Ep. #44 WTMM x CLI with Dexter Carr

Ep. #44 WTMM x CLI with Dexter Carr

 
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 My guest this week is the picture of hard work + talent + a winning mindset.  Dexter Carr is dedicated to his work ( from the cell phone screen to the big screen and to Broadway, and back again).  He works hard, and he knows how to get it done (with a team!).  Listen in as we talk everything from sweat pants to perfectionism.

Show Notes

Quick Links:

CLI 2020 Experience: https://2020-experience.clistudios.com/

Dexter Carr’s Clothing Line: https://dextercarr.com/shop

Transcript:

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

Dana: Hello. Hello friend. Welcome to Words that move me. I’m Dana and I, as per usual, am jazzed about this episode. I’m exceptionally juiced up because.. juiced up? Is that a thing that I say? Um, um, I was just trying to not use the word jazzed quite as much, but I can’t find a better substitute. I’m exceptionally jazzed because I just came back from my vacation. Spoiler alert. I did not really take a vacation, but I did take several baths and I painted my nails. So I didn’t leave town, I did work for several hours a day, but not all day, certainly not the 30 hours a week on zoom calls that I had become accustomed to during these quarantine times. Um, and when I wasn’t working, my thoughts really turned kind of tropical. I thought that I had all the time in the world, so I didn’t even set my alarm in the morning. Um, I thought about the sun on my skin, so I spent more time outside. I really, really sought out inspiration. Um, so I watched some of my favorite movies back. Oh my God. Friends, Wings of Desire by Wim Wendors, which is actually spelled with W’s W I M W E N D E R S. Holy smokes. Maybe the most beautiful film I have ever seen. I genuinely cry thinking about it because I, I really don’t think that there’s anything better.  It might be the best film ever made. Honestly, the only thing missing from this film is a dance number, but there is a beautiful trapeze artist and not one but two musical performances by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. So really how can you be mad at that? It’s just so good. Please do check that out. Oh, also go head over to Words that Move Me podcast on Instagram, because we just posted the third series of mandatory lists. I do a post that is your mandatory reading list. I do a post that is your mandatory watch list. And then third of course is a mandatory freestyle list. Those are my favorite to freestyle, to my favorite movies and documentaries and series to watch. And my favorite books. Yes. We just posted our third series of that. So head over to IgG, take a look at what those are. Um, wings of desire is definitely on this list three, but I kid you not. When I tell you, I think this is my favorite movie of all time, okay. We’re back, we’re focused and we are talking wins. I start every episode with wins because I think it’s important, especially now to celebrate what’s going well in the world. And the wind that I’m celebrating today is that the podcast has broke 2000 followers on Instagram and more than 1200 videos have been posted with the hashtag #doingdailyWTMM, which stands for words that move me. But that is not the actual win, the numbers themselves, they aren’t in the win. The win is that these words are moving you. The win is really that when you share you move others. So thank you so much for sharing this podcast with your friends. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for getting out there and moving. Um, that really is the reason why I talk to myself in this podcast booth every week. Also though, I do really love talking to you guys, um, over there in the comments @wordsthatmovemepodcast on Instagram. I love, love, love seeing the new daily doers. Shout out to my new doers. Rachel Gale, Elena X Valencia, Sarah doing daily Frances Brooks, just to name a few. Um, Oh, and while we’re at it, I could go ahead and super shout out. My climbers. Um, Chris McCartin recently passed 50. Sarah Victoria is well past 50 Oriana doing daily @oriana.doingdaily is well past 75. Um, Jojo Carmichael climbing into the nineties, Frida Dawson, AKA at Fridawson has passed 170. And Rebekah Wrangler is past 225. Holy smokes. So good. And I definitely feel like a Peloton instructor right now, shouting out all of my milestones. Man, No wonder they can’t shout them all out. I almost passed out and I’m not even riding a bike. Okay. If you’re interested in digging into some of those daily doers, go search the hashtag #doingdailyWTMM and be inspired. Um, all right. I guess I should mention if you haven’t been with me since episode one, doing daily, then I should inform you that doing daily is, um, I suppose I could call it a challenge that I’ve posed to my listeners in that episode, in the first episode, to help you restore ownership of your creative life, to put it very broadly. And to be honest, that I did not expect that that episode would create a community of daily doers, really a support system, an audience of performers. That is what it is, and that is super special. It wasn’t what I intended, but it is exactly what has happened.  And I am thrilled about it. I am also thrilled to tell you that I now have a tool up on my online store. It is a digital download. It’s called the doing daily diary and I designed it to help you organize and manage and really keep yourself accountable for your daily project. It is the companion that I wish I had during my year plus of daily making. And, um, I’m super excited to offer it to you. So go visit theDanawilson.com click on the store and there you have it doing daily diary, along with some other fabulous goodies, please enjoy. Wow, that win turned into a lot more than a win. So let’s go back to you. How are you doing? Are you doing daily? What is going well in your world? Talk to me.  

