Oh my friend, you are in for a sweet treat today!!! In this Episode, Alexis “Tilly” Evans-Krueger brings us backstage at Moulin Rouge on Broadway for a little pre-show dressing room chit chat… but only no, this isn’t a chit chat… it is a deep dive on several big and important topics. Tilly talks about creating the feeling of freedom daily and her experience with college for dance. Her journey from small town school to Company work to landing her first Broadway contract right before the 18 month lockdown is fascinating every step of the way. Oh, and I think you’ll love hearing what she has to say about the *NEW* Broadway.
Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight. But don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: Hello, hello, my friend. How are you feeling today? Feeling good, feeling funky. I hope. I am feeling slightly more colorful than the last time I had jumped into the booth. Last week’s episode was all about feeling blue. Um, the sads are real y’all and I am not rushing them away. Um, I’m honoring them. There are occasional blues in my world still, but today I am inviting in the bright side of the emotional spectrum with today’s guest Tilly Evans, Krueger, holy cow, what a Sunbeam Moonbeam? Ray Sunray? Ray of sunshine, Moonbeam, all things celestial and of the sky. She is so bright. She is so free and I’m so stoked to share this conversation with you.
But first we celebrate wins. Big, big, huge, yet soggy win this week is that the seaweed sisters have shot a new one. On Thursday of this week. Um, and wow, it came together so fast, so furious and oh, so fortuitous, which is my new favorite word. Um, really cannot wait to share that with you. Be sure that you’re following the seaweed sisters on Instagram, by the way. Um, that is probably a good place to be kept in the loop on all things seaweedy. Um, Ooh, which reminds me on the gram front words that move me podcast on Instha on Insthagram. (Instagram) is creeping up on 3000 followers, woot woot. It’s weird. Usually I write woot woot, rarely say it doesn’t really feel that great to say. Uh, anyways, once we reach 3003 followers, which is a subtle shout out to the area code of Denver, where I’m from. Sup three oh three, um, once we reach 3003 followers, by the way, that also just kind of it real cause you know, the plus or minus game, um, I’m going to be giving away a bunch of words that move me podcast merch to random followers. I’m going to find a random follower generator and just be gifting some stuff out. So be on the lookout for that. Tell your friends if you’re not already following the pod, tell your friends if you’re not already following the seaweed sisters. And by the way, I don’t mean to make it out, to be all about the following, but that’s where the conversation landed the conversation with myself. Um, so that is where we are. All right, winning. That’s my win this week, new seaweed work coming soon. Holy smokes. I’m so excited about it. Um, now you go, what is going well in your world? Are you celebrating any new work? Are you celebrating relaxation? What is going well, tell me about it. It pains me that I can not actually hear you. Tell me what you’re celebrating. You know what we should do? You know what, that’s it starting now at words that move me podcast, leave me a little voice note. Send me, um, a little DM voice recording of what’s going well in your world. I would love to start sharing those on the podcast. Featured wins for me. You just re here it is. You heard it here. Exactly. First we’re doing it. Send me a voice recording of your win and it will play it on the podcast. I mean, not all of them, but maybe I’ll start a spinoff podcast called wins. And that’s just what we’ll do the whole time. Um, okay. Sorry. I interrupted you. Take it away. Hit me with your win.
Okay, great. Excellent. I’m so glad that you’re winning. I can’t wait to hear your wins. Really. This is so exciting to me. Um, but now I’ve got a lot to cover with miss Tilly Evans Krueger. So let’s dig right into it. This totally free flying dancing bird makes being an everything or look, so-so so good. And you’ll see what I mean by that in a second. Um, she’s all about all of the dance, but also people caring for each other. She’s all about women lifting women. She’s all about using art to make change in the world. And my friends. She is making some pretty sweet changes that I am very excited about. So without any further ado here is Tilly Evans, Krueger.
Dana: Tilly Evans, Krueger. Holy smokes. Welcome to the podcast, my friend. Thank you so much for doing this. I am stoked.
Tilly: Thank you so much for having me.
Dana: When I think about my listeners and who they want to be when they grow up, I think they might want to be you. So I’m really, really excited that you’re here to share your story today. Um, but let’s start with some, let’s start with the really simple stuff. Uh, tell us anything you want us to know about you
Tilly: Tilly. That’s my name. I am from Madison, Wisconsin, and I love telling people that because they usually give me like a weird little
Like Midwest. Really?
Yeah. Um, I grew up with my grandparents, my lovely, beautiful selfless grandparents who I adore. Um, I think that my dreams have become a reality due to their encouragement throughout my life. And it’s never ending. It’s infinite. It’s beautiful. As you might know, I love dance. Um, so much.
Got it, got it, got it. It’s got a hint. It picked up on, uh, on the essence of that working with you, In In the Heights, your drive, you were nonstop and the focus was tremendous. Such a fun time. Um, okay. Sorry. Keep going.
