessing and it being a separate thing. And, um, knowing like for me, I just am like, there will always be something if it’s not that my leg hurts or that like, oh, I have to like, oh, write that email or, you know, whatever else is distracting me physically, or emotionally, there will always be something. And so if there will always be something I can’t stop that, but what I can do is like right now, take a second to just not worry about that and just be the, be the witness of like, okay, my, my leg is burning, but it will pass. And I will, it won’t, they won’t hurt in like two seconds. Just watch, just watch the pain. It sounds really, it’s not easy at all. I’m I know what I’m saying. Feels like, I mean, it’s not easy, but you can do it. It takes practice. Like it’s, like I said, like meditation is so hard, but it’s also not hard. It’s literally just a muscle that you just keep showing up to exercise, um, and turning almost disengaging and turning off the exercise of like taking things away and like, and going in, and, and as far as the, um, as far as the, you mentioned the first thing, which was yes, when you get quiet and you go into silence, your voice gets louder inside and that’s for better and worse. And so the things that are coming up that are loud can be things that like, you’ve like put aside and you don’t want to look at anymore, or also things that are like screaming the truth of you, like what you said, like, if you are lost or you need direction or anything like that, going silence means both of those things are going to come. Like all the stuff that you maybe have been avoiding, but also the things that you are looking and searching for, but all of those things are the truth. And so if you’re trying to find the truth, yes. Some of the truth is ugly and hard. And so you have to be prepared to face it, but then the reward is, you’re also getting things that you wanted, which is a direction and knowing who you truly are. And so they both have
And being a partner to yourself.
Yeah, exactly. And, um, you know, it’s totally, absolutely to me worth it to, to, to, uh, to deal with the loudness. And I think that’s also maybe sort of what I think you mentioned at the top of this, what you’re experiencing coming out of your silence, that like, you’re, you have to choose, there’s a level of choice and control over, like how much you want to exercise your voice. And that, to me feels like how I feel when I come out of silence that like, I don’t want to speak unless it’s value adding, like, I’m, there’s a lot of noise. There’s a lot of noise out there. There’s so much noise. And so let me just speak with what adds value. That’s it value adding
This is you curating the space. Yeah. Deciding editing first. Um, my husband also taught me he more or less put me through art school and introduced me to the notion of gesture, like gesture, gesture, drawing, but also gestures like in a painting, a stroke, a splatter, and there being no neutral gestures. And I think the same is true in dance, or at least I try to create from that place. It’s intense. Like when you think about the function of a preparation before a pirouette what does it contribute other than a foundation for a pirouette, is there a way to have, you know, something that’s not simply there to serve something else, but something that’s contributing, not distracting. And, uh, I, I’m noticing now more as I’m in voice therapy, which y’all, it’s been a journey, um, being, becoming more mindful of my pace, my breath, how I’m speaking, um, and what it’s supported with, uh, these are all things that I’ve been thinking so much more about now, thanks to this event, this life event of mine. Um, but I was actually shocked at how quickly I went back to talking a lot. I, when I was silent, I was like, oh, I love this. I, by the end of it, I was like, I could do this. I enjoy you
You fall in love with it
Yes. I loved it. But as soon as I was around people again, um,
It just so easily go back to it. Um, so when you’re in, you want to like, when you’re in it, you want to be there forever because you know that when you come out of it, it’s going to be like so fast,
It moves fast, but there are things we can do to slow down, even when other things are moving quickly. I simply, for me, it’s simply taking breaths. Even if the sentence isn’t complete. Um, I was in back at a few past episodes and I’ll probably listen to this one too, and be like, breathe already, take a breath. So it’s an active practice I’m showing up for it. Thank you for being inspiration in that. And in so many ways. Um, and with that, for the voice, I probably should wrap it up and, um, contribute in other nonverbal ways for the rest of the day. But thank you so much for sharing your insights, your wisdom, your magic tricks. And Reshma where can people find more you, if they’re in LA, could they find the shop? How, how do we get more of you?
Hey, um, well, I have a website which is basically my name.com. I have Instagram was basically as my name with the handlebar and I have the shop, which is called Inheritance Bombay to LA, which is exactly how you’d find me on Instagram. Um, it’s separate, it’s a separate account than my own personal account. And the shop is in Highland Park. And currently it is by appointment only, um, to keep everybody safe and feeling good. And it’s all about connection too. So, um, I like to connect if that is what you’re seeking and if you’re not seeking connection and you’re just seeking vintage, then I’m like, get it. It’s all curated to however you want it to be. But I am, I am totally open to all the things. So yeah, those are, that’s how you can find me.
Incredible. Thank you for, thank you for being here. Thank you for being my first guest back.
Dana. Thank you for having me. I am so happy to be here. The feeling is mutual.
Thank you so much, my friend. And also, have I been saying your name wrong the entire time we’ve been friends?
No, you have not. You have been saying it the way I’ve been saying it. This is a whole other podcast. Dana. I could go on and on. I actually had to think about how do I say my name
Interesting, how does that make you feel
Because I mean, it makes me feel all kinds of crazy. I basically even say my name wrong my whole life. And I, my name is Reshma and my mom actually calls me Resho. She says Resho. And um, growing up first generation American it’s spelled R E S H M a. So I’m like phonetically that’s Reshma. So I don’t know, mom, why are you saying my name wrong? I never said that to her, but I always was like, oh, she says it with an accent. That’s cute. Can we talk about how absolutely ridiculous that sounds like I was like, oh, she has an accent. I don’t. I say my name Reshma that’s how it is, right? Oh my God. When I realized Dana that I was like, appropriating my own name, you don’t even understand the identity crisis that I’ve been having around my name and how important, I mean, this is why I’m like, this is a whole other podcast because like it’s a word, syllables sound vibration. It is the name that everything has reasoned for. It is its existence. And Reshma is actually the way that it’s technically supposed to be said, but because I’ve always said, Reshma not thinking like, oh, I’m not, I wasn’t like it. Wasn’t coming from a place of embarrassment about my culture or my heritage. It was just, that’s just how you would say that in a R E sh- ma, like it was coming from that place. And then I don’t know why I had a disconnect with the way my culture and my family were saying my name. I just, I, maybe I chose. I also, after a certain point, I was like, I just, the way it like the way it sounded, it sounded like me and everyone called me Reshma and then it like kept reflecting back to me and it felt like me. And then when I had the moment where I was like, no, I’m the asshole in this situation. And now I have to choose, do I choose the name that is correct? Appropriate, like the appropriate pronunciation from my heritage and the way it’s supposed to be said, or do I choose the name that they both hit me in a different place in my heart, but they both are my name. Like Reshma is still, like, I identify as Reshma is like, what feels like also another part of my identity, like completely like a familial, like, like different place. And then Reshma is like my identity and like who I am in the world. And so this whole thing has been causing me all kinds of chaos and I’m like, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. And so I’ve just kind of been like going with the flow with it and like kind of slowly introducing it. And what happened is the other day I did it like a year ago on Instagram. I was like, it’s Reshma I fit it on like an Insta story. And I don’t even know how many DMs I got. Like, I’m sorry, what your name is? Reshma Like, I tried to be subtle about it, but it’s so not subtle that people heard it. They were like, your name’s Reshma I was like, oh my God, it’s not something I can just sort of try and like, introduce it into the world without an explanation. There needs to be an explanation. Cause it sounds like a totally new name.
We could have a party, a re-introduction.
So I don’t know Dana, I’m trying to figure it out, but I know I have the right to choose. So I’m like, I can choose, like I even asked my mom I’m like, do you like, what should I she’s like, do you bill, like whatever you want to do, like a beautiful thing. And I’m like, okay, well I’ll just like, I’ll just choose.
There you go. You found the third option. You don’t have to be one or the other. You are actually both. Totally both.
Well, my friend, what do you think? I think we will certainly be following up with Reshma in the very near future. What a gym? What a gift? What a rock star. I hope you enjoyed this one as much as I did. And I really do hope you go watch that opening scene from La La Land, actually watch the entire movie, but if you’re really up for a challenge, maybe go try to recreate Reshma’s performance from that opening scene. I think that you will find walking that line between natural and magical is much easier, said than done. Certainly much easier talked about than danced. So good luck with that. May the funk be with you? The subtle funk, the very funky funk. Go be gone. Get out there, keep it funky. And I will talk to you soon. Bye
You know me as a dancer/ choreographer, you know me as a talker, but I am ALSO a person who WRITES… in a journal. You better believe I journaled the crap out of my 10 days of silence that turned into 21 days of silence post vocal cord surgery. I yielded about 3 pages of stream of consciousness writing every day, and as you can imagine, thos pages turned up a lot of… STUFF. So, As an exercise for myself, a gift to my future self, and a gift to you; I have decided to organize my notes and share my lessons learned from 21 days of silence (and weeks of limited talking). Here it is!
Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: My friend, my friend, Dana here, let’s do this. This is my first podcast recording in over a month. Y’all if you are a first-time listener, I am recovering from the vocal cord surgery. This is my new voice. Holy smokes. If you are an avid listener, then you know that I prepared you with a lot of good stuff over the last several weeks. Uh, I, I backlogged before my surgery and wow. It is very interesting to go back into, listen to old voice, um, and even older, older voice, and to listen to this one, and I’m telling you what my friends, it is just gonna get better from here on out. I am so excited to talk to you today. Thank you for being here. All right. Now I start every episode with wins and since it’s been so long, I kind of don’t know where to start a lot to celebrate in my world. So I’m going to go with the obvious and celebrate my successful cyst removal surgery, and a very compassionate road to a full recovery, which I am still several weeks away from. But, um, I’ve been speaking lightly for a few weeks. Now I’ll be recording this episode in small bites, over a long period of time and, um, yeah. With, with the help of therapy and good old mindfulness. Oh, and I got this new headset microphone thing that I wear, um, that has like a purse looking speaker connected to it. I am basically the tour guide of my life. Uh, and I simply love not throwing my voice. I love keeping it close. And so that is my win that’s what’s going well, no, you go. What’s going well in your world.
I’m so glad that you’re winning. Keep crushing it. Okay. Now I am going to try to use as few words as possible. I journal. You better believe I journaled the crap out of my 10 turned 21 days of silence. I yielded about three pages of stream of consciousness writing every day. And as you can imagine, that turned up quite a few things. It got messy in those pages. So as an exercise for myself and to gift to my future self and to all of you, I have decided to organize those pages, organize those notes and share my lessons learned from 21 days of silence. And a few weeks of limited talking, I should preface. I am a person who laughs at myself a lot. If you are an avid listener, you know, this, there will be some changes around here. Instead of my normal belly laugh, the guttural laugh, my doctor has suggested, uh, “tsst Tsst” type of laugh. So you might notice, um, so hard for me to not burst into uncontrollable laughter. Okay. In episode 82, Vice Chief talks about uncertainty. By the way that entire episode is mandatory listening. I am really resisting the urge to like recite the entire transcript to you now, but voice. So here’s the point I want to focus on. He says, quote, if you’re in this uncertain situation and you don’t know the right thing to do one way to approach this is to think of what is the worst thing I could possibly do. How could I absolutely ruin this and then base your next decisions on avoiding that as much as possible. Going into surgery, I knew I wanted to make the most of my recovery time, but I was actually uncertain about a lot, obviously uncertain about how the operation would go, how long it would take to fully recover if I would work or not. If I would treat this as a vacation, if I would use sign language or a dry erase board or an app, or if I would simply refrain from communication altogether for a short period, I considered going on a silent retreat. Um, but here’s what I knew. I knew what I wanted to avoid. I knew what would ruin everything speaking for one. So I decided that I would remove myself from the situations in which I would want to talk. I spent a lot of time by myself. Worry is another one. Worry about my voice, about my relationships, about my work. I noticed that worry is special. It doesn’t lead to action and it doesn’t lead to rest and recovery worry exists somewhere in the space between I don’t take action and I don’t rest. Worry was not on the menu. Neither was trying to change any of my circumstances. Wrestling with reality was not something I was interested in. Neither was filling my brain and my body with garbage. So I knew I wanted to avoid binge or emotional or boredom eating. I gave myself a schedule in which I would eat. And I told myself the foods which I would eat. I also avoided Instagram. In fact, I totally stopped. It was awesome. Talk more about that later. Oh, and here’s another one I vowed to avoid defaulting to medial and mindless tasks that don’t need to be done. For example, lots of loads of laundry, washing the floors, washing the mirrors, reading and rereading emails. I decided I would check emails twice a day. Loved that, loved that. So here’s what I wound up actually doing. Morning pages, stream of consciousness writing. Usually it took place in the morning. I also read books. I finished My Broken language by Quiara Alegría Hudes and wow I cannot wait to talk to you more about that. I’m now working my way through A little Devil in America, which is fantastic. And I have just now made my way through the index of a book called impro, which is all about improv for storytellers. Can’t wait to share more about that. Uh, I focused on music, appreciation that involved listening to and learning how to play music. I taught myself, “Hey Jude”, on the piano. I’m super proud. I refocused my mind on my goals. I did my nails. I dug into my clown training. I freestyled, I played games. I watched movies. Holy smokes that I watch movies. I meditated my first meditation. Uninterrupted was 35 minutes long. That’s about 20 minutes longer than my longest before that. And by the end of my 21 days of silence, my longest meditation was an hour and 15 minutes stoked on that. I went on walks. I played with going on walks while listening to music. And without I played with going on walks with noise, canceling headphones and focusing on my breath. That was really interesting. I worked on loving on my house and my body, the place where my body lives and the place where my mind lives, my mind lives in my body. My body lives in my house. Both got so much love. Oh my gosh, I baked. I baked a cake because I turned 35. So I did what you do in mid a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Ooh. So good. Once I was cleared to exercise, I jumped back on that bike. I spun, uh, oh. And I wrote a movie almost. I almost wrote a movie. I started writing a movie. I’ll explain more about that later too. Now, what do you think about that list? Do you think I did a lot or do you think I took it easy pause to consider that a lot and a little or too much or not enough are different for everyone. That’s what I did. And I even tracked how often I did those things and I think I did a good amount. I also think I did not a good amount. In other words, I think I rested a good amount. I think I did nothing, the perfect amount. And I think I did the perfect amount. Now here’s what I learned. It’s not about what you do or how often you do it. Just like, it’s not about what you know, it’s about how you apply what you know. So here is what I know now. And I’m so excited to be applying it in the future.
I learned that when the unimportant things in life get turned down, the important stuff gets turned way up. And sometimes that was really uncomfortable for me. I got to listen to my selfdoubt at a 12, I got to listen to uncertainty. I looked at its wave forms. I inspected it. I digested it. I allowed it to be loud. Hmm. That’s poetic. I allowed it to be loud. And I survived by my 21st day of silence. Those volumes taught me something very important that you won’t figure it all out In 21 days, I thought I would emerge from my 21 day silent reflection with a crystal clear image of what I’ll be when I grow up and what I’ll need to do next in order to get there. I was wrong about that. I still don’t know, but I do know that my future self is a bad-ass independent woman with a heart of gold. I know that she makes big moves gracefully. I know that she takes care of her plants. I know that she is unstoppable. And I know that she’s built a community of highly capable humans that know how to hustle yet lead with kindness. I also know that she will not Polish a turd, but she knows how she’ll do things better. Next time. When I think about that future person, I notice that she doesn’t rush. She isn’t late, nor is she early. She arrives precisely when she means to. That’s Gandalf If you didn’t catch that, that’s that’s Gandolf. Oh my goodness. The “tsst” laugh is so funny to me. It makes me laugh more. Okay. We back you’ll notice me taking my time more in these episodes because I’m becoming a person who takes time and makes time. In my three weeks of silence. I learned to call on the senses to help me slow down what they say about the senses. You know, that losing one, heightens the others. I think that’s true and helpful to remember that isolating them takes time and attention that we can create whenever we want. Right now. Think about how your shoulders feel. Relax them in one minute, they will probably have crept back up to tense again. Relax them again right now. How does your butt feel right now? How about your jaw? What do you hear right now? Can you separate each sound? What was the last thing you tasted? Can you remember it? Can you remember where you tasted it in your mouth, back of the jaw, tip of the tongue roof of the mouth. The next time you eat, can you take the time to separate each flavor? Relax your shoulders. Do you look at your food before you eat it? By the way? I don’t think I used to, but I’m starting to and holy smokes figs are gorgeous. Just cut. Open a fig. Next time you want to take a vacation. Holy smokes. Beautiful. Unbelievable. Can you just marvel at the color of something? A post-it note, for example, when was the last time you looked at the different colors in your eyes, smell your shirt, smell the strap of your seatbelt. If you’re driving in the car, do you like the way you smell? Do you know of a smell that you love and can you fill your life with it? That’s another thing I did while I was silent, took a trip to Le Labo, absolutely gifted myself. The gift of loving the way that I smell. Relax your shoulders. Yeah. Perhaps the most valuable lesson I learned during my three weeks without speaking is how to slow down and sense my life, how to experience it sensationally. So I invite you whether you’re listening to this podcast on the day of its release or not to make this September more simple by sensing, simply put, oh, and one more thing. I learned that to me, birthdays are about chronology order measurement, evolution, tradition, and celebration. So happy birthday to you, whether today is it or not. Relax your shoulders. Happy belated birthday to me. And as a gift to us all, get out there, keep it simple and keep it very funky. And I will talk to you soon bye.
Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review because your words move me to number two thing. I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye.
Ep. #87 Replay: Ep. #29 Movement Matters with Jermaine Spivey and Spenser Theberge
This week’s replay is so special because my guests were SO special. Welcome to the world of Jermaine Spivey and Spenser Theberg where good questions are met with GREAT answers. These humans bring so much thought into their words, movement, and world and I couldn’t be happier that they are a part of my world!
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: All right. All right. Hello everybody. And welcome to words that move me. I’m Dana. I am so jazzed about this episode, and I know that I always say that, but really this one is special. It is special because my guests are special, so special. It is special because I learned so much about myself, about my craft, about my relationship to the world that I’m living in right now. Um, and I also learned a lot more about audio editing. So here comes the heads up. The audio quality is not the greatest on this episode, but the, every other quality is the greatest. So this episode is my win for the week. Your turn, what’s going well in your world. Let’s see if I can keep tempo.
Yes. Good for you. I’m so glad that you’re winning. Keep it up and celebrate yourself. It’s so important. Okay. Now I don’t want to take too much more time before I invite you to the table. Well, the zoom, I guess, with my guests today, Spenser Theberge is originally from Portland, Julliard Grad danced for NDT two and NDT one that’s Netherlands Dance Theater for you, non dance types. Um, the Forsythe company, he’s the winner of the Princess Grace Award. He currently teaches for Cal arts. Um, but most importantly, I want to tell you that his choreography makes me weep tears of laughter and also tears of a very special brand of admiration. He is a truly special artist and I am so honored and flattered to call him to call both of these gentlemen, my friends. All right. So up next, we have the one and only Jermaine Spivey He is from Baltimore, also a Julliard grad. Also a Princess Grace winner also has danced for all of the, that I oogle and all of the companies that you should Google. Um, he is currently teaching for USC Kaufman, but beyond all of those things, I can not think of a single thing, more mesmerizing in this world than watching Jermaine dance. That was at least until we had this conversation. And I learned that it is equally mesmerizing to dig in to words with him, with him and with Spenser, both truly mesmerizing. Um, this conversation simply blows my mind wide open. So without any further ado, please enjoy this conversation with Jermaine Spivey and Spenser Theberge
Dana: Spencer and Jermaine. Holy smokes. Thank you so much for joining me today on the podcast. I am thrilled to have you! Welcome.
