Ep. #29 Movement Matters with Jermaine Spivey and Spenser Theberge

Ep. #29 Movement Matters with Jermaine Spivey and Spenser Theberge

 
 
00:00 / 01:08:45
 
1X
 
This episode explores movement through “movements”.  We know that dance lessons are life lessons, but now we get to look at how an artistic partnership can mirror a romantic partnership and how dance can be a physical practice of empathy. Join Jermaine, Spenser on this BIG bite in Capital D Dance… and beyond.

Show Notes

Quick Links:

Watch Jermaine in Kid Pivots’ Betroffenheit https://www.marquee.tv/watch/crystalpite-betroffenheit 

Revisit Episode 3 with Chloe Arnold: https://www.thedanawilson.com/podcast/ep-3-dance-lessons-are-life-lessons-with-chloe-arnold

Amazon Shopping List: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/208ZBEMH1NK8H?ref_=wl_share&_encoding=UTF8&tag=thedanawilson-20&linkCode=ur2&linkId=c3b3604249eb6e654753fedb0ccdc8e8&camp=1789&creative=9325

Transcript:

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

Dana: All right. All right. Hello everybody. And welcome to words that move me. I’m Dana. I am so jazzed about this episode, and I know that I always say that, but really this one is special. It is special because my guests are special, so special. It is special because I learned so much about myself, about my craft, about my relationship to the world that I’m living in right now. Um, and I also learned a lot more about audio editing. So here comes the heads up. The audio quality is not the greatest on this episode, but the, every other quality is the greatest. So this episode is my win for the week. Your turn, what’s going well in your world. Let’s see if I can keep tempo.  

Oh, don’t don’t don’t don’t don’t don’t don’t don’t don’t do that. Don’t don’t boom, boom, boom, boom. Don’t don’t don’t don’t don’t don’t tell, don’t do that. Don’t tell him  Five, six, seven, eight.

Yes. Good for you. I’m so glad that you’re winning. Keep it up and celebrate yourself. It’s so important. Okay. Now I don’t want to take too much more time before I invite you to the table. Well, the zoom, I guess, with my guests today, Spenser Theberge is originally from Portland, Julliard Grad danced for NDT two and NDT one that’s Netherlands Dance Theater for you, non dance types. Um, the Forsythe company, he’s the winner of the Princess Grace Award. He currently teaches for Cal arts. Um, but most importantly, I want to tell you that his choreography makes me weep tears of laughter and also tears of a very special brand of admiration. He is a truly special artist and I am so honored and flattered to call him to call both of these gentlemen, my friends. All right. So up next, we have the one and only Jermaine Spivey He is from Baltimore, also a Julliard grad. Also a Princess Grace winner also has danced for all of the, that I oogle and all of the companies that you should Google. Um, he is currently teaching for USC Kaufman, but beyond all of those things, I can not think of a single thing, more mesmerizing in this world than watching Jermaine dance. That was at least until we had this conversation. And I learned that it is equally mesmerizing to dig in to words with him, with him and with Spenser, both truly mesmerizing. Um, this conversation simply blows my mind wide open. So without any further ado, please enjoy this conversation with Jermaine Spivey and Spenser Theberge

Dana: Spencer and Jermaine. Holy smokes. Thank you so much for joining me today on the podcast. I am thrilled to have you! Welcome. 

BOTH: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.  

Dana: Um, this is kind of par for the course. This is sort of how I do it on the pod. Please introduce yourself.  

Jermaine: Um, okay. I will introduce myself. My name is Jermaine Spivey. I am an artist. I’m a performing artist. I am a choreographer.  I am an educator. I am a learner. I am a person in this world that um, loves to create. And connect to people through that creativity. 

Dana: Thats a beautiful introduction. Thank you. Nice to meet you. Alright, Spenser hit it.  

Spenser: I’m Spenser Theberge. And that is how you say my last name. 

Dana: I’ve been saying it wrong for like four years now. 

Spenser: Yes, it’s true. I am Spencer Theberge. Uh, I also echo what Jermaine says. I am an artist. I work in, I work in dance, but I don’t feel like I only live in dance. I am excited by interdisciplinary things. I’m interested in collaborations and the permeable worlds in terms of art and genres. Um, I teach. I dance, uh, and I’m also, Jermaine and I are partners. And we’re partners also in the work we’re making too.  

Dana: You Guys. This is the first time I’m having a couple on the podcast. I’m so jazzed about this. Okay. Um, thank you for your introductions. I have a million questions for you. About your work and what it’s like to collaborate with your significant other and what it is to be in an interracial Relationship in the summer of 2020 and how the black lives matter movement is impacting you and how are you impacting it and what it means to be like, Whoa, all the things I have, all the questions. So slow down, Wilson. Um, let me simplify and ask you. 

Jermaine: There’s a lot. It’s a lot. 

Um, let me just simplify and ask you to tell me something you would like for people to know about your relationship.  Or is it top secret?  

Jermaine: Oh, no, I think, yeah. Okay. I’m gonna start that off. I think I would like people to know that it is, it’s a constant effort and I don’t mean that in a negative way. It’s actually very positive that its constant effort, but constantly trying to see each other for who we are and how we’re evolving and how we do that together. How we do that side by side, I really, really, really don’t respond to the idea of, you know, you meet someone and its the same and that is happily ever after, like, you’re the same person I met and it’s like, yes, I am a version of that person, but I’m also hopefully changing and growing and evolving the entire time and definitely tries to do that next to the person that I love. We’re next to each other we’re with each other. We’re changing. Okay.  Talking about summer of 2020 

Dana: Change baby change.  

Jermaine: We’re both changed from how we started this year. 

Spenser: I would also add or piggyback then say that, um, there’s the idea that we’re always partners. It’s not like we are, we are. And then what I mean by that is our relationship as partners. We’re always doing that. We’re doing that when we’re making work together, we’re doing that when we’re making breakfast together, we’re doing that when Jermaine’s on a tour and I’m home, and we’re not physically together. We’re always partners. Sometimes I think that there’s, um, you know, the compartmentalizing idea of we, you’re not, we’re not in our relationship when we’re making work together. For instance, like once we entered this room, it’s a different, it’s a different story or something. And that’s not the case with us. We very much are always exploring and interrogating, but our relationship feeds and that’s the art we make as well. Uh, and I think that we hope that our art changes and develops over time. And so why don’t, why not treat ourselves like that too, that we can change and develop over time.  

Ah, I love that sentiment. I love the idea of perpetual evolution and, uh, specifically hopefully progress, right. Um, also Jermaine I’m so glad you brought up effort. And that is what I would like to segue with into this next part of the conversation. So I think it was after, and we can go back a little bit to our history as friends in a second, but I think it was after Gen Four, which was certainly the most, um, amount of time I spent with you guys like period. But I think after Gen Four, um, I dug into a search for more of you both because after that week of watching you dance, I just could not sate myself. So I was just looking for more. And I remember stumbling upon, um, short film that was directed by Dana Casperson and it’s part of her, um, changing the conversation book. I think she made little chunks from her book, changing the conversation, the 17 principles of conflict resolution. And, um, I was so delighted by this thing. Uh, and then I dug more on Dana and I became so delighted by her. Uh, she says that conflict is the origin of all creative action, which is like the smarter older sibling version of my saying, which is creativity is simply problem solving. But she, she says that conflict is inevitable and she adds that destructive conflict is not inevitable. That’s the choice part. Um, she, she explains describing nondestructive conflict as just dynamic tension. Effort. And to me that sounds kinda like fun dynamic tension reminds me of a first date or of like the early years of a relationship. Dynamic tension, sounds like, Oh, I like that versus conflict is something that I think is, is kind of has this negative connotation. Um, but, uh, one of the things I like most about you guys, both in your life, in, in your work is that you don’t avoid conflict or effort, um, or tension. Actually, I would say that you guys are both masters of tension and release of tension. Spenser, you do it with humor Jermaine, you do it with your body. Um, could you guys talk about how you use tension in your work and in your relationship?  

Spenser: Woah, Dana, thank you. I love that. That’s some something you’re observing because it’s, we talk about conflicts all the time and it is really at the heart of our creations. It’s also at the heart of the process of creating. Um, we get along really well. We disagree, I wouldn’t say we fight. 

Jermaine: Maybe once in 10 years have we fought. 

Um, however, we’re both really, um, we really believe what we believe and we really care about the things that we believe in and those things are, are often at odds and that doesn’t feel good, but it’s sort of like a thank goodness type thing, because, uh, what I want to relate it to is this idea that you have to have conflict in order to have good theater. Otherwise the curtain goes up and maybe somebody proposes to the other person. And that person says yes, and then it’s over, there’s no conflict and the curtain goes down and it ends. And so there’s the thought that if you want something to be sustainable, if you want, and I’m talking now in a performative way, if you want to sustain interests for the audience, there’s gotta be conflicts there for people to have a hook, so we lean into the conflict. Um, and since our work is usually a kind of lens into our, into our relationship as partners, we then lean into the inherent conflicts between each other, um, and allow them to be present in the work. So that the work can sustain yeah, it’s a belief. I mean, if it feels like a belief, like a value for making work to me is this idea of conflict. So I love that you see it and that you’re aware of it. 

100%. Um, do you have anything you want to add, Jay?  

Um, I’m just listening to, I feel like conflict is also about diversity and, uh, it’s about opposition. Uh, I think we’re realizing right now in this moment that we can’t continue to curate this weird streamlined version of reality where there aren’t, there’s no diversity, right? Like where we, force people to conform to be the same, where we force people to have the same values and the same way of expressing these values, it’s not realistic. 

And there’s no opposition, there’s no opposition. And we know because we’re dancers, who’ve done pirouettes before that you cannot lift up without also pushing down. You won’t have a successful rotation if you don’t do both. Um, this is what I’m inspired by right now is this idea. And I know it’s very self-gratifying, but it’s this idea that dancers just might be the best people to deal with and lead in a time like this because we have understanding and the ability to think kind of physically and know the importance of something like opposition. Know, the importance of something like spacing, for example. But I just, I, I would love to hear a little bit more from you guys on what some other dancer or choreographer characteristics might be helpful right now to, to all, not just to dance types.  

Spacial awareness is the first thing that came to mind, um, is not just about avoiding bumping into people on the street. It’s about space. It’s about an understanding of how to occupy space, not just how to leve room for other people. Which is something from the conversation in our way of life here in the US, created a lot of extremes and not so much space or room for people to exist in. And I think that it is work. 

Actually, I think we experienced that in the dance world was maybe we’ll have a chance to kind of get into a little bit more, uh, later, but this idea of where you exist inside of the dance world, and things sometimes not. I mean, sometimes for a lot of people, it’s always feeling like there’s, there is no intersection or blending of worlds and experiences. And I’m also thinking about blending of forms and blending of techniques. But, um, I’d like to first, before getting into that talk about also, I think dance has the ability to help us train an idea of empathy. I was just thinking about a rehearsal Jermaine and I had the other day where we were doing some partnering and I needed to know what something’s felt like for him in order to do my job for him to help him. So I, he had me do it, do his role, so I could feel what it felt like in his body. And then I knew better. It didn’t change instantly, but I had a better ability to make a helpful choice for him as a partner. And that made me feel like what we’re actually doing is training that thing we’re trying to talk about right now, which is, this is how this feels for me. Can you hear me say that? Like, can you put that on, this is how this feels for me. And, and we do that sometimes without even knowing that that’s unusual for some people in their world and in their life. And right now, since I’ve been teaching a lot online and, you know, theoretically everyone’s alone in their kitchen, like I am, teaching, right. And so I’m trying to still figure out how to teach this idea or promote this idea of empathy. And I think we can relate to ourselves in our own bodies, empathetically as well, and have that same process of like, what does that feel like for you knees? And then if I’m, if I’m fostering a sense of empathy in my own body, isn’t it then? Couldn’t it then be easier to be empathetic with the wider world.  

Okay. Pause for the cause and let that sink in for a second. All right. In episode three, with Chloe Arnold, we talked about how dance lessons are life lessons. We talked about all of the different ways that dance has prepared us for life, and we dug pretty deep. Um, I highly suggest you go back and check that out if you haven’t already, or maybe even revisit that one, if it’s been awhile, but even in all of that discussion with Chloe, it had never dawned on me that perhaps the most important and powerful and dare I say essential human quality, empathy can be practiced physically through dance. This was a massive a-ha moment for me. I, I danced as a swing on my most recent world tour. And, uh, for those of you that don’t know a swing is somebody that knows and must be able to dance anyone in the shows track, um, a track just means their part, I guess. So for that show for the man of the woods tour, I learned all of the ladies and even took it upon myself to learn my male counterpart dancers tracks. Um, and it was my job to jump in for anybody in the event that they needed me to fill in. And man, wow. If it is recommended to walk a mile in somebody else’s shoes, I highly recommend that you try dancing in them. I gained a tremendous understanding and appreciation for my fellow dancers by learning their show, by dancing in their shoes. I did wear my own shoes, but that’s neither here nor there. I think that perhaps the best part of what I’m learning from this conversation and from what Spenser is saying is that learning and appreciating can happen for me in me, like having empathy for parts of myself. Wow. Just Whoa. Okay. I had to jump out and highlight that and sort of plant a seed. So that next time you find yourself in conflict with yourself or with someone else, you might find an opportunity to practice empathy. Okay. That’s it let’s jump back in.  