Oh gosh. And what else? I feel like I’m an, everythinger, so I just like doing everything that is expressed, expression expressive. Uh, I dabble in painting and I love acting. I also figure skated growing up, obviously, Wisconsin who doesn’t skate there. Um, yeah, I don’t know. So I am just, I’m a life learner.
Mm Hm. Yo tambien. I think we’re in a, in a room full of those right now. And whoever’s listening, we’re in your car or we’re in your house or wherever we are. We are that, um, and we’re expressive types. I noticed one of the things that I first noticed about you is your personal style. Um, on the podcast, we talk a lot about external validation and to use the cliche, like not judging a book by its cover, being more than our Instagram feed, more than whose class we’re taking more than whatever job we’re on. But when you are first meeting someone, you have the information that your eyes and ears are telling you. And I remember being like, Ooh, that is a stylish bird. She, she flies free. She flies in a very, very open sky. And then I remember feeling, uh, um, a kind of fortuitousness when we were creating Paciencia Y Fe the number that we worked on and In the Heights and you got to be the birds of La Vibora. I said, that’s so wrong. La Vibora. Um, yeah, you got to, you got to be the birds in the sky and you move like a bird. So there’s, I’ve always taken a sense of freedom from you. And I think that that is something that dancers pursuing careers in entertainment are very rarely feeling freedom. We’re feeling we might be feeling focus or determination or, you know, grit, but it’s very rarely freedom. Do you consciously think about being free? Do you move freely, deliberately? What is your, What does it feel like to be?
I literally can’t tell you how much that means to me that you see that picked up on it right away. It’s not, it’s not like, um, I think it’s subconscious actually, because anytime I’m talking, like I’ve done a lot of, um, there’s this thing called freedom path in Ohio and my best friend, her mom would take us out on horses and we would like, uh, like have a partnership with these horses. And I just remember doing a mission statement as well. And all of it was about freedom, like, and how I, I want everything in my life. I want everything to feel free. I want to be free. Um, and I think, yeah, I think I am chasing that. Not chasing that I’m being that I’m allowing myself to feel whatever I feel in each day. And it’s, it’s sometimes, um, difficult because it’s like, I feel very different each day. Um, but as long as I am allowing myself to dress the way I want or to identify myself the way I want move the way I want not identify myself in whatever way I want, you know, like I think that’s so important. Um, to be honest and intentional. And my, I think the biggest thing intentionally for me is to find freedom.
Cool. Cool. Um, let’s go back a little bit to Ohio really quick. So, um, in my, in my pre pod research, I learned that you graduated Magnum Cum Laude and I don’t know if I’m saying that word correctly, to be totally honest, because I didn’t go to college or graduate Magnum Cum anything. Um, but you have a BFA in dance. You went to Wright state university and that’s in Ohio. And I think that people think Ohio is boring, but I would like to, for the record, just announced that I had the most fun I have ever had at a club in my life in Cincinnati. And I’m truly like, I hold a really secret fondness for Ohio in my heart. I don’t know if I could ever even find it again. Cincinnati was wicked. Cool. I had some, I have no idea I had, I couldn’t. Oh, I can. I have no idea. Okay,
Not because I was like smashed or hammered or drunk, but because it was like a hole in the wall kind of, you know, off chance, let’s try this out. I dunno. It was while I was on my first tour. So maybe that factors in as well, the place I was
Yeah. Freedom. Um, okay. But all of that preface about Ohio to say, I love hearing and weighing in on this conversation about the value of college for dancers. Um, and I would love to hear your position on that. What did you, what did you gain from your college experience that you don’t think you could’ve gotten in the workforce? We’ll start there. Yeah.
So in Ohio I feel like, um, I felt very isolated there in Dayton, Ohio. There’s not, I feel like in New York, I really wanted to go to school in New York, but that’s just not the way things worked out. And I think I would have actually been so distracted in New York. So I’m really glad I went to school in this isolated area where literally all I could do and all I wanted to do was dance. I couldn’t get enough of it. And really the only, um, fun, not the only fun, The only fun was riding my horse. I would go to movies for fun. That’s kind of all there was in Dayton, Ohio. Um, I once ran into Dave Chappelle cause he lives in yellow Springs and he described Dayton. Ohio has the city that could, but won’t, and that, I feel like that is kind of true. It’s it’s industrial and it, it feels, um, a little gray, but what’s the, what is amazing about Dayton, Ohio, from what I experienced is the people, the people, um, that I met are lifelong friends and they are, um, my family and I worked with this company DCDC while I was training. Um, while I was in school and those women taught me what it is to be, um, a supportive woman, a supportive black woman in this industry, how to one, one another up and knowing that we as individuals are special in our own, right. And without one there’s something missing in the puzzle. So there’s no point in competing. It’s all family, it’s all love. And it’s all as, as long as we are supporting this atmosphere and nurturing it each individual, then we can succeed.