 Okay, great kick butt. I’m proud of you. Congrats. Keep on crushing it. All right. Speaking of really crushing it. In this episode, I talked to the incredible Dexter Carr. Now preface this interview is from the vault. We recorded it several months ago, back in the summer before your feed and your mailbox were pummeled with political campaign ads and voting materials. Just want to say that outright. I recorded this episode as a series of three interviews that I did from a friends over at CLI over the summer of their, um, 2020 dance experience, which was awesome by the way, check that out. We’ll be linking in the show notes of this episode. Um, but I had an absolute pleasure with all three of my guests. Um, the other two guests being Josh Smith. You can find him in episode 38 and the fabulous Heather Morris. She is episode 42.  So get into those for more action packed, family fun. Now this week, Dexter and I talk about a lot. I mean, really this is an action packed 30 minutes now, Dexter got a relatively late start with dance, but he got his career up off the ground and like into the cosmos. Really, He is living his dreams. I mean, he’s got a clothing line. He has a tour… He has a tutorial membership platform. He’s done Broadway. He’s done the big screen. He’s done all of it. Dexter is truly an exceptional human being. But I want to quickly say that you don’t need to be an exception in order to make your dreams come true. And I don’t mean to get like sugary pop sweet on you right now. But honestly, if you want your dreams to come true, you must simply know what they are and then show up for them. You have to use your voice. So please let this interview be a reminder of how much is possible when you advocate for yourself. When you put your work and your words out there into the world, when you let your voice be heard, please let this interview inspire you all the way to the polls and vote in this election vote because our schools, our workers, your work, the arts, our freedom to make our dreams come true. Truly does depend on it. And on that note, everybody let’s go ahead and get into it. I hope you enjoy this conversation with the one and only Dexter Carr.   

Dana: Yes. Hello everybody. And welcome. I’m Dana Wilson. This is Dexter Carr, and this is Words that Move Me on CLI today. I’m so excited to be here. I’m so excited to be here with you. 

Dexter: I’m so excited to be here with you. 

Dana: Okay. Um, really I can talk, uh, for, um, at great, great lengths and at great speeds. I’m learning. I’m kind of a fast talker as well. And I have a lot of questions I want to, I want to know so much about you. So why don’t we start at like the beginning of dance for Dexter. Cool. Weird to use the third person when you’re right in front of me. I heard that you’re the first in your family to have a musical inclination or like a rhythm bone in your body.   

Dexter: Yes. First and last. I think there. 

No signs of a followup?

No signs of followup. Yeah. Um, I was born in Miami, Florida, um, and my family is all in Florida. So Tallahassee, Tampa, Ocala, all the state, all the cities in Florida. And, um, we are very, uh, business people. So people are insurance agents. People are marketing people, just all of that brain. And I was not that brain. So, uh, I started at I started a really kinda like late age, I guess, for dance, uh, 13. 

Right, relative to the 3 years old. 

And you know, I’m, I’m old considering, starting as a dancer and I just really dove into it. I was so obsessed with every dance movie. I saw every, every music video I saw every live performance I saw, I was just obsessed. Like I couldn’t get it out of my head. And even in school while studying, you know, doing the academic thing, I just still couldn’t get dance or music or art off my brain. So yeah.  

What has changed if anything? 

I don’t think anything. Family still does business  And I still don’t. So yeah. 

You still don’t.  Although I would argue with you on that, I think that you have a strong business thread woven into your creative mind. 