Jermaine: Yes. I can still connect and you know, physically partner with this person that doesn’t weigh the same as I do that has a different shape than I do that. That comes from a different understanding of dance in terms of their background than I do, but we can meet, we figure it out. I mean, that’s what happens. It happens again all the time. In a company its a whole new group of people, and you start that process all over again. And just thinking about how many times, whether it’s a company in a gig or in a shoot, you meet these people may never see again, but you have to come together for the common goal. We’re so versed at that. It can be bumpy along the way. It’s not always great. It’s not always whatever perfect supposed to mean, but I think that’s also the point.   

Those are excellent points that I really hadn’t considered the concept of actually sharing weight and feeling feelings of, you know, trading roles. Like we do that in dance. I will dance your role. I will try to be your track. Um, I’ll try to lift you the way that you lift me in that lift. Like I can’t think of a, of a better way to practice empathy. Um, but also this idea that we are basically constantly, uh, building and then breaking down and then rebuilding new teams with different objectives. And that is such an important skill to have. I think dancers are really, really good at being quick to volunteer, quick to make changes, quick to make friends. And part of that is the nature of how quickly our world and our creative processes work, especially here in LA. There certainly aren’t, we, we don’t have the luxury of long rehearsal processes for most projects. And I mean, no rehearsal process now. No in-person rehearsal process now. So yeah, we we’ve gotten very good at doing certain things. Um, what are we not good at?  

Well, we’re not always good at recognizing individual contributions to the mess. I feel like I’ve.. I’ve been a performer in a contemporary concert dance company and I’ve been in these moments with company where we’re complaining and we’re like, this is happening. And this is happening, this company sucks. Everybody gets under this company sucks train. And it’s like, we’re the company, you know? I mean, yes, there is an administrative body that is governing  

The situation, but also we actually have a lot more say on the dynamics of how things go than we think. there’s something in structure. There’s something in the way a lot of things organize that causes us to forget that. I mean, every company that I’ve ever been a part of with the exception of maybe one has had like really rocky shit and again, that’s not a dig it’s layered, right? I think that’s something that happens because there’s many different aspects to running a company. And then of course the dancers feel the brunt of that, but then we can get caught in just complaining about it and just suffering in and that becomes our story. Like I’m just suffering this situation and this is how it has to be, woe is me, I’m a dancer. And then at some point you have to realize other things that I can do. And other ways that I find to this situation that will change me, and usually If I change myself that is reflected in the person next to me and the person next to them.  

I would like to talk a little bit more about voice specifically. You’ve used it in your work in a way that I think is very attractive, but I know that for a lot of dancers using our voice, like our actual vocal chords is terrifying. I’ll speak for myself as for one. Um, could you guys share maybe a story of, of being asked to use your voice or maybe why you, why you love to use voice?  

Yeah. I’d love to talk about that. I, I think a bit of context is helpful and to know that I grew up, um, like equal parts. I was training at a dance studio, uh, after school, but in school I was training in theater. I was a drama kid, and I was really, really torn between these two worlds. And I felt a lot of angst, of like this having to make a choice. And I ultimately chose dance because I love it. It wasn’t like depression or anything. I, I knew dance in my body and I didn’t know theater in my body if that makes sense, so I followed it, but I definitely felt like I’ve made a choice and closed a pathway, closed some kind of world in myself. And it wasn’t until I moved to Europe and I was working on a creation with the choreographer at Netherlands dance theater. And I was, I was asked to use my voice and I was sort of, Oh, I know that person, that’s that person from high school, like who knows, how to use their voice and who loves to speak and has this sense of theater and drama. And it was like inviting a part of myself to the party who hadn’t got to be at the party for like 10 years. And from that point on, that was it. I was, I was like, if I’m not getting to explore all of me, I’m just not sure if I’m that interested. And sometimes it feels right to make the choice to just dance. But there’s a difference between saying you can only dance. And right now you’re just dancing. Versus like, just knowing that it’s always, like, I always have the ability to use my voice if that’s the right choice for this particular communication right now, or to, I don’t know, sing, or make a dress or dance, or like get behind this camera and operate this projector or whatever, like whatever the moment calls for. I want to feel like I am allowed and have permission to, to deliver that. And that feels like, that feels like pursuit of, of me, to me.  

That’s awesome. I love the, the 360 degree approach to making. Um, I also love the, the concept of giving permission to use voice. And when you said that, I realized that, um, I would say like fully 50% of my professional work is me lip-syncing to something, but you, you cannot be lip syncing because it looks like, you know, your, your neck, your muscles aren’t working, you can tell somebody lip-syncing. So even on the projects where I’m lip syncing, they ask you to sing out. And as I say so to me, that’s permission, right? You’re playing a track at volume. That’s not my voice. They, they, they, they won’t hear my voice. Maybe. I don’t know. They probably have a microphone hidden somewhere, but to me, that’s permission to sing out. And I, I wonder if that metaphor kind of breaks the part of this conversation. That’s important to me, which is it being your voice, but, um, Jermaine specifically, I’m curious what you’d have to say about this, because now that I’m talking about lip sinking, I’m remembering that maybe my favorite performance of yours is Kid Pivot’s Betroffenheit, your, your lip syncing, right? Is that your voice? Are you, are you lip-syncing?

Jermaine: I’m lip-syncing. You never hear my voice in the entire show 

Spenser: That’s embodiment  

That’s Embodiment. You could not tell me that’s not your voice. It’s okay. So just straight up curiosity, what was your approach to making somebody’s voice? That’s not your voice look like your voice.  

Jermaine: Um, that is a good question. It was, it was a few different things. It’s the physicality of just the steps in the way that, uh, you know, with Crystal, we decided my character would, would move that movement directed the character. Then that character tells me how I need to lip-sync. Then the other level of that layer of that was listening to the track and getting familiar with the rhythm, the cadence and the timing of Jonathan speaking. And when there was breathing and wasn’t breathing. And every year that we performed the show, we peel back another layer of the audio I think when we first did it, we were not in the place where we could hear every breath, for example, that was in the audio track. And then when we came back to do it, we remounted it. We were like ‘has the breath always been there? Like I hear it differently now.’ So then the second year was really all about trying to embody now all of the breath. And then the third year was like the breath and the little crackles, you know, saliva, like when he’s opening and closing his mouth. We’ve done that also with reviser. 

Uh, Jermaine. It’s so good. It’s one of my favorite things to watch. Um, I’m not sure if Marquee TV is still doing a 30 days free thing. 

Um, and his Betroffenheit is still up, and Revisor is now there as well.  

I will be linking to that in the show notes, please. You guys, this is mandatory viewing. Um, okay, cool. Moving right along. Um, you guys both went to Julliard. You’re both teachers you teach at the college level. And I know I have a lot of listeners out there who dream of attending prestigious schools like that and of having careers like yours. Um, what would you tell them that you wish somebody had told you when you embarked on your journey of higher education?  

Yeah. Something comes in mind for me instantly. And I remember, I think it’s so, so important and so wonderful and so necessary to have goals. But what I remember is that I had tunnel vision with my goals, especially going into college and through college, into, into like the professional world. So my goals, um, confused me at times because they, what they did is they said this is important for your goals and this isn’t important for your goals. And so there was a bit of, I love school and I love to learn even as someone who loves to learn, um, there’s a little bit of like, I’ll need this. I won’t need this type of thing for the goals that I know, what I wish someone had told me is what I’m experiencing now and continue to experience is that you don’t know what your goals are going to be after you get a taste of maybe the goal that you’re interested in, the goals might change, they’re likely to change. And aren’t you, or maybe you will wish that you had absorbed a little bit more completely, then you did, when it was offered to you, I’ve found myself wishing often that I had taken better notes or paid more attention in a particular course, because I feel like I need it now, you know, 10 plus years later. And I just didn’t know that at the time. So that thought of hoarding information with accepting the idea that you don’t know what you’re going to be interested in. And you don’t know what you need .. 

Um, will you guys play a game with me really quick? So it’s, um, full disclosure. It’s not actually a game, it’s an exercise, but we’re going to call it a game cause that’s more fun. So I have started, um, categorizing my goals now in tiers, I do these three tiers. My first tier of goals is the goals I could accomplish right now. If literally, if I just did it, like the action is the missing part, not the resources or the, um, the ideas themselves, but like right now I could accomplish this. Um, tier two is with a little bit more support, whether it’s in manpower or finance or time or whatever, with a little more support I could accomplish this. And then tier three is rip the lid off, no ceiling nobody ever would say, no, you will not hear the word. Know what? Like that’s tier three, no rules, no limits at all. So I would love to hear from you guys, three tiers of goals.  

You know, I’m already, I’m already going to do the game. The game is supposed to be played. 

Break the rules.

I’m am. Because It’s really, really, really layerd  

Okay. Go. I want the depth.  

I think I have learned from a very young age not to set goals. That has been a super power for me in my life. It hasn’t actually had a negative effect on me, but it may come from something that is a negative, which is related to being a black person in this country and my mom because I grew up with my mom in Philly, feeling sometimes like she was not supported in the way she needed to really get to that goal or just feeling like.. I just, I, I, I watched my mom do that and survive the most beautiful work. And I feel like I learned from that, life also just be about adapting and that isn’t a lack of openness or power

Or imagination, 

Or imagination. Um, well, there are many ways to choose, you know, how to organize it. And I, I don’t really set goals. Um, I know that sounds weird, but I do, I do stuff. I do stuff. And then I pay attention to how that feels and where it’s leading me there. And when I’m there I feel led to the next and that’s how my whole dance career has been. I never decided I want to go study at a conservatory. I just, I decided I liked dancing. So then I continued, I didn’t even want to dance. My mother forced me to go. Then I realized that I like it so I continued to go. Then someone was like, you should audition for this school. I knew nothing about Juilliard, but I went because I trusted that person’s opinion. But they were right. While I was at Juilliard actually, I had a teacher that was like, you should look into this place, which I did. And, you know, listening to the voices didn’t mean that I only listened to what people told me to do, I just took in that information, sometimes they were exactly right so I went with them. But sometimes it was just hearing what they had to say, to help me understand what I was feeling so that I can make my own choice intuitively. It continues to be that way. And the older I get, I feel like it’s really just about deciding to do stuff. Um, for me personally, I think people should set goals if that is how they need function and to plan ahead. But that just hasn’t really been a part of my spirit as a person. To plan ahead, It gets me into trouble in different ways because of the world that we, that we live in. But it also provides me a lot by not feeling, um, I don’t feel precious about the trajectory of my life in that way. 

Would you be willing to go into what you mean when you say gets you in trouble?  

Yes. I mean, in the, in the kind of like little micro versions of that, it’s like sometimes I don’t plan far enough ahead. So that I can be on time. So then I’m late, you know, and that’s, that’s like a little, little tiny version of that. Um, I think it gets me in trouble with sometimes because then with the interactions with other people, sometimes there are expectations that are not met and yes, because I think the way that I do, I understand that. And I, I see sometimes what that means for certain people in certain circumstances. But I also feel like I am not always responsible for delivering that expectation.

Full Stop. Wow. In hearing Jermaine’s point of view about setting goals, I experienced the moment that I’ve felt quite a bit lately, the shameful moment that many of my listeners out there maybe feeling lately as well. And that is the moment where your privilege is revealed to you in a place that you hadn’t noticed that before. I truly relish the goal setting practice, I called it a game. It literally is fun to me because my goal setting practice doesn’t get me in trouble. It gets me my desired results. And what I learned from Jermaine is that the accomplishment of my goals is absolutely not entirely attributable to the goal setting practice itself. I am a white, able-bodied, heterosexual woman who grew up in a middle class, suburban home with two parents who although divorced, both loved and supported me tremendously. And my life experience has taught me that dreaming big, mostly works. Someone else’s experience might teach them that dreaming big, mostly hurts. I know that now, and that doesn’t mean that setting goals is bad. And that doesn’t mean that I am bad for setting goals. It means that setting goals is not a default setting. I do think it’s important to mention that the thing that excited me and still excites me most about setting goals is that especially in that third kind of no ceilings, impossible tier something is only impossible until it’s possible. And I find tremendous inspiration and power in that. All right, let’s jump back in and hear what Jermaine, the man who seemingly defies gravity and every other law of physics in his dancing makes of doing the impossible buckle up.  

For me. I respond to what if it isn’t impossible? Like what is impossible? It’s a construct for us to relate to, but it’s not really a thing. And I say that because like often when I improvise, I use tasks. And I talk about that I’m never TRYING to do something cool or impossible I’m never deciding now I’m going to do something that is anti-gravity like those things happen because I’m doing something that is really similar to me in the breakdown of all of the things I am moving my shoulder to the right and at the same time sliding my chin to the left. And if I do that and I involve my hip and my heel I miraculously made it around 4 times. I lived that experience in various ways in my life and I’m never really trying to do something impossible or spectacular. 

That is, That is very important to me on the subject of effort. If we could circle back to effort, you look effortless when you dance, but it’s not because what you’re doing is easy is because you’re focusing your efforts into very specific, simple places or simple tasks that is fascinating.  

And I’d like to jump in on that. As someone who gets to watch Jermaine a lot, his sense of validation is really inside himself. It’s not, it’s not bound to external sources. 

And a small interjection I had to work on that because for so much of my younger life, I felt really bound to what I thought were people’s expectations of me and that it hurt. I hurt myself. No one did that to me. I did that to myself, fulfilling that expectation for everyone else. I caused myself hurt and suppression and guilt for things that I shouldn’t feel guilty for. And I don’t know, I think at some late twenties, I really started to come to terms with that. 

What was the shift?  