Hold on, hold on, hold on, hold up. Oh, I just, I have to get a little bit more granular about that because if we could, right now on this podcast, share with people, how you do that. If those women taught you to do that, those women taught you to nurture community, to rise while lifting others, instead of rise by pushing others down. If you learn that, how can you teach a little bit of that now? Like what are the, is, is there a practical thing? Is there a, I mean, I know philosophically what must be done or I can guess right. Lead with love, give love. Um, I think I understand the steps of nurturing, but what do you say? Is there, what are we missing? What, what is, what are the bricks of it?
Okay. So I will say that it’s not necessarily an easy human task because it does take loving oneself. Right? Um, being, I think shifting that perspective is really important. So if I’m in an audition and I feel like I’m not necessarily killing it and there’s other people killing it, I’m of course going to be insecure because, and then you, you think about yourself, right? You’re like, oh, I’m not doing well. I’m not doing this. And like, so that starts to spiral you instead. I think in those moments of comparison and insecurity, how can we flip the switch? How can we flip our perspective and say, Hey, I’m going to send them great energy right now. And I am going to allow myself space to be wherever I’m at, but maybe if I’m not doing the best and I see other people living in their light and their truth, I’m going to send them even more beautiful energy and maybe even pray if you will, um, talk, uh, to the universe about, I know it’s getting a little woo
I mean, I’m, I’m here with, um, I’m interested in all of it. I’m interested. I’m, I’m interested in philosophy as much as I’m interested in religion, as much as I’m interested in, not religion. I like, I really believe in dance and in life, that technique is whatever works. And if you find a technical value in believing in God or believing in the universe, then I’m curious about it. What, what is it? Tell me more so, so, well, go ahead. Go ahead.
Yeah, no, I was just going to stay. I like, I practice like praying for people when I’m feeling down. And then that takes all of that negative energy off of myself, puts positive energy onto other people. And that is some, that’s a circle, a circle of energy that, that gets recycled, that comes back to me. Um, so yeah, I think that’s the first thing. Um, I learned about a nurturing space and that’s what we all did for one
That’s special. I like the idea. I often find myself asking myself how I can love me more so that I can do better for other people. I think the notion of like giving and giving and giving and caring and caring and caring is great. And I have definitely felt before my cup go towards the half empty side or more than less than less than half, um, in that giving. So I think the balance of knowing the self, loving that, the other, and then having some general sense that we’re all connected anyways. Like I don’t know the, the, the notion that we’re all links in a chain and if one of us feels weak, the whole chain isn’t strong. Um, but that being said, I also don’t believe in feeling strong all the time. So I don’t like, I think there’s a lot of value to being down, being hurt, being sad. Um, and creative lives certainly benefit from feeling the full range of the emotional spectrum. Um, but, but having a finger on the pulse of that is what sounds like you got to be very good at I’m feeling this way. The room is in this state, this person is, you know, vibrating this certain thing. And I’m feeling this certain thing. What’s the relationship between all of that and how to navigate that, that comes, right?
Yeah. I think as a Pisces too, I feel like Pisces are always like feeling into everyone and trying to find balance of it all. So I blame my sign.
I don’t know much about my sign, so I rarely blame it, but I will.
What is your sign?
I am a cancer. That’s on the cusp of Leo
But you know, a cusp situations.
I do you’re right. I do. I know a cusp, I had my chart read years and years ago by Tony Testa Mother’s friend. So Tony’s mom, Nancy is legendary. She’s one of my favorite women, such a strong figure. Resilient is like scratching the surface. If we use that word to explain her, she is a tremendous force. And, um, as a gift when Tony and I and our friend, Randi, Randi Kemper and Misha Gabriel, uh, at the time Misha Hamilton, we all moved to LA around the same time. And as a parting gift, she had all of our, our charts read. She gave us a session with an astrologer astrologist Astro, astrology, human astrologer, astrology woman. And I do remember finding like at that time, nah, this isn’t real. Nope. That doesn’t sound like me at all. And then listened again, five years later, it was on an actual burned CD. And five years later, I was like, holy smokes. That’s not that that’s, that’s impressive. So I’m, I’m in an in-between depending on the day and my willingness to suspend disbelief. That’s fair. Um, but I, but, um, like I said, I think technique is whatever works and our way of making sense of the world. Yeah. I mean, yeah. So call it woo. Call it whatever, but I’m here for it. If it works, if that is where he’s working for you. Excellent. Um, okay. So back to college, what you learned was focus. How to be working on dance?