Yeah thank you! 

Right, right. That’s in there. Um, and I do want to talk about that. Um, actually, maybe that’s a good segue right now. I think that you are like this bright shining example of how you can use social media as like a 24 seven round the clock storefront and audition. And you actually, you call it by those words, like, it’s, it’s an audition to you when you create a piece, whether it’s a combo intended to be taught in class or kind of a concepty  thing, you put it on Instagram and you at mention or hashtag the artists and you ask people in comments to do the same. Right. And it seems like from the outside looking in, and please stop me if I’m wrong, that you’ve seen, you’ve covered a lot of ground in a relatively short amount of time by working that way. So what do you think are the advantages, or what have you learned from auditioning on Instagram? 

Right. I, um, from the beginning, I think Instagram has been such an awesome tool for every industry. Uh, not even just the dance industry for every industry, to be able to get your voice, your product, your idea out to a large audience of people at a rapid speed is like the flyest thing ever. Right. Um, and with me, I’ve always thought that I wanted to perfect my art. Like that was my thing. Like, I didn’t want to put anything out there that was just kinda wild or just not together or whatever the case is to my standards. You know what I mean? Cause art’s subjective. But to my standards, I wanted it to be ready. And once I started realizing that you could put together a piece, you could put together a combo or whatever the case is and have it shown to the artists, whether they like it or not, they’re going to appreciate just the effort alone of you creating to their music. You know what I mean? So I kind of used that idea and just kept, kept going with it and really just use my own creativity and all the ideas that I had to just keep posting.  

I love this. I kind of love the idea of like making somebody a love letter is way more romantic than like the sterile audition, 

With the depth and presentation. And, and it’s like, you want to see what I, you want to see how I feel to your music. You wanna see what your music makes me feel. So I want to show you that in the best way, I know how  

I love this and then it lives. They think they’re like the secret bonus there is that it lives there forever versus an audition. Even if it is a self tape has like this moment

Right. 

Where it’s being watched. 

Right. 

And then it’s onto the next project or whatever. I love the, the kind of archiving that and to see your relationship to music over time and then relationship to the music turns into relationship with people. So tell me how many, how many times, like, could you give a ratio? How often has that been successful for you and like actually generating a working relationship?  

Yeah, it’s been awesome. Um, perfect example is, uh, so, uh, Tinashe uh, Die a Little Bit. I did the music video for that and 

Big fan. Really big fan. 

Thank you. Um, and yeah, that came from me choreographing to one of her songs in class and the director reaching out to me and being like, Hey, I saw this, I actually took your class. I had no idea. She took my class. So that was also very nerve wracking. But then have you went well? Wow. So yeah, uh, she saw that video and she basically said, I think your style is what we want for this video. And we would love to just have you come in and just start working. And it was literally like a seamless relationship off of that. So I know that it can sometimes seem strenuous and almost like, what am I really doing this for? And like, they’re not gonna see this. Or they don’t really care about this. There’s so many videos to this song. You just don’t know what the label or artists or management or assistant, whoever is going to see that video and say, okay, this, I feel this, like this resonates with me. Yeah. I’ve seen a hundred, but this one resonates with me. You know what I mean? So why not give yourself that audition or that opportunity to just to show what you got, right? 

Cause you can be one of the hundred or you could be the one on the other side of the screen, that’s looking at the 100 thinking. Yep. I would have done it differently.

I would have done it different. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And then you’re regretting like, well, dang, I wish I did it, but you know  


Yeah. I think you’re a great example of doing it. Like just doing it, if something speaks to you do it. Yeah. Super cool. Um, I want to circle back to something that you mentioned that I think, um, I know I relate to, and I’m assuming that listeners do as well. Um, dancers, I think might be more subjective to the syndrome I call perfectionism and it’s, I honestly, most of the dancers I know are perfectionists with their craft, in their life, in their, you know, in their home spaces and in, in all sorts of different areas in your life. Um, do you think that applies to you in inside and outside of dance?  