I think, I think it was it’s, it was physical and emotional. Um, I mean, they’re the same thing, but you know, it was this me on a path of diving deeper in my artistry, which pushed me to dive deeper into my person. And what, what am I expressing? What am I living, what am I doing what am I thinking? Um, it was me coming to terms really for real, with my sexuality and realizing how much of that, uh, was weighing on me in ways that I didn’t know that it was weighing on me. And through that realizing I have all of these boxes that I’m trying to fufill for other people, but I care about people that care about me, people that I need in my life. And so not only do I have the boxes, but then I also have the fear of not filling the boxes and what will they do if I don’t fill this box for them?  And I’m trying to make it a long story short, I saw therapists and one was a craniosacral therapist, in Stockholm. Shout out to Banks Elmstron, My superhero, wizard, Swedish Man. He it’s very confronting to see someone that you’ve never met before and have them just read you like a book in one sitting. And, and to realize that they can do that because they’ve learned the skill of being sensitive. So he could feel these things in my body to feel them through the tissue physically, but he could also feel them energetically emotionally. And if I’m walking around with that all the time, that’s not going to be cute, down the line. So then, Hey, may, Hey, maybe there was a goal that was like my one goal, you know, it’s that to, to fix myself, like change my relationships with these expectations. He would, he would say to me like, wow, you put so much pressure on yourself. Why do you do that? And I’d be like, what, why are you saying that from holding my ankles? I don’t understand. And it wasn’t just him. I saw a few more craniosacral therapist over the years and had very similar experiences one with a person in London, with a person in Hawaii and every time it was very consistent, the things that they had to say to me very spot on, and these are people that I never met before in my life. And it was the last time in Hawaii where I was like, okay, do you, be you, live your life and your intuition. Trust that people will accept. And if they don’t, they don’t. And that has to apply to everyone.  

Uh, yes, those, those boxes checked makes sense. And I, I remember coming up in dance, I actually wonder, I wonder if there’s a way to train dancers, um, that doesn’t perpetuate external validation, right. Is there a way of teaching anything that puts the authority in the hands of the students instead of any authority figure? I mean, dance specifically, I mean, I remember a very literal stick that was either, you know, it was slamming into the ground, counting the music, or it was slapping me on the back of the knee or my belly if, if I was doing something wrong. So, and you look to that person for, did I do it right? Am I enough? And that started for me when I was three and I didn’t go to college for dance, but I would imagine an institution like Juilliard, it’s that like dialed up, you’re doing that hours and hours a day for years on years on years. I don’t know how to remove that portion of, of our training process.  

This is something that’s really on my mind. Um, and I’m, I know I’m not alone in that, but, um, this idea of, especially as someone who teaches ballet primarily, um, how to approach teaching ballet in a more inclusive way. And, um, you know, my, all of the readings I’ve been doing lately, um, the first thing that seems important is that you gotta name the problem and not pretend like it isn’t there. So we have to name, name the idea that Ballet is rooted in whiteness and name the idea that it is somehow, um, has been self described as this pedestal, um, this pillar of dance. And I think  

That’s essential to all other dances somehow.  

Yeah. Yeah. Well, there’s that, that thing that I’m sure we’ve all heard is like, if you know ballet, you can do everything or ballet is the basis of all forms. And that is, um, it’s a lie, that’s not, not a true statement. It’s true for a particular path, which is a particular path. That’s not the path. So this, I think first and foremost, we have to establish that ballet is A form of dance, not THE form of dance. And then how do you approach learning it, honoring it, without letting, without, um, allowing it, and I mean, this both as a teacher teaching it, but also as a student taking it, how do you, how do you make sure that you’re honoring it without letting it tell you that it knows something about you as a dancer, because many of us have this relationship with ballet as it being a standard of dance, then the aesthetics of ballet become a standard that I know my, my body doesn’t always accomplish.  Um, my feet don’t do the thing that it’s both that they’re supposed to do for ballet, my rotation, my range of motion, all of those things. I don’t, I don’t check those boxes, but I can still honor that work and ballet and approach it, honoring my values about capital D dance, not ballet as dance, if that makes any kind of sense. 

But even that is, it’s a deformation of where it came from, because it was never intended for people to rotate their feet away from each other, 180 degree or to lift your foot above your head to the 12 o’clock. That was never the intention. We applied that all of that came later, with ballet and many other genres, right? So even that thing that we’re, we’re fighting up against we have to remember  that comes from people that comes from a particular person or a particular desire. And now we’re all trying to fit into that fantasy. We’re missing, we’re missing the root. Everyone can rotate their legs in some degree or fashion, because legs do that. Everyone can turn the arms in and out in general because arms do that. So it’s not about, well, your body does something, my body doesn’t do.  Everybody’s bodies do exactly what they need to do.  

That’s why I like to talk about turnout and experience, as opposed to, a shade. Like, it’s not a result. It’s something that you’re actively doing. And when we make things a movement, I think we allow them to be fluid as opposed to the static idea of arrival and position and aesthetic and shape. I think we get bogged down in ballet by that a lot, like moving from pose to pose. Like you heard me talk about today, how do I mean, let’s emphasize the move part moving from pose to pose instead of moving from pose. Oh, that’s right. Like, what are you emphasizing? I think it’s real important to stay curious for more information and to assume that they’re more that you don’t know, then they’re like there is that, you know, always assume that there’s more out there. However, you do know what your values are as a dancer and you know, what your values are from an early age and you can pursue those values. In any form you go into. There is not, um, like musicality coordination, organization, relationship to space, relationship to time, those things exist across dance they’re not, they don’t belong to any particular technique. So whatever you love about those things find that in whatever form you’re working on and then you’re working inclusively in your own body.  

Well, I think Spencer, the other thing that you did in class today that I thought was very inclusive was, um, you talked about energetic ideas, opposed to physical explanations, physical ideas, or physical pictures of what is right and what is wrong. Um, it was very much about energetic ideas and the, the one that stuck with me and that I’ll be hearing in my head as I turn out. And as I lift, and as I oppose. Is this idea of forever. You said, turn out forever, open your back forever. Uh, root your legs forever. And it became like, this makes me emotional because it’s now timeless, which is something that kind of breaks my heart about dance, especially live dance, is that it only truly exists in that moment, even if it’s captured on film, the actual moment of it is so temporary and so fleeting, it’s what makes it so beautiful, but God, I just wish that it could last forever. But when you explained those shapes those poses, if you will, as becoming eternal, it was an emotional experience. And, and that is inclusive.  

I thank you for that observation. And I, I totally, I mean, speaking about bringing information from other forms and other experiences into right now, we’re talking about ballet. So into this particular farm, that information I’ve learned and developed from, from learning and developing my relationship with Jermaine, uh, this idea of endless directionality and opposing forces and opposing energies in the body. That’s something that I was first introduced to by him. And it’s something that we really privilege in the work that we make together and in our, in our improv practice and in all of that stuff. So then again, the thought is that it doesn’t have to just belong to that practice like that improv face or that creative space with Jermaine, but I can actually invite it with me into my ballet practice or any other practice that I’m in. And I just think, I just think that that matters.  

That does matter. Is it possible? You guys new idea, auditioning it on you now? Is it possible that improvisation is the foundation of all styles?  Because everybody’s body is their own. And if the body is the tool of dance, then a degree of mastery of your own body and a communication of your own body in the moment from moment to moment is, is essential.  

I’ll tell you what I, my experience with improvisation is that I really didn’t like it because no one was me what to do and I didn’t know how to be good at that. I didn’t like it until post my time at Netherlands dance theater. So I’m like a grownup person running around the dance world, not loving improvisation and not making improvisation into my world until I joined a company that is rooted in improvisation, the Forsythe company. And that was a real hard, um, awakening to, to have somebody say to me, well, how do you want to do it? Which is essentially what that proposition was. You’re going to improvise in this show. So you’re demonstrating what do you think essentially. And I was like, I don’t know what, what should I think is how I answered that. I didn’t know how to answer that. And I was 26-27, something like that at the time. And I just felt like, wow, this is, this is really late in the game to not even have a clue what my, how I want to move, how, what are my instincts? What are my values? And it was in those two years of working there that, and just being immersed in improvisation that I really learned, what do I care about? What are my values? What are my impulses? And that work, that exploration has just fully permeated everything. I mean, it’s, it’s like, um, like a good kind of infection not like COVID It’s just, I find it everywhere. Now. I didn’t know that person before. I didn’t know the person that knew what, uh, what they wanted in dance and knew how to make choices in dance. I only knew the person that knew how to be told what to, right? 

I think it is a risk, um, to be always told what to do and told what to think and not taught how to think dance taught me a lot, you guys. Dance taught me a lot. And some things that you might not expect, like how to manage my time or how to, uh, work in a group, how to resolve some conflicts. Right. Um, but it did not teach me HOW to think. And it certainly didn’t give me confidence in my thoughts if I ever had it, if I ever had any confidence at all, it was because somebody told me that it was good, but I, I rarely had confidence in my thoughts.  

That’s right. And I feel like we’re touching on something that, especially in this moment, uh, is important to be thinking about is that, you know, we’re speaking a lot about dance, like less than civilization and culture. I’m speaking about concert, dance, culture, fine arts, in quotation marks, education. Why are those fine, we’re talking about, but I didn’t know, like someone taught me how to dance. Well somebody taught you these particular forms, but again, everyone knows how to dance because they have a body like everyone dances. We’ve been dancing since the beginning before somebody decided to hold a class, you know, like people were teaching and learning from each other as a way of communicating as a way of expressing, as a way of existing  as a way of keeping track of their stories and their history and all those things. So it’s just, it’s very important to remember. You’re really affected by like the forming and the codifying of the idea.  But everybody dances.  

I know this because, I know babies, that wiggle in their car seats when music comes on and nobody said do that. And nobody said, put your shoulders down.  

I just think it’s also worth noting that the way that Jermaine was just talking about that need to codify is also like this idea about the needs to define in terms of goal setting, like what he was speaking about before this idea to just let it be experienced is, is the information you need in order to know how to engage with it. Um, yeah. What is, what is this need to define it, to like set it in concrete and make a statue out of it? Um, and is that what we have to do to it in order to relate to it? 

Or is that what we need to do to it in order to remember it like 400 years from now, if my generations pass down, want to find out what I was doing at this time, how would they find it? You know, how, how would I know the important players of this thing, if this thing didn’t have a name, um, in this, in this kind of information age where you have to know what you want to search for in order to find it, I mean, that’s, to me that’s maybe the only, well, certainly the best way that I can, the best reason I can think of giving things a category or a name is simply so that they can be recorded and found later. Um, but yes, I’ve seen that genre-fecation as being so divisive and Jermaine, you mentioned earlier, like you mentioned that the dance world is very separate and it’s weird to me that for as small as it is, there is so much distance between the groups. It is so section off. 

Because there’s so much hierarchy and the structure of it that is about creating exclusivity and elitistsm and ultimately I think we all don’t respond to that very well. I mean, at the top of it is, is whiteness and privilege. 

And I think you you’ve touched on right away with that idea of like, who decided what was fine, because that’s, that’s why we spend more time in ballet, in college programs then other forms of dance. Because those things were defined and those things were defined by white people.  

Yeah. That’s heartbreaking to think how much is being left out. Um, I think about when you use the word fine in relationship to fine art, I think about fine China and that, that, and, and how rarely it gets used and dance is so useful. It might be weird coming from somebody who operates primarily in the commercial space, but dance is useful. It has function connective, um, expressive, and to think of how much dance isn’t getting used, because it’s not considered fine. Like how many hip hop programs are there on the university level street styles, freestyles. There’s a huge problem there.  

I mean, there’s also a problem there though, because the idea is like, you need to access information through this place in order for it to be successful? And that also isn’t true. You can be phenomenal, incredible artists without having to go to a university. The university doesn’t benefit from telling you that.

Certainly not 

Thats coming from a person that teaches at a university so that might be really weird for me to say. But its something that I’ve been thinking about a lot, like I have to go to this place in order to attain success to get to the next level. But that aint true because the teachers that  teach hip hop at the universities they taught themselves. Right?  

You have, you have proof that it isn’t essential yet, yet the high price point would make you believe that it is simply because it’s that expensive. It must be important.  

You know, we have to remember that, even though we see that, and it’s super shiny and impressive, that is not the end all. That is not the only definition of success. Everyone does not to be Beyonce  And everyone won’t be Beyonce. You know, we’re saying, look at Beyonce and say, look at how she did it, you can do it too. this is a way to inspire people. But the flip side of that is like, there is one Beyonce, and if you don’t become her, that’s also, okay, you can do something else. You can still make music on a different level for a different person that can be successful. 

What is success to you Jermaine? 

I think success is living in tune, I was going to say with your purpose, but I don’t want that to sound too esoteric and like religious it’s living with your intuition and letting that also cultivate how you interact with your community and the people around you. 

Spens, I’m curious what you’d say.  

Yeah. I think especially lately I’m feeling similar to Jermaine. Um, I can recognize different times in my life when I felt feelings of success and what it feels like to me is purposefulness. Um, happiness is in there. And I think that that has come in my life when I felt like I’m really listening to what I actually want to do, as opposed to what I feel like I should do and have like a good, um, balance of those moments. What I’ve struggled with in the past is worry about what I should do. And I guess I never spoke about the goal setting idea, my relationship to goal setting. Sometimes it’s complicated for that same idea of creating tunnel vision, like talked about early on this thought about the goal, kind of taking over my sense of self or, or being present with what’s actually happening and what I, how I’m starting to understand it now is to be just a little bit vague blurring edges so that things can transform. When I try to specify the goal, sometimes I made pursuit of my happiness, not so honest. So to me to circle back success feels like really being honest with myself about what I’m actually looking for, as opposed to what I expect myself to be looking for. 

