Ep. #117 Money March Ep. 4 – Producing What You Love with Nikole Vallins

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #117 Money March Ep. 4 – Producing What You Love with Nikole Vallins

Have you ever wondered, “where do productions like Ariana Grande’s tour or Wicked get their money from?” Us too! Nikole Vallins, producer of The Dancing With The Stars Live 2022 Tour, came onto the pod to demystify the process of producing. You’ll learn where exactly that money comes from, what it goes towards, and how she uses it to create and maintain the best team for the job. 

Nikole also gets personal and dives into her definition of what she considers a success. It may not be what you think (or what you like 😉 ) but take a listen and discover what you think success is. 

Looking to produce? Head over to thedanawilson.com/shop to download a worksheet for this episode! In this worksheet you’ll get the chance to practice balancing your own budget and assembling the dream team. 


🔥Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Look into what the day to day life of a tour producer for Dancing With The Stars looks like
  2. Find out where producers for big productions get their funding
  3. Discover the intricacies of balancing a budget for a tour



✒️ Powerful Quotes from This Episode

[12:45] Surround yourself with the best people if you can”

[37:02] “That is success, doing the best that you can knowing you can’t make everyone happy.”


🕺About Nikole Vallins

Nikole Vallins is a producer that works for We Are Faculty, a collaboration of passionate experts who conceive, create, facilitate, and produce. Nikole is currently producing The Dancing With The Stars Live 2022 tour and the Cheer Live 2022 tour. 

If you want to connect with Nikole, visit We Are Faculty’s website. You can also reach out to her or Instagram.


🎧Episode Highlights

[5:10] Meet Nikole Vallins 

[7:19] Assembling the Best Team for the Job

[13:12] The Challenges of Being a Producer

[17:41] Where Does the Money Come From?

[22:34] Accounting For the Unknowns in Your Budget

[46:57] You Have a Profit… Where Does that Money Go?

[36:34] What Makes a Show Successful

🎙️Enjoy the Podcast?

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Post a review and share it! If you enjoyed tuning in, then leave us a review. You can also share this with your friends and family so that they can be more inspired to raise funds and build the business of their dreams!

Have any questions? Feel free to contact us through Instagram or online at thedanawilson.com/podcast

For more episode updates, visit our website. You may also tune in on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.


Keep It Funky! 




Intro: Welcome to 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, Dana Wilson, and I move people. I am all about the tools and techniques that empower tomorrow’s leaders to make the work of their dreams and live a full life while doing it. So whether you’re new to the game or transitioning to your next echelon of greatness, you’re in the right place.


Dana: Hello, Hello, my friend. Welcome to the podcast. I’m Dana. And this is episode four of money March. How exciting is that? Don’t tell me it’s so exciting. Four episodes down and believe it or not, we have one more to go because March is one of those, uh, five Wednesdays in the month months. Uh, so that is happening also. One other thing that is happening exclusively during Money, March, uh, we have digital companions for all of the Money March episodes. Digital companion, by the way, is queued for PDF and PDF for the record is an acronym for portable document format. I bet you didn’t know that portable document format. Anyways, if you are interested in taking notes, as you go, as you listen to these money March episodes, you can grab these downloadable portable document formats from theDanawilson.com/shop, and then you can notate and calculate calculate. I put a T in there notate and calculate your way all the way through Money March, uh, with ease and with style and with grace and with funk. Um, I’m telling you, these are especially useful for the first two episodes of this month, but this week’s, uh, PDF will also be great because this week’s guest is great this week. We’re talking to producer Nicole Vallins, man, I am so excited for you to get to hear what she has to say, but also gang, I made a booboo this week.  


I’m a little bit out of practice. Um, haven’t done an interview in a while and I got my audio settings, a little kerfuffled. Um, so for the first half of the interview, I sound like I’m talking to you from maybe the other side of a pillow, um, or like I have maybe a fuzzy marshmallow in my mouth. So I really am sorry about that. Um, but I fix it. I, I promise it, fix it less than halfway through. So be patient, thank you for your patience. Now let’s do this, my win for today. By the way, we always start with wins. Except for today, we don’t start with wins today. My win is actually hidden within this episode. Hmm. Cliffhanger. So you have to listen all the way through to catch it riveting. So excited for you. Um, but I hope you have your win queued up because it’s your turn, right? Now what’s going well in your world. My friend, tell me all about it.



Congratulations. Do keep winning. I’m proud of you. You are crushing it, keep it up. Okay, let’s get into this. We talk about the production of things here on the podcast. Quite a bit, because we talk about, and I am talking to creatives, creative types who create stuff who, you know, produce. Uh, but Nicole is a bonafide producer as in that is her title and she is here to talk today about the production of dance shows. So buckle up and get ready to enjoy the fabulous Nicole Vallins.  