BOTH: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Dana: Um, this is kind of par for the course. This is sort of how I do it on the pod. Please introduce yourself.
Jermaine: Um, okay. I will introduce myself. My name is Jermaine Spivey. I am an artist. I’m a performing artist. I am a choreographer. I am an educator. I am a learner. I am a person in this world that um, loves to create. And connect to people through that creativity.
Dana: Thats a beautiful introduction. Thank you. Nice to meet you. Alright, Spenser hit it.
Spenser: I’m Spenser Theberge. And that is how you say my last name.
Dana: I’ve been saying it wrong for like four years now.
Spenser: Yes, it’s true. I am Spencer Theberge. Uh, I also echo what Jermaine says. I am an artist. I work in, I work in dance, but I don’t feel like I only live in dance. I am excited by interdisciplinary things. I’m interested in collaborations and the permeable worlds in terms of art and genres. Um, I teach. I dance, uh, and I’m also, Jermaine and I are partners. And we’re partners also in the work we’re making too.
Dana: You Guys. This is the first time I’m having a couple on the podcast. I’m so jazzed about this. Okay. Um, thank you for your introductions. I have a million questions for you. About your work and what it’s like to collaborate with your significant other and what it is to be in an interracial Relationship in the summer of 2020 and how the black lives matter movement is impacting you and how are you impacting it and what it means to be like, Whoa, all the things I have, all the questions. So slow down, Wilson. Um, let me simplify and ask you.
Jermaine: There’s a lot. It’s a lot.
Um, let me just simplify and ask you to tell me something you would like for people to know about your relationship. Or is it top secret?
Jermaine: Oh, no, I think, yeah. Okay. I’m gonna start that off. I think I would like people to know that it is, it’s a constant effort and I don’t mean that in a negative way. It’s actually very positive that its constant effort, but constantly trying to see each other for who we are and how we’re evolving and how we do that together. How we do that side by side, I really, really, really don’t respond to the idea of, you know, you meet someone and its the same and that is happily ever after, like, you’re the same person I met and it’s like, yes, I am a version of that person, but I’m also hopefully changing and growing and evolving the entire time and definitely tries to do that next to the person that I love. We’re next to each other we’re with each other. We’re changing. Okay. Talking about summer of 2020
Dana: Change baby change.
Jermaine: We’re both changed from how we started this year.
Spenser: I would also add or piggyback then say that, um, there’s the idea that we’re always partners. It’s not like we are, we are. And then what I mean by that is our relationship as partners. We’re always doing that. We’re doing that when we’re making work together, we’re doing that when we’re making breakfast together, we’re doing that when Jermaine’s on a tour and I’m home, and we’re not physically together. We’re always partners. Sometimes I think that there’s, um, you know, the compartmentalizing idea of we, you’re not, we’re not in our relationship when we’re making work together. For instance, like once we entered this room, it’s a different, it’s a different story or something. And that’s not the case with us. We very much are always exploring and interrogating, but our relationship feeds and that’s the art we make as well. Uh, and I think that we hope that our art changes and develops over time. And so why don’t, why not treat ourselves like that too, that we can change and develop over time.
Ah, I love that sentiment. I love the idea of perpetual evolution and, uh, specifically hopefully progress, right. Um, also Jermaine I’m so glad you brought up effort. And that is what I would like to segue with into this next part of the conversation. So I think it was after, and we can go back a little bit to our history as friends in a second, but I think it was after Gen Four, which was certainly the most, um, amount of time I spent with you guys like period. But I think after Gen Four, um, I dug into a search for more of you both because after that week of watching you dance, I just could not sate myself. So I was just looking for more. And I remember stumbling upon, um, short film that was directed by Dana Casperson and it’s part of her, um, changing the conversation book. I think she made little chunks from her book, changing the conversation, the 17 principles of conflict resolution. And, um, I was so delighted by this thing. Uh, and then I dug more on Dana and I became so delighted by her. Uh, she says that conflict is the origin of all creative action, which is like the smarter older sibling version of my saying, which is creativity is simply problem solving. But she, she says that conflict is inevitable and she adds that destructive conflict is not inevitable. That’s the choice part. Um, she, she explains describing nondestructive conflict as just dynamic tension. Effort. And to me that sounds kinda like fun dynamic tension reminds me of a first date or of like the early years of a relationship. Dynamic tension, sounds like, Oh, I like that versus conflict is something that I think is, is kind of has this negative connotation. Um, but, uh, one of the things I like most about you guys, both in your life, in, in your work is that you don’t avoid conflict or effort, um, or tension. Actually, I would say that you guys are both masters of tension and release of tension. Spenser, you do it with humor Jermaine, you do it with your body. Um, could you guys talk about how you use tension in your work and in your relationship?
Spenser: Woah, Dana, thank you. I love that. That’s some something you’re observing because it’s, we talk about conflicts all the time and it is really at the heart of our creations. It’s also at the heart of the process of creating. Um, we get along really well. We disagree, I wouldn’t say we fight.
Jermaine: Maybe once in 10 years have we fought.
Um, however, we’re both really, um, we really believe what we believe and we really care about the things that we believe in and those things are, are often at odds and that doesn’t feel good, but it’s sort of like a thank goodness type thing, because, uh, what I want to relate it to is this idea that you have to have conflict in order to have good theater. Otherwise the curtain goes up and maybe somebody proposes to the other person. And that person says yes, and then it’s over, there’s no conflict and the curtain goes down and it ends. And so there’s the thought that if you want something to be sustainable, if you want, and I’m talking now in a performative way, if you want to sustain interests for the audience, there’s gotta be conflicts there for people to have a hook, so we lean into the conflict. Um, and since our work is usually a kind of lens into our, into our relationship as partners, we then lean into the inherent conflicts between each other, um, and allow them to be present in the work. So that the work can sustain yeah, it’s a belief. I mean, if it feels like a belief, like a value for making work to me is this idea of conflict. So I love that you see it and that you’re aware of it.
100%. Um, do you have anything you want to add, Jay?
Um, I’m just listening to, I feel like conflict is also about diversity and, uh, it’s about opposition. Uh, I think we’re realizing right now in this moment that we can’t continue to curate this weird streamlined version of reality where there aren’t, there’s no diversity, right? Like where we, force people to conform to be the same, where we force people to have the same values and the same way of expressing these values, it’s not realistic.
And there’s no opposition, there’s no opposition. And we know because we’re dancers, who’ve done pirouettes before that you cannot lift up without also pushing down. You won’t have a successful rotation if you don’t do both. Um, this is what I’m inspired by right now is this idea. And I know it’s very self-gratifying, but it’s this idea that dancers just might be the best people to deal with and lead in a time like this because we have understanding and the ability to think kind of physically and know the importance of something like opposition. Know, the importance of something like spacing, for example. But I just, I, I would love to hear a little bit more from you guys on what some other dancer or choreographer characteristics might be helpful right now to, to all, not just to dance types.
Spacial awareness is the first thing that came to mind, um, is not just about avoiding bumping into people on the street. It’s about space. It’s about an understanding of how to occupy space, not just how to leve room for other people. Which is something from the conversation in our way of life here in the US, created a lot of extremes and not so much space or room for people to exist in. And I think that it is work.
Actually, I think we experienced that in the dance world was maybe we’ll have a chance to kind of get into a little bit more, uh, later, but this idea of where you exist inside of the dance world, and things sometimes not. I mean, sometimes for a lot of people, it’s always feeling like there’s, there is no intersection or blending of worlds and experiences. And I’m also thinking about blending of forms and blending of techniques. But, um, I’d like to first, before getting into that talk about also, I think dance has the ability to help us train an idea of empathy. I was just thinking about a rehearsal Jermaine and I had the other day where we were doing some partnering and I needed to know what something’s felt like for him in order to do my job for him to help him. So I, he had me do it, do his role, so I could feel what it felt like in his body. And then I knew better. It didn’t change instantly, but I had a better ability to make a helpful choice for him as a partner. And that made me feel like what we’re actually doing is training that thing we’re trying to talk about right now, which is, this is how this feels for me. Can you hear me say that? Like, can you put that on, this is how this feels for me. And, and we do that sometimes without even knowing that that’s unusual for some people in their world and in their life. And right now, since I’ve been teaching a lot online and, you know, theoretically everyone’s alone in their kitchen, like I am, teaching, right. And so I’m trying to still figure out how to teach this idea or promote this idea of empathy. And I think we can relate to ourselves in our own bodies, empathetically as well, and have that same process of like, what does that feel like for you knees? And then if I’m, if I’m fostering a sense of empathy in my own body, isn’t it then? Couldn’t it then be easier to be empathetic with the wider world.
Okay. Pause for the cause and let that sink in for a second. All right. In episode three, with Chloe Arnold, we talked about how dance lessons are life lessons. We talked about all of the different ways that dance has prepared us for life, and we dug pretty deep. Um, I highly suggest you go back and check that out if you haven’t already, or maybe even revisit that one, if it’s been awhile, but even in all of that discussion with Chloe, it had never dawned on me that perhaps the most important and powerful and dare I say essential human quality, empathy can be practiced physically through dance. This was a massive a-ha moment for me. I, I danced as a swing on my most recent world tour. And, uh, for those of you that don’t know a swing is somebody that knows and must be able to dance anyone in the shows track, um, a track just means their part, I guess. So for that show for the man of the woods tour, I learned all of the ladies and even took it upon myself to learn my male counterpart dancers tracks. Um, and it was my job to jump in for anybody in the event that they needed me to fill in. And man, wow. If it is recommended to walk a mile in somebody else’s shoes, I highly recommend that you try dancing in them. I gained a tremendous understanding and appreciation for my fellow dancers by learning their show, by dancing in their shoes. I did wear my own shoes, but that’s neither here nor there. I think that perhaps the best part of what I’m learning from this conversation and from what Spenser is saying is that learning and appreciating can happen for me in me, like having empathy for parts of myself. Wow. Just Whoa. Okay. I had to jump out and highlight that and sort of plant a seed. So that next time you find yourself in conflict with yourself or with someone else, you might find an opportunity to practice empathy. Okay. That’s it let’s jump back in.
Jermaine: Yes. I can still connect and you know, physically partner with this person that doesn’t weigh the same as I do that has a different shape than I do that. That comes from a different understanding of dance in terms of their background than I do, but we can meet, we figure it out. I mean, that’s what happens. It happens again all the time. In a company its a whole new group of people, and you start that process all over again. And just thinking about how many times, whether it’s a company in a gig or in a shoot, you meet these people may never see again, but you have to come together for the common goal. We’re so versed at that. It can be bumpy along the way. It’s not always great. It’s not always whatever perfect supposed to mean, but I think that’s also the point.
Those are excellent points that I really hadn’t considered the concept of actually sharing weight and feeling feelings of, you know, trading roles. Like we do that in dance. I will dance your role. I will try to be your track. Um, I’ll try to lift you the way that you lift me in that lift. Like I can’t think of a, of a better way to practice empathy. Um, but also this idea that we are basically constantly, uh, building and then breaking down and then rebuilding new teams with different objectives. And that is such an important skill to have. I think dancers are really, really good at being quick to volunteer, quick to make changes, quick to make friends. And part of that is the nature of how quickly our world and our creative processes work, especially here in LA. There certainly aren’t, we, we don’t have the luxury of long rehearsal processes for most projects. And I mean, no rehearsal process now. No in-person rehearsal process now. So yeah, we we’ve gotten very good at doing certain things. Um, what are we not good at?
Well, we’re not always good at recognizing individual contributions to the mess. I feel like I’ve.. I’ve been a performer in a contemporary concert dance company and I’ve been in these moments with company where we’re complaining and we’re like, this is happening. And this is happening, this company sucks. Everybody gets under this company sucks train. And it’s like, we’re the company, you know? I mean, yes, there is an administrative body that is governing
The situation, but also we actually have a lot more say on the dynamics of how things go than we think. there’s something in structure. There’s something in the way a lot of things organize that causes us to forget that. I mean, every company that I’ve ever been a part of with the exception of maybe one has had like really rocky shit and again, that’s not a dig it’s layered, right? I think that’s something that happens because there’s many different aspects to running a company. And then of course the dancers feel the brunt of that, but then we can get caught in just complaining about it and just suffering in and that becomes our story. Like I’m just suffering this situation and this is how it has to be, woe is me, I’m a dancer. And then at some point you have to realize other things that I can do. And other ways that I find to this situation that will change me, and usually If I change myself that is reflected in the person next to me and the person next to them.
I would like to talk a little bit more about voice specifically. You’ve used it in your work in a way that I think is very attractive, but I know that for a lot of dancers using our voice, like our actual vocal chords is terrifying. I’ll speak for myself as for one. Um, could you guys share maybe a story of, of being asked to use your voice or maybe why you, why you love to use voice?
Yeah. I’d love to talk about that. I, I think a bit of context is helpful and to know that I grew up, um, like equal parts. I was training at a dance studio, uh, after school, but in school I was training in theater. I was a drama kid, and I was really, really torn between these two worlds. And I felt a lot of angst, of like this having to make a choice. And I ultimately chose dance because I love it. It wasn’t like depression or anything. I, I knew dance in my body and I didn’t know theater in my body if that makes sense, so I followed it, but I definitely felt like I’ve made a choice and closed a pathway, closed some kind of world in myself. And it wasn’t until I moved to Europe and I was working on a creation with the choreographer at Netherlands dance theater. And I was, I was asked to use my voice and I was sort of, Oh, I know that person, that’s that person from high school, like who knows, how to use their voice and who loves to speak and has this sense of theater and drama. And it was like inviting a part of myself to the party who hadn’t got to be at the party for like 10 years. And from that point on, that was it. I was, I was like, if I’m not getting to explore all of me, I’m just not sure if I’m that interested. And sometimes it feels right to make the choice to just dance. But there’s a difference between saying you can only dance. And right now you’re just dancing. Versus like, just knowing that it’s always, like, I always have the ability to use my voice if that’s the right choice for this particular communication right now, or to, I don’t know, sing, or make a dress or dance, or like get behind this camera and operate this projector or whatever, like whatever the moment calls for. I want to feel like I am allowed and have permission to, to deliver that. And that feels like, that feels like pursuit of, of me, to me.
That’s awesome. I love the, the 360 degree approach to making. Um, I also love the, the concept of giving permission to use voice. And when you said that, I realized that, um, I would say like fully 50% of my professional work is me lip-syncing to something, but you, you cannot be lip syncing because it looks like, you know, your, your neck, your muscles aren’t working, you can tell somebody lip-syncing. So even on the projects where I’m lip syncing, they ask you to sing out. And as I say so to me, that’s permission, right? You’re playing a track at volume. That’s not my voice. They, they, they, they won’t hear my voice. Maybe. I don’t know. They probably have a microphone hidden somewhere, but to me, that’s permission to sing out. And I, I wonder if that metaphor kind of breaks the part of this conversation. That’s important to me, which is it being your voice, but, um, Jermaine specifically, I’m curious what you’d have to say about this, because now that I’m talking about lip sinking, I’m remembering that maybe my favorite performance of yours is Kid Pivot’s Betroffenheit, your, your lip syncing, right? Is that your voice? Are you, are you lip-syncing?
Jermaine: I’m lip-syncing. You never hear my voice in the entire show
Spenser: That’s embodiment
That’s Embodiment. You could not tell me that’s not your voice. It’s okay. So just straight up curiosity, what was your approach to making somebody’s voice? That’s not your voice look like your voice.
Jermaine: Um, that is a good question. It was, it was a few different things. It’s the physicality of just the steps in the way that, uh, you know, with Crystal, we decided my character would, would move that movement directed the character. Then that character tells me how I need to lip-sync. Then the other level of that layer of that was listening to the track and getting familiar with the rhythm, the cadence and the timing of Jonathan speaking. And when there was breathing and wasn’t breathing. And every year that we performed the show, we peel back another layer of the audio I think when we first did it, we were not in the place where we could hear every breath, for example, that was in the audio track. And then when we came back to do it, we remounted it. We were like ‘has the breath always been there? Like I hear it differently now.’ So then the second year was really all about trying to embody now all of the breath. And then the third year was like the breath and the little crackles, you know, saliva, like when he’s opening and closing his mouth. We’ve done that also with reviser.
Uh, Jermaine. It’s so good. It’s one of my favorite things to watch. Um, I’m not sure if Marquee TV is still doing a 30 days free thing.
I will be linking to that in the show notes, please. You guys, this is mandatory viewing. Um, okay, cool. Moving right along. Um, you guys both went to Julliard. You’re both teachers you teach at the college level. And I know I have a lot of listeners out there who dream of attending prestigious schools like that and of having careers like yours. Um, what would you tell them that you wish somebody had told you when you embarked on your journey of higher education?
Yeah. Something comes in mind for me instantly. And I remember, I think it’s so, so important and so wonderful and so necessary to have goals. But what I remember is that I had tunnel vision with my goals, especially going into college and through college, into, into like the professional world. So my goals, um, confused me at times because they, what they did is they said this is important for your goals and this isn’t important for your goals. And so there was a bit of, I love school and I love to learn even as someone who loves to learn, um, there’s a little bit of like, I’ll need this. I won’t need this type of thing for the goals that I know, what I wish someone had told me is what I’m experiencing now and continue to experience is that you don’t know what your goals are going to be after you get a taste of maybe the goal that you’re interested in, the goals might change, they’re likely to change. And aren’t you, or maybe you will wish that you had absorbed a little bit more completely, then you did, when it was offered to you, I’ve found myself wishing often that I had taken better notes or paid more attention in a particular course, because I feel like I need it now, you know, 10 plus years later. And I just didn’t know that at the time. So that thought of hoarding information with accepting the idea that you don’t know what you’re going to be interested in. And you don’t know what you need ..
Um, will you guys play a game with me really quick? So it’s, um, full disclosure. It’s not actually a game, it’s an exercise, but we’re going to call it a game cause that’s more fun. So I have started, um, categorizing my goals now in tiers, I do these three tiers. My first tier of goals is the goals I could accomplish right now. If literally, if I just did it, like the action is the missing part, not the resources or the, um, the ideas themselves, but like right now I could accomplish this. Um, tier two is with a little bit more support, whether it’s in manpower or finance or time or whatever, with a little more support I could accomplish this. And then tier three is rip the lid off, no ceiling nobody ever would say, no, you will not hear the word. Know what? Like that’s tier three, no rules, no limits at all. So I would love to hear from you guys, three tiers of goals.
You know, I’m already, I’m already going to do the game. The game is supposed to be played.
Break the rules.
I’m am. Because It’s really, really, really layerd
Okay. Go. I want the depth.
I think I have learned from a very young age not to set goals. That has been a super power for me in my life. It hasn’t actually had a negative effect on me, but it may come from something that is a negative, which is related to being a black person in this country and my mom because I grew up with my mom in Philly, feeling sometimes like she was not supported in the way she needed to really get to that goal or just feeling like.. I just, I, I, I watched my mom do that and survive the most beautiful work. And I feel like I learned from that, life also just be about adapting and that isn’t a lack of openness or power
Or imagination. Um, well, there are many ways to choose, you know, how to organize it. And I, I don’t really set goals. Um, I know that sounds weird, but I do, I do stuff. I do stuff. And then I pay attention to how that feels and where it’s leading me there. And when I’m there I feel led to the next and that’s how my whole dance career has been. I never decided I want to go study at a conservatory. I just, I decided I liked dancing. So then I continued, I didn’t even want to dance. My mother forced me to go. Then I realized that I like it so I continued to go. Then someone was like, you should audition for this school. I knew nothing about Juilliard, but I went because I trusted that person’s opinion. But they were right. While I was at Juilliard actually, I had a teacher that was like, you should look into this place, which I did. And, you know, listening to the voices didn’t mean that I only listened to what people told me to do, I just took in that information, sometimes they were exactly right so I went with them. But sometimes it was just hearing what they had to say, to help me understand what I was feeling so that I can make my own choice intuitively. It continues to be that way. And the older I get, I feel like it’s really just about deciding to do stuff. Um, for me personally, I think people should set goals if that is how they need function and to plan ahead. But that just hasn’t really been a part of my spirit as a person. To plan ahead, It gets me into trouble in different ways because of the world that we, that we live in. But it also provides me a lot by not feeling, um, I don’t feel precious about the trajectory of my life in that way.