Gentlemen, I cannot thank you enough. You’ve blown my mind several different points during this conversation. I’m not shocked by that because this is what you do. I love you. Thank you so much.  

Though you we’re done. No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website, theDanawilson.com/podcast Finally, and most importantly, now you have a way to become a words that move me member. So kickball change over to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast to learn more and join. All right, everybody. Now I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Ep. #13 “Winning Even When You’re Down” with Tiler Peck

Ep. #13 “Winning Even When You’re Down” with Tiler Peck

 
 
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Tiler Peck, principal ballerina with New York City Ballet talks training, streaming class on socials, and finding herself AND HER STRENGTH thanks to the most challenging time of her life.
This episode is all about flipping the question: “Why is this happening to me” into “How is this happening for me?” and THAT is a winning mindset.

Show Notes

Quick Links:

Tiler Peck: https://www.instagram.com/tilerpeck/?hl=en

New York Times Article: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/13/arts/dance/tiler-peck.html

Words That Move Me Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/WTMMPodcast

Transcript:

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

Dana: Hey everybody, and welcome to the podcast. I am so excited that you’re here. I am very excited about this episode and I’m very excited to try something new for the beginning of every episode. Um, yeah, I think I’m gonna make a new habit. Tell me if you love it. Tell me if you hate it. I actually mean that. I want you to give me the feedback. So, uh, send me a message at words that move me podcast or we could do a little callback from episode seven and you can toe vote. Toe voting is a game nay an art form that my husband invented and I talked about in episode seven. I use this game when I’m going through the airport, but you can use it right now or all the time. Toe voting is, um, when you silently and invisibly vote in favor or against, um, someone’s choices or behavior out there in the world. It is silent. It is invisible. It is just for you. But, uh, the toe vote works like this. Your little toes and your shoes will respond either by jumping up and down and approval or frowning and digging themselves into the floor. That’s what a toe vote is. Um, we’re back. My new top of the cast habit is called wins. Now, I did not invent the concept of starting with wins. Actually, I became familiar with this concept. Thanks to my acting teacher, Gary Imhoff who teaches the professional artists workshop here in Los Angeles. Cannot say enough great things about Gary. But, um, it’s been awhile since I took an acting class. It’s been awhile since I did wins and I cannot think of a better time to, uh, remind ourselves of the things that are going well then this very moment. So here is how wins works. I’ll go ahead and start.  

All right. I’m actually busier than I have ever been, which is ironic because I’m a person whose work almost exclusively depends on large groups of people. Um, but I’m getting to do a lot of things that I’ve always wanted to do. Number one, train more. It seems like a lot of people are offering Instagram live or otherwise livestreams classes. I think it’s so much fun. It’s very cool. Um, another win, I actually added curtains to my dance space, um, which required a sewing machine and a power drill, which usually gives me the nervous fields. Um, but because I had to use it for like an hour, I got really solid. I’m much more confident with my power tool skills right now than I was, uh, a week or so ago. Um, let’s see, what else. Oh, also upgraded the Ram on my computer. Did that myself as well. Um, I also started a Patreon account for the podcast and it feel really, really good about this is the first time ever that I have opened up a membership option for any of my services.  And I think it’s very cool. It’s uh, a way for you to get even more value out of this exchange and it’s a way for you to help me by keeping the lights on the disco ball as it were. Uh, speaking of disco ball, I made one out of aluminum foil. It’s hanging in my dance space, so that’s also definitely a win. Um, okay. I think that’s great. That’s a really good start on wins for me. And now it is your turn to go. A win is just an answer to the question. What went well and I really am, I’m going to leave a gap here for you to fill in that blank on your Mark. Get set, go. 

Maybe I’ll play a little music for you so that it’s not as awkward.  

Okay, great. I’m not just saying that wins are important because we’re having a tough patch. Is that safe to say? We’re, this isn’t the a high point of civilization. We’re not at our pinnacle right now. This isn’t our best performance, I would say. But I’m also saying it’s not all destroyed. I’m saying the sun comes up and the sun sets and we wake up and we go to sleep and somewhere something went well. So let’s share it for ourselves at very least to ourselves. But even to someone else, I think it’d be a good practice to start a wins group. This is my wins group. Thank you for joining me. Speaking of winning, I see you daily doers out there and I honestly am so inspired. I am. I, it’s always a treat to see what you guys are daily doing. If you are new to the podcast, please circle back to episode one and have a listen as I pose a daily creative challenge to all of you out there. I think this is a perfect time for it. I think oftentimes great restraint breeds great choreography that too. Um, but great restraints can cause great creativity. So please keep it up. Um, keep tagging your videos with the hashtag doing daily. WT M M the doing is the important part. So it comes first hashtag #doingdailyWTMM go take a look at that hashtag as well. You’re going to find some super treats. Um, okay. Moving right along. I am thrilled about this episode. Um, I had a conversation with a good friend of mine, Tiler Peck, principal ballerina for New York city ballet and all of the things she had to say I find so applicable and so valuable in a time like this. She talks about injury, she talks about training, she talks about family, she talks about the most challenging time of her life and she talks about finding herself and her strength within it. So without any further ado, enjoy this conversation with Tiler Peck.  

Dana: Yes! Tiler, thank you so much for being here first and foremost today. It is a special time. It is a crazy time. Mmm. And it’s just very cool to see your face and hear your voice  

Tiler: Thanks for having me.  

Dana: Let’s start with having you introduce yourself. How do you like to introduce yourself?  

Tiler: All right. Now let me just say I’m Tyler Peck and I’m in principal ballerina with New York city ballet. 

And that is enough, my lady. Um, okay, cool. So you and I actually in years, years passed our timelines, our dance timelines overlapped when we were little NYCDA competition kid. Um, and I find something very interesting is very few of those Danclings pursue classical ballet and even fewer wind up in soloists roles and fewer still in principal roles. I think that speaks so much to your training but also to your talent and your drive. And I want to spend some time talking about that. So could you talk a little bit about your pre-professional training and uh, even before you and I met  maybe a little bit during that timeline and then before going to the company,  

Of course, I think that I am just as shocked that I became a ballerina’s probably like anybody else. I know Joe actually, Joe Lanteri always says like, I mean she can do ballet, but if you ever saw her do like jazz, then you would really see it. It’s the truth. I never thought I’d be a ballerina. I grew up first in my mom’s school in Bakersfield, California, and you know, her, her dance school, it has every style. So I grew up doing jazz. I was really bad at tap, so I can’t say that I ever really was good at that. But, um, jazz, contemporary, lyrical, hip hop, gym, you know, everything. I did everything and I did take privates. She did have me take, um, ballet privates with this, um, Russian teacher who actually is from California. Her name is Alla i and I believe the last name is Khaniashvil or something like, and she was a former principal, the Bolshoi ballet and they were my least favorite classes. Not because she wasn’t a good teacher. It just took the most discipline. Like I think ballet, when you’re younger it’s really hard because it takes the most focus just because you don’t get to dance to feel good music, you know, like a song that you love or a word that you can like relate to. It’s like classical music is sometimes honestly a little boring and especially when you’re younger. So I’d always try to get out of my ballet classes. I tell him I’m, Oh, I think when they feel sick today, I don’t think I should do ballet.  And she’d be like, okay, well then if you’re sick for ballet, you’re also sick for jazz. And I would say, Oh, I think, I think I’m feeling better. I think I’m better now. So I’m glad that made me stick with it. Cause clearly I wouldn’t have made it as far in the ballet company. But, um, what took me to New York was getting the Music Man on Broadway and Mmm, that was just because, you know, in California, I, I did lots of commercials and like more commercial dance and theater. And so when my agency, um, sent me to New York to audition, my mom was like, we’re not going in New York. And I said, mom, let’s just go. And she goes, okay, we’ll just make it a fun trip. No pressure. You know? And I ended up getting it. And then she was like, you’re definitely not moving to New York. And I said, but mom, what if I never get this opportunity ever again, and you, you didn’t let me go. And she was like..

Ooooh! The guilt trip! 

I know. And I was only 11! Yeah. So that was kind of what made me go to New York. And then from there I started taking at the school of American ballet, which is the company that feeds into the New York city ballet. And that was the first time where I ever felt like, wow, ballet is actually really interesting. And I think it was the Balanchine like technique style that I really, really love because it is a little bit jazzier and you know, all of a sudden didn’t seem so boring. And I was like, I also didn’t feel like I was really good at it. Like I felt like I looked like a jazz dancer trying to do ballet and I was like determined to not be that one that they were like, Oh, she’s just from the jazz world. You know? I was like, no, I’m going to get this. Then it’d be a ballerina.   And I’ve always kind of been like that. Like, where if something isn’t easy, that’s like the route I go, I’m like, you know what, I’m going to do this and I’m going to be a ballerina. And that’s kind of what happened. 

I love this. It’s actually one of my questions later down the, the stream that it was going to ask it, has it always been ballet and will it always be ballet? So now I know it hasn’t always been, but do you see like what is future Tiler? Is she like a tango dancer or ballroom or is she strictly choreography? Do you, do you think about her a lot? 

I mean, I love ballroom actually. Like I don’t know it, but I Mmm. It was on a gig once. Then this ballroom dancer like took me on the dance floor just at the after party and I was like, this is literally the coolest thing ever. Like he made me feel like I’d been taking ballroom forever, but I don’t think that that’s going to be my route. Um, but no, I definitely want to always other things. I, I don’t think I want to do, um, ballet for a very long time. I thought this is when I should do this because it’s such a young career. So I got into the company at 15  and you know, I’ve already been in the company 16 years. I’m 31 and I’ve never really wanted to be someone like in my mid forties still in point shoes. I always kind of want to leave when I can still do everything in such a classical company. But then I would love to do like, you know, theater or choreograph or something like that and move back into  you know, not doing just classical ballet. Um, but I just felt like this was the time for me to do it. If I was going to do ballet, I was going to pursue ballet this was the time. 

Got it. But you do also pursue these other avenues even now, a little bit of acting, a little bit of choreographing. Um, do you want to talk about any of those?  

Yeah, I mean, I think because I did grow up in California and you know, I did do a lot of acting and stuff like the story ballets at New York city ballet the most for me just because you get to tell a story, we don’t use your voice. But, um, that’s why when Susan’s Stroman like talks to me about doing this new musical that’s coming out, um, to be the lead and that I’ve kind of been a part of for like 10 years. Um, it was kind of the perfect thing for me because it has ballet, it’s about a ballerina. I get to carry this show, so I’m have to. Mmm. Basically I’m on stage for two and a half hours singing, acting and dancing. So it’s like, it was like such a challenge for me and I was like, I haven’t used my voice and like 10 years, but let’s try it, you know? Yeah. And also when I just got through this injury, I use that as a lot of time to do other things like choreograph and you know, do a few acting. Mmm. Acting jobs on TV shows and things. So it was a good time to make my mind. It was like a forced time to, to do everything you love because I had the time and I love it. Mmm. With my New York city ballet crazy schedule.  

Cool. That is a, I think an excellent segue. I couldn’t have written that myself. I’m talk about being forced into certain things or away from certain things. Um, I would love to talk to you more about  the type of training that you’re used to and how different your life is now that we are in, um, I’m going to use the word lockdown. It’s not technically a lock down, at least here in California. We’re both in California right now. So I guess what I’m asking is what is the importance of training to you? And if you could actually be interesting to hear a day in the life of principal ballerina, how much of that is training, how much of that is performing and what are you doing right now when we don’t have that, or our traditional flow. 

Yeah. So every day we work every day, but Monday just kind of like Broadway schedules. Um, but we’re training all day. It’s not like a Broadway show where one gets up, You’re just performing at night. Mmm. We start class at 10 30. They have class every day for an hour when we’re in season and then they can rehearse us from 11:30 to 6:00 and then they show at 8:00. We do that Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday we had two shows on Saturday. And then on Sunday we have class at 10:30 they can rehearse us It’s for like three hours and then the matinee. So it’s crazy. Yeah. By the time you get to the show, a lot of times you say to yourself, I’m so tired. I literally don’t know what’s going to happen right now. Sometimes that’s when you do your best performances because you don’t have the nerve because you just don’t have the energy for them and you just, you know, so grounded. But yeah, so I’m used to dancing all day long and um, right now in order to, to keep that up, I’ve been taking class every day. You know, my mom has a dance studio, so it’d be really easy for me just to go down there.  But Mmm. You know, I’ve been listening also to what they’re saying, like stay at home and she shut her studio. And so I’ve just been doing classes in my mom’s kitchen and using her kitchen countertop as my bar. And I just thought, you know, I’m going to do this every single day for myself because I have to keep my training up. So I thought, why don’t I open it up and let people take with me on Instagram live. And I did it the first day and I was like, you know, let’s just see if anybody liked it. Then it seems like a really big thing and everybody’s really looking forward to it, I think during the day. So I thought, you know, if I’m going to keep up my training, I might as well let everybody do it with me because I’m sure so many people are missing being in their dance studios.  And it’s hard to get motivated when you’re just doing it by yourself. I mean I just came off of a huge injury where I was off for six months and I couldn’t do anything. And then it took me, you know, like another probably three months to get back and I had to do class every single day and I did it with a teacher because I needed somebody to be motivating me. And so that’s what I thought is like if I do these live classes, at least somebody can. I can be, you know, I could be leading the class and trying to motivate these people to keep moving so they’re not having to do it by themselves. Cause that’s hard.  

It is. It’s so hard. Yeah,  

It’s keeping me accountable too. I feel like because if I were doing it myself maybe it would skip combinations or do it at different times or, and this is like, no, it’s an hour every single day or Monday through Saturdays. 

People show up  for class.  

