If you know me, then you know I LOVE to talk (hence Podcast 😉 ). From teaching and coaching, to rehearsing and working on sets, my voice is a key part of how I make my living, and it distinguishes me from everyone else… So, you might imagine how I felt when I got the news that I needed surgery to remove a “massive” cyst in my vocal cord. This episode offers a peek into how I am preparing for my surgery, and an 8 step process you can use if you or a loved one wind up on the receiving end of news like this.
Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: Hello, my friend. And welcome to words that move me. I am Dana and as per uszh, I am stoked that you are here and I’m sorry that I abbreviated the word usual. Oh my goodness. Sorry. Jillian Myers. If you’re listening, she all right, my friend, I’m going to keep this one relatively short and sweet per the doctor’s orders. Spoiler alert, spoiler alert, spoiler alert per one of the highest regarded ear nose and throat doctors in Los Angeles. I need surgery on my vocal chords. So let’s do wins. Shall we? My win is that I have a great doctor that could show me the cyst in my vocal chords. And now we’re taking care of it. Booyah, for me. Now you go, what’s going well in your world, both vocally and otherwise.
Congratulations. I am so glad to hear that you are winning. Now. You might be concerned by this news about the vocal chords. I am not. In fact, holy smokes. Did it make for good podcast material today. I’m going to tell you the story of my voice as I choose to believe it. And I’m also going to tell you a little bit about what I did when I received the news and what you might do and feel and think if you are on the receiving end of similar news, we’ll start with the story of my voice. So I was born, um, I learned how to speak, but I couldn’t say my R’s and that part of the story is not relevant per se. It simply adds character and including it here is a demonstration of my love for speaking, which will be important later. Um, kind of anyway, I did learn how to say my R’s eventually. I learned how to speak and I developed a distinguished, deep and raspy voice as heard here in exhibit 1A. um, eventually I even got a voiceover agent who said that my voice was unique. And then 30 some years later I lost my voice for about six days, zero voice, six days. Whoa. So at that point I went to an in network, ear, nose and throat doctor. Um, that was after I had regained my voice, obviously. So I could tell him what was going on. He stuck a tube up my nose to look down at my vocal chords. And he said, yep, soft nodules, no need for surgery. Just stop drinking coffee, cut out the booze, limit the spicy and acidic foods, um, and avoid talking or shouting over music. So basically surgery on my social and professional life, but not my voice. Anyway, he prescribed that I meet with a voice pathologist who was excellent, and we did a lot of fun exercises and tests and she took measurements and it was covered by insurance bonus. All of it great. I also started working with a separate vocal coach at that time. Um, she was awesome. Also. I learned a lot. It was very emotional for me in fully six sessions. We focused on almost exclusively breathing. I did not even graduate to speaking, let alone singing in our sessions. Um, but she did recommend that I read this book and I’m going to recommend it to you too. It is called Freeing the Natural Voice and it is by Kristin Linklater and I will be linking to it later in the show notes of this episode, you should definitely check it out. If you are a person who has a voice.
Okay, moving forward, between the voice pathologist and the vocal coach. I heard a lot of reasons why I might be experiencing what I have been experiencing with my voice. You have a small, soft palate. They said you stopped breathing correctly. They said, that might be because of your ballet training and holding your belly. And they said, you have a deviated septum and asthma, which doesn’t help. They said, um, your posture when you speak, especially when you get excited and lean forward, which is always, is putting additional strain on your vocal chords. They said, they said a lot. And for the most part, I did my part. I love thinking that I was caring for my voice. And I loved finding my voice here with the podcast. The podcast brought a magnifying glass onto what I have to say and much more attention to how I say it and how I sound. So I became more mindful of my posture. I was doing less speaking at the end of my breath, less run-on sentences and yeah, maybe overall, a little less coffee and a little less wine and certainly a lot more cup bubbles and more *liptrills* every single day of my life, but things weren’t getting noticeably better. Um, in fact, according to my husband, my voice was sounding noticeably worse. He never said worse. He’s a different, in fact, Raab Stevenson, my special guest from episode 50 vocal coach to the stars and master at improving voices. He recommended that I go see a specialist, a very, very special specialist at that enter Dr. Shawn Nasseri and this guy is good. If he wasn’t his office, wouldn’t be home to so many platinum plaques and signed CD jackets. He treats some of the biggest names in pop and entertainment at large, and some of the biggest baddest dancers too. So let’s wrap up this story. I tell Dr. Nasseri necessary what I have been told about my voice, what I’ve been experiencing. And he says, let’s take a look. I’m expecting more soft nodules or maybe hard nodules, if that’s a thing. Uh, well he took a look and says, nice, we’ve got a plan. What’s the plan, I said. Surgery on the cyst that is renting space in your vocal cords he said. Now I had never seen my vocal chords before or any vocal chords for that matter. So he had to show me a photo of normal vocal chords as a comparison. And whoa, yikes. Up there I have a cyst. All right. Dr. Nasseri. He said that someone is parking a school bus sideways in my throat, or that someone’s sneaker is in there. Um, to me it looked about the size of a jelly bean, but I think in reality, it’s much smaller anyways, more analogies and some calming words and success stories. Um, and resounding encouragement to move forward with surgery came from Dr. Nasseri the end. As for my method for handling this news, of course, your method for handling the news that you may need surgery might include getting a second opinion or choosing an alternative, et cetera. This is what my process looked like. And I hope that it might be helpful to you.
Step one, after receiving this news from Dr. Nasseri was to do a full blown thought download. Get all the thoughts from my nugget onto a page, the scary ones, the thoughtful ones, the confused ones, all of them on the page. I did mine digitally. You can do that too, you know, with a computer, okay. Then I re-read them and gave my best shot at answering any of the questions that hit the page. For example, what if something goes wrong and I lose my voice forever? Or why did this happen to me? So on and so on, there were actually a lot of questions in there when I did my initial download. Now, these thoughts appearing in the form of questions can really hit the gas pedal on a downhill confusion and frustration spiral. So I prefer to answer them immediately. Answers might look or sound, something like this. To the question “What if something goes wrong and I lose my voice forever.” I answer I will silently cry. People will love me. I will love on me and nurture my non-verbal voice. I will get creative and I will find new ways to make noise. That’s my answer to that question. How about this one? “Why did this happen to me?” I’m asking that question as if I don’t know, because I’m a person that uses my voice a lot, duh, because working hard can lead to hard times and that’s okay because I can handle hard. Can you see how letting yourself think that you don’t know the answers to questions like these can feel really disempowering and frustrating and confusing and can lead to a whole bunch of unnecessary worry. Meanwhile, simply answering them for yourself is tremendously empowering. Taking this step alone can help you have agency, even in a circumstance where you are not technically in control. So that’s step one, the thought download and step to answer your own questions to the best of your ability. But let’s go a little bit deeper now that you’ve answered all of your questions either on your own or with the help of more research. And I wouldn’t suggest the internet is a great place to get a lot more confused actually. Um, once you’ve done a little bit more research, broad research and you’re ready for step three, which is one of my favorite steps, also favorite numbers. I love the number three, moving on, just excessive talking, grab two different colored pens or pencils I’m serious. This is part of the step then circle and highlight, or somehow separate the thoughts with one color and the facts with the other color. Now, when you’re dealing with anatomy and medical jargon, sometimes this can be difficult. I’ll give a couple of examples. One of the sentences that I had written in my thought download was I have a huge cyst on my vocal chords. That is a thought, I know this is a thought because huge is relative. Somebody else might think that this is cyst on my vocal chords was small. Somebody else might think it was gargantuan. I have a huge cyst in my vocal chords was the thought that I chose for whatever reason huge is relative I have a cyst in my vocal chords is the fact another thought that showed up for me. I can’t work without my voice. Thought. The fact is that part of my work is to listen, watch and learn. And the fact of the matter is I can do those things without speaking. That’s an important distinction. I think for many of us dance types, when we’re separating thoughts about surgery from facts about surgery. I won’t be able to work is a thought that can so easily sneak under the radar as a fact, when actually, and if you are a dancer you know, this a professional dancers work is much more involved than moving the body. Now it might be a stretch to believe that in the moment, but what if your job now is to master the non physical components of your creative career, the research, the introspection, the connection to self and to the world around you. What if your job now is simply to heal? What if your one job is to heal and understand healing so that you can create work that might also heal? What about that?
Oh, there was another thought, a sneaky one that landed in my thought download, but also passed as a fact. But upon further inspection, it was definitely a thought. I need surgery immediately is what I thought. That’s a thought, you should do this by August at the very latest where the doctor’s actual words. Disclaimer, you may be in a situation where you really do need surgery immediately. But if a doctor is saying those words to you and they are true, and the doctor believes you need surgery immediately, you are probably being wheeled into an operation room and not doing a thought download at home on your couch. So my doctor said, you should do this by August at the latest, but what my brain offered me was panic immediately. That’s why it’s important to separate your thoughts from the facts. Those are two very different things.
Ah, note take notes, from here on out. I am making it good practice to take notes during doctor’s visits, write down the words the doctor says. The exact words, because I think thought that doctors are more careful when they speak than we are when we recall what they told us. I think that most of us have a tendency to either inflate or deflate their words in the direction that suits our appetite for drama. So stick to the facts. Doctors say words and having those words written down, it makes it so much easier for you to do more research.
Okay? Now the separation of thoughts and facts is important because you cannot change the facts. You cannot change the words the doctor said, you cannot change your diagnosis. You can not change what was written in the DSM four, but you can decide what those facts mean to you. And with a little curiosity and a little compassion and yes, maybe a little creativity, you can change the way that you are thinking. One of my favorite things to think about injuries in general is this little thought gift at Tiler Peck gave us an episode 13. This is happening for me. Not to me. That’s a big one. So I have a cyst on my vocal chords, provable indisputable, measurable. In fact, actually I wonder how big it is. I wonder if I could keep it in a necklace, like one of those, uh, uh, necklaces with a piece of rice in it with your name written on the piece of rice. Oh my God. We’re back. I could decide to think that the cyst on my vocal chords, in my vocal chords on it, I think it’s in, I could decide to think that I might lose my voice forever, or I broke my most valuable tool or I could choose to think that I’m getting a brand new voice. I could choose to think that my podcast and teaching career is doomed, or I could choose the think nice, I have one cyst and it isn’t cancer and it can be removed with a routine surgery jackpot. I could also choose to think that I can finally see the biggest mystery of the last three years, if not more of my life. Like that’s better than the end of a Scooby-Doo episode, where they pull off the mask and you get to see who it was the whole time I mean so gratifying. This is awesome. Can you see how choosing your thoughts carefully can dramatically change your experience of this circumstance? This is huge. Spend time with your thoughts, choose them wisely.
That is step four to decide what you will think about these facts. I decided to think that this is happening for me, not to me. I decided to think that I am in good hands, both the doctors and mine. I’m deciding to think that this is perfect timing. I am deciding to think that there is no better way to improve my voice, both my physical voice and my non-physical voice, no better way to improve it than this. I am choosing to think that this healing is essential to my health. Boom, that’s my process. And that’s where I am today. Now, the nuts and bolts and future of my situation look like this. Several days of vocal rest, leading up to the operation. And then the doctor suggests 10 days of silence. Post-operation silence, no voice. After that, some visits with a voice pathologist to get me back in ship shape. By the way, I have had a lot of fun thinking about what to do with those 10 days of silence. I haven’t made any concrete decisions yet other than to remain absolutely silent, but you will almost certainly hear about those 10 days of silence. On the other side of them, what does this mean for the podcast? It means that we’ll be replaying some of our favorite episodes from the first two seasons. They might be new to you, but no matter what they are worthy of multiple listens. This also means that my birthday episode coming out on July 21st, 2021 will be much different than the birthday episode that came out in 2020. That’s all I’m going to say. It’s a surprise, but speaking of my birthday, which by the way is on Wednesday, July 21st. And I do love flowers and I do love dark chocolate wink wink. My goal of having a hundred thousand listens in downloads by July 21st is rapidly approaching. And I’m not quite there yet. Have you downloaded this episode or your other favorites or all of them, or have you told your friends to do the same? I really hope so. I so appreciate if you do, because I’m not going to lie. The thought that my voice, my pre-surgery voice lives all warm and fuzzy in your pants pocket. That makes my heart warm and fuzzy too. All right. My friends, I hope this episode has been helpful to you and whether you are struggling with an injury or not, you’ve got this and I’ve got you. And I’ve got my man who can ask for anything more. Maybe someday we’ll be able to sing that for real, so exciting. All right, my friends, that’s it for me back to vocal rest, get out there in the world and keep it very, very funky. I will talk to you soon.
Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review because your words move me to number two thing. I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit the thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye.
Ep. #79 Revelations and Life After Rejection with Karine Plantadit
I have been a fan of Karine Plantadit since I saw her perform at the Tony awards in Come Fly away in 2010 (FYI she was Tony Award and Drama League Award nominated for that role) AND THEN we got to work together on “In The Heights”! I jumped at the opportunity to have a conversation with her because it isn’t hard to tell that she is as strong in mind as in body. She is delightful and insightful and she blows my mind (and my heart) wide open in this episode. In this episode, Karine and I talk In The Heights, we talk Buddhism, we talk process, we talk goals, and flash flood warning… there are tears because we also dig into professional and personal heartbreaks. Life after rejection. It might sound dreadful, but when you are talking to someone like Karine… even tough subjects can feel like a glass of cold water on a hot summer day… So get ready to drink up!
Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana:Hello, hello, my friend, and welcome. This is words that move me. I’m Dana and wow, have I got a treat for you today? Um, so you know that feeling when you get to meet your heroes, uh, if you don’t, I’m going to explain it to you actually better yet. I’m going to just let you listen to it. This episode is it, this episode is me meeting a hero. Wow. Let’s see. Okay. I have been a fan of Karine Plantadit since I saw her perform at the Tony awards, um, with Come Fly Away, back in 2010. Oh, back in 2010 and I will 100% be linking to that performance. Um, a YouTube link because it’s so great FYI. She was nominated for a Tony award and a Drama League award for that role. And then several years later, we got to work together on In the Heights. She is the brilliant dancer that is straight up punishing Abuela Claudia on the train during Paciencia y Fe. Um, if you have not seen the movie yet, please, please do, and keep a close eye out for Karine. And if you have seen it, you know what I’m talking about guarantee, but go back and revisit that anyways. Okay. So not long after the premiere of, In the Heights, Karine slid into my DMS on the gram. And she asked for my number to ask me a question and I immediately choked up, like maybe I was in trouble or I did something wrong. I was sweating instantly. And then she called me and it was so warm and delightful and insightful. And she told me about an ongoing series of conversations that she is having on her Instagram live. Uh, she calls this series. What’s Good with Karine? And she asked if I would join her as a guest. Um, so after I collected myself off the floor, uh, in, in true improv fashion, I said, “yes, and can we record our conversation for my podcast,” told her all about the podcast. She said, yes. And then we talked for a really long time about dance and life, and what’s going in the world. And after discussing some of our personal and professional heartbreaks, we decided that the topic of our conversation would be life after rejection, which kind of sounds dreadful. But when you’re talking to someone like Karine, even tough subjects can feel like a glass of cold water on a hot summer day. So get ready for this one. But first wins today. I am celebrating the summer solstice, which was this past Sunday. I’m sorry that we’re falling a little bit off on our schedule. I’m recording this before you will hear it. But on Sunday we had our longest day of the year and I celebrated more than the solstice itself. I am celebrating that. I joined today’s guest Corinne and her partner Mochi. They go by Kamochi Method on Instagram. We’ll be linking to that in the show notes as well. Uh, anyways, I joined the two of them for 108 sun salutations. And that’s a big win because I haven’t done a pushup or a chaturanga or a forward fold. Well that many forward folds, I haven’t done that in a long, long time. So I was sore on Monday, but I also felt focused and fantastic. Big win! 108 sun salutations. Whoa. So that was me. That’s my world. Uh, what is going well in your world? What are you celebrating today? All right. Congratulations. Rock on. I’m so proud of you. Keep winning. Okay. Let’s get back into it. So I was very excited and a little bit nervous, which are pretty similar feelings in my body, uh, for this conversation with Karine. And then as the conversation was happening, I was having complete revelations. That is a happy accident of word usage because Karine is a former principal dancer for the Ailey company, I digress. In this episode, Karine and I talk in the Heights. We talk Buddhism, we talk process. We talk goals and flash flood warning. There are tears. So get ready and please enjoy this conversation with Karine Plantadit
Karine: Welcome everyone. This is What’s good with Karine? It’s been a moment I haven’t been around, but I’m back. And I’m back with such an incredible light. I had this incredible opportunity to meet Dana when we were on In the Heights shoot. I don’t think I knew Dana at all. Like it wasn’t a, it wasn’t a thing. It wasn’t like a new of her, but I should have known of her because the moment I met her, I was like, I’ve got to be in the presence of this woman all the time, every time. So we were able to connect and then I started to look at what she does and we started to talk and Dana is here today.
Dana: Karine my Queen!
Karine: So yeah, I don’t know where to start with you. I don’t know where to start. You make me, you make me feel so, um, bubbly inside. And if you’re bubbly..
Dana: Let’s go! And you, you know what? You look like sparkling lemonade on a hot summer day. I’m glad to bring the bubbles and be met with bubbles. And my earrings are making noise on my little ear dongles. So I’m going to take those out. Um, okay. So earrings aside, thank you so much for having me. Thank you for reaching out to have this conversation. It blew my mind to receive a message from you saying, Will, you have a conversation with me? Because I cannot tell you every moment on set that I watched you dance. I was like, I want to talk to this person. I mean, I could watch you dance for ever and ever and ever, but when you weren’t dancing, you were meditating. When you weren’t meditating, you were reading. I can tell, I could tell that this was a mind that I wanted to meld with. And I’m so excited to have the opportunity to do that right now, even over the virtual, the the pixel pixel verse, or
It doesn’t even let okay. The pixel, I think we had to learn. Um, we had to learn how to move beyond what the eyes were seeing, you know, during, I think that’s one of my biggest learning is that what if, what if I were to close my eyes? Can I reach Dana? Right? It can, because I really had to learn this on, in a hard way, because during the pandemic actually left my mom in France and I was here and she’s dealing with Dementia. She’s dealing with very difficult, you know, Alzheimer’s dementia, all those, um, crazy challenging aging disease. And I could not be there for her meaning physically. So even though I was separated from her, I was like, my love for her is so grand and vast that I was like, I have got to figure out how to transport the love of mine through the ocean, Atlantic ocean, moving through France, going into , going into Mougins in the nursing home. And I have to hold her head. She has to feel that she has to feel. And I feel Dana that you are that kind of person that is looking. I don’t know, like the way I saw you were was there was a precision that I appreciate with you, but there was a looseness, but I am wanting to go in your brain, Dana and your heart. Can I come? Can I come in? Okay. Come in. Okay. So we got to go factual first. I want to go factual. Okay. I want to go super factual. Let’s go. Where do you, where did you start dancing? What’s the story with the dance part of you?
Okay. The dance part of my life begins at a dance studio in Aurora, Colorado, which is where I’m from. At the age of three. I had an older sister who was already in dance, and it’s possible that my mom saw a convenience in having both of the kids in the same place at the same time. So we went to dance. That is what we did when I was a young person. I spent all of my, um, my life in Colorado up until my teenage years. And my training moved from the studio that I started at as a tiny dancingling to a dance studio called Michelle Latimer Dance Academy. Shout out to any Michelle Latimer alums that might be listening it, shout out to Michelle herself. I owe this beautiful life and my relationship with dance to her. She, she watered the seed and nurtured this, this plantling that became dance for me in a beautiful way. So, uh, yes, I, I started my relationship with dance at three, when it was more like babysitting or daycare, it was more like playtime. And then, you know, increasingly over the years, got a little more serious, got a little more serious, got a little competitive, got a little, um, um, inspired by the introduction of the idea that this could make money someday. And then I fell in love with the idea of dance for a living. I saw many people do it successfully. I saw many people fail at it, and I was determined to succeed at it for myself, which terrified my parents mind you. Uh, I moved to Los Angeles at 18 to become a backup dancer. That was the big goal.
And, um, did you have, uh, Did you have someone that you wanted to?
Yes, I was, I know I was obsessed with NSYNC. I was very much in factuation. In fact, in fact, I was infatuated with Justin Timberlake, um, the music video for Like I love you changed the game for me, everyone was just so cool and sexy and without trying, and, and, and as a teenager, is there anything better than being cool and sexy without trying like that was the goal? Um, so that, that was it for me. And I was very fortunate in my timing. And in my placement, I met and befriended Marty Kudelka, who is one of JTs best friends, and also his long time choreographer and collaborator co-creative director. Um, Marty and I, uh, began a friendship that is one of my most cherished to this very day. Uh, I started assisting Marty on various projects. And then one day we were working on a commercial gig of all things for Reese’s Peanut butter puffs cereal. I remember the day very well. And he, he got a phone call and he was like, hold on one second. He takes this call and then he hangs up the phone and he looks at me and he’s like, yo, are you ready? And I was like, are we going back in what’s up? What are we doing? And he was like, that was JT. He’s going on the road. Do you want to help me? Will you help? And it was like WTF yes, count me in. So that, that was the beginning of my, um, uh, that was my first tour. I was, I turned, I was 19 when I met JT. When we started, we did a, a fashion show. I went on tour while I was 20. I turned 21 on the road. Um, and, and that was the beginning of what is still a very special work and human relationship for me,
Just so, so incredibly inspiring.
You know, when people say success is when opportunity meets preparation, I think if there’s so many more things than that, and I do want to take a pause, as I know that people listening are looking to model their careers after ones like mine, if not mine, oh, one, one that might be like mine. And it’s, uh, for me, this notion of success of being successful is much less about, uh, the person that you work for, or the person that discovers you or, or the job that you do and more to do with what you think success is. I think that success is doing what you said you will do. And I said, I wanted to be a backup dancer, so hell yes, you better believe I feel successful in what I have done in my life, but I also feel like a failure when I say I will take the trash out and I don’t because to me, success is doing what you say. Well, you will do. And failing is simply not doing what you said you will do. And trust me, I have failed plenty.
Yes, yes. I’m loving that. I, um, I have, um, something about, you know, success and failure or. I feel, I feel Dana that a lot of time, uh, when I see success is oftentimes I feel that it has a lot to do with me looking at something and maybe not being, uh, I’m learning to not be attached by the end of project, but how in the journey I move, I move in the way I deal with people over the time I deal with my own, um, lesser self during that time, did it have a little more, hold on my lesser self or a little more, a little less listening. And following my lesser self along the way of my journey, because sometimes I feel that you can actually get, I’ll give you an example shape, but I’ll give you an example. One of my dreams and the reason why I came to this country when I was 16 I saw the Ailey company in Paris, I’d never seen such a thing in my whole life Dana. I literally, I was 16 or 15, 15, and I just came from Africa. I was in France. Then I was studying dance a little bit. Like you were also in, you realize like, wait, I can make money out of that. I can, I can actually, it can be my job. I can just be that I can just, that’s my job. That’s my first time. Yeah, the first time I saw this was for one I, saw Fame, the bootleg tape of Fame in Africa. That was my first moment where I was like, that’s a job. I was like, that’s my job. But now fast forward to the Ailey company, I saw the Ailey company. And I literally, at that moment, my life just like for you, like you knew that was a game changer. That video that you saw for me was watching the performance of Ailey in Paris and my eyes and my heart, my skin, my soul saw the current come up and I saw this, right. So I never came back down. I was like, wherever they are in the world, I will be like, the clarity of this could not be clearer right now, fast forward I joined the company and I joined them. I joined the company and the first year in the company, I actually wasn’t happy. I had succeeded, but I had an idea of what that was to be in the company. I had an idea that, that that idea does not always match what is,
Oh, very rarely because we are not fortune tellers.
Exactly. So, so all of a sudden, you know, I was in the company, but I had to do some work within me now, the real work of me, not just, oh, wait a minute, see success and happiness can be very different.
Oh, my friend let’s talk. All right. Yes. Yes. Oh. And the assumption that success equals happiness is a dangerous one because you can live your whole life chasing success, the thing, or the company or the job, or the relationship, or the amount of money that you associate with that and land there and feel very unsuccessful. So in, in my pursuit, I’ve sort of rewired, um, become much less interested in being a successful person and being a person that lives a full life and is a professional at feeling both sides of the spectrum. The hell, yes, I’ve got this, I’m winning. I’m great. I’m the envy of all my friends. I’m fulfilled. I’m happy. I’m all the things too. I am the scum of the universe. I am an imposter. I am, I mean, really not worthy. Um, that’s one of my favorite ones. Uh, and, and I’ve gotten to be very good at feeling those things without taking them out in action. Sometimes I just sit and feel them without resisting them or pushing them away. Like, no, that’s not appropriate. I shouldn’t really do that right now. Don’t do it. And, and, and I’m getting better at not avoiding them altogether and ignoring them, but honoring them. That’s, uh, that’s what I am. That’s the, that’s the journey that I’m on right now is like honoring the full spectrum of feels. That’s what I’m, that’s what I aiming for.
Wow. Dana. So, so I, um, in the, in the real mother of the pandemic, I have been talking a lot about, I think a lot of us have been able to go inward where you just talked about that place, where we could no longer fake it. And because it crumbled. The ***t crumbled clearly. Right. It went down, it crumbled at a level that I don’t even think Dina, that we actually know the real impact of that crumble.
The ripples will be going far, far beyond.
Yeah. Yeah. Was there during the, was there during the pandemic for you? Um, a specific moment that you can go back to and take us with you. Was there a specific moment as for your career first and for you as a person second, that was very, um, one of those shifts where you, you knew you shifted at that moment. I don’t know what that means, but was there a shift? So first we between Dana career, was there a shift in your career during the pandemic and the way you saw your career or what you think of your career or what you, what you, what you discovered maybe even, so that’s the first part.. That’s the first spot you should
Do that? Is it for a living? You know, if dance doesn’t pan out? Um, no big deal. Okay. So to answer, okay. That was the first part. I’ll take the first part first. Yeah. I had several, oh **** moments over the quarantine. A handful of them were around my career. Most of them were around my personal life and relationships and the value that I place in relationships. And I do want to circle back to where you began the conversation about feeling connected to your mother, even from a distance. Um, but I’ll, I’ll put that in the parking lot for a second. Just don’t let me forget, because that was a beautiful sentiment. I don’t think we rang the towel dry on that. There’s a lot of value in, in that discussion. Um, but one moment of clarity that I had came shortly after I was a part of, um, an NYCDA, which is the company that I, the convention company that I teach for the founder of NYCDA is Joe Lantieri, who is also the owner of Steps on Broadway, uh, a pillar in the dance community to say the very least. And he, he worked to build something special for graduating seniors over the summer. Um, he built sort of a, um, a mentorship opportunity for the graduating seniors who were missing. Um, I say missing, but who did not get an in-person graduation, did not get a senior year at nationals moment. And so he built this mentorship opportunity. And what I, as I sat on a question/answer panel of this mentorship program, I realized that this is a, obviously a unique time for all of us, but to be a graduating senior, to be embarking on what is already a difficult transition to navigate from student into workforce or from student into student under a parent’s roof to student under college roof. Um, that must be a really difficult, uh, um, bridge to cross, even when you can see clearly it’s scary, but for these graduating seniors, it must’ve looked on fire like and missing planks and like, do I really go, I don’t want to go out there. So I knew immediately. I was like, I have to create something that, that can help guide and give tools to the class of 2020. And with the help of my two assistants, Malia Baker and Riley Higgins, we built a 12 week course in two weeks. It sold out in no time. It w it w I, I didn’t even, I announced it. I didn’t even make offers. I didn’t even ask, Hey, are you in? I said, this is what I’m doing. And the people came because there was need. And that was a beautiful moment where I realized that making money isn’t about booking jobs, making money is about creating value. I saw there was an opportunity and I felt that I could contribute value. And that’s what I did. That was a very empowering moment. It was, it was, it came from me, but it was selfless and it felt so good. Um, so that was a big pivot. Um, the other pivots that came from me came, came for me during this time were about my awareness of terrible, terrible social injustice in our world. Um, the assumptions that I have based on my lived experience that are wrong, that are lies that are not only untrue, but un-useful, so I got to do a lot of deconstructing of my beliefs and rebuilding them, um, to be more in alignment with the world that I want to live in someday. And we’re getting there slowly. We’re getting there. And, Um, I, yeah, that’s, I hope I answered the question. I’m getting fogged very now, but
No, no, no Dana You talked about it. Like you went into the career part, you talked about, you know, making money, uh, versus just thinking of creating value. And that is one of my biggest, oh my God, this is one of my biggest, uh, gem for my heart, from my, my way of living life. The moment I started to know that, oh, wait a minute. It’s actually about creating value. It’s not about anything else. Then, then he changes the game of whatever you’re doing. The moment I realized that I was, I’ve been a Buddhist for like, I don’t know, 30, maybe 27 years or so. And one of the big thing was like, for me, as I started to perform, I said, but I don’t like, what, why am I dancing? What is going on with me? Wanted to just kick my leg up and twirled around. But when I started to practice Buddhism and I started to understand that, wait a minute, no, no, no, no, no. That’s my way of creating peace. I am an artist for peace. I, all of a sudden doing a tondue was like a tondue, like a weapon for peace.
You know, it’s crazy. When you say This, I’m seeing you tondue and it’s a knife. It’s a sword in the sky. That’s like peace justice, but I’ll fight for it. Fight for it.
I will Fight for it! It took me. It took me a moment to realize when you saw that creating value, that I realized that everything that we are about as artists, because of the impact that we are in the world, you see, look at you, you know, with that kind of energy, you are performing as you know, with, uh, with Justin Timberlake. And then let’s fast forward. You are on the set, of la la land at that moment. You change the space. You see, because in your mind, you’re about creating value. So, so the space will never be the same. It can only be implied an imp. And because we touch so many people at once, we are extremely powerful as artists. That is why we have to be centered. You cannot, we cannot, we cannot let that opportunity to create value, walk away from us because we’ve got too much power. Yeah.
You better be careful. You’re, you’re stirring up some hot watery eyes over here. It’s a tremendous honor. And it is a responsibility that you can think of as heavy, or you can think of it as light, like a tondue like, you don’t need to put any weight on that toe. You can tondue with such force and power and determination and will and value that it becomes meaningful. You know what? This is crazy. I love this, this loop. I did an episode on, on my podcast. It was my last episode of the year, 2020. And in that episode, I had asked every single guest from the entire year, the same question, and everyone had to answer that same question. No one answered it the same. It’s a beautiful, I mean, the question has no answer. That’s why I ask it. But the question that I asked is what is the difference between style and technique? And one of my favorite answers to this question, I’ll just skip all the really exciting answers that I got. I’ll jump straight to my favorite is the technique is the what? And the style is the, so what. It’s like, so what you can point your foot. So what, what, what’s the point? What’s the difference? What does that make me feel? And when you, tondue you make me feel something? There is a, so what it’s like, so what come here. So what back off. So what, like, you are invoking a reaction with your action. There is a, so what behind it? Um, and so that’s that I, that I think is your part of the value that you bring. I think you are an exceptional technician that should not go without saying, but what, w it’s clear to me that you’re doing work behind the scenes of the technical side and it, it shows in, In the Heights, it shows when I see you on stage, it, it shows, it shows in the way you communicate. Holy smokes. Wow. I’m just, I’m floored right now in fan growing game.
I wanna know. I want to know Dana, what gives you inspiration? Like, what is the, where, where do you look at for us? So beautiful clip. I don’t even know what that was. It was in your reel. And he was this beautiful people, people in which I adore, it was outdoors with people And I think there was this movement that went like this.
Yes, there was a music video for Vance joy directed by Mimi Cave, who is a woman that you would adore. She is a dancer as well. And she is a brilliant director, Mimi cave, MIMI CAVE. Shout out, Mimi, love you! And, um, she had a beautiful vision for this, uh, for this video. It’s gorgeous. I’ll send you a link in this episode when it becomes a Words that move me Podcast episode, this conversation, I will link to that performance in the show notes. Um, but because Mimi understands dance and movement, not just of a body, but of a camera and of the wind and of the grass, I think beautiful opportunities, beautiful art come from people who understand beautiful movement or, or painful movement. Oh, that reminds me of a question for you. Um, but that’s what that was. And the inspiration that I got from that came pretty solidly from the piece of music and the treatment that made me put together. Um, we get to see in that, you know, tiny, tiny little music video, a lifetime of a love, a romance, a young love, an elderly, an older love. I love at the end. I love that’s gone from being two people to being one person. So I explored themes of alonenness, loneliness of support of having to support yourself in a way that you’ve never had to support yourself before of, of being used to a limb or a way of walking and then that becoming gone or broken. Um, so that I get a lot of my inspiration from, for my industry work from what’s presented to me in the first place, the song hugely. And usually there will be a visual treatment of some sort. Mimi’s tone and palette is so specific and beautiful, uh, that it just looking at it on a page, puts me in a place in my head. And when I’m in that place in my head, my body comes to meet me there. And that’s how, that’s how that video happened. Okay. Now I have a question for you. Can I turn the, can I turn the microphone for a second?
Turn the microphone let’s move on. Yeah, I’m all yours. Go ahead, cheri.
Okay. Yeah. So I, I, I think that I am very interested in Buddhist principles and I think that a lot of the work I’ve been doing, um, in the past probably three years of my life is just working on, um, not wrestling with reality on catching myself when I hear myself saying it should be different, or it should be some way that it isn’t. And that lands me like sweaty on the mat, just wrestling with life and unable to see solutions, unable to be kind with myself. I’m just like down there fighting. And so I think that there are, I don’t know much about it, but I think that there are, uh, I think that I’m probably very much in alignment with a lot of Buddhist principles, but what my question is for you right now is, and wow, this is me just showing my complete naivete right now. But I think there’s a notion of not struggling, um, in, in the Buddhist practices to not struggle. And I’ve also found a tremendous value in conflict lately. So what I would like to know, like I, I’m learning how to have conflicts with kindness, with curiosity and with an outcome that is favorable to both, both, um, uh, fighters, I would say yes, creating value. But my, my question to you is in, in your practice, where, what is the role of conflict? How do you view conflict? Is it valuable to you?
Wow. What a great question.
Uh, I, I’m sorry. It took me a while to arrive at it.
Good. Oh my God. It’s good. Dana. So, so conflict in Mahayana Buddhism is not separated from Buddha-hood Buddha-hood actually is in every single thing that you see, including the conflict. So there was a moment where a long time ago in, in Buddhism, where you have to go up the mountain and you had to clear your mind, you have to levitate and you had to just feel the breathe and just, you know, like that was Buddha-hood. That was it. You know what I mean? Or for some people at the time, if you’re a woman, you could not be a Buddha. And there was another time you had to go upside down in a tree, not eat for 30 days. And then you’re rich. And then, and then there was a game changer. Bam! The moment will, the teaching came to a head it’s called the Lotus Sutra where at that moment, the Buddha actually admitted that he had prepared the mind of everybody for this one particular moment. So we could prepare so people could understand that everybody was a Buddha. What does that mean? That simply means that everything has Buddha-hood capacity, which means that if, if the world says that we have like 10 worlds that we travel through. So from, from hell to any malidy, to anger, to rapture, to learning, realization, and then you go up to Buddha-hood, right? So you will think they’re like this up on top of each other. And people will trying to climb them up all their lives going like, oh shit, you know, it’s karma, struggle. I’m like, damn, I’m going back down. And then the lotus sutra came in at that moment where it was revealed that in each of those 10 world, there was Buddha hood because Buddha would is first. You are a Buddha. You are divine beings, all levels. That’s the base. That’s the base. That’s where you start. So from that point of view in the conflict, the greatest part about the conflict is that you can actually start to in meditation, in chanting or whatever, you can start to see the enlightened side of the conflict. What is, and that’s the real question. See, what is the enlightened side of my anger? What is it? Because then I can gear. I can gear my focus towards the enlightened side. I can’t say I’m not angry. Like two days ago, three days ago, I was a raging, darling raging. I was like, I am falling apart right now. I could feel the red.
I’ve just recently started throwing things. When I get mad, never in my life. Have I been a person that reacts in that way? And now that I’ve done it, a couple of times, you better look out, I’m looking for things to that. I’m looking for things to throw. It’s amazing. Okay. Carry on. You were raging.
Oh, no. Dana truly? No, but the moment where you realize what it does, rage, anger, any of those, what it actually does to the body and the soul, because it’s in yoga practices, we call it Visha. Visha is an, it could be an obstacle to your enlightenment because if you keep it in, that’s where you’re going to stay. So let’s see, I am raging and I’m furious or whatever, and I’m not doing anything about it. Then I’m going to ripple that into the world, in my thoughts, my words and actions. So from that moment, I become a base for anger and violence, right? So creating value at that point is gone. That’s gone with the wind. So we’re not saying which I love, I’m not here to say I’m a Saint. I’m not feeling those things. No, no, no. Oh no, no, no, no. I am angry. I’m an angry. I have an angry nature period. I got pissed. Many times I am coming from an angry family. That’s the karma that I’ve chosen to transform, but this is not where it ends. Once you start to practice Buddhism, or you start to have a serious practice on your mat, on your cushion, you get to actually be part of the process. The process is not taking you in. You’re not becoming the victim of the process anymore.
You are the one processing.
Yes, yes. You are the one processing. And in that moment, if this is your Buddha nature, processing the situation, then you know, you’re going to be one level up. You see? Yes.
You’re in the empowered position.
Yes. And now you can make a decision. We’re all included. We’ll have them all included because by the time this is so interesting to me because once we leave this earth, once we’ve left the shell that we came in with, first of all, there is no going back. We’ve already spent the time, everything that we are doing, there is no time to go back only going forward. So if you are making drama, if you are putting violence in the world, that is what you’re leaving behind you. It will, it will actually leave after you, you know? So it’s like, when you turn around and you’re like, oh my God, what am I leaving behind me? You know, as, as a trail. Yeah. As a trail, as a perfume, you know, do you want it to smell like garbage? And you want like a fierce garden of Magnolia? You’d be like, yeah, baby, Dana passed here. Look, you can see, smell that. Right.