Would you be willing to go into what you mean when you say gets you in trouble?
Yes. I mean, in the, in the kind of like little micro versions of that, it’s like sometimes I don’t plan far enough ahead. So that I can be on time. So then I’m late, you know, and that’s, that’s like a little, little tiny version of that. Um, I think it gets me in trouble with sometimes because then with the interactions with other people, sometimes there are expectations that are not met and yes, because I think the way that I do, I understand that. And I, I see sometimes what that means for certain people in certain circumstances. But I also feel like I am not always responsible for delivering that expectation.
Full Stop. Wow. In hearing Jermaine’s point of view about setting goals, I experienced the moment that I’ve felt quite a bit lately, the shameful moment that many of my listeners out there maybe feeling lately as well. And that is the moment where your privilege is revealed to you in a place that you hadn’t noticed that before. I truly relish the goal setting practice, I called it a game. It literally is fun to me because my goal setting practice doesn’t get me in trouble. It gets me my desired results. And what I learned from Jermaine is that the accomplishment of my goals is absolutely not entirely attributable to the goal setting practice itself. I am a white, able-bodied, heterosexual woman who grew up in a middle class, suburban home with two parents who although divorced, both loved and supported me tremendously. And my life experience has taught me that dreaming big, mostly works. Someone else’s experience might teach them that dreaming big, mostly hurts. I know that now, and that doesn’t mean that setting goals is bad. And that doesn’t mean that I am bad for setting goals. It means that setting goals is not a default setting. I do think it’s important to mention that the thing that excited me and still excites me most about setting goals is that especially in that third kind of no ceilings, impossible tier something is only impossible until it’s possible. And I find tremendous inspiration and power in that. All right, let’s jump back in and hear what Jermaine, the man who seemingly defies gravity and every other law of physics in his dancing makes of doing the impossible buckle up.
For me. I respond to what if it isn’t impossible? Like what is impossible? It’s a construct for us to relate to, but it’s not really a thing. And I say that because like often when I improvise, I use tasks. And I talk about that I’m never TRYING to do something cool or impossible I’m never deciding now I’m going to do something that is anti-gravity like those things happen because I’m doing something that is really similar to me in the breakdown of all of the things I am moving my shoulder to the right and at the same time sliding my chin to the left. And if I do that and I involve my hip and my heel I miraculously made it around 4 times. I lived that experience in various ways in my life and I’m never really trying to do something impossible or spectacular.
That is, That is very important to me on the subject of effort. If we could circle back to effort, you look effortless when you dance, but it’s not because what you’re doing is easy is because you’re focusing your efforts into very specific, simple places or simple tasks that is fascinating.
And I’d like to jump in on that. As someone who gets to watch Jermaine a lot, his sense of validation is really inside himself. It’s not, it’s not bound to external sources.
And a small interjection I had to work on that because for so much of my younger life, I felt really bound to what I thought were people’s expectations of me and that it hurt. I hurt myself. No one did that to me. I did that to myself, fulfilling that expectation for everyone else. I caused myself hurt and suppression and guilt for things that I shouldn’t feel guilty for. And I don’t know, I think at some late twenties, I really started to come to terms with that.
What was the shift?
I think, I think it was it’s, it was physical and emotional. Um, I mean, they’re the same thing, but you know, it was this me on a path of diving deeper in my artistry, which pushed me to dive deeper into my person. And what, what am I expressing? What am I living, what am I doing what am I thinking? Um, it was me coming to terms really for real, with my sexuality and realizing how much of that, uh, was weighing on me in ways that I didn’t know that it was weighing on me. And through that realizing I have all of these boxes that I’m trying to fufill for other people, but I care about people that care about me, people that I need in my life. And so not only do I have the boxes, but then I also have the fear of not filling the boxes and what will they do if I don’t fill this box for them? And I’m trying to make it a long story short, I saw therapists and one was a craniosacral therapist, in Stockholm. Shout out to Banks Elmstron, My superhero, wizard, Swedish Man. He it’s very confronting to see someone that you’ve never met before and have them just read you like a book in one sitting. And, and to realize that they can do that because they’ve learned the skill of being sensitive. So he could feel these things in my body to feel them through the tissue physically, but he could also feel them energetically emotionally. And if I’m walking around with that all the time, that’s not going to be cute, down the line. So then, Hey, may, Hey, maybe there was a goal that was like my one goal, you know, it’s that to, to fix myself, like change my relationships with these expectations. He would, he would say to me like, wow, you put so much pressure on yourself. Why do you do that? And I’d be like, what, why are you saying that from holding my ankles? I don’t understand. And it wasn’t just him. I saw a few more craniosacral therapist over the years and had very similar experiences one with a person in London, with a person in Hawaii and every time it was very consistent, the things that they had to say to me very spot on, and these are people that I never met before in my life. And it was the last time in Hawaii where I was like, okay, do you, be you, live your life and your intuition. Trust that people will accept. And if they don’t, they don’t. And that has to apply to everyone.
Uh, yes, those, those boxes checked makes sense. And I, I remember coming up in dance, I actually wonder, I wonder if there’s a way to train dancers, um, that doesn’t perpetuate external validation, right. Is there a way of teaching anything that puts the authority in the hands of the students instead of any authority figure? I mean, dance specifically, I mean, I remember a very literal stick that was either, you know, it was slamming into the ground, counting the music, or it was slapping me on the back of the knee or my belly if, if I was doing something wrong. So, and you look to that person for, did I do it right? Am I enough? And that started for me when I was three and I didn’t go to college for dance, but I would imagine an institution like Juilliard, it’s that like dialed up, you’re doing that hours and hours a day for years on years on years. I don’t know how to remove that portion of, of our training process.
This is something that’s really on my mind. Um, and I’m, I know I’m not alone in that, but, um, this idea of, especially as someone who teaches ballet primarily, um, how to approach teaching ballet in a more inclusive way. And, um, you know, my, all of the readings I’ve been doing lately, um, the first thing that seems important is that you gotta name the problem and not pretend like it isn’t there. So we have to name, name the idea that Ballet is rooted in whiteness and name the idea that it is somehow, um, has been self described as this pedestal, um, this pillar of dance. And I think
That’s essential to all other dances somehow.
Yeah. Yeah. Well, there’s that, that thing that I’m sure we’ve all heard is like, if you know ballet, you can do everything or ballet is the basis of all forms. And that is, um, it’s a lie, that’s not, not a true statement. It’s true for a particular path, which is a particular path. That’s not the path. So this, I think first and foremost, we have to establish that ballet is A form of dance, not THE form of dance. And then how do you approach learning it, honoring it, without letting, without, um, allowing it, and I mean, this both as a teacher teaching it, but also as a student taking it, how do you, how do you make sure that you’re honoring it without letting it tell you that it knows something about you as a dancer, because many of us have this relationship with ballet as it being a standard of dance, then the aesthetics of ballet become a standard that I know my, my body doesn’t always accomplish. Um, my feet don’t do the thing that it’s both that they’re supposed to do for ballet, my rotation, my range of motion, all of those things. I don’t, I don’t check those boxes, but I can still honor that work and ballet and approach it, honoring my values about capital D dance, not ballet as dance, if that makes any kind of sense.
But even that is, it’s a deformation of where it came from, because it was never intended for people to rotate their feet away from each other, 180 degree or to lift your foot above your head to the 12 o’clock. That was never the intention. We applied that all of that came later, with ballet and many other genres, right? So even that thing that we’re, we’re fighting up against we have to remember that comes from people that comes from a particular person or a particular desire. And now we’re all trying to fit into that fantasy. We’re missing, we’re missing the root. Everyone can rotate their legs in some degree or fashion, because legs do that. Everyone can turn the arms in and out in general because arms do that. So it’s not about, well, your body does something, my body doesn’t do. Everybody’s bodies do exactly what they need to do.
That’s why I like to talk about turnout and experience, as opposed to, a shade. Like, it’s not a result. It’s something that you’re actively doing. And when we make things a movement, I think we allow them to be fluid as opposed to the static idea of arrival and position and aesthetic and shape. I think we get bogged down in ballet by that a lot, like moving from pose to pose. Like you heard me talk about today, how do I mean, let’s emphasize the move part moving from pose to pose instead of moving from pose. Oh, that’s right. Like, what are you emphasizing? I think it’s real important to stay curious for more information and to assume that they’re more that you don’t know, then they’re like there is that, you know, always assume that there’s more out there. However, you do know what your values are as a dancer and you know, what your values are from an early age and you can pursue those values. In any form you go into. There is not, um, like musicality coordination, organization, relationship to space, relationship to time, those things exist across dance they’re not, they don’t belong to any particular technique. So whatever you love about those things find that in whatever form you’re working on and then you’re working inclusively in your own body.
Well, I think Spencer, the other thing that you did in class today that I thought was very inclusive was, um, you talked about energetic ideas, opposed to physical explanations, physical ideas, or physical pictures of what is right and what is wrong. Um, it was very much about energetic ideas and the, the one that stuck with me and that I’ll be hearing in my head as I turn out. And as I lift, and as I oppose. Is this idea of forever. You said, turn out forever, open your back forever. Uh, root your legs forever. And it became like, this makes me emotional because it’s now timeless, which is something that kind of breaks my heart about dance, especially live dance, is that it only truly exists in that moment, even if it’s captured on film, the actual moment of it is so temporary and so fleeting, it’s what makes it so beautiful, but God, I just wish that it could last forever. But when you explained those shapes those poses, if you will, as becoming eternal, it was an emotional experience. And, and that is inclusive.
I thank you for that observation. And I, I totally, I mean, speaking about bringing information from other forms and other experiences into right now, we’re talking about ballet. So into this particular farm, that information I’ve learned and developed from, from learning and developing my relationship with Jermaine, uh, this idea of endless directionality and opposing forces and opposing energies in the body. That’s something that I was first introduced to by him. And it’s something that we really privilege in the work that we make together and in our, in our improv practice and in all of that stuff. So then again, the thought is that it doesn’t have to just belong to that practice like that improv face or that creative space with Jermaine, but I can actually invite it with me into my ballet practice or any other practice that I’m in. And I just think, I just think that that matters.
That does matter. Is it possible? You guys new idea, auditioning it on you now? Is it possible that improvisation is the foundation of all styles? Because everybody’s body is their own. And if the body is the tool of dance, then a degree of mastery of your own body and a communication of your own body in the moment from moment to moment is, is essential.
I’ll tell you what I, my experience with improvisation is that I really didn’t like it because no one was me what to do and I didn’t know how to be good at that. I didn’t like it until post my time at Netherlands dance theater. So I’m like a grownup person running around the dance world, not loving improvisation and not making improvisation into my world until I joined a company that is rooted in improvisation, the Forsythe company. And that was a real hard, um, awakening to, to have somebody say to me, well, how do you want to do it? Which is essentially what that proposition was. You’re going to improvise in this show. So you’re demonstrating what do you think essentially. And I was like, I don’t know what, what should I think is how I answered that. I didn’t know how to answer that. And I was 26-27, something like that at the time. And I just felt like, wow, this is, this is really late in the game to not even have a clue what my, how I want to move, how, what are my instincts? What are my values? And it was in those two years of working there that, and just being immersed in improvisation that I really learned, what do I care about? What are my values? What are my impulses? And that work, that exploration has just fully permeated everything. I mean, it’s, it’s like, um, like a good kind of infection not like COVID It’s just, I find it everywhere. Now. I didn’t know that person before. I didn’t know the person that knew what, uh, what they wanted in dance and knew how to make choices in dance. I only knew the person that knew how to be told what to, right?
I think it is a risk, um, to be always told what to do and told what to think and not taught how to think dance taught me a lot, you guys. Dance taught me a lot. And some things that you might not expect, like how to manage my time or how to, uh, work in a group, how to resolve some conflicts. Right. Um, but it did not teach me HOW to think. And it certainly didn’t give me confidence in my thoughts if I ever had it, if I ever had any confidence at all, it was because somebody told me that it was good, but I, I rarely had confidence in my thoughts.
That’s right. And I feel like we’re touching on something that, especially in this moment, uh, is important to be thinking about is that, you know, we’re speaking a lot about dance, like less than civilization and culture. I’m speaking about concert, dance, culture, fine arts, in quotation marks, education. Why are those fine, we’re talking about, but I didn’t know, like someone taught me how to dance. Well somebody taught you these particular forms, but again, everyone knows how to dance because they have a body like everyone dances. We’ve been dancing since the beginning before somebody decided to hold a class, you know, like people were teaching and learning from each other as a way of communicating as a way of expressing, as a way of existing as a way of keeping track of their stories and their history and all those things. So it’s just, it’s very important to remember. You’re really affected by like the forming and the codifying of the idea. But everybody dances.
I know this because, I know babies, that wiggle in their car seats when music comes on and nobody said do that. And nobody said, put your shoulders down.
I just think it’s also worth noting that the way that Jermaine was just talking about that need to codify is also like this idea about the needs to define in terms of goal setting, like what he was speaking about before this idea to just let it be experienced is, is the information you need in order to know how to engage with it. Um, yeah. What is, what is this need to define it, to like set it in concrete and make a statue out of it? Um, and is that what we have to do to it in order to relate to it?
Or is that what we need to do to it in order to remember it like 400 years from now, if my generations pass down, want to find out what I was doing at this time, how would they find it? You know, how, how would I know the important players of this thing, if this thing didn’t have a name, um, in this, in this kind of information age where you have to know what you want to search for in order to find it, I mean, that’s, to me that’s maybe the only, well, certainly the best way that I can, the best reason I can think of giving things a category or a name is simply so that they can be recorded and found later. Um, but yes, I’ve seen that genre-fecation as being so divisive and Jermaine, you mentioned earlier, like you mentioned that the dance world is very separate and it’s weird to me that for as small as it is, there is so much distance between the groups. It is so section off.
Because there’s so much hierarchy and the structure of it that is about creating exclusivity and elitistsm and ultimately I think we all don’t respond to that very well. I mean, at the top of it is, is whiteness and privilege.
And I think you you’ve touched on right away with that idea of like, who decided what was fine, because that’s, that’s why we spend more time in ballet, in college programs then other forms of dance. Because those things were defined and those things were defined by white people.
Yeah. That’s heartbreaking to think how much is being left out. Um, I think about when you use the word fine in relationship to fine art, I think about fine China and that, that, and, and how rarely it gets used and dance is so useful. It might be weird coming from somebody who operates primarily in the commercial space, but dance is useful. It has function connective, um, expressive, and to think of how much dance isn’t getting used, because it’s not considered fine. Like how many hip hop programs are there on the university level street styles, freestyles. There’s a huge problem there.
I mean, there’s also a problem there though, because the idea is like, you need to access information through this place in order for it to be successful? And that also isn’t true. You can be phenomenal, incredible artists without having to go to a university. The university doesn’t benefit from telling you that.
Thats coming from a person that teaches at a university so that might be really weird for me to say. But its something that I’ve been thinking about a lot, like I have to go to this place in order to attain success to get to the next level. But that aint true because the teachers that teach hip hop at the universities they taught themselves. Right?
You have, you have proof that it isn’t essential yet, yet the high price point would make you believe that it is simply because it’s that expensive. It must be important.
You know, we have to remember that, even though we see that, and it’s super shiny and impressive, that is not the end all. That is not the only definition of success. Everyone does not to be Beyonce And everyone won’t be Beyonce. You know, we’re saying, look at Beyonce and say, look at how she did it, you can do it too. this is a way to inspire people. But the flip side of that is like, there is one Beyonce, and if you don’t become her, that’s also, okay, you can do something else. You can still make music on a different level for a different person that can be successful.
What is success to you Jermaine?
I think success is living in tune, I was going to say with your purpose, but I don’t want that to sound too esoteric and like religious it’s living with your intuition and letting that also cultivate how you interact with your community and the people around you.
Spens, I’m curious what you’d say.
Yeah. I think especially lately I’m feeling similar to Jermaine. Um, I can recognize different times in my life when I felt feelings of success and what it feels like to me is purposefulness. Um, happiness is in there. And I think that that has come in my life when I felt like I’m really listening to what I actually want to do, as opposed to what I feel like I should do and have like a good, um, balance of those moments. What I’ve struggled with in the past is worry about what I should do. And I guess I never spoke about the goal setting idea, my relationship to goal setting. Sometimes it’s complicated for that same idea of creating tunnel vision, like talked about early on this thought about the goal, kind of taking over my sense of self or, or being present with what’s actually happening and what I, how I’m starting to understand it now is to be just a little bit vague blurring edges so that things can transform. When I try to specify the goal, sometimes I made pursuit of my happiness, not so honest. So to me to circle back success feels like really being honest with myself about what I’m actually looking for, as opposed to what I expect myself to be looking for.
Gentlemen, I cannot thank you enough. You’ve blown my mind several different points during this conversation. I’m not shocked by that because this is what you do. I love you. Thank you so much.
Though you we’re done. No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website, 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. #86 Replay: Ep. #21 Not Booking (AKA Not Getting What You Want)
On our third replay of August, take a listen to Not Booking, AKA not getting what you want. With the world reopening again, this can be a GREAT topic to revisit. What do you do when you’re not booked and blessed? Come explore in this episode the wonderful world of not getting what you want and how the wanting most often does not equal the getting.
Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers like you get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host, master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight. But don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Hello, Hello, my friend. And welcome to the podcast. I am Dana. And the words that move me team is taking a short pause to stretch our legs. But in the meantime, we are replaying some of our favorite episodes and I trust that you are out there winning and keeping it funky. And I also trust that wherever you are on your journey, this episode will be a delightful companion. This week, we are replaying episode 21, not booking, AKA, not getting what you want. This one hits so hard because no matter who you are or how talented you are or where you live or what you do, you will eventually not book a gig. Furthermore, you will undeniably not get what you want at some point, or probably several points over and over again. My friends, this is life. So this episode is definitely one you will want to download and keep with you at the ready for the next time you get cut or dumped or the coffee shop doesn’t have oat milk. I do know you want this episode with you. Please enjoy this replay of episode 21, not booking, AKA, not getting what you want.