100%! And it’s and I, and I have to say that it’s so I am a fan of, of you and Ava’s and Brian Friedman’s and Jerry Slaughters and Marguerite Derricks’, and y’all are perfect to me. And you know what I mean? It is what it is. I’ve just always thought that, that, that, that group of dancers, that class of dancers was perfect, whether you know, we have our own notes for ourselves or not, but I have always strive to make my work look like that or feel like that, or, or, or come across like that. And I think that it’s not going to be perfect. It’s never going to be perfect. It as much as we believe it to be perfect we’ll never be perfect, but I think there’s nothing wrong with working hard and striving for a level of satisfaction within yourself that you feel good about it.  You know what I mean? Like not, and being like, Oh my God, I’m gonna delete it. I’m gonna delete it. I’m deleting it, I’m doing it. And then you put it away, you know what I mean? Like we’ve all done it. It’s cool. But like, sometimes it’s cool to be like, all right, I like that. I like that. And then just being like content. Yeah, of course, you’re going to watch it back and be like, Oh my God, my pinkies out of place. But it is what it is. And it’s, it’s art, it’s art. It’s supposed to make it. And you have also no idea what it’s going to make somebody in, like in, in like the mountains in Iceland, how it’s going to make them feel, just seeing your passion, seeing your movement, seeing your joy, like just that alone is kind of what makes me also keep putting out content too, or posting things or doing things just because there’s so many people, especially right now who need joy and just a little bit of something, you know what I mean? And if you could be a part of that or a, a, an attribute to that one. Yeah. 

Even if it’s your imperfect, that’s being that for someone, because just like art is subjective, I would argue that. So is perfection. Yes, exactly. Because a thing that squeaky squeaky totally perfectly like Apple design. Perfect. Isn’t really that interesting. It’s not that perfect because my perfect is human. Like I want to see a fingerprint on it, like glue dripping out of the edge or like a scratch a scuff, like something, something that shows that it’s human and useful instead of like, you know, completely veneered pristine and polished is a little, a little less interesting to me. Um, so I love that you make space, like you, there’s a difference between striving for perfection and requiring demanding perfection before you ship something.  

Exactly. And I’ll just tell myself, like, I’ll, you know how we go through like eight different moves and then you kind of just go back to that same move. I’m just like, okay, Dexter you know just do it. Just do the move, just do it. Cause you like it. So just do it. So that’s how it ended up.  

I’m like number one, move rejecter Oh my God.  

The inner battle in my head, I talk about myself, like a horrible person in my head. Like I just go in on myself and then I’m like, no, no, no, no, no. We’re good.  

Can I tell you what it was that made that helped me? Well, it hurt me in that discussion. I started learning about art, like, um, sculpture, painting, architecture, stuff like this, and this notion that there is no such thing as a neutral stroke. Like if we’re talking, painting it either contributes. Or it takes away. And those words got emblazoned upon my mind and they made it very hard for me to create dance because I found myself like, you know, in a, in a kickball change prep, like I’m preparing for the turn and I’m like, okay, is the prep taking away? Is it contributing? How can it contribute more? We’re talking a prep. Like it’s just preparation dance. So I got, I got very caught up about this idea of neutrality in dance steps. Like there not being a neutral stroke. And, um, I did sort of wind up releasing that and now I definitely feel like what’s neutral to me might not be to someone else. It might be their favorite, most impactful, most poignant moment. And to me I’m like, Oh no, it’s just cause I needed to get my weight on the left leg.   

Exactly. I just want to transition y’all that’s it  

So interesting. Um, okay. Gentle segue for a quick for quickness. Um, because I would be very not okay with myself. If I let us talk forever and not mentioned this, can we talk style for a second clothing? I know it’s important to you because you have your own clothing line, but I think it’s important to all dancers. Yeah. The way that things look and feel on your body can really inform the way that you move. So I want to hear as much as you want to tell us about the clothing line, where it came from, what you hope to achieve, how do you design it? How does it get to people? I mean, I have all the questions.  