Dana: Nikole  Vallins my friend. Welcome to the podcast.  


Nikole: Thank you. Thank you. And thank you. I am so happy to be here.  


Dana: Um, okay. So a quick backstory context, you produced the dancing with the stars tour, which is when we met just a few months ago. Um, but tell me, tell, tell us a little bit more about you I’ll I’ll yield the floor. Um, anything that you feel pertinent to, anything you want us to know?  


Nikole: Wow, well, I’m a, I have always wanted to work with you. So this tour was the perfect opportunity to say, please, please, please let’s have Dana come into this mix. Um, and it was my first time producing this specific tour. So I come from a dance background. I worked in Broadway theatrical tours for a hot minute as a casting director started producing commercial dance. And one thing led to another and I was lucky enough to jump on board with this tour and I could not be happier. So, um, in short, um, I am a producer at faculty and I’ve been there for two and a half years and there’s a lot of exciting stuff on the horizon. That’s all just dance related. My goal is to spread the love of dance anywhere and any ha any place, any time, anywhere. That’s the way. Yep.  


So you’re telling me we have the same goal then sounds like  


People, that’s the thing. Good people surround yourself with the best people, if you can.  


Oh, the bonus. Okay. You’re already giving the good tips. We love it. Now I am curious at how you’ll define and explain this because I work with a lot of dancers, obviously choreographer teacher. Um, but I am also a career coach now. And when I coach dancers, we are mostly future-focused and we discuss career navigation. We discuss global cultivation. We discuss like out there and for so many young dance types, this becomes part of their script. It’s like, I want to make work with my friends. I want to put it out there in the world for all of the world to see it. I want it to make an impact. I want it to be mine. I want to create a thing that I can put out into the world that will make change. And I’m like, so you want to be a producer And hearing is you want to be a producer. Um, and I know there are many different types of producer, uh, uh, a regular old producer producer, a line producer, executive producer. Well, what kind of producer are you and what do you do?


Wow. That is a great question because I think oftentimes I often fall into, I want to make really good shit with really good people. And how do I make that happen? And the question becomes, how does that make money? So lately, as in the last, I think, I don’t know, a couple of years, 10 years or so. Um, it has to be a, a parallel conversation, which I will say is very challenging when all you want to do is provide the best opportunity for the people that you really believe in and give them a platform and, you know, make money is secondary. But now I’ve realized that cannot happen because there are people that are investing time, effort, energy, and, you know, it’s a business at the end of the day. And it’s a lesson that I remind myself of every day, because I’m lucky enough to say that I absolutely love what I do.  


So when someone comes up to me and says, Hey, I have an idea for a show and I want to do it. My first action is how can I raise money for you? And how can I make that happen? And then quickly realized, wow, that requires a lot of money. Um, and no one will make money. And that becomes the problem. Um, I think for me specifically, um, I’m lucky enough to, I say, create a producer, call the title, whatever you want. People have different titles in this business. But I think my biggest focus and love is bringing together a team of people for a United mission to make a great show. So I’d like to compile creatives that work well together. And that goes from, you know, director, choreographer, dancer, lighting, sound production down to the very end wardrobe, the anything that you could possibly imagine. Um, so for me, um, it’s about putting all those important players in the room and making sure that from the start to the finish, there’s a cohesive show on that stage.  


Okay. I love this explanation. It’s like the producer assembled the team, right? And the producer answers this question, which is how do I make the best thing and make money? And I’m assuming that question is just being asked of you constantly all the time, all the time.  


Correct. And you know, you said it perfectly before is that there’s different types of producers depending on what project you’re working on. And, uh, titles mean very different things to a variety of different people within the project that you were in. So, you know, in a Broadway world, a lot of time producers are raising money for their project. Um, where in a movie and TV world, you are executing. And I think in my world, it’s a really fuzzy lane because, um, a lot of times, yes, you have to have the financial backing to make the show happen. But at the same time, um, you are conscious of the budget and making sure that people are paid appropriately for their time and their work. While also keeping in mind that the end goal is to recoup and to make money for everyone who’s invested in this project.  