Yes, people show up. So  

I took, I’ve taken a couple, um, I was there, I think I was there on day one. I’m not sure if I was there.  

You were there day one! 

I was a day one or I have not been in everyday or a more a more often dayer or I think finding some sort of normalcy in a day is valuable. Um, but I love the normalcy. I love the sharing and I love the accountability. All of these things to me are what the internet has always been good at. Sharing information, finding solutions to urgent problems and connecting and we’re really, we’re using it for that.  

Yeah, it’s true.  

Dana: Okay. Tiler and I talked about the silver linings of this Corona virus crisis situation for quite a while, but I wanted to take a second and pop out to reflect on her training regimen and man! Hearing about the day that Tiler goes through. Made me want to up my training regimen. That is for sure and actually reminded me of episode 9 when I spoke with Jason Bonner who says if your show is two hours long then you’re training for three or in Tiler’s case if your show is two hours long, you’re training for the remaining eight hours. Hearing about this honestly made me want to up my game and it reminded me of a saying, you will not rise to the occasion. You will fall to your level of training, so train up everybody train up, now is a perfect time. 

We’re going to jump back and talk a little bit more about training with Tiler, but we’re also going to talk about the injury that put her through the most challenging time of her life. Tiler wasn’t just unable to dance or train. She was unable to execute normal daily tasks like turning her head or lifting her arm for five months.  To get even more backstory about that injury and her road to recovery. I strongly recommend you read the New York times article called Am I more than just a dancer? I will link to it on the website, theDanaWilson.com/podcast under this episode, which is episode 13 but I’m also just Google the New York times and Tiler Peck and you will probably find it. Am I more than just a Dancer? Fabulous read. Okay, let’s jump back in. 

Dana: Okay, so if you went five months, we can definitely do several weeks. My question for you is this, how does one go from five months of not even doing normal range of human motion stuff? To Sugarplum. Was that your first performance back?  

Tiler: Yeah, it was sugarplum because I did everything with every other part of my body that I could work out, so like I couldn’t ride a bicycle because they’ve thought that was too much. 

Dana: This was a neck injury right? 

Yeah, a herniated disc in my C-5-6 which is the neck and mine was so severe that it was touching my spinal cord and we all know that like that’s not good. So I had to wait and I was told I would like never dance or could be paralyzed if I was walking and got slightly pushed. I mean I went through a roundabout. Mmm, very scary time. But I had this one physical therapist who just, I like literally trust my life, who’s the New York city ballet doc therapist. And she just kept saying, I don’t know, I just don’t feel like you need the surgery like they’re saying. And we just kept searching and searching. But she, I met with her every single day and we just did like cranial sacral work and I met with an energy healer. And so we were healing my body kind of from like the inside out, you know, she made me wear my point shoes around the house every single day so that my toes and my feet would be strong. And then we actually started, she made me keep my bottom half working. You know, I’d do relevés me and my point shoes, I do a little moving. I just wouldn’t move my arm or my neck. So yeah. So she was really smart with the way that she brought me back and I really don’t know what I would’ve done without her. And um, Rob, who’s the energy healer. But yeah, it was all about finding what, how I could stay in shape without doing anything to hurt my neck so that it could heal.  

Right. The healing is so, so, so important. Um, what did you learn about yourself during that period while you were know..

Yeah. I mean the energy healer is an hour and a half session that I did every single Wednesday and 45 minutes of that hour is just talking. And so you start to learn a lot about yourself, about where your stresses are in life, where you want to get better. You know, your, your weaknesses, your tendencies and it’s kind of like you begin to heal yourself. Is what he’s there for, to kind of help you heal yourself. And I learned so much about myself. I learned, you know, that I’ve always wanted, I’ve always, and like a very empathetic person where I, I really not a people pleaser, but I really don’t like when anybody’s upset at me or I really feel when somebody’s going through something and kind of what I learned with this is that I had to sort of,  not distance myself but still have those feelings, but realize how much of that I was going to allow to be my energy of the day. You know? Like I could still have those feelings, but at the end of the day I needed to be able to stand up for what I believed in. Somebody you know, um, didn’t like something or got their feelings hurt like I’ve learned now that like I just now tell them like honestly, like, I’m really sorry if that happened that’s so not what I thought this is, you know? And it makes me feel so much better because I’m being true to myself. And also I feel like when you do tell the truth and get it forward, the problem just goes away that much faster. So I think, I think in this whole thing, I just kind of learned how to be a little bit more Mmm. Like real with myself and my own feelings. And I think that in the end that kind of like also helped the healing.  

Oh, okay. Would you say that that might’ve been like the brighter light at the end of the tunnel? Like you maybe went into this injury being injured in another area and then this injury somehow wound up healing both. 

Of course. Actually the first day he always reminds me that when I went in I said, you know, I had a back injury. You know, my body has been pretty good to me for as long as I’ve been dancing. And the only other injury I had was a back thing when I was 18 and I felt like from that injury, what I said in our first meeting was I came back such like more of an artist, like I was more mature, I was able to be more vulnerable. And I said, you know, I’m wondering what this one is going to bring, you know? And Mmm. The other day I said to him, I was like, I really just feel like I’m a different person. Like a better version of myself and I’m able to say what I feel a little bit more and not keep it so bottled up and I just feel like I’m more open and I was always warm, but I feel like I’m able to receive things a little bit easier now.  

Oh, I love this phrase. What will this bring to me? Like even an injury, I think, you know, I, I struggle with patellar tendonitis in my knees and when I have that pain or when I’m going through, even when I’m training, like when I’m doing PT, my thoughts are like, ah, I don’t have good knees. I don’t ha, I’m like, I’m without good knees. Instead of thinking, what will this like, how is this actually an active  experience instead of how is this taking away from something that I think should be fine and working perfectly with what we do? Are you kidding? Of course knees will be wonky and backs will be out in all the things like, Oh man, what we do is unnatural. So it makes sense that we experience unnatural pain at times. And I really love that thought. What, what will this bring me? And I love what it brought you, this sense of self, um,  and this idea that you can still be  empathetic and a person that’s warm and a person that cares without carrying all of that. 

Yeah. And I think I also just um, yeah, I kept worrying like, Oh my gosh, when I come back everybody is going like be judging me and what am I not going to move my neck the same way? And I finally came the conclusion. I was like, I am a different dancer. It’s okay. I’m going to be a different ballerina. But like that doesn’t mean that it’s the wrong kind. Like I’m going to be a different, Tiler and I might have to do you think a little bit differently and be a little bit smarter when it comes to the way I move my neck. But I’m going to enjoy it and love it that much more for being out there again, when they told me I would never be, and at the same time like maybe it’s going to bring a different and better quality to my dancing.  

And do you think it has?  

I do think it has even, it’s funny. It’s like I did full length Swan Lake. I mean literally they told me and I was never going to dance and then we just had this season and I did full length Swan Lake and like I got there and I said, I’m on. I was like, I didn’t just get through it like I was DANCING, I did it, I was moving. But yeah, you know, I did. I did. There were things I couldn’t do. Like I can’t jump every day because it’s bad for the my neck still. So I would really waited to do it till the show to do all of my jumps. That was the first time I did everything and I got through it. But you know, there are things now that I just have to deal with and it’s okay, you know? But yeah, I do think it is. And sometimes I think, Oh, might not look that good. And then I watch a video and I’m like, Oh, I’m moving my body. I’m moving my neck. Not so bad.  

Yes. I love that. We can’t go back. Like you won’t be the Tiler that was Tiler before you hurt your neck or your back, but you might be better. So keep going. You must go through that like cause it, it could truly be better on the other side.  

Yeah. I just kept getting stuck and then I was like, why am I so concerned about that? Like I’m just going to be the different Tiler and I’m going to be happy in that.

Oh, that’s so great. I am definitely happy when I watch this Tiler previous Tiler also was, but watching you dance, especially lately, even just watching you teaching your class, there is a sense of Mmm. Freedom and joy that I’m just like, even in a routine task, like a, uh, you know, rond de jambs we’re just doing the rond de jambs. We’re checking to make sure that all of the all of the things and all the gears and all the nuts and all the bolts are working. But it looks somehow liberating freeing and fun. And it’s incredible to watch. It’s been very fun taking class with you. I would have never for the record, um, walked into a studio in New York and taking class with you. Cause it’s all the things that we hold in our heads, but like who does the thing so, so, so good. Um, and then to put yourself in the room next to them, it can be very, uh, intense.  So there is a lot of, from the comfort of your own home happening right now. And I hope that a lot of people will progress and find, Mmm. A foothold into a world that maybe they might have otherwise been too afraid to step into. Mmm. Yeah. I, I don’t mean to say that I’m afraid of ballet. Um, it’s certainly not been my favorite style. I remember being competition kid crying, actually hot tears down my face during Adagio and I probably still would if I really got into a tough one. 

Isn’t it funny! Adagio has always been my favorite and I, and I think it’s the thing, kind of the worst at. 

No, that makes sense actually to your lean in personality. Like I didn’t just want to become an okay ballerina. That was okay. Taking class with ballerinas. No, I’m going to be the principal ballerina from injuries dancing, full swan lakes.

You know, it’s been so great with these classes. It’s like, I think because it’s like at a certain time every day, you know, that people really build in their lives. I wouldn’t get to teach half of these people, if I were going around studios or something, I would never reach the people that I’m able to. Yeah. I think yesterday like, or 15,000 people were taking class.  

Its amazing! Yeah. Any knowledge that I have passed it on to them and the one hour a day at 10, you know, Pacific standard time or whatever. That’s so exciting. 

Right. There’s not, uh, uh, uh, a classroom big enough to have that ballet class. The only a place that we could do that is on the internet is incredible. I’m so glad that we’re using it for the for good. Um, but that does beg the question. Um, is there a downside of this social media training stuff? 

I do think and what I’ve noticed, cause I’m asking people to like hashtag turnout Tyler’s that I can see, see the videos because I don’t like the one thing I don’t like is not being able to see the people that I’m teaching, because, and it was really good for me because now they’re all sending the video, then I’ll like send them back corrections. But I also seen, um, the variety of people taking the class. So then I realized three days into like, I need to be making a beginner combination and an advanced one for every single um, combination because I don’t want the little ones that aren’t up to the advanced level to be trying to do something that their bodies are not ready for. You know? And so that’s, that’s the one thing if you were like super hands on, right? Yeah. What the, what your students are ready or not ready for throwing a class out that you would want to take and it might not be a great thing for everybody.  Yeah. That’s, yeah. So that’s why I’m like, make sure and send your videos. And then like today, a little girl sent it and I was like, that’s not a high enough passe. And then she’s in another video or photo back then I was like, that’s right. You know, because I do think it’s important that they’re not just taking these classes and doing their technique wrong, you know, so, so that’s the one downside I think. 

Cool. I appreciate that. I love that. Um, okay. Speaking of downsides, um, what do you consider to be downtime? Like is this downtime, are you working? What’s your attitude about downtime? Do you have it between acting, choreographing, a clothing line, being a ballerina? Like does that exist for you or what’s your, what’s your, what are your thoughts around downtime? 

Okay. Anybody who knows me really well would probably laugh because they’re like, you don’t know how to have downtime, but I will tell you, I do love sitting in front of the TV and watching movies. And last night my family, we all watch together, dirty dancing, all six feet apart and it was just something I grew up watching and it was so amazing and my dad got so excited. My dad was like,  I think we should all pick our favorite movie. He was like, cool, I want on the phone and he went into the other room and he brought back like ghost, sister act and something else. I was like, dad, yes. I could just tell. This is the first time I’ve been dancing I guess professionally since I was like six. I think that’s when I had my first commercial and honestly I’ve been home now I think for eight days and it’s the first time I’ve ever been with my family. Like today, we went on our first walk together and I said, as we were walking, I was like, I’m pretty sure this is the first walk we’ve ever taken as a family. And they were like, for sure, because when I was younger, my grandmother drove me three hours to take class at Studio C with Dee and Tina and Dennis Casberry three hours there and hours back from age. Um, I think like seven to 11. So this is the most family time I’ve ever had. And so that is what I’m really enjoying and I’m trying to be like, okay, I need to get off the phone now and really just enjoy this time that I have because when would I be able to be here that much? 

Right. This might be the other slight downside to the social streaming class thing is that if you have that many students in class and you’re encouraging the discourse right, the back and forth, which I do. Yeah, I think that’s very smart. Um, you could spend 24 hours a day giving feedback to all of those people in class and you wind up literally stuck to this thing. 

Yeah. I’m like, how am I busier now than normal? And it’s classes and interviews. Yeah, you know, but I said, I know the weekends, like I’m definitely not going to be on the phone and I really, really want to really just enjoy my time with my family at night. Okay, fine. I’ll let you go.  

Um, okay. Yes, and I so agree. I think this is a very valuable time, not just for self-work, but for those of us that are uh, lucky enough to be in it with the family, with the people actually like hands on in person stuff. Dad said to me, can we play monopoly? And I was like, you said yes three times in a row. Dad, um, 

Ps has great taste in movies, dad, I really love that. I think this will be the birth of great new rituals and well, we’ll remember things about this time that are truly special. I’m so glad about that. Definitely. All right. Well I do want you to get back to family time. Thank you so much for sharing this time with me. I learned a lot and smiled constantly.  

Oh, I’ll see you. Hopefully soon. Not sure how summer in summer intensives are gonna work out. Um, we might have a long, Mmm. A long haul ahead of us, but perhaps a reschedule or a same schedule for your event this summer. Do you want to talk about it a little bit? 