Yes. Yes, definitely. Um, and I think that I needed that, uh, schedule that regiment and that time to just allow myself to be whoever I was, um, because I think not going to school, you have more responsibility, right. To like pay your bills and like really deal with, um, the reality of things. As I feel like college is more of an incubator, you get to like focus a little bit more. Yeah. Yeah. And that’s something that I needed. I know that not everyone needs that. I’m not saying that the college is for everyone at all, but it was for me.
Cool. Okay. So then the flip side of that original question, which was, you know, what’d college do for you that the workforce couldn’t have, what have you encountered in the workforce? And by the way, I don’t, I just don’t know what else to call it. What have you encountered out here in the real world, um, that college did not prepare you for that wasn’t ever in any textbook or course or seminar or anything you ever like, what was that?
Yeah. Um, first I do want to say that I did want to leave college pretty much every single year. And I would call my grandmother and I feel it. Yes. I’d be like, grandma, I need to go. I gotta go. I gotta move to New York. I’m done with this. Like I was so antsy and so not patient. Um, so I don’t want to pretend like I knew it back then that I needed it. I didn’t know about them in hindsight. I know now, but, um, yeah, she was like, no, Lex, Lexi, Alexis. She was like, no, you need to like, just stay, just have patience. New York is not going anywhere. Like, just know I’m grateful that she said that to me over and over again, what I was not prepared for how hard it is, how hard it can get, um, balancing life.
I can imagine that. Yeah. Yeah.
Right. Like just not knowing that things aren’t going to come right away, always. Um, they don’t prepare you for that. I feel like it is this, this softened version of life colleges. So, um, going out into the world and having these expectations, which isn’t a bad thing, but like, knowing that things may not come as easy, but just to keep going
Or they don’t come on a schedule the way they did college.
Interesting. Yeah. Okay.
Um, I can’t think of anything else right now, but I’m sure that’s great.
No, the, the
Yes no, that. Is what I just got. You’re catching me on a day. I just got an email from my CPA. He’s like, it’s time to start planning. And I was like, my guy, listen, we’ve been emailing all year long because I keep getting letters. I keep being confused. I keep trying to do my estimated thing and why the thing that happens once a year, why does it drive me insane all year? What is going on? I have some serious work to do on this subject.
Ya but also, I’m sorry off we’re off, but why wasn’t it taught in school?
Because someone is benefiting from people not knowing how that shit works. Right. Okay. We digress. I will be doing another. So last year I did money March on the podcast will 100% be doing that again in 2022, because I think, yeah, there, I mean, stop me if I’m wrong, but I don’t know of a dance program that teaches finance for independent contractors, contract negotiations. Nope. That’s not a part of the curriculum. Um, but right here on the podcast, it is. So last year I had a CPA, uh, who is also a dancer on the podcast. She answered a lot of questions, but of course now almost a year later, I’ve got boatloads more. So tune in tune in Money March, we’ll be learning how to do our taxes together again. Um, okay. You, you, you touched on ever so slightly. Your name is your birth name is not Tilly. Tell me, tell me about this and the decision to make that change.
My birth name is Alexis, Alexis Charice Evans-Krueger. And when I got to college the first year, uh, I was a freshman, like I said, I was also studying with DCDC Dayton Contemporary Dance Company and the director, uh, Shauna Hickman, Mablack, who I call my Mama Shauna, uh, very first day I walk in. She’s like, you look like a Tilly, I’m going to call you that. And I was like, great. I was like, great. Yeah.
Okay. Before the day ends, I will be meeting a stranger and naming them. I cannot wait to try this on. You strike me as a Jeff. I’ll be calling you that. Okay. So did you do, does it resonate with you?
Oh yeah. And right took to it.
You look like a Tilly to me.
I love that. Right? She, she knew what she was doing and she gets, she gave so many people, um, nicknames throughout the years. And then I, uh, I studied with Donald Bird, not studied. He came and choreographed on the company and that following year. So he knew me as Tilly and that following year I auditioned for his company and got in. So I moved to Seattle after Ohio and he was calling me Tilly. So it kind of just stuck after that.
Well, yeah, Tilly, Alexis Charice. I am so stoked that you’re here and now I’m stoked to dive into a topic. That, to be totally honest, I do not know a whole lot about, I’ve been involved in pre production for a small handful of Broadway shows, but I’ve never been a performer on Broadway. I’ve never choreographed on a Broadway show, but I do know that for a time in my life, dancing on Broadway was it. And I do know that for many of my dancers that is still it. And that is the goal. You landed yourself in your Broadway debut this year in Moulin Rouge. Tell me how that happened. And then we’re going to get into some, like maybe, maybe advice we’ll call it or, or thoughts to think guiding principles for those people navigating into that space right now. Um, and then I have a couple of random questions that I’m just dying to know answers to, but we’ll start with like your evolution. How did this happen? How did this come to be for you?