Um, I had a fundraising expert, Geri Brown on the podcast last week. Oh my gosh. I really, I mean, go back and listen to the whole episode, Nikole, but also anyone else who’s listening that hasn’t heard it because you can hear the excitement in her voice when she talks about raising money. And it’s like, I’ve only, I only have one other thing to relate this to. Um, because for my whole life, I thought that the way you had to do it in my, I mean, money, um, was work really hard and pretend like you’re broke. And I thought that if you were asking for money, it meant you weren’t working hard enough. And that is so false. Um, and when I met Jerry, she was so excited about fundraising. She was energized by it. You reminded me of the first ever like industry specific CPA I ever had, who loved doing taxes. And I was  


Like, worst nightmare, but yes,  


Truly. I thought everyone. I was like, there’s no way. Even the people who get paid for it, that anyone could likeness false Dina, Dina, what was her last name? Dang. It I’ll find it. I’ll put it in the show notes. I don’t know if she’s still in business, but she loved doing taxes and Geri loves fundraising. It doesn’t sound like you have the same nose like Geri


Just going to say. So it’s funny because my, uh, my passion lies in assembling that team that is where I love nothing more than actually having people come into the room together who have never worked together and realizing that they’re a great fit. And then watching that from pre-production to rehearsal to the final product. So that is where my passion lies. Additionally, in the discovering of a new show, a new talent or anything like that. So I think my dream scenario for my career and for years to come is to continue to talk with people, be inspired by people and make magic and art with what their creative visions are. Um, no, but that’s that kind of passion is I don’t have yes, I don’t have it for books. I don’t have it for finance, but I have it for creating great work with great people. And that’s where it lies. And I would go to the end of the earth for someone that I believe in.  And perhaps you have so much of it in that department that getting through the finance, the books part is like doable and you do It and achievable, and I will do it.  


 But I also like let’s, let’s start with the let’s spoonful of sugar this real quick. And let’s, I don’t want to dramatically over-simplify entire profession, but in my mind that type of assembling the team is like having good relationships with people who do good work and then calling them at, what am I missing? Is it like, what are what’s? What are the hardest parts about doing that? Like aligning schedules? Is it the negotiating, the rates, like what,  


I mean, I think for more so for me, like, yes, the negotiation of rates and availability is in and of itself its own pocket. Right. But I think it’s figuring out who works well together in really hard and under pressure circumstances. And I think it’s also trying to give an opportunity to people who may not always have it. Like there are people that you can go to that they do the show after show after show, and whether that’s director choreographer, even production manager, stage manager, their go tos. And that’s great. And there’s a sense of comfortability with the entire team. But what excites me is putting together people to do something that they’ve never done before, because you actually believe that there’s something in them that sparks excitement and you change it up a bit. And then you say, Hmm, okay, well, this director is really, really bold and it’s their way or the highway.  


And I would never put anyone in that position that would challenge that. And at the same time, it goes vice versa. This person is super, super collaborative and they want everyone’s opinion. But at the end of the day, they know their job is to make the final decision. But I think about it not only with just director choreographer, music director, et cetera, that goes down to wardrobe, not down to I’ll cross, I will say wardrobe, lighting, lighting, tech, lighting, director, everyone, because it has to be a team it’s a team effort, you know, and a lot of the stuff I do is all tours. And you’re on a tour bus with the P it’s a family for three months and four months, five months, six months. And that camaraderie and that energy is so crucial. So it’ll be phone calls and conversations and reading people’s vibes, I think.  


Okay. I love, I love this notion of teamwork and this like, not down to the person, but across to the person, the web of the working ecosystem of a tour. But, uh, what it sounds like is you are an excellent judge of character of personality and a bit of a fortune teller. Like you’re able to kind of look out there into the future predict based on the past that ABCD FG might be good or HJK might be bad and a little bit more LMNOP


Yeah. I would like to say that I am a good judge of character because I’d like to think that I meet everyone within optimistic and open mind sometimes to my own detriment, but I won’t give people the benefit of the doubt before they prove me wrong. I will say. And then even if someone says, no, you don’t want to work with that person. I’ll still get on the phone and make my own call for that. I don’t want to just trust and rely on a reputation of someone that may have had, who knows may they be headed off, off gear that year or whatever the case may be. So I think I give, I would like to think I give people a chance. So fortune teller. Sure. I think I’m just, um, optimistic, um, to sometimes a fault. I believe in people to say, Hey, you could do this, you could do this, you could do this.  


And then, you know, you always get burned a little bit at the end and then you learn and then you realize, okay, maybe be a little bit more guarded next time, a little bit more cautious of where you’re putting all your eggs in this basket, but I guess that’s why we do what we do, right? Like you’re not going to go onstage because you kind of believe in it. You’re going to go on tour. You’re going to go on stage because you believe that there’s nothing else that you were meant to do, then just do that.  