Dana: Hello. Hello, hello. And welcome to episode 21. Oh my gosh. I am jazzed as always about this episode. Thank you so much for being here. Uh, let’s do wins really quick. Holy smokes, you guys, words that move me is in Apple’s top 100 performing arts podcasts this past week. So thank you so much for that. That is a huge win. Um, we’re number 88. I don’t know, uh, how many there are, but safe to say more than a hundred. Um, and that’s so sweet. So thank you so much for that. I do believe that part of what factors into that ranking is a ratings and reviews on Apple. So if you are listening on Apple podcasts and you’re digging what you’re hearing, please think about leaving a review or a rating so, so appreciate that. Um, okay, let’s not waste any time. Let’s get into you and your wins. What’s going well in your world? Hit me now you
Great. I’m so glad that you’re winning. This episode is about not booking. Speaking of winning, it’s my favorite subject. Honestly. Actually here’s the truth. This episode is not just about not booking, it’s about not getting what you want period. I am very familiar with not booking and as a self proclaimed movement master that might come as a shock to you. So here’s what it really boils down to. I try a lot, I fail a lot, I succeed a lot. I want a lot and I often get what I want. Now there is a very specific brand of not booking that comes along with the audition process. It’s a very particular sting and I’m going to talk about auditions and that particular brand of staying in depth a little bit later on. Like, actually I have a plan to be talking about auditions for all of August. I’m very excited about audition august, so tune in for that. But um, what I want to talk about right now is the cringe that I feel when I hear people, usually outsiders talking about high performers who miss the mark. Usually they’re talking about competitions and competitors. They say that he or she won because they really wanted it. Or they say that he or she didn’t win because they didn’t really want it that bad or they didn’t want it bad enough or somebody else wanted it more. Well, I’ve seen people really want it and not win. And I’ve seen people that are just really good at stuff who don’t really care a whole lot, win a lot, and at a certain level, everyone really wants it. Everyone that moves to LA to become a whatever really wants it. But auditions don’t care about how bad you want it. And competitions don’t care about how bad you want it. The Olympics, Oh man, don’t get me started. The Olympics really, really, really don’t care how bad you want it because everybody there really, really wants it. That guy who didn’t win didn’t not win because he didn’t want it. He didn’t win because he wanted it so bad and he was running so hard that he broke his leg. That is a black hole. You don’t want to go down. Olympian breaks their leg. Don’t even do it. Don’t even do it. I did it, anyways. All that is to say wanting it won’t get it. Even wanting it and training really, really, really, really hard for it. Doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get it. Sometimes you simply won’t get it. Period. The Olympics are a really great example of this, but also on a smaller, slightly different scale, no pun intended. I want cookies almost all the time, so there goes the proof that wanting equals getting it’s out of the window. Wait, did I say that right? There goes proof that wanting is not equal to getting, yeah. If I got everything I want, I would be eating cookies all the time and then who? Yikes up there.
Okay. So most of us, especially right now know this all too well. We want to be working. We want to be hanging out with our friends. We want to be hugging, we want to be being places and doing things with people. Yes. This episode goes out to all you graduating seniors who wanted your cap and gown gathering. Yes. It goes out to all you dancers who wanted to win title at nationals this year. Yes. This goes out to everyone that wanted to have their highest earning year yet. And you still might, by the way, but you might not. This episode is about not getting what you want and newsflash, most of us are not very good at not getting what we want. So let’s get to work.
Yes, I am a professional dancer, choreographer, movement coach and I am also a professional at not getting what I want. Some early memories of this include, uh, as a tiny, tiny little dancingling I received honorable mentions a lot. Second or first runner up also happened to me a lot my senior year at nationals. Actually, I was 16th runner up and I was supposed to win that year, by the way, in my head. Anyways, let’s take another example. When I was like 14, maybe 15, I remember terribly wanting to be in the big kids dance that the senior dance that was choreographed by Dee Caspary shout out to Dee. And uh, I was old enough to be considered. So I auditioned. I did not make it, but Dee and his big, big heart invited me to be in the room for the creation process and learn it as what we call a workshop. Um, and even jump in as a swing. If anybody was to become injured during the season or something like that, I would know the dance. I could, I could jump in. Honestly, that seemed like a pretty sweet deal to me. It wasn’t until Dee asked me in his own way to stop moving because I was distracting him. Ooh. Crushed. I was crushed and I sat crushed on the floor of the dance studio for two whole days. While he choreographed and all the big kids danced a dance that I so badly wanted to dance man. 14-15 years old. I got crushed a lot. Oh, here’s another good one. When I was 16 or 17 three of my closest friends, Randi Kemper , Tony Testa and Misha Gabriel all still incredible and all still dear friends by the way. They all booked a tour. Brian Friedman what up, B-Free, booked all three of them and a different curly haired brunette girl named Kalie Kelman to go on tour with Aaron Carter. I was crushed. Yes, deeply. And then again in 2011 Oh here’s a different kind of crushed, I booked a feature film, the remake of Dirty Dancing and it was directed by Kenny Ortega who choreographed the original and we were weeks into rehearsal. Several dancers. Oh, what a good squad. Whoa man. My heartbreaks, just thinking about this and Production pulled the plug, production completely ceased to exist. I was crushed again. We were all crushed weeks of team building, dancing, endorphins, man. Cloud nine and then right back to not being booked. So what did being crushed really look like for me? Here are a couple of versions. First, the ugly cry, that’s still a pretty common action by the way. Even today, tears, hot tears of self pity, some anger occasionally. Um, usually some jealousy, sometimes the victim mentality, not always, but sometimes that’s where thoughts like “This always happens to me or when am I going to get my break? Or I did everything right and the world is just so wrong.” Those are some of my victim thoughts. Usually some entitlement as well. Thoughts like “it was supposed to be different this time. This was supposed to be my big gig, my moment, my movie, my award, my project, my thing. I am perfect for this thing. How did I not get it? “ Yeah. “Is it because I’m not perfect? Is it because I’m the worst?” Oh God. Then the shame spiral. Ouch. Tears. Now sometimes I’d see myself through the ugly tears. I’d sit with them long enough and be with them long enough to come out on the other side, so to speak, or at least come out with a different feeling. Okay. But all too often buffering would be right at the heels of those ugly tears. Buffering is giving into the urge to feel better. Buffering is resisting, avoiding or ignoring feelings that you don’t want by seeking the immediate comfort and temporary pleasures that you do want. Buffering, especially with food and drink. And yes, the Instagram scroll are super common. But here’s the sneaky thing about buffering. It leaves you with an unwanted feeling in the end anyways. You feel awful. So you eat, which kind of feels good. So you keep eating and then you overeat and then you feel awful and then you feel awful and then you feel awful or you drink, which kind of feels good. So you keep doing it and then you feel awful because you are drunk or you have a hangover or you feel awful about yourself. So you scroll through Instagram seeking that dopamine hit of the likes and the comments, the love. And for a while that feels pretty good. So you keep going and all of a sudden an hour has gone by and you’re crumpled over your phone with three chins and a furrowed brow. And you’re most likely just judging and comparing yourself to other people and now you feel awful. Oh, sneaky buffers. I’m going to go deep on buffering in another episode, but for now I want to talk about not getting what we want and not buffering.
Think about a time when a child in your life has really, really wanted something, a cookie, a new toy, maybe, uh, maybe to go to school with pajamas on anything. This plays out usually in a few different ways. Number one, they ugly cry a tantrum, in other words, until the adult buckles under the pressure and gives the kid what they want. Number two, the ugly cry or the tantrum go on for so long without the adult buckling that the child becomes exhausted and eventually moves on with their life and wanting something else. The third outcome and my personal favorite happens occasionally when the parent says to the child, Oh yes, you can have X if Y you can absolutely have dessert. If you finish eating your vegetables or yes, you can definitely have that toy. If you save up your allowance and buy it or yes, you can wear your pajamas to school. If you tell them you’re somebody else’s child. True story. I have heard that one out loud before. Anyways, this third option is where I think I live most of the time. I am the parent and the child in this equation by the way, so not getting what I want occasionally fuels me to stay the course long enough that I wind up getting it or something like it. Eventually. This is what happened with my friends and that tour. Yes, I was crushed. I was obliterated. I did cry, ugly cry, yaks ugly teenage cry.
This is really good stuff. Anyways, I would cry. I would imagine them all out there having fun. I would imagine myself on stage with them. I’d imagine what I would look like, I’d imagine how I would dance. I’d imagine the music and the fans and somewhere I held onto the thought that that could still happen. Maybe they do a really, really big show and decided that they needed more dancers or maybe, God forbid somebody could get injured and they would need a swing, right? They’d need a replacement. Well, that tour came and went. It turns out I would not dance for Aaron Carter, but I thought I could still be a touring dancer if I worked really, really hard and just stuck at it. I imagined it all the time. I imagined myself dancing behind Britney Spears. I imagined myself dancing behind pink. I imagined myself dancing behind B2K True story. I could literally see it. Knee pads, crop tops, short shorts, boots. Well, it turned out I was wrong, very wrong about a lot of that, but I was right about some things too. I would not dance behind Pink, but I would play volleyball with her at Tujunga park, occasionally. I would not tour with Britney, well not on stage anyways. I would go on to be filmed as a silhouetted background body dancing on a big led screen back behind her. I would not dance for B2K total dead end there, just nothing. I think they stopped making music anyways. I was wrong about the crop tops and shorts too. Instead it was a suit and tie. I was wrong about the boots. It was sneakers most of the time and heels some of the time. Yeah, big stuff did eventually happen and it was never what I thought it was going to be. To be honest, it was better.
So we’ve talked about not getting what you want and crying about it. We’ve talked about not getting what you want and crying and buffering. We’ve talked about not getting what you want and staying the course until eventually you get something and now I want to touch on those times when you think you got what you wanted and it turned out to be something else all together. Cookies for breakfast for example. Yeah, I’m an adult and I do what I want. I’m the boss of what I put in my mouth and sometimes I put cookies in my mouth for breakfast and then 2:00 PM rolls around and I’m at the mercy of a brutal, brutal blood sugar crash. It gives me every time or let’s take the movie, for example, dirty dancing. We dancers were flying high. We were working hard. Yes, like eight hour rehearsal days of almost nonstop movement, but we were also dreaming big and we were fueled by this momentum of this thing that was bigger than us. We were fueled by our imaginations and dreams of what the red carpet premiere would feel like and then sugar crash. No more movie, not what we’d imagined, not what we wanted back to not being booked. If Corona virus has taught us anything, it is that anyone, no matter how booked you are can become unbooked, crushing. Right. Okay, so there are a lot of ways someone can be crushed. Dana, I thought you were going to tell me how to not get crushed. No, I never said that. I said that this episode is about not getting what you want. I do not have the answer for you. See that disappointment that you’re feeling. See how you’re not getting what you want right now. You really wanted an answer to this. You really wanted a solution. Okay, we’ll hold onto that feeling. Hold onto that disappointment because we’re going to work on that.
Most of our desires are sprung from how we think. We’ll feel with a certain thing. I want to go on tour because I think it’ll feel amazing to get paid to travel the world and have thousands of people cheering. For me, I want to be in movies because I think I’ll feel important. I think I’ll be a star. I want a glass of wine because I think I’ll feel relaxed and rewarded. See, I want the thing because I think it’ll make me feel a certain way. Now, what I’d like to offer you today is that all of those feelings are available to you without the accompanying criteria of the circumstance. In other words, you can feel amazing without touring the world. You can feel important without being in movies. You can feel relaxed and rewarded without a glass of wine. You can feel like a winner without going to nationals. You can feel accomplished without having a graduation ceremony. In addition to that, you can survive feeling crushed. Even furthermore, you can survive feeling crushed without buffering. Think about the last time that you went to the doctor for a shot you usually, well I usually have to take a deep breath and kind of rally myself into believing that needles are okay. And then I have a seat on that weird rubber cushion covered in weird wax paper. Makes weird sounds. And then I feel this thing and then my arm is kind of sore and sometimes it hurts a little bit to move and then I get a bandaid and then it’s over and I feel okay. I do not go into the doctor’s office and get a shot and immediately start eating and drinking and scrolling through Instagram. No, I breathe, I sit with this thing. I sit with a soreness. Sometimes I even move around extra in the soreness because it’s kind of interesting to feel and then I leave better than when I went in. I leave. Totally. Okay. So what if not getting what you want was like getting a shot. What if you knew that you would feel okay and even be better for this? What if you were like the parent who knows that the kid is going to be just fine without the cookie, the kid is going to be just fine. Without the toy, you will be just fine. Without this gig, you’ll be just fine. Without the title, you’ll be just fine without this job. What if now it’s okay to want things so bad that you can taste it or in a dancer’s case, usually so bad that you can see it, like you can feel it. It’s also okay to not get it. It’s okay to be wrong. When you imagine your future, you likely will be. Yeah, it’s okay to want things. It’s okay to not get them. What’s not okay is stopping. In fact, the only way you can be sure that you’ll never go on tour or never be in a movie or never work with so and so is to stop trying, so keep trying, keep working, keep not getting what you want and watch how much you get in the end. That’s all I’m saying. I’m done.
Really. That’s it. I hope you dug this conversation about not booking as much as you like actually booking. And if you do go leave a review, go leave a rating and I will talk to you soon. Keep it funky y’all. That’s different. Keep it funky y’all. I dunno. It’s not not so good. Stay safe. Stay soapy and keep it funky. I’ll talk to you soon.
Thought you were done. No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website, theDanawilson.com/podcast finally, and most importantly now you have a way to become a 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. #85 Replay: Ep. #3 Dance Lessons are Life Lessons With Chloe Arnold
On our second replay of the month, take a dive into my 3rd episode with the lovely Emmy nominated and master teacher Chole Arnold. If knowledge is power… this episode is a superhero! I talked to Chloe about the education that didn’t only land her at the top of the industry.. it taught her to elevate her community along with her. If you’re looking for the motivation to take your training to the next level, this episode is for you.
Intro: This is words that move me. The podcast were movers and shakers like you get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host, master mover, Dana Wilson, and if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh, and is looking to rewrite the starving artists story, then sit tight. But don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Hi, this is Dana and I’m not here right now. The words that move me team is on vacation. So leave a message and we’ll get back to you in a few weeks. I’m sorry, the gimmick I had to do it. It just felt so, right. Honestly, I used to get such a kick out of recording clever and witty, outgoing voicemail messages. Like when was the last time that you did that? Was that ever a thing in your life like amongst your friend group, like clever, witty, special outgoing voicemails? Um, my friends used to like fully have music playing in the background. It was, it was a real thing. Oh man. Uh, anyways, it’s true. We are on vacation, but don’t go anywhere because this month we are replaying some of our favorite words that move me podcast episodes. These are ranked among our highest listens and our most beloved internally as well. And it just so happens that today’s episode is one of my first and all time favorites today. I am replaying episode three, Dance Lessons are Life Lessons with Chloe Arnold. Now this is obviously among my first, it’s episode three, and it’s certainly one of my first interviews. I sat down with Chloe Arnold and had this conversation. Man, I would have loved for that to have lasted another hour, but there we were sitting in a convention center ballroom on an weekend and you know how those weekends go, or if you don’t, they go really, really fast. Um, and if you know, Chloe, you know that she also moves very fast and is always up to really exciting things right now is no exception. She is still teaching all over the world, performing with her fabulous group, the syncopated ladies, and at the current, she is choreographing a feature film with our dear friends, Ava Bernstein and Martha Nichols as associates and holy smokes I can’t wait to see it. I simply love celebrating these women. I think that all three of them are examples of what is possible. I count Chloe among my superhero friends. She is just so absolutely capable. Determined has a strong mind and a super strong skillset. Uh, so I’m thrilled to be celebrating her today and resharing this episode. And while we’re on the subject, if you are celebrating the podcast, I would totally celebrate you for leaving a review. Um, I really do love hearing what you think about the podcast. And I know that reviews and ratings help other people to find the podcast too. So I encourage you to do that if you are so moved to do so. All right, my friends with that, we will get into it. Enjoy this episode with Chloe Arnold, because if knowledge is power, she is a dang superhero. Please enjoy this replay of episode three dance lessons are life lessons with Chloe.
Dana: Hi there. I am so excited that you’re joining me. Today is a big, big day. It is a great day. It is a super day. I’d like to dig right in, but first a word from our sponsors. No sponsors, just my words. So let’s dig in. We start with a story. It is a true story. Once upon a five years ago, I was teaching a dance class, big old dance class. Picture, a hotel ballroom with low pile carpet and one of those wooden like wedding dance floors right in the middle of it. Now add about 100 to 125 dancers. Oh, and those dancers are between 7 and 10 years old. Oh yes. I know what you’re thinking. That’s a lot of 7 to 10 year olds. I agree and I think that life is like a ballroom full of 7 to 10 year olds. You never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes it’s cartwheels. Sometimes it’s a deeply insightful conversation and sometimes it’s a pants pee. You really never know. Now there’s loud music. We’re in the thick of it. We’re sweating, we’re dancing. It’s going well. Everybody’s hitting the steps, which is dance talk by the way, for doing the steps well, and there’s maybe like 20 minutes left of class. It’s usually around this time that I like to throw a little curve ball, not an actual curve ball. Of course, I’m not a sports type. This is basically the point of the class where I like to shift the focus to being more about a verbal communication. So I decided to ask the room a question and I’m expecting a few brave souls to raise their hand and answer, Oh no, no, not this group. A sea of tiny arms and hands sprout up. I swear nearly every person in the room raised their hand or both hands in some cases.
You know it’s very funny actually. You can tell a lot about a person by the way they raise their hand. Think about it and observe next time. Okay, so cut to the chase. I asked the room of seven to 10 year olds, mind you, “why do you dance?” And these are some of the answers that I got back. Okay. Anonymous dancling number one says “because I can’t not dance” and I thought, Hmm, I’m impressed. I would go to your birthday party. Anonymous dancling number two says, “because it’s how I choose to express myself.” Also a good call. I love that you’re 7 to 10 years old and you have a number of ways that you can express yourself. This is just one of them. Your chosen way to express yourself. This is great. I’m thinking I can’t get enough. Who’s next? And a young danceling catches my eye. She’s wearing thick glasses and I can’t remember what color, orange maybe. I remember looking at her and thinking, Oh, you’re little miss sunshine. I cannot wait to hear what you have to say. So I call on little miss sunshine and she says, “because dance lessons are life lessons.” And at this point I’m blown away. I’m speechless because she’s right or her mom was right or her PR coach was right, but something about her delivery and the slight veil of steam on the inside of her glasses where it rested on her cheeks. Something told me those were her words and she could not be more right. Dance lessons are life lessons. Now the message here is not for everyone to go and enroll in dance class so that they can start kicking butt at life. Although that would be great for my industry. The message is actually that if you can master the art of learning, you can master anything.
Now, not every one of my students will grow up to be a professional dancer or choreographer, but they will grow up to be something special because they have a place to practice. Things like taking direction, giving direction, and my personal favorite changing direction. And that’s even on top of things like managing a schedule, articulating complex thoughts and feelings and of course sewing. That’s right. Point shoes. Don’t come with the ribbons on them. You have to do that yourself. Today’s guest has more to say about tap shoes than point shoes, and she’s also going to tell us about how her education shaped her life. Chloe Arnold is an Emmy nominated choreographer, master teacher, entrepreneur, co-creator of the globally famous syncopated ladies, and she’s a dear friend of mine. I’m so lucky. It’s insane. Chloe is a bonafide master learner and I am thrilled to get to learn from her. I can’t think of anyone that’s a bigger advocate for dance and she’s got an Ivy league education to boot. I hope you enjoy and learn a boatload from this conversation with Chloe Arnold.
Dana: Holy smokes. Um, introduce yourself.
Chloe: Well, hello everybody. I am so excited to be on your podcast. Dana Wilson. Um, who am I? Well, I am a professional tap dancer, entrepreneur, choreographer. Um, I created a company called syncopated ladies, which is an all female tap dancing band with a mission to bring tap dance to pop culture in a respectful and uplifting way. I also choreograph television. I was recently nominated for an Emmy for the Late, Late Show with James Cordon. Um, I’ve been working with them for about five years. I’ve choreographed over 50 episodes of television now. And um, my work has been seen online by about 50 million people, uh, from the work that I’ve created. So I’m a content creator and, um, one of my, one of my pinnacle moments and turning points for me was, uh, when Beyonce shared my work and hired me to bring syncopated ladies, um, to represent her. And I am a protege of Debbie Allen and that’s where I learned almost all of the lessons that I’ve applied to my life as a dancer and a business woman entrepreneur.