I love, you know, it’s crazy. You know, it actually is crazy. I’m going to break the third wall for a second. I just saw, we’ve got Leslie grace in the house. Shout out, Leslie Grace. And I was just thinking, as you were talking, as Leslie showed up, I smell her perfume on me. And it’s one of my favorite smells. We just got to have a hang in person as, as human beings out in the world. And I love the smell. And I think that choosing to think of our value as being something that isn’t always touched, felt, held, but seen, heard, smelled a calling on all of the senses that will be there long after the matter that is my body’s gone. That is power. That’s awesome. And that just all came together in one moment. So shout out, Leslie love you so much.
Shout out Leslie! Very happy to meet you, and though, you know, I don’t know you are already smelled, you that’s amazing. Right? Because they
I’m trying to waft it. I’m trying to, I did. I did a spin. Oh my gosh. So, um, yeah, we’re all over the place now. We kind of got, oh,
It’s good. It’s good. It’s good. Let’s I want to wrap up about this thing that you spoke about, which is conflict. What I, this is what I felt, you know, when I was with you In the Heights where you were the quality of your entering the space, you see, there’s a moment that proceeds, uh, before we enter the space in all the, all the communication that we’ve ever had as human being, there is an aura that comes before the person is visible. And so it is so powerful because when the person is already welcoming the process and wanting to include all the people around as equals and that we get to, we get to bow. You actually, I would just want to cry for it. Do you know what I mean? Because I remember the first time I met you, Dana, that you, you literally walked into that space. There were many, many dancers and some of us, we knew each other. Some of us did not. It’s a big cast, huge cast. So for, for the quality being able to deal with all the different, uh, what’s the word, um, personalities that are there being able to deal with the needs and the demand of the production, the amount of time that is there for us, you had professional on the set. So obviously there’s certain things that are going to be working very fast. I would love for you to talk to me about the swimming pool scene.
Oh my goodness.
Can you, can you choose, share with me because I, I mean, I wasn’t in it, but I watched, I watched it.
There were, as you can imagine, so many moving parts in that world sections within sections, multiple people in different sections. You know, you’ve got some people that are lounging ladies on the, um, on the kind of risers areas there that are also in the ballet section. You’ve got people that are in the ‘yo ma it’s me check my ticket’ section that are also in the, uh, noodle section or the jazzy section and the front everybody’s in the… So a lot of it was like managing who goes, where, what we can shoot when, what we’re setting up while we’re not shooting that because those people are working right now. And these people, it was, it was a puzzle like so much of, of this work is, is placement and structure. But the part that I cannot understate is that structure is only a part of it. Spirit is the rest of it. And that was such a spirited group of dancers and the crew that was there to get it done. Um, that was a terribly challenging day. And I use the word terribly on purpose. It was cold. It was raining. That is some movie magic that y’all are beholding on that screen. It looks like 102, the shoot day itself was like a marathon that seemed impossible. Yeah, it was hell in the middle part, but I, I, I really commend Jon, Chris first and foremost for keeping their finger on the pulse of the demands of the film and the safety of the dancers. There were moments that it was difficult to sit like, can you really do one more? Can you do one more? And we really had to be listening. Um, so that that’s how the day went, but the preparation for the scene a lot lighter, because it was spread out over some time we would put in, we would put in eight hour days in a dance studio and then all get in a car or on a train and go to a pool that was a part of an apartment complex. And just, you know, in, in sports bras and whatever bathing suit, we may or may not have Eddie Torres Jr. shout out for swim sweats. Cause Eddie never had a swimsuit. He would just jump in that pool in his sweat pants. Um, please, please stay tuned for more of that story. But, um, we would go and, and workshop, just try, like, can you jump out of the pool at five feet of water? Can’t how much of your body comes out? Okay. What if we have two feet of water, can you get your knees up? What if, um, you know, to, oh, uh, this is a fun tidbit that I don’t think we’ve talked about yet. I am a big fan. If you’ve seen on Instagram, I have a 360 degree camera. It looks like a fisheye and that’s, that’s hovering 12 feet above the earth. What it actually is, is like a three-foot, um, monopod, AKA selfies stick. And, uh, and the camera on top of that has to 180 degree lenses on it. And there’s software that stitches the two images together to make it look like a spherical image. So I was able to use this 360 degree camera on the end of a monopod to capture what looks like an overhead shot. So we could mock up the, uh, the feeling of a Busby Berkeley shot without having a jib, without having a crane without having an actual camera overhead. Um, and so that was an extremely helpful tool in figuring out the geometry and the, you know, the overall aesthetic of the overhead shots. That was really cool. Um, and, uh, the other, the other thing in there was like, what’s possible and what looks great and what can be sustained take after, take after take. Um, and I think I want to also just shout Chris out again for being really good at knowing when to push for something and ask for it and when to fall back and say, okay, that’s not worth it. That, that move isn’t worth it versus like, no guys, this, we, we must do this. We come on, you’ve got this and is, is encouraging and nurturing and helpful, but really just has his finger on the pulse of what is worth fighting for and what is worth changing, you know? Um, so that’s how that’s
This is, this is incredible because, you know, we all know about watching something that there’s, something is behind it that was able to support see to me then a lot of work, you see the tip of it underneath is that famous iceberg situation. The underneath part is what you will never see, but without the, underneath the invisible work, that tip won’t be showing.
Ooh, the less massive down there, that’s not showing that’s my friend. I never even considered that when, when it comes to the iceberg theory, oh, we had a lot of mass underneath. There’s so much movement, so much creation process that, that the audience will never see.
But even that I feel that you know what that scene, oh, I mean, there was so many incredible over the top. Every single one of them were just phenomenal. If any of you have not seen In the Heights, please go see it. This is not, this is an historical landmark at the rebirth, right at the rebirth of New York city about going so deeply to the Latinos community, the Dominicans from head to toe, it is beyond any talks about dreams. It talks about this element, literally being able to, no matter what we talked about that journey right now, particularly attaining the dream the way you see it, but don’t ever give up on your dream. I mean, it is not possible. And I think said this, Dana, I want to very quickly, we talked about the art of life after rejection, a little bit of it.
You and I did on our, we, we talked more about specific rejection moments on our preliminary call, which y’all were not invited to. Sorry about that. Um, but yeah. Do you want to, do you want to try to touch on that? I think it’s really important.
I want it, yeah. I want to touch on it because I think that we are in a space right now where maybe we think differently about what rejection is today because of what would experienced or maybe we have, um, another reaction about what react rejection was or is today. So I would love to.. what is rejection? What is rejection for you?
Okay. To me, rejection is a feeling in my body that I get. When I think someone doesn’t want me thinks I’m not good, thinks I’m bad or won’t accept me. And if you notice, and as I’m saying it out loud, I’m noticing that all of those things are outside in it’s all they versus me. And the only time, like I I’ve, I have disliked my body before I disliked my talent before I’ve been unsatisfied with both of those things before, but I’ve never rejected myself. So for me, the re— the feeling of rejection comes when I think that other people don’t want me, don’t like me think I’m bad. Think someone else is better. And the feeling is like a foot, like somebody wearing a big shop boot on my chest, pushing it away from something that I want. It just feels like someone pressing on me in the opposite direction of the thing that I want. That’s what rejection is. And it’s an awful feeling. I don’t like feeling it, but I’ve gotten to be, I’ve become a professional at feeling it. And I know that the worst thing about it is this pressure in my chest that isn’t even real. And there’s no boot. There’s no person there’s no, actually that’s really just in my head, but that’s what rejection feels like. And I’ve, I’ve, I’ve heard the word no, in my career way more times than I’ve heard the word yes, come on board. And that’s why I say I’ve become a professional, but I, in the end of 2019, I experienced my most, my longest lasting and my most intense version of this feeling. And I felt it because I thought it should be different. I thought that this job should be mine. And because I had spent so long imagining myself on it and preparing myself for it, I really believed that the fact was that it should be mine. And what I came to believe over some nurturing and healing, and a lot of journaling is that if it was mine, it would have been mine. It’s it wasn’t mine. It just, it wasn’t mine. And I, I only thought that it was so remembering that remembering that I own so much, I own my talent. I own my history. I earned my, I own my appetite for knowledge. I own my car. Like, there are things that I own. I have plenty and I, I don’t need to. Um, it’s, it’s lovely to imagine yourself on the job. It’s, it’s an, it’s an audition tactic that I recommend all the time. Like being able to put yourself there in your mind helps you to show up in body that way. It’s risky, because you might find out that you were wrong, that you don’t, you know, again, you’re not a fortune teller. You don’t belong there. So it’s a tactic that you can use that has some risk. It’s like using a knife. Like you might cut your finger and it might hurt, but it’s also really helpful. Cause you can get through the thing. So to me, thinking that I should be somewhere, I can see myself there. That’s a helpful tool that can hurt sometimes because you just might find out you’re wrong and there’s nothing wrong with being wrong. There’s nothing wrong with predicting the wrong future. It’s just like, it’s like get up off the mat. Don’t wrestle with reality. That, that, that thing, that thing that just wasn’t yours. I don’t know. I’m dying to hear your take though, because I’m sure.
No, no baby, you went in, you were, then I love it. Now you went totally in the eye. Oh my God. I, um, there is a beautiful saying, um, in the Buddha’s word are, uh, enjoy what there is to enjoy suffer where there is to suffer no matter what, continue to chant numb, whatever people are doing. So there, this is the notion. A notion that I believe in is that rejection is also coming from a very, um, oftentimes comes from your inner child, um, seeing it through the eyes of the inner child. And I think it, I mean, for me, it touch, it can touch upon not being loved, as simple as not feeling, feeling loved. Right? So a job, um, the day we, we kind of realize that our jobs are not our identity. Ooh, let’s talk about this big moment.
Let’s talk about that day.
You know what I mean? That was all of a sudden, you’re like, wait a minute. I really want it because I’m going to kick some ass in it. That’s what I think I’ll ever, but that’s not my not, it might not be good for my life. And if it was good for my life, entrusting, the universe, entrusting ones life, then I would be in this moment during that thing, I remember my first, first job Dana. I signed my first job here in America with 17 of so excited. It was my first dancing job. I barely spoke English. It was a horrible company. The worst contract I’ve ever had in my whole career. It was a disaster. It was, uh, it was, uh, it was a trickery. It was bad shenanigans. They were like stealing money, not paying us. It was a horrible. Per diems were not given. I was literally crying everyday, going like X cannot be the profession that I sit. I want it to be part of my mother came at that time. We were performing in Germany. It was a fake name they were using. I don’t even know what they call themselves anyway, all fake, all wrong, all twisted. So my mom came to watch the show and I was like, I told her, I was like, that is it. This is, this is what I’m closing shop right now. Cause I’m not doing this for my life. And then she looked at me and she had such an incredible, you know, tell she was like, this is just the best that could have happened for you to have the worst right at the beginning of your career. So you can now feel and smell what is smells like. And you will never take a job like this again. And I had to take that in and go, okay, so I have to continue. And just going to be ok, I’m going to finish it off and I’m going to turn back, but that will remain what is one of my biggest memory of now knowing I can smell the shenanigans in production and I’m like, bye bye. Bye.
That’s interesting. That’s interesting is like the rejects. The idea of rejection dancers think happens to them, but we have the power at any point to reject the circumstance that’s presented to us and say never again, thank you and walk the other direction. So it’s, it’s like, I think the feeling of rejection is compounded. If you, if you it’s unbearable, if you reject yourself, if you stop being your advocate, if you stop having, But if you say that’s it. Yeah. If you, if you say I’ve got my back, they’re missing out. That’s okay. Bye. I reject you. No thank you to your no thank you.
BINGO! Exactly, exactly. But it’s day now go go. It takes us. It takes us to also take that moment of self where you go back to listening and hearing what you are really about and what kind of value creating you are making. And you want to make in this world, because this is the real compassion. Because at the end of the day, we get like, you know, we get 12 hours where we can actually create amazing things. And I see it most of the time, even more so now I’m like dreams are real. Like, like I had a dream Dana of being a mother, right. I’m 51. So I had a dream of being a mother and I lost that dream. I was in a relationship where the dream became nothing at all. Literally was listening to someone else’s dream. And then one day someone came around and woke up that dream, like ignited it back. It was my choice to go yay or nay to go no, no, no I’m done. This is, this was a long time ago. But now I had to listen I had to sit myself down and not have the courage to hear the whisper first of my dream. And to let my ear open enough that I will hear the sound and then I will hear the cry of it. And then I would hear the singing of it. And then I will hear the yelling of it. And I will be like, you know what, I’m doing it. Um,
You are keep going.
So, no, I mean, just, we talk about dreams and we talk about presence and we talk about, so for me, even as a woman to say to myself, no, you need this and that and that. So you can be a mother where all of a sudden, all that was out. And I was like, but the dream is still talking. So what are we going to do? Yes. So you know what? Well, that’s called egg donor sperm donor. Let’s go, you know what I mean? Let’s get this done. You know what I mean? So now the shift, the real shift and today for the artists of today, just like you as a young human being, as a light in the world, it is about your dream. So I say to you, like whatever, you know, this moment, like 2019, whatever, that was all about. The learning, the learning that was behind of being able to hear also to be able to heal yourself when you get punched, right? You get that punch like bam, you like, whoa. And then another one, bam, whoa. So you’re on the ground now where that’s where it start. It starts there, but it starts with a dream. It doesn’t start. It doesn’t start empty. So people today, wherever we are as destabilized as we can be, we actually more stabilizing our dreams. So go, listen, listen to the dream, right? . I want to see you. What is your dream Dana? What is your dream? Let’s go, we’re going to end up like this, by the way. So you get to, you get to like, shout it out, a dream, a dream. And you just need to, you know, there are many dreams just share me. Uh,
Yeah, you’re catching me on a day. This is good. This is a brilliant thing to be asking me because I feel like a dream that I’ve only taken tiny steps towards because I’ve been telling myself that it’s, that it relies on someone else. Are you ready? My husband is the person that I love in the world more than anyone else. We don’t desire a human baby to, to, to share as our life’s work, but a space and a life together that is as much ours as it is individually one or the others. And in up until now, the space in my brain looked like a building that was half dance studio and half workshop. But what that my brain was doing is just putting four walls around two people’s things. What I would love instead, my dream is for us to have one thing that is ours, that may or may not fit even into a building, maybe it’s a, maybe it’s a new technology. Maybe it’s a product. Maybe it’s, uh, I, I don’t, I can’t yet see, you know, you spoke about Alvin Ailey having this clarity. Like I know I have to do that. And when you know, what you want to do is not that hard to find the steps to take, to get there. Same was true for me in becoming a backup dancer. And it took me a while to reorient my goals. After I had accomplished that one. When you, you talk about like identity and becoming wrapped up in your work, I had a few years where I was like, if I’m not a backup dancer, then who am I? And I’m finding myself in a similar position now where I am aware of my power and I am aware of my skills and my skill gaps, if I can just imagine, or even invent something out there that is ours. I am certain I can make it happen. And I am certain that he will meet me in an effort at very least. I don’t know if our vision will be the same. We’re two different people with two sets of eyes. But, um, I know that he will meet me in my effort.
Um, oh my gosh, listen, I cannot wait to see the shape of this. And a lot of today, like we were talking about right at the beginning of the, of us talking, it’s not in the eyes, that sees, but I think it’s in the heart that is like linking in that, that we can’t really see it. So sometimes you can’t see it. All you can do is close your eyes and continue to walk towards the whispers.
Quiet down, listen to the whispers. Yeah. I also like to rage. I like to party. I like to dance. I like to music and, and you’re right. Sometimes it’s like, what’s the whisper saying, what’s my child, the inner child saying,
You know, and, and I believe that you so extremely in tune. So your light in the world as a very specific mission. Right? So it’s really about also like when you surrender, like you, you, the way you do choreography in the space that you can, like, you can just, you know, take the time to be with the shape. before the shape shows up. You know what I mean? Like it’s like, that’s that space that is so magical. Right? I have no doubt. No doubt my friend. Well, listen,
We could go on. Trust me. This is might need a part two.
Hello? Dana Wilson.
God, you my friend. Thank you so much for opening this conversation. Thank you for, for asking the good questions and bring in the good answers. And you, your gold, your, your you’re, the sun, as far as I’m concerned. Thank you for shining your light on the planet.
You know what? Talking about the sun, Summer Solstice is on Sunday
Is that why I’m sweating profusely?
I’m doing 108 cents salutation. Yes, please. Yes. Please wish you all could see my face. If you’re listening to the podcast version of this, those of you that are in the Instagram live right now, or like Dana, Dana, close your mouth. We can see your tongue. Dana, close your mouth, I see your tonsils. Okay. Collecting my jaw. I will be there for that.
We’ll see each other very soon. If not on Sunday, but other time I appreciate you so much. I don’t know your husband, but I say hi to him. Nonetheless. He is a very smart man. He knows a thing or two about a thing or two about having chosen you as a life partner. Wow. Wow. And him and you for him, both obviously for him the same. I send you all my love.
Thank you. I’m receiving it. I talk to you sending love and thank you to you. I love you. I love you, darling.
Wow. Yeah. Yep. Here I am. I don’t have much to say my friends. In fact, I might just take it from the top one more time and repeat that episode on back right now. Um, I would love for you to find a more Karine. I would love to have more of her in my life. So I will 100% be linking to her socials and her website in the show notes to this episode, please go see In the Heights, watch her do her thing. Get out there in the world, keep it exceptionally funky. And I am going to keep it bubbly and keep it right here by listening to this episode again right now because wow, I’m speechless. Okay. I’m out of words. Keep it funky. I’ll talk to you.
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, if you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating because your words move me too. Number two thing. I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye.
Ep. #78 Teamwork Makes the Dream Work with the In The Heights Choreography Team
When people watch the In The Heights movie and ask me “How did you guys DO THAT?”… I’ll spare myself the struggle to explain it, and simply send them the link to this episode. I’m thrilled to be joined by the film’s choreographer Christopher Scott , my fellow associate choreographers Ebony Williams and Emilio Dosal, the associate Latin Choreographer: Eddie Torres Jr., and his assistant Princess Serrano AND our choreo team assistant (AKA the glue that kept us all together): Meghan Mcferran. This episode is more than a peek into our process… It is a seat at our table. This is a time capsule of memories and lessons learned that I will cherish forever. I hope you enjoy this episode and if you haven’t yet, be sure to catch In The Heights in theaters and on HBO Max!
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: Hi friend, welcome to the podcast. I’m Dana and this is it. The time has come and the time is now the moment that at very least I have been waiting for. The rest of the, In the Heights choreography team will be joining me on the podcast today. And I am so, so, so excited to share this conversation with you. Um, I’m hoping that you’ve seen the film already In the Heights so that you have a bit of context for what we’re going to dig into. If you have not seen In the Heights. No worries. No judgment. And also, I don’t think there are any spoilers in this episode. So do keep listening, but please get to a theater or support on HBO Max, please, please, please go see this film period. I’ll leave it there. And I’ll, I’ll um, leave you on the edge of your seat to hear this conversation for just one more second, because before we get to the conversation, uh, we’re going to do wins. If you are new to the podcast, I do wins. I start with wins. This is something that I do. So I’m going to celebrate something that is going well in my world. Then I will yield the floor to you. You will take it away. Um, I think this is, this is something that is important. So I go, you go, um, let’s see. This week, yeah, I think this is it. This is, well, I know this is it. This week, I am celebrating the New York times article featuring the, In the Heights choreography team written by Gia Kourlas , um, Man oh man. I could talk about it forever, but, um, I’m about to let the choreo team speak for themselves so I will leave it at that, that article is so beautifully done. It is a beautiful peek into, uh, the family that is the, In the Heights choreo team. I think you’re going to really, really dig it. If you are interested in checking out the article, I will 100% be linking to it in the show notes of this episode. So check that out and enjoy. All right. That’s my, when New York times no big deal. Very,
I’m stoked for you. Keep it up, keep winning. All right. Are you ready for this? I hope so. But before we dig in, I’m giving an audio disclaimer, here. As I’m sure you can imagine. It is not easy to get the seven of us in one place at one time, let alone a quiet place at one time. So we are welcoming you to our zoom room and we appreciate your understanding of the less than stellar audio quality. Uh, we aren’t the audio or music department after all. We are the dance department and we are so, so, so proud of that. So pull up a chair and enjoy getting to know the choreo team from In the Heights.
Dana: What the heck In the Heights choreo team. Welcome to Words That Move me.
Um, this is the first time I have ever podcast interviewed more than two people at once. So number one, thank you for that. But number two, y’all are on the heels of one of the biggest films of the year broadly. So I know we’re all in different places, doing many things. Thank you so much for being here right now. I’m thrilled to talk to you and I’m thrilled to share a little bit of what our experience of making this film was about. Um, I do have, I have two goals for this episode. Number one, it is my goal to create sort of a time capsule, a place for us to put our most precious memories of this time and these people and these places. And just kind of talk about what happened because it happened really fast. Um, and that does feel sort of like a lifetime ago. So that’s a very selfish thing of me. I just, I want to have that for myself and I want to have that for us, but I also know that I have so many people listening, maybe some listening to the podcast for the first time that are simply dying to find out how we did that. So I do want to talk shop. I want to talk a little bit of the nuts and bolts of how you make a movie musical, how you Chris, assembled this team, how we all showed up, how we might do our work differently in the future. Now having added a whole lot of tools to our tool belt. So we’ll get into that. But first probably the hardest part of this whole thing is going to be this. I’m going to ask each of you to introduce yourself and simply tell us what, what you want us to know about you. It doesn’t need to be your credits. It could be. Um, but we’ll start with Chris and then, uh, I’ll just call them out from there. Chris, what do you want us to know about you?
Chris Scott: Oh man. Um, I want you to know that I am, um, changed from this movie. I think, I think the most, and I know that we’re going to talk about all that stuff. And I was like, well, maybe I’ll say something more personal about like my personal life, but I’m like, no, really, you know, this movie really changed me and affected me. And, and, and I’m looking at, everybody’s face on this zoom moment. I know you guys will just hear our voices, but it’s like, you know, it’s just really cool. Like, like seeing everybody’s face that, you know, helped to change and shape me. Um, so, you know, I think that’s what I want people to know about me is I’ve been shaped. Every job you do, kind of shapes you. And I really feel proud to have been shaped by every job I’ve done and none more than this one. Um, and I’m just really grateful to be here to talk about it.
Dana: Word, Yes. Eddie you’re up.
Eddie Torres Jr: Hi, my name is Eddie Torres Jr. But my real name is <inaudible>. Okay. So yeah. Um, I’m, I’m blessed. I am blessed to know each and every one of you it’s been, it’s been, uh, almost two years since we’ve been United, right? I mean, it’s just really, it was a blessing to have crossed paths with everyone on this team. And I tell Chris, and I tell all of you all the time, but for those who are listening, meeting them has just really changed my life. And we’ve become family since then. And everything has changed for me in the best possible way. My dream was to always represent, um, cultural arts, not just of course street dance, but cultural arts and just get that as respected as any other form of dance, because we really deserve that. And that’s what my passion was for In the Heights is really putting everything on the map, representing everything authentically and, um, yeah, just pouring my heart out to each and every dancer to all of you that are listening. And again, thank you that I’m Eddie Torres Jr.
Dana: Yes. Eddie George Jr. Moving right along. To your right Eddie Torres Jr the lovely Princess Serrano. Princess, tell us what you’d like us to know about you. Hi
Princess Serano: Hi everyone. My name is princess Serrano. Um, a lot of people think that my running is a nickname, but it’s actually my real name. And what I want everyone to know is that I truly believe everything happens for a reason. And I’m excited to see what happens with this movie. And I’m excited to see what happens with all the choreography team where life takes us and everyone that was in the movie and watching the movie so
Dana: Lovely. I love this. Um, all right. Ebony, what would you like us to know about you?
A thing that I think is important for people to know about me is that I feel like I’ve been in a space where as artists, um, we’re always giving so much of ourselves. We don’t always feel validated by the things that we have done, you know, or are doing, um, not in, uh, in the most genuine space. And I feel like for this, because it’s such a, uh, a big project that celebrates something more than just you it’s, it’s so important. It’s about a community about, um, a culture. It’s the importance is just bigger than just one person, um, or your history or your own past traumas. Um, I feel like I’ve grown so much from it and I feel like I’ve had to face so many of the things that have absolutely gotten in my way or made me afraid or made me doubt. And a lot of this gave me a huge sense of Paciencia y Fe, and I’m so happy and grateful for it and grateful for the room and the people that are a part of my life now based on and through this journey. So, um, I guess I want people to know about Ebony Williams, that Ebony Williams again, and still, and forever is growing, is changing and evolving and okay with that. And we’re grateful for every piece of that moment.
Dana: Let’s go. Okay. Emilio Dosal, what would you like us to know about you?
Emilio Dosal: Hello I’m Emilio Jesus Dosal um, you know, um, just, uh, I’m just a short little Hispanic boy from Houston, Texas, you know, I never, uh, I never found myself to have an identity and, uh, to be quite honest, when I, when I started this process with In the Heights, uh, I found myself seeing who I am and who I want to be. Um, and I feel really grateful to have been in a place like New York city to find myself, um, and now moving from New York city going everywhere, I go to find myself a little bit more, has been a wonderful experience. And, um, and, um, that’s what I would take as a me.
Dana: Thank you for that. I’m so glad you’re here. This is great. All right. Last, but certainly not least miss Meghan McFerran what would you like us to know about you?
Meghan McFerran: Hi everyone. My name is Meghan McFerran. I am a dancer and a celebrator of movement. The number one thing since I was so little is just to use movement as a celebration of life. And so through auditions, through classes, through dancing my whole life, that’s what I saw movement as a celebration of yourself that you’re here, that you can move your body, that you can inspire others by doing that. So through my experience and my passion of celebrating, I was able to meet mentors like Ebony Williams, who, um, brought me to this place where I was able to get this job with In the Heights and meet all of really special people who continued to use movement as a celebration of life. And that’s literally what we did every single day. And what I continue to now do as an entrepreneur every day is to use movement, to celebrate who we are as people celebrate our differences, celebrate dance.
Dana: Yeah. That was a beautiful wrap up. Okay. So, bye. Thanks. Um, uh, we’ll continue. Only because I know there’s a lot of good stuff to come, but I’d like to ask one more question to the whole group. Um, and that is, again, it’s a selfish thing, and this might be challenging to pick one, but I’d love to just drop in the time capsule, your favorite moment during the rehearsal process or shoot, or the, the premiere process, which was like a week long of parties and events and things. Um, but what’s, what is your favorite highlight from the, In the Heights chapter of your life?
Chris Scott: I could start. I mean, honestly, it’s not that hard for me in a weird way. It’s funny. It’s like there was so many great moments like that. The biggest highlight of the experience for me was shooting Carnaval del Barrio. Um, it was just surreal, man. It was like a crazy experience. Even the audition, the rehearsal for even rehearsing for, it was like really special, that that might even have topped actually shooting it just because it was such a beautiful thing. And, you know, I remember it being one of the scariest ones because it’s like a seven minute long number, like eight minutes long. It’s really long. And we didn’t have a lot of time for that. You know, John knew, he was like, okay, well, if we’re going to spend the time to do 96,000 at the pool, we’re going to have to give somewhere. And we looked at the calendar and I remember it was like, John was like, I think it’s kind of all. And I think we just have to keep it, make it raw. Like I think it’s okay to be raw. It’s okay to be a little like, you know, run and gun. Like we’ll figure it out if we have to on the spot, even for certain parts. So there was something about that freedom and that expectation, knowing that it was going to be raw and be real that ultimately kind of transcended everything. It became like not a rehearsal, but it really became, uh, like this crazy, beautiful moment in life, the celebration of culture and ancestry, and like just like spiritual. And it was like, you know, you couldn’t have called it from the beginning, I think. But when we were in that room, you know, I’ll never forget the moment we did. One of the, the tape we did one of the first run-throughs that we did really stands out to me. Um, you know, because we had two pieces, we had the beginning piece and then we had the ending piece, but the whole like, uh, you know, moment with Gregory, you know, um, with Sonny, we didn’t even rehearse, but when we press play on that, that, uh, you know, that track, he just jumped up and started doing it. And it was one of those things where you realize like, oh, this number is going to be incredible because these actors, they know what this moment is. And they’ve been dying for this moment. They’ve been waiting for this moment. So we got to live in, experience it with them. It wasn’t a rehearsal. It was really like this crazy, surreal moment in life that I remember thinking like, wow, this is what happens when music can really like hit you in the soul and, and, and push a story forward and just push actors to just be in the moment. And, um, it was like watching a improv. I mean, it was, it was really, really special. I mean, Lin’s like crying, everybody’s crying and, and, um, yeah, that was that’s my standout,
Dana: Mine is the same. And I’m going to guess everyone else’s is to show of hands, kind of all everyone in the zoom room. Yes. The, the shoot day was untoppable, but Chris, yes. I agree. The rehearsal process for that number, getting to spend time with, with each group that gets represented, getting to hear the side conversations, um, watching people wear the flag, hold the flag, share the flag. It was a truly, uh, a remarkable top to bottom. And I think I’m glad that we landed on this moment because this kind of segues nicely into a nuts and bolts question. I think one of the challenges that almost everyone who’s aiming to make a movie musical will face is the challenge of achieving a feeling of spontaneity when you absolutely must be planned. Like you must know where the camera will go. You must, you know, people don’t just spontaneously do the same steps at the same time. So how do you marry absolute authenticity and a feeling of spontaneity with preparedness like that? I think is one of the biggest challenges that we faced on this project and carnival in that, in the case of that number, the answer was in the music and in the people. Like the, the challenge of planning was more playful than challenging. And when you have a cast as talented as our cast, when you have music as supportive as the music that we had, I’m not going to say it was just like show up and it’s great because it was, we got very strategic. We could run that whole eight minute number top to bottom and we did, but it wasn’t, it wasn’t as challenging to bridge the gap of, and now we dance as some other numbers can be. Yeah.
Chris Scott: Can I shout out, Eddie Torres Jr and Princess? I mean, really when you’re talking about that, it was like their talent. I mean, they’re incredible. Like it jumps off the screen, the entire film, like you feel privileged to be in the same room with them. Cause they’re all just so they could do the whole movie on live if they had to, you know what I mean, from top to bottom, because that’s just who they were. Um, but you know, Eddie, I remember a big, big thing with this number was like, it was casting those dancers and you know, how important they were to it. And, and every single day we were casting up until really the day of rehearsal. I think even we haven’t rehearsed a little bit and they were still getting where people could make Eddie find, we need more. Um, I’ll pair that too. It’s just like, you know, Eddie’s and Princess, their knowledge in the different Latin styles, knowing what this, uh, moment really needed because in the music there’s stuff embedded. But then also I think Eddie went above and beyond with the Latin styles. Like when we all saw, you know, the Colombian style, the Caleño style, you know, it was like crazy. So, you know, Eddie, um, you know, that was really like a key factor. So I don’t know where that came from. How you, how you did it sometimes I’m still like, how did you find everybody? I don’t know
Eddie Torres Jr: Dana I’m sorry. I would love to just piggyback off of what both of you just said, going back to the actual, like making it work strategically, but free. I mean, it was easy when you’re under pressure to get things done quick, like we’re talking about, we didn’t have like a week or two weeks to call these people in. It was like Eddie call who, you know, now for tomorrow, they need to be here and they need to represent, and then it’d be down for the cause. And that’s who, everybody who showed up understood that from the get, and that, that, that energy walked through the door, like ready to go. That’s what really happened.
Dana: Thank you for bringing up the idea of, of a time constraint being a helpful factor. I think all of us in the room right now wish we had had more time, I think, relative to other films of the same scale, like the same footprint, um, rehearsal time would have been more, but we got so much done so quickly. How, how did we do that? Yes. A lot of it is like the right people, having the right people in the room, massively important, Eddie, your community, Ebony, your community like this, the right people came together. Um, but man, if I could have given us one more month, I really would have.
Eddie Torres Jr: It Would’ve just been fun.
Dana: It Would be just more fun. Yeah. Maybe not even better, Maybe not even better, but more fun.
Chris Scott: Um, and can I piggyback on that too? And just say, you know, for me personally, I knew very early on how little time we had with, but it’s weird. Cause I wasn’t like freaking out to be honest, like John might think there might’ve been like a lot of stress, but to be honest, getting you guys as a team was really everything. And I’m not saying that lightly. Like it was really like once I, when I knew I was like, okay, I got to have Ebony Williams, She’s going to be there for anything, contemporary ballet Afro like all those, all these styles, like we’re going to cool. We’re good. Emilio. I know. It’s like, you know, we’ve done this for how long now? Like, you know, when you have a team of people that you’ve worked with, like that, you know, Dana, you were a piece of the puzzle that walked into the room and it was like, oh, this is perfect. Like you clicked in like nothing, you know, from skeleton crew. And it was like, beautiful. We have a partner storyteller with us that’s versed in like, I don’t even know how many styles you can do. But every, every day I was like finding out a new one, you know? And then Eddie and Princess, like, I really do, you know, this, this whole kind of campaign afterwards, you know, I’ve always been like very passionate about making sure that you guys there’s light on you guys as well, because I know as like the head choreographer or whatever it’s, it’s, it’s been, uh, I’m going to have my shine at it. I’m speaking of shines, but you know, but I really do like, and it’s not lightly that I say you guys as a team, you know, really deserve everything because that’s how you do it. There’s no other way. It would have been impossible. If there’s one thing I wished outside world could get a peek into. It was really the, what, uh, what our dance studios look like. Um, you know, I think the amount of prep that we had being able to in, in, in like a divided way, and then we all come back together and it was really something beautiful that, that nobody really gets to see, you know, and it’s not, I don’t know to me, it was like, it was stressful, but I’m looking at these faces right now and having you guys, um, you know, and Meghan, even just having this piece of the puzzle, because coordinating this, that’s another thing too, like people will never understand, you know, I really do feel responsible to educate people on what a team does in the choreography realm, because it’s not often talked about and it’s not often seen. Um, but you know, like Meghan was brought on to this team is like a, you know, like, like a PA, but it’s not, it’s not what she’s doing. She’s coordinating these massive numbers. I mean, there’s over 200. How many are we at? Like 280 dancers or somebody that you told me the other day you can go through in that, because it’s, I was that many, people’s that much to coordinate, you know, we’re a department, we’re a huge department. Um, you know, and that that’s really a big factor I’m going off now. You know,
Dana: I’m glad that you mentioned that it’s something that I like try to talk myself through all the time, because I’m stuck between believing that time is this fixed thing that I cannot change or multiply or divide in any way. But when you stack talent, you actually do multiply time. Like that’s what having a team is all about. So it might feel like we don’t have enough time, but there are ways to multiply time. And it’s by dividing talent, it’s by stacking many things happening at the same time, um, in different places and, and, and towards different, uh, on different tasks towards the same goal. And that’s, yeah, that’s how, that’s how we did it.
Chris: What a bunch of talent we stacked, boy, cause there’s a team. Let me tell you something, the talent on the zoom right now.
We stacked. Uh let’s um, I’m coming to you then Meghan, cause I would love to know your answer to this question you probably received if, okay. So if we hired 288 dancers, you received at least 10X times that emails, while you were working on this project, you were, uh, like helping us rent space. You were coordinating people’s schedules. You were looking to see if anybody had aunties and uncles or, or grandmas that were available to come shoot with us. Like you did a lot of, um, uh, structural work and helping all of the pieces fall into place. And what I would love to know is what you think the hardest thing for you was to do and how you did it.
Meghan McFerran: The hardest thing for me to do was probably honestly keep communication with Chris on everything while he’s working so hard in the rehearsal room with all of these dancers and I’m on the phone with Warner Brothers, coordinating everything on our end agencies, production dancers. And when me and Chris found time, it was awesome because we were like, boom, boom, boom, get this done, get this done 15 minutes. But then when he’s doing his thing in the rehearsal room and I am doing my thing here, it’s hard to connect the pieces and be like, wait, but we need this to happen tomorrow. And I’m like, well, I’m going to need a few hours. Cause this I, the processes happening. And I am out here out at my computer and we just can’t make this happen right now. We can make it happen. Oh, trust me, our team’s going to make it happen. But it’s not at that very second. So that was hard day in and day out because it was like a daily thing. There’s a dancer that needs something. Production has a question about what props we’re using. And I’m like, great. And what I learned and what kept me going through is just to keep calm because it’s like, you know what, yes, we believe in this team from day one, we’re like, we’re going to make this happen. We are fine. But being able to stay calm when I’m getting texts at two in the morning when I’m getting emails post 12 hour rehearsals emails about this and that I’m happy to answer because we’re here and I know that this team is going to get it done. But I think that that initial connection of phone, emails, computer versus dance, rehearsals counts, choreo, and trying to fuse those two together was hard. But we did it.
Dana: Yeah, we did. I think that was something not a lot of people consider. Like when you have an eight hour rehearsal day to get steps done, where do the magical hours where you have to be communicating with wardrobe team, communicating with music team at communicating with studios to find rental space, talking with casting over at Telsey. Yeah. Like where you have to make time and find time we are time multipliers. This is what we do. Um, okay. Emilio, I’m coming to you next because holy smokes, you are in damn near every scene of this movie. And you had your hand on the choreography of, I mean, I think we all really did hands-on all pieces. At some point there was nothing that none of us were involved in, right? That’s not how this movie got made, but you’re in almost every scene and you were in every single rehearsal with us for all of the other scenes. So I guess what I am wondering and what I am assuming, people who are listening are wondering are, what are the tips? What are your tricks for being on both sides of the camera? How did you wear both of those hats at once?
