Ep. #92 Questions That Move Me. Answers That Guide You.

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #92 Questions That Move Me. Answers That Guide You.
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In this Q&A episode I get to tackle questions from listeners that span the spectrum from technical to philosophical.  I share the best advice I’ve ever gotten (from David Frickin Fincher), and I talk about some outstanding gigs!  I tell you about the race and dance history programs/ resources that have been game changers to me, I outline my mental health regimine, AND talk about “that talk” that you get to have with your potential agent.  This episode is rich thanks to YOU and your questions!  Keep em coming, and keep it funky!

Quick Links:
Join the WTMMCOMM: thedanawilson.com/wtmmcomm

In The Heights Choreo Team Episode: https://www.thedanawilson.com/podcast/ep-78-ith

Karida Griffith’s R3D Race and Dance History: https://karidagriffith.com/history/

Moncell Durden’s Intangible Roots: https://www.moncelldurden.com/onlinecourse

Passion Fruit Seeds by Passion Fruit Dance Company: https://newyorklivearts.org/artist/passion-fruit-dance-company/

Transcript:

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

Well, Hey there. Good day. Hello. Hi. Welcome to Words that Move me. I’m Dana. I am stoked you are here and I’m stoked to be hitting you with a Q and A episode today. It’s been a while since I did this, um, and times are changing and the things that you want to know are changing too. I got some really great Qs submitted when I put my, ask me anything out there on Instagram, and I am a very excited to A them. But first let’s celebrate. I start every episode with wins because I think it’s important to celebrate what is going well. And today I have a lot to celebrate, but I can not get over this one. When this past Sunday, I went on a morning beach walk with my husband, AKA vice chief, our favorite beache is Dockweiler, um, because the planes from LAX fly directly overhead, and you can light stuff on fire there, which very, very much appeals to Vice Chief. Now, I don’t recall actually how long we walked for. Uh, but there was one moment, one moment in particular, that was very special that I would like to celebrate because this moment a plane, uh, uh, like jumbo freight plane, like not a passenger plane. One of those fancy FedEx types flew overhead. It was a very overcast morning and the sound seemed to be bouncing off of all of the surrounding clouds. The sound from overhead was coming from more places than where my eyes saw the plane. And it was just so unusual to feel this multi-directional really deep and loud rumbling coming from above me. And then watching this jumbo jet disappear into a white sky was ridiculous. So that’s happening up above my head. And then below my feet, a wave came like gently about up to my shins, like were not even shin really. I would say upper ankle, like where you do a frappe from, and that cold water took the sand from under my feet. So I was having this up above sensation and below my toes sensation. And my body felt sandwiched between these senses and it was really remarkable. And I know it maybe sounds simple or silly, but I felt so small in that moment. Um, but also so big in my ability to feel so it was a special moment. I wanted to put a pin in that and celebrate it out loud. So there you go. Good job life. Great job ocean. Thank you, Dockweiler I love you, Daniel. That is my win. Now you go, what’s going well in your world. Any sensational experiences to claim as wins, bring it. Let’s go  

Sweet. Congratulations. Let’s keep winning together. And let’s certainly keep up with these sensational experiences. And let’s also dig into these Qs. Um, I got so many Qs, actually. Qs are questions, PS, um, and quite a few personal ones, actually. So even though I do have a pretty good, ‘how did you meet your husband’ story? And dare I say, and even better engagement story. I think for time sake, I’ll filter for the career slash industry slash make stuff related questions, which I promise are no less exciting. They also include true love. So get ready, get set. And let’s dig in. 

The first question is what is the best advice you would give to an aspiring dance teacher?  