Okay. We’re crushing it. That was the spoonful of sugar part. Um, and now I want to like, let’s do the hard part, the medicine part. They’re not so fun part maybe. Um, or maybe it is. I, I hear, I’ll tell you what my goal is. I know a lot of dancers, um, in the world who aspire to being on tours and being in Broadway shows and I want for them to achieve it. Yes. And I want for them to be paid handsomely. I want for the starving artist story to be obliterated. And I also want for dancers to have a complete picture about what that means. Like if dancers become the millionaires of the equation, where does that money come from? What other department might suffer when that happens or where, you know, okay. So I guess I have a multitude of questions. Number one, where does the money come from? You mentioned fundraising, but exactly who, where, how much  


So it’s tricky because I mean, I will say that it is a little nerve wracking to speak to that in a broad term, because I think it’s so vastly different when it comes anything. That’s, you know, a theatrical production that lives on Broadway because that money is very different versus a tour versus a, um, you know, a chore like you would like a Justin Timberlake tour. Like all of that is just so I’m all over the map. So I think what I can speak to specifically is touring. Um, and you having a show and a product, not a product, but a show, a creative piece that you want the world to see. Um, and it’s about selling bat to a promoter. So a promoter essentially comes in and says, I wanna, I’m going to gamble on your show because I believe in what you’re doing.  


And I believe in everything. And you have a great track record. I’m going to buy your show for X amount of dollars. Great. You route this entire tour, you have your what’s called a guarantee, which basically means that for every single show that you’re playing, you’re guaranteed to make X amount of dollars regardless of ticket sales. Now we have to go back then and say, all of these guarantees added up equals a big lump sum of X keeping in mind simultaneously we’re running a budget of our own meaning, you know, figuring out how much the director is going to cost for their fee. Each dancer, lighting sound all of it. And basically that number has to fit in with our ultimate guarantee. So I think the important thing to keep in mind is at the end of the day, um, a promoter will purchase this, the show.  


It could be multiple promoters over the show. Um, and eventually what you look at of course is ticket sales. But as a producer, I’m mark, I’m keeping track of how much our marketing is, how much our advertising is, how much our vendors are, how much all the creative team, um, that is traveling with the tour, or maybe not even the tour there’s costs of trucks, there’s costs of buses, there’s costs of food. There’s catering, there’s per diem, there’s petty cash. Once you’re on tour, there’s replacements of costumes and shoes. I mean, there’s all of these intricacies that go into the overall, um, budget in general. So for instance, when you’re thinking like, Hey, I’m about to go on this tour and I want to be making X amount of dollars. I would like to believe that most producers will take into account the level of talent, the level of commitment, the level of time that this person brings to the table.  


And it’s looking at a big, it’s a puzzle piece essentially, and saying, if I’m going to pay you X amount of dollars, how does that equate to what everyone else in this company is making? And what is the bottom line? Because of course, everyone wants to be making as much as they possibly can. And I would love to be paying people as much as I possibly can, but at the end of the day, it’s very tricky because I have people that I have to answer to. And I don’t want anyone that has purchased the show or any project that I’m working in to lose money, because of course, like we were talking about earlier, it all comes down to good relationships and keeping people happy and people aren’t going to keep gambling on something that doesn’t make them money. If it’s they’re consistently losing money, then unfortunately it’s a trickle down effect. And they’re less likely to not only continue with that project, but any project that has my name or anyone else’s name attached to it.  


Hm yep your job is tough. And a producer of the show is not always the favorite person on the show because a lot of times, Yeah, the words that come out of your mouth have to be no,  


No, and, and I will always listen and I will always try to make it work. And I will always say, I wish that I could do it. And I genuinely do like that. I cannot speak for anyone else. But when I say those words, I do really mean that I wish that I could have an extra lump sum of money to pay X, Y, and Z. But at the end of the day, it always comes unfortunately, out of a big pool or pot of money that might be non-existent for various reasons. I mean, producing during COVID is a really, really tricky time, you know, like it’s not the same during how it used to be. And everything’s different, you know, ticket sales are different and you wait until the last minute to see what’s happening until the day of the show, because people are still trying to figure out if they want to risk it and go out. Um, so it’s, it’s, it’s a different time. And I don’t know that we’ll necessarily go back to normal very quickly. I mean, that’s consistent across the Broadway world, touring world, every world at the moment.  


Whoa. Yes. Um, I knew how tremendously people in your position must have been affected as well as all of us, all of the entertainment world in general, but I’m just now as I’m listening to explain the difference between ticket sales up front and ticket sales on the day, like, whoa, how do you predict and account for how do you budget for that really it’s so unknown.  


You have no idea. You really don’t. And like, you know, traditionally speaking a show would go on sale and you could tell immediately whether it was going to be a success or not based on the presale, the on sale, anything. And now people are waiting till the last minute. I mean, look, we’re, we’re human. I wait until the last minute to make any plans these days, because you just don’t know what’s going to happen. Um, and you just kind of wait and because tickets are still available, there’s that mindset that you can wait because things are not selling out immediately. I mean, some things are of course, but, um, being in our shoes, I mean, I watch ticket sales every single day. I watched just to make sure like, things are going over, um, you know, on track. And I watched to see who’s purchasing where they’re purchasing from. And I know that that’s a little bit micromanagy of a producer. So I will say that that’s not necessarily the norm, but I think in these times when you care so much about what you’re doing, um, you want to study all the trends because it only teaches you for the future.  