Emilio Dosal: I mean, I don’t, I don’t know if there’s necessarily a trick. I can just tell you that on my end, I just didn’t put a lot of pressure into it. I feel that in many cases, even though I’m a little older now, I still have a very naive sense. And so I try not to look at things as like they’re so, um, you know, huge. And if I fail this and I failed everything right. And like, oh, I have to get this done. I have to get this, I gotta do this. I gotta do this. I don’t apply that sort of pressure. I just kind of like, it’s kind of what I say to everybody. And everybody knows the saying, it’s like, it’s too easy. Right? Because technically what I’m trying to tell myself is is that if this is as hard as it gets, that’s pretty good. And so being on camera was the easiest part of my day If I’m gonna be quite honest, because that’s where I get to perform. That’s where I get to do the thing that I, I absolutely love doing. That’s what I went to into dance for I’ve always been a showman. I’ve always been a performer. And then being behind camera and, and running back and forth, um, actually was exhilarating. Um, I enjoyed the process. I wanted to do it more. Um, and yes, there was, there was stress and, you know, there was a lot of times where I felt overwhelmed. Yes. But that would always come back to it being just too easy. You know, again, it’s, it’s, it’s what you make it. And so I’ve just found myself really in a good place when I would go back and forth to each one. Um, if I wasn’t behind the camera watching to help safeguard and make sure that it looks right. I knew that my job being in front of the camera was to make sure that spirits were up, that we were good to go. I kept every dancer enlightened, ready to like move forward and keep it pushing, you know, because it does get exhausting, you know, as you, as you’ve heard, we do, you know, eight to 10 hour days on concrete and grass and train stations and all the elements. And I just found myself being that person that, you know, what, I have this infinite amount of energy that I need to evolve to my peers so that they can feel enlightened and remember what they’re doing, you know, we’re, we’re on a film showcasing ourselves. I would, I would suggest to everybody who is going to participate in that sort of work, um, bring a little bit of naivety into it, you know, have fun, be, be that inner child that was naive throughout the whole thing. It’s not a bad thing to be naive in those circumstances is actually quite exhilarating. Um, and it gets the job done job done really well. And honestly so much more exciting to be honest.
Dana: Too easy. Thank you for that as an important moment to like call on perspective. Right. Um, and that can a perspective shift like that could really take something from feeling impossible to actually feeling easy by shifting the way that you’re thinking about it, a more childlike, uh, approach. I appreciate that. Um, okay. So, uh, Chris, we have done a few, um, screenings for like dance community and there’ve been Q and A sessions at the end. You and John, You and John talking together is one of my favorite things to eavesdrop on you understand the way each other make. And I think you’ve grown to be making in really complimentary ways. I think this film is a huge testament to that. Um, but one of the questions, uh, one of the questions that has come up, I think in both of those screenings is how did you find this team? And you spoke specifically about the first conversation you have with Eddie and how it, it turned into an education. Like it didn’t, it didn’t, it wasn’t an audition or an interview. He sat and he, and more, he, more or less schooled you. I mean, stop me if I got the wrong interpretation of that.
Dana: Um, so what I would love to hear from you, Eddie is if you remember that conversation, if you remember for sitting with Chris, um, if you remember what you told him and if you would share it with us today,
Eddie: I mean, it’s something that I actually kind of repeat every day just to remind myself and keep it in shape. So I’m glad this is my practice today, basically. Um, you know, when Chris, when Chris and I first met, it was in Brooklyn and we met at this office where he was discussing me possibly dancing in the film, you know, and we just got into a good conversation, you know, first time meeting each other. And somehow we just, you know, we sat down and we were just talking about what I do. And I was saying, Hey, you know, what I do is something called Mambo. And it basically is the truth behind what we call salsa. What we know is salsa. And he’s like, what do you mean? And that led into a whole beautiful conversation, um, which we had to get a pen and paper and draw this triangular slave trade, which dates back to the 15 hundreds. So basically we were just talking about how the Spanish conquistadors, they went to West Africa, took these people and sent them to all different parts of the world, right? So basically you have two sides of the coin, the slaves that were sent to the Caribbean, they allow their music on Sundays. They allow their cultural practices. So out of that was birthed many rhythms, you know, on the, on the, in music. So that’s why we have Bomba y Plena, which is all singing and just drumming, you know? And so, and on the other side of the coin, you have the slaves that were sent to the new world, which just like the US they took away all of the drums. They took away their names, their religion, everything. And by that, we lost Africanism in general. So out of that, they put these slaves to work in plantations. And out of that was born the classic blues. So we had a full-out conversation with drawing with every single detail and showing how all of this evolution created, what we know as salsa, which again was created, by Fania Record Label in the 1970s, basically just to, um, market the music better, you know, they wanted better business and they wanted more popularity of this music all over the world, which they succeeded they did, that they did that 100%. And it’s a, it’s a, it’s a success. The only problem is we lost a lot of that. You know, that pure knowledge, the roots. Each rhythm has a dance and you have to respect that. And not only that, but when you put it all into one, you know, it’s just not what it is. Salsas not a rhythm, Salsas not a dance. But on the flip side, we have cha cha, cha, which is a rhythm and a dance, Mambos is a rhythm and a dance that’s song, you know? So, and w why was this all important? Because this whole film needed a foundation to work off of. We needed roots in every single scene and the music itself, you know, you have the clave right from the beginning of the movie, you have the clave, which is an instrument that was born on the slave ships in the 1500s. So right away, there’s evidence of this beautiful history that we have, but it just never got the chance to be told in its raw form and its authentic form. Chris basically opened the door up to a whole culture that needed to have been seen and heard. I’m talking about specifically Mambo, you know, my family, they worked their whole lives for this moment. You know, my aunts or many of our ancestors have worked for this moment. And here it is, Chris gave me not only me, the opportunity and Princess, but he allowed us to cast you know, a lot of these people in Carnaval, which was so much fun, right? We had to call every Viejito, which is an old man and, or an old woman. We called every single old dancer that we knew. We call the youngest of the babies. And we called all cultures literally to come in to gather in one room. And that’s why it was so fun because I mean, now I’m going into carnival for a second. You didn’t have to really do much. And these people were just happy to be there. They were happy to celebrate their culture. We just, we just said, Hey, who’s Puerto Rican, boom, you have a group. Who’s Dominican. Boom, you have a group. And a lot of, a lot of them, I mean, we’re all related. We all have these, these bridges to each other’s culture. So anyway, just because it became a very natural, organic process and it was just so it was so natural, I would say. And not, not, not that we had to sit there and practice and technique and know this was just like a, Hey, I like that move. This is something we do at the house. Boom, let’s do it here. But again, it’s just, again, rewinding for a second. I know I went on a tangent, this, this film, and it means so much to so many communities, so many cultures who never, ever, ever felt represented. And I’ve gotten so many beautiful messages from people I don’t know people, I haven’t people, I do know who I haven’t heard from years to people that I speak to on a regular and just exchanges in the street. Honestly, just the other day somebody was like, oh my God. Yes, I thank you. And I was like, for what I think for, thank you for, you know, I feel I’m proud to be a Latino and proud, you know, I feel represented even my neighbor, I don’t even know her. She said, congratulations. And I’m like, and she’s Puerto Rican. She’s like, that’s what we need. You know? So it was we again, and this is just Carnaval but we have so many scenes, so many cultures that are represented in this one film. And that for me was all I ever wanted.
Ebony: Absolutely. But I think that’s what brought the authenticity. I think that was what it was because we had to rely on the spirit of the people because it does, that’s what makes up the community, you know, like if we had to literally take every piece in every inch of everything and say you be this, you know, like when it’s really in their soul, then it would make it, would’ve made it so dry and technical. It’s just, it’s in them. They were born with it. And so all we had to do was allow them to shine, you know? And that’s you, you say that all the time in the salsa, like, Hey, do the shines, what does, I mean, Eddie you can speak on that part, but like, you know, and I, I think that that’s what made it great is that we just had to really rely on the soul of the people.
Eddie: Ebony I love you, you know, how I feel, You know how I feel about you Ebony. I love you so much. And again, that’s, that’s even without Salseros, I would be in front of b-boys and other hip hop dancers and, and, and just telling them, Hey, listen, the undertone of everything, what we call Latin is African that’s. The, that’s what, that’s the full root of all of this. Basically I was telling everybody that I knew on set, listen, do you know that we’re, we’re connected? We’re not separate. Um, you know, the vision is just what that’s, it’s just by style, which I’m not a huge fan. I don’t like the idea of being divided by styles because at the end of the day, we all have the same root, anything that has a drum is African. Anything that has a beat is African. Period. Doesn’t matter, RNB, jazz, hip hop, whatever you Salsa, uh, Mambo. That’s what we all had to understand and bring to this film and through ourselves. So really we wanted this to be felt this wasn’t something that was always pretty, this was something that needed to be felt. And we fought for that. We went for blood
Dana: I love this notion that learning not need to be a cerebral thing, but a physical thing, a felt thing. And I did really feel like I was learning every day, learning from you all the time, Eddie learning from each of you every day. Um, and maybe this is a good segue actually, uh, Princess, you, I think you are the youngest of the choreo team and you were still in school while we were working on this film, learning so much in, in two different modes, right? Like in the, in the four walls of an institution and also in the real world, if we want to call the movie world of real world on a movie set. Um, so I would love to hear what were your most unexpected areas of growth?
Princess: I love that question. Oh man. That’s I feel like there were so many, first of all, I just want to start off by saying that, um, since I was in school, Monday through Friday, and at the time I was a freshmen, I was at school Monday to Friday and I had to ask my professors, can I miss class? Like I won’t be in class the whole semester. Can I just turn in work? And this was like, I cannot believe to this day that I was able to miss an entire semester and I had to email everyone and tell them, Hey, I’ve been given this opportunity. And this is a dream that I would, I would be crazy to pass it up. Like, can you please consider me giving out, I would go the extra mile to show up when I can, and I will reach out office hours. I will do whatever I can just give me this opportunity because it’s something that I can’t give up this is my passion. And all of them understood that. And they were able to allow me to go to rehearsals and miss class, which I, I can’t believe it, you know? And so I went into rehearsals. I went into, you know, with you guys to practice and on set. And I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew that I was there for a reason. And I learned from every single person in this movie. And I think the most important thing that I learned was to was to no matter how hard something is just, you’ll never grow or learn how to deal with that until you throw yourself in the water. And so you throw yourself in the, in the fire, you’re, you’re never gonna, you’re never gonna learn until you, you just have to do it.
Dana: Thank you. Thank you for that. I really hope that all of my school goers listening are inspired by your story. And I hope that any professors or admins who might be listening can see the value of exceptions for exceptional people. And speaking of exceptional people, Ebony, you’ve been in damn near every pocket of the dance world, that there is from Broadway stages to concert stages, to music, video hall of fames. I’m referencing single ladies, but it’s not the only one, um, to on-camera in films and now behind camera in films. So what I am dying to know is what is your favorite place to be and where do you want to be next?
Ebony: I love this question because I don’t have a favorite. I wish I could say that I have a favorite, but really all of those things make up Ebony Williams. Um, I’m not one thing, honestly, I don’t think anyone in the world is one thing. So, um, yeah, I, I love a piece of all of that. And I have hopes to be able to make possibilities for younger artists to be able to do the same thing, um, to feel like they are able to jump into creative portals. Cause that’s, my goal is to make creative portals that set free and allow them to not feel like they have to be put in a box ever. Um, so that means chorea, choreographing, directing, um, acting more. That’s something that I really, really want to do. I am also an actor and I feel like most dancers are because we have to be. Um, and that’s something that I’ve been stepping myself into quite a bit. I’ve been training and acting classes and just doing all the things that will set me forth so that I can do new things, new challenges, and, uh, you know, be a new Ebony every day. I think it’s important for us to try to reimagine ourselves. And that means that Ebony yesterday is not Ebony that’s today this Thursday here with you right now. And I hope tomorrow is a new piece of Ebony. So yeah, that’s where I’m at.
Dana: Yes. I love that you loved that question. And I loved that answer. I know that a lot of people listening have subscribed to the idea that they need to pick one thing to be or one place to put their talent. And you’re such a, an exquisite example of that not being the case. You can put all of your talent in so many places, so congrats and thank you for that. That’s fabulous. Um, all right. Y’all I w I think we could talk for hours and maybe someday a part two will happen, but for now I want to do one more round Robin, the Twitter version, if you could, one thing that you did well, and one thing that you would do differently. If we got to do this all again, I’ll start. Um, one thing I did well, um, I, I did become a person who was better with names and it’s true. I don’t know as many as Meghan McFerran, but I did a pretty good job in the retention of names. I was surprised in my past has been a huge area of insecurity for me. And I knew that in making a movie that is about the people of a place, that it would be helpful to invest in the people of the place and to call them by their name. Um, one thing I would do differently, man, I Eddie, having you in a room for six months and walking away, feeling like I would probably still drown at a club, makes me feel bad. I wish I had practiced the social dance. We, we, we built a movie, we planned it, we structured it. We strategized, we organized, and I don’t think I walk away feeling like a better social dance partner. Um, and I think, I think, I think I got really good at listening to voices, but I would like if I did this again, I would like to get better at listening to my body to become a better partner. Um, and to spend more time with the social elements of these dances versus the, the organizing and the, the building, like we had to build it. And then in building this movie there wasn’t, or maybe this is just what I was thinking, but there wasn’t a — this isn’t the Twitter version. Let’s be honest there. I didn’t, I didn’t build, I didn’t build a technical foundation for myself that I wish I had, but we built a damn good movie. So that, that is what I would do differently. I would steal you away for at least 20 minutes every day and, and dance with you.
Eddie: Dana, actually remember we, we, although we were super busy, right? We had to divide and conquer like Chris said, We did have that beautiful moment of the waltz, and that was one of my earliest days. And I remember Emilio, um, but one of the first people, first people that pushed me into the, into the fire, into the flames, you know, between Emilio and Dana, you both really pushed me to like, you know, for me, my first movie, I want everyone to know that right now, it’s my first movie ever. This was something that I was looking at the whole choreo team. I was studying you all as I was choreographing and learning.
Dana: I know, that’s why I have to ask. I have to ask that I want to make an example that we should all be doing that and celebrating ourselves all the time. And I love that reflection. Um, okay. Ebony, what did you do well, what did you, what did you do that you loved?
Ebony: I do think that I listened well to the things that I need for my future. Um, I recognize a lot of the spaces in which I need work, and I think that was really important to me and for me. Um, things that I would do differently would be number one, be kinder to myself. I would say a similar to you similar to you. I would say that I, as someone who’s always been looked at as a versatile artist, because I have been in several pockets of the lands, um, I think I would try to investigate deeper some of those spaces, because I think that what I have done well is be a good chameleon in a space, but that’s because it’s out of survival, you know, I think living in the moment and finding spaces to enjoy it instead of just go and making it work and figuring it out, I think I would find more space of joy, um, in the moment, you know? So that, that also a part of the memory forever not taking any of those moments for granted
Dana: Well said. Beautiful. Um, okay. Uh, Emilio, what do you think? What did, what did you do well? What would you do differently if we got a second pass?
Emilio: Uh, I’ll keep my short, uh, what I did well is, uh, I just, I went hard every single day. You know what I’m saying? I left everything on the table. Um, um, I’m not that kind of person that’s going to come in and do, you know, the easy feed I’m going to go hard every single day. And I’m going to apply that because I want to be the example every single time. I want to be the smallest, the fastest, the most joyous and the most exciting every single time I step in the rehearsal space. And I did that. So I’m excited. I’m happy for that. Um, if I were to go back and redo it again, I would honestly go to more light feet events, but I I’ve only went to like two and I really wish I could go back and go to more events and immerse myself more into the culture of light feet and Harlem, and be a part of that because it is something that I truly love right now. And, um, you know, yeah, knowing that the Mecca is there, New York, I really wished I, I got to take advantage of that more.
I hear you, my friend. I hear you. Thank you for that. How about you, Meghan?
Meghan McFerran: Hmm. What did I did? Well, I know this one. Uh, I made sure that I gave every dancer a hug in the morning when they came in and I did it every single day. And I think it set everyone up for no matter what was going on. Like we were about to step into like a 12 hour dance day and people are freaking out. Like they might’ve just been called in at three in the morning by me and having no idea what they’re stepping into. Like, what are we doing today? I don’t know I’m here. And I was just like, hi, gave everyone like a good three second hug and was like, let’s go.
Dana: Um, and something you would do differently.
Meghan: The diversity of people that we worked with, and then me being on production side dancers, side cast side, I think I could have fit in one really important, special question that I could have asked each person that I worked with in order to learn more about literally everything, film, dance, cultures. I wished that I had written down just a single question every single day that we either rehearsed or once we’re on set and just was like, Hey, been meaning to ask you this. And I could have learned I think a lot.
Chris Scott: Yeah. You can ask the questions right now because you still got to text people. You gotta, you got everybody contact info, you can reach out. The movie is over, but the relationships are there forever. So get those questions together and then shoot them off.
Dana: It’s so true. Yeah. Yeah. Group, group texts, please. Um, okay. Princess, what do you think?
Princess: Um, something I did well would be just going with the flow every day. It was something new and you just have literally just go with the flow. And so something I would do differently would be to voice my opinion more. Um, I feel like I was a quiet most of the times and I wouldn’t voice my opinion. And then someone would say something I was thinking, I’d be like, damn it. You know
Dana: It’s one of the it’s, it’s one of the things that they don’t teach in school in any dance class is the knowing when to talk and knowing when to shut up and dammit, I am still learning it every single day and sometimes its the hard way, And y’all have been there and seen it. And, you know, but having your finger on the pulse of your voice and the temperature of the room is something that I think is a obviously very valuable, but B takes time to, uh, to really become sensitive to.
Eddie Torres Jr: I love that you said that is, can I go? I want to go, yay. Okay. I know I answered, so, okay. So something I know I did. Right, right. So I know for sure when it came to representation, I know I did a hell of a job representing every single part of the Latin choreography that I could, I would literally, cause I I’ve been, I’ve been preparing for this moment. And then when I finally get the chance to do that, um, and you allowed me also like really just go full out with all the dancers and in certain parts of the, of the process, I’ve just, I couldn’t be more proud of course of them, but just like, I never thought I would even do this. I never thought I would be able to lead a whole community to, to a glorious representation of our dance, you know? And, and that for me is it was beyond what I ever dreamed of to be honest, you know, and then something I know something I would, I would change. I would, uh, I would always bring, if I could, I would have brung swimming shorts to every damn rehearsal, because there was, uh, there was some mean ass times, man, I, it was rough for me. I did not have no swimming shorts and I could not flunk out of rehearsal. And Chris said, we all need to be there at the pool. You gotta be there. So I’ve, I remember every single time I would go to the pool and I would look at everyone and everyone’s so prepared. Everyone was so prepared when we got there, they had some nice, cute shorts, swimming shorts, and you know, I would just roll my sweat pants up, just slip into the corner. And my, my, my sweatpants look like, yo, it looked crazy on the water and nobody
Dana: Yo swim sweats. Yo that’s, that’s a, that’s a corner of the market. Eddie. You could be the first Kanye did leather, leather sweats, you got swim sweats. You got, you have an angle on the market. And the commercials, you know, would be fabulous. The dancing would be great. You know, stop it.
Chris: I thought this podcast was sponsored by NYC mambo swim sweats Is that right?
Dana: It is now we’re doing, I will be photoshopping flyers. Don’t you even use it?
Eddie: Well, the worst part was how it got revealed. That was the worst part. Like I was, I was okay. Rocky, my sweat pants on the water. Um, until one day we were in the pool. I think I had gotten away with it at least twice. So I’m like, this is great. And we’re all dancing in the pool. And for some reason I battment, my right leg up and then I put it back down and Chris looks underwater. He’s like, wait, what? And I’m like, shut up. He’s like, wait, nah, hold up, everybody what’s. And I’m like, bro, stop please. And he starts dying, laughing. And I’m like, you’re just, I’m giving him that look. I’m like, please, please do not do not. And everybody I’m talking about, like everybody looked under water just to look at what I was wearing. And there you go. I had a thick ass pair of sweatpants on that were rolled up to my upper thighs, suffocating my legs. It was, it was so embarrassing.
Chris: That’s so beautiful and so brilliant. And there was no way I was gonna let that go man. One of the highlights I was between that and carnival, I was like, I couldn’t really decide what you want to say. Um, I won’t count them all, but that was a close second.
Eddie: No, real quick, because this is also the ending of Carnaval was insane. Insane. We were all like, I think we were all bleeding, gut blood was gushing out of our knees from Rudy’s elbow and everybody was crying and laughing and celebrating and jumping. And, but that for me,
Dana: And that was after everybody got wrapped. Like nobody went home. It was the hottest day. It was the smallest area. There was the, the holding area where was holding area that day,
Eddie: 181st street.
Dana: So we, yeah. And just nobody left at the end of a what? 12 hour day, how long was that day?
Chris: It was the longest death that I was like 14 or 16. It was crazy. It was like, as long as they get a year with the sun, like the sun. Wow. It was crazy
Dana: That that is why that moment
Chris: When we were over time. And I remember the, you know, David and Nick say shout out to him to, you know, our producer, um, for letting us stay. Cause a lot of times they don’t want to do that because it’s like, well, we got a ton of money. Like, let’s go, you guys gotta go.
Dana: Um, thank you for saying that,
Chris: To stay on set to celebrate this huge moment. You know, it was worth every penny to him and I, and I’m just so grateful that he did that. He did let that happen as it was so necessary after a day like that. And you need those moments like otherwise, why are we doing this too much hard? And if you get shut down from those molds is so important to a film like this, when we so hard to make,
It was essential. That moment was essential. I’m so glad you brought that up. Thank you, Chris. What did you do well?
Chris: I think I Did this well. Um, I think it took me a while to really understand how important it was. And I think once I understood it, I started to do it even better. So I think listening was like a really big deal as a choreographer for this film, because like, you know, I knew, I already knew like when Eddie came in, like we talked about it when he came in with him, I knew like anything cultural is like, no, you, listen, you listen to, who’s telling you from a culture. Like I knew that going into it, there would be other incidents where it’s like, I would have an idea that I’d want to try And one of the actors, for example, well, I don’t know. I don’t connect to that or whatever. And in my mind, I’d want to just like, I just want to do it. But then like I started realizing, you know, what? These actors are like super brilliant. They’re really smart. They’re really talented. Um, so I, I like kind of, there was like a moment I remember shifting and I started every number I went from just like having my ideas and the ideas that even I talked about with John, you know, we’d have ideas together. Um, and I would just like try stuff or John would give me room to play and whatever. And I remember like around like No Me Diga, for sure. I remember being like, it’s really important to listen to the actors and give them room to, to, to explain to you what they think even before you really get into the rehearsal. So I started doing that everywhere. I didn’t make like a big deal about it. I wasn’t like, okay, this is what I decided doing it. And like, Hey, what are you like when you think, and you know, there’s gonna be moments where, like I had my thoughts that would, um, I’d want to, I want to have the space to try and everything. And then, you know, you just find the balance or whatever, but, um, you learn really quickly as a choreographer. Like when you’re in it with these storytellers, you know, everybody, all the actors, everybody’s a storyteller when you’re making these films and should treat everybody like that. And when you hear what they say, they will give you gold. Like there were so many times, you know, you’re, you’re, you’re, you’re, you’re sitting next to Anthony Ramos in a bodega, and you’re, you’re going to try to give him things to do in a bodega. Sometimes the last thing is just let him tell you what happens in about like, how he feels in a bodega, because Anthony Ramos knows what it’s like to be in a bodega, you know, more than I’ll ever understand. So I think that was one thing I really started to do better. As the, as the time went on, it’s something that I’m proud of eventually like, like listening to Abuela Claudia, you know, Olga explained Paciencia y Fe, you know, I’ll never forget that rehearsal. It was like a big one. I tell all the time, I’m like, you changed my life that I know. And, you know, I would just never forget that day of like, I started to explain the number to the dancers and like within 30 seconds I was like, wait, I just stopped myself because now here’s Olga her first day. So I’m like, oh the, do you mind, would you explain what the sensor that your face is about? And she’s like, sure, she goes into this thing. And she says, you know, I’ll tell you, Chris, when you get to be my age, you stop thinking about the future because there is no more future. Everything comes up, becomes about the past and the decisions that she made that led you to where you are today. And I was like, oh my God. I mean, well, that’s what the numbers I saw. I didn’t even understand really the, the root, the heart of this number, you know, and that’s what it became. And then, and then you just listen and you listen to me and just everybody, um, you know, but at the same time, it’s kind of the same answer to what I could do better. You know, I think in a, in a weird way as like now that I have that like, perspective and I’m like, oh, I’m proud of myself. Like having those moments of those revelations, you know, I, I would, I could go on, you know, if I could go back again, it would just be from day one. That’s all. I would just really start the process like that. And just, um, you know, because I think for me it was helpful. I’m, I’m a builder. Like I like to build off of things and build off of people. And the more information you have, the more you can build, you know, some people aren’t like that. Some people want to have their, their moment, their time of ahead to just create blank space and then, and then adjust as they need to. But I really do love, um, as much input from the beginning to really just shape and mold something that, that, that, that everybody kind of has a voice in, because I think, you know, that’s when one everybody’s invested a different way, you know, and, and everybody, um, it brings everybody to the same page a lot quicker because you can’t have somebody performing choreography that they don’t understand because it comes from your mind. It’s just beneficial. So, you know, that’s not too complicated. Does it say, you know, I think my, my something I’m proud of myself that I did well, I think ultimately is also the thing that I could go back onto it and even better. And there you go,
It makes so much sense. Yes, yes. 100%. This is what I wanted. This is what I needed. Uh, well, thank you all so much for a lovely walk down memory lane, uh, **** eating grin on my face from ear to ear for over an hour. Um, I really appreciate you doing this and it feels great to still be sharing this thing and still be learning from this thing. Like we learned every single day on the job. So many things. And now every day that the movie is out there in the world, we’re learning different things about how it’s received. We’re learning different ways about how to, um, how to do work moving forward. Like what a tremendous gift this has been. And you all are a gift in my life. Thank you so much. I don’t have words. Appreciate you all tremendously. I love you.
Well, there you have it. And there, I have it a time capsule of one of the most precious and important chapters of my life. Um, and also a peek into our world of dance in nights. I really hope that you enjoyed that. I hope that you watch the movie 180 trillion times, and I hope you get out there into the world, into your community and keep it very, very funky. Thanks everybody for being here. I will talk to you very soon. Bye
Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe, and leave a rating or review because your words move me too. Number two thing, I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye.
Emmy award winning choreographer, Tyce Diorio and I cover A LOT in this episode. We talk about finding and being friends in a dog eat dog world, we discuss our processes and passion for movement coaching, and of course we talk In The Heights (in theaters and streaming on HBO Max NOW!) Like so many, I have looked up to Tyce for years, and this episode feels a whole lot like sitting down with my hero… and then winding up having a pillow fight and braiding each other’s hair (yes, games will be played!)! It’s pure fun, ease, and openness. ENJOY!
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, good people and welcome to Words That Move Me. I’m Dana, I’m jazzed that you are here and I am so, so, so excited to share this conversation with one of my favorite people in the biz, Mr. Tyce Diorio who I have known and looked up to for years and years, because if you do not already know Tyce, you are about to find out his career is truly remarkable, um, and vast, so wide reaching. Um, and finally two summers ago, Tyce and I got to work together on In the Heights, which we’ll get to chatting about in just a second. But first let’s do wins! Let’s do wins! Because In the Heights is my win. This week in the Heights, the film is in the world. Please go see it. If you are healthy, if you are comfortable, go see it in a theater because dang it this is the stuff the big screen was built for! I’m Celebrating in a crazy way inside and outside being a part of the production. More specifically the choreo team that put more than 280 dancers on the big screen. Many of them for the very first time I’d like to add, I genuinely don’t have words, which for those of you who listen a lot is, you know, is saying a lot. I don’t have words, um, to explain my gratitude or my pride in being a part of this project, but I will try to find them soon because an In the Heights choreo team episode is coming through the pipeline. So buckle up. It’s going to be so great. I’m very, very excited. I hope I have more adequate words to explain the way I feel about this project. And of course, we’ll be talking a little bit about the process, but In the Heights is in the world. That’s my win. Please go see it and share this, win with me. Um, if you’ve seen it, then heck that can be your win too. But if you haven’t seen it, I’m dying to hear what is going well in your world. It’s your turn.
All right. Awesome. Congratulations. I’m so glad that you are winning. Now. Let’s dig into this Tyce Diorio Ooh, where do I begin? Tyce is a force to be reckoned with on the dance floor and also in the business. But as you’re about to find out that is balanced with tremendous kindness, a gentleness that is difficult to find in this industry and also an appreciation for the simple things like, you know, genuine human connection and friendship. So for those reasons, this episode is strong, but also super, super soft. And you will 100% on a stick around for the laugh attack at the end of the episode, because Tyce and I have a gift that we would like to share with you. And it’s so much fun. You do not want to miss it. Your quality of life is about to go so far up. So get ready and enjoy this conversation with the one and only Tyce Diorio
Dana: Tyce Diorio! I am so excited about the conversation that is about to ensue. Thank you so much for being here.
Tyce: Thank you For having me. I’m a fan,
Dana: Um, mutual fandom. I love mutual fandom. Um, most of my listeners, people who know me probably know that I really love versatility and it is possible my friend, that you are the most versatile guest that I have ever had. Um, I think, you know, from being an educator to a movement coach, to a choreographer, to still being a dancer, um, even still dancing in films, shout out In the Heights, which we will definitely get there. Um, but you choreograph for TV, film stage and beyond. Uh, that’s the very small nutshell. Now I’m going to ask you to do something. I ask all my guests to do some of them hate me for it, some of them it’s awesome. But I’m going to ask you to introduce yourself and simply tell us anything you want us to know about you.
Tyce: Hi, I’m Tyce Diorio. I am a dancer, I’m a choreographer and I’m a really good friend.
Dana: And it’s important that your listeners know that. And I will co-sign or back that up with this strong, friendly stamp of approval.
Tyce: I say that because it’s really important to me, you know, through dance, you know, I have an amazing tribe of people here in Los Angeles. And so, yeah,
I think that’s a really great place to start actually, because I only recently learned that you’re born in Brooklyn. Um, and I have a lot of listeners in New York and I have a lot of friends in New York as we’re speaking of this. And I know it’s a goal for so many to become bi-coastal. Yeah. I’m so curious about how that happened for you and any words of wisdom or tips that you might give somebody who’s who’s eager to live that life.
Yeah, I mean, growing up in New York, as you know, New York is so fast paced and like, you know, New York and LA are like the leading capitals of dance. So being in New York city, uh, growing up that way, it w you know, it came from a local studio, danced in Manhattan, went to the high school performing arts, the famed high school, performing arts, you know, I was the lucky guy just to be there. And, and, and so, you know, and I have theater right in front of my face. So I, I just, I immersed myself in all of that, as one would do, being in New York city, taking advantage of all the, all of the privileges that came along with that coast. And so, you know, um, I, you know, obviously in New York city, you have to like sing, you have to dance, you have to act. And so it just, it was just no choice. And you have it all available to you. And so many amazing people who, who do that and who educate and who can be a mentor and who can inspire. So, yeah, I spent most of my life in New York City, and we learned a few things about, you know, dance, being a dancer. We learned there was no stability. You know,
You are the stability, you have to find your core, you have to find your leg because you are the center of a very, uh, spinning world. It’s important that you know how to spot.
Absolutely. You know? And so, yeah, I, I mean, and then I came to LA and because I was so intrigued by Los Angeles. And
Was it just curiosity at first that that brought you out?
I was on a television show early on, and I had seen what Jackie Sleight was doing for a male dancers. And I, and I was intrigued because I had never, I mean, I was dancing like, you know, New York Dancers dance, we go into a class, we dance our it’s an hour warmup. Do you know what I mean? And, and it’s just very different. It was very different. And it was like a rivalry rivalry between New York City and LA at the time, and who’s better and all that stuff. So I came to LA, I saw Jackie Sleight and I saw the way, you know, like Bill Bole was dancing and Bubba Carr and all that Aaron Cash and all those incredible people. So I came to LA and I just jumped in the water.
Oh my gosh. I love that Jackie Sleight is part of that origin story. She’s part of mine as well. Um, I was a young convention dancling when I first met Jackie Sleight and I will never forget her, her teaching style, her way of engaging people with words, as well as with her movement. I am still riveted by her to this very day. She’s got to come on the podcast.
That woman has so much
Legendary. Coming for you, Jackie I’m coming. Um, thank you also for dishing out some more legendary names. I hope our listeners are taking notes and doing good Googleage after this. Um, well, I’m thrilled that you, you wound up here. I wonder if our paths would have crossed otherwise, but, uh, you and I met through, I think we met personally through a mutual, uh, that’s a made up word, a mutual friend, Melanie Benz. And I think that speaks to like the interconnectivity, the importance of relationships in the industry, because it wasn’t work that brought you and I together, but work has come since then. Um, and I love that about what we do, but I think it’s unique. You know, I think in other industries, let’s say the skill is truly the most important thing. And I don’t know that that’s true for our industry. I think that on par with that is personability, professionalism, um, um, uh, uh, contribution to the process. Um, so I, yeah, I don’t know what I, I don’t, I don’t think there’s a lesson there. I guess what I’m encouraging in people is that if you’re a good person consider that, a credit on your resume, because it is helpful in the long run.
Absolutely. A hundred percent. I think, even though I came from New York, I came to LA and I instantly met some of the greats. Like I ended up crazy enough working with Michael Peters and like, you know, Paula Abdul, yada yada, yada Vince Patterson, all the greats. And it was, I just felt like my path and I think we all as artists or dancers and we get, we get coupled up with the right energy. It’s like a matched energy. I feel so it’s like what I was putting in and what I was desiring, all the, all the, the people that came into the pathway were direct matches for me. So I think I knew about process and I, I, I loved process because it is the most important, so I wasn’t results driven. So that was really good. And I, I managed to maintain and stay that way. And through today, you know,
Uh, yes, I do know. Um, okay. I want to talk about this idea of matching number one. I want to talk about you matching with Paula Abdul on star search. Um, is that not how you got your break? Was she, how, how did that moment work?
I was on star search, uh, you know, um, and then Paul Abdul, funny enough was one of the judges. And, um, I was, but I wasn’t on as a soloist. I was on with like two girls. So, you know, that was the connection. And then I went back on star search as a soloist, and then I had won the whole thing. And then I came to LA and Julia McDonalds set up a private audition for me and Paula and I went into a room with her and she, she put on our music and she made me dance. Right. And improv right there.
How old were you at the time? Do you think it was,
I was 18 or 19. Yeah. Wow.
Does it feel oddly full circle to now be involved with a show? Like, so you think you can dance and giving that first break moment to so many dancinglings
That was, that was an interesting, uh, connection and believe it or not that connection. And I say it all the time. That was because of Marty Kudelka. It was Marty Kudelka actually recommended me. He was on Marty was on the first season, I believe. And, um, and I was in New York actually doing, I’d been in Los Angeles living, but I went home. They asked me to do Chicago for a few months. So I did Chicago for like six months. And so I was doing that and having a great time and got a call from Nigel Lithgoe and Jeff Thacker and said, Marty, Kudelka recommended you to choreograph, um, a Fosse piece. And so I flew out to LA on Marty’s recommendation, and I never forgot that because, you know, truth be told, not everybody is, is, um, uh, giving enough to recommend people in our industry. And that’s just kind of the truth of it all, but I don’t, I don’t, I just come from, oh, Hey, you have to call so-and-so. You have to, this is that I come from that. So it’s, you know, so it’s not uncommon to me, but, uh, Marty Kudelka really showed that, you know, um, because our connection with Janet Jackson and then, and how he ended up working with her, you know, um, after I had done some work with her on tour and, and videos and stuff, so,
Thats Right. I’m so glad that you mentioned him and are singing his praises because it reminds me, I think his name is possibly the most mentioned on the podcast. Um, and he is the person that extended a similar kindness to me. Um, and, and many, many, many kindnesses actually throughout my career, I safely can say, I wouldn’t have this career without that person at all, not even close. Um, Marty is, you know, people call this a dog eat dog world. And although Marty is my dog, there is, there is nothing dog eat about that person that Marty gives credit where it is due. He’s the first to, uh, to share space and make space for other people and their talent. Um, I’m so completely grateful for that. And I actually wonder, do you remember what season that was that you,
So you think I went on the first season. My first show was the finale of the first season. So I went and did a Fosse piece, and then they brought me back season two, and they were like, can you do contemporary? And I was like, yeah, can you do jazz? I was like, yeah, Broadway. I was like, yeah. And then I, I did, like, I did an African Piece and, you know, and when you talk about versatility, I just throw it back to my, the way I trained at my dance studio, my local, the local dance studio. I went to, we were doing all of that at 10 years old. I mean, I had an African dance teacher named Luanis Luanis from Africa and we were dancing. So all these things, all the tapes are still in my mind. So it never leaves you what you were exposed to from your dance studio. And I think that’s so important, you know, cause we all come from dance studios and you know, they give us that.
Well, not all of us, but most of certainly most of the people listening to this podcast, do I think they’re like me, you know, you talk about finding your people. And I think, yeah, like attracts, like, and I, I grew up a studio kid as well. No African in my dance studio, unfortunately for me. Um, I’m, I’m very jealous of that because the more I learn about what I do, the more I learn the roots and all of it stems from African people. Um, and I am mesmerized by that and I’m always eager to be growing and learning and also sharing and making space for people to get excited about that. Be introduced by that. Um, I think it’s a gift to be exposed to many styles that early on, especially African, um, I do want to ask though, because this comes up a lot with friends of mine and it was a part of the story that I told myself early on is that it was not a good thing to be a generalist that LA especially loves a specialist. We’re not looking for somebody that’s decent at all styles. We’re looking for the best Krumper and the best Popper and the world’s greatest B-boy like those were what the castings were looking for at the time that I moved out here anyways, which is way, way back in 2005. Um, but did you ever struggle with being categorized a generalist or not as a specialist or were you really just that good at everything?