Oh. So outside of the school of Debbie Allen, you are also a Columbia graduate.
So I have this theory that you don’t have to be book smart or even necessarily street smart to be a great dancer, but it’s not a coincidence that the best dancers are also very intelligent. I would love to hear if you could pinpoint the qualities that you gained from your dance training that carried over into helping you through your Columbia days. And also what Ivy league lessons you learned that crossover into making you such a successful dance unit.
Woo. Okay. So my dance training was quite unique from the standpoint. Well, it started very normal where I was in a strip mall studio and I took ballet, tap, jazz. But my mom recognized that the training wasn’t really, really good. Um, and she had us re choreograph a tap duo that I was a part of. She was like, this is not good. We need to go figure this out. And she sent us to our friend, my friend, my partner’s basement and left us. That’s the interesting thing. She didn’t like come and have oversight. No, she’s like, go figure it out. So, so that was my first experience with a couple of things. One, understanding what it is to have a quality education, right? So understanding when you don’t have someone that is, um, insisting upon your excellence that you have to, you know, look inside yourself and find it and level up yourself. Right. And so that was a really great lesson and I remember that the teacher ended up letting us keep it because it was good, but that was also the turning point in my mom saying, okay, we need to find somewhere else. But also recognizing that I had this love for tap. So she looked into the newspapers, the trades, well not the trades, they were no trades, the newspaper regular, it’s called the city paper, DC and there happened to be an audition for a youth tap company. And so I went to that youth tap company audition and I got into the company on probation. So I had three months to improve as a tap dancer or I would be out. So I was on probation, and I did improve. And um, and I think that it was wonderful for me to have that deadline because who was practicing? I was in the kitchen when my tap shoes.
In the everywhere.
Everywhere. Yes. But I re I remember the kitchen the most because that’s where, you know, the loudest part of the house. Right. So, um, and but no, absolutely under my desk in school, everywhere that I could possibly at the bus stop, et cetera, et cetera. So it was great because at a young age, uh, I was responsible for the outcome of my education. So it wasn’t like, Oh my mom can just pay and I’ll get it. If I didn’t level up. It doesn’t matter whether you pay or not, you’re not in it. So that was really great. Then I was in that program and uh, there was this big audition coming to town for a tap show and the teacher told me that I wasn’t ready yet for that big audition. So this is another example where my mom was like, you don’t limit what you’re capable of. You go try. If it doesn’t work out, that’s fine, but you’re not going to not go. So she sent me against the advice of the director. I ended up getting the audition and I was the youngest kid. Again, I wasn’t, wasn’t necessarily at the level, but you know, people we know as teachers you feel someone’s spirit and the grit. And so that’s what I really learned is through that experience is you can’t let other people set the ceilings for your success or your potential. Even if they love you, even if they’re nice to you, even if you know they believe in you to a certain extent. There are things that you can imagine for yourself that are just far beyond what someone can know is in your imagination. So at a very young age, I learned this idea that there are no ceilings and even if I’m not good enough yet, which I wasn’t and I knew that, that I, I have the ability to practice to become better and I just need an opportunity to go and try. Yeah. So then I had a, there was an African American woman in DC who had been watching me over these years and she approached mom and said, I really think I can do something for your daughter. I would like for her to come work with me. And in actuality, her technique was not necessarily as good as the technique of the program I was in. But my mom again had like a, a vision for like, I think this woman is going to see her in a different way and pull her potential out. And that’s exactly what happened. So I went to this woman, she actually mandated that if we were going to tap, we had to take ballet, modern and jazz, cause she had been on Broadway. So she was like, you’re not going to just be over here just tap dancing by itself. You have to augment, learn as much as you can and it’ll all work symbiotically together. So that was another experience of just because you love one thing, it does not make it the exclusive thing you should learn about. Right. So diverse education of every genre of everything you can do, the more you can learn, the more you’re empowered. So that was an incredible lesson because then it came to save me when I auditioned for my mentor, Debbie Allen and I went in because there was a tap role. So I went in like, Oh am I get this tap role? And I went to the tap audition and Debbie said, that’s great. She loved the tap. She said now go put your jazz shoes on. And that was the big gulp moment. But if I hadn’t had that teacher who had made me diversify, I wouldn’t have known what I was doing and I wasn’t the best again. But I was able to, you know, bring a fire and I was able to get the tap duo role at the show and also do the other genres.
And also choreograph 50 episodes of James Cordon, which was definitely not exclusively tap.
No, I only for James cordon, we’ve only done tap on two episodes.
There you have it.
And so God bless Debbie Allen and my teacher Toni L’ombre for expanding my education because without that greater knowledge I wouldn’t be able to, to have the freedom of expression that I have right now. I learned through all of these and I have to say, in my case, very empowered women. That education will always come to save you in the long run, like your training and education. You don’t know when, you don’t know how, but you will one day hit a roadblock and the things that you learned somewhere from your, your childhood to through college, through your adult life. There will be a lesson in there that will help you surpass that obstacle.
Okay, I’m going to pause right there because there is a lot of greatness to sink our teeth into. Firstly, I love how much emphasis Chloe puts on quality training. It’s good to have a sense of when you are or when you aren’t getting what you need, but what I really love is the way that she talks about improving even without someone else insisting on your success because to an extent we can’t always choose who our teachers are, but we can choose what kind of student we are and that is what really determines our progress. Chloe was and still is the type of student that puts in time and effort on her own. Even without the supervision or encouragement from others. She also takes big leaps even before others would say she is quote “ready” and I think there’s a lot to be said for that. I really love the way that she talks about not letting other people, even the people that love you, set the ceiling for your success and what’s possible for you. I really believe that your vision for yourself can be far beyond what others could ever have imagined for you and dreaming that big can be uncomfortable. I’m still getting better at it myself. It takes practice and patience. I’m really interested in the power of goal setting and I’m excited to dig into that in future podcasts. Now, before we dig back in with Chloe, I want to add some thoughts about the importance of diverse training in Chloe’s story. She talks about auditioning for Debbie Allen and the way that her jazz skills came in handy in support of her tap skills and that may have been what tipped the scale in her getting that job. Now, like Chloe, I grew up in a program that required training in many styles. I was what you would call a “Jack of all and a master of none.” I wasn’t the best at any one style, but I genuinely loved elements of all of them. When I first started auditioning for professional work in Los Angeles, I remember being frustrated because it seemed like all anybody ever wanted was a specialist. They wanted the sharpest of sharp jazz dancers or the most technically flawless ballerinas or the Illest of the illest B-boys, or the sexiest of the sexy ladies. You get the just what I wish somebody had told me then was that by nurturing my diverse training and indulging in other genres, even outside of dance, like acting or mine for example, I’d become not only the best, but the only person quite like me. Let’s jump back in with Chloe and find out more about what makes her so singular.
In my research. Chloe, I discovered that you were president of your high school all four years, so I’m wondering, have you always loved school or was there something else driving you to the top in terms of education?
Okay. I’ve always loved school. I’ve always, I’m an overachiever and I think it’s fun. So it’s not like over achiever because I need somebody else’s accolade. I derive pleasure from hard work and like achievement. So from, I was captain of the patrols in fifth grade. Okay. That’s the safety patrols to make sure that everybody in school was A-okay. Like I’ve always, and I’ve ran a campaign at a sash and I had a badge and it’s the captain on it and um, and he had to learn how to like fold your belt. Anyway, I took great pride in it all. I’ve always loved leading and I’ve always been the um, like anti bully campaigner. So I was always very popular and I, and I liked using my popularity to create equity and that is what I still do right now. I want to make people feel good. And so I think it started at a very young age and then.. And then again in high school, his class president LOL. I was very aware and that was very, I stood up for people. I just stood up for the kids and because I was quote unquote cool, I was able to get the cool kids to be nicer cause I was a nerd. I was a cool nerd. So I was living in both worlds. And as the seeing both sides and also like for the kids that were struggling, a lot of the younger like underclassmen, I would like make incentives cause I, I would be like, I’ll take you to lunch, mind you, like look at a $2 lunch if you get on the honor roll. And so we’re like, you know, try to use my leadership roles to affect a change. And so now with like syncopated ladies, we just perform for example in, um, Folsom state prison. But the way we were brought there is because the work we created online and we, they knew we had choreographies and pieces of work that could speak to the inmates and give them hope and um, inspiration. And fortunately that’s what happened. And we got so many beautiful messages. For example, one of the inmates said it was the first time in 20 years that he felt free. And so for me, like that’s how education and empowerment come together cause I studied filmmaking at Columbia and I knew going in I was like, I’m going to put tap dance and dance on film and television and that’s how I’m going to change the world.
If your history is any indication of what’s to come, then I’d say you will be changing the world.
Thanks Dana Wilson. Thank you so much. We’ll Do it together.
Yeah. Ah, thank you so much. You’re an inspiration. Alright, in Chloe’s story, her mom always saw great things for her and several other people stepped into the picture because they saw her potential. That’s not a tremendously uncommon narrative, but what is unique and most appealing to me about Chloe’s story is that the guidance and generosity extended by others was not only matched but exceeded by her appetite for hard work and her big picture vision of how she will change the world. My biggest takeaway from this conversation with Chloe is that education and empowerment really go hand in hand and if we’re doing it well, one leads directly to the other. Thank you so much for listening and I will talk to you soon.
Ep. #84 Replay: Ep. #5 Is Fear Keeping You Alive, or Eating You Alive?
This week is the first of our replays for the month of August! Starting out with Episode #5, and it is frighteningly good. It digs into concepts of FEAR. The kind that keeps you alive and the other kind that keeps you from LIVING! Give a listen and cut the ties to fear that are holding you back.
Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers like you get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host, master mover, Dana Wilson, and if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artists story, then sit tight. But don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Hello, Hello, My friend and welcome to Words that Move Me. I’m Dana and you are catching the words that move me team on vacation after 85 plus episodes, including several bonus jams. The words that move me team is taking some well-deserved time off and reminding you of some of our favorite episodes. Today’s replay is one that I get the most feedback about. And when I teach and when I coach themes from this episode, show up almost daily. So yes, today’s replay is addressing fear. One of my favorite subjects so much fun. Uh, what’s really fun actually is that this episode is a very early one. I recorded it pre pandemic, and it’s really interesting to consider what people might’ve been afraid of then versus now so much has changed. And yet so much is the same. What do you think? Do you still have more to learn about fear? I’m willing to bet that you do, and I’m willing to bet that this episode will help. So I am so glad that you are here and I am so excited to share this episode, but before I do, I want to let you know that when we get back from our little break, we’ll be talking about fear and managing your mind around it a lot. So be sure to subscribe now so that you don’t miss anything later. All right, with that, everyone enjoy this replay of episode. Number five is fear keeping you alive or eating you alive? I’ll talk to you soon.
Hello and hello. Welcome back to the podcast. This is episode five. Can you believe it? Episode five already. I’m stoked. Thank you so much for joining me. Thank you for tagging me for communicating with me on the socials. Um, a lot of real creative types popping up there. So hip, hip, hooray for all my daily doers. Um, if you are not daily making jump back and listen to episode one, very inspiring, exciting stuff back there. I am daily doing in some way, shape or form working on this podcast. Whoa, podcasts are way more work than I thought, but I’m learning so much about myself. The things that I know, the things that I don’t know, the way that I speak. I’m also learning about, for example, right now how to transcribe my episodes and leave you guys all the awesome show notes so that will now be available to you on all previous episodes as well as this one. If you are listening via Apple podcasts, you click the three little dots in the top right corner, you’ll be able to access shownotes from there. If you are not listening on Apple podcasts, go directly to my website, Thedanawilson.Com/Podcasts and you’ll have all my show notes available there.
Cool, so if you are digging the podcast, I would love if you would re, ha, reeve a leview you love if you would reeve a leview, or leave a review, whichever suits your fancy. The more reviewed a podcast is, the easier it is to find and I really would love for all our creative types to be able to find these episodes easily. Sharing is caring. Oh, speaking of caring, quick shout out to my mom for calling me up and calling me out on a made up word that I used last week in episode four. She said de-motivated is not a word. Also super shout out to Google for letting me know that I did not make up a word. It turns out de-motivated is a word. Um, unmotivated means that one being lacks motivation. De motivated means that motivation has been taken. Right. That distinction. Very impressive. Also, I had no idea of the difference of those two. I think I really meant unmotivated. De-motivated came out. Google backed me up. Thanks anyways, mom, really appreciate you having my, uh, best interest in mind and really looking out for my grammar. Hmm. Um, let’s see. In this past week I worked on another music video. I taught a great class at movement. Lifestyle. Had so much fun. If you are listening to this on the day of its release, which is Wednesday, I’ll be teaching again this Friday, which is January… Wait for it. Wait for it. 31st, last day of the month. Oh my gosh. It’s going really fast. Is it just me or is that everyone? Gosh, man. Um, so this past week in my class, we channeled what it means to be attractive. Um, which reminded me of last week’s episode talking about our dancing birds and mating dances and all sorts of fun stuff, but it was really, really challenging to have like Heidi Klum in the mind, but a Muppet or a Fraggle in the body. So much fun. Um, I don’t know if we’ll do that again this week, but I do know that we will have fun again this week. So if you’re in LA, stop by movement lifestyle, I will be teaching at 1130. Killer. Um, let me think. Any other updates? Oh, big one. The nails are off. I got acrylic nails for a job. I don’t remember what episode I talked about this and, but I got my acrylic nails removed. The first thing I did was take out my contacts because I couldn’t do that cause they were too long and Oh my gosh, that felt so good. For all my optometrists out there, please don’t worry, I do have the contacts that are the type that you’re supposedly allowed to sleep in. But Whoa, I had slept in my context for many, many nights. Eyes feel great. Fingers feel great. I feel great in general, crushing it at 2020 again this week.
Today, However, I want to talk about a specific thing that might be keeping you from crushing it in 2020 and that is fear. Yes, good old fashioned fear. Insert the dramatic Halloween scream right there, which turns out, actually this is an aside, I found out recently that the director of photography from In the Heights, the film that I worked on over the summer last year, Alice Brooks is her name is the scream from scream.
That’s Alice’s scream. That’s the scream that I want to put in my podcast right now, when I say this episode’s about fear. So now, you know.
Moving on a couple of weeks ago, I put out a survey on Instagram. Thank you so much for responding by the way, those of you that, that hollered back. Um, I asked what scares you, what are you afraid of? And it was very cool to take a look at my responses. I’ve basically sorted this out. I’ve determined that there are two types of fear, the kind of fear that keeps you alive and the kind of fear that eats you alive. The first one being of course the animal instinct that gives you the freeze, fight or flight response. And then the other one is literally everything else. So let’s talk very quickly about the fear that keeps you alive. Our animal instinct fear has really served us well. It’s helped us get to the point where most of us are not afraid for our lives on a daily basis.
Do you remember the game, the Oregon trail, by the way, speaking of fear for your life, it was a computer game that taught us about the early settlers and all of the ways that you can die in the 18 hundreds for example, your wagon might break an axle and you might have to walk yourself to death or you might get dysentery or cholera. Now that is some really scary stuff. Even before that time though, you might’ve been afraid of being trampled in a stampede or you might’ve been afraid that your child might be eaten by a saber tooth tiger. That stuff right there. That is real fear. Now, there’s still a lot of real danger in the modern world. It’s just that our stimuli have changed. We don’t have saber tooth tigers or wagons anymore, which is kind of a shame cause wagons are darn cute. So next week I’m going to talk about one of my favorite books called the gift of fear. And we’ll talk about reading subtle signals in our modern everyday life that could really save your tail. That was an animal instinct pun. Um, especially if you live in Hollywood or if you’re a person that tours frequently
But for today we’re going to discuss in depth the kind of fears that eat you alive or what I referred to in episode 0.5 with my friend Nick Drago as creative fears. So these are the fears that are not really life threatening, but I was shocked that when I put my survey out to Instagram, like 99% of the replies I got were these type of fears. So that’s what we’re going to dig into today. Buckle up, let’s go.
8:39 Okay, thanks again for submitting your responses about things that you are afraid of. Please don’t be afraid right now. I’m not going to call anybody out by name. I’m going to actually kind of group some fears together based on a few trends that I noticed. So two things in particular. Almost every response fell under one or both of these two umbrellas. Those two umbrellas are judgment and failure. So I’m thinking if we can tackle these two little guys, we can step into some real big power. Now, last week I introduced Brooke Castillo’s thought model and I’m going to really quickly review on that. But if you haven’t listened to episode four, I really encourage you to do that. The model starts with a circumstance which is a neutral fact about your life. It is provable. It is uncontestable incontestable? Which one is it? Mom, call me. Circumstances trigger your thoughts. Thoughts are just sentences in your head, which you actually can control. Thanks to your prefrontal cortex. More science words. Thoughts cause your feelings, which are sensations in your body. And those feelings lead to actions, which are what you do or don’t do with your body. And your actions create results, which are always proof of your initial thought. So it’s really important that we choose our thoughts wisely. Okay, so on the subject of fear, I’m not encouraging you to simply not think the thoughts that frighten you. Actually quite the opposite. I’m suggesting that you understand the thoughts that frighten you. I’m suggesting that you get to the core of them. I’m betting that at the core of these fears, you’re probably wrestling with your thoughts about judgment and or failure. And I’m telling you right now that the tiny seed inside the core of the big, big fear is just a feeling, probably an unwanted feeling. So you see, fear is actually the avoidance of unwanted feelings. It’s your body and your mind’s way of keeping you from experiencing unwanted stuff. But thoughts create your feelings and we get to choose our thoughts. So what if we choose thoughts that lead us in the direction of wanted feelings? One of my favorite ways to illustrate this. There’s a little exercise in metacognition or thinking about thinking, if you’re funky.
I’d like you to invite an imaginary friend to sit down beside you, preferably a very curious friend, somebody who’s very compassionate, but asks questions that have five-year-old would ask. Maybe this imaginary friend is a five-year-old. They ask a lot of questions like, why? And so what if or what does that even mean? So this imaginary young person is going to ask me tons of questions about my thoughts, and I’m going to rattle off answers as if I know everything. And once a feeling shows up in the answer, then I’ll know that we’ve gotten to the root of the issue. Let’s start with a a fear of being injured. So if I have a child sitting next to me and I say, “Man, little one, little nugget I am, I’m afraid of being injured.” And that child might say, “why?” And I might say, “because then I won’t be able to do the thing that I love.” And they might say, “why?” And I’ll say, “because I’ll be in pain, if not physically then mentally for sure.” And they might say, “why?” And I might say, “because dance is a part of who I am without it, who am I?” And they might say, “I dunno who are you?” And then I might say, “well, I am an almighty dancer and I can do a unnatural things and I can do anything. And I am indestructable, except for when I’m injured, when I’m injured, I feel mortal and I prefer to feel indestructable.” Okay, ding, ding, ding. There were the feelings that just showed up. When I’m injured, I feel mortal, but I prefer to feel indestructable. So there’s my key feelings there. I’m actually afraid of being injured because I prefer to feel indestructable. Well what if you could be injured and still feel indestructable? Would you then have the same fear of becoming injured?