All the things yeah. Go for it. So I, um, about two years ago, I started with, uh, just an idea. Um, I, I had been teaching at playground for, at that point a year and I had just met so many incredible people and people from around the world were coming into LA and taking class and just talking to them and hearing their experiences or just like, I don’t know, just getting some sort of insight about things that were going on around the world that I wasn’t privy to being in LA. And even when we travel, you’re there for what, a weekend, a week. You don’t really get to, you know, feel the energy of other places. And people were just talking about their style and, you know, seeing people come into class and what they were wearing, just everything was just sparking my brain. You know what I mean? Cause I hadn’t taught a regular class in LA before I started teaching at playground. So I would see dancers here and there, but it was like the ones we knew, like the ones you work with are the ones that are on the job, whatever. But to see different people coming in and out like different hairstyles,  

Submerged in it weekly returning, studying it.  

Exactly. And like how they would change and how their style would develop too. It just inspired me. So I thought about how can I get kind of my steeze out to the world in, in a, in a non cheesy way. That makes sense.  

That actually is really the hard part. How do you create a thing that’s authentically that’s made for many  

Mass produced? You know what I mean? That’s hard. And that is literally my still to this day, my biggest like battle when it comes to myself. Yeah. Because I don’t want it to be corny. I don’t want it to be whack. And I think that, you know, everything has its place and everything has its, you know, corny is cool sometimes wack is cool sometimes, but I wanted to feel like it’s like literally coming from me, given to you. So that is really my main point in designing all this stuff. It, is it something that I want to wear? Is it something that I would wear? Is it something that I would want to see somebody else wearing? If I saw somebody walking down the street, would I go, Oh, that’s interesting. Like, cause that happens too, but you know, I mean I want it to be interesting.  

Interesting being code for uh… 

So I wanted it to be real. I want it to be authentic. So I, um, got a awesome team, uh, through which is based in Vancouver and they reached out to me on Instagram, another Instagram, great moment. Um, and they basically said, I want to help you. I want to help you design clothing line. I want to help you. I want to help you get your voice out larger than it already is. 

And in the form of a hoodie

In the form of a hoodie. And that developed into me, just literally going into every website that I loved, every clothing line that I loved and just like getting inspiration, like looking around at stuff, watching people in the street, I was probably staring at so many people. They had no idea why, but I was just going like this and just staring at people what they’re wearing, like how their sweat pants fit, fit. Like if it does that weird thing where it goes inside, you know, you already know, I already know, you know, what I’m talking about, but like the fit like everything and I’m so big on fit and like the way things drape when I dance to cause you know, a bad outfit, well, I mean,  

Oh, make or break, not even a bad outfit, I’m wearing the wrong socks and I’m having a hard.. 

Literally right here. And then one side, it’s just all the things, all the things. 

So, so particular, 

Everything was, uh, everything was a factor in that. And I pretty much spent the whole first year of just the development process. Designing, thinking about ideas. Yes. No, absolutely not. Maybe. Okay, fine. We’ll do that. That whole process took pretty much a year. And then they came up with an idea, um, and said, well what about tutorials? And I was like, Oh, that’s a good idea. 

Dance, dance tutorials.

And I was like, that’s a good idea to write. People do want to dance. Right. That’s what I want to do. Right. So yeah. So why not? Like we’ll do a tutorial option two. So that then took six, four months trying to figure out the software and the, this are the 

Ohh the conversations 

You already know 

And so much learning 

That I’m learning about like hosting sites and coding and this and that like I’m who knew that I would ever even need to know any of this stuff, but I’m so happy that I do now just, you know, for my own sake. And then now we’ve kind of transitioned into this apparel plus tutorials plus masterclass like podcasting thing. And it’s, it’s awesome. It’s a, I have an app on the app store. It’s called Outlet by Dexter. So yeah, it’s been awesome. It’s been a learning process for me honestly. And I’m still learning every single day about what people want about what, you know, what people are interested in, what people like, what people don’t like, what, what do people need? What should people have more of? Cause I think whenever you’re putting out a product and that’s even your art, as far as a choreographer, what are you, are you helping the situation? Are you giving people what they need? Are you giving people what they should be seeing as far as also doing the job you’re supposed to do, but like you can push the envelope too a little bit and kind of add your voice, amplify your voice a little bit and say, Hey, I love this song or I love this idea, but I think it would be really dope if we, you know what I mean, if you have the freedom to do that, but yeah, right. 