You mean me as a dancer? You mean me as a dancer? Right. I came to LA and I feel like, um, I was a certain kind of dancer and I w and I think in all of the projects that I, most of the projects I did, I was probably, I was always singled out for a feature or this, or I could, you know, I, I feel like I brought more to the table than just dance. Cause I felt like coming from New York, you were always telling a story and you were always acting and you were always like there was purpose. So it was, you know, it was celebrated, I think, you know, by a lot of different choreographers, you know? So I felt lucky. I felt lucky
You’re echoing a few sentiments from a previous episode with Miguel’s Zarate where we were talking about the value of not fitting in. And yes, it’s great to be a specialist, but let’s remember how special it is to be you who’s exactly from where you’re from and exactly exposed to all the things you were exactly exposed to. And that, that made exactly you and holy smokes. I’m so thrilled that I know you and get to dance with you. Um, so let’s talk about that. Okay. Oh, wait back up, back about book before we go forward, we go back just one second on the subject of Marty Kudelka one of the graces that he extended to me was asking, uh, if I would like to collaborate co-choreograph a piece for, so you think you can dance with him is the only time I ever choreographed for the show, we got to work with Jose and Comfort who I, adore and we had an absolute ball. And I remember meeting you on the show. So you must have been there in season seven.
Yeah. I, yeah, I’ve done a lot of seasons.
I actually know that you’ve done a lot of seasons because I know that you’ve done 13 seasons.
Okay. Yeah. Yeah. I, I, yeah, I’ve done a lot.
Um, I suppose I could ask for outstanding moments. Do you want to talk at all about your Emmy win or is it,
That was absolutely wonderful and sort of crazy, but just to wrap it up in a, um, brief little story of that, I’ve
Always for a second, I thought you were going to say wrap it up in a tortilla. Cause that was the shape you were making tiny little burrito out of it. This is what it would be into
I’m into it and I’m totally up to it. Um, no, I, I think maybe, uh, I don’t know, dancers might be inspired or anybody could be inspired by, um, I always saw myself. I always have these movies in my mind. I think I always saw movies or like this mini movie in my mind. Like I always knew I was, was going to dance with Janet Jackson or I knew I had, but I knew that I was walking up some stairs. I knew I, I saw this movie in my mind. I was walking upstairs and I, I had this gold award in my hand and I was speaking about all the people that I, you know, that helped in that process and, and that, and, and yeah, I didn’t know it was going to happen at, So you think you can Dance, but, but it ended up happening and it was a beautiful, magical moment. And, um, yeah, and the fact that I was able to create a library, I, you know, I, wasn’t a choreographer when I got on the show, I, I actually landed that, you know, television show and I just so happened to be dancing the Fosse work. So they felt like I could do this Fosse piece. And I did that. And then I just, I kind of just stayed in each moment and I didn’t really get ahead of myself. And I was just kind of like, yeah, I can do that. Cause I knew I just needed to work on my craft and at least find a little tiny voice of as a choreographer. So I did that like a lot. So I took every episode they gave me and I just worked on it. And so eventually it paid off and I started to find a little voice in there. And um, yeah, and I, I met so many people like, you know, Chris Scott, who we’ll get to who some of the loves of my life at, at, uh, so you think, and we all, you know, Sonya Taya, Stacy Tookey all these beautiful people, all of them, you know.
And, and what a great way to make your muscles as big and strong by helping others to become big and strong. I I’ve heard, you know, a lot of experiences from the show, from the contestants point of view. And of course it’s a ringer, of course it’s a challenge. That’s the point, it’s a competition show and it is also a reality show. So circling back to, it’s not always, no, if at all, about your talent, um, which I remember being so frustrated about that show in the beginning when I was, when I was younger, when I was like contestant age, I hated that about the show. And I was like, that’s not real life. If this is, if this is a dance show, the best man or woman or person should win. Um, and then I noticed that this was about America’s favorite dancer and those aren’t always the same person,
Right? Yeah. You know, and from the choreography standpoint, you know, the choreographers are in this, uh, um, little pit, like, you know, we’re, you know, we all want to do well. We all want to, to rise to the occasion. So it’s, there’s the dancers. And then there’s the choreographers because yes, it is a reality show. It’s television, you know, it was about the pieces that they performed, you know, and the connections between all of us, like I had been there from season one, you know, and all the new choreographers and the great people that I ended up meeting, like Nappy Tabs and Chris, you know, they’d come in and they’d be like, oh my God, I like, or what are they going to say about my number? And I was like, and I remember telling them that because I had been there a bit and went through that same thing. And so I felt it important to say, Hey, listen, you know, they can say what they want about your number, but the truth is is that you leave here with that, that’s your work and next week, no one’s ever going to remember what they said. So it’s like, you just stay, stay, stay with you. You know? So, because I have learned that I’ve learned that, um, early on there, cause it’s, it’s a daunting experience because
For sure. And I think that actually spreads beyond that show into, into everything. I think the, the work is what people remember. Um, I’m thinking about myself, like YouTubing specific numbers from that show, I would scrub right through all the chatter at the beginning and I would not stick around for the chatter at the end. Um, I thought that I was alone in that, but I don’t think I am. I think you’re spot on. Um, so maybe let’s stick on that theme for a second on the subject of competition. Um, we talked about the choreography worlds being kind of a dog eat dog world. And we are a community. We are an industry that’s working desperately to organize and find ourselves a home, find ourselves some, some semblance of collective bargaining somehow. Um, and it’s challenging to do when, when there isn’t a sense of unity. Um, I know it’s possible because the dance community did it. And I came up through the dance community, which was also dog eat dog, tremendously competitive. And I think there are more dancers than choreographers. So if the dance world could do it, I think the choreography worlds can do it. Um, but I would love to hear your thoughts on competitive nature within our industry. Is it useful? How do you manage it?
That’s an amazing question. I’m glad you asked. And, um, I guess after, after, after 2020, um, but even before that, I think for me, I think I was starting to formulate. I’ve never, you know, I grew up, you know, in the competitive world for a little bit, you know, I, I maybe did competition dance world for like four years, you know, and I grew up competitive and you know, I’m competitive with myself, but I do remember being like seeing some great dancers, like male dancers when I got to LA and never, I never felt the better you were and the more talented you were, I was like, we’re going to be friends because I, I need what you have. So I re I never remember being like sharky about any of that ever. The better you are, the more talented, the more we were going to be friends. And I have so many friends that are so, you know, talented and have all those great qualities. So, um, I feel about competition in the industry. I feel even after last year, I, I think, you know, we all have a whole different perspective on life in the world. And so many things that I just decided like, yeah, I know, no, no.
Yeah, no, I’m not going to do that. Oh,
I mean, I mean, I’m an adult, but like, I don’t, you know, I just think like, to be competitive and, you know, it’s just, that’s just not important. It’s just so it’s so not important. It’s so 10 years ago,
it’s not in fashion,
It’s not even important. Oh God. Like even more so now it’s just, yeah. And especially the industry being as hard as it is, you want to add another layer of a layer of competitive newness on it. I just think it’s, doesn’t serve it. Doesn’t serve me. That’s for sure. You know, and having to like, yeah, just all the things you have to do in this industry, like, you know, putting the pressure on yourself or, you know, feeling like I have to achieve this by this. I I’m like no, none of, none of that, none of that is important at all. You know? Cause again, it’s really about process. It’s about connection. I think it’s about, um, you know, just get, getting, losing yourself in your art and, and, and not being so results driven because that’s, that only can equate to one thing and, you know, and just, and think, think about all the artists you love and that you admire and respect. I think it’s really important too, that you know, that the, the, the artist meets the person to, you know, like where the artist meets the person. Cause it’s like in our industry, as long as we’re talking about industry and the, the reality of it is, is, um, you see things on a TV screen or, um, you know, on, on your phone and it looks as if it’s a certain way, but that is not the reality. The reality is, is it’s not everything is, as it seems is what I’m saying. So when you, what’s great, is that when you meet an artist, whether it be an actor, a singer dancer, choreographer director, yada, yada, yada, that the person actually meets, uh, the artists they’re as great as a human, as their artistry, you know? And I’m just keeping it real. I I’m just trying to keep it real just because we’re having a conversation. So we’re going to talk for real about, yes,
Let’s go! There are a lot of smoke and mirrors and that, and actually, and nobody’s trying to hide that it’s an industry that’s based on making things look like something else, the actors are doing it, the set designers doing it, the lighting team is doing it. There’s no mystery. Like we are in the business of making something that isn’t what it is. Right. So really useful to be what you are to know who you are, so that you can do that with, with clarity and go home and get a good night’s sleep at the end of the day. However, it was that you spent your day before that point. Um, okay. So now let’s get into talking about how we got to spend some of our days during the summer of 2019. Um, you, you talked about finding a friend in Christopher Scott, and you talked about, you know, the pressure of being on. So You Think You Can Dance the pressure of having a great number. And I think that Chris is somebody who balances being a friend and being a professional who has a seriously high bar of expectations. Um, during the process, it was like no end to achieving the dream. Yeah. It was very rare that he felt like we’ve got it even up to the days before the shoot or during the freaking shoot. It’s still like trying to make it that much better. And one of the, one of the ways I remember you coming into play of this film is we were casting this number. That’s very special number in the film called Paciencia y Fe and we, uh, he, he wanted real looking humans, different ages, different sizes, different shapes, but like real looking people that have magic and charisma. And he said, Tyce has to do this. Tyce would be so perfect. Um, and this was, you know, not a, not an easy or natural step for you. I’m sure you were in the middle of other projects and life and work and things. So how was it that, how was it that the project came to you? How did you feel about doing it and what are your thoughts about the process?
Well, um, wildly, you know, I’m wildly a fan of Chris Scott because it’s, it’s so rare. Um, Chris is, is rare in this industry. And so when you find those golden nuggets, you hang on to them and we really connected at So you Think as people, as people and we just really respected each other’s craft and artistry, so that was good. And we just became friends and then, um, cut to, um, you know, I, I had been choreographing at the time. Uh, well I worked with Taylor Swift for about nine years, you know, on yes,
That’s right. That’s an overlap. Okay. Yes.
And I, um, and we had Chris come in on the 1989 album and do like two or three numbers. Um, and so we connected even more there. And so, uh, it’s always been a, uh, uh, like a love fest, like just, you know, and so I was in New York and I got a call and he was like, Hey, um, I think I saw, he might’ve seen from my Instagram that I was in New York or whatever. And I was like, yeah. And he had mentioned, he’s like, I really want you to do In the Heights. And I was like, oh, okay. I was like, I was like, definitely. Absolutely. And the dates ended up working out. And so of course always, always always know, you know, like when, when there’s an opportunity to dance and it’s people you love and admire and respect all day every day. And I’ve always done that, you know, as like somebody who’s got a project and they asked me, you know, you’re more selective now that you’re, you know, you know,
Now that the cartilage in your knees is wearing out.
I mean, listen, thank God. My knees are good, but you know, it’s like, but I just, I just, um, I love to dance. So, and I love to be with good people that dance and create, so,
Oh, we had so much fun and you’re going to be so proud Mayor LaGuardia.
I’m sure. I’m sure it was amazing time. It was amazing. You were so brilliant and perfect as always. And it just like damp that in for sure. It’s like a process and process of that was so beautiful and so great. It was run so well, everything was just, it was just such a great experience, you know? And I, I definitely will remember that and, you know, and I got to meet Ebony Williams. And so I was so like enamored by her. I was like, wow. And then I watched her dance and then I was like, wait a minute. I was like, hold on everybody.
Yes, everyone. Hold on.
Did everybody just see that? I was like, we’re not just gonna like keep talking after she just did that. What a amazing dancer.
Incredible there is. I’m convinced nothing that she cannot do.
Wow. Now and I saw her in, um, um, jagged little pill.
Yeah. Okay. So you’re a unique person. Well, you’re unique in many ways, but you’re unique in one specific way, which is that you have been a Broadway dancer who has also been in Broadway film adaptations. I am so curious because I don’t have, um, I’ve workshopped, I’ve skeleton crewed, a few shows for Broadway or off-Broadway to become Broadway shows, but I am so curious to hear your thoughts on what the biggest difference is in terms of being a dancer in each of those spaces, because you take In the Heights, for example, with a few tiny script changes, it’s the same show that was on Broadway as it is on film, but what’s the difference for the dancer. I would love to hear you thoughts.
To be honest with you when I was in New York working on that film, particularly it did, it felt, um, like a product exactly like a Broadway show. What made it feel that way? Well, because there was so much because you’re, you are dealing with a theatrical piece that has a, you know, it’s a script with song and movement and all the things, all the elements. And for me, I was, I was, and as being in New York and with all those beautiful New York Dancers, um, I just felt like, Hmm. I mean, with the difference of there’s no, there’s no live orchestra and you know, it,
Or a live audience.
So, um, for me, I mean that particular experience was unique to its own because it felt, it, it felt like we were working on a Broadway show for sure. Yeah, definitely. Because it was just so, um, you know, well thought out and just had so much purpose and
And so much plot. There are so many stories to tell. Um, yeah. And everyone did it. Every ensemble dancer was dancing the story of a main character. Um, and in many cases it also is their story in, in our case, how lucky did we get to have such giving dancers talent in general, who brought themselves their struggle, their success to this process? I mean, I get chills thinking about it. And when I tell you you’re going to lose your mind. That 191st street tunnel, uh, you taking that step into that line, in that hat, in that fit, shout out, Mitchell Travers come on, killed the wardrobe. It’s one of. Paciencia is one of my, uh, one of my favorite parts of the film. It really feels like the heart to me. I hope that you love it.
Um, sh I’m sure. I’m sure. I mean, it was like when you see the trailer it’s, um, in the casting and you hear the music, it’s like all the, all the elements have to come together seamlessly. So that it’s one thought. And that I felt like, I felt like when I saw the trailer, it’s like, you know, you just know, like, you know, when I’d walked down the streets in New York and I’d go see shows all the time you go in, you hear the overture, whatever you’re listening to, you, you know, you’re in the presence of greatness right away. It doesn’t take long, you know, especially in theater, because there’s so much, there’s so much of the puzzle that goes into making that one overall piece and picture and thought. And so I think in the I’m I know that with In the highest, and I will say I was highly impressed, highly impressed with John Chu and his, and the way he walked by and addressed and spoke to dancers and people and the way, and I was like, it starts at the top
And he, like, he came over, we were on the train and he was like Tyce. And I was like, what, how do you know my name? And so like, just, and this is where, this is where I go back to saying where the artist meets the person. That’s what I’m talking about. That’s what I’m talking about because not everybody, not everybody is that human, you know? Yeah, it’s true. But John Chu was, I don’t have enough words.
I, uh, I love the way he leads and damn I love the way he makes movies. Um, okay. So I, while we’re kind of, while we’re on the subject of character and working on, on movement, that’s human, right? That, that part of the film is a very human moment with a backdrop of beautifully crafted contemporary, and honestly, a gorgeous collision of styles of movement. But the moment itself is a human moment. The backdrop of dances is it is inhuman in a very beautiful way, but I, I, a part of my work that I really, really love is working as a movement coach, much less to do with 5, 6, 7, 8. 1e and a 2e and a. And, um, but I love story. I love characters and I love non-dancers. I know that you also movement coach, and I would love to hear a little bit about your approach to being a movement coach. Um, you’ve worked with Cameron Diaz, Megan Mullally looking at my notes, Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Christina freaking Applegate, who I simply adore Queen Latifa, Toby McGuire. I mean, come on. Um, so yeah. Are you, are you open to talking a little bit about your approach to that kind of work.
I absolutely love, love, love working with actors and, and just, um, you know, I mean, working with Toby McGuire, let’s just say, you know, he’s an such an actor’s actor, so, you know, but, but the great thing about actors, as you know, it’s like, I love approaching it from that perspective. Do you know what I mean? So it just, I always say when I’m teaching, it’s like we have to lose the dance in order to get to the dance, you have to lose it. You have to be willing to lose it. And it’s very hard for a dancer, especially a dancer to lose the dance because we train to dance. But when you’re talking about a story and you’re talking about why are we all here? What is the point for us to all be here? And when we’re looking at this movement, why are we looking at it? Because it can’t be because you do it well, you have to come at it with, what’s your, what’s the reason for moving? What made you want to take that first step? What is it about the music? What is it about the story? What is it about you, your intention? What are all the things that make you, we want to see you? Yes. So, so I try to approach it that way. And you know, I’m working with Katie Holmes, who’s a dear friend. And I mean, I remember working with her very closely and, um, she wanted a dance. She wanted to dance more dance, and then we had done a couple of TV shows and, and then, um, I actually had this great idea put her on So You Think You Can Dance with a bunch of guys and Nigel gave us some funding to do this. Um, and I recreated Judy Garland’s Get Happy. And so, and I got to direct it. And so it was absolutely beautiful. So,
Oh my gosh Tyce! We’re going to link to all of the performances that you’re talking about in the show notes to this episode. I haven’t seen that. I cannot wait to see that. I cannot wait to find it and share it with the world. It
It was a wonderful moment. And, and, and working with someone, I love Katie Holmes. I love Toby Maguire. And, you know, and even Taylor Swift, who is a, um, a recording artist, a writer, uh she’s, you know, and working with her in movement. It’s like, it’s so interesting because she’s not, she’s not a natural dancer. And, you know, she would tell you that, but, but what what’s, so, and I’ve worked with her for so many years and I’m fascinated at, and I wouldn’t change a thing because she is such a storyteller, such a storyteller. So when she moves at, when she approaches something, she’s always like, well, why am I doing that? It’s and she really is such a great artist. I mean, such a good writer. And so it was really, I loved, loved every second of every album and tour I’ve ever, you know, and we’ve always done great work together. And so I, I, um, I love it. And Megan Mullally is, is completely different. And Megan is like, you know, she’s like, okay. And I love people who are interested in how the dance gets made. She called me, I wanna, I want to know how you’re gonna approach this. Let’s talk about it. She’s like, because the way I dance is not the way everybody else dances. And I was like, amazing, great. We’re on a, we, we’ve got a, we’ve got a base that we can work with. So it’s sort of, she’s like, and, and, you know, each person comes with their own set of ideas that adds to the it’s a real collaboration. And, you know, I mean, it’s, and it’s, I think it’s all, it’s also as well. It’s all in the communication too. It’s all in how you communicate, how people are going to move and why, and, you know, because it’s a very haunting experience for some people to move, right?
Oh, they’ve got ideas about what choreographers are and what dances. And I don’t know who is responsible for this, but somewhere along the line, dance and choreographers became terrifying for many actors. I don’t know who was, who was responsible for that, but it’s, that’s the thing that happened for sure. I see one of my, one of my many roles in being a movement coach is like deconstructing what those beliefs about what is dance and what is a choreographer kind of breaking those down to be far more human. Yeah.
When someone walks into the room, whether they dance or don’t dance, or, um, I usually, I usually take how they walk, how they talk, how they are in life. And then you go with that grain. And when you’re approaching movement with someone, because you don’t want it to be scary, you don’t want it to feel like they’re, they’re having to like, like climb up at it and like not achieve it. And you want to empower people, you know? So you highlight how they walk, how they talk, how they behave, how they are in it, just in life and how they speak. You know, I, I always find that it’s helpful that you find out who they are and how that works together with the movement, you know? And, and so that’s always helped me tremendously.
Thank you for sharing that. I think we overlap in our, in a lot of ways there. Um, one of the things I love most is explaining, you know, you talk about the importance of communication, and I love the creative challenge of explaining dance in non dance language. Um, it’s a creative, it’s a way for me to actively be creating when I might not be creating phrases per se, but, uh, creating new pathways in the brain and new ways of understanding a thing. I might be explaining a step in a way that I have never thought of it before, because this person doesn’t know the way that I’ve thought of it before all of the ways that a pas de bourres used to make sense to me, I’m now getting to question in order to help it make sense to somebody who’s never heard about it. It’s some of my favorite words. I love it.
And I’m sure you do it so well. I mean, yeah. I mean, I, I got to see you work up close in, In the Heights, which was amazing, you know? And so you’re like a force and I got to dance right opposite you.
Oh, I, yeah. I didn’t mention that is one of the only two numbers in the movie that I got to perform in and how much fun. Yeah. We have, uh, we have a moment you and I walking dead on towards camera. It is a very fleeting moment. It happens extremely quickly, but there we are. That’s our, it’s our, um, secret, secret duet where we have a lot of people around us. Um, okay. Well, I, I know that your time is valuable. I do want to do one more thing at a time valuable. That was a weird thing to say. I know your time is valuable, but I could talk to you for five hours. Um, I’ve noticed that five-hour podcasts only do well If you’re Seth Rogan, I always say Seth, by the way, Joe Rogan, that will tell you what kind of podcaster I am. I’m the type of podcast or that doesn’t know Joe Rogans name.
It’s all perfect. There’s nothing you can say, Dana.
That will not be perfect. Okay. Well, I’m so glad you said that because do you know how I want to close out right now? I’m grinning so hard. I’m about to cry.
No, no, I know. I know what you’re going to do. What you’re going to do. Okay. Go do it. It’s like.
I saw Will Loftis last night and I told him that I was going to be with you today. Immediately. He was like, it’s like the,
I just had a heart attack. Okay. Give me, give me a word. I’ll start with your word. Um, cup.
It’s like the cup without the water. It’s like a mother without her daughter.
You so good. Its like a candle.
No, you have, have to start, right?
I have to start with the last part. I got you.
Start with a word that I finished with. Oh. And then make the, um, it’s like, I don’t know. It’s like a cup without the straw. It’s like a courtroom without the law.
It’s like the law without the judge. Its like the steeple without the justice. You have to rhyme!
Yes. I know. But you have to rhyme. The last one has to rhyme the second one. Oh man. Okay. So for everyone that is confused right now, this little rhyming game is the game that on the night we were shooting Paciencia y Fe shoot, which turned into a morning shoot because they were lighting the 190 first street, uh, tunnel. They were lighting it for probably six hours. So we were all in a holding area and Will freaking Loftis starts playing this rhyme game. And he is so very good at he’s extremely good at this game. Um, and Tyce, you were newer to the game and I cry, I cried off my makeup, laughing at how willing you were to be playing this game that you were not any good at. And that spoke to me. And I think that that is a life lesson that we could all glean from. You can have so much fun and you can be the life of the party and still be new to something.
So hideous said that, and I’m like, why? Everybody’s a rapper And like, oh my God,
Do you want to try one? Do you want to try one more?
Yeah. Okay. Always. I should practice for the rest of my life.
Here’s how it goes. The first word. And the second word are related. They’re related, but they don’t rhyme. And then the third word is not related at all to the second word. It doesn’t rhyme with it either, but it is related to the fourth word and the second and the fourth word must rhyme. Second and fourth must rhyme. Your first word is my fourth word. Whatever my fourth word was, we’ll go super slow.
Yeah. Or how slow, like turtle slow.
I won’t even keep a rhythm by the way. The rhythm is the fun part. The rhythm picks up. And then, and then your Will Loftis and you’re actually a rapper. Oh, he’s so good. He’s got to come on the podcast. We’ll do a full episode of, of just this game. Okay. Uh, blah, blah, blah. Okay. We’ll go. Thematic. It’s like the podcast without the host. It’s like the breakfast without the toast. Yes, yes, yes. Okay. Now toast to you.
It’s like the toast without the jam. It’s like the it’s like the, um, wait. It’s like the, oh God. Yeah. You know? Oh, skillet without the spam.
Yes. You’re frying the spam. I get it. So right. You did
Okay. I’m kind of on your tip now. Okay. Yeah. So you had spam spam to me. It’s like the spam without the salt. It’s like the milkshake without the malt. Malt is a tough one. Malt is tough. I would have definitely, probably won that round malt malt.
It’s like the malt. It’s five o’clock apparently it’s fine. Yay. It’s five.
We made it to five. It’s like a malt. It’s like the
Malt without the,
You can use, you could, you might use ball like a multiple, like a melted milk,
Milk ball. Like the mall without the ball. It’s like, uh, it’s like the, the school without the hall. Okay. Now I got you. Dana,
You Got me. It’s like the hall without the lockers. It’s like the electric shock without the shockers. I don’t know that didn’t make sense. Does that makes sense at all? I would have lost that round. It’s like the electric shock without the shockers, whatever. Tyce It’s five o’clock it’s time for us to park today, but not forever. I’m so excited to see you again. Soon. Let’s go see In the Heights together. I would love to be like elbowing you in the ribs for, for an hour and a half. That’s what I want. Um, so thank you again for being here. I just had a ball. I smiled the entire time. My cheeks hurt.
That was amazing and terrifying all at the same time.
Are you sweating? I always sweat. Sweating.
Sweating. So fun though. So fun.
Fun. Okay. Here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to set a schedule for us to meet and play that game. And then just without telling Will we’ll be like, Hey, Will, do you want to have lunch? And then we’ll meet we’ll for lunch and we will crush him.
Okay. So now I’ve got a little, little seed of good things to come because you taught me now slowly. You also were playing and all were excellent. Oh,
That’s true. You jumped into the deep with us. Yeah. Oh God phenomenal. All right. My friend have an amazing rest of your day. Thank you again for doing this. Bye.
I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Tyce. And I really hope you take this rhyming game and become a master of it because it is genuinely so much fun hours, hours just flying by and makeup melting off from tears. So much fun. Don’t piss off hair and makeup. You don’t want to be that guy. Try to preserve your makeup as best as you can. Um, all right. Y’all, that’s it for me. I’m going to get out into the world. I am going to encourage every single person whose path I cross to go see In the Heights in a theater. So Latin people receive only 4.5% of speaking roles in films like dialogue in movies, only 4.5% of it is spoken by a Latin person. Yet Latin make up 40% of the audiences that is so wildly out of balance. And as frustrating is that is to me right now in this moment, I’ve got this kind of like super, super sad satisfaction, knowing that studios listen to dollars. And so if people show up at the box office and the box office doesn’t lie, studios will see that people want these stories. People want to see these people in leading roles and people will pay for representation. I think that is the ticket. If you can, if you’re healthy, if you feel safe, go see In the Heights in a theater and bring as many people as you possibly can. That’s me asking you straight up because the box office is where you, the audience member get to ask for what you want and you ask for it with your ticket admission. That’s how you do it. So please go out there, go see In the Heights. And of course go keep it exceptionally funky. And you know what else though? Keep it saucy because holy hell the sauce, the heat that comes from that film. Oh, yep. You’re not ready. Or maybe you’ve already seen it. You are ready and you just want to keep filling the cup. Please go, go and go again. All right. That’s it. That’s it for me really. But I want to keep talking about it. I’m going to reserve for Choreo team episode coming so-so so soon. Thank you guys for listening. I hope you’re great. Thank you guys for listening. I’ll talk to you soon.
Me again. Wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review because your words move me too. Number two things, I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so much more. All right, That’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye.
What do Tik Tok, a hydraulic press, and my favorite city in Australia all have in common? This week’s guest, Smac McCreanor. In this conversation, Smac and I dig into TikTok, commercials, building creative spaces, and living the lives of our dreams, so get ready to giggle, take notes, and maybe even tear up a little bit, because … This woman lives to laugh, she is strategic AND silly, and she knows how to turn 1+1 into 1 million. Wait, sorry…more like 1.5 million.
Smac on the gram: https://www.instagram.com/smacmccreanor/
Smac on Tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@smacmccreanor
YT of her remake Britney Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQk1lzbtzyo
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: Welcome my friend. This is Dana. This is words that move me. And this is a truly special episode because today I’m sharing a conversation with a person that I have adored at a distance for a very long time, but only really shared time and space with them. A few, uh, very cherished times. My guest today is Smac McCreanor. You may know her as the hydraulic press girl. You may know her as a Tik TOK star, but if you know her at all, you know her as many, many things, because she is many things. She is a very multi type and a man she’s talented, she’s smart. She’s savvy. She’s seriously funny. And she’s also super, she’s also super generous in sharing her experience, um, this entertainment industry thing that we’re doing. So y’all are lucky ducks to be listening in on this conversation. Now, if you know me, which some of you may not, but most of you do, if you know me at all, you know how much I value humor and play in my work. Yes. Play in my work. I really do think that is the sweet spot. So of course, I’m excited to share this conversation because I think Smac is giving new meaning to playful work. And I’m so jazzed about that. I’m so excited to share, but first wins. If you are new to the podcast, this is the part where I share a little personal victory sometimes it’s big, usually it’s small, uh, because I think it’s really important for us creative types, AKA perfectionist types to take a few minutes out of our day of criticizing and scrutinizing and analyzing to recognize what is straight up going well. So first all go, and then I will yield the floor to you. So get your win ready. Uh, today I am celebrating a play date with my fellow Seaweed Sisters. We have some things special up our sleeves, um, and that was a really evil laugh, but, uh, that we are not so evil surprise actually does not fit up a sleeve. That was misleading to say that, um, our special new project does not fit up a sleeve. Unless of course it would be a very big sleeve. Um, and all of this conversation about sleeves is reminding me of a joke that I have is a very good joke that is now probably ruined because I just ruined it. But I’m going to tell it anyways, because I think it’s a win in and of itself. Where does a king keep his Armies? Where does a king keep his armies? Obviously he keeps his armies in his sleevies. Too good. It’s too good. Okay. So today I’m celebrating really good, bad jokes and also the seaweed, sisters, new work in the making, all right, that’s me now. It’s your turn. What is going well in your world?
Congrats rock on. I am proud of you keep winning. Okay. I probably should also mention if you are not aware who the seaweed sisters are or what I produce, I should really say what the seaweed sisters are. Um, they are, we are one of my favorite things in the world made up of two of my favorite people, Jillian Meyers, Megan Lawson, and me. Um, and if you, if you don’t know, you can absolutely go find out the Seaweed Sisters on Instagram and also on YouTube, but not on Tik ToK, which is a perfect segue. Let’s do this today, Smac and I talk tik-tok we talk social media at large. Um, we talk commercials, we talk contracts, we talk creative spaces and we talk living the lives of our dreams. And I don’t think we say the word influencer even once. I think I could be wrong, but I don’t think we say influencer. So there’s that, so go ahead and, um, grab your favorite snack bonus. If it’s from Australia and enjoy this conversation with the one and only Smac.
Dana: Holy freaking smokes, I am really, really excited to be just, I’m really excited to hang out today, virtually not really in person, but with the one and only Smac McCreanor Hello, welcome to the podcast, Smac.
Smac: Hello, everyone.
Dana: I’m so excited. I’m sweating already, also wearing a long sleeve turtleneck and that was not a smart choice. Um, okay. Smac, I think you and I have only technically overlapped like in the workspace. Um, one time, which is Kat Burns’ Raggle Taggle Dance Hour where I was absolutely smitten by your performance. Um, but I’ve been a long time fan of yours and an admirer of your work and of you as a human. So I’m really thrilled to be getting to chat with you today. Thank you for being here.
Smac: Thank you so much for having me all my God. You’re legendary. I love you so much.
Dana: The love is mutual. It is, it’s palpable. I feel it in my armpits, in the form of heat. Um, okay. So the – the, the workflow here on the podcast, every episode starts at the same. It’s troublesome for some, but I ask all of my guests to introduce themselves. So w what is it that you would like us to know about you?
Smac: Wow. Hey everyone. My name is Smac. I don’t know. I’m giving away my secrets already, but my real name is Sarah. Sarah McCreanor, Sarah Mac, Smac. I get that question a lot. So I’ll just put it out there, but I’m an Australian dancer, actress, comedian, artists, photographer, business owner, I guess, choreographer and creative director and chocolate lover.
Um, co-sign on so many of those titles, but can we loop back really quick to business owner? Talk to me about it.
It is, it’s just been a COVID. It thing, like Covid had changed everyone, hopefully for the better, in most sense. But, um, so as you know, Ryan, who’s my boyfriend and a dear friend of yours, and he’s, he sends his best wishes to you right now.
Shout out Ryan Conferido whats up. Oh, we love it. It’s so great. We really we’re really big fans. I mean, you’re, you’re a bigger fan, Is a given, but wow. Okay. So you and Ryan, its a given.
Uh, we are creative idiots and just basically I’ve rented spaces before to like, do my own production work. And so is he, and just together while like let’s design a creative space, like a studio production space that people can rent from us and do all the creative work in, and also we can use it for ourselves. Um, and so that became a business and we just like invested in this last year. Um, coincidentally the same day we opened business was the same day that LA shut down for COVID. We literally had our opening night party, and then we got that like notification, how, you know, everyone got one and it’s like, Hey, Go Home, I’m like all happy opening business day, gosh, like the worst timing ever. But we had no idea what was going to happen. We didn’t know how the year was going to pan out. Obviously everyone was just on edge a little bit. Um, so we did what we could and just went with the flow, but it honestly worked in our favor because both Ryan and I work full time in the creative world and taking on this business was a little bit scary because it’s full-time as well. And we’re like, we just started a whole new career path right now, just on top of our lives. Um, and with COVID, since Hollywood shut down, it actually gave us full time to just focus and just start all this from scratch and like, figure it out.
Nurture this little infancy of a business that you had.
It was such a big learning curve. And I loved every step of it. I’ve always been, if I can toot my own horn, I’ve always been a little bit business-minded and obviously Ryan is a genius in every way everyone knows it. Well, we kind of just stumbled upon this and I guess figured it out and cause I haven’t caught up with you. Um, we signed another lease for a second location just a few weeks ago. So straight after this, I’m going to go paint some walls and like we’ll finish renovating for a second location.
Hell yes. Yeah.
Just switching career paths right now, switching, adding on a career path.
Adding on exploring or rounding out on an interest that used to manifest in other people’s spaces, the interest is the same, right? Exploring for yourself and facilitating exploration for other people, which in your own ways, you and Ryan both do, you’re like tremendously influential in your, in your fields. And I think you’re really encouraging people. You make work that is accessible and helps. I in, in my view anyways, helps people to feel like I want to be making, um, I, my husband is in rapid prototyping. He’s a machinist. He is an optical engineer. He is also many things, right. He’s like Ryan in that way. And one of our biggest dreams is to have a live/work space together. Um, you don’t live at the studio, do you? Your, is your space different? And by the way, we can definitely cut this part. If you don’t want people to know where you live.
I live at so-and-so street. Um, no, I mean, It would be awesome to have, I mean, I think that’s a lot of artists kind of dream living scenarios and absolutely I’d love to have that. At some point we started a small obviously, cause we’d had no clue what we’re doing, but um, yeah, at some point to be able to just have a place where I can live, create, eat, sleep on my, that is like great,
Wake up coffee, be making. That’s the dream. I, I really, I’m excited to pick your brain about having big space and all of the things that that means. But I think maybe, maybe my biggest question is this sounds like a dream. What parts of it are a nightmare? Like what could you prepare me for? What are the dumpster fires that I might walk into that you could help me to avoid?
Okay, well, I’m gonna Start by saying I’m I’m someone that just always goes with the flow. So I, I think, uh, something I like about myself as, I really don’t try to get upset certain things because I’m like who cares, whatever. No worries, Hakuna Matata, because everything usually works out. So I’m like, okay, cool. Um, but in saying that the thing I was most nervous about just, and it’s purely just an LA thing is the traffic. I was like, I don’t want to get in my car and drive for an hour to go to another place that you know, but, um, I’ve never experienced it. I’ve been in LA for like 10 years now. And you know, we’re always in traffic every day going anywhere. And this was the first time in the last decade that I’ve never been upset about sitting in traffic because I’m going to my own place. I’m going to a place that I love that I built. So
Because you’re going to a place that you love traffic no longer carries a wrath over you.
No, not at all. And like, it’s kind of weird that that was the biggest thing. I was not looking forward to just getting to the place it had nothing to do with place the business, the stress that it might cause. Um, but I was like, oh gosh, the traffic is such a chore, but it hasn’t affected me in a bad way at all. Cause I just am excited to go there. Um, and then I guess the other thing that was that you could probably relate to a lot is, um, just scheduling because our lives all over the place, any type of creative artist or, um, you know, freelancer as well is like, you’re just always on call. You’re always on hold. Some people have multiple agents and stuff like that as well. So you don’t always get a full say in things. And I was very nervous about that. And the best thing that came out of COVID is that that part stopped for me. So I got to take a break and just kind of learn how to do the business side of it. And now it’s merging back together and sometimes I panic, but it’s always a good problem because it’s usually things overlapping, right? So it’s just managing that. But like, that’s why we have a team like me and Ryan together can manage it fine. Like we just was such a good tag team in that way. We’re just lucky that we can work well like that. And just, we both have similar schedules where we can just pick up for each other and yeah.
That is a dream. Congratulations and keep winning. That’s massive. Oh, we do wins on the podcast by the way, every episode includes like a micro win and that win, like having a partnership that is business and beyond is such a massive win. Ah, good on you. Good on you. Oh, which brings us back. Okay. So now I’m moving back to move forward. Okay. You’re from Australia. You mentioned that, but you’re from Brisbane, which is probably my favorite city in Australia. Yes. Um, I’ve been there twice on tours and I know Sydney has its thing and Perth is super charming and like people have their favorites, but Brisbane is my favorite. It is also where Wade Robson is from, was born. And he’s a very special person.
Yes, he absolutely is. But I met him when I was a kid because the dance studio, I grew up to where I grew up in, uh, doesn’t actually like exist anymore. It’s motion to something else is where he used to dance, but not for a long time because I didn’t ever cross over paths with him. But it was like the claim to fame kind of thing, where it was like, for sure, probably once took a class here, but it was like a thing. And he came back when I was a teenager or tween and did a master class. And this is me in Brisbane, a little Bogan Aussie kid didn’t know anything about anything anywhere. And I just remember he picked, he pointed me out and he like made me dance by myself. And I was like, oh, I was like 12. So he, uh, I really liked him.