When I got to New York, I was fully concert dance, like, uh, I was dancing for actually Sonya at New York live arts. We did a residency there and Peter Chu came, uh, quickly after that, but I started getting into theater, uh, because Sonya was actually doing theater and I fell in love with it. Uh, did a production of the lucky ones off Broadway, and then just started auditioning more. The first time I auditioned for Moulin Rouge though, I couldn’t, I couldn’t sing a note. I’m telling you it was not good. I, to me, like, I, I’m not, I’m not even lying to you, someone in high school. I remember this is why I really thought I couldn’t sing. Someone was like, you should audition for one of the solos. And then someone else was like, no, you definitely shouldn’t. Like someone told me that. So I was like, oh, I can’t,
Oh, you bought that story. That there was a lie.
Totally. And so whatever I auditioned, I didn’t get it. And I think two years later as I worked on my voice more, and it was more about being comfortable with it being comfortable with what I have not, not thinking that, oh, I need to belt like this, or I need to sing like this in order to be a good singer. Um, I went in to the audition, not really thinking anything at that point. I was like, kind of in a point of like, well, if it’s supposed to be, it’ll be, but I’m not, I don’t need it. And so saying and got the audition. I mean, I got the contract and that was in 2020 of January. So I booked this before COVID and I was rehearsing, um, for a month and a half, I believe. And then COVID happened. So I never got to go on stage. Um, so I didn’t have my Broadway debut until 18 months later.
Wow. What were you thinking and feeling in that, in that, in that incubation different kind of holding chamber?
Totally. Those 18 months, I was like, oh my gosh, is this ever going to happen? We’ll move on Rouge. You then come back. I mean, all of those questions are happening, like to, to be wanting something or so long. And then for it to be taken away in a way, um, it was, it was devastating. Um, but we were lucky that our show is back I’m so grateful for that. Um, yeah. And then my debut I’m, I’m so happy that I had 18 months to think about my first draft, because as a swing, you, you can go on at any moment and whether you’re comfortable or not, that’s your job. And I got to be so comfortable that I got to have my freedom that I wanted on stage.
So you started as the swing. Yes. And you were able to find freedom in maybe less than total, right? Oh, this is brilliant. I love this takeaway. You can feel free without feeling fully confident, right? It’s something that I teach. A lot of my coaching clients is the difference between self-confidence and task based confidence. Task-based confidence says you have to do it for 10,000 hours before you can feel confident with it. I disagree. I think you can feel fully confident having never done something or having not done it as many times. And you’re, you’re kind of echoing that sentiment in that you could be not totally comfortable with a track yet perform it freely, perform it with confidence.
I mean, it, it comes from that non-attachment, like not being attached to what you think you should look like on stage and just feeling what it is. And each moment I think that’s that confidence of knowing like, okay, each moment is just what it is and letting go of
There are went. Yeah. Yeah. Very cool. Oh, I miss doing that onstage. The awareness, the being watching of the moments as they come and go body body is in motion in your case, voice is in motion. That was never the case for me. Um, but like body is in motion and I’m hovering someplace above that, watching it happen. Oh, wow. I missed that feeling so much. Um, okay, cool. So, um, I’m, I’m thrilled that you got to experience that. Um, what do you sense from people in this moment on Broadway from audiences and your, and your cast and crew? Are people just beyond grateful? Is this the best place on earth? Is this, is it awkward? What’s going on out there?
I think there’s such a mixture of emotions. Um, so there was a lot of turmoil before COVID happened and meaning like people just didn’t feel seen. And I think that obviously like things that were acceptable before COVID are not acceptable anymore, whether it be, um, like having to do with race, um, where we weren’t as aware of our words and how effective they are. Um, so I think, so my company, Moulin Rouge, we met with, um, Jake Hulan, who is a conflict resolution, managerial, um, person. And they, they are, they are actually an attorney and a consultant who specializes in conflict resolution and leadership. So we would talk to him, um, like once a month through COVID about all of the trauma, like, I mean, seriously trauma that we experienced, um, uh, more so the company members before me, because I was only there for a month, but I still experienced whatever I did from the trickle down of my, my company members.
So we had to talk to him once a month. And then we had, um, equity, diversity and inclusion, a person who represented that for us. And then we had HR and this is something that not all probably companies have, not everyone has the HR that’s, that’s crazy to me. Um, so we, uh, as we showed up, back up to our job, Moulin Rouge, not everything had been sussed out. So we were still dealing with this emotion or emotional turmoil while putting up this show. And we would meet once a week now, as rehearsals began with these people. And it led to us having a real conversation with our producers and then being transparent about the power that they have and the power that they don’t have, what they knew, um, that was affecting us and what they didn’t. And they didn’t know because we didn’t feel like we had to speak on it. Right. And how could you, because what if I lose my job? Remember we, we, as dancers have been taught that we’re replaceable
The scarcity mindset. Ooh, yes. The ripples of that reach far and wide.