Check the temperature of the temperature of the room. I think that’s awesome. This kind of idea of there’s there’s learning that you can do, that’s free, right? You sit on a park bench and you just watch the way people’s clothes fit and how they move. Or you, you know, as you’re teaching, you have this like sub um, uh, agenda of like watching, watching what people tend towards terms of clothing and that’s all free learning. Yeah. And then you find a team that presents you with ideas and then you learn together. I think that’s a really awesome thing to do. And I think in terms of teams, if you don’t mind talking a little bit more about like, could you have done this by yourself? What parts are all you write? Parts are supplemented by, by the team.  

Right. I can say that I could have, I do think it would have taken a lot longer. And I don’t think that I would have, because my brain is, like I said before, I’m very like, ah, and then I’d come up with a decision later, but I think they’ve helped me kind of say Dexter, it’s fine. We’re going to go with this. Dexter stop overthinking. It’s cool. We’re going to go with this.

The decision making process?

The decision process for sure,  those are like kind of nitpicky with just, you know, we get a little nervous about, is this going to be like, it’s going to be well received. That would have taken me longer as far as producing. So I’m just happy.

That is lead me to another question. Yeah. Um, do you have any awesome decision-making techniques? Like what it is? Do you have a golden rule? That’s like must be boom, boom or else? No.  

Okay. Um, as far as the clothing line or, Oh yeah. Okay. So as far as, as far as the clothing line, if we’ve ended up at this point, come up with a majority rules situation. So there’s 10 of us on the team. So now we have a voting system. So I’m usually always the one that’s like no, and everyone else is like, yes. And I’m like, all right, fine. But, um, that’s kinda on the stuff that is more so like geared towards kids or geared towards like the, the merch side. And um, I’m always like, well, no, we need more of this. We need more of that. And they’re like, no, one’s buying floral on a hoodie. And I’m like, okay, cool. Let me find it. I’ll tell you, I’ll take that one. Can I, can you make me one,  

That’s cool that you have the ability, even on your own projects. I mean, that’s so individually yours to say, I might not have all the information here. Yeah,  

Yes! Yeah. And, and I, and that’s been a learning process for me because in our industry we’re always made to feel like we need to know everything. Like you need to know all the union rules. You need to know all the hours that you’ve worked. You need to know all the, you know, you want to know the crowd for the director of the DP. Like you were always told that we need to be our own like superhero, which is also a dope quality to have. Right. It does help. It helps for sure. And then it also helps to have people who do the marketing side or do the design side or do the fashion side, or do the other things that you don’t know how to do and give you a little input. So you guys can put all your ideas together. That’s I mean, teams there’s nothing can be no, no great, great entity can be done without a team. I don’t if, unless it happens and I haven’t seen it, let me know. Okay.  

I’m telling you, I think it ha I think so often because we see on the scroll the face and it’s so often, I mean, way more often than not, there is a team behind the face and it will take that opportunity to shout out my team, Malia Baker and Riley Higgins. Hey ho. Yeah. It really does take a village, especially in a creative effort. Um, yeah, so many steps, so many, so many things to do. Um, before we leave, before we segue out of clothing, Whoa, don’t take that the wrong way. Um, question. I’m sure a lot of people would aspire to start their own clothing line, do something similar. What advice would you give?  

Yeah, just design design, make as many designs as you want as many prototypes as you want. Go to downtown, get it printed on a t-shirt, go to, you know, do whatever it do. Draw it yourself. Like there’s a Nick Baga. A really good friend of mine literally just started his own. And it’s started from his drawings, like literally him drawing on a tee shirt and they’re so awesome. They’re so cool. And just to see that it came from such like a, you know, a genuine, honest me, just drawing on a t-shirt, in my house to what he has now. It’s so awesome to see. So I don’t feel like especially right now, everybody has the opportunity to do whatever they want. Everybody has the opportunity to do whatever we want from from great tragedy comes great success, I think. And that is what we’re all on right now. So if you have an idea, if you have a, a step you want to do, if you have a concept video you want to do do it, everybody just do it. That’s I’ve been telling everybody that I know that that’s okay.  