Okay, let’s take a look at a different fear. “I’m afraid my work will be bad.” The child might say to that “why?” And I might say, “because that might mean that I don’t know what I’m doing.” and then that child might say, “when I don’t know something and I ask about it, my teacher calls it learning. Or sometimes when I’m playing, I don’t really know what I’m doing and that can be really, really fun. So what’s wrong with not knowing what you’re doing?” I might say to that, “well, I really like to play too, but I don’t like feeling unskilled. “ Aha. Here’s my feeling. I’m afraid my work will be bad because I don’t like to feel not good at something. Well, how do you feel about yourself after you’ve learned something really difficult or how do you feel about yourself while you’re playing? Is it possible that you might not be afraid of making bad work if you thought of your work as play, if you thought of it as learning.
All right, how about this one? “I’m afraid people won’t understand me or won’t get the work. I’m afraid they’ll think I’m bad or stupid.” Kid might say “why?” And I say, if feeling very honest “because I want people to like me. I want people to relate to my work. I want them to think I’m great” and that kid might say, “so what if they don’t?” And then I would probably get real real with myself and I would say, “well then I would feel unwanted. I would feel uncool and I prefer to feel cool. I want to feel appreciated.” Okay, great. So it’s not that I’m afraid of people not understanding me, it’s that I want to avoid feeling unappreciated. Well, what if you felt cool and wanted and appreciated no matter what other people thought of your work? Would the fear still be there? I’m thinking, no.
Okay, here’s one more. What if I told the kid the very, very smart kid, by the way, “’i’m afraid of going to auditions.” Kid might say, “why?” And I’d say, “well, I don’t completely love putting my all on the line in front of hundreds of judgy eyeballs, including a couple pairs of eyeballs that ultimately decide if I will fail or succeed in getting this job or not.” And then the kid might say with all of his wisdom and experience, “isn’t that what being a dancer is putting your all on display for a bunch of eyeballs to look at?” That smart little sucker. Got me. All right. I’d probably say fine. “Smart little sucker. You got me I guess it’s not the audition that I’m afraid of. It’s getting cut.” The kid might say “with a knife?!” and I’d be like, “no, we use the word cut as another word for being dismissed or rejected and I guess it feels pretty crappy to be rejected.” Ding, ding, ding. We have a feeling there. Feeling rejected. Well, what if you could go to an audition and not feel rejected no matter what? What if instead of feeling rejected, you felt genuinely sorry for those poor sons of guns that don’t get to work with you? Like what if? What if getting cut actually felt like a surprise birthday party for you? Like what if everyone in the room erupted in applause and there was confetti and streamers and cake every time you got cut, would you still be afraid of going to auditions? Mm. Probably not. I would go all the time.
Now if you’re like me, you might be getting a little suspicious right around now. Like all of this power of positive thinking stuff. Is there really any grit to it? Like is it real? I remember specifically when that book, the secret became very popular. I had some big questions about that. Like does taping a dollar bill to my ceiling and looking at it in the morning and at night before I go to bed really turn me into a millionaire.
Now, I could be wrong here, but I highly, highly doubt that this work is a bit different. It’s more systematic and it requires action, some effort and a lot of consciousness. So let’s do that work. Let’s put in a little effort and let’s get real thoughtful about judgment and failure.
Okay. What is judgment? The internet says and the internet knows that judgment is the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions. Well, that doesn’t sound so bad actually. I kind of loved the idea of being a person that can make considered decisions or sensible conclusions. I wish we could just leave it at that. But the internet also offers an alternative definition and that is misfortune or calamity viewed as a divine punishment. Huge, huge range there. How did we go from sensible conclusions to divine punishment? I don’t know exactly, but considering that judgment is part of what’s kept us humans around for so long, and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, thankfully. I’m going to opt to think of judgment as the first definition. I’m already hard enough on myself as it is I don’t need to think of everyone else in the world is passing divine punishment on me. Gosh, that’s terrifying. All right, so that’s the what of judgment. Now let’s talk about the who. Who gets to pass judgment? Well, one of two people. You or someone else. So let’s talk about judgment from others. At least in dance, I’ll speak specifically for dance. There is no bar exam, there’s no MCAT. There is no one institution that says, all right, you’re good, you’re a dancer, you pass, go on, go dance, go make money doing dance. And I actually think that’s a great thing. I have no student loans because of that thing, and that means that everyone gets to dance even if they can’t afford to go to dance school or take dance test. But here’s where that gets a little bit tricky. In the absence of an almighty dance deity, that gets to click a price tag on us and deem us valuable. It can sometimes feel easier for our minds to give power to literally anyone else instead of keeping it for ourselves. In other words, instead of saying, I’m great and I know that I’m just getting better, we say, ah, I don’t know if I’m any good. What do you think world? See, I think that seeking validation is not so uncommon. It’s human and I think it’s a result of how we were all raised, but what’s unique to dancers and people making art, especially in entertainment, is that we and our work stand at the epicenter of our pop culture’s screen addiction and fascination with view counts and clicks and engagement. It can be really challenging to separate popular opinion from your opinion. And that can be dangerous because then you have a bunch of people who don’t deeply understand the work determining its value. Yikes. So does having a lot of likes mean that something is good? No. Does having very few likes mean that something is bad? No. So what does make something good or bad? Your thoughts about it. That’s what. And that brings us to your self judgment, which can be a tough one. So I’m going to call on the old thought model.
If the circumstance is my work and the thought is people will think my work is bad or stupid or somebody’s work will definitely be better. Then the feeling that that thought creates is disempowered. Checking in mom, is that a word? The action that comes as a result of feeling disempowered is actually inaction. You don’t make work. So the result is no work, which proves the original thought is correct. Somebody else’s work is better than your work on a technicality because your work doesn’t exist. So here’s the new model with a little bit of flexing of my prefrontal cortex muscles. I know your brain is not a muscle. I just, it’s an analogy. All right, so the circumstance is still my work, but what if my thought about my work is that I am a person with the tools and determination to make the work that I love. That thought makes me feel empowered, that thought makes me feel motivated and feeling motivated, sends me into action. That action is making work. A lot of it and probably failing a bit along the way. And the result then is that I will have work that I love and I’ll have stronger tools and determination to make even more of it. See, the result is proof of that first thought.
Now here’s something I didn’t touch on much in the last episode and that is that your results are really just yours. In other words, you won’t have a result like everyone loves my work because you can’t control other people’s thoughts, which I think is a great thing by the way. All right, let’s touch on failure now. What is failure? Well, again, I turned to the internet and the internet says failure is the lack of success. Now to avoid going down an endless pit of defining, defining words, I’m going to skip success, which we’ll talk about in another podcast and I’m going to jump straight to the second definition, of failure, which I really, really like by the way. The internet says that failure is the omission of expected or required action. See, it’s all, it’s not this death, destruction, awful, the worst. It’s just the lack of, or the omission of expected or required action. To me, it’s just simply missing the mark. So some people are so afraid of missing the Mark that they never even shoot. For example, people who would love to become a dancer someday, but they don’t take class because they’re afraid they won’t be good. You know, they’ll miss the mark of greatness so they don’t go. Some people are afraid of missing so big that they set the mark real low, like you know, keeping it real safe, freestyling at a nightclub or lounge or party, but never entering a freestyle battle.
Did you hear that? That was me raising my hand. Oh, failure. There is one other way that a lot of us choose to avoid failure. That’s kind of special and that is self sabotage. I say that it’s special because this is a type of avoiding unwanted feelings that actually feels really good, at least in the moment. And then it sneaks up and gets you. Here’s some examples, my personal favorite procrastination, putting things off for later so that you can feel good now. My mom has a famous saying, shout out again mom, love you. Uh, she says, why do today, what you can do tomorrow and why do tomorrow what you can avoid doing all together. Man, mom, you are a professional procrastinator. Here’s another one, another form of self sabotage and that’s drinking or self-medicating and other ways that might seem really harmless or even helpful to an extent in that moment, but man, they can lead straight into the arms of some really undesirable results. Another one might be lying or faking sick, or here’s one that you might not expect. Overworking is total self sabotage the whole time you’re thinking, look at me crush this. I am crushing it. I can totally work until 4:00 AM every night and then wake up at six and then go to the gym and, and and, and, and until you exhaust yourself to the point of injury or inefficiency. Self-sabotage is a sticky one and it deserves a podcast all to itself. So let’s jump back to failure.
There is a metric ton of research and a boatload of really great talks about failure and specifically failure and its relationship to success. I’ll link to a few of my favorites on my website under the show notes for episode five. Just go to theDanawilson.com/podcasts and click on episode five to get all that good stuff. But for now I want to just point out a couple of my favorite thoughts about failure. Here’s a real popular one. The idea that the more you fail, the more you will succeed. I really love that and I like to think about if there were a number, like what if you knew that exactly 25 fails equals one win. Like a really big win. I bet you’d be down to fail 25 times. If you knew that right after that you would get your big win. Well, I also think that it’d probably take way less than 25 fails to get a win. So just jump in and find out. Another one of my favorites is this, and it’s a quote, and I don’t know who to credit for this quote. ***(post edit) this quote is by Fritz Perls, MD, the psychiatrist and founder of Gestalt Therapy.** So if you do, please let me know. The saying is, “The only difference between fear and excitement, is breath.” Consider that people actually pay money to see scary movies and go to haunted houses and go on roller coasters.
In a way, fear has been rebranded in our minds as fun. So take a deep breath, put both arms up and scream your whole way to that audition. You’re going to have a ball at some point in there for even just the second. You’re going to have fun, I promise. Oh, here’s another quote and I do know who wrote this one. It’s from the movie the Farewell which is written and directed by Lulu Wong starring Akwafina. And it is one of my favorite movies of 2019 please, please see it. Akwafina’s character’s, mom, whose name I’m blanking on at this particular moment, says, “Chinese people have a saying. When people get cancer, they die. It’s not the cancer that kills them. It’s the fear.” Please go see the farewell so that you understand this powerful context, and also, please don’t let your fears eat you alive. Watch over them with the curiosity and compassion of a young child. Get to the root of them and rewrite them and keep it funky. hahahaha, How come I can’t say that without laughing. Oh, it feels good to laugh. That was a serious one. Whoa, boy.
Me again. Wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never. One more time. We’re on the podcast. One more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review your words move me too. Number two things I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye.
I know how easy it is to get caught up in confusion and indecision when it comes time to make those “big career moves”, and sometimes the small ones too! So, I am finally sharing decision making formula! In this episode, first we’ll identify how your values factor into your decision making. Then, we’ll talk about false dichotomies and Zero Sum Thinking. THEN, I’ll give you the outline, a tool that I use to help me MAKE BIG DECISIONS! I’m also giving you a look at one of my recent a BIG DECISIONS that might surprise you. 😉
Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: Hello my friend and welcome. I’m Dana. This is Words That Move Me. I’m stoked that you are here because today I will be talking about a subject that is near and very dear and probably a struggle to all of our hearts. Um, today we are talking about making decisions specifically big, important looming decisions. Um, and it is safe to say that if you are listening to this podcast, you are focusing on making moves in your career. You’re focusing on making the ‘right moves’ and probably making really, really big moves. So this one is dedicated to you. I’m so excited about it. Uh, but first let’s talk wins shall we? Today, I am celebrating a very important win. If you are an avid listener, you know that I am avidly frustrated with the carwash across the street for me, um, since the reopening, the great reopening, it seems a lot of people are wanting their car washed. And although it used to be a hand wash the car wash across the street from me now has these really awesome squealing vacuums, which has been a struggle for a person with a podcast. Um, seriously, it like I am pulling my eyelashes and my hair out on the daily being in my house, listening to this squealing squealing sound. Uh, so today I’m celebrating that I have made a formal complaint with the city after doing some extensive decibel recording and research found that the carwash across the street is almost four decibels over the acceptable limited for residential area. And I know that doesn’t sound like much, but, um, every three decibels is a doubling of the acceptable limit. So the fact that we’re almost four decibels over is like, oh my goodness, no wonder I’m pulling my hair out. This is like two times as loud as the acceptable limit for a residential area. So I’m stoked that it’s not just me and I’m not just crazy. And I’m stoked to be taking steps in a direction that hopefully gets me and my neighbors, a little bit of auditory relief. Uh, so that is what I am celebrating today.
Now you go, what is going well in your world?
All right. Awesome. Congratulations. I’m so proud of you keep doing what you’re doing. Okay. Now my goal for this session is to identify what makes big decisions and sometimes small ones too, so hard. Uh, then I’m going to give you a game plan that will hopefully make it a lot less hard because I know how easy it is to get caught up in confusion and indecision. So, uh, first we’ll identify how your values factor into your decision making. Then we’ll talk about false dichotomies and the zero sum thinking, and then I’ll give you an outline, um, a tool that I use to help me make my big decisions. Uh, and I’ll even give you a real example from my very own, very recent life of how I applied this tool. Okay. Let us jump in and let us talk about why it is so hard to make decisions, big decisions. Um, actually, let’s pause right here. What do you think the answer to that question is seriously, like hit pause and try to answer this question. Why is it so hard to make big decisions go?
Okay. Uh, I, I, I hope that you’ve paused that answered that question. And if you’re back now, I’ll go ahead and weigh in. I think that it’s hard to make big decisions only, partly because we really want to make the right one and not make the wrong one only, partly because of that. We’ve got thoughts about how good it is to be right, and how bad it is to be wrong. And without a crystal ball, we don’t think we know which one is which so we go back and forth trying to predict the future and doubting ourselves in the moment. That’s only part of it.
Well, that confusion, that back and forth that self-doubt in that trying to predict the future thing. Those are all optional. And I’m about to clear all of those up for you with one word, values. Yes. Your values. I’ll explain in addition to wanting to be right and not wanting to be wrong. Making decisions can be hard and uncomfortable and confusing because we subconsciously tie bundles of our own values to each choice. So I like to think of, of each choice each option, each decision as a bucket and in each of those buckets, I place certain values. For example, uh, let’s say I’m deciding whether to go to college for dance or to head straight to a big city and jump into the workforce. In the school for dance bucket I might place the following values, having a detailed and predetermined schedule, having some structure, pleasing my parents. Um, this one’s obvious, but a top tier education. Those might be some of the values that I, that I put in the go to school bucket. Well, over in the other bucket, the jump straight into the workforce bucket, I’ve placed values like first-hand experience, independence, change, and of course no student debt. Okay. So we tie certain values to certain decisions. So what, so what makes making decisions a struggle is thinking that by honoring one decision and one set of values, we must completely abandon the other values. You see what I’m saying here? In the case of our example, you might be thinking that moving straight into the workforce means you forfeit your parents’ love and support or a detailed and predetermined schedule or a top tier education. Yeah. Making that decision could feel awful. If you think that you had to give up all those values to have it. On the other hand, you might be thinking that going to school means that you can’t honor independence, hands-on experience and change. Is this is this tracking? When I explain it in this way, of course, big decisions feel nasty. When you think that making them means you have to give up your values. What I am starting to illustrate here is sometimes called zero sum thinking. Zero sum thinking refers to the perception that a situation or a decision is like a game and there will be a winner and there will be a loser. And if someone is up and someone is down, the net is zero, right? Winner, loser net equals zero. That’s why we call it zero sum thinking. It’s occasionally called a zero sum game. Now as zero sum bias means that people think there is competition for a resource or an idea that they feel is limited. Even when the resource in question is totally unlimited, freely available to put this really simply we care about decision-making because we think we will either win or lose our values. But in most cases, our values are unlimited. There is not a, there’s not one choice that we could make where we have to forfeit all our other values, except for the ones that we allocate with that choice.
Okay. Are you still with me? I’m hoping that this idea of values and decisions has really blown your mind. Um, and if it hasn’t great, we’re going one step deeper so that I can like just firmly split your brain. No not split it, just, nevermind. We’re moving on. You have probably heard, maybe even on this podcast actually of false dichotomies, there’s sometimes known as false dilemmas or when two alternatives are presented as being the only options, but others are actually available. That is a false dichotomy when you are presented with A or B, but in truth, there is actually like C D E F G H I J K. Anyways. My husband has helped me to really understand that. Almost always, when A or B are presented as the only two options you have at least four options option one is to choose A option. Two is to choose B option three is to choose AB or, you know, some combination of the two and option four is to choose neither. Mind blown in half. You don’t have to choose either of those. You can choose nothing. We’re going to call that option C. So when presented with A or B, you know, you have at least four options, A, B AB, or we’ll call it C. This way of thinking can really lift the false pressure of a false dilemma. So if you are thinking, I’m going to either go to school or move to a big city to dance, I can understand how you would feel tremendous pressure. When actually you have so many more options, which some might create even more pressure in your mind, but we’re going to alleviate that in a second, too.
To add some alleviation. I’d like to introduce the subject of time. Most decisions are presented as a limited time offer. You have to choose by the state. You have to decide by this date, our deadline is this, and that pressure is intended to be manipulative. And usually it’s not binding. Usually you can change your mind at some point out in the future. Most of the time you can straight up, just wait to make the decision. So the next time you were being faced with a big decision, ask yourself how many options do I really have and how much time do I really have to make this decision? Can I make my decision and then change my mind later? Excellent. Breath of relief. Okay.
Now I’m going to talk you through one of my favorite tools for making big decisions. Eight steps go with me here. Step one is to simply reflect, identify how many options you actually have. Is this a case where it is truly A or B, or is there an AB, is there a C explain what each option would look like? And the example that we’ve laid out already, the, the, the scenario of going to school or moving into the workforce option a might look like going to college, packing up your bags, getting on a plane, moving to a school option B might look like packing up your car and moving to LA to pursue the industry. For example, AB might look like packing up your car, moving to LA and going to college online, option C might look like going on a cruise ship or Europe or staying home, something like that. Actually, I guess those would be CD and E all of those options. So explain to yourself what each of those options looks like.
Step two for each option that you’ve outlined in step one, tell yourself why you should choose each option. In other words, list the pros. What’s good about each of those decisions.
Step three, as you might have imagined, outline the cons. What’s the bad part about making each one of those decisions? What could go wrong in making each of those decisions list for each option?
Step four. Here’s where we get to the buckets and the values. What values does each choice aligned with? In other words, what are the values that you’re putting in each bucket? For example, in going to school, you’re honoring the value of higher education or pleasing the folks or maintaining stability. Um, in, in bucket B moved to LA, you might be honoring real hands-on experience being close to the ocean. Um, maybe you already have a community out in Los Angeles. Maybe you’re putting the value of accomplishing your dreams into that bucket. Um, maybe, maybe the AB bucket is the value or the, the desire to please everyone. Maybe that’s giving you more flexibility in the future. Um, you, you get to decide what values go in the AB bucket, and then in the C bucket as well. What values are you associating with the decision to do none of those with the decision to maybe stay home or go on a cruise ship? Is it the value of saving money? Is it the value of less risk? Is it the value of, um, you know, sticking to what is known? What is comfortable? What are the values you’re putting in each of those buckets?
That is step four, step five is where we get to identify embrace. Even that the struggle you are having to make this decision is coming from thinking that in order to honor one value or one bucket of values, you must abandon all the others. So get very real with yourself right now and explain how in this case, that is true or untrue. Is it true that by moving to LA you abandoned the love and support of your, of your folks? Is it true that in moving to LA you are forfeiting great education. Is it true that by going to school, you are forfeiting experience. Is it true that by staying home, you are forfeiting experience. Get to really answering those questions for yourself. Explain how is that the case, or how is that? Not the case likely you’ll find that it is very much possible for you to honor most, if not all of your values by simply making one choice.
In step six, I like to consider if there is someone else whose opinion about this decision matters more to me than my own. I asked myself, who are they? And why in the heck do I care about their opinion? More than mine at this point, I like to remind myself that I cannot control what other people think about me. It’s very possible that I could make the choice that would please this other person. And they could still think poorly of me. So are you willing to make this decision for you? Are you willing for other people to have the wrong idea about you? Answer those questions in step six and get ready for ownership over your life.