I love those moments. Um, okay. Jumping ahead. In time you live in Los Angeles, you are a person who works in with, with different paint brushes, be it as an actress, a comedian, a full-blown dancer. You did have the, So you Think You Can Dance moment, which I thought was phenomenal. I don’t know what your experience was with the show. And we can talk about that if you’d like, or we don’t have to, but it feels like you’ve had your hand in a lot of different, um, you know, parts of the entertainment industry. Is there, is there one place that you love to be working the most?
Um, okay. I think because it was something I had never experienced until I moved to LA I am a sucker for the commercial industry, I mean, I guess I think this is where like, as a dancer, you know, it’s really typical that way behind someone it’s like the whole backup dancer vibe. Not that that’s bad thing at all, but once I’ve booked my first commercial and I was like, oh, um, I’m kind of the main thing here. My ego just went, okay,
This is all I want to do forever. Thanks.
I love it. I’m always trying to be that person, you know, like I, I like to entertain people. I like to make people laugh and I think I just had a really good first experience with it. And then as it went down the path and the flow started to get real nice and I don’t know how it fell into that, but, um, it was just commercial after commercial for a little bit there. And I was like, this is a real, really nice. Yeah.
I could do this for my living. And you did. And you could do that for your life.
I really could. And you could, and I will, but I’m a bit of a scatterbrain. So I think I love how short all of those jobs are. Sometimes it’s literally half a day. Sometimes it’s a week. I’ve not really done a commercial it’s more than a week, honestly. So I love little pockets of jobs and gigs, and it’s always a different scenario. And I kind of love that
Pockets of gigs that keep filling up. Even after you’re done working, we talked, uh, in a previous episode, I had Money March on the podcast and we talked about residual structures and how,
I listed to that!
Oh did you?
Absolutely. Because I am a sucker for all that stuff. And I have learnt stuff from experience, but even just listening to you, break everything down again, I was like, gosh, there’s just so much that people don’t know about and that I don’t know about. And it’s how do we even find all this information from you obviously,
From words that move me podcast, go check us out. Uh, thanks for being here. Um, well I’m glad that you listened to that and if you haven’t go back and check out if you, the listener not you, Smac, haven’t uh, then go back and check out Money March. Cause we do talk a little bit about the nuance of the difference between commercial or TV/Film, uh, or music, video contracts. Very cool stuff. Glad to hear that. Now let’s talk about how you can take a love for the commercial industry and turn it into its own little sub career by doing whatever the hell you want on social media. And I might be a little too liberal when I say that. I don’t know if that is actually your approach, but that’s what it looks like when I watch your stuff on social media. I’m like, she’s doing exactly what she wants to be doing. And that’s attractive because all of us inside want to be doing what we want to be doing. And most of us aren’t, which makes people like you all the more attractive. Um, so I want to talk a little bit about social media. Um, today’s a big day for me.
Oh my God. What’s happened. Oh my god, you downloaded something?
I got tik-tok today.
I’m going to wake up my re my pet bunny by clapping so loud.
I downloaded tik-tok today. Okay. Well, okay. Let’s start. Let’s start. So here’s what I want to do. I want to take two different points of view. Let’s say that I just downloaded tik-tok today. I have no videos, no uploads and no views and no followers. What do I need to know?
Okay, well, um, there’s also two parts of that as well. Cause what do you need to know as someone who has potential as a creative or just someone who’s working, because it matter for you because you’re not just a lurker, you’re someone who..
I’m excited to engage because for a long time and people listening, people who’ve been listening for a long time, know this, I’ve got thoughts about Tik Tok dances and the trends and challenges and things like that. My thoughts were not really helpful. Most of the time they were just kind of grumbly to boil it down, My thought was tik-tok celebrates mediocrity. I celebrate excellence. I can’t reconcile these two things with just a little bit of thought management. I can absolutely reconcile these two things. You can be excellent on tik-tok you are proof. So I’m thrilled at the possibility of that. And I can also decide that I don’t like it after having been in it. Why would I decide? I don’t like it from the outside and just say no to something forever.
I think thats the first thing, people go into some sort of pressure, like, okay, I’ve got to become famous tomorrow. I’m like guys chill out. It’s going to happen at some point or it’s not going to happen at some point. Just have fun.
Just have fun. Just do the things that are exciting for you. Yeah. Okay. So I’m a lurker. I’m not here to watch. What do I need to know?
Okay. I think, um, I always try to tell people, because I do get people asking me just for general advice across the board.
Yeah. Cause everyone’s like, should I just do these trends? I’m like yeah, you can go into this trend, but just like darn do something that is not enjoyable because it’s just, unless you’re making fun of it, which I do sometimes. But like literally if you all sit in there watching cat videos all day long, do a cat video, like do something that you enjoy watching because otherwise, what, what is the connection there? Because why are you doing it then? So obviously we’re dancers, we’re creatives it’s makes sense for you to do something that’s movement-based if you liked doing it. Um, and I think tik-tok what I love about it compared to other social media in the past anyway, is that literally anyone can get rewarded acknowledged, viral if that happens.
Yes. This is, this is a core belief of mine. I believe that dance is for everyone. Yeah. I don’t love dance. That is elite and exclusive. I like part of the, part of the charm. I think of the Seaweed Sisters and what we make together is that it is human dance and creature dance, and it is not “dancer dance” necessarily. We’re still trying to figure out what exactly it is, but yeah. Dance for everyone. Okay. So, uh, at the beginning I was not a fan of Instagram, either. I had similar thoughts about Instagram. I don’t need this. It’s going to destroy all my time that I have and whatever. Um, and then I realized that what I was actually avoiding was shipping like producing. I was really good at having ideas, not great at making them happen and certainly not great at sharing them or getting feedback about them. So I wanted to improve this, you know, this creative workflow, this life cycle of an art baby. And I decided to do a video every single day on Instagram, I wound up doing like 400 and some, and eventually I saw like, you know, I left, my rule is always be rolling. Like I have footage upon footage upon footage. I got very good at knowing myself on camera, knowing places and other people and boundaries and the frame like boundaries of the frame and boundaries of other people and of myself, um, and of my audience even, oh my God learn so much. Can’t even, can’t even explain how much I learned if you’re listening to this episode and haven’t listened to others, go back and listen to episode one I go in on my doing daily year, but towards the end, I caught myself in between takes, hating what I was doing, but people have a good bull ***t meter.
I think for the most part, people love, things are authentic and, and that are exciting to the person. And so if you’re not excited about what you’re doing is not going to hit. So I think right now I’ve got like six different interests that I want to play with. And I’m just not sure what to do. So that’s my next question. This is totally selfish. Do you have to do one thing? Do you have to choose that you are the funny YouTube collaborator person or you’re the hydraulic press girl or you’re the, um, Jacket kick girl, or like what?
Um, yes and no, it either way it can be brilliant. Cause I’ve seen it happen both ways. I’ve seen it happen both ways with myself because sometimes I go through a month or I do one thing and it has gotten me amazing opportunities because of it. And then sometimes I do different things every five minutes and I get amazing opportunities from it. And I’m like, cool. So I think, um, you’re obviously smart enough to know how to brand yourself. You already are a brand, you already have everything. You have all the resources in that sense. Um, I think Tik Tok is the perfect platform to not overthink that. It’s very rare that people are just going to your profile to look at the whole thing. It’s they just come across your videos. Yeah. Cause people were videos without having to follow you. That’s the difference between at least in my head that made difference between Instagram or the old instagram and Tik Tok is that Instagram only people who follow you are seeing your work. So it is kind of like Instagram seems at least for Cray, uh, for creators, it seems a little bit more like a professional standard. Like I absolutely make sure every single week on Instagram, I post something that shows, um, my face because I book work off my friggin image. I have something that’s dance related. I have something that I’m speaking in. I have something that’s a bit more professional looking like even posting a commercial I’ve done just so. If anyone looks at it without even having to scroll, they can see all the five or six things that I try to represent in myself. Tik tok, I think it’s like, you can really get rewarded for just doing it. Doesn’t have to be a pattern at all. But then you’ve obviously seen people who have done just the same thing taken off and yeah, I it’s just such an experimental thing.
Oh, I love, it’s a playground.
It’s a playground. And it’s really good because if it doesn’t work out, it’s like not going to hurt you at all. Like if someone doesn’t see your video, you’ll like, okay, cool. I’ll just make a new one.
Wow. That I didn’t, I didn’t ever consider that.
I think just like, like people don’t care enough about how much you might care about your work. I know that sounds harsh, but that’s how I treat it for myself because I’m like, Hey, this is fun, but I never go, will people like that song choice though. I go, I don’t care. I love this song because people don’t care,
Lower stakes higher reward.
Yeah I think take talk really thrives in that sense. And I would try to, if you were really trying to push yourself and your maybe a main struggle is you are not comfortable just sharing. If you’re really wanting to push yourself, just be like, okay, this week I’m going to share, um, two videos a day, three videos a day and five videos an hour, whatever it is, they don’t have to be anything important. It doesn’t have to be polished. It doesn’t have to be rehearsed. Just try something because that’s what people like watching. It’s literally like a reality TV show. Not every scene is perfect. So just do it just like Nike, it, just get it done. Just post it. Don’t sit there, rewatching it too many times. Just press post.
J P P just press post. Just go. I, that was maybe one of the things. One of the most rewarding things about my year of Instagram, because I knew I would just be doing it again. The next day, the release part got really natural. It was way less precious than I had been treating things before. But at that point you’re right. The, I think what Instagram is used for has changed dramatically. That is even an understatement. Um, but it, yeah, it is like this living, breathing resume, get to know me place. And I love the idea of that, being that, and then having a freaking playground to go play at it’s something that I, that has truly been missing in my life is this idea of play. I know I’m not alone. Um, but the Seaweed Sisters fragmented during COVID. We were all in different places. The places where we play were all shut down. So all of a sudden I found myself shockingly doing quite well because I also have a business brain that I love to nurture and, um, kind of a home body that didn’t get to really thrive until 2020. And I a thirved like no pants and lots of plants. That was sort of my, my 2020, I had a great time. But at a certain point I found like, oh, I haven’t really played in a while. And in one month I like purchased roller skates enrolled in clown school, like fully enrolled in clown school and was shopping for a dog. I was like, all the play, give me every, all of the play. Um, so adding, Tik ToK to my play plate feels totally appropriate and I’m thrilled about it. Okay. So now now second perspective. Let’s imagine that I’ve been on tik-tok for a long time. I have 1.5 million followers. What do I need to know? What does that person need to know?
I think the main thing that people realize once they start getting a following is that the journey of consistent likes is just like ridiculous. It goes up and down. It’s not going to happen yet. So as much as it annoys me, like even yesterday, like I might post something in an hour, I’ve had things grow to 5 million views in an hour. Yesterday I posted one and got a hundred views in 10 hours. So it can like super drastically change. And it’s just the, the playground of the algorithm. So I think, um, like as much as it can dishearten you just like, just let it out. Don’t think about it. I catch myself sometimes being like, well, cool. But you know what? I’ll just post the same video tomorrow. See what happens cause no one cares, because literally no one cares.
Oh, the experimental element of it really speaks to me.
I, you know, for me personally, I approach a lot of things with humor. The fact that I might post the same video of myself seven times in a day with like, you know, kind of making fun of myself. Sometimes that’s worked. Cool. Thanks Tok Tok. Like it’s, it is absolutely the best platform in my opinion, to just make a fool of yourself if you’re down for it and then yet fully experiment and just like, just, just no worries. Yeah. It doesn’t like, it’s almost, it’s better if it’s less polished, it’s the rehearsal room and then Instagram can be the stage
That makes total sense. I love it. Um, okay. So on this subject of, of kind of on the subject of comparing those two, I have a question about ownership and credit. Um, and, and I saw you post something recently. It was a screenshot of somebody’s DMed you saying “like, please stop with the sponsored content it’s annoying” and you’ve responded, or you said something to the effect of, ‘sorry, I don’t get to decide when Instagram sponsors my content.’ Then that sparked, that was like a great living, breathing example of this question that I get all the time does Instagram own my stuff or do I own my stuff? And I’ve done a little digging, but please weigh in. If I, if I’m wrong on this. I think that the bottom line, um, is that social media is a public venue. It is public space. So although you, the creator does retain the copyright of let’s say that image or that video, um, because we’re engaging in the space, we’ve accepted the terms and conditions we’ve agreed to Facebook’s, non-exclusive transferable, sub-license royalty-free worldwide. They can use that wherever the ***k they want newness of it. So is that what has happened to your posts? And do you, are you aware of when that happens?
Well, okay. This is a very specific one. Um, there’s definitely so many versions of this, but this one, the reason I repressed that is also because I’m always self promoting myself. And that was a way for me to be like, Hey, yeah, I’m getting paid to do this. This is a job I’m doing, ah, ha playing the game where I’m like, oh, but, um, what that translates to, but I love telling people about this kind of thing, because this only happened to me a month ago, so I’m like, anyone can do this in my opinion. Um, but I’m now in a contract with official Instagram. So that’s why they’re using my videos for their sponsored ads. But I was honest when I say, I don’t know which ones they using because yeah. We’re on a contract where they, um, I’m creating certain videos for them. And at the moment they’ve got maybe like 10 or 15 videos that I, that they have access to use, but I don’t know which ones they’re going to use and where they’re going to pop up, but it’s a contract, so I’m fully down with it, but that’s, that was that specific post. But then there’s the, in our every day, even this morning, like a bunch on Tik ToK, I’m always getting sent. Um, people it’s really cool that like the past year I’ve kind of got this following web people are recognizing me in my specific videos. So if people see people post it, that isn’t me, they’re like, Hey, that’s Smac. And I’m like, that is so cool that people are like recognizing me that way. And it’s definitely humbled by that, that people go out of their way to be like, Mmm, that’s not your video. I’m like, dang, those people are cool. But I’m seeing that like all day, every day, my videos circle around the internet and people are reposting them. Obviously my name is not attached to it. And I think you can be really upset about that. Or in my opinion, the videos that are going viral, are kind of videos that people aren’t doing.
W-what are you talking about specifically? Those things.
Yeah. Different random videos that I would’ve just done that completely. I don’t think about too much, but the hydraulic press videos that has become a series that I’ve just kept going because it’s
Evergreen. It’s evergreen. I mean, sorry, I don’t mean to cut you off. I get excited about those videos. I think I’ve watched all of them and I do have my favorites. I can sum it up by saying anything where your shoes fly off. But I remember my husband showed me the hydraulic press channel when we lived in Sunnyvale. So this must’ve been 2015, maybe that channel on YouTube popped up and he’s a machinist and I’m a mover. And I remember watching it and be like, oh, that’s great. That’s so funny. I could watch this all day. And then I did, but I didn’t get up and move to it. That is where that is. That is where one plus one equals a million. You have a hydraulic press crushing stuff. That’s one. And that’s really awesome. And then you have an incredibly aware and talented, physical being recreating it with her body. And that is 1 million, like that’s one plus one equals a million to me. That is, that is nothing better than that. Um, I just think the world of those videos and of you for having the, whatever, whatever it was that got you up off your ***, into a pink outfit to embody like unicorn horn or something.
Yeah. It was a fluke, but I’m not mad at it. You know? Cause usually that’s what I mean, like with the whole experimental thing, that was a split second, I had a five minute window to film something. I was like, I just want to quickly film a video because I’m going to be sitting down for the next five hours. Um, and I was like, I just randomly have a lot of outfits. I have a lot of block color outfits for audition. Perfect. No branding on it. And I love that kind of stuff. So I was wearing like a full, I was wearing a yellow shirt and a pink and pink pants. And obviously the hydraulic press videos, the original ones are so viral. And I always see people duet them. So it’s side-by-side videos and they’re doing their reactions and they go viral just from people watching it. They’re not even talking nothing. They’re just watching the video that’s next to their face and they go viral and I was like, huh, I’ll just be the hydraulic press. And it took that long to think of it. I did it, I did uploaded it done. So I’m like, I don’t think it through or anything. I just watched it. I saw it melt down and go up. And I was like, that looks like a frickin yoga move easy.
That’s Floor Bar. I know this, I know this,
But yeah, it really is. But then that’s the kind of stuff that at least for me personally, those are the videos and other things that are kind of in a similar nature that have gone everywhere. They’re on the front page, front page of Reddit. Like even some random celebrities like reposting them. And even if my name isn’t on there, I know that if the time happens where someone important needs to find out who it is, they can, but yeah.
Thank you for that. Thank you for that insight. That’s, that’s a really empowering position. Um, and also thank you for staying on track. This subject was credit. I forgot about that. I it’s something that’s very much at the forefront of my mind right now, um, In the Heights is about to come out. I was one of the Associate Choreographers. Chris, the choreographer, Chris Scott, um, is really, really adamant about, you know, sharing credit and making sure that people are aware that this was a team event. Um, of course he was steering the ship and I just, I really so admire how much attention and effort he’s putting into sharing this credit. And, um, I just, I, I don’t know enough yet. I’ve fully watched two videos inside of Tik ToK today, but I don’t know how that works credit or captions or like there is no place to know who started that dance.
Is really wishy-washy, which can suck as a creative because I’m all about being ethical. And I sometimes spend hours or days finding the person who kind of came up with something and then six months later you find out they stole it from someone else and you’re like, damn it. I gave them credit, and they didn’t even think of it, but like,
Which, and it makes you wonder there’s a purity spiral of credit. Like if we’re really gonna get granular about it.
Exactly. Everyone’s inspired by something. My hydraulic press videos were literally inspired by the hydraulic press video. But I think just because of my position and like what we know as professional artists, um, I love giving a hundred percent credit where I can, well, I mean, if I can’t then I usually just don’t use that idea life. It’s not mine. I don’t want to use it. Or I love the, this is what I love about Tik ToK and Instagram. Now the duet feature means you can put the original video next to you, which is why I started recruiting because I was like, I could just do this or it worked in my favor that you can see it side by side. So I actually love doing duets because then I giving credit by capturing the name and visually give them credit to them, which I, I really liked doing that just to be someone who wants to give them credit.
Oh, I love that. Okay. That’s good to know that that’s a good newbie newbie lesson. Um, okay. I want to do a quick little burnout round. Um, the first question that I want to ask is actually, maybe not a burnout question. This is kind of maybe a hard question. If somebody asked me this today, it would take me 45 minutes to answer. Um, but I would love to know what do you want to do the most?
Oh, you know what? My whole entire life is just make someone giggle. That’s it. I really don’t. I, the two things I’ve always thought about since I was a kid, cause I’m really, haven’t leveled up in terms of like my, what I do or who I am. I’ve been like this since I was about eight and I’ve always been doing this stuff. So I love it. That’s I literally, I just love being an idiot, a professional idiot.
A creative idiot. I really like that. I like that. Even more than creative director, because let’s be real. Yeah. Well, some creative directors at the core are creative idiots. It’s
Title yourself, whatever you want. So, so,
So this is it. You’re doing it.
I’m happy with this. I really am. I’ve been doing it for so long. Like, I mean, even when I chat to my good friends from Australia, like when we were all teenagers, they’ve sometimes pointed out being like, man, you’ve never once changed because even back then when I was 16, I was like, guys, we’re doing a music video to toxic in the car park right now. Like put on your outfits. And I have videos of that on YouTube. Like I just was always that person.
Well, I will be sharing that in the show notes to this episode, FYI. Can’t wait, can’t wait. Um,
But yeah, so I think I’ve always just loved making people laugh. And the other thing that I love just from my own experience, um, because we all idolize people and I would love the, to have an impact on someone, the way that my idols have impacted me to the point where the reason I am today is because of like these two comedians that I grew up watching Lano & Woodley. They’re a hundred percent the reason why I do anything. And I’m like, if I could just somehow spark that motivation to someone, I don’t want any credit for it at all. But I’m like, that is awesome. Cause they gave me this kind of sense of freedom to be a fool. Like they, I just love them so much. And if I can, I’m tooting my own horn a little bit here, but just because I just, it gives me the feels. But these, um, people that I idolize, like the fact that later on in life, it came full circle where they were then watching me perform and were congratulating me on my career. And that is something that I’m like, I, since that moment I’m like, okay, I’m done. I have, my life has made, I don’t need anything else. I am. I’m fully content with that. That’s something that I’m like, that feeling is really special to me. I know it would be just cool to know that like maybe someone else is trying to do a hydraulic press squishing routine because they saw mine
100%. They are yes. 100% there. Um, okay. So if, if you’re tooting, then I’m going to toot, because you just reminded me of an incredible story that I don’t think I’ve shared on the podcast before please. So I’m 34 now, which puts me squarely in the midst of NSYNC and Britney mania when I was like going to concerts for the first time and stuff. True story. Okay. Who is your first concert?
Work. Mine was Ricky Martin. So basically same.
Okay. I love that. Yeah, exactly the same.
Exactly the same concert that we went to. Um, okay. But I really, really loved NSYNC. They were it for me, I knew people would get into fights about Britney or Christina. I didn’t really, I mean, I love, I love Britney, but I didn’t really get into that. But if you tried to tell me, the Backstreet Boys were better than NSYNC, I would literally fight you. Now, in hindsight, I’ve worked with both groups, love them both adore all PS. JC was always my favorite and JT knows this. I have made it explicitly clear. He was so full out. I just love, I love full out anyways. I would. I watched bye bye bye and every, I watched every single music video and every VMA or live performance had them all on VHS studied within an inch of their lives. And then when I performed with JT, uh, during his MTV video Vanguard awards, he brought the Boys back and they did a little bit of, of Bye Bye Bye. And I was helping Marty out on the project and it became my job to help recall Bye Bye Bye. And there was a moment where the gentleman from NSYNC asked, can we, can we film you doing that so we can rehearse. And it was just like, oh, I have no idea how full sir. Like I watched you, you’re watching me. I I’ve learned this from you now. You’re learning it for me. It was the wildest strangest I had to. I had to like, I had to take a seat later and just recall how, how, how you just never know. You just never know.
You’ll never forget. You know, I love that.
Yeah. I’m dripping now I’m so sweating so much. Um, okay. Now we get into the rapid fire round. This question that came up in last week’s episode, which was Live episode I did with the zoom audience. And uh, the question is you are on a desert island, stranded for perpetuity, as long as all of your contracts are and you get to have eight songs. Oh my God. Eight songs. I know guys. So I was so mad at this question.
Eight songs, Boogie Wonderland, Shake your Groove Thing, Bohemian Rhapsody,
Why did I not have any queen on my list? Technically not true. Cause I had Christine and the Queens, but it isn’t. Okay. Keep going, keep going.
Um, I would say the song Sarah, Fleetwood Mac. Oh, okay. I’ve done Four
Sick. Is that what you were named after?
No, I was named after my mom’s dog, so fun. Um, but I do love what else? My mum she’s like, yeah. I had a dog named Sarah. I was like, cool. Thanks. Love it. I love animals. That’s fine. Okay. Well what else? Oh. Oh, you know what, if, even if it doesn’t exist a song that Ryan plays piano at or anything just him playing piano. Um, three more. I totally lost track. Yeah. Uh, the theme song of Lano Woodley, which is the comedy duo that I love. And, um, this is so weird. I’m thinking of the jingle of a commercial. The other thing I don’t want to use that one. Nevermind.
Oh no, not hot pockets.
No, no. It was definitely an Australian jingle and I can’t even remember the brand of it. So I can’t use that. Um, oh my God. I have two more. I’ve done disco. Um, I feel like I need some like eighties. Yeah. Yeah. Uh, I’m probably gonna put in some Spice Girls.
Don’t know which one, maybe probably Wanna Be,
Unless you wanted to do the ballad. What was their ballad? Two, two into one. Is that what it was called to become one.
I don’t have time for slow songs on a desert island,
You’re busy, cramped.. You need the energy
Maybe. Um, um, my gosh, I just want to look at my playlist is only eight songs anyway. Um, I’ll be listening to the same music since I was born. That’s why I don’t know any,
All throw backs. Okay. I’m going to give you one more. Cause I completely lost track. What are you?
Well, I mean maybe ABBA something ABBA.
Okay. I’ll take it. Same question. But with dance steps, you get to do a dance steps again for, for evermore. Okay, cool.
I will do a, uh, just a great pose. Cause I don’t like using energy, but I love a pose. Um, I would probably do the worm, um, a front walkover, just basically all my freestyle moves
The book. The book of moves.
The book of moves. I’ll put my jacket kick even. That’s not a dance step, but it
What have I done?
It’s an arabesque.
Yes. Thank you. Thank you so much.
And your hip is down by the way your placement is ACE. It’s done.
Geez. I feel like, can I just put in like a simple, like touch step bounce kind of want to do in my life? You know, like a step click, but a bit uncoordinated and dorky. Um,
Got it. So less swivel in the hips and just more vertical, this more vertical, but
We like that. More mom vibes, no offense mums. Um, geez, what else?
I don’t know about you, but I definitely have a serious relationship with pas de bourses and Rond de jambs I can’t freestyle. If I had to pay someone a dollar while we’re on the subject of credit. If I had to pay someone credit for every time I do a Rond de jambs or a pas de bourses would have no dollars. I would have no home. Yeah. Fully in debt, like, like Ivy league debt for using those steps. That’s it for me.
You know what Tik ToK has made me realize that obviously I use the same eight steps over and over. Yeah. This is my eight steps. Um, and I always do a pelvic thrust and whether that’s comedic or serious, I always do one. So we’ll put in a pelvic thrust, but it wasn’t a creepy. It’s never like perverted club scene style, unless that was what it called for.
In which case, if it was called for, you would do it.
Um, I think I have one more move and like, I can’t, I can’t do it, but I just, like, I really loved my boyfriend. So I’m going to put in Ryan’s a backflip to his head move and it would probably end my life If I’m in the desert island. But I would end with a bang
Kamikaze, it would go, go out with a snap from
Beap bop done. Okay.
We’ll also be linking to a clip of Ryan doing this movie. I can find a clip of him doing it like 9,008 times back to back, back then
Its in the, the old, um, intro for, so you think.
That’s him. That’s the move. That’s it
In my bedroom when I was a kid watching the first season in Australia, which I didn’t really watch it that much, but all I remember was that. And that’s when I started to learn headstands in my lounge room, I was like, oh, Hey Ryan,
And now he’s your boo cup business partner done. But wait, you can’t tell me that you do not also remember Blake McGrath’s shoot the duck forward jete thing. Oh yeah,
Yeah. I do. I was more, more into doing the headstand because for sure energy, for some reason
All about conserving energy, like minimum input, maximum output, that is what you do tremendously well, and I, that celebrate the
Laziest hard worker ever.
It’s an excellent thing to be.
Yeah. I love it. I love being that kind of person.
I admire it. You inspire the shit out of me. I was so thrilled to have gotten, to talk to you about these things that I’ve always been curious about and so many more. So we’re gonna, we’re going to wrap this up here today, but you and I are, have, have plenty of making to do and plenty of catching up to do. Congratulations on the new space. I can’t wait to see it. Oh my gosh. You and Ryan
You have to come over and we can do Tik Toks together.
I’m extremely down and unlike my husband, I love painting. So if you need a paint partner, I’m happy to do that with you. I could do it all day long. I love it. Oh gosh.
Well I’m going there right now. Not that you have to come right now, but also because I was obviously telling Ryan I was doing this and we just want to hang out with you. So please.
Okay. Thank you. So, so, so much.
Thank you so much. Bye bye.
Well, I hope you enjoyed that. Chat with my friend Smac and I hope that you begin preparing for the day that someone asks you for the eight songs you would choose to listen to in perpetuity forever, as you are stranded and probably sunburned on a desert island somewhere. That is it for me today. I hope that you dug this episode. If you are digging the pod, please go leave a review and a rating. So super helpful to me. But the most important thing to me is that you go keep it funky. I’ll talk to you soon. Bye
Me again. Wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review your Words Move Me too. Number two thing I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops and so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye.
My long time friend, Erika Mori, joined me on the podcast today! The conversation bounces between sensitive, smart, and very silly as we walk down memory lane, dig into the importance of technique to access emotion, and discuss the inevitable “professional heartbreaks” that we’ll experience in our work.
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 though.
Dana: Hello, My friend. Welcome to the podcast. I’m Dana. This is words that move me. And this episode is so much fun, If I do declare. Today on the podcast, I am talking to one of my longest time friends. Her name is Erika Mori, and she is sensational. You are about to find out, uh, Erika and I grew up dancing together. We’ve known each other since we were probably nine, maybe younger. I’ll have to check the date on some of the footage that we have uncovered. Yeah, you’re going to definitely want to tune into the Instagram to see some, some proof of our friendship and talent and how it has evolved over time. Um, but I’m, I’m jazzed about this episode because in it, Erika and I discuss a wide range of topics from climbing corporate ladders, uh, the importance of, and the place for our emotions and landing the job of your dreams with arguably no experience. In Erika’s case, very little to no social media following either. She is an exceptional person with an exceptional story, and I’m so excited to share it with you. Uh, but first we’re going to do some wins. Um, if you’re new to the pod, this is, this is what we do. We start every episode off by talking about what’s going well. I think it’s important. I’m going to take the stage first and then I’m going to pass the mic to you. So be thinking about your win and what’s going well in your world. Um, today I am celebrating last week’s free live career coaching call that I hosted. I got to meet so many awesome people. Thank you for bringing yourselves you’re vulnerab— Well, that’s a tough one. It really is a tough one. Your vulnerability, your questions. Um, I think everyone walked away with, with a better idea of what career coaching is, period. Um, but also with a lot of insight and awareness as to how to move forward with clarity and confidence. Um, so that is my win. Awesome free career coaching call. If you guys happen to have missed it, I did not record the call and I won’t record those calls in the future, but I will certainly be doing more of them in the future. So stay tuned over @wordsthatmovemepodcast on Instagram and my website, theDanawilson.com
That is where I will always be sharing. That is the home of those free calls. Uh, okay. Now it’s your turn. What’s going well,
Do keep it up. I’m stoked for you. All right. Now, I don’t want to borrow any more time. I want you to meet Erica so bad. I’m so excited. This episode is truly equal parts, smart, sensitive, and straight up laugh attack. So buckle up and enjoy this conversation with Erika Mori.
Dana: Holy Freaking Smokes, ladies and gentlemen, boys, girls, and all humans alike. Please welcome my guest today. Erika Mori, Erika, thank you so much for being here.
Erika: Uh, what a delight, a pleasure.
Dana: So I, you are one of my longest oldest, dear, not oldest. Uh, I’ll be careful. One of my longest time friends known each other since, since we were children. Um, I’m really excited to talk to you on the podcast today about some exciting things going on in your creative world. Um, and we’ll take a little journey into the past of child Dana, child, Erica. I’m so excited about this. Um, but before we do any of that, I would love for you. Uh, as I love for all of my guests to endure the struggle of introducing themselves, uh, what would you like us to know about you?
Erika: Oh, wow. Well, my name is Erika Mori and I currently live in Denver. I am a voracious reader and a dog mom, which seems like pretty basic, but I’ll take it.
Dana: Oh, there’s nothing but nothing basic about being a dog. Mom. I’m a plant mom and I’ve got my hands full.
Erika: Yeah, but you have a, your plant mom to a plant in eight disco ball planter, which is true, like fairly eccentric. And it’s really fabulous. It’s a party, it’s a party, it’s a party. And also life
Photo evidence will be coming soon to an Instagram account near you. Um, okay. Thank you for that. Thank you so much for the introduction. Albeit a very modest introduction because I do want our listeners to also know that you are, um, the face, the voice and the body of the lead character, Alex, uh, from the video game, Life is Strange, which has been, award-winning like, this is a big, massive deal this game. Um, this narrative adventure video game thing by SquareEnix. Is that correct? Yeah. Okay. And we’re going to talk about that because this is a big, massive, exciting job of yours, but first we’re going to go, uh, stroll down memory lane. If you wouldn’t mind,
I would love to
This, this blast from the past is brought to you by Chiquita banana head dresses and Michelle Latimer Dance Academy. Oh yes. Photo evidence of that coming soon as well. Um, what was that? I like it like that. Yeah. Before it was a Nicki Minaj hook. We danced too. I like it like that with Chiquita banana head dresses on which may be slightly insensitive if done today, perhaps. But I will say that,
How old were we? I mean, we were like 12, probably 12, 12, 11. Yeah.
Yeah. Some of my fondest memories took place in those, in those four walls at Michelle Latimer Dance Academy. Um, I’m, I’m wondering if you could just dish a few of your favorite memories from being a comp kid?
Oh God. Um, I think one of my favorite memories is actually like pretty disgusting. It was, do you remember how we would spit on the floor and rub our feet in it? Like our shoes in it to like basically be rosin? Yeah. Um, S four turns so that we wouldn’t slip just loogies everywhere.
100% everywhere. I actually caught myself in the act of this, um, of this spit resistance very recently. Like during COVID times. And I spit on the floor and it was like, Oh my God,
I am so sorry. It’s like, now we’re just like a Petri dish of disease
For real. I mean, when you consider, I just, I just hit my disco ball. I’m getting, so I’m getting so excited when you consider that later on, I rolled around on that same floor and the other people that would be rolling around on that same floor. It’s a miracle
We ate off of that floor.
Um, such a wonder that we didn’t all get ringworm, right? Yeah. That was a disgusting, that was a disgusting habit that we had. We had some wardrobe, some hot wardrobe fashions. I remember, I remember specifically wearing little boy underwear in dance class as if they were briefs like dance briefs.
Yeah. That was kind of like some of our costumes. I just, now I know how upset my dad was about just all of it, how, um, there just weren’t many pieces of fabric or for a lot of our costumes and he still, you know, religiously went to every single dance competition. Bless his heart. Yes. You know, um, and probably just like closed his eyes for all of it.
Super shout out Rick Mori. Well, you know what? I didn’t expect the conversation to go there, but this is a really interesting topic. That’s seeing quite a bit more light, uh, of, of late. I think as a lot of people are becoming more aware of some of the things that might be happening unintentionally in the convention and dance training worlds that are not so safe for young people. Um, so I think a lot of, a lot of people at the moment being more responsible for, um, not just the costume, but also the music being age appropriate, the intention behind the music being age appropriate. I really am seeing a trend towards the safer in that space in the convention space. Um, but since our competition days, your relationship with dance has, has changed a lot. Could you talk a bit about that, about your relationship with dance today and, um, kind of how it’s changed since, since we were up on that stage?
Oh God, God bless it. Um, it, you know, I I’ve had dance in my life consistently. Um, right after high school, I went to college at the University of Southern California. And I was, I think this experience is, is pretty shared amongst a lot of incoming freshmen where you get really close with a group of people that you meet at orientation or on your dorm floor. And then you realize that you don’t really like them, like a month, a month and a half later where you’re like, huh, we weren’t actually bonding over things that we actually enjoyed. It was that we were just balls of hormones shoved together in the same place at the same time. Exactly. No parents, lots of booze. Um, I need to find some of my own friends. And so I saw a flyer up about dance auditions and I ended up getting on a dance team called the song leaders or song girls. Um, and they dance at football games, basketball games. It’s, it’s a, it’s a big deal, but that was, that became my, my social group for the rest of, of college. Um, and so I was dancing all through college. I did like adult dance classes when I lived in San Francisco just to like keep it going. And then I actually was in Buenos Aires. I was living there for five or six months. And your mom Steff
Shout out Stan,
Shout out, shout out to Stan. She got me into contact with her tango instructor. Oh my God. He’s amazing.
The name is for real. His last name is Saucido and he’s this sauceiest. Just super shout out. Yes. He is an incredibly talented dancer and a really gifted teacher. I did not fancy myself an excellent partner dancer. Actually my mom’s schools me still she’s very good, but I found that a lot about tango is opposite our training. Um, first of all, in that you’re moving backwards most of the time, but it’s like a weight control relinquishing control. Well, that’s even outside of my dance life a subject, but, um, yeah, I really, I struggled with tango a lot, so Eduardo not only talented, but also very patient teacher. Um, and he’s in BA okay. So wait, you were there before you knew that, that my mom was traveling there. My mom, by the way, for those of you who are just tuning into my life and my mom, um, she was a flight attendant for several years and was flying Buenos Aires turns so that she could be dancing, uh, during her layovers, which I just think is the most heroic and romantic thing to be doing.
So fabulous. Yeah. So it was really serendipitous because I was already planning to take a sabbatical from my corporate job. I was planning on living in one of the side days for a set amount of time and we reconnected and she was just like a total angel. I saw her every time she would come through, we would do dance class together. Sometimes we go to a Milonga and I just think the dance has been a really grounding experience for me. So even though I left the competition world, I didn’t pursue it. I kind of always knew I wouldn’t pursue it professionally. Um, I actually blast from the past, I remember we were at some convention, we’re all sitting down and I maybe it was like Mark Meismer or somebody was walking around with a microphone and was asking like, what do you want to do when you grow up? Some, some question like that. And I like, my little hand shot up and I knew I was like, he he’s expecting, like, I want to be a professional dancer. And I like grab that microphone. And I was like, I want to make enough money so that I can pay for her. And I pointed at you, should be, that she could be a dancer my God. And he was, I just remember him being like, okay,
But that’s not the message we’re trying to put out. We’re trying to encourage dancers to be dancers without sponsors, but work or, I mean, you know, we’re, we’re coming fresh out of, um, not at the time of this interview, we’re coming fresh out of Money March where I’ve spent four episodes talking about kind of the economics and the, the ins and outs dollar bills of a dancer’s life. And man, as I was doing research, I found some, some numbers that were quite startling. Um, and I, again, there’s such tremendous range in the dance world. It’s hard to get like a grip on how much it answer makes, if you haven’t already people listening, go give a listen to those four episodes, but I’m touched that you would sponsor my dance life for me. And you probably still would today. I would, I would imagine
I can recognize like unique talents when I, when I see it and I rub up against it.