Hmm. Thank you for shining a light on that. And it’s, I mean, it, now, as I’m hearing it, it sounds like maybe everything has changed about what you do, uh, or at least for this specific tour, let’s dancing with the stars tour, which is, was created under lockdown and is touring in the very early days of things being at least partially open. I’m wondering if there is anything that hasn’t changed. I’m wondering if there’s like, Nope. This part of what I do is foolproof is rock solid is the same, no matter what  


I think, because circling back to this being like solely about finances and money, hard costs of items are not going to change, you know, like a light costs, what it costs a bus costs, what it costs, um, a truck costs, what it costs. But even those things that you would rely on have increased. You know, you think about it and our bus and trucks have gone through the roof because of gas prices, you know? Um, and also now we’re in a place and I’m not trying to be Debbie downer at all about this, but just being totally realistic because I do hope that performers, dancers, artists hear this and think, wow, that that is a lot, um, you know, with the lip, with every tour going out at once, right now there’s a limited amount of stock. There’s a limited amount of vendors who are able to provide the lighting that 17 tours that would normally not go out at once would need so they can increase their prices. And I don’t fault them for it because there’s demand,  


Supply and demand.  


Exactly. So it’s a trickle down effect. So yes, a lot of times that does affect what you would normally be making when you’re going out on a tour, because there’s a certain parameter we have to stay in and no matter what other costs go up and down that doesn’t affect us. And we have to just remind, remain on track, stay in our lane and keep going.  


Um, maybe a dumb question, but where does the profit go? Like, let’s say, you know, you start with this big amount of money you start, uh, then you budget, right? You have all the line items, the trucks, the gas, the talent, the creative team, um, you know, the, all the things. And then there’s some leftover at the end. Where does it go?  


Well, it depends on again, it’s project to project base, but if you are working with, um, let’s say a large cast and the cast and the talent makes X amount of dollars, again, that’s a hard cost, you know, like no matter what, we’ve, we’ve committed to these artists and they’re going to make money no matter what. 


There’s nothing, no matter what ticket sales do, unless the tour or a show ends up, you know, for whatever reason, not existing at the end of the day, that is also a hard cost. So I think in the beauty of there being a surplus or we, you know, anyone hits it out of the park and there is money. Um, it depends how many partners there are involved. You know, like for instance, like there are many partners in the dancing with the stars family. There are many partners in, in every tour. It’s not just one person who’s just shelling out the money who then sits on top of the money pile and says, hi, this is amazing. I mean, there’s think about it. There’s agents to pay, there’s legal to pay there’s business managers to pay, um, there’s overhead of your company. There’s overhead of just like the day-to-day office supplies. So that lump of money doesn’t necessarily end anywhere. It gets dispersed to the people who, you know, oversee, I guess, the overall budget. And listen, if a tour is super, super successful, then I would like to think that companies give back to, or bonus the people who have worked really hard. Um, but I can’t guarantee that for everyone. I mean, that’s not how every single producer out there works, but, um, if you work hard, the idea is that everyone reaps the benefits of that,  


I will say I have been on the receiving end of friendly bonuses and some like gifts at the end of the deal. But I had actually never really thought of like, where does that go? Um, okay. Are you, are you comfortable giving like some broad kind of bracket type numbers, like, uh, uh, roughly between X and Y, how much would it show that’s the scale of a dancing with the stars cost?  


That’s a tough one. Um,  


Right. That show is also very exceptional. It’s unique. Yes,  


Yes. Is because it’s an institution, you know, and that’s a show and I say this all the time to the dancers because yes, I did luckily inherit this, but those are theirs. They’re all stars on that stage. You know, there is no ensemble, there is no core, like people are paying good money to see these dancers on stage and they deserve a handsome paycheck every week because of that. So I think it’s hard to say like a tour would cost X amount of dollars. Um, uh, I’m trying to think of a ballpark of other tours that I could say. I mean, there’s anything that’s, you know, that’s a hard one. You’re putting me on the spot there because then I say it and then it’s like, well, wait, our tour doesn’t cost that much, but it’s this much and that much. And it really depends. I mean  


Totally. Yeah. And you know what I’m being, so that guy, I can’t stand those super broad and kind of arbitrary questions. Um, but you know,  


Well, we love them. I will say that I usually love to ask them to be like, well, I want to know. And it’s kind of like, well, we should know it should be transparent. It should be transparent, but it’s so hard to pinpoint because you’re like, well, okay, well,  