Beautiful sentiment. Yeah. Yeah. Um, that reminds me of a saying that I call on often, instead of fake it till you make it, I would much prefer to make it till I make it, make it thing. You got it. I love this. Okay. Um, so talk about Instagram, talked about clothing brand. I, in my plan, which I swerved from a little bit, I thought that the audition story of Instagram could segue nicely into your experience with Broadway and music videos and film. Um, okay. You are original cast member of Bring it On. 

Correct. 

Little known fact. I helped Andy Blankenbuehler skeleton crew, not for the entire process, but several days of skeleton crew. So it’s very possible that we danced the same moves for that show. Is that wild? Just another example of like things crossing over without you knowing, right? Yeah. So what was your audition experience like for that? Oh, good. I’ve had a, a kernel have I?

It was, it was a mess. I mean, it was amazing. I had never auditioned for a, uh, a Broadway show before. Um, I was, I was completely new to the, you know, we do musical theater at the studio, but that’s one number a year or a one combination. You know what I mean? Yes. So when you go in and audition for a Broadway show, eight times, you’re not, Oh yeah. Eight times. And I was auditioning for a principal role too. So that part was up. That was a part of that, but I mean, learning four different combos and they’re not, none of them are the same, you know what I mean? All different styles and you know, Andy, he’s a genius, so he’s like, he’ll do everything. And you’re just like, okay.  

And extremely detailed oriented,  

Really detailed. If the books are not here on the chest, you’re not getting the job. So it’s awesome. And books are here, you know what I mean? That’s the detail, but it was the most amazing experience of my life. We went on tour first. Um, so that tour lasted a year. And then they came out to like, I don’t even know where we were in some random city in the Midwest. And they were like, so how many? And it was all, it was, we were all young. Like there was like two people who had been on like, I think off-Broadway, but nobody had been on Broadway yet. So they came to like the like last show or something like that. And they were like, so what are you guys doing in the fall? And we were like, we don’t know, like everyone was like stressed. And they were like, well, you’re going to Broadway. And we just, I remember flipping something and we were just, I mean, 19 years old to say, you’re going to Broadway is like, I mean, who would have ever thought, especially me coming from where I came from that was not in the projected goal at all. So that also kind of helped me realize, okay, there’s something that could happen here. Like you could really do something with your career here. And that was a really dope moment for me. So thank you, Andy and Lin and everybody for giving me that moment that let me know, like, I can do this, like, this is, this is something that I never thought I would do in my wildest dreams. I had seen so many shows like on TV in New York, but being onstage, there was no way I was like, there’s no way, but there was a way  

There was a way! What a refreshing reminder to, to, to hear about trusting a path, right. And being open to it, whatever it may turn into. Um, on my interview with Heather Morris, we talked a little bit about how pathways are less like, you know, a path on the ground and more like a tree, right? Like you start climbing up the trunk and you could take that branch, or you could take that branch. And that branch has little tiny branches that actually also kind of flirt with the other branch over there. Um, and you wound up on Broadway, so did Bring it On come first for you or In the Heights?

Bring it On came first. And then we did a Heights after that. And then that was another incredible experience because I did it with all the OGs. So like all the original cast members were kicking my butt, telling me when I was doing something wrong. Tell me when I was in the wrong window, tell me when I was coming out of the wrong wing. And I love that, Oh my God. Oh my God. And it was just so dope to hear them talk about stories and you know, like the first time that they performed that show and what it meant to them, and that’s a very meaningful, you know what I mean? And that’s that to be immersed in that, with those  

Thats a very meaningful project. To be embraced into that family.  

That was incredible. That was incredible. So my Broadway experience is very, very special for me.  

Cool. I love hearing that. That’s tremendously inspiring. Um, selfish question, because I’m curious, I worked on in the Heights. I’m with Chris Scott, Ebony Williams, Emilio Dosal and Eddie Torres jr. And Princess salsa guru. 

Baby. I know y’all are hitting it. 

Oh, they go, Oh, I know that club scene OFF

I can’t wait.  

Okay. So my selfish question is what’s your favorite number in, in the Heights.  