And yo likewise, by the way, because I want to just point out, you might not have been the one that was like, I want to go on tour with Britney Spears, but you were the one that was winning first overall with all of your solos and all the scholarships and the feet and the legs and the turns and the personality and and and
Thats because I was an absolute ham. Like I can’t even watch videos of myself performing because you know what it feels like. It feels like those first few episodes of a new American idol season, where there is just the general auditions and there’s just like a dumpster fire going on on your screen and you can’t look at it because then you’re afraid that you will in fact burst into flames yourself. It’s just like, there’s so much awkward. That’s what it is. I can’t, I can’t watch myself. It’s it’s so, Oh, I’m sorry for everyone.
I’m going to make it more job to find some video footage to accompany this episode, because if you were a dumpster fire, my friend, I was a dumpster fire Slingshot to hell. Like it was a hot mess, but we really enjoy yourself. Um, we, we really enjoyed each other and I remember spending some like out of dance class time together, inventing fake products and writing jingles for them, which I far too sophisticated for this audience.
You wouldn’t get it haha
Um, but we would, we would like spend 30 odd hours a week at the dance studio and then be making up dances in your garage over the weekend. So we did love this thing and it’s really cool to see that you continued to love it in different ways throughout your adult life. Um, and what’s really, really cool is the way, what I think is the way dance has showed up to support you in this next chapter of your life. So let’s, let’s talk about you and being the star of this narrative adventure video game. Um, you have a really unique story about how you came upon this role. I would love to hear a little bit about that and then maybe we can dig into some conversations about mocap because, I’m obsessed. Um, so how did you, how did you come upon the role?
The truth of it was I kind of tripped and fell into, into the role. Um, I had gotten into kind of a season of, of my career and my life where my corporate job was really taking over. And it was just working all the time, coming home, eating dinner, feeding the dog, going to bed. And it was just a rinse and repeat. And I was really feeling the strain of that. I think in general, I do try and do a good job of infusing something creative into my daily life. Um, and I just, that was a season where I wasn’t as fastidious about about it. And so recognize that signed up for an adult acting class at the Denver center, um, here in town. Excellent. Excellent. Um, excellent place to, to hone your craft. They do all sorts of classes, acting playwriting, dance, um, voiceover, on camera. I mean, it’s, it’s a really amazing resource, um, for folks here in Colorado and my, so I signed up for a class and my instructor happened to be a casting director who was the casting director for this game. And after the class was over, I get an email from her and be like, Hey, I think you should do this audition. Didn’t have a, obviously no agent, no idea.
No headshot, no resume, no reel.
What was, I know It was just a selfie. I’m deaf. I still don’t have a real, like, it’s just, you know, it’s just what it is. And so she sends me, she’s like, okay, yeah, I think you, you should definitely go to this audition. I almost called it an interview. Uh, and I was,
That’s how one foot in each world you are, but you’re like one foot in the top of each of the worlds. This is amazing. Keep going
Well. And, and I was like, okay. Yeah, I think, you know, one o’clock could work, but it would be better if it was at two. And she was like, you need to clear your schedule. Like this is not, this is not a negotiation about like, when you can be there, you are not the one dictating the timing. And I was like, okay, I’ll put it in the schedule. So I get up there, I do the audition, I get a call back. There were multiple callbacks. I want to say maybe like four callbacks, which is pretty intense. And I didn’t realize until maybe the first or second callback. And it was the first call back I’d ever done. Like, I just, it didn’t, I didn’t know what was going on. Um, but it was, it wasn’t until like the first or second callback where I realized that I was auditioning for the main character. I was like, Oh, surely this is like a tertiary character, because I don’t know the difference between my ** and a hole in the ground right now. Like just no clue what’s going on. Like nobody, nobody would, would gamble, gamble the house on somebody. Who’s never done this, but they ended up gambling the house on somebody who had never been the industry. I have no formal training. Um, I almost think it’s better that I didn’t know until that point because I just, and I had never experienced the life is strange, uh, games, the fandom, I, I just had no idea. And I think it was probably for the best for my nerves. And I didn’t have any idea
So that you, so you got it. You’re plugged in to the epicenter of this universe that is already spinning with all sorts of planets and moons and things orbiting. And there you are, the warm fuzzy center of it. And this is so I think for people listening, it’s important to know that when you’re doing I’ll call it performance capture because it was way more than motion, right? You had sensors on your face, we’re capturing facial expressions, you are miked, we’re capturing audio. We’re, we’re what we’re hearing is your voice. And so this is full-blown performance capture that happens in a motion capture studio, um, or in some cases in some, um, or in some cases, because there’ve been such tremendous advances in the technology, performance capture and motion capture can be done outside, like in normal daylight and sunlight and stuff. Um, but where you on, on a studio for the most part,
I was in a studio for the most part, except for when COVID hit. Like we still had pickups from, uh, different chapters and the end of the game to film. Right. And so for the most part, yes, there are, there are different technologies in terms of, of, of mo-cap. So we used one that required you to be in, in a studio with 24 cameras surrounding you, plus a couple regular cameras to get different shots, to like so that the animators can see your hands move. There were things that you can’t do, um, because it looks janky with the avatar in terms of like crossing your legs because of the hips on, on Alex or any, any of the characters. Like it just looks weird. And so finding like I would, we do, we’d do a scene and we’d have the writer, the director, um, audio guide, mocap folks. And they would bring in the animators, um, to make sure that they were getting what they needed. And it was just, it was super fun. And I think it comes back to, um, what we were talking about in terms of dance and just, I have a lifetime of experience being like truly grounded in my body
And awareness and able to make small changes or big changes for that matter.
Right. And so I think the coolest part of, of doing this performance capture was being able to make choices, how Alex moves, that’s different from how Erica moves and what informs those choices or how she sits or how she like holds her body. Um, the, the game is about empathy and how you embody what’s the physicality of emotions, different emotions for this character was super, super important. And it was the coolest part of, of the creative process,
The greatest buffet for an artist, because, you know, you will not just get to, but you’ll be required to experience at varying levels, every single emotion on the spectrum and in every circumstance. So stop me if I’m wrong, but in my experience with, with motion capture, which we can talk about in a second, in a, in a narrative type of game, you more or less have to capture every possible outcome of what this character might do and with who and in what emotional state. Um, and so the, the shoot schedule is tremendous because you’re creating a world from scratch. You’re creating a human and all the infinite variable outcomes of, of what might happen in this world. So, number one, I would love to hear about how those shoot days looked, what type of like bites were you taking in a day of work? And then also how long was the shoot schedule? How long was this your nine to five?
Whew. Well, we, I was, let’s see, I was cast in July of 2018 and I wrapped September of 2020,
And the game isn’t coming out until September 2021,
Right. September 10th. But it’ll come out all at once. You can binge it like you would binge Netflix. Yeah.
You better believe I’m going to, I was, and this is a person who doesn’t really play games, but you better believe it would be better. I was so excited.
But yeah, the, um, the creative process there, I mean the Alex that exists in the game now, it’s not the Alex we started with, right. So it was like incredibly collaborative. And I was told by the game director, by the writers that at some point when they had gotten to know me well enough and had seen my output, the performances that I was giving, they started to write for me. And so I think that there was a real, which I didn’t know was, was a thing, but apparently when there is, um, a really good relationship and an understanding between an actor and the writers’ room, real magic can happen. And I think, I think that’s, uh, I attribute that relationship among, among many others it into why Alex is, I think a really sensational character, um, as part of the life is strange universe. Um, so gosh, days could be anywhere from 5 to 10 hours of shoots. Um, a lot of scene work because it is narrative driven and the, to your earlier point, the script is branching, right? Because the script is conditional. I can’t, I mean, thousands of pages for a script. And so the performance started to get more like specific and nuanced as we got deeper into the story. And especially like at the very end, because it was like, okay, there were all these critical choices
And How do you wrap up all those possible?
And so like the prep was, the director would come out and okay, we’re running the scene. You, you know, I was given the script ahead of time. But remember this choice in this branch, this choice was made. This choice was made, this choice was made, this choice was made. And so the, the, the performance needs to have flavors of X, Y, or Z. And it was the best. I loved it.
This is seriously like strong man universe of acting. Your muscles, even for somebody with zero experience. We all know that like, even as human beings that have never stepped foot in an acting class, you act different around your grandmother than you do around your boyfriend, or then you do around, you know, the Amazon delivery guy. So like, well, we’re all, we’re all actors in our way, but you must have been so strong to begin with and even more so now, what, what, like, do you think this is a type of work that you’ll be pursuing forevermore? Do you feel confident in your skills? Do you want to be doing this?
Yes. I, I really like this, this genre of acting, um, career option that I stumbled into. I also think I was able to do what was required to me later in the script, because this was such a long running production that I was basically just living and breathing Alex. And so there was like a very, there is a very close connection with myself and my character and that character. And so I would love to continue to do that because I think it is a really nice meshing of the physicality and the body awareness that I have. And now I know all of the like unique little minutia that goes into doing performance capture for a game.
How would you say that dance prepared you for this other than being able make micro adjustments and take direction? Well, how, how did dance prepare you? And were there any circumstances where you felt totally unprepared where you were like, Oh, I have no idea what, wait, what someone help.
Yeah. I think in terms of how dance helped me. So kind of going back to your comment about tango being almost antithetical to our training, because you are following in the moment, I’m a terrible follower. I just want to lead. Poor Eduardo was always like, stop it,
He’ll wait for you to stop. He’ll stop until you surrender.
I mean, we were both, we would always be like drenched in sweat because it was basically a battle. Like you need to stop trying to lead. Yeah.
Okay. So, but, but you were able to like quiet down and, and listen.
I was, but I think our training as competition dancers, the memorization, um, the quick picking up of choreography really helped me here. So for example, you already mentioned that there was facial capture. So I had like a helmet with a rig on that came out. I don’t know, maybe a foot or more from my face with a camera. So, and it’s filming, it’s filming my face. Um, and she just it’s used by the animation, but even, I think in the, the, the release trailer, you see Gabe hug, Alex, you can’t do that with a helmet on, or you can, or you have to like move it around. And so for that sort of character intimacy for a lot of it, we would have to, we would put on these like silly little hats we take off our rig, we would perform the scene and then we would have to redo it with the facial, uh, the facial camera on with the hat rig on. And so we would have to remember exactly what we did on the circle take. Wow. And it was just, yeah, it was, I mean, it was second nature to me where I was like, Oh yeah, I absolutely, Nope. The hand went here. Nope. It was two seconds on the shoulder. And then it came down to the forearm. Like it, it was just second nature because it was in my body already to pay attention to that kind of stuff. And I would say the hardest to the second part of your question, the most challenging stuff for me was actually, um, going to those deep, emotional levels, um, that were required, especially for this game, especially for this character. I think I’ve, I’ve grown up. I’m Asian. I don’t know if know,
This is a podcast, so anybody who’s listening,
I’m, Asian-American, I’ve grown up in an Asian-American household and, um, wonderful childhood happy childhood. My parents did a bang up job because I was quite a handful, um, Dana, you know? Um, but there, there is, there has been a culture of like, you figure things out on your own. You don’t necessarily always show what you’re feeling. I’ve always been so bad about that. But then I really, really learned that lesson when I entered corporate America, I was specifically told, yes, I know you’re upset about, you know, this, this conflict that happened with your coworker, but in order to go to the higher ups who were always male, um, you can’t have any emotion when you tell them it just has to be the facts. And I remember early on in my career asking like, well, wouldn’t him seeing how this affects me emotionally. Um, like be a benefit, like give the whole story. And I was like, no, they won’t take you seriously. And so in order to, I thought, and it was erroneous, but I thought, and I was, I was coached to, in order to move up the corporate ladder to get into spaces that I wanted to be in, I needed to tamp down the emotion. Yes. The emotional side of me. And I think not to make this gender focused, but I do think that there was more sensitivity around it because I was female. I took it upon myself to say, like, if you want to get into these spaces that you desire to be in, this is something you need to work on. And I tend to be a woman of extremes. Like I will swing to one end, realize it doesn’t work swing to the other end. It does realize it doesn’t work and then figure out where I need to be in the center. And so I really did swing to the extreme of like no emotion. I actually only want to do analytical work. Um, and I’m a language arts girl, not necessarily like a math sciences girl, like that’s not where my strength is. And I think this game helped, helped me scratch off the scabs over my fear of, of being emotive
Or, or quote over emotional.
Yeah. And I was required to do that. And so when I first started again, back to being aware of your body, I know where grief lives inside of me. It like lives in a specific part of my body. And I know how to access it. Same with rage, right. Same with same with joy and all of that. And so before I realized, um, that I could go to that specific part of my body, I used, um, this is, this is part of the Lucid Body methodology by Fay Simpson that I, um, was introduced to in early 2019. But before that, right, we’ve been filming for six months before then. And I was just re-traumatizing myself to get to those emotions. So for example, um, Gabe, my, the, my brother Alex’s brother dies in the game and for one of my auditions or for one of the callbacks, they wanted to see that, that, that emotion. And I remember being like, I don’t, I can’t do that in front of people. And one of my closest friends at the time told me, like, just imagine if it was Evan, Evan is my younger brother. And as soon as
Super shout out Evan!
He’s just the best, Oh my gosh, doesn’t wear power ranger onesies anymore.
That’s how I will always remember him. Actually. Maybe it’s better. I would love to see him again, but I don’t mind keeping that, that person precious in my mind. Okay. So you’re basically your friend is telling you more or less kill your brother in your, in your mind.
Well, it’s like in order to get there, just imagine if Evan died and as soon as he said that I was crying completely unraveled. Yes. I like, I, I, it was, I found it, I found like the pain and the grief and the rage and, and all of it. And I use that in my audition. But then as I was, I think I’m sure it helps me get it because it was so very real. Like it almost didn’t feel like act acting. I almost said the wrong name. I almost said Evan’s name in the scene, just because that’s how closely connected to the grief of that scenario I was. And then I realized as we’re going through shoots. I was like, man, I can’t, I can’t keep doing this. Like, this is not good for me emotionally, psychologically. And I’m so, so glad that I found, um, the Lucid Body, because it does talk about how do you go as a performer. It can be a dancer. It can be a singer actor, whatever it is, you are going to be asked to go out on a limb of emotion, whatever that emotion is. If it’s grief, it’s rage, it’s happiness. You’re going to be asked to go out there, but you have to find yourself. You have to find your way back to the center, to the trunk of who you are. And I can do that now. Right. I, I’m not afraid to go out onto, you know, a sadness limb, because I know that when they say cut, I won’t still be out there without any sort of tools or recourse to come back to center. And it would just, it used to take so long and I would use to try and like hide, but I, I needed, I needed a five to, just to just come back to myself. Um, and I’m able to do that much more quickly and without fear, um, I used to have a lot of anxiety before some of the more intense scenes, just because I was like, well, if, what. I think that, that was a very real fear of, um, I was in a play called The Wolves in the fall of 2018 and it’s very, very emotional. It’s about a high school girls, soccer team, very fun. Um, but it requires a lot of, of the character that I was playing emotionally and I hadn’t found lucid body at that point. And it was a re-injured every single night to get to that emotional state. And it’s just, it’s just not healthy. It’s not sustainable
And its not necessary if you have another way. Yeah. So do you feel that with the lucid body technique that you were able to achieve the same, um, level of emotion without it needing to be, um, imagining a real life, your life scenario to get it?
Yes, absolutely. And I think it made it, it made it possible for me to only access that emotion as Alex
Interesting, like her emotion.
Right. And of course, exactly. And of course, like, I don’t think that we are ever fully divorced from our character. It’s why, like, if I play Lady Macbeth, people are going to come see my interpretation of Lady Macbeth, not, you know, Meryl Streep’s interpretation of Lady Macbeth. If they do that, they go see Meryl Streep. They probably should. Um,
Oh, I just watched the Manchurian candidate the other night and she is flawless Okay. So I’m fascinated. I want to do a little bit more digging on that lucid body technique. It sounds like, um, you know, lately I’ve been working a lot on managing my mind and finding fuel in my feelings instead of like, feeling like I needed to manage my feelings, but enjoying that my feelings are what get me places. My feelings are what have me doing things. My feelings are, are also have me not doing certain things. So kind of circling back to the conversation about when do feelings help, or when do feelings hurt your chances of getting a thing or getting in a room or getting a certain job? I regard feelings so highly, such as they’re gold to me. Um, and in our work, I suppose that’s tremendously useful that I think so highly of feelings and experiencing all of them. Um, but it’s fascinating to me that you’re a person who’s lived and performed at really high levels in worlds where emotion is not only demanded, but encouraged. And then in a space where it’s like shunned, ignored, really not recommended. Um, I think, I think we could go on at great lengths on that topic alone, but do you want to talk about something that came up when you and I had a catch up recently, we wound up talking about voice and you know, your we’ve talked a bit about how dance and physicality showed up for you in this role, but you weren’t a person that had a tremendous amount of vocal training were you?
No, I did choir in high school. Um, mostly because I really liked the teacher and my friends were all in choir and I liked to sing, but no,
We used to write jingles.
I know, I know. And we, I think that is a career option for us, if everything else falls through.
Yeah. Uh, look out like Simon and Garfunkel at the piano. Um, but, uh, I, I think is something of interest to me lately partially because of the podcast and partially because I can’t seem to keep it healthy for, for any extended period of time. Um, so I would love to hear about your growth as a voice actor and your journey of becoming more aware of your voice as a tool through this work. Like what did you learn about it? What did you struggle with and, and who helped you? What helped you, is there, is there a lucid body equivalent, but for the voice or does lucid body account for the voice?
I think lucid body accounts for, for everything, how, um, voice and what you, what you vocalize externally is, it should, um, come from what’s going on in the body? I think, you know, a lot of times we can conceptualize almost anything. Scenarios, what it should be, but until it’s like actually seeped from our head into our body, it’s not real. And so by the time it comes out of your mouth, like I hope to God that it’s in your body. Um, I learned through, and it was all, it was all on the job training. And luckily, you know, uh, the directors at deck nine, uh, Web and Zach and the audio director, Chuck, like, they are excellent at giving cues that make sense to me. And when they didn’t, they were totally open to having a conversation. Right. Because the important thing is that I understand what they want. Um, and so I just learned that like vocal, inflection volume, um, the pace of a line can change It’s feeling it’s it’s tone, it’s meaning and getting more comfortable and confident as the game went on. Cause there’s so much VO, there’s so much voiceover for Alex because in these games, you know, there’s like, Oh, well, you know, the players doing one thing, but they haven’t solved this piece of a puzzle. That’s going to unlock another part of the game. So there a lot of voiceover that are just like nudges, like I wonder if I should go over to the bridge of flowers or, you know, so just a ton of voiceover, sometimes that would be all we would do for a shoot is catch up on voice on all these VO lines. Um, but I would say that the, the biggest learning came, um, because Alex, wasn’t always a singer when I joined. Yeah.
She’s the character is a
Singer/songwriter. Yeah, yeah. Plays guitar. And she wasn’t that at the beginning, but you know, the writers, the creatives really, really wanted that to be part of her story. And so, and I really wanted to support that part of her story. And so I took, was taking voice lessons. Um, I, and that really helped me understand like placement of your voice within like your head. Right. And, and how to safely shout, um, which is,
This is the lesson I keep missing. I’m always absent on that day. Um, so do you feel that you’ve achieved some, some level of proficiency or dare I say, mastery of your voice? Like if we went out to a karaoke bar, would you sing and would you sound like fabulous?
Well, I would sing, and I think that sounded pretty good. I was actually, um, it was my singing voice in the game. I was Alex in her entirety until last summer when they decided to swap out her singing voice for MXMtoon. And it was, it was pretty devastating to have done all of that work and have gotten through all of these like approval phase gates with, with square and with the other creatives. And then with, you know, she sinks creep. Um, and, and so getting nine inch nails on board, getting B the artist who wrote and performed the songs originally on board. Okay.
Everybody signed off on you. Yes. And then switcharoo. Somebody made the money decision to go with a popstar.
Yes. Yeah. And she’s got, you know, I think she has a lovely voice and she has a much broader reach than I do. Like I am a nobody, you know, I don’t, I, I have, I had like four friends on Twitter. Like I just don’t have the reach. And so, I mean being completely vulnerable here and, and transparent, like I had a lot of emotions around, around that decision, which like, I, I was really, I was really hurt because it was such a, I think that was one of the most personal parts of the game for me, because it was a skill that I knew I had, but I had never cultivated it in the way that I did with dance or even that I had done with, um, with acting. But I, I wanted to, I knew the strength of having Alex as a singer songwriter to this story. I knew the strength of what that would bring to, to the story, to the, you know, to our gamers experience. And so I was, I think very, very understandably wounded by it. I think where I am now is I know that MXMtoon has such a broad reach. And if this is reaching even one person who would not have played the game before, I believe so much in the game and the message and what it will bring to people that I’m like good. I think, I think it was worth it then. And I still have all of the music that I perform. It was all I saw it in game when I was playing the builds. I, you know, I have them. And so it’s not like my work is, is gone or the journey is. And you and I had talked about heartbreak. That’s, that’s just, that’s kind of part of, of being an industry and you take the good with the bad. And luckily in my case, the good is greatly vastly outweighing you know, some of the heartbreaks of the creative process.
Thank you for sharing that. That’s, it’s, it’s probably to be expected that during the course of a project is spanning, as this one that you would have some pretty remarkable highs and some pretty, pretty low lows. Thank you for sharing that. Yeah. The professional, the professional heartbreak is real. I’ve, I’ve felt feelings from gigs that I have not felt in some intimate relationships before. It’s a very real type of, um, type of hurt.
Well, and I wonder if it’s because like, as artists and I, and I speak about this only from my personal experience of being in corporate America, there isn’t the same blood, sweat, and tears that I put into my organizational design work that I do to my acting work. Like it’s, it’s, it is personal. And I think that good art is personal, but the, the dancers that I love to watch the actors who I buy tickets to see the comics that I, that I watch, they, it is personal to them. And I can tell.
And so it’s not, it’s not possible to not seek something personal and not personally it’s personal. Um, okay. Kind of on a similar tangent, when you talk about having, you know, favorite comedians, favorite actors, favorite, you know, musical beings that you follow, are you now coming to a place where you have like mocap heroes? Do you have game heroes? Do you have, are you familiar enough with that world now to know the key players and, and who should I know about as a person who doesn’t know much about the world? Although I have, I don’t know nothing about this world. I haven’t been, um, several characters in a two K game that I was so hysterical. The process that from the audition on was just a ridiculous process. In the audition I had to die in every way imaginable. It was so much fun. I’m I remember calling my agent immediately when I left, I was like, more of this, please love this. Hysterical. And then I booked it and I found out what a 10 hour day of dying while holding a, uh, like, um, a mock machine gun, but, uh, a fake weapon that is roughly the weight of a real weapon and doing that for 10 hours a day. I was like, Oh, no, we’re good here. But are there people that you, that, that you now know of that have become heroes to you in this space?
You know, I didn’t do a lot of, I am historically really bad at the comparison game. Um,
Meaning you do it a lot and it’s not good for you or meaning?
Yeah. Where I am competitive and where that comes out is in comparison. Like for example, I used to do orange theory, fitness
OTF. I was in that orange zone.
See right. You’re in that orange zone, but as long, like in you wear your little heart rate monitor, and it’s all displayed as long as I wasn’t the last person, or like had, had like the least amount of calories. I was, I was good, but goddammit, if I was close to the end, I would just be busting. I mean, I probably like, you know, pop a hammy, Trying to make sure the last
That type of workout can be very, it can be done this when you’re that. Okay. So, so did you, you intentionally didn’t do much digging into the world.
Because I didn’t want that necessarily like their, their tricks or whatever, informing what I was doing with Alex. Um, I did, you know, I did do some play throughs of life is strange 2. And like the strange 1, as well as before the storm, which deck nine, the developer also, um, developed alongside like the strange, true colors, which is the game that Alex is in. And I mean, I just think that those performances are the reason why this, this fandom is so strong, why there is a third game, um, why this universe is still around is because they got some real ringers, um, in, in every single one of those games. Like those, the emotions are real, like the, the relationships they feel so real. Um, and so I don’t have role models or, or, you know, icons that I look up to yet, but I know that, that I will, I mean, I’m like a baby, a babe in the woods on this one. Um, and I have so much to learn and I’m so ready to learn from, from the best.
Oh man. Well, I think you’re, you will probably be becoming a movement hero and emotion hero, a performance capture hero to so many people because of this. And I’m thrilled for you. And so grateful to you for sharing some of your experience here today, but mostly just for being an example of, of what type of unexpected things can come from being a person in pursuit of a full creative life. I just think it’s the coolest thing. And I’m thrilled for you. I cannot wait to see the game. Um, I I’m emotional, like talking about it and I, and I wasn’t there for any of it. Um, the trailer looks beautiful. I will absolutely link link to it in the show notes for this episode. And if you’re listening after September, 10th did you say? Go find it, go find Life is Strange. Starring the one and only Erika Mori.
That’s right. Although, Oh my gosh. You have to be careful because you Google Erika Mori. And I was like, that’s my name? I’m not adding like a letter in the middle of it. That’s that’s my name now.
Not Erika Danger, Mori?
Yeah, exactly. Which was, which was on the table. But I’m not the first one that comes up again because I I’m a nobody, which is kind of how I like it. Well,
You were about to go into this kind of PR ringer, right? For the game for promotion, you know, a whole circuit probably of, of engagements. Do you plan on being more involved socially as far as like a presence as a, um, w what do we, what do we call them? Oh, God, everybody in their darn Instagram profile social figure is that they call themselves?
Oh, they call themselves public figure public figures. Influencer. Not, not an influencer. I would not. No, I should not influence.
You’ve influenced me tremendously. And I turned out all right,
Really? It was, it was that rainbow-rhea, diarrhea, jingle.
Wasn’t a to pull out the name, if you’ve made it this far in the episode now, you know, the name of the imaginary product that we created was Rainbow-Rhea, diarrhea control. And we sat at your piano in the living room and knocked out a jingle. And not only that, but then we printed out the jingles.
Yes. I think I, it, I like printed it out in like rainbow font on like Microsoft paint or something, very professional and framed it for you. And I hope that it it’s still around. It is. I think I might find it just like speak. I think I just might for the gram. I still remember the lyrics. I’m not going to sing them.
Both: If you’re getting diarrhea a want relief real soon. So keep watching this commercial, I will get it right to you.
And then we do the talky part. Were we talk about the symptoms and the side effects. And then we had a wrap-up too, but I don’t know.
I don’t remember the wrap-up, but I think that the jingling part, obviously the one that we both remembered, and I think the fact that we still remember, it means that it was a damn sticky
Sticky. I’m Oh my God.
I feel exposed on your own podcast.
I do my cheeks hurt and I was just, I like, dang it. I knew I should have done a full vocal warmup. We were talking about my insecurity with voice, and then I wound up singing and guys that’s life. Sometimes. That’s what happens. Um, Erika, you’re a treat. You’re an absolute light. A joy. Thank you for being here today. Um, and congratulations.
Thank you. Yeah, we should do this again sometime. Oh yeah. We should bring Michelle in.
We should, Michelle in and wait. That’s going to happen by the way. Let’s do an Instagram live with Michelle, because now you can have three people on an Instagram live, Michelle, Erika Mori, and Dana Wilson. We’re doing the IG live. We’re going to talk about, I like it like that. We’re going to talk about spitting on the floor and rolling in it.
We’re going to talk about you. Yes. And you being, um, Sebastian in our ballet of little mermaid and me being the chef. Yes.
What’s the chef’s name from Little Mermaid like food. No, that was, yeah.
Louie. Yeah. He sang Les Poissons
A really good song. So we had that magical duo.
Yeah. We had a duet. I think we choreographed it 10 minutes. Yeah. With Michelle, like dying laughing, Stage Directing, and we’re like, okay, we have to find this. We have to find this
Wait Erika we have to find this. Life Is good. See you, aren’t a, nobody you are Louie the very least and Louie and your talents are so wide reaching Instagram, live coming soon. I adore you. Thank you again.
I love you so much.
I’ll talk to you later, my friend. Bye. Bye.
All right. What did you think? My friend, what did you learn? What did you love? Um, Oh, I do want to back up and call myself out. Um, my reference too. I like it like that. The song that Erica and I danced to as tiny dancelings, that’s not a Nicki Minaj, uh, sample that that was confusing. That’s a Cardi B song that I was thinking of. So I apologize if that took you out or threw you off or hurt your feelings. Um, Oh, speaking of feelings, I was super inspired, um, to take a deeper dive on what Erika had talked about, the lucid body technique, which was created by Fay Simpson. There are classes, there is an awesome book. Um, and I w I will share the link to a few different places. You can find the book I’ve been digging into it and loving it. Um, and I think that you might too. So if that’s something you’re interested in, in going deeper on, take a look at the show notes to this episode, um, and of course be on the lookout for the new SquareEnix game. The next game Life is Strange starring our friend, Erika Mori. And with that, everybody, I think I am through now go out into the world, feel all the feels. And of course, keep it funky. I will talk to you soon.
Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe, and leave a rating or review because your words move me too. Number two thing, I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye.
Ep. #69 Three Heartfelt Life Lessons from 7-10 Year Olds
I hope this episode reminds you of the brilliance of children… and gets you more in touch with your brilliant inner child! I have started to look at young people as little Baby Yodas. Full of potential, wisdom and plenty of life hacks up for grabs! In this episode I focus on the willingness to play (and walk into every game like a winner), the bounce back (after our losses), and the importance of asking questions… especially the BIG questions. ENJOY!
Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place. Hello.
Dana: Hello, my friend. And welcome to the podcast. I’m Dana, this is Words That Move Me. I’m so glad that you’re here today to talk about three heartwarming life lessons that I just learned from seven to 10 year olds. Um, so let’s get right into it. I think this is a really, um, a really lovely topic and a nice moment to take pause and look back at our young selves, um, and also head forward with some new perspectives. Um, now before I get into it, I do want to do wins and my win this week. We’ll give a bit more context to this episode this week. I am celebrating that. I just, I mean, just like a few days ago taught at my first in-person dance convention in 14 months. Wow. That is a long stretch for me. Um, I’ve been teaching on a dance convention at New York city Dance Alliance. Uh, super shout out to my episode that I did with Joe Lanteri, which is episode number drum roll 43 episode 43. That is our winner. Um, so I, I teach for this dance convention, New York city Dance Alliance, and, uh, the due to the pandemic. Um, the convention was completely canceled for, uh, most of 2020. They slowly trickled back at the, uh, a few months ago. Um, and it is now April and I’m finally comfortable, you know, traveling and being in rooms full of lots of heavily breathing humans and man, Oh man, what an experience I’m not going to lie a little bit of shell shock. Um, I went from, you know, pretty much myself and my husband in our house, occasional distanced hangs with the homies to pretty crowded rooms and dancers doing a really great job, staying in their little taped off squares, dancing and masks teaching in masks. Holy smokes. Um, so wow. I did it. I felt safe. That is a tremendously huge win. Um, Oh, I will say traveling the actual airplane portion, not my favorite. Uh, I forgot. Oh, and LAX also. Definitely not my favorite. I was very much okay with not visiting lax 30 times a year. Um, yeah, that drive that number dropped down dramatically in the pandemic, uh, to zero. So anyways, that’s my win at first convention back out and feeling great about it. Thank you, Joe and NYCDA for keeping a really safe environment for us faculty and the students alike. Um, thrilled about that and excited to share with you guys. Some of the things that happened over the weekend. Um, always a good story to be told first, let me hear your wins. What is going well in your way?
Okay. Congratulations. Very well done and do, keep doing all of that very well done stuff. Um, all right. Let’s jump into it. Shall we? Three heartwarming life lessons brought to you by seven to 10 year olds AKA my mini ballroom from this past weekend in Greenville, North Carolina. My aim for this episode really is to remind you of the brilliance of children. If you’re looking for inspiration, look no further than the mini ballroom. Um, so my goal is to remind you of that and to perhaps get you more in touch with your brilliant, younger self. I really do believe the kids have it all figured out as challenging is that age group can be, especially in a dance education environment. Um, my favorite moments came out of that mini ballroom this past weekend in Greenville, North Carolina. So shout out minis. If you’re listening, I had such a ball with you. Um, and for all of my adult humans that are listening, I want you to remind you that these people minis, uh, the convention world affectionately refers to them as minis. They’re seven to 10 years old, which places their birth year between 2011 and 2014. So for context, some of these people are younger than Game of Thrones. Um, so here’s what I think in these three different areas. We have a lot to learn from seven to 10 year olds. Number one, self confidence, totally off the charts. Number two, the asking of questions now. Sure. That can get a little out of hand from time to time. But for the most part, this is an admirable quality and part three, the bounce back or the bounce in general. So we’re going to dig a little bit deeper into those three areas of expertise of, of this particular age group. I’m so stoked about it. Here we go.
I want to start with this illustration of confidence and enthusiasm. Certainly something that we could all learn from a 7 to 10 year old. Um, I’ll start with this story. I’ve been putting a more pointed focus on history when I teach even to the young ones and, um, basically to start every class, to see where the group is at in their understanding or exposure to history, um, making it a habit to kind of check the temperature in the room. Before I start my lesson this week, I was teaching what I call jazz plus, which we could do an entire side episode on jazz plus by the way, and I probably will someday, but for now I will say this jazz plus is my dance history, mostly jazz plus a whole lot of other stuff. And that is exactly what you can expect to find when you take my class. Um, but most of the 7 to 10 year olds, uh, in my class over the weekend had never seen jazz plus on a schedule. So before I addressed what jazz plus is, I decided to ask the students for a show of hands and fingers, um, to show me if they could explain jazz, like a one finger up, it means I’m sort of, kind of not really. And five fingers up means. Yeah, totally. Uh, so I said to the room, all right, um, show of fingers, everyone. How confident are you in explaining jazz on a one to five? Hands started flying up and overwhelmingly. They were displaying in many cases more than five fingers, like were tagging both arms shooting up five fingers on each hand, 10 out of 5 confidence here. Now their enthusiasm did start to dwindle a little bit. Once I started asking them for their answer, what is jazz, but for those who did answer the question for those who kept their enthusiastic fingers up, I was shocked actually to hear some very broad and not so technical, but kind of true answers. Like for example, jazz is energy. Jazz is energy or jazz is fun. Or my personal favorite jazz is kind of everything put together. Like everything put together. These are exact words. ‘Jazz is kind of everything put together,’ which really that’s that’s, that’s not true. Jazz is not ballet and braking and ballroom and a grilled cheese sandwich put together. But when you consider that jazz dance and jazz music spring from roots of rituals and celebrations of black people from way, way, way back as early as the 17 hundreds, then yeah, I can absolutely see how you might find elements of jazz in many, many other styles and in many, many other things, but I digress that is not what we’re here to talk about today for now. Let’s simply Marvel at the fact that although these young people have very little experience as humans, like only 7 years of experience as humans when asked for their level of confidence at something these littles jumped straight to a 10 out of 5, like they weren’t thinking, I don’t know, or I have no experience. They were thinking, yeah, sure. Why not? Let’s engage with this. Let’s yeah, let’s jump in. Yeah, I could, I could probably know the answer to this or I could probably be good at this thing or yeah, I bet I could be really, really, really good at this thing. That’s where the mindset of the mini is at. And I was very interested to find that when I asked the same question to my teens and seniors who are between 13 and, and 17 or 18, I barely saw a single hand with five fingers raised, I saw mostly ones and twos. So, but you, I mean, could you explain to a friend, what jazz is, how confident would you be to have that connection? One out of five? What is jazz? Right? It’s it’s, it’s not an easy or simple question to answer, but what this exercise really illustrated to me other than the general lack of understanding of jazz and jazz history in a convention setting is that a lot happens between seven and 17 years and beyond. Um, we, we really lose that 10 out of 5 confidence and enthusiasm, and I can only speculate at how we lost it or why we lost it, but I can think of a few ways that we might get some of that, the good parts of that anyways, but I can think of a few ways that we might get some of that back regarding the confidence specifically.
One, one could argue that kids have more confidence because they don’t yet know complete humiliation. Right. They haven’t experienced being broken up with or cut from an audition or fired from a job job. Their experience is that they learn and they play and sometimes they get in trouble and that’s life and that’s okay. So what if we could think more like that? What if, what if we could think yes. I’m game, even if I lose playing is fun, let’s go. No, I’m not suggesting that you risk it all or pretend to know things that you don’t know. This lesson in confidence and enthusiasm is actually, we all about willingness to play, just willingness to play and the willingness to go into the game, like a winner before you’ve already, even started, versus walking into the game like a beginner who’s never or tried anything ever, right? It’s likely that even if you’re playing a game for the very first time, you have some other skills or training or experience that will give you some foundation to stand on. Maybe not a competitive edge per se, but by the time you’re 18 years old, you’ve got to experience some rudimentary exposure to a lot of things. So let’s, let’s lead with that. Shall we? The willingness to play and to walk into the game like a winner. Now that’s actually a good segue.
Let’s skip ahead to, um, lesson number three, the bounce back. Kids don’t just jump into a game like a winner with 10 out of 5 confidence. They bounce back fast. Even if they get completely leveled by the game. Even if they find out that they have zero confidence in the thing, that moment usually quickly resolves with something else. That’s interesting. Yeah. So, um, you actually, you made, we’ve seen this more in babies and toddlers than in 7 to 10 year olds, but it’s this really remarkable, quick shift, um, on the emotional spectrum, uh, extreme discontent moments, moments away from like total satisfaction, these quick recoveries like crying, crying, crying, and then we’re moving on. Like we’re literally skipping on and I love this. I aspire to the bounce back like this. Um, I aspire to let go of drama that quickly, man. I have so much to learn. Uh, now I know that that, uh, this anomaly is not because young ones don’t feel as much. Actually they, I think they feel tremendously even loss or a rejection or failure. I believe they really do feel those things and they feel it fully. And then they move on instead of the adult way of handling it, which looks more like ignoring it or resisting it or denying it or reacting to it with an alcoholic beverage or a shopping spree or a scroll down Instagram lane. So what if we get, allow ourself to lose just, okay, I lost that round, right? Or what if you could allow yourself the bummer of not knowing the answer to something or of getting the answer wrong or of not getting the gig and then literally skip along on your way to the next game or question or gig like actually bounce, truly hop. Now, this is where your homework comes in before the next episode comes out. I do challenge you to actually skip somewhere and tell me that you don’t have an absolute ball when you get there. Skipping is so powerful, like fully be sad and then be hopping up and down and tell me that you don’t giggle. Honestly, I think laughter and tears are very closely linked. I call it the laugh cry, happens to me all the time. Um, but yes, knees permitting, bounce back, try it, just try it.