Well different, they’re all so different. So even arrange  


Yes. Yeah. A lighting rig for dancing with the stars is going to be totally different from a lighting rig for, um, For Dua Lipa. Yes. It’s going to be totally vastly different, you know, and like yes, the costs and the same thing with the, um, look at it as like a bus, like a touring bus, right? It’s like, you can have condos, you can have not condos. You can have a star coach, you can have a nut star coach. You can have, you can have, overdrives where you have to have a tag team drivers. So like everything is so subject to change. And, and that’s what makes it hard actually, because you can’t just plug in numbers. And that’s what I wish I could do. I can wish it could be like, okay, well for this truck, it’s this for this, it’s this and blank and blank and blank. But at the end of the day, that’s just not reality. So you kind of broadly put in these numbers and then hope that you’re kind of right. Get the quote back and you’re so vastly off and you’re like, wow, things have tripled in costs. Wow. I have to adjust my entire budget. Um, so yeah.  


Yeah. Thanks. Um, so I recently just applied for fiscal sponsorship and got it super stoked about that. Actually I think this is the first time actually that I’m announcing that on the podcast. Um,  


Very excited. So that deserves 17 million claps. Yes.  


So I am, uh, I do wins on the podcast and I, I got, I got overwhelmed with, with awesome wins in my life. I don’t think I’ve announced yet. I did announce that I had applied and it was very proud about having made a budget that zeroed out. I like, I know that I will earn this much. I know I will raise this much right. Aim to raise this much. And I know this is an expense. I know I want to scholarship this amount. I know I’ll have to redesign the website, pay for a developer, pay this. It was really kind of a satisfying for a moment. I understood my CPA because when those old man, when the lines add up and when the zeros, when we zero out with, with no remainder, Ooh, I, that was a very satisfying feeling. Um, yeah, I was looking at, um, I applied from the position of already having run my project that I was applying for. I’ve already run it for one year. So I had a sense of kind of what to expect, but I was like, wow, what, what do people who are doing the thing for the first time ever? How do they estimate some of these costs? And I, I guess what you’re alluding to is like you be watchful of trends. You research as much as you can, you call an experience, whether it’s your own or of other people, and then you make your best guess. Um, yeah.  


And you surround yourself and hope that you have trusted people that can triple track, quadruple check your numbers and make sure that, you know, everything is correct. And the quotes are right and you’re not, you know, everything is aligning and you know, you, you go out there, especially when it comes to, cause you said like, what is the cost of a, of a show, right? It comes down to like you do shop around, you ask several different lighting vendors, how much it’s going to cost for the same product and how much. And like you try and see what you can get. And a lot of that goes back to what you first said to Dana, just bringing it full circle is that it’s about your relationships. There are people that will say, okay, well this particular lighting rig would cost X, Y, or Z. But because I know you’re going to keep me in business for the next 2, 3, 4 years. I will give you a little bit of a discount because I want you to keep working with me. Um, so there are all of those little like logistics that you can hope for, um, and try to plan for, but never really expect the results for.  


Hmm. Yeah. I hear you. Which  


For someone with anxiety is not a great place to live. I will tell you that. Geez.  


Okay. So what are the, what are the calming thoughts? Like what are the things that in those high tension, high stakes and low certainty moments, what kind of things keep you grounded.


Believing in what it is that I’m working towards? I mean, that may seem very spoonful of sugar. And I ki I remember saying that years and years ago and being like, oh, well, that’ll change with age and time and being, you know, kicked in the shins or whatever, but it hasn’t like, I, I don’t, I can honestly say that the things that I’m lucky enough to work on right now, I believe in so much that at the end of the day, I’m, that’s what makes it worth it. Um, because I do care. I don’t just care about making money and that may be a problem because sure. Like I want everyone to make money, but I do actually care about the people who are on tour, who are on that stage, who are backstage, who are the truck drivers, the bus drivers, like everyone. Like, I feel like it, you have to care because if you don’t care, then you really shouldn’t be doing it. I hate to say that, but like, it’s not for you. It’s, it’s similar to like, you know, auditioning as a dancer every single day. And you don’t show up to an audition just because you like it. You do it because you have no other choice. Like you have to be there because you have to perform because that’s your bread and butter and that’s what you’re meant to do. So it’s the same.  