Two parter. You guys know me very hard to get one answer out of me. You almost always get two. Number one, and this is something I’m, I’m still very much learning for myself. You don’t have to teach it all at once. Not every day needs to have all of the things. Not every lesson needs to teach everything from every angle. It can’t. And in fact, if that is your approach, this feeling, this desire to give it all all the time, it actually can be really difficult to process that amount of information coming from those many different directions. I know this to be true because I have been a student in my voice therapy as of late and too many things, too many ways of thinking too many modes or schools of thought on any one thing can be really overwhelming, especially to a beginner. So, um, yeah, that I would say, I think my best teachers have showed restraint and calculated timing regarding when they teach what things and when certain things get introduced. So there’s that. And then there’s this, I believe it was my favorite artist of all time of all planets in this universe or any other, the one and only Tom Sachs that said “Every time you teach something is an opportunity to understand it, deeper yourself.” Okay. That speaks to me on two different levels. Number one, this quote lifelong learner level. Yes, I do believe in being a student forever and that really great students make really great teachers and vice versa, but I think it’s really important to keep learning, not just the things that you don’t know, not just to be seeking new knowledge, but to keep learning the things you already know to learn them deeper. Maybe even so deeply that you come to question them and might even change your mind about what you believed to be true about them. There is an exciting journey and a very good example in that I think it’s a good example to set, to always be learning, to always be questioning. And of course, to always be knolling get into it. Um, okay. Moving on. 

What are some of the ways you have educated yourself on racism in dance? Yes. I love this question. One of the ways I have done this is through virtual workshops. Karida Griffith. Holy smokes is a saint, um, Karisa offers an incredible six week course that offers age-appropriate fact-based lessons about race and dance history. The program is called R3D, R Three D, which stands for roots, rhythm, race, and dance. So that’s easy to remember and we’ll definitely link to that program. In the show notes of this episode, she also offers a free training series that I 10 out of 10 would recommend, especially if you teach, tap, hip hop or other forms that stem from the African diaspora, which is damn near all forms of dance for the record. Um, let’s see. Also in 2020, I participated in Moncell Durden’s Intangible roots workshop. Moncell was also a guest on the podcast I’ll link to that episode and to intangible routes. Um, I also took the Passion Fruit Seeds workshop, a virtual workshop organized by Passion Fruit Dance Company. Let’s see, um, this year a little more recently, I started reading a book called A little Devil in America notes in praise of black performance by Hanif Abdurraqib. And I really recommend this book 10 out of 10 stars, all available stars. Um, but I think another thing that’s really important to mention an area of personal development that I probably don’t mention as much is simply having conversations, talking to people with different lived experience than mine. Um, and these are mostly conversations that happen off the air, not on the podcast and not broadcast conversations. And I think that’s really important. Um, I would love to close out this question by asking all of you the same question because, um, I know I am just scratching the surface in my personal work on this subject. So I would love to know what am I missing. Um, if you’ve experienced breakthrough educational moments on the subject of racism and dance, I would love to hear about it. Any programs, any conversations, any resources, please bring them my way. Um, perhaps the best way to do that is on Instagram. You can tag me in a post at words that move me podcast or a direct message. I’m open to that as well. Whereas the movie podcast and or I am DanaDaners on the gram, uh, let’s keep moving forward. 

This is one of my favorite questions and it also broke my heart. Are you still a mime at heart? Oh yes, of course I am. Um, and this broke my heart a little bit because I am a mime at heart more than in body. And that makes me sad because, you know, basically I simply don’t practice. My body has not been miming for a very long time, but I believe that a mime at heart and in art makes the invisible visible. And perhaps I am flattering myself by saying this, but I believe that’s what I do. It is certainly something I enjoy to do is to give something that doesn’t have a form, a form shape structure feeling. Um, so thank you for this question. I think it’s reminded me of what I love most about mime and perhaps might even move me to be miming in the very near future. Maybe even today, who knows fine. I’ll put it on the calendar. I’m going to put it on it’s going on the calendar next week. I will be miming. 