Okay. And that brings me to our final lesson, a very admirable quality of the 7 to 10 age range. And that is the asking of questions. Oh man. In my mini classes this weekend, so many questions, I’m sure some of them were, can I go to the bathroom? Even after I said, you do not need to ask permission to go to the bathroom. I still got that question like four or five times, man. I really could have taken questions top to bottom the whole class without ever teaching a single step full of questions. Um, but I did want to share my favorite question with you here. Uh, today I’m in the middle of teaching combo and I see a hand raised into the air. Adorable young person raised their hand and, and approached the stage. Even though she’s supposed to stay in her little taped in box. And she says, “what do you do? When someone tells you, you should know something and you don’t know that thing” like arrow through my heart. What do you do? When someone tells you, you should know something and you don’t, this was a full stop moment for me. I asked everyone in the room to sit down because we were going to engage in this discussion. So I asked, all right, what might you do when someone says that you should know something and you don’t know that thing, you might feel bad. You might feel sad. You might get angry at them and walk away. Yes. All valid. We discussed these options, but none of those options get you the answers. So I asked, okay, what else, what else could you do? When someone tells you, you should know something and you don’t know it. We as a room collectively decided that you could get really curious. You could wonder why they think that you should know that thing you might wonder who might know that thing. And who would be willing to tell you, you might wonder, well, geez, I’ve made it this far. So maybe I shouldn’t know it. Why is it really that important? You might also wonder what else should I know, what else do I not know? So we discussed all of the different ways. You could respond to someone saying that you should know something. And we decided that getting curious was the best thing to do. Not. So surprisingly after we had this discussion, I got another great question from the same dancer, she was my gem. She asked, “what do you do when this part is hard?” And she demonstrated the parts, me, what do you do when this part is hard? And man, I just love this question so much. And I wanted to ask you for your answer to that question. What do you do when this part is hard? Like, what do you do when anything is hard? What do you do? When it gets hard? I either stop or keep going. Those are my two options. When I keep going, it usually gets less hard. And when I stop, it stays hard to me, but I’m not doing it. So it doesn’t matter. So in both cases, things are less hard. But if you’re a person who enjoys being able to do hard things, I strongly recommend you keep going. And that’s what I asked my little mini in this moment. I said, do you like being able to do hard things? And she said, yeah. And I said, then keep doing it. Even if it’s hard. And I thought that was a marvelous adult moment as well, a healthy adult reminder. So as, as adults, as grownups, I’m assuming listening to this episode also. Hi, again, minis. I love you. I had so much fun and I loved talking to you. I’m learning so much from you. Um, but to all of my more grown types listening, have you stopped asking questions? Like, do you ask questions in your head and not say them out loud deliberately? Do you sensor your questions? If so, why do you think that, you know everything like do you generally genuinely not have questions because you think, you know, everything, which trust me, I met a few of you in Greenville as well, teens and seniors who think they know it all I’m talking to you. They’re probably not listening. That’s okay. Um, but are you, are you genuinely not asking because you feel like, you know, things or are you afraid of looking dumb or inexperienced? That is probably likely the case. Well, interestingly you learn when you ask questions. So if not dumb is the goal, then not asking questions is not how you get there. I think that was a triple negative that I just said. So here’s the question. If a double negative is the same as a positive then is a triple negative. The same as the single negative? Negative. I’m I just confused myself. Okay. Enough. I would like to suggest to you that you don’t ask questions for no reason. Don’t ask questions just because Dana said that minis asked questions and you should do that too. No, I’m suggesting that you ask questions when you have them and that your questions reveal how much, you know, instead of how much you don’t know, super shout out to Episode 28, how to ask good questions. If you have not given that a listen, strongly recommend you do that. Um, all right, so, wow. Let’s wrap it up. Three takeaways for my seven to 10 year old students who schooled me this weekend. Number one, be willing to play and walk into the game, like a winner. Number two, bounce back and walk out of the game a winner, even if you just lost. And number three, ask more questions, ask questions that reveal how much, you know, not how much you don’t know. And no, you no longer need to ask permission to use the restroom. Please just handle it now.
Now before you go, I want to draw one really interesting parallel or at least it’s interesting to me. And it might be interesting to you this right now is a huge blinking neon sign to me in my life because I’m reaching peak interest in my clown training. Yes. Uh, but what I’m noticing is that much like children clowns wear their hearts on their sleeve, like right there, their feelings, their observations about the world, their willingness to play on their sleeve. And perhaps it’s this, you know, childish newness that gets clowns and comedians alike into the hearts of an audience member, right? Perhaps this is actually why children and clowns and comedians can get away with all sorts of stuff and still be loved. Perhaps this is why comedians are among the most important artists in my eyes. So if in the heart of audiences is where you would like to be. Then these lessons from children are what might get you there also take clown class, huge, huge, so important. Okay. My friends, that is what I have for you today. Take it from the children, take it from the clowns and take it from me. Thank you so much for listening. Everybody get out there into the world with that childlike confidence, enthusiasm, that willingness to play, the ability to bounce back and the where with all to ask questions. And of course keep it funky while you do it. I will talk to you next week.
Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review because your words move me too. Number two thing, I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so much more.
All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye.
This episode is a response to something I have noticed coming up A LOT lately. I’m calling it FOMAD (Fear of Making a Decision), but you can call it whatever you’d like. I created this acronym to address the feeling of immobilization that comes along with thinking: “It’s HARD to choose a path when I don’t know exactly where I’m going and I have so many interesting paths ahead of me!”
Let’s uncover how having many different interests is a STRENGTH not a weakness, and let’s find the adventure in GOING at our own pace… even if we don’t know exactly where we are going.
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: All right. All right. Hello, my friend I’m Dana. This is words that move me. I’m stoked that you are here today. This is a fun one. Um, last week we talked about FOMO, fear of missing out, which is of course the anxiety that so many of us experience when we think that we’re missing out on something, good, something cool and exciting and rad. And we aren’t a part of it that is FOMO. And, um, I, I suppose as much of the world comes out of lockdown and some of the world goes back into lockdown. That’s a pretty timely subject. So if you’re feeling that FOMO, or if you’ve ever felt FOMO, go check out last week’s episode. But, um, something else recently slightly related has caught my attention. And, uh, for now I am calling it FOMAD. That is the working title. We might evolve it to something else. FOMAD: the fear of making a decision, I’m calling it FOMAD, and it’s real. It pairs quite well with this moment in time. And honestly, many moments in time. Uh, so lace up and hit the rosin box. I said that hit the rosin box because we’re going to take this new conceptFOMAD for a spin. We’re going to address having many different interests and that being a strength, not a weakness. And we will find the adventure in going and going at your own pace. Even if you don’t know exactly where you’re going. Even if you have no idea where you’re going, we are going, but first wins. If you’re new to the pod every single week, I start the episode with wins because I think it’s important to celebrate. What’s going well, big and small. This week, I’m celebrating well, is it okay if I celebrate two? I’m the host I can. I’m going to celebrate two. Number one win, I am really loving clown school, I mentioned I think two episodes ago, I don’t know. You guys.. They really do blend together. Um, I enrolled in clown school. It’s called the clown school. There’s an online program kind of at your own pace one-on-one feedback every so often. I love it. I’m having an absolute ball. Uh, so that’s win. Number one, shout out the clown school. They didn’t tell me to say that. Win number two, is that I recently got to talk with, uh, a dear friend. I almost said an old friend, but we were both quite young relatively, I guess anyways, a longtime friend. Um, that’s been part of my dance life journey since I was probably nine years old. And I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time. Uh, lucky for you, by the way, we were rolling on that conversation. So be on the lookout for an upcoming episode with Erika Mori, um, fascinating woman with a very interesting story and some exciting wins of her own that I’m jazzed about sharing. Okay, that’s it for me?
What is going well in your world,
Keep it up. You’re doing it really doing it. I’m proud of you. Super stoked for you. Keep winning. All right. Now I have gotten word from many of my students, some coaching clients, my coworkers, um, words that move me community members and friends and family all alike hearing that people have used the lockdown, the quarantine to spend time working on themselves. A lot of soul searching, um, honing in on strengths, strengthening weaknesses, um, focusing on self care, focusing on self love, growing, centering, giving back all of these lovely, lovely things, right until FOMO creeps in or real life, quote unquote comes a knockin. Um, which by the way, I would like to remind you, everybody was asking for everybody was like, why can’t we go back to real life? And now real life is here and we’re like, wait, something’s not right. Um, so somewhere in, in our minds at, or around the time that FOMO sets in or real life comes knocking, we, we start to think that some imaginary gate has been opened and some imaginary starter pistol has been fired and everyone’s off the blocks and running full speed ahead. And you’re like, wait, where am I? What am I doing before I start running? Just, I don’t want to exert any unnecessary energy. Where am I? Where am I going? What am I doing? And do I even want to be running right now? Everybody’s running. Wait, I want to restart, right. Is this sounding familiar? Now it might look like everyone who has their one focus and one desire. And one thing that they wish they’d been doing for all of lockdown, it might look like they’re running full speed ahead, getting closer to their finish line. But what about the rest of us that have many different interests, many different creative callings projects, people, things to tend to, what basket or baskets do we put our eggs into? Oh, drats, just missed Easter. We’re going to leave the basket analogy. Let’s go back to this race thing. What finish line do I run towards? What track do I take? And also, is it bad if I don’t want to be running, I got you, my friends, this episode, we’ll be answering all of those questions. So I’ll use this example.
One of my words that move me, community members brought up an awesome story and I’d love to share what it uncovered. They talked about being a very goal oriented person in the past and that serving them very well. They studied the people. Who’d accomplished great things. They did interviews, they set goals, they stressed. Then they achieved the goals. And that went pretty much according to plan. But now with much new growth, new perspective, but without having a specific material or hard coded goal, this person is feeling lost. Now they mentioned that in school, they had a professor tell them that people with many passions or skills are often paralyzed to take action because of not knowing which avenue to pursue next. Yeah. That’s why we’re here. And what I would like to offer you today is that the story that people with many passions and skills are being paralyzed to take action because of not knowing which avenue to take that story. That story is exactly that.
It’s a thought. Just because a professor said it does not mean that it is true. And it certainly, isn’t always true. Always the case for all people, right? Certainly not. And furthermore, it is probably not helping you. So if you’re still reading that story, the one that says people with many interests get paralyzed with not knowing what to do next. If you’re reading that story, I beg of thee, put it down, put that story down. Here’s why I say that. If you hear “people with many passions and skills, get paralyzed to take action because of not knowing which avenue to pursue next.” If you hear those words and you think, “Oh my gosh, yes, that’s happening to me. I’m totally immobilized by all of my interests.” And you’re probably feeling lost or frustrated. And when you feel lost or frustrated, the action that you take is probably more widely inaction, right? You retreat, you have cyclical thoughts, you lack follow through. So on. And so on the result of that, the result of feeling lost, feeling frustrated, because you’re thinking that you’re immobilized by all of your interests. The result there is not only are you immobile, but you’re likely losing interest in all of those wonderful things that used to interest you. All of those things that sparkled to you, you’re letting them dim. You’re likely sparkling a bit less yourself and that’s okay. That’s totally okay. We do not all need to be full voltage, electricity all of the time, but it’s important that you know that there is another option. You don’t need to buy that story. So what if you could choose the thing that your many diverse interests, all of the things that sparkle to you are, what make you sparkle? What if, what if all of those various interests put together are your superpower? What if, what if, all of those unique and varied interests? What if those don’t make it hard for you to decide what to do? What if they help you to enjoy where you are no matter where you go, what if they help you to enjoy where you are? Even when you’re lost? That is the true beauty of having many different interests is that no matter where you are or who you talk to, you can get interested in something. You can make something sparkle. You can sparkle no matter where you are, no matter who you’re talking to. And that is an interesting person. My friend, that is an interesting person with an interesting life. Now I’d much prefer to feel that an interesting person with an interesting life than to feel immobilized and to be losing my shit. So if you’re a person who’s looking for some sort of harmony and balance and shine in your life yet you don’t have a clear material goal, fear not to get there, to achieve that life of harmony of balance of shine. All you have to do is explore you, follow what shines and what sparkles. You try things. You course correct. You trust your gut. You don’t go too fast. You don’t go too slow, but mostly you don’t quit. And in order to do those things right, in order to trust your gut, don’t go too fast. Course-correct all those things in order to do that in order to do that and to not quit, you probably want to feel something like adventurous or open. Or how about, I don’t know if this is an actual, actual technical feeling. Like, I don’t think this is an actual emotion, but I’m going to try it. What about cruising? Like when I feel like I’m cruising, I don’t go too fast. I don’t go too slow. I don’t stop. I course correct. Check my lane, check my mirrors. I follow what’s ahead of me when I’m cruising. That feels good. And to feel like I’m cruising, I might need to think a thought like I am in the driver’s seat. And my drive is the perfect kind of drive. My drive is never over or under. I am driving and my drive is perfect or this is not a race. This is the ride of my life. And I’m driving a convertible and it can change shape and change route. While I write multi-dimensional thoughts for multi-dimensional people with multiple different interests, this is what I’m talking about. So can you see how I just turned multiple interests and modes and directions and options and things into a strength. I went from feeling lost to feeling adventurous from feeling frustrated, to feeling easy, open cruising. That is powerful. My friends. And it is an option for you.
Now let’s, let’s stick on this road, car driving analogy thing, because I had another words that move me community friend, come to me this week, struggling to get off the blocks, like trying to get out of the garage off the starting line. Oh man, my analogies are getting weak. Um, so she has also done a lot of work, very impressive work, finding her creative voice, refining her tools. Um, yet she still doesn’t know how to direct her focus out there in the big world. That seems so, so, so much bigger now than it did maybe pre quarantine. And what we discovered in her particular case, and you might relate was that the real problem here was the thought “I can’t crack where I fit in. I I’m, I’m starting to know who I am and what I can do, but I can’t see where I fit in .” Classic. I’ve thought this thought 1000 times. And when I think that thought, I don’t know where I fit in, I feel uncertain. And when I feel uncertain, I procrastinate. I don’t follow through. I engage in self doubt, negative self-talk I retreat. I isolate. Oh, and here’s one of my favorites. I busy myself with mindless tasks that get me nowhere, but keep my mind very busy. They keep me from taking risks from putting my feelers out from initiating new projects in general. My busy-ness keeps me from putting myself forward. I stay right where I am and when I behave that way, right. When I feel uncertain and I do those things and I don’t take risks, I don’t put myself out there. The result of thinking, I don’t know where I fit in is I do not stand out. Hell. I don’t even step out. And when I don’t step out, I’m much less likely to find the places where I feel I truly belong. Right? So the result of thinking, I don’t know where I fit in leads you to not standing out and not finding places where you feel you belong. The spin-off struggle of that as if that wasn’t enough, right? That is so not the dream. The spin-off struggle there is that, so many of us find in this situation, when you, when you don’t know exactly where you fit, right. When you can’t see that crystal clear destination, people find it hard to make moves, right? Hard to leave at all without a clear idea of where you’re going or where you belong. Again. Of course, that makes total sense. It’s hard to get somewhere that you don’t know how to get to because you don’t know the location of it, but there’s always a but, right? What, if you could think that it was fun to not know exactly how things will work out or where you’re going to land. Think about every time you go to a movie where you don’t know how it will end. If you’re like me, you beg people to not tell you how the movie ends. Like, honestly, raise your hand if you like being surprised. And I don’t mean like the jump out from behind a corner type of surprise. I mean like, what do you want for dinner? I don’t know. Surprise me like that type of surprise. Not knowing is okay. Now hear me out, I get it, I am a huge fan of goal setting, but nobody, even the people with iron clad, crystal clear goals and tools and life coaches and all the things, no one, no one actually knows where they’re going or exactly how to get there. Because humans cannot 100% predict or see the future. None or all of us have any idea where we’re going or how we’re getting there. Some of us just think that we do, and that makes a really, really big difference. So pretend for a second that you do know where you’re going, I’m going on an adventure, right? I’m going on an adventure. And I might start by thinking of a place that I wouldn’t mind ending up. Career-wise that might mean, um, I w I ended up a featured dancer in a film or a soloist for a company or, or, or et cetera, et cetera. I encourage you to fill in that blank for yourself. What is a place that you really wouldn’t mind being a place you would like being now, you get to ask yourself, what do I do to get there? Surely if I am a feature dancer in a film, Is your desired, uh, destination. Then dance training would be on your list of things to do probably exposure and familiarity with casting directors, agents, choreographers, understanding, dance for camera, probably some acting training, possibly voice training, solid materials, like a headshot, a website, resume, et cetera, et cetera. Oh, also being in the right place at the right time. And in order to be in the right place at the right time, time in order for that to happen, you must trust your gut and go with the flow and you must leave the cave. You have to get out of the bubble, get out from the inside. And of course you must not quit. Even when you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, you must not
quit. I know that kind of sounds like a lot, especially for somebody who previously didn’t know what to do. And now you’re like, Oh my goodness, all of these things, I know what to do now. You’re like, Oh my goodness. It turns out I know a lot of things that I could possibly do, or a lot of different route routes, routes, routes that I could take to end up at this destination. That wouldn’t be so bad. Okay, cool. So you leave, you go, you don’t quit. And one of the things that’s tremendously helpful in doing that is a feeling, how would you need to feel in order to train, expose yourself to agents, directors, choreographers, understand dance for camera, take some acting classes, take some voice classes, get your materials all solid together. Um, stay the course, right. Be in the right place, be in the right time, trust yourself. How do you need to feel in order to do those things? How do you need to feel in order to not quit? For me? I think optimistic would help. I think determined would help. I think excited might help, but it might burn out. So I, I really do prefer determined or optimistic really when I think like, Oh, absolutely, yeah, this is going to work. Or this is going to be fun or, Ooh, that’s going to be great when I feel optimistic. I think I do. I take a lot of those actions that I just mentioned. Oh. And I don’t quit because I’m thinking of how of how great this could turn out. One of the thoughts that helps me feel optimistic is I love adventures or a new, personal favorite of mine that I found as a meme recently. And will 100% be sharing with you in the show notes is ‘chances are slim. Hopes are low, but I live for the gamble. So let’s see how it goes.’ Um, and this, this photo of a cat jumping over flames, it’s not a photo, it’s an illustration. And I love it. Chances are slim hopes are low, but I live for the gamble. So let’s see how this goes. Um, I suppose, with a gamble involved, that thought doesn’t have me feeling optimistic per se, but adventurous for sure. Okay. So we just remembered that it’s not actually hard to go when you don’t know where you’re going. You’re just not thinking that it’s fun yet. Right? Remember all the times that not knowing exactly what’s going to happen is fun is exciting. And remind yourself that that’s life you won’t always know. In fact, you will never know. Even people who pretend to know don’t really know, raise his hand silently in podcast booth. Alright. So the next time you’re feeling stuck, lost uncertain of where to put your efforts or unable to decide, simply decide that having a lot of interests or options does not immobilize you thinking, I don’t know where to go or how fast to go. There does immobilize. You decide that this creative life is not about fitting in, decide to stand out and decide to step out, knowing that no matter where you think you’re going, you have no idea how you’ll actually get there. And that’s okay. Nobody does. Which reminds me any expert that you talk to about their journey. Any, any person that’s quote made it there. They’re talking about their journey in retrospect. So of course their route looks clear. Of course it looks like they know exactly what they did to arrive where they are, because they’ve already done it, but they likely are not telling you about all the dead ends and the flat tires, et cetera, et cetera. Remember driver’s seat. You got this. Learn how to fix flats with your mind. Okay. Enough with the car analogy. I think I need to move on.
Listen, Super duper, shout out to my words that moved me, community members for bringing these topics forward for coaching. I know you are not alone. I know that I have struggled with this in the past. And depending on the day, my friends, you might find me coaching myself into the driver’s seat right there with you. Um, so thank you words that move me members. And if you’re relating to these topics, if you’re digging what you’re hearing and you aren’t already a member head over to theDanawilson.com and click on the membership tab, I would love to see you in the words that move me community and work with you, uh, along this journey on becoming a person who is not afraid of making decisions. Yes, I will help you tackle that FOMAD and maybe rename it. I don’t know if I’m FOMAD fan. I think I like the nomadic nature. I’m not sold. Give me your feedback FOMAD is on the table. Um, thank you all so much for listening. I hope you found this episode useful and I hope that you head out there into the world and keep it super funky. I’ll 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 or review because your words move me too. Number two things I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye.
This one is touchy my friends, and I’ve been getting smoke signals from near and far to do a podcast on this topic. FOMO is REAL… but it is not tremendously useful… This episode is full of ways to turn it into something that IS!
Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: Hello, Hello, my friend. And welcome. I’m Dana. This is words that move me. And this is a fun one. This is a fun one. That is about a, not so fun topic. Um, but, but while we’re on the subject of fun topics, can we really quickly discuss the last four episodes, which were the money March episodes? How awesome was that? If you haven’t had a chance to listen, please go back and give March Madness. That’s not what it’s called Money March. Give that a listen. Um, also if you’re, if you’re digging the podcast specifically, if you dug into money March, those, those four episodes check out the, um, words that move me worksheets. They are like companion guide, interactive PDF jams that are made for every single episode, but we’re selling the money March bundle. Whoa, excuse you. Out there. Even in my podcast booth, we were not completely isolated from sound. Sorry about that. If you could hear that, or even if you couldn’t, sorry about that. We’re back money. March PDFs are on sale at thedanawilson.com/shop And they’re only $4.99. That’s four episodes worth of interactive worksheet for less than a coffee, less than less than a pack of gum. I think less than a Hey, I’ll tell you what $4.99 is less than that is less than $5. And that is not the only good news I have for you today. Um, on April 14th, 2021, I’ll be hosting a free career coaching zoom call from 4:00 PM to 5:15 PM Pacific standard time. Um, God, everybody is making noises today. Sorry about that. Beep you know what? I’m not sorry about that. Beep I have the option to find whatever it is that’s making that be being sound. And I, I have not actively done that. Um, every time I’m in here recording an episode, something beeps at least once. And I have no idea what it is and I could just set aside some time to figure that out. And I don’t, I think I, I think I secretly like it anyways, April 14th, put it on your calendar, a free career coaching zoom call from 4-5:15 Pacific. Um, I’ll be explaining some of the key concepts and the tools that I use to navigate my own daily, creative life. And you will have an opportunity to actually get coaching on anything that you’d like, honestly, almost nothing is off limits. Um, it’s going to be so good. I’m excited.
Okay. FOMO, let’s talk about it. After we talk about wins of course, I am so excited to announce my win today. So loud. What kind of day are we having? Okay, so this one’s kind of twisted, but today I am celebrating that I’ve had a couple of really exciting projects, not pan out. Like you think it’s going to happen and you’re pretty sure it’s going to happen. And then it doesn’t happen. That’s happened to me a couple of times. Um, so far this year, like a few times actually in the past month and I’m celebrating that I don’t feel this doom. Like I’m not absolutely destroyed by that. Um, as I have been in the past and I feel like perhaps the year of quarantine helped me with that, um, I discovered that not working sometimes is not the worst thing. So I’m, I’m definitely celebrating this, uh, um, kind of acceptance of not all of the things will work out all of the time. And I love that feeling because man, the doom, the destruction, the, the disaster that I decided to have every time a gig didn’t work out well. Um, so I’m just celebrating that that is, it’s a strange win, but I promise you it’s an important win.
So I’m stating it, proclaiming it, and owning it and celebrating it here. When you think now is your turn, what’s going well in your world.
Congratulations. I’m thrilled for you. Keep winning. That’s it actually just keep going and wins will happen. Keep going. All right. Speaking of keep going our world, as it seems is turning back on, waking back up, opening back up, there are a lot of different things that people are saying about the world right now. We’re coming out of the pandemic. I think, uh, just in, in one or two weeks, um, vaccines will be available to all adults in Los Angeles where I am. This is very exciting. Um, but today we’re talking about very specifically something that I’ve noticed happening with my friends. Um, even some family members as the world is fill in the blank, speeding back up, opening up, whatever. Um, as that’s happening, I’m noticing a lot of reports of FOMO, fear of missing out. Um, so today we’re going to talk about what that is and how you might manage it forever, but especially in a time like this, all right, FOMO, what is it fear of missing out is the anxiety that’s resulting from thinking that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening somewhere else other than where you are and it’s happening without you? Um, I think FOMO really stems from the, the social media age where a post, a certain image or video where you get to see a carefully curated, edited, and probably adjusted best of type of moment from other people’s lives, which will likely trigger an immediate comparison between you and your real life that you’re living in that moment. As you scroll through your phone, which is probably not as exciting as the moment that you’re looking at, you see where this is headed. Now I do think it’s interesting. I want to point out that FOMO can happen at any time, not just when someone is doing something awesome. And you happen to be scrolling on your phone. Um, I, 100% dealt with FOMO on my first world tour with JT. I was freshly 20 years old. I turned 21 on the road and I had this classic like want to be everywhere, want to know everyone want to feel all the things want to, you know, not miss out on anything. And with that, um, I established some pretty unhealthy sleeping habits, uh, on the tour bus where you’re living with 11 other people. Um, I made it a habit, me and my FOMO of going to sleep after the last person went to sleep and waking up as soon as I heard any noises. Like I went to sleep when the last person went to sleep and I woke up when the first person woke up because I was afraid of missing something. I wanted to be around for all of it. I wanted to hear it all and see it all and learn it all and be in all the places. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but it did lead to some pretty unhealthy sleep habits. Um, probably some unhealthy eating habits too. Now that I think back about it, it was eating like fully around the clock. Okay. So that’s what FOMO is. Okay. The anxiety or the actual fear of missing something exciting or interesting.
If I were to put it another way, however, fear of missing out or FOMO is actually almost useless, unless of course that feeling that fear or that anxiety gets you up off your bum and doing something awesome or simply remembering that you are awesome. Even as you sit and scroll. Now, FOMO doesn’t happen a whole lot for me anymore. Um, not because I live the most awesome life, but because I like my life, I like my home. I like my work. I like being with myself. But when FOMO does strike, there are some things that I like to remember. Some, some thoughts that I like to think that helped me out and they might help you as well. First, I like to remember that you can have fun and you can be fun. And I am both. Also, I like to remember that there is enough fun in the world for everyone to have some there’s enough success in the world for everyone to have some. I also like to remember that doing stuff is not a finite resource. Other people can do stuff. I can do stuff. You can do stuff. Everybody can always be doing stuff and there’s still more stuff to be done. Isn’t that amazing? Doing stuff is not a finite resource.
Another one that I like to think. And it’s very, very important. Especially in that moment. I am deeply loved. Right, in the moment when you’re comparing your life with someone else’s I’m deeply loved might not be the first thought to come to your mind, but it is one of the most helpful. I am deeply loved. This next one is one of my favorites. Very philosophical argument here, suffering because other people are not suffering makes no sense. Me suffering because someone else isn’t suffering makes no sense. That’s not the life I want to live. I don’t want to suffer when other people do well. I want to celebrate when other do people, Whoa. When other do people do well, I want to celebrate when other people do well, that’s the type of person I want to be. And that’s the world that I want to live in. Shout out wins. See what I’m saying? All right. And this last one, I also really, really love what you do does not make you happy. What you think does. What you do does not make you happy, what you think does. And I like this one because it works on two levels. You get to think about that, that person living that picture, perfect life on social media. And remember they might not actually be happy. That place, that they are might not be better than the place that you are, the way they are feeling might not be actually better than the way that you are feeling. So again, any combination of these thoughts, you can have fun and you can be fun and you can be both. There’s enough fun in the world for everyone to have some. There’s enough success in the world for everyone to have some. Doing stuff is not a finite resource. I am deeply loved. You are deeply loved. I mean the loudest day today, it’s I think that that car horn was just co-signing that sentiment. Suffering because other people are not suffering makes no sense. And what you do, doesn’t make you happy. What you think does.
So let’s do a little, a little practical application here. Let’s imagine that you’re scrolling through Instagram and you see a friend of yours or an acquaintance, a person that you follow has posted a hashtag #setselfie because they are hashtag #bookedandblessed. And you’ve got thoughts about it. Um, probably a lot of thoughts about it in that one moment you might think, ‘Oh, it’s so tacky. Really? You’re just gonna rub it in my face that you’re you have a job and I don’t,’ or you might think ‘dammit, I really, I just can’t catch a break’ or you might fully think ‘that should be me, why isn’t that me?’ But for the sake of this discussion about FOMO, let’s just say that you think in that moment, ‘damn, I really want to be doing cool gigs and I’m not here. I sit not onset’ or hell you might even be on set, but there will always be someone on a cooler set or show or with a cooler outfit or in a cooler living room or whatever. So now here is what is important to remember someone, some other person could look at that exact same photo and think, Oh my God, yes. Good for her. Oh, she totally deserves it. So cool. Or someone, someone might look at it and think, Oh no, they’re not wearing a mask. What an idiot. Right? So many thoughts are available to you in that moment. And you’re choosing the thought that you’re thinking your brain pitched it to you and you catch it. And if you believe it, you hold on to it for awhile. And sometimes you hold onto it for a very long time. Now, when you hold onto a thought, like, I really want to be doing cool gigs and I’m not, you might feel illegitimate or discouraged or hopeless or angry, all valid, totally valid. When I hold a thought like that, when I hold, like I should be doing something and I’m not, I usually feel frustrated just straight up frustrated or fed up. And when I feel frustrated, my typical response is to beat myself up by showing me evidence against myself. Um, I literally ground myself in that moment. I stopped moving. I stopped being active. I probably sit and keep scrolling or try to distract myself with some other mindless and meaningless task. And the result of all that action and inaction is that I don’t do cool work.
What in the heck. When I think I’m not doing cool work, I feel awful. And when I feel awful, I don’t do cool work. Imagine that. Okay. What I really want to underline here is that the person’s photo or even the fact that the other person is on a job and you are on your couch. Like, even if those are the facts of the situation, that’s not, what’s making you feel awful. It’s what you think about that photo, that person and yourself that’s making you feel awful. So let’s manage our minds, shall we? Let’s say that instead of choosing, I should be doing cool work and I’m not. I decided to buy a different thought. Let’s say I decide to buy the thought that my coolest gig yet is right around the corner. And I damn well better be ready for it. Like my coolest gig ever right around the corner. It’s in the neighborhood. I better be ready. Have you ever, actually, this is a great example. Have you ever had a friend or maybe even a potential boo, like a potential romantic partner. Have you ever had that person hit you up and say, yo, I’m in your area? Do you mind if I swing by? And you’re like, ***** Oh my God, my place is mess. But you don’t say that. You’re like, Oh yeah, of course. Totally. Because you’re very into this person coming over. So then you hang up the phone and you spring into action, like a madman or like, um, um, is it quick silver from X-Men AKA the fastest man alive anyways, all of a sudden you’re moving at like mach speed and you’ve done more in 10 minutes than you’ve done all day. Just because your friend was like, I’m in the neighborhood. Do you mind if I stop by you like take a shower, do your makeup, clean your house in 10 minutes. That feeling I’m going to, I’m going to call it propelled. Your gig is in your neighborhood. Your gig is your potential boo or your friend. That’s calling you up to say I’m around the corner. So hang up and get ready. When I think my coolest gig yet is right around the corner. I feel propelled. I spring to action. I organize my space, my materials, my body, I train. I work on myself. And as a result, I am ready for that gig. Can you see what a dramatic distinction that is? Thinking my gig is close and I better be ready, helps me to become ready. Speaking of which super shout out to episode 9 with Jason Bonner, where we talk about how, if you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready. Classic words of wisdom.
So you get to choose a thought like I should be doing cool gigs. And I’m not which lands you with not doing cool gigs or a thought like, woo hoo my gig is in the neighborhood, literally around the corner. This photo is proof. This photo, by the way, I’m looking at imaginary Instagram at someone else succeeding. This is proof that great gigs and success is literally in my neighborhood. It is out there. It is available to people. I want to invite it in. I better be ready. And a thought like that helps me to become ready. Now, this is just one example of how dramatically different the results are when you make a simple shift in your mindset. So my final thoughts, keep your wits about you. As the world, quote opens back up, you will certainly be having a lot of thoughts about what other people are doing and how they’re doing it and how they should be doing it and how you should be doing things and what you should be doing. And because you’re the only person that you can actually control. I encourage you to do that.
Control yourself, manage your mind, watch over the thoughts that you pitch yourself. Get really curious about the ones that you catch. How does holding onto that thought make you feel? How does that make you act? What results does that leave you with? Is there any other thought available, one that you can actually believe that can land you with a desired result? Get curious, do not get FOMO. That is what I have to offer you today. My friend Short, sweet and simple, but not easy. It really does require quite a bit of awareness to make those shifts in the way that you’re thinking, but it’s worth it because the way that you are living will be dramatically improved with just a touch of curiosity and awareness over the way you’re thinking. All right? So you’ve marked your calendars, April 14th. It’s going to be incredible live career coaching, zoom call, bring the good stuff again. I’m going to share some of my favorite tips and tricks, but this session is really about you coming in, getting what you need. Hopefully that is clarity and confidence. I’ve got it by the boatload. All right, everybody. I really, I think that’s it. Yes. There’s enough success out there for all of us to have some there’s enough fun out there for all of us to have some you are deeply loved and if you’re doing it right, you are also deeply funky. Thanks for being here. Everybody have a great rest of your day, night, week, month, all of it. And of course, keep it funky. I’ll talk to you soon.
Me again. Wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review because your words move me too! Number two things I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye.
Ep. #66 Money March Pt. 4 Q&A with Dancer and CPA Julia Grubbs
What are the biggest mistakes an independent contractor can make? How important is it to file quarterly? What can you do to get on the same “money page” as your partner? 1099’s… there are so many, what do I do with all of them? THIS episode is all of your money questions… ANSWERED! Thanks to my very special guest, Julia Grubbs, Dancer, Aerialist, Personal Trainer, and CPA!
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. I’m Dana. This is words that move me. Welcome. I’m really jazzed about this episode as usual, always jazzed about the episodes. Um, but today is special because we are rounding out Money March with a really special question and answer episode. Uh, today I will be joined by the lovely Julia Grubbs, who is not only a dancer and aerialist and personal trainer, but she is also a CPA super bonus points to you. If you know or remember from the vocab in episode is 63. What does CPA stand for? Yes, you are right. CPA stands for certified public accountant. So for the next almost hour, Julia CPA, and I will be answering the money questions that listeners have submitted over the last like three or fourish weeks, um, during the course of money March, but first let’s celebrate some wins. We’ve got massive wins around here. And, uh, the one that I would like to celebrate today, I can’t even get it out without laughing. I am celebrating that. I have finally, I’ve been wanting to do this for like years. My friends, I have finally enrolled in clown school. Yes, the clown school to be exact. The Clown School was based here in Los Angeles, but they have an online program, which I should mention right out the gate. This is not a paid promotion. In fact, I have not even started yet. So I don’t know if this course is any good at all, but it came recommended to me from people that I think are funny and talented. So that was good enough for me. I’m jazzed about beginning, um, and that in this week, and now I’ll pass it off to you. What is going well in your world?
I’m jazzed for you. So stoked. Please keep winning. You’ve got this. Okay. Now, before we get into this conversation with Julia, I want to let you know that my team and I have put together a special PDF companion for all Money March episodes. Actually we do PDF, um, companion, like interactive worksheets for every single words that move me episode. They’re all available in bundles of ten at thedanawilson.com/shop But we put the four money March episodes together in their own little bundle, because we really think that this information is important. And specifically these last four episodes are doubly useful. If you have that reference point that actual, you know, digital or tangible, I guess if you print it out place where you get to actually learn these things, instead of simply listen to these things. So, um, that special money March bundle of PDF worksheets is available to you thedanawilson.com/shop And, um, now we’re going to talk about that, that sensation, that you’re feeling in your chest right now, and the kind of tickling that’s happening in between your ears, that my friends is the desire to learn about money. Yes. So let’s get into it right away. Grab your pen, grab a paper, grab your words that move me worksheet or grab QuickBooks. I dunno, grab chalk and a sidewalk for all I care, but you definitely will want to be taking some notes. Um, all right. Without any further ado, everybody enjoy your money questions answered with Julia Grubbs.
Dana: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome my guest today, Ms. Julia Grubbs Julia Hi, thank you so much for being here. I’m really excited about this episode. I’m very grateful to have you thank you so much for making yourself available.
Julia: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so happy to be here.
Dana: Yeah. Um, okay. So this is how it works on the podcast for better or for worse all of, for better. Is that how you say it for better or for worse? Not for better or for worst, but for better or for worse? I have all of my guests introduce themselves. Now you are a woman that wears many hats. So this might be an interesting challenge for you, but, uh, let us have it. What, what would you like us to know about you?
Julia: Yeah, I know you do this, so I’m just a little bit prepared, but not over-prepared. Um, my name is Julia Grubbs. I am from Paducah, Kentucky, um, small town. I live in New York City. I am a dancer and aerialist, a personal trainer and a writer, but most importantly, I am a CPA or a certified public accountant, which I know have told your listeners.