Yeah. And I think, I don’t think the producers knew that mindset that we have. And so we got to tell them all of these things and why we weren’t speaking up and what not, and to be in a room like that after months of talking about it was life-changing. And I think for the energy, for the energy of the company. And, um, so after that, I think we all just got to be happy that we heard now in this show, but it didn’t come right away.
It didn’t come for free for, from the sounds of it. There was probably a lot of uncomfortable happening in those rooms.
Absolutely. Absolutely. And I’m grateful that we didn’t just go back and pretend like everything was okay. And that we were brave enough to have those conversations and stick up for ourselves.
Oh, my friend that is powerful. Thank you for sharing. It sounds like reform and it sounds like real change. Oh, I’m thrilled to be hearing that. Um, okay. Well, on the subject of this scarcity mentality in this new way, a new consciousness, a new workflow, a new order of operations, new ways of communication, what would you recommend to the incoming generation of talent? Who probably dare? I say, even more than your, or my generation might feel that scarcity mentality, because technically, I don’t know numbers wise, if there are fewer shows now than ever, but I could imagine a world in which people would feel even more scarcity now than we felt before. So what, what would you recommend to people entering?
Yeah, so I would say that, um, I would, I would say aspire to be intentional, learn what you actually want because Broadway, isn’t everything. That’s not the only avenue that you can go down. And I do believe that what is meant for you will be for you and what is not, is not. Um, and I think the more that we can learn ourselves and learn our love and what we don’t love, then the universe will provide what is actually for us. So what kinds of shows do you actually want to be doing? Is it, um, kick your face? Um, just 40 10
Happy? Yeah. Like that’s amazing. Go and do that. And the show that is supposed to be for you will come, it will come because you are writing it as you’re living. And I mean, do you want to do something that has to do with social justice? That show may not be here yet, but it is for you because you are writing it as you are living. And I’ve seen that happen throughout my career where I don’t want to go after Broadway. I don’t want to go after the thing I want to go after what I love, what I think is going to make me happy, happy, how can I serve? Um, and I think that scarcity mindset doesn’t happen. When you think about what is true to you, because you’re operating from a place of love, you’re operating from a place of, um, I lost my train of thought
No, it’s okay. What I’m hearing is like when you’re focused on an object, especially when that object is outside of your control, your field of vision is narrow. And so is your power that you put in yourself. When you think of the object that’s out there, it’s someone else’s, at least someone else’s decisions are partly involved. Your power is a bit less, but when you think about the thing you want, because it’s yours, you have all power, you have all of arriving there. You have such a, um, you have a whole world of power and opportunity versus a pretty like needles. I, and a tiny piece of thread. That’s kind of limp to fish through the, the eye of the needle. And when you think a little bigger and you focus on the dare, I say the result of the work that you want to be doing versus the actual work that you want to be doing. Cause I can imagine young me listening and hearing like, well, the work I want to be doing is a tour with Justin Timberlake. Dammit like that’s what I that’s the work I want to be doing, but it wasn’t actually the work that I wanted to be doing was being an example of a woman who could evoke a wild range of emotions from an audience member or give permission to feel a range of emotions and in a massive pop show, it’s exactly what they do. Drink wildly sexy, wildly bright and fun. And like, can’t stop the feeling right versus dirty versus mirrors. Like when you go to a pop show, you know, you’re getting the full spectrum because that’s what pop is. It’s a little bit for everybody. And so it’s not a shock to me that I, that I wound up there, but I wound up there because what I was thinking was I want to be a person who can do all the things and pull it all out. And so pop world was a great place for me to land. If you want to be a person who speaks specifically to one group of people, a small group of people, a unique group of people, Bradway probably ain’t it it’s, it’s the, it’s the pop star of the other half of the entertainment industry. It speaks right to general audiences. And I I’m seeing changes there. I’m seeing changes in the type of stories that are told on Broadway, in the representation of the cast members there. I do think that’s changing, but yeah, I, uh, now I’m losing my train of thought. When you think about the result of the work that you do versus the, the show that you want to do, that might be kind of liberating in terms of your pathways and, uh, you know, the avenues you can take to get there. And it also is certainly more empowering than thinking I have to be the right thing for whoever is producing Moulin Rouge. Right. So I think that’s at least that’s what I’m taking away from what you’re saying. Great. Cool. We’ll keep it. Okay. Keep on trucking. Um, okay. I’m loving what I’m hearing. This is amazing. I do have a couple very cheesy, but very real Broadway slash musical related questions that I want to ask you because I, people will not be shocked. Grew up a musical theater kid. I have seen Phantom of the Opera probably seven times. Um, in person don’t even ask me about Cats. The VHS got played. Like I broke it. Got it. We, we burned out right out. Um, I love musicals. I love them. So you mentioned that you grew up with, uh, a more contemporary background. Was, was musical, something you was ever on your radar is like being aspirational for you. Was this even a thing that you cared about?