Next question. Ooh, what job stretched you the most as a dancer slash as a human? Hmm. I think these might be two different answers. Is that okay? You know, me two answers for everything. The job that stretched me most as a dancer would undeniably be my first world tour with Mr. Justin Timberlake. That was the Future Sex Love Show. I was 20 when we started working on that show, I was also Marty Kudelka’s assistant at that time. And Marty was the co creative director and the choreographer of that show. It was my first world tour and I was jumping and do a big, super steep learning curve. Um, you know, those like end of the world disaster movies where the big wave comes and crushes the city of San Francisco or something like that. That was the learning that I did on that job. I learned about performance. I learned about mechanics. I learned about show structure, song, structure, um, how to work and collaborate as part of a team, how to take direction, how to follow through, I mean, you name it. I learned it or at least started learning it on that job. So thank you, JT. Thank you, Marty, for bringing me on in that role. Um, and thank you also to all of the dancers I was on the road with. I learned so much from each of you, Nanci Anderson, Michelle Martinez, Eddie Morales,, Ava Bernstein, Mitchell, lovey shout out Tammy Fey, longtime friend. And of course Marty Kudelka himself. Um, we also for a moment had had the pleasure of our swing joining us at the time the swing was Kenny Wormwald. Um, I am always learning from all of you all and just think so fondly of that time, steep learning curve, super challenging, super worth all of it. Now, the job that changed me most as a human I would say is probably working as an associate choreographer on in the Heights. If you haven’t already listened to the episode. Um, the podcast that I did with the rest of the choreography team, Christopher Scott, Eddie Torres Jr, Princess Serrano, Ebony Williams, and Emilio Dosal, joined by our fabulous choreo team assistant Meghan Mcferran all of us in a zoom room, hashing it out. That was so much fun. So if you want to hear more about the ways I changed as a human on that gig, listen to that full episode, cause you’ll get all that and more, but I’ll say, you know, to wrap it up kind of loosely, that I became a more compassionate creator on that project, compassionate towards myself and my process and towards the group of people I was working with and helping to represent on a big screen. It was completely transformative, that experience. So, um, big love to my In the Heights team and also to my JT family, huge, huge learning and progress. Thanks to all of you. 

Okay. Um, Ooh, here’s a good one. Do I have any advice for starting new stages of life? Well, yes, I’ve got like 90 episodes worth. Um, but I’ll say this in, in kind of in keeping with this stage theme in a very tight answer to a very big question. I think my best advice for starting new stages of life is to find your light. Does it need to be a spotlight? It could be a soft light, but find your light. This might mean bringing it with you, finding a thought that can serve as your own personal lighting technician follow spot, if you will, that can follow you and keep you illuminated and illuminating. This is the secret. 

Next question. And I love this one so much too. What is the biggest thing that you learned about yourself as a mover through the pandemic? What is the biggest thing you learned about yourself as a mover through the pandemic? Frighteningly enough, I think it’s that the thing I love most about dance is dancers. Once people stopped being a part of the dance equation, I liked doing it less and I did it less. And I think that that’s okay. I really do think my biggest takeaway was that I love dancers, um, and little teaser here in next week’s episode, I am joined by one of my greatest inspirations, a dear friend and mega monster epic creator, super powerhouse megaforce Nina McNeely. Nina will be joining me on the podcast. And we talk a little bit about exactly that. So do turn it turn in. Oh, that’s cool. I should start saying that turn in to next week’s episode. Like chaine turn or little triplet turn. You can do an inside turn. You could do a fouette turn. You could do a, any kind of turn, just turn in next week, but don’t, but also be turning out, turn out next week too, but also, I mean, turn in, I’m here for it.  Wow. We’re back. I love movers and I learned it in the pandemic. I did get to a place where I was dancing more. It’s possible that I danced more during the pandemic than I did the year before. Um, mm, no year before was In the Heights. No, no way I danced more. Um, but I did get to a place where I enjoyed dancing alone in my dining room, but, uh, yeah, that was it. That’s the takeaway. I love movers. 

Okay. Next question. How do you maintain good mental health? This is a big question. And I think there are a lot of ways to do this. My favorite way. I think the most useful way, the most effective way is by managing my mind. And I talk about mind management a lot on the podcast. What I mean when I say that is that I, I try my best to sift through the facts of the world, the neutral unchangeable circumstances that happen in day-to-day life. And I try to remain conscious and in control of what I think about those facts, the facts of the world. Um, I try to be deliberate about how I respond and, um, that is, is really my number one practice for maintaining good mental health is by separating my thoughts from the facts and remembering how much agency I have over my experience of the world. Um, that is a big one. 