It’s my first summer course and basically I just had this idea because I love teaching. Obviously you can tell, but I, especially if for ballet I feel like the ballerinas don’t always get a range of movement. And I think that is what it really helped me be a different kind of a ballerina. And so I kind of wanted to be how I was brought up and I wanted these dancers to get that type of training. I want them to have hip hop or funk or whatevr you want to call it. And I want him to be able have jazz. And what’s funny is like, honestly, the teachers that are teaching this intercourse are either people I grew up dancing with like you or the teachers that taught me. So I’m like, it really is like, um, like Marguerite and Alex and people. I used to take classes from that I love and Mmm. So hopefully it will, all of this will pass and if not, we’ll figure out something. I don’t know. Maybe it will do zoom classes or something, but  

Hey, we will get creative. That is what this time calls for lots of creativity.  All right, Tiler thank you so much again. I will talk to you very soon.  

Okay, bye.  

Dana: Oh right. Talk about a myth. Oh, a meaning wind set. Talk about a meaning wind set. Everybody talk about a winning mindset rather. Jeez. Winning on winning, on winning. I really love the way that Tiler thinks about emerging different, not wrong or not worse from her injury. It honestly reminds me of episode eight and talking about doing it bright instead of doing it right. Finding the value in doing it your way and that whatever your way is is the best way for you to do it. I especially love how Tiler reframed her thoughts around the injury from being the victim to being the beneficiary. She literally went from thinking, why is this happening to me? Or why is this happening at all to how is this happening for me? What could this bring to me? And that’s something I think we could all use a little practice working on right now.  So let’s get to work. Grab a pen, grab a piece of paper and think of a topic, a circumstance. Maybe it’s the Corona virus, maybe it’s lock-down, maybe it’s training at home. Now dump all of your thoughts about that topic onto the page. But first split the page, hot dog style. On the left, we’re going to keep all of our negative, dark, nasty, big, ugly thoughts. We’ll call it big ugly column. And then on the right we’ll put all the positive captain brightside, we’ll call it the bright and beauty column. Now for every negative thought, I want you to write two positive ones. Since our brains are wired to care about disease and danger to keep us alive, this might be challenging. So I’ll help you by giving a couple examples. 

Big, ugly thought. People are dying. This is true. Bright beauty thought. People are coming together. People are caring for each other. People are fighting to keep each other alive.  

Let’s take another big ugly thought. Um, I could get sick. I could die. Bright beauty thought, let’s go with the obvious one. You could also not get sick. You could live to be a hundred. It’s a possibility. Uh, let’s do one more big, ugly thought. Um, I’m going to lose my job and run out of money. Bright beauty thought I cannot lose my talent and I will not lose my training. Prepared with those things and my bright mind, I can make more money. Notice I’m not encouraging you to delete or resist big uglies. They are worthy of your attention and they are valid, especially right now. I guess I’m simply encouraging you to spend equal air time on the bright beauties, the winning thoughts, if you will. I will leave you with that for today, and also I will leave you with my new tagline. Stay safe, stay soapy and stay funky. 

Thought you were done. No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website theDanawilson.com/podcast finally, and most importantly now you have a way to become a words that move me member, so kickball, change over to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast to learn more and join. All right, everybody now i’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Ep. #5 Is Fear Keeping You Alive, or Eating You Alive?

Ep. #5 Is Fear Keeping You Alive, or Eating You Alive?

 
 
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Episode #5 is here and it’s frighteningly good. This episode digs into #FEAR; The kind that keeps you alive and the other kind that keeps you from LIVING!  Give a listen and cut the ties to fear that are holding you back.

Show Notes:

Quick Links and Further Readings

The Power Of Vulnerability – Brené Brown

The Call to Courage – Brené Brown

Daring Grately – Brené Brown

Failing Your Way to Success

How To Be A Successful Failure

Gift of Fear – Gavin de Becker

Brooke Castillo’s Thought Model

The Farwell – Akwafina Movie

Episode Transcript

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

DANA:   00:33    Hello and hello. Welcome back to the podcast. This is episode five. Can you believe it? Episode five already. I’m stoked. Thank you so much for joining me. Thank you for tagging me for communicating with me on the socials. Um, a lot of real creative types popping up there. So hip, hip, hooray for all my daily doers. Um, if you are not daily making jump back and listen to episode one, very inspiring, exciting stuff back there. I am daily doing in some way, shape or form working on this podcast. Whoa, podcasts are way more work than I thought, but I’m learning so much about myself. The things that I know, the things that I don’t know, the way that I speak. I’m also learning about, for example, right now how to transcribe my episodes and leave you guys all the awesome show notes so that will now be available to you on all previous episodes as well as this one. If you are listening via Apple podcasts, you click the three little dots in the top right corner, you’ll be able to access shownotes from there. If you are not listening on Apple podcasts, go directly to my website, Thedanawilson.Com/Podcasts and you’ll have all my show notes available there.   

Cool, so if you are digging the podcast, I would love if you would re, ha, reeve a leview you love if you would reeve a leview, or leave a review, whichever suits your fancy. The more reviewed a podcast is, the easier it is to find and I really would love for all our creative types to be able to find these episodes easily. Sharing is caring. Oh, speaking of caring, quick shout out to my mom for calling me up and calling me out on a made up word that I used last week in episode four. She said de-motivated is not a word. Also super shout out to Google for letting me know that I did not make up a word. It turns out de-motivated is a word. Um, unmotivated means that one being lacks motivation. De motivated means that motivation has been taken. Right. That distinction. Very impressive. Also, I had no idea of the difference of those two. I think I really meant unmotivated. De-motivated came out. Google backed me up. Thanks anyways, mom, really appreciate you having my, uh, best interest in mind and really looking out for my grammar. Hmm. Um, let’s see. In this past week I worked on another music video. I taught a great class at movement. Lifestyle. Had so much fun. If you are listening to this on the day of its release, which is Wednesday, I’ll be teaching again this Friday, which is January… Wait for it. Wait for it. 31st, last day of the month. Oh my gosh.  It’s going really fast. Is it just me or is that everyone? Gosh, man. Um, so this past week in my class, we channeled what it means to be attractive. Um, which reminded me of last week’s episode talking about our dancing birds and mating dances and all sorts of fun stuff, but it was really, really challenging to have like Heidi Klum in the mind, but a Muppet or a Fraggle in the body. So much fun. Um, I don’t know if we’ll do that again this week, but I do know that we will have fun again this week. So if you’re in LA, stop by movement lifestyle, I will be teaching at 1130. Killer. Um, let me think. Any other updates? Oh, big one. The nails are off. I got acrylic nails for a job. I don’t remember what episode I talked about this and, but I got my acrylic nails removed. The first thing I did was take out my contacts because I couldn’t do that cause they were too long and Oh my gosh, that felt so good. For all my optometrists out there, please don’t worry, I do have the contacts that are the type that you’re supposedly allowed to sleep in. But Whoa, I had slept in my context for many, many nights. Eyes feel great. Fingers feel great. I feel great in general, crushing it at 2020 again this week. 

Today, However, I want to talk about a specific thing that might be keeping you from crushing it in 2020 and that is fear. Yes, good old fashioned fear. Insert the dramatic Halloween scream right there, which turns out, actually this is an aside, I found out recently that the director of photography from In the Heights, the film that I worked on over the summer last year, Alice Brooks is her name is the scream from scream.  

That’s Alice’s scream. That’s the scream that I want to put in my podcast right now, when I say this episode’s about fear. So now, you know. 

Moving on a couple of weeks ago, I put out a survey on Instagram. Thank you so much for responding by the way, those of you that, that hollered back. Um, I asked what scares you, what are you afraid of? And it was very cool to take a look at my responses. I’ve basically sorted this out. I’ve determined that there are two types of fear, the kind of fear that keeps you alive and the kind of fear that eats you alive. The first one being of course the animal instinct that gives you the freeze, fight or flight response. And then the other one is literally everything else. So let’s talk very quickly about the fear that keeps you alive. Our animal instinct fear has really served us well.  It’s helped us get to the point where most of us are not afraid for our lives on a daily basis. 

Do you remember the game, the Oregon trail, by the way, speaking of fear for your life, it was a computer game that taught us about the early settlers and all of the ways that you can die in the 18 hundreds for example, your wagon might break an axle and you might have to walk yourself to death or you might get dysentery or cholera. Now that is some really scary stuff. Even before that time though, you might’ve been afraid of being trampled in a stampede or you might’ve been afraid that your child might be eaten by a saber tooth tiger. That stuff right there. That is real fear. Now, there’s still a lot of real danger in the modern world. It’s just that our stimuli have changed. We don’t have saber tooth tigers or wagons anymore, which is kind of a shame cause wagons are darn cute. So next week I’m going to talk about one of my favorite books called the gift of fear. And we’ll talk about reading subtle signals in our modern everyday life that could really save your tail. That was an animal instinct pun. Um, especially if you live in Hollywood or if you’re a person that tours frequently

But for today we’re going to discuss in depth the kind of fears that eat you alive or what I referred to in episode 0.5 with my friend Nick Drago as creative fears. So these are the fears that are not really life threatening, but I was shocked that when I put my survey out to Instagram, like 99% of the replies I got were these type of fears. So that’s what we’re going to dig into today. Buckle up, let’s go.  

 8:39 Okay, thanks again for submitting your responses about things that you are afraid of. Please don’t be afraid right now. I’m not going to call anybody out by name. I’m going to actually kind of group some fears together based on a few trends that I noticed. So two things in particular. Almost every response fell under one or both of these two umbrellas. Those two umbrellas are judgment and failure. So I’m thinking if we can tackle these two little guys, we can step into some real big power. Now, last week I introduced Brooke Castillo’s thought model and I’m going to really quickly review on that. But if you haven’t listened to episode four, I really encourage you to do that. The model starts with a circumstance which is a neutral fact about your life. It is provable. It is uncontestable incontestable? Which one is it? Mom, call me.  Circumstances trigger your thoughts. Thoughts are just sentences in your head, which you actually can control. Thanks to your prefrontal cortex. More science words. Thoughts cause your feelings, which are sensations in your body. And those feelings lead to actions, which are what you do or don’t do with your body. And your actions create results, which are always proof of your initial thought. So it’s really important that we choose our thoughts wisely. Okay, so on the subject of fear, I’m not encouraging you to simply not think the thoughts that frighten you. Actually quite the opposite. I’m suggesting that you understand the thoughts that frighten you. I’m suggesting that you get to the core of them. I’m betting that at the core of these fears, you’re probably wrestling with your thoughts about judgment and or failure. And I’m telling you right now that the tiny seed inside the core of the big, big fear is just a feeling, probably an unwanted feeling.  So you see, fear is actually the avoidance of unwanted feelings. It’s your body and your mind’s way of keeping you from experiencing unwanted stuff. But thoughts create your feelings and we get to choose our thoughts. So what if we choose thoughts that lead us in the direction of wanted feelings? One of my favorite ways to illustrate this. There’s a little exercise in metacognition or thinking about thinking, if you’re funky.

 I’d like you to invite an imaginary friend to sit down beside you, preferably a very curious friend, somebody who’s very compassionate, but asks questions that have five-year-old would ask. Maybe this imaginary friend is a five-year-old. They ask a lot of questions like, why? And so what if or what does that even mean? So this imaginary young person is going to ask me tons of questions about my thoughts, and I’m going to rattle off answers as if I know everything.  And once a feeling shows up in the answer, then I’ll know that we’ve gotten to the root of the issue. Let’s start with a a fear of being injured. So if I have a child sitting next to me and I say, “Man, little one, little nugget I am, I’m afraid of being injured.” And that child might say, “why?” And I might say, “because then I won’t be able to do the thing that I love.” And they might say, “why?” And I’ll say, “because I’ll be in pain, if not physically then mentally for sure.” And they might say, “why?” And I might say, “because dance is a part of who I am without it, who am I?” And they might say, “I dunno who are you?” And then I might say, “well, I am an almighty dancer and I can do a unnatural things and I can do anything. And I am indestructable, except for when I’m injured, when I’m injured, I feel mortal and I prefer to feel indestructable.” Okay, ding, ding, ding. There were the feelings that just showed up. When I’m injured, I feel mortal, but I prefer to feel indestructable. So there’s my key feelings there. I’m actually afraid of being injured because I prefer to feel indestructable. Well what if you could be injured and still feel indestructable?  Would you then have the same fear of becoming injured? 

Okay, let’s take a look at a different fear. “I’m afraid my work will be bad.” The child might say to that “why?” And I might say, “because that might mean that I don’t know what I’m doing.” and then that child might say, “when I don’t know something and I ask about it, my teacher calls it learning. Or sometimes when I’m playing, I don’t really know what I’m doing and that can be really, really fun. So what’s wrong with not knowing what you’re doing?”  I might say to that, “well, I really like to play too, but I don’t like feeling unskilled. “ Aha. Here’s my feeling. I’m afraid my work will be bad because I don’t like to feel not good at something. Well, how do you feel about yourself after you’ve learned something really difficult or how do you feel about yourself while you’re playing? Is it possible that you might not be afraid of making bad work if you thought of your work as play, if you thought of it as learning. 

All right, how about this one? “I’m afraid people won’t understand me or won’t get the work. I’m afraid they’ll think I’m bad or stupid.” Kid might say “why?” And I say, if feeling very honest “because I want people to like me. I want people to relate to my work. I want them to think I’m great” and that kid might say, “so what if they don’t?” And then I would probably get real real with myself and I would say, “well then I would feel unwanted. I would feel uncool and I prefer to feel cool. I want to feel appreciated.” Okay, great. So it’s not that I’m afraid of people not understanding me, it’s that I want to avoid feeling unappreciated. Well, what if you felt cool and wanted and appreciated no matter what other people thought of your work? Would the fear still be there? I’m thinking, no.