I am drawing a parallel in my mind right now. I was just having a conversation about freestyle and how intimidating it can be to try to do all of the things like, you know, all of the accents, all of the cool timing, all of the crowd-pleasing moves and then the subtle stuff. And then like the sexy moment. And this is like, whoa. It’s like, when, when you focus on parameters, this rhythm, this part of my body, this emotion, this, um, flow state, this one thing, or this two things, it can be really helpful. I think dancers, I talked about this a lot on the podcast, but dancers know very well. Limitations are almost always useful in terms of creativity. It sounds like your definition of what you do has these two guiding principles are like, um, I’m imagining a bowling lane and you’ve got this, um, bumper up over here. That’s like the best possible thing I can make. And then the other bumper is over here and it’s like, and make money, I guess. And you just go bumping down the lane and learn the lessons that you learn and hope for a strike to where you you’ve. You’ve gotten the best of both. Um,  


That’s exactly days and it’s a constant back and forth, and it’s a constant balance to balance. And it does take like, no matter how much I want something to succeed, if it’s not making money, it’s not ultimately as successful as it could be. It could be the most artistic and creatively fulfilling project, but someone is paying for that. And someone is responsible for making sure that the money is there. Um, and it’s a hard lesson to learn. It really is. Um, not ideal. Let’s just say that, but that’s when you get bounced to the other lane and then just back and forth and back and forth.  


Okay, you just did that. You did this to yourself. I’m letting you know we’re going to finish off with a difficult question, even more difficult than introduce yourself. Ready? What is success to you 


I should have an answer for what people should say, successes. That’s a weird thing, but like success, I feel like I should be like yes to me. Okay. I love success at the end of the day for me is knowing that I’ve done all I can for the people I need to. And for myself, that means not just work. That means my personal life. That means showing up for the people who matter. And some days aren’t successful because you’re like I should have called that person back. I should have texted that person back. I should have done X, Y, and Z. It doesn’t X, Y, and Z. It doesn’t mean the day isn’t successful. It just means like you can do better tomorrow. So success for me is feeling like I’ve shown up for the people that need me to show up and that I’ve at the end of the day, done all I can and feel good to lay my pillow, my head on the pillow and say, yeah, you know what? That was a successful day that, that worked for me. I’m happy. I’m proud of what I did. Um, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and I’m proud of how my day was spent and my time was spent.  


Hmm. I like success being linked with pride and being proud because I think that proud is a, an emotion and that you can create that for your, for yourself. A sense of pride, even if there maybe were, uh,  


Yes, yes. And that’s going to happen. But if you’ve done all, you can, then that’s success.  


And the perfectionist in me is just like, Ooh, revving its ugly head against that. But I think, yeah, there are the aim for me. It has, I almost said has always, but that’s not true. I’ve tried to be perfect my whole life, but the aim for me most recently is memorable not perfect. And I think that definitely factors into my ideas about success. Creating things are memorable, creating things that are sticky, creating things that, uh, maybe aren’t perfect, but that last, and that is in the case of my work and in my relationships as well. Which again, I can, I know I can do better. I know I can communicate better. I know I can show up better and I know I can make more phone calls and make more lunch dates and give better gifts and do things like that. But like, yeah, that’s me holding myself to perfect versus me holding myself to human, which is what I am. Um,  


And what I’ve always admired about you Dana, is that you are always having never worked with you before, but just seeing you around and knowing of you is I would never say that you’re a perfectionist to a fault. I feel like you’re always so present. And so aware of the people around you. I know. I just, I feel that energy whenever you’re in the room, whenever I watch your work, whenever people speak about you, it’s what draw it. It inspired me to say, I, this is someone I want to work with because I’ve always, so always felt that way. So I don’t know if it’s, I don’t know. So cut yourself some slack and the perfectionist there because you are one of the most present and out like outgoing and warm, um, people I’ve met in this industry. And I really respect you for constantly doing what you do and not. Yeah. I just,  


Uh, Nikole, thank you so much. We’ll leave it at that. Okay. Bye. Let that be the last words on your nails. Truly. That means the world. Thank you. I know that. Yeah. In a world where a reputation means a lot, it can feel very, very good to feel seen for being what your values are about as an equal and opposite side of that coin. It can feel so terrible to feel misunderstood. Um, and so the, the best I can do and the success, the most successful I can be is to live in my, in alignment of my values and, um, period. I mean, I can hope that that translates and, and reaches wide and far, and I, or I can like meditate on it. But, but the thing that I have the most control over is, is just that living part. So I think, I think that’s what I’m doing. I think that’s what you’re doing. I certainly experienced that in my ex in my, in my time with you. And in my experience as an audience member of dancing with the stars, it felt like, wow, the people that were brought together to do this are absolutely the ones meant to be doing this. It, you know, I felt like I was in very capable hands. And when I looked around at the audience, they were all getting exactly what they wanted, um,  


Which is another, maybe, maybe another sub definition for success. I don’t always consider the audience when I’m making. Um, I wonder if it’s even 50 50, actually the audience doesn’t factor in all that much, unless I’m working specifically for a client who, you know, commercials specifically, they, they require that an audience member be considered, but I’ve been very fortunate to be given artistic license in most of the spaces that I show up for where there’s trust. And there’s like, people identify that there’s reward when you take a risk. And if you try to please everyone, you will almost certainly miss. I mean, you will certainly mean you can’t do that.  