Let’s go instead of seven. Once you understand that your values are not mutually tied to these choices, once you understand that you could possibly honor all of those values with any one decision, what choice do you want to make? What decision will you make, knowing that you can honor most, if not all of your values with one choice, make the choice. You don’t need to act on the choice. You don’t need to actually go pack the car right now, but with yourself to yourself, make a decision and decide what you will think about yourself for making this decision.
Okay. We’ve made it to step eight and this one is important. Most people do not do it. I can tell because I’ve seen people go for years and years holding onto guilt or curiosity about the path not chosen. So step eight is to decide how you will feel about letting go of the other options. How will you feel about the paths not taken? How will you grieve them? How will you celebrate them? How will you release them? How will you honor them? That is the final step of making big decisions for me.
All right. Now, I’m going to walk you through this outline, um, with a recent experience of mine during the same week of the, In the Heights movie premiere and surrounding parties that were happening in New York City, I was put on avail for a national commercial in LA. The dates were exactly the same, the dates, exactly conflicted and New York and LA are quite far away. Oh God, that was a cute ride. Um, so in this case, when I identified my options about, you know, do I, do I say that I am available for this commercial? Or do I say that I am not available for this commercial and go to New York A and B, or it was not possible that I both do the commercial and go to the premier and parties and such, um, yeah, the, the AB version of that world couldn’t exist. Of course there is still a C option I could have done. Neither. It could have said, you know, it is just too hard for me to choose. I’m not going to do either of those things, but option C was that’s, that’s not very attractive to me. So as I identified my options, I honed in on A or B, say that I’m available for this commercial, or say that I am not available for this commercial and go to New York. Actually, now that I say this out loud, there was a third option. I could say that I’m available for this commercial and still not book it, and then go to New York to the party. So those are my three options. A say that I’m available B say that I’m not available and go to New York or C say that I am available, not get it and still go to New York. Okay.
Step two. Let’s take a look at the pros. The pros for doing a commercial are making money. I’m working with people that I admire and haven’t gotten to work with before, getting my after health care back. Um, not having to travel at all during weird COVID times. Yeah. The pros of going to New York are being in a city that I love seeing people that I haven’t seen in a long time, um, getting to party. Yeah, duh. And the pros of saying that I’m available, but also not getting it and going to New York anyways, are that I demonstrate to myself that I’m open to new work. I’m open to new ideas and I’m capable. I’m flexible.
Okay. Now let’s take a look at the values that each of these choices aligns with. Why should I be available for this commercial? Well, number one, it would mean my husband and I get back on our SAG-AFTRA healthcare. That is massive. I lost healthcare coverage during, uh, the pandemic year. And so we’ve been paying month to month, which is way more expensive. I am very, very motivated to meet my minimums and be covered fully again by SAG- AFTRA healthcare. Um, that’s number one, number two, this was a big, big music video and commercial director that I would love to work with. Also big, big choreographer that I would love to work with haven’t had the opportunity to yet. Let’s see, make money. Obviously, in addition to, uh, meeting, meeting healthcare requirements, make like actual cash and let’s see what else, right? Allocate, uh, what other value did I tie with this? Oh, the next that extra spending of money, which is required in trips to New York City, not the cheapest. Okay. So why should I choose B? Why should I choose going to New York for the premiere of this film and the parties surrounding it? Oh, this one was easy. A sense of closure and accomplishment, a celebration. Um, the other values I associated with going are, um, connecting with the community, uh, celebrating the people involved and yes, having a party like actually celebrating, playing, having fun. That is definitely a value of mine. Now, option C in my case, I didn’t have much control over. I can say that I’m available for this project and they can say, oh, we’re so glad that you’re available. We don’t need you. Which spoiler alert is what happened. But first I had to actually make the decision where I said, I am willing to be available. That is the decision that I’m talking about. It is poor form to say, yes, I am fully available. And then a psych, just kidding. I’m going to not be to nevermind. Poor poor form.
Okay. Step three. Why shouldn’t I choose each option? Why should I not choose to do the commercial? Because other people might think that I am putting money above a very emotional and personal project. Why shouldn’t I do the commercial? Because In the Heights is one of the most meaningful projects to me that I have ever done and selling stuff for a big corporation is way less important to me to start. Why shouldn’t I go to New York because it’s going to be expensive. Um, for the Associate Choreographers, that trip was not paid for, that was on us. Now. I know. Um, why shouldn’t I go to New York? That’s all I can think of. Only 2 reasons. Great.
Now in step five, I get to identify that the struggle that I’m having is coming from thinking that making one choice means I abandoned all my other values deciding to take the commercial means that I abandoned celebrating my team. It means that I abandoned connecting with the people. It means that I abandoned a sense of closure. Is that really the case? Absolutely not. Is it possible for me to achieve a sense of closure without going to New York city and standing on a red carpet? You better believe it. Is it possible for me to celebrate my team without flying to New York and going to a party? Yes, it absolutely. Is. Is it possible for me to connect with my team without actually being there 100%? In fact, as I was going through this, this outline, I realized that one of my favorite things about one of my favorite people, Mr. Andy Blankenbuehler is that he writes personal emails. I mean, I know it sounds kind of small, but this is one of the busiest guys I have ever met. And yet out of the blue, I might receive an email. Hey, Dana, thinking about you because saw this thing thought of you, blabbity-blue. Appreciate you. Hope you’re good. I love that this person who I think is so busy is not too busy to connect with his people. I want to be more like that. Could I write an email to all of our cast and crew? Yes. I mean, it would take me some time, but probably not longer than a five and a half hour flight to New York, probably not longer than the four days that I would have spent there. And in fact, I might even find myself feeling more connected with them and writing personalized messages than shouting at the top of my lungs over loud music at a party or a passing wave in a fleeting hug in a movie theater. It might be possible that I get to connect deeper by not going than by going, okay.
Let’s look at the other side of the spectrum. Could I meet my SAG-AFTRA health requirements by going to a party? No. Could I work with these two, uh, this choreographer director by going to New York to the premiers? No. Could I work with them eventually? 100%. Yes. Am I excited to now know that that is important to me 100%? Yes. Are there things that I could be doing that would get me closer to that desired result? 100%. Yes. But none of those are achieved by going into New York City for a party. Okay. Pretty well. Fleshed that out.
So let’s look at step six. Is there someone else whose opinion about this decision? I’m considering more than my own? Yes. I was considering about 300 people’s opinion more than my own. I was considering what people would think. If I wasn’t there. I was considering what people would think. If they thought that I had chosen a commercial over them, I was considering what the casting agency might think. If I said I was available and then changed my mind later that they might think I was unprofessional. I was considering a lot of other people’s thoughts about me. When I started thinking about missing the premiere to do this commercial. I thought that people might think the movie didn’t mean as much to me as it did to them. And I placed myself in my imagination there at the premiere. Is it possible that people could still think that even after having spent a lot of money on a ticket and lodging and food and fancy outfits, is it possible that people could still think that, yes. Am I willing for people to be wrong about me? Yes. In fact, it is inevitable in my life that will happen.
So let’s take a look at step seven, understanding that my values are not mutually tied to these choices. For me, understanding that I could still achieve closure, celebrate my team, connect with my team and celebrate myself without going to New York. In some ways I might even be able to do those on a, in a deep, deep way, in a very personal way, in a very effective way. Impactful way. Once I realized that my decision was clear, I would decide to be available for this commercial. I would decide that my way of releasing the premiere would be to review every single photo and dance, every single combo and light a candle for Abuela Claudia and email, personally, all of the dancers. This was how I would honor and release the path not taken. So I got on the phone and I called my agent and I said, I will be available for this commercial. And they said, that’s great, noted. And then for four days, the four days before the week of the premiere, I was on hold. And then I was released. The commercial said, no, thank you. I hit up Airbnb. I bought myself a plane tickets so fast and my feet landed firmly in celebration, connection, closure, and New York City. But all the while I felt open to more work, I felt like my past work is not the only work. I felt even more able to celebrate the people I was with because I was thinking that I could do so much lifting from afar. Imagine how much I can do near. I felt that I was exactly where I should be. And I felt open to being anywhere.
That is what I have for you today. A little template for making your big decisions and a peek into one of the biggest decisions I’ve had to make in the last couple months. All right. That’s it wrapping it up? Hope this was useful. And if you happen to have other tips and tricks and techniques for making big decisions, I would be so curious to hear where they are. Hit me up, DanaDaners on Instagram or Words That Move Me podcast on Instagram. Get out there into the world, make your decisions and keep it super duper funky. I’ll talk to you soon.
Me again. Wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review because your words move me too. Number two thing. I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye.
Listening to this episode is the podcast equivalent of stargazing with someone who loves you… and happens to be thoughtful, technical, experienced, and wildly creative. This week, my husband Daniel, the CEO and Founder of ViceChief , examines the role of light and darkness in the world of a performer… and a prototyper. He cracks into “uncertainty” like a pinata and king size brain candy falls out. His thoughts on asymmetry and the difference between action and reaction will have you thinking twice before you brag about your IG following… or praise someone else for theirs. And as if all that wasn’t eye (and ear) opening enough, Daniel talks directly to the posture and stance that can help you position yourself to deal with challenges and to deliver great work. For Daniel, this posture is not a physical one, it is a conceptual one, and he calls it “Black Sky Thinking”. When you look up what do you see? Where do you stand… and how? What do you move, and why? By the end of this episode, if you still don’t know, you’ll have a great idea of how to find out.
More of Vice Chief here: https://www.instagram.com/vice_chief/
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.
Daniel: Hey movers, Dana asks everyone to introduce themselves. I’m Daniel and I do prototyping, opto mechanical prototyping. That means designing and building the first version of some new idea. In my case, ideas that have to do with light, optics and mechanical stuff. Think cameras, microscopes, anything with a lens. I’m not here to tell you about prototyping or my path through life, but rather to tell you what I’ve learned in the practice of prototyping, about three ideas that come together in kind of an interesting way. Uncertainty, posture, and asymmetry in that order. Prototyping is a long way from dance. About as far as you can get, actually. If I move something, I move it with motors, not muscle. I choreograph deliverables, not bodies. When I tumble I’m usually tumbling around a CAD model on screen. Prototyping is all about uncertainty and especially reducing uncertainty. I mean, if you knew exactly what to do, you just wouldn’t make a prototype. You would never need one. This is a particular problem in my mind for creatives, because by definition, you can imagine doing lots and lots of different things for any challenge. So what’s the right thing to do. If you were like a simpleton and you could think of only one thing to do, you wouldn’t need a prototype. You just do the one thing that you could think of. So having a creative vision, seeing a hundred possibilities in every challenge means that the odds are actually stacked against you like a hundred to one. This is one of those clear and kind of contradictory cases of every strength also being a weakness, a hundred great ideas as at least 99 nos or even thousands If you consider combinations of ideas. Uncertainty, doesn’t just come from having too many choices. It can also be from having too few. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in engineering, it’s that at any time, if someone tells you that you must choose between A or B two things, they are deliberately not telling you all the choices. For example, simplest thing, you can just say no to both or often better, you can say yes to both. That’s four choices in every dichotomy, minimum. Prototyping as a practice, clumsy, as it is, is about keeping an open mind. And particularly it is about finding reasons that things can and should work and then getting down and doing the work, being close to the work. So you can learn from it directly. I am always looking for people who can honestly search for ways that things can happen. And I’m always looking to banish, corrosive people who find problems with every single solution. Another aspect of uncertainty that really faces prototypers and dancers both is that each project, each team, each new shoot is just different enough that you really can’t rely on familiarity. This constant newness is like, it’s a double-edged sword. It keeps your life super interesting, but it also creates tons of uncertainty. Something that I learned from Dana is that in dance, there’s also a personalizing aspect because dance is an act of the body and in the body, the uncertainty ends up landing on you. Were you the right shape, the right color or the right look, did you try too hard to be what they wanted or didn’t you try hard enough? Were you under skilled or over skilled too street or too studio? Either way the uncertainty lives in you, even when let’s be fucking real about this, the people holding the audition don’t really know exactly what they want and what they want is mostly things that can’t be measured. Pizazz, charisma, these things, something inexplicable. So uncertainty from an optical perspective, uncertainty is darkness. When there is not enough light measurements get noisy, edges become indistinct shapes and paths unclear. In a way, not enough light becomes too much information because noise overwhelms the signal. Darkness manifests as dizzying arrays of choices or the swirling confusion of trying to optimize too many things at once. Darkness. This special uncertainty is one of those rare things that you can always rely on. It is a really consistent source of anxiety and frustration, and it can drive a control freak fucking crazy as they try to manage a situation sometimes even through what are probably unconscious destructive acts that reduce the possibilities, right? Break up with someone, delete something, trash something. So you don’t have to deal with it anymore. As someone who loves control, I know all too well that uncertainty and not knowing can drive all kinds of really creative malignant behavior and poor decisions. So look, people who shine a little light on your dark side and keep a little copy of them on your shoulder.
Now, since you’re listening to this podcast, I will assume that you are the kind of person who wants to develop an expansive creative view of life. Unfortunately, this means that uncertainty is going to be a big part of your life, but you can develop something that I think of as a posture, a stance, a stance like this has two purposes to help you tumble and get up right again. And so you have a default state when new things come at you, you are positioned well to deal with them. I call it posture, but it’s a conceptual position, not a physical one. And it starts with something, I call black sky thinking. In my life as a research and development engineer, as a creative, as a, as all kinds of things, there’s a notion of blue sky thinking, blue sky thinking, is this idea like, what would you do if you could do anything? And I have labored for years under this broken metaphor. Now, first off we just talked about how the idea of like anything is possible is as much a curse as it is a blessing. The other thing about blue sky thinking though, is that blue sky assumes way too much. For example, that the sun will shine. That we’re going to work during the day that we know even which way is up, that we will be able to see what is happening. Those are all base assumptions in blue sky, and they are not things you can take for granted. I embrace something that I call black sky thinking. Stop what you’re doing. And picture with me a night sky full of stars, do the following position yourself mentally so that there are many destinations, most of them are unknown, but they are full of possibility. That we want to be there among the stars, but we don’t know exactly where that choosing any one path necessarily excludes other paths that we will often labor in darkness and tumble our way to insight. That things right in front of us can take a long time to see. That there are nearly infinite outcomes for each life and crucially that we can have lives within lives. That individually we can shine, but collectively we can illuminate also that we can assemble great constellations of people and be among our own stars. What I am saying is, it is possible to squint hard at the noisy darkness of uncertainty. And instead of seeing uncertainty see a blurry field of sparkling possibilities. Think fireflies in a field at night. It is possible to assume a posture where uncertainty is not so much a threat as it is a field to navigate or a set of problems to solve or a path to find.
Now, I want to be really clear here. This is really important to me. This is not some toxic positivity telling you that all misfortunes have a silver lining, that everything ends up for the better that everything is fate or part of some larger design. I think that’s bullshit. This is in fact, a stance in which you at the base level recognize that nothing is for certain. The only certain thing is that you will have to face uncertainty. So you might as well grapple. You might as well get down with uncertainty. In prototyping, this is just the default. If you want to make new things, you have to face new problems. I’m going to go through some principles that can help you develop a posture. These are mine. First recognize that even at our best, we are never going to be perfect and there’s no one right way, that it’s mistakes all the way down. Accepting this means making the easy mistakes quickly and with as little effort as possible. It also means taking notes and remembering your answers so you don’t pay twice for everything. The next thing to think about is to embrace degrees of fucking up. Fuck absolutes. What I mean by this is even the best choices are in some way mistakes. The next thing is be relentlessly creative and a little bit mercurial so that nothing can stop you. But the creative part on this is so important. I can’t overstate this. Don’t be a single-minded idiot and bang on the same door forever. The next thing about posture, the right thing for a project changes from minute to minute, the right thing for a person from year to year, the right thing for a planet who knows. So don’t corrupt this week’s opportunity with your 10 years from now fears and vice versa. When planning always keep this sense of scale in mind, a simple example, my company never signs a contract that lasts for longer than I’ve been in business. This implies that the longer you go on and the more experienced you are, the longer you can plan for now.
Another thing to think about is information. Action produces information. If you’re in the dark cloud of uncertainty, move in any sensible direction. After moving, you will know more than you did, and you will be better off than when you were stuck stressing out about it. Moving has a cost, but the cost is not as high as drowning in your own anxiety. Again, if you’re in this uncertain situation and you don’t know the right thing to do, one way to approach this is to think of what is the worst thing I could possibly do. How could I absolutely ruin this and then base your next decisions on avoiding that as much as possible. Now you have to be a little bit careful about this because in prototyping, anyway, it’s often my job to like quickly identify the wrong path or many wrong paths so we don’t waste time on them. Because executing really hard on the wrong thing is one of the worst things you could possibly do. So that means that sometimes you have to try out things that look impossible or might seem like obvious mistakes, because there might be some hidden gold there. Another way to think about this is what was a terrible mistake 20 years ago might be exactly the right thing today. So often you have to take a moment and go against the way things were always done. You have to ask yourself, why were they done that way? Or don’t ask that at all. Just try them. Often, There’s no good answer to the question. Why were they done the way they were done? In fact, the best thing you could possibly do in some uncertain situations is burn the whole thing down and start over. Baggage is super expensive, never forget the cost of baggage, your own baggage and other people’s baggage, technical baggage, the baggage of a discipline. You might, without your conscious knowledge, be optimizing for your own hidden assumptions, which are actually noise. Like how much you think something should cost. Um, for example, like, uh, your cultural background, what you think your audience expects, what you think real ballet is, you know, instead of fighting with your own internal baggage and noisy assumptions, ask yourself the following question. What is right for the project? What is the right thing to do? Considering nothing else, What is the right thing to do? And if you combine this with working your ass off to not do the worst possible thing, you can usually come up with a really powerful approach.
Now, another thing you can do in terms of posture is to think about repeats. Always have confidence that you will have another chance tomorrow or the next day or the next week. Basically you have a chance until you don’t. If you get another chance, you can try it again. But if you don’t, you’re not going to be around to care. Now, another posture thing, Dana would call this curiosity, but I would call it something else. Remember the world is full of secrets that are visible in full view of everyone. Few people are looking, but most of these things are easy to see. If you’re swimming in your own darkness and your own uncertainty. You’re almost guaranteed to miss these things. So be observant. Look for the obvious. Now, perhaps the most important thing I can share with you is no matter how sunny or how disastrous you are, you can’t predict the future. So you’re just not going to how good or how bad things are going to be. So prepare yourself whether you’re bright-eyed or a shadow like me, for the possibility that an unknown or unimaginable outcome might be way more interesting than you can think of. And if you are certain that your current situation sucks, then uncertainty itself is a huge step up. A simple and poignant example for me personally, is I didn’t know a company like Vice Chief could work. When I left for California. I didn’t know that I could spend my days building new things for interesting people. All I knew was that I needed to leave North Dakota and that I was ready to tackle whatever came and I am still ready. And my sky still sparkles. So that’s my best posture for dealing with uncertainty. But that was pretty damn abstract, right? Like how would you decide what to actually do? When would you decide to do it and how should you act? And this is where the third idea comes in, right? We went over uncertainty, posture. Now I want you to consider a single word asymmetry.