Okay, here’s one more. What if I told the kid the very, very smart kid, by the way, “’i’m afraid of going to auditions.” Kid might say, “why?” And I’d say, “well, I don’t completely love putting my all on the line in front of hundreds of judgy eyeballs, including a couple pairs of eyeballs that ultimately decide if I will fail or succeed in getting this job or not.” And then the kid might say with all of his wisdom and experience, “isn’t that what being a dancer is putting your all on display for a bunch of eyeballs to look at?”  That smart little sucker. Got me. All right. I’d probably say fine. “Smart little sucker. You got me  I guess it’s not the audition that I’m afraid of. It’s getting cut.” The kid might say “with a knife?!” and I’d be like, “no, we use the word cut as another word for being dismissed or rejected and I guess it feels pretty crappy to be rejected.” Ding, ding, ding. We have a feeling there. Feeling rejected. Well, what if you could go to an audition and not feel rejected no matter what? What if instead of feeling rejected, you felt genuinely sorry for those poor sons of guns that don’t get to work with you? Like what if? What if getting cut actually felt like a surprise birthday party for you? Like what if everyone in the room erupted in applause and there was confetti and streamers and cake every time you got cut, would you still be afraid of going to auditions? Mm. Probably not. I would go all the time.  

Now if you’re like me, you might be getting a little suspicious right around now. Like all of this power of positive thinking stuff. Is there really any grit to it? Like is it real? I remember specifically when that book, the secret became very popular. I had some big questions about that. Like does taping a dollar bill to my ceiling and looking at it in the morning and at night before I go to bed really turn me into a millionaire. 

Now, I could be wrong here, but I highly, highly doubt that this work is a bit different. It’s more systematic and it requires action, some effort and a lot of consciousness. So let’s do that work. Let’s put in a little effort and let’s get real thoughtful about judgment and failure.  

Okay. What is judgment? The internet says and the internet knows that judgment is the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions. Well, that doesn’t sound so bad actually. I kind of loved the idea of being a person that can make considered decisions or sensible conclusions. I wish we could just leave it at that. But the internet also offers an alternative definition and that is misfortune or calamity viewed as a divine punishment. Huge, huge range there. How did we go from sensible conclusions to divine punishment? I don’t know exactly, but considering that judgment is part of what’s kept us humans around for so long, and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, thankfully. I’m going to opt to think of judgment as the first definition. I’m already hard enough on myself as it is I don’t need to think of everyone else in the world is passing divine punishment on me. Gosh, that’s terrifying. All right, so that’s the what of judgment. Now let’s talk about the who. Who gets to pass judgment? Well, one of two people. You or someone else. So let’s talk about judgment from others. At least in dance, I’ll speak specifically for dance. There is no bar exam, there’s no MCAT. There is no one institution that says, all right, you’re good, you’re a dancer, you pass, go on, go dance, go make money doing dance. And I actually think that’s a great thing. I have no student loans because of that thing, and that means that everyone gets to dance even if they can’t afford to go to dance school or take dance test. But here’s where that gets a little bit tricky. In the absence of an almighty dance deity, that gets to click a price tag on us and deem us valuable. It can sometimes feel easier for our minds to give power to literally anyone else instead of keeping it for ourselves.  In other words, instead of saying, I’m great and I know that I’m just getting better, we say, ah, I don’t know if I’m any good. What do you think world? See, I think that seeking validation is not so uncommon. It’s human and I think it’s a result of how we were all raised, but what’s unique to dancers and people making art, especially in entertainment, is that we and our work stand at the epicenter of our pop culture’s screen addiction and fascination with view counts and clicks and engagement. It can be really challenging to separate popular opinion from your opinion. And that can be dangerous because then you have a bunch of people who don’t deeply understand the work determining its value. Yikes. So does having a lot of likes mean that something is good? No. Does having very few likes mean that something is bad? No. So what does make something good or bad? Your thoughts about it. That’s what. And that brings us to your self judgment, which can be a tough one. So I’m going to call on the old thought model.  

If the circumstance is my work and the thought is people will think my work is bad or stupid or somebody’s work will definitely be better. Then the feeling that that thought creates is disempowered. Checking in mom, is that a word? The action that comes as a result of feeling disempowered is actually inaction. You don’t make work. So the result is no work, which proves the original thought is correct. Somebody else’s work is better than your work on a technicality because your work doesn’t exist. So here’s the new model with a little bit of flexing of my prefrontal cortex muscles. I know your brain is not a muscle. I just, it’s an analogy. All right, so the circumstance is still my work, but what if my thought about my work is that I am a person with the tools and determination to make the work that I love. That thought makes me feel empowered, that thought makes me feel motivated and feeling motivated, sends me into action. That action is making work. A lot of it and probably failing a bit along the way. And the result then is that I will have work that I love and I’ll have stronger tools and determination to make even more of it. See, the result is proof of that first thought.  

Now here’s something I didn’t touch on much in the last episode and that is that your results are really just yours. In other words, you won’t have a result like everyone loves my work because you can’t control other people’s thoughts, which I think is a great thing by the way. All right, let’s touch on failure now. What is failure? Well, again, I turned to the internet and the internet says failure is the lack of success. Now to avoid going down an endless pit of defining, defining words, I’m going to skip success, which we’ll talk about in another podcast and I’m going to jump straight to the second definition, of failure, which I really, really like by the way. The internet says that failure is the omission of expected or required action. See, it’s all, it’s not this death, destruction, awful, the worst. It’s just the lack of, or the omission of expected or required action. To me, it’s just simply missing the mark. So some people are so afraid of missing the Mark that they never even shoot. For example, people who would love to become a dancer someday, but they don’t take class because they’re afraid they won’t be good. You know, they’ll miss the mark of greatness so they don’t go. Some people are afraid of missing so big that they set the mark real low, like you know, keeping it real safe, freestyling at a nightclub or lounge or party, but never entering a freestyle battle.  

Did you hear that? That was me raising my hand. Oh, failure.  There is one other way that a lot of us choose to avoid failure. That’s kind of special and that is self sabotage. I say that it’s special because this is a type of avoiding unwanted feelings that actually feels really good, at least in the moment. And then it sneaks up and gets you. Here’s some examples, my personal favorite procrastination, putting things off for later so that you can feel good now. My mom has a famous saying, shout out again mom, love you. Uh, she says, why do today, what you can do tomorrow and why do tomorrow what you can avoid doing all together. Man, mom, you are a professional procrastinator. Here’s another one, another form of self sabotage and that’s drinking or self-medicating and other ways that might seem really harmless or even helpful to an extent in that moment, but man, they can lead straight into the arms of some really undesirable results. Another one might be lying or faking sick, or here’s one that you might not expect. Overworking is total self sabotage the whole time you’re thinking, look at me crush this. I am crushing it. I can totally work until 4:00 AM every night and then wake up at six and then go to the gym and, and and, and, and until you exhaust yourself to the point of injury or inefficiency. Self-sabotage is a sticky one and it deserves a podcast all to itself. So let’s jump back to failure. 

There is a metric ton of research and a boatload of really great talks about failure and specifically failure and its relationship to success. I’ll link to a few of my favorites on my website under the show notes for episode five. Just go to theDanawilson.com/podcasts and click on episode five to get all that good stuff. But for now I want to just point out a couple of my favorite thoughts about failure. Here’s a real popular one. The idea that the more you fail, the more you will succeed. I really love that and I like to think about if there were a number, like what if you knew that exactly 25 fails equals one win. Like a really big win. I bet you’d be down to fail 25 times. If you knew that right after that you would get your big win. Well, I also think that it’d probably take way less than 25 fails to get a win. So just jump in and find out. Another one of my favorites is this, and it’s a quote, and I don’t know who to credit for this quote. ***(post edit) this quote is by Fritz Perls, MD, the psychiatrist and founder of Gestalt Therapy.** So if you do, please let me know. The saying is, “The only difference between fear and excitement, is breath.” Consider that people actually pay money to see scary movies and go to haunted houses and go on roller coasters.  

In a way, fear has been rebranded in our minds as fun. So take a deep breath, put both arms up and scream your whole way to that audition. You’re going to have a ball at some point in there for even just the second. You’re going to have fun, I promise. Oh, here’s another quote and I do know who wrote this one. It’s from the movie the Farewell which is written and directed by Lulu Wong starring Akwafina. And it is one of my favorite movies of 2019 please, please see it. Akwafina’s character’s, mom, whose name I’m blanking on at this particular moment, says, “Chinese people have a saying. When people get cancer, they die. It’s not the cancer that kills them. It’s the fear.” Please go see the farewell so that you understand this powerful context, and also, please don’t let your fears eat you alive. Watch over them with the curiosity and compassion of a young child. Get to the root of them and rewrite them and keep it funky. hahahaha, How come I can’t say that without laughing. Oh, it feels good to laugh. That was a serious one. Whoa, boy. All right, everybody. If you’re digging, what you’re hearing, please leave a review. Send me a message on Instagram or a comment on the website, theDanawilson.com/podcasts and I will talk to you next week. Bye. 

Ep. #4 Stop Thinking Like a Caveman

Ep. #4 Stop Thinking Like a Caveman

 
 
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Episode 4 of the podcast gets into your head, literally.  I’m talking BRAINS, and  specifically what makes the modern human’s brain so powerful — The Pre-frontal cortex! I introduce you to Brooke Castillo’s Thought Model and tell you why it is my new favorite tool for managing my mind, and my work. 

Show Notes!

Quick Links:

Brooke Castillo’s Thought Model

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

Dana: Hello. Hello and welcome to episode four. Thank you so much for being here. I am jazzed about this episode and I’m jazzed about this year. So far I’ve been doing daily all over the place. I just worked on another music video in New York city that I am very excited about because I made new friends and learned new things. Learning is good. I love learning. I also spent the weekend teaching some workshops in Portland. Well, I guess technically it was Vancouver, Seattle. Um, I was super motivated by Chloe’s interview in last week’s episode, episode three, and I also wound up taking some class over the last week, which is honestly is my first class of the year. I took hip hop with David Moore. So much fun and then over the weekend I took a ballet class, which is only a little bit less fun because I get really stressed out when I take ballet class.
I’m working on it anyways. My daily doing has been going well. How about yours? In episode one I posted a challenge, really encourage you guys to make something creative every single day and so far so many of you guys have given me feedback about your projects. A special shout out to @RebeccaWrangler for tagging me every single day this year so far it is really, really cool. Like such a treat to see what you come up with every day. You’re doing great. Keep it up. Keep the communications open. Please feel free to ask me questions. Tug on my ear or send me a little message if you feel like you’re running low on inspo, let me know know, I really did. I said that. Okay, so everybody’s crushing it at 2020 looking good. Feeling good must be good. Today I toss that up to being humans. We are humans. And that is such a great thing because according to humans, human beings are regarded as the most intelligent being on the planet. Now, of course, since humans are the one doing the regarding, it’s kind of biased. So I decided to dig around on the internet and um, learn a little bit about intelligence and intelligent beings. Uh, so basically I’m an expert now on brains and intelligence and I want to tell you a little bit about what I’ve learned recently. Okay. Number one, the primary difference between modern man and our planetary cohabitants like, um, plants and animals, and even historically cave people. The biggest difference between us is our brain. So our brains have evolved a lot over time. Well, they evolve a lot just in a human’s lifetime. But in the history of the human race, the human brain has evolved a lot. The average human brain weighs about three pounds.
That’s roughly the same weight as a dolphin’s brain and that is a lot less then a whale’s brain, which weighs on average like 13 pounds and a human brain weighs way more than the average orangutan’s brain, which weighs only 13 ounces. Okay, so now that you know how much, several different brains weigh I should tell you that it’s not actually the size or the weight that’s linked to intelligence, it’s actually the ratio of the brain mass to the body mass. For humans, that’s about 2%, 2% of our entire body mass is our brain. Okay. Go ahead and file that under possibly useless information. What I really want to talk about today though is the ratio of one particular part of the brain in relationship to the rest of the brain. That part of the brain is the prefrontal cortex, the prefrontal cortex of a human’s brain makes up 10% of the brain mass and that is a lot. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for personality, expression, decision-making, complex behavior and social interactions. Pretty important stuff, especially when it comes to dance. It’s, it’s also really the fun stuff. It’s the stuff that’s not exclusively vital for survival. All of that stuff is the primitive brain, sometimes known as the reptilian brain because as far as the evolution of our brain goes, the reptilian brain came first. The reptilian brain controls the body’s vital autonomic functions like heart rate, breathing, body temperature and balance. Also, all very important for a dancer, I might add.

I like to think of the primitive brain as a five-year-old Danceling that wants to do her own makeup for a competition. Her intentions are good and her instincts are spot on, but that lipstick goes everywhere and the blush is a pink stripe across the cheek and the eye shadow extends all the way to the hairline and the glitter. Oh, the glitter goes everywhere, which is where it will remain forever. In this analogy, the prefrontal cortex is the parent of said, comp kid, and they watch with curiosity and compassion and they hide the eyelash glue because that stuff is toxic and they might even derive a little bit of entertainment out of the whole show. And then of course they clean up the mess.