No, you have to trust your gut. But I think that’s a good point too. And something I didn’t actually speak to is a big part of success in this world is not audience engagement and reaction. But, um, you do as a producer, I feel like it is my job to cater to the audience that is purchasing tickets and consider that of course, yes. And keeping that true because otherwise it can easily 


And then it’s you, that talks to the me that text to the creative person and says, I think what you’re doing with that moment is, is good. I really love that, but we might need an audience participation moment here, or we might need glove to take his shirt off there or we might need,  


Yeah. I mean, there, there has to be one more big applause moment or, you know, we need to see X person a little bit more, or we need to, that person has been on stage a lot. Like I get why they’re there, but like maybe we can change this up or this fan base really needs X, Y, or Z and whatever. And you pivot accordingly, you know, and that’s not an easy, that’s one of the hardest conversations to have with a creative for me is to come in and appreciate the work and understand why the work is being done. But then also have to say thought, Can we try this because of this audience needs, whatever. So, yeah.  


Yeah. So that, that adds on another bumper. If we’re going to stick with those with a bowling analogy of like assemble the team and then also assemble the audiences experience while the creative team certainly does consider it. I don’t mean to I, if anybody’s listening who is not a choreographer, um, I, I, it is a very privileged position to get, to make work from the position of not caring who sees it. Um, uh, but a most of us do we consider what the audience is feeling is seeing, has seen before, where they’re headed next on the journey, whatever that’s like definitely a huge part of what we do. Um, but you get to also have a voice in shaping or reminding or helping to edit that flow. So you’ve got like assemble the team, curate the audience experience. You must be so good at bowling Because Between making great art, assembling great teams, and then also making money, also making sure like, you know, the talent team, the production team and the audience team is happy. That is so much to manage  


And you can’t make everyone happy. And that’s something I’ve learned in the past, like couple of years, no one is ever going to be completely happy. And that’s okay. As long as there is an understanding of why that person’s not happy, I can’t make every single person happy. That’s not even professionally, that’s personally too, but you kind of just do the best that you can. That is success doing the best that you can, knowing that you can’t make everyone happy. That’s what I will say is successful.  


Ah, there it is. And there we will leave it, my friends,  


Um, so wonderful.  


Really, really nice. You’re wonderful. And I hope that everyone is, is more than happy with that episode. But if you’re not, we understand that. You’re not because we can’t make everyone happy.


Thank you. So, so, so much, uh, I’m, I’m thrilled that there are people like you in the world doing work and getting better at it. Like identifying areas for improvement, having the bumpers up and being like, Ugh, I can do better. I can. Yeah, this is, this is heartful and hopeful. Thank you so much, Nikole for your time. 


Thank you. Bye.



All right, my friend, if you are like me right now, you are all fired up to do one of two things. Number one, produce a dance show. I mean, like really make the spreadsheets talk money, do the money and make some great stuff. Um, and then maybe number two is go bowling, which reminds me actually, you could do both, uh, shout out to one of my favorite scenes in, across the universe directed by Julie Taymor. I’ve just seen a face is what it’s called. I’ve just seen a face bowling alley, Jim Sturgis, stag leaps choreographed by Danny.  so freaking good. I digress. Um, Nicole and her perspective about producing and her passion for people on both sides of the production. Um, I, I really love how passionate she is about audiences and creatives alike. I also love her understanding that line items may stack vertically in a spreadsheet, but when it comes to a creative show, the value that each line item brings really connects with the next item on the list.  


They are woven together, not stacked on top of each other. Um, money trickles out, not down. I really love that thought. Um, and I hope that you really loved this conversation with Nicole valance, uh, to find more of Nicole’s work and learn more about her and her company, faculty, uh, tune into the show notes of this episode. And don’t forget, of course, check out the Dana wilson.com/shop for your money March downloads. Okay. My friend, that is it for me today. Thank you so much for being here. Now, get out there and keep it very funky. I will talk to you soon. Bye.  



Outro: This podcast was produced by me with the help of many; Music by Max Winnie, logo and brand design by Bree Reetz, and a big thanks to Riley Higgins, our executive assistant and editor, and also massive thanks to you. The mover, who is no stranger to taking action, I will not stand in the way of you taking action. I will not cannot stop you from downloading episodes or leaving a review and a rating. I cannot keep you from visiting thedanawilson.com to join our mailing list. I will not ban you from my online store for spending your hard earned money on the cool merch and awesome programs that await you there. And of course, if you want to talk with me, work with me and make moves with the rest of the words that move me community, I will 100% not stop you. Visit thedanawilson.com to become a member and get a peek at everything else I do that is not a weekly podcast. Keep it funky, everyone. 

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