Sometimes the easiest thing to do is not to learn how to be, but to learn how not to be. I personally have always been way better at learning what not to be than I have the opposite. So in that spirit to start this section, I’m going to talk about some really dark examples of asymmetry. First one, it is 10 times easier to lie about something than it is to debunk a lie. Sometimes people call this Brandolini’s principle and when they call it that they call it, they say it like this. The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude larger than it is to produce it. I can make up lies right now, but for you to prove me wrong, it takes work. Another example of asymmetry. It is 10 times easier to choose one dancer from a group of auditioning dancers who are all trying to please you than to actually articulate what you need for the project. Some people make whole careers out of this asymmetry, finding that certain something without ever being able to say what it is. Now, there’s another form of asymmetry. That’s even more insidious. And that is action. Having a bias toward action. And when I talk about this, I’m going to quote a pretty evil person. I’m not even going to say their name. The whole quote is in a political context. So it may sound a little funny when I say it, here we go.
“The aide said that guys like me, we’re in what we call the reality-based community, which he defined as people who believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality. Well, that’s not the way the world really works anymore. We are an empire now. And when we act, we create our own reality. And while you are studying that reality judiciously, as you will, we will act again creating other new realities, which you can study too. And that’s how things will sort out. We are histories actors, and you, all of you will be left to just study what we do.”
Woof. This is why our current culture of reaction on Instagram or whatever. We’ll always be hopelessly behind people who actually make change in the world good or bad by the time you’ve posted it, liked it, reacted to it. It’s already happened. It’s already the new reality. Now with that in mind, think about clout. Another form of asymmetry, but not as you imagine it, I imagine. And there are people listening to this podcast who have a million followers on Instagram, and you should be proud about that. You may feel very powerful with your huge followship. You may have a lot of clout, but think about this for a minute. Real power is owning Instagram. Even with your million followers, you are the one being farmed. That is the definition of asymmetry. Asymmetry is a very important principle and it’s widely applicable. It’s not just evil. It’s not just darkness. The point is to use asymmetry to your advantage whenever you can. So what I’m going to follow up with here are a bunch of simple examples of asymmetry that can profoundly change the course of your life and the way you may decisions a single match costs like one penny, right? But a single match can burn down a million dollar mansion or a rainforest. Think about that for a minute, carefully and clearly. What is a match in your world? A match defines a cemetery. Another form of asymmetry is being the first to do something. When you are the first to do something you aren’t competing against nobody because nobody else has done it before. So for the first little while after you do something brand new, you have a hugely asymmetric situation. Now asymmetry comes in many forms. We talked a minute ago about having millions of followers. A simple thing you can do is ask them for help. They can help you with many, many things. And there are lots of things you can do when you have people all over the world that you can’t do by yourself. Another example probably applicable to this audience. At least some of you, if your parents are paying for rent or college, you actually have some built-in asymmetry. Don’t waste that privilege. Use it to the fullest and use it to elevate the folks around you. Another more subtle form of asymmetry is that you can do things and get help for cheap or free because you are an individual and not a company. That no one would do free for a big company that they might do free for you. Or you can do things that would be unprofitable for a big company, but you don’t care because your first motive is not necessarily profit. In fact, one of the best places to look for asymmetric ideas or neglected asymmetry is in unprofitable stuff, stuff that makes no money, but leads to other things. If everyone and everything has to make a buck, lots and lots of great ideas are being left behind those same ideas can make you notorious. Likewise. If everyone in your situation faces the same problems and delays, then solve those problems and delays or yourself. In my case, doing prototypes, everyone designed stuff on that computer and then they wait weeks or months for machine shops to come back back with parts. So my solution was to buy my own machines and learn to program them. Now I not only can make my own parts faster than any of my competitors, but I can also sell that machine time to my competitors. And this one is a little bit shady, but it’s a fact, there are a lot of things you can do as an individual that are questionable or possibly borderline illegal. And they will go unnoticed because you’re not big enough to be an interesting target in short, when you’re small, there’s a lot you can get away with. Likewise, you can think of it this way. Forget the illegality. You can take big artistic risks the beginning because you don’t have a profile to screw up with no history. Risk is not risk. Another way that things get done, that’s asymmetric is fighting your competitors in a space where they are weak. And a great example of this. As a company, a tech company like Uber, Uber was really an illegal company. They changed the laws to make themselves possible. Now, another thing then you can do as a little entity starting out is use the wake of a giant corporation to power your little ship. You can ride their wave. There’s some mega tech corporation doing something interesting. For example, you can ride that wave to get your own motion started. Now, conversely, if everyone is going one way, go the other way. I have an example in music, there’s a kind of soft, sentimental piano music called felt piano and felt is a market that is getting really saturated. Like every cute Diddy in A minor has been written. So now is the time to start developing hard, complicated, like full metal piano because the world is cyclic. Anyone doing the opposite of what’s popular. Now we’ll be ready to catch the pendulum when it swings back the other way, this works in dance, in music, in art, in architecture, pretty much any creative practice ask yourself right now, where is the pendulum in my industry or my creative practice and who is being celebrated? The answers to those questions, will tell you what is coming next. Another form of asymmetry. And this is one that individuals get wrong all the time. It’s one that I’m very guilty of is that you can hire hardcore experts to solve specific problems for very little money. So rather than letting your project die or taking on the responsibility of learning all of calculus, you just pay someone to solve the problem and move on. For whatever reason, like all big companies understand this and all project managers understand this, but many individuals just cannot understand this. Especially high performing individuals. Now, something to think about is that if you are successful and what you want is to be big and you become big, then most of the advice I just gave actually works against you. So another thing to think about is as you grow, how do you use asymmetry? And there are actually a million examples of this apple computer. It started in the seventies, early eighties, because at that time you could buy open parts on the open market and build a computer and program a computer from scratch. I mean, anyone could do it. Now apple charges developers a hundred dollars, a yearly fee to even be able to write code for their closed computers. And they’re way more complicated than anybody could ever build. This is called pulling up the ladder and you find it in an enormous variety of forms in every single industry and creative industries and tech industries everywhere. What happens is people start out in a green field environment where like everything is open and all things are possible. And most things work with other things. And then once they have success, they pull the ladder up behind them to prevent other people from doing the same thing. It is a dark, but very real form of asymmetry. Now there’s another form of asymmetry that is particular to creatives. More that is particularly effective on creatives. And that’s what I call controlling the carrot. I’m going to give you a quote from the founder of the Academy Awards. He said, “I found that the best way to handle filmmakers was to hang metals all over them. If I got them cups and awards, they’d kill themselves to produce whatever I wanted. That’s why I created the Academy Award.” – Louis Meyer.
Now think about this for a minute award towards accolades partnerships, prestigious jobs and affiliations are not just what they seem. They are also a means of control of directing the industry. And if you accept that, then think about this. What kind of value you personally place on an award that was intended to manipulate people? And how do you think about people who were decorated with those awards.
So to sum up this giant wandering piece, adopt a posture, find a stance that suits you and always be looking for, for, and leaning in to asymmetry. A few final quotes that move me. We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. That’s Oscar Wilde. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to think they’re original Donnie Miller. Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face, Mike Tyson and every dance is your last dance until it isn’t me,
Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review because your words move me too. Number two things I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye.
If you know me, then you know I LOVE to talk (hence Podcast 😉 ). From teaching and coaching, to rehearsing and working on sets, my voice is a key part of how I make my living, and it distinguishes me from everyone else… So, you might imagine how I felt when I got the news that I needed surgery to remove a “massive” cyst in my vocal cord. This episode offers a peek into how I am preparing for my surgery, and an 8 step process you can use if you or a loved one wind up on the receiving end of news like this.
Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: Hello, my friend. And welcome to words that move me. I am Dana and as per uszh, I am stoked that you are here and I’m sorry that I abbreviated the word usual. Oh my goodness. Sorry. Jillian Myers. If you’re listening, she all right, my friend, I’m going to keep this one relatively short and sweet per the doctor’s orders. Spoiler alert, spoiler alert, spoiler alert per one of the highest regarded ear nose and throat doctors in Los Angeles. I need surgery on my vocal chords. So let’s do wins. Shall we? My win is that I have a great doctor that could show me the cyst in my vocal chords. And now we’re taking care of it. Booyah, for me. Now you go, what’s going well in your world, both vocally and otherwise.
Congratulations. I am so glad to hear that you are winning. Now. You might be concerned by this news about the vocal chords. I am not. In fact, holy smokes. Did it make for good podcast material today. I’m going to tell you the story of my voice as I choose to believe it. And I’m also going to tell you a little bit about what I did when I received the news and what you might do and feel and think if you are on the receiving end of similar news, we’ll start with the story of my voice. So I was born, um, I learned how to speak, but I couldn’t say my R’s and that part of the story is not relevant per se. It simply adds character and including it here is a demonstration of my love for speaking, which will be important later. Um, kind of anyway, I did learn how to say my R’s eventually. I learned how to speak and I developed a distinguished, deep and raspy voice as heard here in exhibit 1A. um, eventually I even got a voiceover agent who said that my voice was unique. And then 30 some years later I lost my voice for about six days, zero voice, six days. Whoa. So at that point I went to an in network, ear, nose and throat doctor. Um, that was after I had regained my voice, obviously. So I could tell him what was going on. He stuck a tube up my nose to look down at my vocal chords. And he said, yep, soft nodules, no need for surgery. Just stop drinking coffee, cut out the booze, limit the spicy and acidic foods, um, and avoid talking or shouting over music. So basically surgery on my social and professional life, but not my voice. Anyway, he prescribed that I meet with a voice pathologist who was excellent, and we did a lot of fun exercises and tests and she took measurements and it was covered by insurance bonus. All of it great. I also started working with a separate vocal coach at that time. Um, she was awesome. Also. I learned a lot. It was very emotional for me in fully six sessions. We focused on almost exclusively breathing. I did not even graduate to speaking, let alone singing in our sessions. Um, but she did recommend that I read this book and I’m going to recommend it to you too. It is called Freeing the Natural Voice and it is by Kristin Linklater and I will be linking to it later in the show notes of this episode, you should definitely check it out. If you are a person who has a voice.
Okay, moving forward, between the voice pathologist and the vocal coach. I heard a lot of reasons why I might be experiencing what I have been experiencing with my voice. You have a small, soft palate. They said you stopped breathing correctly. They said, that might be because of your ballet training and holding your belly. And they said, you have a deviated septum and asthma, which doesn’t help. They said, um, your posture when you speak, especially when you get excited and lean forward, which is always, is putting additional strain on your vocal chords. They said, they said a lot. And for the most part, I did my part. I love thinking that I was caring for my voice. And I loved finding my voice here with the podcast. The podcast brought a magnifying glass onto what I have to say and much more attention to how I say it and how I sound. So I became more mindful of my posture. I was doing less speaking at the end of my breath, less run-on sentences and yeah, maybe overall, a little less coffee and a little less wine and certainly a lot more cup bubbles and more *liptrills* every single day of my life, but things weren’t getting noticeably better. Um, in fact, according to my husband, my voice was sounding noticeably worse. He never said worse. He’s a different, in fact, Raab Stevenson, my special guest from episode 50 vocal coach to the stars and master at improving voices. He recommended that I go see a specialist, a very, very special specialist at that enter Dr. Shawn Nasseri and this guy is good. If he wasn’t his office, wouldn’t be home to so many platinum plaques and signed CD jackets. He treats some of the biggest names in pop and entertainment at large, and some of the biggest baddest dancers too. So let’s wrap up this story. I tell Dr. Nasseri necessary what I have been told about my voice, what I’ve been experiencing. And he says, let’s take a look. I’m expecting more soft nodules or maybe hard nodules, if that’s a thing. Uh, well he took a look and says, nice, we’ve got a plan. What’s the plan, I said. Surgery on the cyst that is renting space in your vocal cords he said. Now I had never seen my vocal chords before or any vocal chords for that matter. So he had to show me a photo of normal vocal chords as a comparison. And whoa, yikes. Up there I have a cyst. All right. Dr. Nasseri. He said that someone is parking a school bus sideways in my throat, or that someone’s sneaker is in there. Um, to me it looked about the size of a jelly bean, but I think in reality, it’s much smaller anyways, more analogies and some calming words and success stories. Um, and resounding encouragement to move forward with surgery came from Dr. Nasseri the end. As for my method for handling this news, of course, your method for handling the news that you may need surgery might include getting a second opinion or choosing an alternative, et cetera. This is what my process looked like. And I hope that it might be helpful to you.
Step one, after receiving this news from Dr. Nasseri was to do a full blown thought download. Get all the thoughts from my nugget onto a page, the scary ones, the thoughtful ones, the confused ones, all of them on the page. I did mine digitally. You can do that too, you know, with a computer, okay. Then I re-read them and gave my best shot at answering any of the questions that hit the page. For example, what if something goes wrong and I lose my voice forever? Or why did this happen to me? So on and so on, there were actually a lot of questions in there when I did my initial download. Now, these thoughts appearing in the form of questions can really hit the gas pedal on a downhill confusion and frustration spiral. So I prefer to answer them immediately. Answers might look or sound, something like this. To the question “What if something goes wrong and I lose my voice forever.” I answer I will silently cry. People will love me. I will love on me and nurture my non-verbal voice. I will get creative and I will find new ways to make noise. That’s my answer to that question. How about this one? “Why did this happen to me?” I’m asking that question as if I don’t know, because I’m a person that uses my voice a lot, duh, because working hard can lead to hard times and that’s okay because I can handle hard. Can you see how letting yourself think that you don’t know the answers to questions like these can feel really disempowering and frustrating and confusing and can lead to a whole bunch of unnecessary worry. Meanwhile, simply answering them for yourself is tremendously empowering. Taking this step alone can help you have agency, even in a circumstance where you are not technically in control. So that’s step one, the thought download and step to answer your own questions to the best of your ability. But let’s go a little bit deeper now that you’ve answered all of your questions either on your own or with the help of more research. And I wouldn’t suggest the internet is a great place to get a lot more confused actually. Um, once you’ve done a little bit more research, broad research and you’re ready for step three, which is one of my favorite steps, also favorite numbers. I love the number three, moving on, just excessive talking, grab two different colored pens or pencils I’m serious. This is part of the step then circle and highlight, or somehow separate the thoughts with one color and the facts with the other color. Now, when you’re dealing with anatomy and medical jargon, sometimes this can be difficult. I’ll give a couple of examples. One of the sentences that I had written in my thought download was I have a huge cyst on my vocal chords. That is a thought, I know this is a thought because huge is relative. Somebody else might think that this is cyst on my vocal chords was small. Somebody else might think it was gargantuan. I have a huge cyst in my vocal chords was the thought that I chose for whatever reason huge is relative I have a cyst in my vocal chords is the fact another thought that showed up for me. I can’t work without my voice. Thought. The fact is that part of my work is to listen, watch and learn. And the fact of the matter is I can do those things without speaking. That’s an important distinction. I think for many of us dance types, when we’re separating thoughts about surgery from facts about surgery. I won’t be able to work is a thought that can so easily sneak under the radar as a fact, when actually, and if you are a dancer you know, this a professional dancers work is much more involved than moving the body. Now it might be a stretch to believe that in the moment, but what if your job now is to master the non physical components of your creative career, the research, the introspection, the connection to self and to the world around you. What if your job now is simply to heal? What if your one job is to heal and understand healing so that you can create work that might also heal? What about that?
Oh, there was another thought, a sneaky one that landed in my thought download, but also passed as a fact. But upon further inspection, it was definitely a thought. I need surgery immediately is what I thought. That’s a thought, you should do this by August at the very latest where the doctor’s actual words. Disclaimer, you may be in a situation where you really do need surgery immediately. But if a doctor is saying those words to you and they are true, and the doctor believes you need surgery immediately, you are probably being wheeled into an operation room and not doing a thought download at home on your couch. So my doctor said, you should do this by August at the latest, but what my brain offered me was panic immediately. That’s why it’s important to separate your thoughts from the facts. Those are two very different things.
Ah, note take notes, from here on out. I am making it good practice to take notes during doctor’s visits, write down the words the doctor says. The exact words, because I think thought that doctors are more careful when they speak than we are when we recall what they told us. I think that most of us have a tendency to either inflate or deflate their words in the direction that suits our appetite for drama. So stick to the facts. Doctors say words and having those words written down, it makes it so much easier for you to do more research.
Okay? Now the separation of thoughts and facts is important because you cannot change the facts. You cannot change the words the doctor said, you cannot change your diagnosis. You can not change what was written in the DSM four, but you can decide what those facts mean to you. And with a little curiosity and a little compassion and yes, maybe a little creativity, you can change the way that you are thinking. One of my favorite things to think about injuries in general is this little thought gift at Tiler Peck gave us an episode 13. This is happening for me. Not to me. That’s a big one. So I have a cyst on my vocal chords, provable indisputable, measurable. In fact, actually I wonder how big it is. I wonder if I could keep it in a necklace, like one of those, uh, uh, necklaces with a piece of rice in it with your name written on the piece of rice. Oh my God. We’re back. I could decide to think that the cyst on my vocal chords, in my vocal chords on it, I think it’s in, I could decide to think that I might lose my voice forever, or I broke my most valuable tool or I could choose to think that I’m getting a brand new voice. I could choose to think that my podcast and teaching career is doomed, or I could choose the think nice, I have one cyst and it isn’t cancer and it can be removed with a routine surgery jackpot. I could also choose to think that I can finally see the biggest mystery of the last three years, if not more of my life. Like that’s better than the end of a Scooby-Doo episode, where they pull off the mask and you get to see who it was the whole time I mean so gratifying. This is awesome. Can you see how choosing your thoughts carefully can dramatically change your experience of this circumstance? This is huge. Spend time with your thoughts, choose them wisely.
That is step four to decide what you will think about these facts. I decided to think that this is happening for me, not to me. I decided to think that I am in good hands, both the doctors and mine. I’m deciding to think that this is perfect timing. I am deciding to think that there is no better way to improve my voice, both my physical voice and my non-physical voice, no better way to improve it than this. I am choosing to think that this healing is essential to my health. Boom, that’s my process. And that’s where I am today. Now, the nuts and bolts and future of my situation look like this. Several days of vocal rest, leading up to the operation. And then the doctor suggests 10 days of silence. Post-operation silence, no voice. After that, some visits with a voice pathologist to get me back in ship shape. By the way, I have had a lot of fun thinking about what to do with those 10 days of silence. I haven’t made any concrete decisions yet other than to remain absolutely silent, but you will almost certainly hear about those 10 days of silence. On the other side of them, what does this mean for the podcast? It means that we’ll be replaying some of our favorite episodes from the first two seasons. They might be new to you, but no matter what they are worthy of multiple listens. This also means that my birthday episode coming out on July 21st, 2021 will be much different than the birthday episode that came out in 2020. That’s all I’m going to say. It’s a surprise, but speaking of my birthday, which by the way is on Wednesday, July 21st. And I do love flowers and I do love dark chocolate wink wink. My goal of having a hundred thousand listens in downloads by July 21st is rapidly approaching. And I’m not quite there yet. Have you downloaded this episode or your other favorites or all of them, or have you told your friends to do the same? I really hope so. I so appreciate if you do, because I’m not going to lie. The thought that my voice, my pre-surgery voice lives all warm and fuzzy in your pants pocket. That makes my heart warm and fuzzy too. All right. My friends, I hope this episode has been helpful to you and whether you are struggling with an injury or not, you’ve got this and I’ve got you. And I’ve got my man who can ask for anything more. Maybe someday we’ll be able to sing that for real, so exciting. All right, my friends, that’s it for me back to vocal rest, get out there in the world and keep it very, very funky. I will talk to you soon.
Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review because your words move me to number two thing. I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit the thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye.
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