Now I’m going to stop right here because I don’t want to offend any brain scientists or neuroscientists that might be listening. I’m going to stick to what I know. I am a dancer slash choreographer slash movement coach. Slash. Slash. Slash. I am interested in the majesty of movement. All of it, even non-human movement. Think really quickly about the really awesome, um, fan powered, uh, dancing men. Are you seeing it? Um, the, the, how do I explain them? The guys at the car wash, the dancing car, wash kites. What are they? They’re not inflatable because they’re open-ended. Wow. This is a really good question. Does anybody know what those things are called? (**edit note: They are called air dancers) I would love to know the car wash guys. Those things are incredible. I’m so inspired by those guys. Or, um, the Boston dynamics robot dog called spot. Have you seen him? Have you seen him dance to “uptown funk“? It’s incredible. I would have made some different choreographic decisions there, but regardless, still quite impressive. Speaking of impressive, have you seen the, I think it’s called “Our Planet”. The Netflix special. It’s narrated by David Attenborough. There’s a section specifically about birds and there’s a bird called a Blue Manakin, M, A, N, A, K, I N. and the blue manakins actually rehearse a bunch of guy mannequins will rehearse together and perform for a female bird. And the thing that’s most special about this other than the rehearsal and the exquisite like formation changes that they do is that they actually have a, a ranking, there’s like a lead bird and then three backup birds. It is fascinating. It is almost my favorite. Actually. My favorite one is the bird of paradise mating dance. I think it’s from the same special. I’m going to find all of these, by the way, and put the links to these videos in the show notes because you will be moved, I promise you. So other than the, uh, the robot dog and the dancing car wash man who don’t really need dance for evolution per se, these birds use dance to attract a mate. Now it is very possible that there was a time when humans used dance solely to attract a mate. In fact, that likely is happening right now somewhere on the planet. But I want to touch on the ways that all of our dance is different. For example, we have organized and categorized techniques. We have disciplines, we have genres, we have our imagination, we have storytelling and narrative style dancing and character style dancing.
And how about therapeutic dance and how about the social benefit or dance that’s made purely for entertainment value. We even have a full blown dance business. See, look at all the ways we are not cavemen. We are so evolved. Our dance is so evolved and the reason for that is because our brain is evolved. Now I’m all for dance, being attractive. Like go out there, get to the club impress all the honeys with your sweet, sweet moves. Yeah, I said, honeys, I’m also all for dance. The business. I’m here for dancers doing well. Go out there, make that money. But I’m most interested in when the body and brain work together to make meaningful movement.

Okay, so what does meaningful movement mean? Well to me that’s any movement that is deliberate and purpose built. For example, some movement might be designed to sell something like commercial style dancing. Whether that’s selling an album by performing with an artist on tour or selling a person by dancing behind them in a music video or selling a product. While, kickball changing in a commercial, all deliberate, all purpose-built might not be earth shattering or emotionally charged, but it is in fact deliberate and purpose-built and it speaks to me in some way. Meaningful movement to me could also be dance that’s designed to connect or express or explore. Now we’re getting to the good stuff. Contact improv, interpretive dance, um, performance art, dance that’s made to challenge the status quo. Or there’s also the dance that’s simply designed to entertain. I’m here for all of it. Of course, you can use a prefrontal cortex to make more interesting dance, but you can also use it in your daily life. Human beings are uniquely capable of choosing our thoughts. So please choose wisely.

Today I want to tell you about a technique that helped me make meaningful work and own it in my business and in my daily life. This is really, really huge. This is like episode four early on for reason cause I have a feeling I’m going to be talking about this a lot in upcoming episodes. I like to think of this as a technique for thinking. This technique for thinking is called the thought model and it was created by a woman named Brooke Castillo. Brooke is a life coach and she is also the creator of The Life Coach School. Now I want to take a moment to step aside and say I was very suspicious of this life coach concept at first. After all, I have been living literally my entire life and I’m still alive. So do I really need a coach? Like where does that fit in?

I suppose when I think about the number of hours I’ve spent training at dance wouldn’t be so unreasonable for me to spend some comparable amount of hours training my mind for life, which is what I’m doing all the time that I’m not dancing. So to put it bluntly, I was curious about the life coaching stuff and my sister had an incredible experience in working with her coach. Uh, she’s the one that actually introduced me to the thought model and you know me and my thoughts on learning, I will try anything. So I really dug into this thought model stuff. I fell in love with it. Although it’s not quite love, it’s definitely work. I fell in, work with it and it works. So I want to tell you about it and hope that it can help you along your creative journey as it has helped mine. Before I go on though, I want to say at this moment, I am not a certified life coach, although I may become one someday. Today I am not. I am simply a person who has practiced self coaching for years and spent several months working with a coach of my own and I’ve got a boatload of enthusiasm about it. So I’m here to share.

Alright, here’s how Brooke breaks it all down. And by all I really do mean everything, all of it. And it all starts with a circumstance. A circumstance is a neutral fact of your life. It’s provable. There is no argument. Circumstances trigger your thoughts. Thoughts are just sentences in your head which you can control. Thanks of course to the prefrontal cortex, thoughts cause your feelings. Feelings are sensations in your body and feelings lead to actions which are the things that your body does or does not do. Those actions cause results, results are the outcomes of your actions. Results are your life, so let me run that through one more time. Circumstances trigger your thoughts, which are just sentences in your head. Thoughts cause feelings which occur in your body. Your feelings lead to actions which are what your body does about those feelings or it doesn’t do in many cases and those actions cause results. That’s what you’re wound up with. Now, the real magic of Brooke Castillo’s thought model is that the result is always proof of the thought. Again, your result is proof of that first thought.

Now I’m going to give you a practical example here. I’ll try to keep it simple, although simple isn’t really my style. Okay? Let’s say you wake up in the morning, you open your window and there is water coming from the sky that is rain. That’s your circumstance cannot be debated. Water coming from the sky is rain. No matter what country you live or what language you speak, or if you’re an optimist or if you’re a not-ptomist or whatever religion you are, you know that is rain. We cannot argue that it is raining. Now the rain triggers a thought, which for me is probably dang it. People are going to be awful drivers today and I’m going to be late. Uh, it’s going to be a crappy day. So that thought then causes a feeling, which is I’m going to go with de-motivated. The circumstance which is rain triggered a thought which was today is going to be crappy, which made me feel demotivated and that lack of motivation probably keeps me dragging my feet a little bit, move a little slower to get out the house, get out. Yeah, this is probably a circumstance. LA drivers really truly are indisputably bad at driving, but I digress. That’s not the point of this model because I’m motivated. I’m moving slow, I’m late all day long, and that usually results in a crappy day. Now, let’s go back from the top and rethink this. What if for the same circumstance, which is I wake up and it’s raining, I open the window, I see the rain and instead I think, Oh my gosh, yes, this reminds me of Gene Kelly in “Singin’ In The Rain” That is my favorite movie. How did today even know to show me my favorite movie right now? This is great. It’s going to be a great day. I’m already inspired. There’s my feeling. The thought of it’s going to be a great day. Gave me the feeling of I’m inspired. The feeling of inspiration is going to send me into action that is quite the opposite of dragging my feet. I’m going to move through my morning activities with momentum, with gusto, maybe even with a hop shuffle step or a step scuff hop, Step scuff, hop, hop. I might even create a piece today. All of the actions that come from feeling inspired are going to land me at the result of having an awesome day. So see how on the result line for each of those things. In the first version, my result was I had a crappy day and was late all day. We’re proof of my initial thought, which is, ah, it’s going to be a crappy day. People can’t drive. I’m going to be late. It’s proof of that thought versus the second model. What an amazing thing. The day to day is showing me my favorite movie. This is the greatest leads me to having a great inspired, romantic, creative, all the things type of day.

Okay. Now I got a little sloppy. I’m going to give you one more example and this one was really big. This is, this is probably the one that tipped me onto the side of the scale of really loving this thought model stuff. So you may have noticed it’s a trend of late to film dance class. A lot of the dance videos you see on YouTube are taken in dance classes at dance studios. Usually towards the end of class, but there’s this like performative show moment at the end of class where a camera man or occasionally the teacher holding a camera. Will film select groups and then that footage will wind up online. This used to really give me some primitive thoughts like some real kid playing in the glitter type of mess. To illustrate, I’ll walk you through my old model with the unmanaged thoughts and then I’ll let my prefrontal cortex take the reins and show you how that changes my end result and ultimately my relationship with dance class and the use of cameras in the classroom.

The circumstance, the neutral indisputable fact is that there are now video cameras in dance classes. Now I can’t really get much more neutral than that cameras in the classroom. I’m not saying it sucks that there are cameras in the classroom. I’m not saying that everybody films class and that’s awful. I’m saying the neutral circumstance is cameras in the classroom. Now that neutral circumstance for me triggers some thoughts that look a little something like this. You have to be perfect on camera and class is supposed to be a place where you can be imperfect. Class is supposed to be a place where you can be vulnerable and mess up and look bad and then get better. Class is ruined. Now that thought, or I should say those thoughts make me feel robbed. I feel like I had a special thing with the class that used to be, and that class has been robbed by this stupid camera device and now I don’t have it anymore. I feel robbed, feeling robbed. I don’t know if you’ve actually been rubbed. Oh my gosh. It’s so awful. I don’t know. I remember I had my cell phone stolen once and I felt like never leaving my house again. I felt like I couldn’t trust anyone. Um, we felt insecure out in the world. Kind of a awful feeling in general, but feeling like class had been taken from me felt kind of similar. I didn’t want to go anymore. I just didn’t want to leave the house. Once I started seeing all these class videos pop up, it made me stop taking class. So feeling robbed led me to the action of actual inaction, not taking class anymore. So the result of me not taking class anymore is that class was dead to me.

Okay. Let’s rework this model, circumstances the same. There are cameras in the classroom. Now before we go any further at all, I want to ask, what is a camera? How would you explain a camera to an alien from another planet or to a five year old? I would explain it like this. A camera is a collection of glass parts and plastic parts and occasionally some metal parts that is put together in a way that allows it to capture light and remember a moment or a series of moments forever. Okay? Nothing about an actual camera means that you have to be perfect. See, that is the real breakthrough. The circumstance is a camera in a classroom and I can choose a thought that is not, I have to be perfect on camera. So what if I decided to choose this thought? What if the camera was actually the way I measure my progress and show the world this is what dance class is about. Progress, not perfection. Well, dang, if that’s my thought, then all of a sudden my feeling becomes not only empowered but in some crazy way responsible. Now, feeling responsible, feeling empowered. That gets me out my front door and into dance class where whether there’s a camera or not, I will improve because that’s what I believe in. That’s what is important to me. That really changed the game for me. It helped me show up for myself in a way that I had really kind of ruled out. And there’s such tremendous power in that. Now that’s an example of how the model can help in terms of the way you show up for yourself in a training sense. But there is another way to use this model that I really found helpful when it comes to making my work and having a happy and healthy creative process

In this mode, I’m going to start at the end. I’m going to start with the desired result and work backwards to try to find out what thought I need to plant in order to get the results that I’m striving for. So let’s say for example, I’ve been hired to choreograph the new year’s Eve ball drop for Fox. This, by the way, is a true story. Um, back in 2019. Holy smokes, by the way, does anybody remember new year’s Eve of 2019 the times square ball drop? It was for reasoning cold. It rained all day long. Holy smokes. It was nuts. So before I went into that day, I ran myself through a thought model. I knew that my result wind, the result that I wanted is work that I’m proud of. So for me to land at work that I’m proud of, the actions I wanted to take are being prepared every single day, treating my team with kindness and giving them the tools that they needed every single day and not doubting myself in the past. Doubt has really sucked a lot of time out of my creative process. So the three actions that I was committed to are being prepared myself, the individual supporting my team, giving them all the tools they needed and promising to not doubt myself. Those were my three action points. So then I have to ask myself what is the feeling that will lead me to take those actions? That feeling is capable. If I feel like I can do it, I will be prepared. I will support my team and I will not spend any time doubting myself. All right, now let’s keep working backwards. Then what is the thought that will make me feel capable? The thought that I chose that made me feel capable, and this is the thought that I love, is I was built for this. Yeah. Waking up in the morning thinking I was built to do this is maybe most empowering thought that you can give yourself. Walking to the train, I’m built for this. Listening to the music, I’m built for this. Warming up my dancers, I am built for this. Talking to the hosts, staging the scenes, working tiny ins and outs, talking Snoop dog through his staging, I am built for this. That thought constantly gave me the feeling of I am capable and the feeling I am capable sent me into actions that landed me firmly at work that I am proud of and the thing that I’m most proud of in terms of that work is that it was created and a happy and healthy environment. Well, aside from the rain, that is, that was super unhealthy. I am surprised nobody came down with pneumonia. That was crazy. I wonder how, how cold it actually was. I’ll find out. I’ll put that in the show notes too. (** Edit note, can’t find exactly what the temperature was but it looks like it was around 50* with rain. The coldest ever new years eve in New York was -1 degrees in 1918)

Okay. That’s the thought model in a super, super fast nutshell. In a fast nutshell. Imagine a nutshell going really fast right now. All right. It’s a big bite. It’s a lot to think about. So try to remember C T F A R circumstance, thought, feeling, action result. Should we give that in? My very excellent mother just made us nine pancakes thing. What are those called? Numeric device. Pneumonic device! Okay. Circumstance. This is happening in real time. C T F A R come through for absolutely. Oh, come through for … didn’t results…come through for candy, tiger fiction action rendezvous. You know, I don’t… dancer’s choice! Okay? Try to remember. Circumstances lead to thoughts. Your thoughts cause your feelings, your feelings cause your actions and your actions create your results. Your results are your life, so dang it. Celebrate that your prefrontal cortex makes up 10% of your brain and choose your thoughts wisely. All right, now go. Go out there. Use that prefrontal cortex. Make interesting work. Work on yourself. Work together and keep it funky. Makes me smile. Keep it funky.