Next question. What is the best advice you ever received? Ooh, um, people live given me life advice and pretty profound stuff. I think a lot of it shows up here on the podcast, but I don’t know if I’ve talked about this one moment and it struck me like these words of wisdom speared me like straight through the sternum sternum, spear pierced my ever loving being. And, um, these words came to me on set one day on set for Justin Timberlake’s Suit and Tie music video, which was directed by David Fincher. I was assisting Marty Kudelka and I remember what I was wearing. I remember my shoes weren’t that comfortable. I remember bustling around being really busying myself, trying to be as effective as possible, trying to be useful, trying to be in more places than one at once. And I remember David turning to me at one point pretty cold. I mean, I do think he’s a warm person, but this, this moment in that he looked at me felt pretty cool on the temperature spectrum. He said, can I give you some advice? And I like every muscle in my body contracted and I respond, yes, of course. I’m like searching for my notebook, please. What is w what is this advice? And he said, and I don’t know if these were, if he was the first person to speak these words, but this is how these words came to me. He said from the comfort of his director’s chair, never stand when you can sit and never sit when you can lie down. And in this one moment, I knew that I was doing too much, uh, much too much. And, um, I’ve reminded myself and other people of that onset so often never stand when you can sit, never sit when you can lay down. Thank you, David Fincher, for those words and for your incredible body of work. Thank you so much for, for all of it. 

Um, okay. We push onward moving straight ahead. Ooh, tough one. Okay. How do we, as a community shift our mindset from believing or from viewing, sorry, from viewing styles hierarchically to equally, how do we as a community shift our mindset from viewing styles hierarchically to equally? So there’s this built-in assumption in a lot of institutions and in the public perception that not all the answers created equal, that there is good dance and there’s bad dance and there’s meaningful dance, and there is not meaningful dance and or valuable dance or less valuable dance.  And, um, to this question, I will, I will suggest a starting point. I think that we shift our mindset a similar way that we shift our weight. And that is first by thinking I am going to shift my weight. Um, and then of course, by doing it, I think I will shift my weight to my left foot. I start by moving my hip. I then move my knee. And then, um, all of a sudden bringing my weight off of my right foot in a way from the microphone onto my left foot. But I started by thinking I would like to shift my weight and then I do it one tiny micro adjustment at a time. I think that’s how an individual shifts their mindset. And I think that that’s how a community must shift their mindset as well. And that is starting with individuals. I think communities are made up of individuals. So if an individual decides I would like to shift my mindset and then they shift their mindset and then they converse with other individuals, perhaps encourage other individuals to shift their mindset as well. That is how big change happens with small adjustments. 

Okay. Moving forward. Where are we? Uh, ha uh, Michelle Latimer dance academy, alumni shows up in the Q and A nice, super shout out Michelle. Oh, you have to come on the podcast. This is going to happen. Okay. An MLDA alum asks what was LA like when I moved there. And I think I might have to do a full podcast episode on exactly this like a walk down memory lane. It was awesome. It was different. And it was the same as it is now. It was all of that. It was awesome. It was awful. I, my apartment had cockroaches. I totaled my car and my first year out here, it was hot. There was great dance class. There were parties. I mean, it was a ball. It was, it was awesome. We’re going to put that in a parking lot and come back to it for sure. 