Dana: Absolutely Indeed. Um, I’m thrilled that that combination of titles exists in one person because it would be very difficult to organize the schedules of all five of those people to have a podcast episode about money and finance for dancers. So I’m thrilled about you and your skillset. Um, and I’m really excited to be asking you some questions that I have garnered from my listeners over the last, uh, three weeks or so of podcast episodes that were specifically focused on dancers, choreographers, the way that we earned money, the amount of money that we earn and what we do with that money. So I’ve got a boatload of Qs to A and I’m thrilled that I don’t have to do it by myself. Um, so I suppose we might just get into it, shall we?
Yeah, why not? Okay.
I think you’re probably better suited to answer this question than I am. Um, because I know that you work with a lot of small businesses. You work with people who are, self-employed the question coming from listeners is what is the biggest mistake that an independent contractor can make?
Honestly, I think it’s just not being prepared for tax time or just with a general plan for your money at all. Right. So often as dancers, we have money coming in sometimes, but not other times, um, irregularly from a lot of different sources. So really just having a plan and an approach to what you’re going to do with that money when it does come in, uh, making sure that some is set aside for taxes, some set aside for bills, you know, general emergencies, um, you know, for all of our expenses that we have, as well as making sure that there’s fun money in there as well, but just having an approach to it, instead of saying, great, I got $2,000, what do I do with it? Right. We want to make sure we have an approach.
Um, do, do you mind if I ask what is your personal approach?
Sure. So, um, I am a full-time employee as, uh, as an accountant, as a CPA. Um, so I do have regular money coming in, but as for my dance income, you know, there’s a couple of different approaches you can have, there’s a 50, 30, 20 rule sometimes that people have or a one number approach. So the 50, 30, 20 is what you would say 50% is going to our fixed expenses, you know, 30% for fun. And then 20% is going to what I would call future you. Right? You’re saving, you’re investing. Um, so that works well for some people. And they’ll kind of do that on a monthly approach. Um, the one number approach is a little bit different. It makes it easier because it’s just one number that you have to remember. Um, so the idea is to calculate, you know, how much money you can afford to spend on flexible costs, right? The things that we have to actually make decisions about, not our rent that’s kind of fixed. Um, and then you only have to remember that one number on a date day basis. So you can start with your total take home pay that you expect to earn during the month. Right. We know that can be different as dancers, but you’re going to subtract all your monthly fixed costs, things that we know that, um, have to go, you’re going to set aside the money for future you and then, um, money for your non monthly expenses. You know, Christmas gifts, things kind of like that. And the money leftover is your flexible spending money. So you’re going to divide that number by 4.3, it’s the average number of weeks in a month. Um, and that’s your one number. So then you can go out into the world and spend money on things, you know, as you do. And all you have to do is check and make sure you haven’t hit your one number for the week. Right? So that’s, um, a good approach that some people like to use.
I love that approach that is different than my approach. Um, I talked a little bit about, um, a dancer and a dancer spending in, uh, two episodes ago now. So I think episode 63, and I got this incredible gift of a book called the money book for freelancers, independent contractors and the self-employed and they, they talk about the divine trilogy of savings accounts. So I made a habit of 10% going to an emergency fund and by 10%, I mean of every check and that’s even my residual checks that are for like $2 and 74 cents, 10% goes to emergency fund, 10% goes to retirement fund and then 15% goes to a tax fund. Um, and by fund, I actually just mean online savings account that has a pretty healthy interest yield. So, um, I made habit of that way back in 2016, it is absolutely what I do once all that money is done. And once my, um, monthly fixed expenses are paid, everything else is freedom money. And what I find is usually, um, I feel best about putting that freedom money also into one of those savings accounts versus leaving it in the checking account where earns 0.01% interest, which is the biggest buzzkill ever. Um, so that’s sort of my game plan, but I like this one number. It seems like less math and I know for most dance types, math, isn’t our favorite thing. So maybe less math is more good. Um, thank you for shining light on those couple of options. Um, okay. So our next question, I love this question when negotiating contracts, what are the phrases to avoid? What’s the best thing to bring up an ask? What are the best questions to ask, um, in terms of a negotiation and I might head this one up, um, I’ll speak specifically to dancers and choreographers because that is the world of negotiating that I know. And actually in full honesty, I have had a dance agent for 15 years. I have never had to negotiate the terms of my own contract. Um,
But every year my general service agreements with my agent comes up for renegotiation. Most GSS or general service agreements are for the term of one year. And I think it’s an important thing to note, that’s the contract that dancers will sign most often. It’s a GSA, it’s a general service agreement of some sort. You’re usually you have one with your agent, you have one with a manager, you might sign a GSA for a particular job. That’s addressing some sort of agreement for usage or something, but we, we, the dancer don’t sign the SAG-AFTRA contract, you know, or we don’t stipulate the terms of every working agreement that we’re on. We we’re, we’re not writing that language. Those contracts already exists. Our agents sign them on our behalf, or we will sign paperwork on the day. Um, but the, the contract that you’ll wind up signing probably the most often outside of paperwork that says, yes, I work these hours, um, is the GSA and what I would love to, um, underline for this, for the person asking this question, and for everybody listening is that general service agreements are standardized, right? That’s why they’re called general, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be adjusted or modified or changed in some way. Um, you absolutely have the rights and the ability to suggest and offer changes to that GSA. And I’ve, I’ve never made amendment to a GSA that wasn’t accepted. Or every time I resigned my GSA with my agency, they send me a copy. I Mark it up in red. I send it back. I say, is this okay? They say, yep. And we sign. And in one more year, we do it again. Um, there was an awesome course offered by SAG-AFTRA. I think it was called understanding your GSA. And it’s one of the many perks of being a union member. You get to take this free course. And I learned all the jargon, Oh, sorry, circling back. Um, the question asks for what are some phrases or things to look out for things to avoid in perpetuity? My friend in perpetuity means forever for all time. I really encourage, anytime you see the word in perpetuity forever, you ask if that’s, um, uh, yeah, that’s a point where you might be able to set a term instead of in perpetuity forever. It’s for the next five years. It’s for the next 10 years. It’s until the usage changes, at which point we renegotiate strongly recommend looking out for that language in perpetuity forever. Um, but yeah, these, the, the terms of contracts are important. In other words, the amount of time that they cover, um, always make sure that you’re filling in all blanks. You don’t want to sign your name on something that has open blanks that other could fill in numbers that you didn’t necessarily agree with. Um, on GSAs specifically, that will usually be a percentage number or, um, a length of time. You definitely want to make sure that you don’t leave any, any important fields like that open. Um, and then I guess my, my only other encouraging factor would be simply to ask if you don’t understand language it’s I know it might feel embarrassing to not understand what a word means or what it means in this specific context, but contracts are not designed with dancers in mind. Most of the time, there is no shame in asking for the meaning or a breakdown of legal ease of this jargon that can sometimes be intentionally confusing. So I really encourage you ask questions, either asking to your agents or from production, just for a little additional clarity. Hey, what does this mean? Um, and then of course there’s the good old fashioned habit of take a photo, take pictures of all of the things that you sign, um, and then put them someplace on an encrypted hard drive. Uh, but I, I, I see it happen often for myself and for others, is that something might come up long after the job has happened. You don’t remember what you earned. You don’t remember the hours that you worked. There is some sort of discrepancy and you have to call on that information. So, uh, yeah, that was, uh, a long way of wrapping up that question. Um, when you’re negotiating contracts, the phrases and terms that I would look out for are the length, the term of the contract. Um, some specific language in there, for example, in your, GSAs your general service agreement with your agent. They’ll usually say I Dana Wilson here by give, enter name of agent or agency permission to act as my __ words come after that. You just want to make sure that those words are agent not, not necessarily representative legal, anything. This is I’m looking for an agent. That’s what I want to make sure that the word that follows there is, you know, the actual word that you’re looking for. Um, so there’s that, what else today? I think I covered that whole question. Best thing to bring up is anything that you don’t understand always. Okay. I think I did it. Julia, do you have anything that you would add to that?
Um, sure. You know, uh, you know, contract negotiation, I won’t say is my entire specialty, but I will say, especially in New York, I know I’m not sure as much about LA, um, but some might not realize that agents will be happy to represent you on a particular deal, even if they don’t represent you generally. So especially if that deal and you know, is a union job or a job that pays well. Um, but regardless of who represents you, you know, one clause that possible to negotiate is the so-called favored nations clause. So basically that ensures that a performer is paid the same as others on the show. Um, so, you know, say you’re doing a certain show and you’re on in the ensemble, and we’ll just to make sure that all the other ensembles, what, whoever negotiates basically the highest, if this is great for an unrepresented actor or dancer, um, that whoever maybe might represented, negotiates the higher rate that you get this same pay as they do. And then you can negotiate that in terms of salary or in terms of terms and conditions, um, all sorts of things,
Definitely important to bring up that the, the concept of favored nations certainly can work to your favor as you’re an up and comer. Um, but if you’re a person who’s used to negotiating above scale or has a specific day rate for yourself made by yourself, based on your experience and skillset, that’s, you know, above average, then looking at favored nations language is, is not going to be such a friendly thing to, to, to behold. And of course there is always room for a conversation. I think that all too often dancers and creative types in general, except what’s on the page as like I have to say yes or no, there is a third option, which is, I can say yes if or yes, when, and then go from there. Um, Oh man. Oh man. And I think in addition to having a bounce board for my ideas, my feelings about work, you know, my calendar in general, I love having an agent because of that, because I do not like being the person that negotiates, I like being the person that dances and teaches and moves and choreograph. So, um, yeah, I think that a handful of a lot of the questions that I got were, um, coming from a place of a dancer or choreographer who is not yet represented, I cannot stress enough the value of that relationship. And, um, I know right now, specifically, right now being March of 2021, a lot of agencies, uh, that represent all sorts of talent are doing virtual submissions, not a lot of people holding auditions in person these days. So it might be a really awesome time, even if you’re not living in a big city or hub to get the attention of some of these people who are sitting at their computer all day long, looking for new talent in, in, under rocks that might not have been lifted up before. So if you’re out there looking for representation, don’t be shy. Come forward. The world is ready for talent
And thousand percent.
Okay. Uh, let’s keep it pushing. The next one is interesting. I have an idea about this and I would love to hear your thoughts. My listener asks, what are the practices or tips or tools that you would recommend for getting you and your partner on the same page with money? Um, having two incomes in one household, in other words, and I’m fascinated by this, my husband and I have been married for, uh, five years, almost six years. And
Thank you so much. We root that is a win, especially because I am so in love. Um, and especially, especially because I haven’t like left in over a year, we’ve been in a house together for over a year and I am still smitten. Um, so I’ll, I have a couple of them. I jotted down a couple of the things that we do that work. And I’m not saying by any means that I am a professional at this. Um, but one of the things that my husband and I have adopted and I see tremendous value in is that we treat our goals, financial and otherwise like a business. And we treat parts of our relationship, like a business. We have a weekly meeting where we sit down and talk about the nuts and bolts of it. Right. Um, and I think it helps to build trust. We talk about financial goals. We talk about updates in our financial lives. We check on accountability. Like, did you send our CPA this? Or was I supposed to do this? Or did you pay this? Or, you know, it, it really helps keep clear who’s in charge of what, um, and what’s been done and what is yet to be done. Um, uh, yeah, that, that is one thing I really am a huge proponents of is the weekly meeting that’s set. It doesn’t happen over the dinner table. It happens over Skype. He and I are both in separate places. It’s standing on the calendar. If we cannot make it, it gets rescheduled. Like this is kind of coveted time. Um, the other thing that we do at least once a year is we really put it all out there, look at every single account, how much is in it, how much was in it, how much do we want to have in it? And we, I have a Floor to ceiling mirror in my dance studio area. We get a dry erase marker and cover that thing with just all the numbers really helps build trust and get a clear idea of the big financial picture instead of what comes up in our weekly meetings, which is usually kind of, kind of short term. So that’s, that’s another one. Um, and then in terms of like the actual structure of our money, I don’t know much about this, but my husband and I have a, um, yours, mine, ours approach. He has his money that he earns and he uses, I have my money that I earn and I use it and we have really different spending styles. Um, but we then have an account that is ours. It’s for our goals, our trips, our dream purchases, our, you know, shared items and emergency things. And that sort of like the, I guess it’s not a divine trilogy anymore. Cause I have, I have, I have taxes, emergency retirement. And then DanDana, which is our joint account. And every check I get, some of it gets shaved off and put in there and that, and when you have two people doing that, that account grows pretty quickly so that I would super recommend. Um, and then, Oh, one more thing, celebrate, celebrate the small things and celebrations don’t have to be expensive. I think what my husband and I have started to do is establish what we what’s important to us. Um, since the quarantine actually a cool change is that we found out that neither is not important to either one of us to eat out. Um, I much prefer his cooking to most of the restaurants in my area and I prefer efficiency speed. And I love like I love not spending more money than I need to be spending. I found this awesome farmer’s market. I get a box for 25 bucks every single week. I know that’s become a definite fixed number for me. And when I find myself spending the same amount on one meal than I do on my entire weekly food, I’m just like, Ooh, I don’t love that feeling. So we’ve decided like certain things are not important, eating out for example, but certain things are for me, one of them is travel. So I am willing to save scrupulously in other areas so that I can spend in the areas that really light me up. My husband’s the same. He’s like I do not need new clothing ever. He will wear his clothing until it does not cover his body anymore, but he will absolutely be buying new tools, new equipment. And my husband is an engineer. His tools and equipment are not like the cost of a new pair of shoes in my world. Those are my tools, my equipment, right? These are like thousands of dollars of, you know, machinery and stuff. So we save where it matters and we spend where it matters and we celebrate meeting our goals. That is my advice for the couplage in the world. And, and Hey, five years, um, I’m celebrating, I’m celebrating, but it’s not 60. I mean, get out there and ask that question to every couple that, you know, that’s such a smart question. And I’m, I’m really curious. Um, Julia, I’m curious to hear your input, but I would pose that to any couple that’s listening. Like what do you do? I want to know, send me a DM. Words That Move Me podcasts, holler, Julia throwing it to you.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, as much as people say dancers might be frivolous. The system that you just described was so detailed and you know, you’re making that systems based approach that everyone needs to have success and this area of our life, right. As dancers, we know how to hustle. We are hustlers like no one else, but in our financial world, you know, sometimes we don’t do that, but you are showing that we can. We do have the skills to be able to do it. We just have to apply that same kind of energy we have in the rest of our lives. Right. Um, yeah. So, you know, the weekly check-ins, those are amazing, you know, a yearly check in. I would answer these questions for yourself. I would say on a scale of one to 10, you know, how much, how much you worry about money or how much, how often do you think about, or talk about money? Um, and then you want to take a forward-looking approach and say, what does our most amazing life look like? Right. Let’s see each person answers that individually. And then we’re going to come together and see, okay, what do we want our life to look like? Right. Um, where do you want to be in 5, 10, 15, 20 years. And once we settle on what we want, then we want to take a systems based approach of how to get there, right? Automatic saving, investing, right? Like you’re talking about automatic debt payments. If we are in debt, know our exact debt payoff date the year and the month, so that we can have a date to look forward to and then use all of those skills that we are all of those systems that we’ve built to get us to our most amazing life in the future. Right. What do we love spending money on? What do you hate spending money on? We’re going to cut costs, mercilessly on those things that we don’t really care about and spend a ton of money on the things that we love spending money on. Right. That’s going to make us a generally happier person, happier couple in general. Right? And we, each person in that relationship might have different answers to that. And so they can then just act accordingly, right? I like spending money on convenience, having my groceries delivered to my door. I love cooking. So I don’t eat out as much, but I just love having all of my groceries delivered, you know, having a personal trainer, I could, um, create my own workouts. Right. But I outsource it to someone who also trains dancers and does that for me. Um, so we work to find out what we actually care about and not what other people care about, right. What our person and our relationship cares about.
That’s huge. Um, I love this idea of forward thinking and then kind of reverse engineering back from that point. Like I know that if I want to be fully debt-free by X date, then I want to be half debt-free in half of that time. And it can get pretty practical and reasonable and drama free when you just look at the numbers and really focus to hit your marks. Um, okay. Now let’s actually, let’s sidestep from the math of it, the, the math part, and just talk a little bit about mindset or what I like to call drama. Um, and, and it’s funny because money, which is math has such a hold on our heartstrings on our thoughts on our, on, Ooh, it’s deep. It is very deep. So I, I would like to talk a little bit about mindset and I know that you, um, specialize in this department. So I can’t wait to hear your thoughts. Uh, I have a listener asking what is the suggested mindset for an artist who’s looking to increase their earnings and kind of achieve a more sustainable minimum. Um, and I think the caveat here is like, while still doing fulfilling work, what do you think about that? A money mindset? What’s the, what’s the mind, what’s the type of thinking that will get you earning more without necessarily having to sell your soul to the devil?
Well, I, I think you can’t really address the problems with money until you address the psychology behind money. Right. So what is your money mindset that you had growing up? What did people in your household talk about? Right. Did they not talk about it at all? You know, I always felt like I had somewhat of a scarcity mindset and that there would never be enough. So it might help to start to journal and, you know, unravel well, why you might have that certain mindset and tap into that emotion and that it makes you feel and combat it by saying I’m not a child anymore. You know, I don’t have my parents’ fears. I don’t have, I don’t need to bend to that fear anymore. And I am in control of my current money beliefs. But in order, in terms of, um, increasing your earnings, you know, I often think about how happy future me will be if I am not worried about money, right? Money is people’s top sources of stress. 73% of people said that they, if they felt clear about money, then they would report being less stressed. So if I feel less stressed about having everything covered for me currently, and for future me, then I can focus my time and my energy on things that do artistically fulfill me.
That’s huge. So in other words, You’re taking on now, which something that might be maybe just an uncomfortable conversation, right? Like something as simple as asking for a raise or something as uncomfortable as asking for what you actually think you’re worth versus giving the homie deal to everybody right. In the moment that might be uncomfortable, but your future self will thank you because your future self will be that much less burdened by, uh, a scarcity mindset or a money struggle moment.
Yeah. And going back to that, um, that what we talked about with couples, you know, we, that forward thinking approach, what does my most amazing life look like? Let me backtrack and how can I get there? Okay. I need to make more money in order to get to that. Cool. I’ll start doing that now. Right? It’s all about consistency over time, as opposed to just, you know, one, one thing right now, I’m going to increase one paycheck that I earn right. We’re looking to do it over a long period of time so that we’re successful successfully set up financially.
Yeah. Small bits, making big difference. This idea of like compounding interest over time, a small change. Even if you ask, you know, let’s say you’re a dance teacher and you ask for $5 more per hour, small change in this one conversation that we’re making. But over time, a really, really big, a big shift. That’s huge. I appreciate that. Um, another listener asks, uh, I feel very motivated to work on projects that fulfill me artistically, but I’m less motivated to work on the sufficient income type of projects. And that might even fully mean a day job. What do you think about that dancers taking on a day job outside of, um, their, their creative work? Is this something you see with clients often?
Absolutely. Yes. I think some people have, especially right now during this past year, I think people are spending their energies developing side businesses, side hustles, as well as just, you know, um, nannying part-time things, um, in order to kind of cover those bills.
And is that something that you, um, I guess the followup to this is like, is that something you encouraged, do you see, do you see creative clients of yours achieving some degree of financial freedom, thanks to say Starbucks or, you know, having, having some other regular income?
Yeah. I think it depends on what your goals are. So, you know, my goals are flexibility so that I can go to any audition I want to go to. It’s not limited by time because I can work on my own whenever I want. Right. Others might have to work the morning shift at a gym and so that they can go to an audition later, um, or work on contracts later. Uh, I think it depends on the person and what they’re willing to do. You know, um, oftentimes there’s kind of a negative stereotype. I think between a lot of people would come to the city and bartend and then not be able to wake up for their 8:00 AM audition cause they were bartending till 3:00 AM. Um, and if that’s, if that starts to take away from what they actually want to do, then it might be time to invest, uh, their skills that they, they definitely have into a different side hustle.
Awesome. Thank you for making that distinction. I worked at urban Outfitters when I first moved to Los Angeles and for a full calendar year, I rocked that opening shift from 6:00 AM to 3PM and that, and that worked for me. I was a person that thought like talk about money beliefs. I believed that that stability helped me in my life. I believe that like the regimen, the order, the, uh, certainly the health and the health insurance that I was provided, all my taxes were automatically taken out of my check. I found, I found great convenience and comfort in that it didn’t bother me at all. And so I think the combination of the job itself, which provided a little bit of flexibility and hours, that didn’t really conflict, that mixed with thoughts about it made that a totally reasonable thing for me to do at 18 years old, living on my own for the first time in my life, you know, but there, but that, but that’s not everybody’s experience. This is not a one size fits all fits all type of answer. You have to really get, get real with yourself about what you’re thinking this side hustle means to you. Um, because there are ways that it can fill your cup emotionally and financially. Um, if it’s the right gig, man, I, I really enjoyed my Urban Outfitters gig. I’ll tell you what it made shopping for my audition outfits, much easier and more fun, and cheaper I soaked that employee discount up for as long as I possibly could. Um, okay. So maybe the side hustle conversation is a good segue to my next question, which is one of my favorites. It goes like this, I love it so much. 1099, How do I deal with all of them? And I have this exact same question.
Yeah. I mean, a ton of, uh, dancers will come to me and say, Oh my gosh, I have so many, 1099 nines. My taxes are going to be so difficult. And my answer kind of is that doesn’t necessarily mean your taxes are going to be that difficult. I will say. Um, all it is is basically a couple of extra data entry, you know, in order to get all of that uploaded into the system. Now, if they are in different States, which often happens, you know, if they’re working in different regional theaters across the country, those kinds of things that can make it a little bit more difficult and we can get into that a bit later, but basically 1099. And I know California also has AB5 that makes independent contractor versus employee. Um, yeah, I know we don’t, we don’t, we don’t love it, but, um, if you are getting 1099, then that means that employer not the right word, but, um, considers you self-employed. So when you are self-employed you then will file a schedule C and then you conduct deduct business expenses against that. Right. So you’ll then pay self-employment tax on that the, which is the employer and the employee share of social security and Medicare. Um, but half of that is deductible. So basically all the 1099
Back up, back up, back up. Yep. So half of Medicare and self-employment tax are deductible
On the front half of the 1040, well, the 1040 is now just kind of technically one page, but yes,
I’m just underlining that for everybody that’s listening because that’s very important. Carry on.
Yeah. So yeah. So if your income is all W2, um, then you won’t file as self-employed and then you don’t get to deduct business expenses against that. The only way you can is on the state return, if those, if that state allows it. So I think New York, California, Pennsylvania, and a few others have a combinations that still allow showbiz expenses. Um, but not all States do. Okay.
Here’s a question from me specifically about this subject on a normal year. I might, I do a combination of W2 and 1099 work. Let’s say I teach at four different summer intensives. I go set choreography on a couple of different studios. I am in a couple TV episodes and I teach on a convention. So a mixed bag, right? And while I’m working during the year, I’m not thinking about which ones of those will be W2’s and which ones of those will be 1099 nines. So I find myself at the end of the year, wondering if I have all my documents ready to give to my CPA, I, it never fails. I will send all my tax documents to my CPA. And then two weeks later, I get three more from this dance studio or this project or whatever. Um, do you have a system, a recommendation for tracking projects as you do them that helps you kind of line item yourself and, and know when you’re ready to be like when you’re done at the end of the year, um, or when it is tax time, how do you know that you’ve got it all?
Alright. So the deadline for the, um, employer to send those documents to you is January 31st. Um, so technically they should mail those all to you as of that date, right? That’s when they have to submit it to the IRS. And technically, technically, if they have paid you more than $600 for each project, then you will, are supposed to get a 1099. W2, any amount of money that they pay you. Um,
Question for clarity, $600 per project, or $600 total. Let’s say, let’s say I go to a studio two times in a year. Is this per visit or is this in total?
In total for the year.
So they have to send something by January 31st. And if they’ve paid me more than $600, they have to send me a certain thing. And then what happens?
Yeah. So that is the 1099, um, which they have also sent to the IRS. So if you get a 1099, that means that he’s also sent that to the IRS.
Okay. So they told the IRS, Hey, I, I paid Dana this much money. And then if Dana doesn’t report receiving this much money from them, then the IRS goes warning warning, look closer, which we don’t love that. Right. Um, so that’s why it’s important to make sure that you are reporting all income as what it was, right. Be it W2 or 1099, or, um, even interest earnings and stuff like that. Correct. Okay. So to answer this person’s question. 1099 nines, how do I deal with all of them? I personally scan them all into one document. I call it 1099s, and then I send it to my CPA. But what if this person is doing their own taxes?
Uh, so whatever, however, they decide to file. So if you do make under 72,000, anyone can file for free on the IRS website. Um, and some States allow that as well, Free File. Yes. And then there’s a couple different softwares. I believe that you can choose to do that. So if you are doing that, basically, like I just said, it’s going to be just a little bit more data entry. Each 1099, you have to enter in the EIN how much money was received, those kinds of things. And also it was new for this year. We got 1099 NECS instead of 1099 miscellaneous. I don’t know if anybody noticed that this year, but yes, that was different. I didn’t know.
I did I noticed that this year and I didn’t know what it meant.
Yeah. So NEC non-employee compensation
Look how much learning I’m doing! Thank you for that. Okay, cool. Um, let’s move forward. Our next question is, do dancers get paid royalties? This is a great example of there. Isn’t a yes or a no. Um, if we look really broadly, I could show you many dancers that do get paid royalties. I could show you many dancers that don’t the distinguishing factor is the type of work they’re doing and the type of contracts they are on strongly recommend taking a wander back to in the show notes to episode 63, which is the first it’s part, one of Money March. I do talk about residual structures and SAG-AFTRA contracts. Those are, uh, dancers appearing on film or television and a new media. Um, many of those contracts do, uh, include residual structures and we love that. Um, right. Yeah. So answer to that question is Yes, and if you’re doing that type of work, um, and next question, how, and when do I negotiate pay? Again, this more or less depends on the type of work that you are doing because I have an agent, my agent is always the one that negotiates my pay and, um, I, I always seek for that to be done before my first day of work. You want to know what you’re making before you’re on the job. Simple as that, I am making it part of my money practice to talk about money first and frequent. If the terms of the project change while it’s happening, we’re going to talk about money again, before I signed the dotted line, we’re going to talk about money first and frequent is when, uh, you should be discussing your money. That’s my, that’s my answer. Anything to add to it?
No, that’s, that’s got it covered. You know, we have to make sure that this is, it is a big part of our lives, right? So we have to make sure that it is in the conversation, um, frequently, as you said.
Which actually also helps it, it becomes less of a big deal when you’re talking about it more often. It’s yeah. It’s, I guess it’s kind of like fouette turns in that way. Like it used to be a really, really big deal before I knew how to do them. And when I didn’t do them very often, it was like, Oh, here we go. We’ll go. And then when I learned how to do them and did them all THE TIME, unstoppable, you could not keep me from doing four to turns in my kitchen. I will be doing for tutorings everywhere. Video coming soon.
Do you do them now?
Um, it’s been a long time since a fouetté turn, but I bet I could still, I could still hit a footy turn right now for sure. Um, okay. Julia, talk to me about IRAs. I’ve gotten a lot of mixed information about which type I should have, um, be it a Roth or a CEP. Um, I I’ve gotten overwhelmed with this question and my, my dives on the internet of trying to find a simple answer were not so simple. Um, so I’d love to hear from a dancer, what, what you recommend for obviously everybody is different, but what would you recommend for the average dancer when you take it out? At which point tax rates might be much higher because you know, people say, what goes up, must come down. I have noticed that it’s not entirely true. Uh, I have not seen taxes actually go down. Have I, I don’t know, honestly, I don’t pay that much attention, but it’s an important thing to consider when you’re making that call. With a traditional IRA. Are you only able to withdraw funds and earnings from that account after you’re 65? Or is it a number of years from when you started it? What’s that? What does that timeline look?
Um, for traditional the withdrawal ages 59 and a half. Um, but there are, uh, ex exceptions, you know, if you’re buying a first-time home buyer, you can you can withdraw up to $10,000, um, for a home purchase and you don’t have to pay tax or penalty on that. Okay.
Oh, that’s important. First time only asks the woman that owns her condo. Okay.
Now, if it’s not a residence, you know, and you’ll maybe own property that you don’t live in there, you know, you have to look into that a little bit, but if it’s your first full time residence, then, then you can do that.
Cool. Awesome. Thank you for that. Okay. Um, a couple of questions now coming from me, I’m really curious about the, this is me just trying to, um, trying to get all the goods without having to do all of the work. I’m wondering what are the quick fix type questions that you get often? Like somebody comes to you with this big deal. They’re like, dude, this is so hard. I don’t understand, blah blah. And you’re like, actually it’s really easy. All you have to do is blah. Like what what’s that? I want to know the answer to that or those questions if there are more than one.
Yeah. I think as you said, sometimes it’s, it comes to be drama maybe. Um, but when it doesn’t have to be basically, uh, people say, Oh my gosh, I’m a dancer. And I have so many, 1099s. And so tax time is so hard and it’s stressful, right. Basically keep a spreadsheet and total it for your accountant. If you do that. Um, or, you know, if you’re going to do it, keep all your receipts and say, okay, how much did I spend on my website on, you know, um, any kind of marketing materials, headshots resumes, any of those kinds of things, um, and then just keep it all together. So that way, when it comes to tax time, you have everything that you’ve done, right? As soon as you bought classes, you might have all of receipt of all classes you paid for in one year, take that, put it into your spreadsheet, say, cool. This is how much I spent on classes this year. And the answer is done.
Could you give a rundown of, in your eyes, which are in, in your CPA dancer eyes, what are the categories that you, what are you, what are your itemized deduction categories? I remember struggling for years trying to decide what to call certain things. And I would call, let’s say, I called, um, apparel. Let’s say I called it a uniform one year. And then the next year I was calling it, um, maintenance and maintenance and upkeep or something like, I really, I got very confused about where to put what, because in this way I do think we are unusual, like me buying this new pair of sneakers is not for vanity it’s because I danced holes in my other pair of sneakers and I danced in sneakers. So that isn’t, you know, I, if you could just take us through a gentle walkthrough of like the big categories and examples of what might go in each category of deductible expense.
Sure. Um, yeah, so these aren’t the itemized deductions, but these are on the schedule C when we deduct, um, our business expenses, right. As a self-employed individual, um, anything from advertising. So I would say website, uh, headshot, resumes, you know, anything that goes in there, um, you have a decent amount of leeway, um, in that other deductions category at the bottom to put something and then just call it that, that year. And then when you go to do your taxes the next year, right. You can just move it on over, you know, you just keep it simple year to year. Right. And so if you have that say Google sheets spreadsheet that says, okay, this is where I put everything last year. Cool. Move it over and just do it the same thing this year. Um, but yeah, those things advertising, marketing, you’ve got your, um, auto expenses, you know, if you’re driving those kinds of things or travel in other respects, um, yep. There is repair and maintenance as well. Uh, professional fees, um,
Like your, like your union dues, things like that. Where would you put bodywork massage, physio, acupuncture, meeting with a dietician.
Yeah. I would stick it in that other detections category, um, other, the, you know, health and wellness, that kind of thing. And just put it under all of those.
Okay. I have a feeling our listeners will want to be knowing a lot more about a lot of this stuff. So don’t let me let you out of here without leaving a way that could find you and, and, and potentially work together. Um, okay. So the opposite side of that coin, like the easy fix question is what are the questions that you wish nobody ever asked? Because they’re so complicated and dense and difficult to answer. And will you answer those questions so that we so that we don’t have to ask them so that we don’t have to ask you individually?
I would say honestly, the biggest challenge, and it’s hard to answer without going into each individual person’s experience is each state, right? If you’re working in multiple States, each state has completely different laws and you’ll have to see if your state conforms to the federal laws. And that’s really a big deal right now with COVID and all the tax changes that are going along with that, you know, some States tax, all the income you earn, and then you get a credit for taxes received. Um, some States tax only income earned in that state. And or if it’s under a certain moment, it’s not, you don’t have to file. Um, you might have to file in multiple States. I know that’s a question that comes and can be difficult. I always had a file in Pennsylvania. And then the one year I thought it was not going to have to file in Pennsylvania. I had to file in Pennsylvania again, and I was just talking to filing that’s something.
Okay. So it’s that there is no, yes, there are rules and there are a lot of different rules and it’s okay to not know all of the rules. Um, but it’s not okay to break all of the rules. So you must find somebody who knows what the rules are or find a place to look things up. Um, I’m guessing that would just be the state.gov or
Yeah. The department of revenue usually. Um, you can find it on the department of revenue website for any state. Yeah.
Okay. My move, because I believe I am a unique and individual snowflake is to work with a CPA that understands unique and individual snowflakes. I have not tried to file my own taxes since I was probably 17 years old. I did it once. I cried so hard and I’m not going to lie. I still cry when it’s tax time, because I feel stupid when I don’t know how to do things or the answers to things. I had a little chuckle to myself when you were talking about, um, a Google sheet and like, just do it the same every year. I not only have a Google sheet now, but I have also a Google doc that reminds myself the answers to the questions that I always ask, which is like, where does the individual, or does my LLC pay for my health insurance? I have the answer to that. Cause I w I ask it every single year. Um, where do I put this? And I write the answer to that. So as you’re asking questions and getting answers to them because taxes are, Oh, I have another question for you. I was just about to say, because taxes only happen once a year. And then that made me look directly into your eyes, Julia, and ask, how important is it to file quarterly? Cause I’ve got my boxing gloves on. I don’t, I, if taxes are going to ruin my life, let it be once a year, not four times, I get really stressed out at this time of year, certainly because of the way I’m thinking about it, obviously, but I get really mixed information. Like it’s going to save you money. You should definitely file quarterly. And then all of a sudden when I don’t file quarterly, cause I’m like, you know what? I I’d rather pay more and worry about it less that I’m fine with this. But then I get to the end of the year and you’re like, why didn’t you pay quarterly? Now we have to pay penalties now, like talk to me quarterly WTF. What’s that?
It definitely just depends on, this is another one of those BS answers I’m going to give you depends on your situation and year per year. Right. So how much did you earn last year? How much tax did you pay last year? That’s going to affect, you know, um, estimated taxes this year. Um, as well as just, um, what was I going to say?
Filing quarterly? Should I do it? Should I not do it? What does it depend on? What is the answer to that question? Depending on, yeah.
You know, as well as just, um, how much 1099 income you’re getting, right. If you’re getting a bunch of taxes taken out from your W2’s, you might not have to worry about it as much as if you filled out, you know, that little spreadsheet that they give you at the beginning to say how much you want to deducted Right? So if you do have some W2 income and you can have more taken out of that, so that it covers, um, maybe some of your 1099 income, right? There’s a nice little worksheet that you can do on the IRS to see if you’re being withheld enough from the W2 income that you do have.
Oh, that’s exciting. Do you see how I just went from being like hot and sweaty and enrage to like genuinely curious and interested in something because you called it a worksheet. So I get excited. Um, okay, well, that’s, that will be added to my master document of questions answered. Although I don’t know that I will ever become a person that pays quarterly, unless I have to, like, if you tell me that I have to, I will definitely do it.
Not telling you that,
Oh, drats. I wish somebody weren’t somebody, you know what? My, my poor CPA might listen to this someday. And he’s like, Dana, literally, I am telling you that you have to.
Listen to him.
Uh, I don’t know what my deal is with that, but I’m working on it and becoming a person that is not like it. The world doesn’t come down on my actual head. I get a little grumpy when I have to pay taxes, but don’t wheel, I’m not unique in that way. We are all of,
And this year, just so we make that clear, the filing deadline has been extended this year until May 17th. So you don’t
By like, I’m. Well, I’m annoyed. Like we had a dumpster fire of a year. These are my thoughts. I’m getting so hot. I have to take my shirt off, not my, not my whole shirt, just my outer outer shirt, 2020 happened. Right. Nobody can deny that 2020 happened and we’re pushing our tax deadline back 30 days or like 32 days. I’m sorry. That does not seem sufficient to me, but I started early. I’m prepared. My CPA is also prepared. I’m going to be okay. You’re going to be okay if you don’t think you’re okay. Here is where you can find Julia Julia on your Mark. Get set, go. Where do we find you?
You can find me at Juliagrubbs.com Um, my, all my contact info is there. Um, I’m on Instagram @JWgrubbs. Um, two B’s. Um, yeah. So any of those you can there’s I have a contact form on my website. You can feel free to send me an email. I love answering questions, helping dancers, you know, feel better
Thank goodness for you. I appreciate that so much. Thank you for making yourself available to me today. Me and all my thoughts and feelings about money. And, uh, I, I do think I will be reaching back out with a few more followup questions. That is all I have for you today, but in, in my life as a curious dancer person, I’m sure you will be hearing from me again.
Absolutely. Can’t wait!
Thank you for coming. My friend. I’ll talk to you later. All right. My friend, I hope that you learned as much as I did, and I truly hope that you visit Julia with any other money or tax related questions that you have. I am certain that I will be. Um, so she won’t be shocked to hear from you lovely words that move me listener. Thank you so much again for being here. Um, just a few more things before you run off and go organize your 1099s. Um, I will be holding a free career coaching session via zoom coming up in April on Wednesday, April 14th. Now that time is TBD. So if you are not already following me on Instagram, I’m @Danadaners D A N A D A N E R S, or the podcast on Instagram, which is words that move me podcast. Um, all one word, no spaces or underscores or anything fancy like that. Um, but make sure you follow us over there because we will be blasting this information loud and proud free career coaching, a group call on zoom. It’s going to be awesome. I can’t wait to share what I’m all about. Um, tremendously valuable tools here that we’ll be sharing with you. Now go get out into the world, keep it organized, keep it financially free and flowing. And of course, by any means necessary. Keep it funky. I’ll talk to you later.
KEEP IT FUNKY
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