Um, I, so, like I said, someone told me that I couldn’t sing, so I was like, I’m probably not going to really do that.
Honestly. That’s why I didn’t move to New York because I thought I couldn’t sing.
I bet you can sing. I love your voice. Like just you’re speaking words that amazing.
Do you know the journey that I’ve been on? I had vocal cord surgery.
No, I didn’t know that.
Yeah. Oh girl. So the last time I saw you then was in the Heights 2019, um, during 2020, obviously the podcast picked up, had so much fun with it, but was definitely noticing fatigue in my voice, very raspy voice. And in July of 2021, late June in late June of 2021, I went to see, uh, Justin Timberlake’s ENT to have a little scope. I was thinking maybe I’ve got some soft nodules perhaps. And he was like, so when are you available for surgery? And I was like, what are you talking about? He was like, there is a cyst, the size of a school bus on your vocal cord, and we’re going to need to get rid of that post haste. Um, so I had, I had surgery in July. The recovery has been emotional and, um, informative. Yes. I, I taught my first convention weekend after surgery this past weekend. And Monday morning I woke up and had a voice and it sounded like this. And so I know it worked, it was worth it, but wow. What a recovery, what a, what a process. And thank you about my voice. I do have scarring. I don’t know that I will be able to sing, but I never thought I, I really genuinely never thought I could maybe thought maybe I’m tone deaf. I have a very funny, Andy Blankenbuehler story. Oh my God.
I need to hear it.
We were, uh, working on a show that he is developing a personal jam of his, I should say personal jam because Ooh, it’s going to be good. And I was part of a skeleton crew several years ago. Um, and it was, uh, I don’t remember the word he used for dance narrative. Um, I’m calling it a dancesicle because it wasn’t the dance ensemble didn’t sing only. Um, and so with that assurance that dance members would not be singing. I was like, yeah, sure, absolutely. Sign me up. So, um, we’re doing this thing. I don’t even remember the length of the process, but I remember coming up against a challenge. He was couldn’t figure out how to either transition or get, get this important plot point across. And it was like this hurdle and yeah, for, for a couple of days, it was like, ah, if only how do we bump it? It was a challenge. And then one day in the middle of rehearsal, man, that guy has ideas constantly, but he got this idea. He was like, everyone gathered around the piano and my heart dropped straight out of somewhere and onto the floor. I was like, fuck, okay, here we go. Walk over to the piano. And I’m in a room full of very capable professional Broadway types. And he starts saying, okay, you sing, um, the E you take the sharp, I’m making shit up right now. Cause that’s how little I know. And then he pointed at the person on my right. He said, you take a third above that. Dana, you take a third below that one. It was like, I’m like, I was like, do you guys know what he just said? That he thinks that like speaking another language to me 100%, I had no idea what he meant. So I raised my hand. I said, Andy, I don’t know what that means. I don’t understand what you just said. If you sing it for me, then I will try my best to like parrot what you just did. And then we’ll see how long I can hold on to that in my brain. I don’t know if I’ll still have that in 20 minutes, but I can try. Um, and then I tried, we tried and then ultimately he relieved me of singing duties. He was like, you know what, don’t worry about it. You’re fine. And it was like staying and also thank you, but that’s what happens when you have I had, at that time, literally zero, zero training. Now, since voice has been a focus of mine because of my condition, I have had three or four awesome voice coaches and more voice pathologists than I can count. Um, because the journey has been up and down and sideways. But I do, I know so much more now than I did before. I think I would fare very differently in that room today, but whoa, okay sorry.
No, no worries. Also, maybe he was just like, I see that you’re stressed about it and I want to relieve you of that stress. Not like you can’t sing.
Right. I don’t need to make it mean that I can’t, but like, that’s not necessary for you to carry that too. Um, okay. So you didn’t, you didn’t think New York was an option because somebody told you you can’t sing.
Oh yes. I didn’t like musicals. Well, New York was always the option for me, but I didn’t think musicals because I couldn’t say
Let’s not, let’s not conflate the two
Let’s not conflate senior year was funny, but yes. So no, I didn’t, I don’t, I I, I was a show choir kid actually in high school. So I did have a little bit of music under my belt and I loved singing, but I thought, I couldn’t sing so. I wasn’t aspiring necessarily to be in the next musical. Uh, but when I moved to New York, I, I just started falling in love with it in love with it. And when I started training and actually working on my voice, then did, then I was like, okay, maybe
Maybe it is cool. Um, and then Moulin Rouge. Like when I, I do a lot of pre-pro for Moulin and I became connected to it in a way that was like, no, I like, I, I want to do this. I want to move like this on stage. Like, if this is what musical theater is becoming, this is what I want. Um, and the lucky ones it was just such a gut wrenching play. So being able to, I mean, doing these contemporary works were really awesome. And I also auditioned for and got The Wrong Man, which is
Which I saw this.