Okay. This last question was not submitted on the gram, but I have had two friends reach out in the last month. Hi, Lena. Hi, Courtney. Asking if I have any advice for agency interviews, like what do you do? And what do you say when an agency shows interest and you set up an interview and you really, really, really don’t want to mess it up now? I don’t think my two friends are alone in this. So I will share the advice that I gave to them. And that is this most people when sitting on the other side of the zoom screen or on the other side of a table, from an agent or, or a potential employer, if we want to zoom out and consider all professional interviews, um, most people really get caught up in trying to sell themselves in this particular instance where you are looking for an agent’s representation. Remember that this relationship goes both ways. You want to walk away feeling like you just got the best car on the lot. And so do they, so ask them questions, ask about the features of their business, know that you are great and find out how great they are. Also, if you don’t already know, try to find out who will be in that meeting. You’ve probably heard the saying, know your audience. I think in this case, and in many cases, it’s very helpful to a few more things, ask questions in general. I think questions are good, especially questions that reveal how much, you know, not how much you don’t know. You might ask. For example, how many castings are going out for people with your look and skillset? You could ask what commission they take my guess is that it’s 10%. It should be. If it’s higher, you might ask why you could ask them to explain their ideal client. Oh, and you should probably be prepared with what you do not like about your current situation, especially if your current situation includes an agent. I think it’s really important to let people know what works well for you and what you’re looking for. Have an idea of the work that you want to be doing. Have a few names in mind of people that you’d like to work with. Absolutely know your strengths and areas in which you would like to improve and be yourself. Isn’t that just the pits. When tell you to do that, when you’re like, what’s the answer? How do I do this? Right? And they’re like, by being yourself and you’re like, dang, what have I been doing for 25 years? How do I not know how to be myself? You do. You do know how to be yourself. You’ve been doing it for a long time. And I’m telling you right now, yourself is enough. Sit down, be a human talk to a human, be yourself and find out who they are. And if it is a good fit, it will fit. And it will be if it isn’t, that doesn’t mean you’re bad. Just keep on trucking. All right. My friends, I thought we’d finished this episode out with a burnout round. Um, these are the short and fast questions that came through the Q and A that actually really made me giggle and kind of have deep thoughts. Um, but I tried to not answer them until this moment. I want to really truly give the visceral response here. So in this moment, favorite dance move, uh, pas de bourses, least favorite dance move, easy. One C jump hate them. Never can’t won’t don’t want to ever do that step ever again. How many combos have I done?  Oh, God hundreds, hundreds and hunt maybe is 1500, two thousand?. 1500? Maybe. I don’t know, but I do know that every time I get in the car and drive to a destination that is more than five minutes away. I hear a song that I have either danced to or choreographed to do. So that’s that? Oh, and PS these are mostly all these in classic rock radio stations. So take that for what it’s worth. Okay. Favorite movie. Ooh, impossible. But it would be the Lord of the Rings trilogy. If you let me pick three favorite show right now and why easy Ted Lasso, because it is evidence that you don’t have to be manipulative to be great. And that obscure musical theater references make life better. Um, okay. Final question. What is moving me right now? The answer to that question right now is time.  I have got to go. I’m late for a grill and, um, I love you all so much. Thank you for your thoughtful questions. Keep them coming. And of course, keep it funky. Ooh, wait, wait, wait. One more thing.

This is important. We are making the first ever words that move me community production. It is a film. It is called Eight counts. Subtitle. The words that movie, thanks for the subtitle. Courtney Darlington, super shout out. Um, and if you want to be a part of making this movie, which is a community collaboration made by the words that move me community members, then you’ve got to join the community. Um, the community is a subscription membership. I will link to the membership website in the show notes to this episode, whoa. In the show notes website, webisode time, Dana breathe. I’ve got time. Where was I? Membership website will be in the show notes.  Um, memberships start as low as $3 per month. But if you ask me the real value comes with the top tiers, I’ll be totally honest. Y’all it is not about making a movie together. That is going to be so fun. This is about information and support so that you can be making work that you really want to be doing. Now we can do that work together and we can do that work apart. You can continue listening to the podcast. This is great, but to be a part of this collaborative film making process, you do need to be a member of the community. Um, if you join now in the month of October and don’t like it, if you’re like, Nope, this is not for me. This is not the value I was looking for. I will give you your money back. Yep. All of it.  Well, all of it that you gave to me for this membership, I do not have the funds to give you all of your money back from all of the things for all of the time. But I believe in the community. I love what we are doing. I love all of you community members. Um, and if, if you are not part of the wisdom com please do join us. I think you will love it. And I’m excited to see you over there. Link in the show notes, see you soon. Um, now you can go keep it funky. Talk to you later. 

Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating 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. 

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