Yes, yes. With, with Joshua Henry as the lead. And I got to work with Alex,Llackmore, um, Tommy, Tommy, Kale, uh, Ross Golan and Trav Travis wall. And that was, I mean, it was a piece that was like a, for social justice. It was about a man who was wrongly accused of murder. And those pieces that are, that are a purpose, are a message trying to fight for something. Those are the pieces that I love. And I wasn’t really seeing that in Broadway until, as of recent,
Are you kidding me? Cats? Wasn’t about a message. I’m kidding. Um, I, I honestly, it still gets me. I will go see it if it is around, because it’s still, it’s, it’s a
Nostalgic thing is
Insane. Okay. All that said, let’s wrap it up. We’re going to do a quick burnout round of musical slash Broadway related questions. Are you ready? Tilly. I’m ready. Favorite musical,
Honestly, the wrong man. Sorry.
Um, most overrated Broadway show and I am now opening show to include plays other, other, other things than musicals.
I mean, I don’t want to hate, and I haven’t seen a lot of, I haven’t, I haven’t seen a lot of,
Oh my God. Do it. Just hate.
Just, just let it say hello, Dolly.
Oh, yes, you can. Absolutely. Let’s be real. Hello, Dolly. And a lot of it, like a lot of those classics do not do not age well. Yeah. I’ll take it most underrated Broadway show?
Underrated Broadway show. Um, um, oh, um, choir, boy. Feel like that needed more, more time. Okay.
More time. We’re love. Okay. Um, what is your go-to audition song?
Oh, ain’t no other man by Christina Aguilera. It’s like the only one I sing
You better work. That tempo is bright. Do you sing it right up there? That tempo of how do you breathe? It’s so fast.
I mean, I’m telling you I’ve been working on it for five years, so like,
That’s what I needed, what I need to do. Just choosing one song and work on it for five years. Okay. Okay. Um, you, I hope that you and I see each other before then, but I’m going to hit you up in five years and let you know what has been going down. Is that what you auditioned with for Malone Rouge?
Uh, okay. Two more questions. What’s the song from the show that gets stuck in your head of the most often,
How wonderful life is now? Well,
What is that?
Um, don’t mind me. I’m just like a super fan of the film Moulin Rouge and I love the Broadway version. It is quite different in, in songbook, but really well done. I loved, I loved the show. I did not see you in it unfortunately. So way back in the before times. Um, okay. Final question. What is the song that, oh, maybe two more questions. What’s the song you’re like. Okay. Maybe it’s from the show. Let’s stick with, from the show that you would be totally okay if you never, ever heard again.
Oh, um, oh my God. Oh my God. There’s so many songs in this show and dance Dana, shut up and dance. Walk the moon.
That is a great answer to that question. Okay. And then final question. If you got to listen to only one song for like, from the show for the rest of time, what would it be?
Ooh. Oh my gosh. I don’t know. Okay. Um, I think it might be Your Song.
Cool. Oh, it’s good. I’m just a sucker for Ian McGregor singing that song. When he hits that high note, I’m not going to do it. I don’t want to hurt myself. Um, yours are the sweetest as, I’ve, give me chills. I love it. Well, I really, really hope that I get to see you in the show. I hope that all of my listeners that are in New York, get their butts in those seats and, um, get their butts on that stage. Let’s let’s go, let’s have more stories like yours on stages. Like those. That is what I want to see. So welcome. Thank you for being here. I appreciate this so much.
So lovely. I want to hang.
Yes. I would love to cross paths with you again, make some more dance, be birds together. Definitely. I love it. Have a good rest of your night. My friend. I’ll talk to you soon. Okay.
Dana: All right. What do you think? Ooh, I’m inspired. I am going to go find a song to sing. I’m going to go watch Cats probably. Um, and then Moulin Rouge. Definitely. And then maybe I’ll try to find a horse to ride question mark. Um, all jokes aside. I, I truly hope this episode has helped to bring you focus and the feeling of freedom. It certainly has done that for me. Um, Ooh, also I heard through the grape vine, AKA the dance edit podcast just announced, um, the cast of Moulin Rouge will be performing on the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade. So that’s exciting. Be sure to catch Tilly performing with the rest of her cast. Um, and now if you will forgive me, I just received my booster shot, super win. Um, so I’m going to go lay low, um, and leave it up to you to go out there and keep it funky. I will talk to you very, very soon. Bye
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