Okay. So I have a story. Yeah. I can’t wait. So there’s this number called? It won’t be long now. I’m sure you know it. And then, uh, me and Jose Luis shout out, uh, we sit on the stoop and dance while Vanessa sinks her song and does the things and dah, dah, dah. So we usually were playing cards and everybody who’s been on Broadway knows that you’re never doing what you’re supposed to be doing on stage. Whenever you have a moment on stage, you’re always doing something else that’s not supposed to be doing. So I, we were playing our cards or whatever, and Jose Luis and the other, uh, one of the other guys thought it would be funny to not really tell me when we’re supposed to be getting up. Cause I wasn’t paying attention cause I’m 19 years old on Broadway and I’m just having a good time. So I’m just playing, I’m enjoying myself, I’m enjoying the set. I was like, Claudias coming out. I’m like, what’s up? Like, it’s a whole thing. And I’m playing my cards and I don’t even realize, I don’t even know why, but I was looking down and they had all gotten up and started the Choreography. 

And now you’re playing solitaire on the,  

And solitae with my job as well. Cause I may be getting fired at this point. So that was, that’s definitely, always going to be my favorite number. Cause of just that story in that, uh, the, yeah, the, the boys and just being around that environment. But uh, the club was major and then the fight at the club and all that. 

Good, good, good stuff.Be on the lookout 2021 In the Heights. I think you will love it. I haven’t seen the whole thing, but from everything I’ve seen, I am very impressed and tremendously proud. I cried at the trailer. Yeah. It was very emotional. Yeah. It’s a beautiful story. It needs to be told very important. So excited by it. Awesome. I’m so excited. I’m on the subject. Do you have any dreams of returning to Broadway and what do you think will be, what do you think Broadway will be looking like on the other side of coronavirus?  

Um, my dreams are actually to choreograph a Broadway show. That is my,  

I want to see that dream come true.  

Oh my God. It would make, it would literally like put a, another valve on my heart to do that. Literally just a triple, you know, like that’s what I would love. And honestly, you know what I think, I think people are so thirsty and so hungry for the arts. I think that when we are safe and when it is allowed or whatever the conditions are, I think people will rush back to it. I think there’s a need and a want and a desire for live connection and like connection period. And while, you know, as everyone’s kind of has their own rules with this whole thing, it’s we can not have the same connection that we had. And I think that when we can again, and it’s safe and it’s smart, I think people will want to get right back to the arts because that’s what made that’s what got people through this. How many shows did we watch? How many, all the Netflix, how many times did we watch Hamilton? How many times do we like listen to the soundtracks? How many times do we listen to old albums? I’ve been literally rewatching Moesha for the past three days. Like just to feel that what I was feeling in those moments. So I think, I think we’ll be okay. I really do.  

Oh, there will be a calling for more content for sure. Because we’ve reached the bottom.  

I’ve definitely reached the bottom bottom of it.  

Okay. In our last couple minutes, then talk to me about the bottom quarantine. What was the worst thing? Hardest thing for you and what’s the silver, what are you walking out? How are you walking out better?  

Yeah. Um, hardest thing for sure was not being able to teach my class, not being able to teach on Kaos, my convention, not being able to teach on just not being able to be around and do what I love with the people that I love. Um, I really take my week of class, maybe a little bit too seriously. And I just love seeing these amazing people come in there and fight for their life and, and, and do what they love. And you see it on their face and you see it in their body and you feel it from their energy. And I missed that those first two weeks was like really hard. And then we kind of got that little, like little teaser back and then they took it back from us. But yeah, I mean, that was, that’s what I miss the most. And that was the hardest for me, but I can’t say, and I don’t think anybody will disagree with this.  I don’t think anybody’s been more productive that they had been in these past four or five months. Because if you don’t, if you didn’t have a hustle before you have one now, and if you weren’t pushing hard before you push it hard now, because when there’s no other option to, and when you have nothing but time, if you choose not to that’s on you, you know what I mean? And I don’t think anybody wants, nobody wants to fail. Nobody wants to just let things just kind of go downhill for them. Right. Everybody wants to get to that uphill. Bam. Everybody wants to get over that Hill that we all have been kinda like, you know, running towards since March. But I think it’s, I’ve seen so many dope people start businesses and just I’ve changed my hair 80 times. And I’ve literally like  

Get creative.  Get resourceful 

I’ve just, I’ve had, I’ve had more ideas and I think I’ve ever had in the past, like three, four years of choreographing. So I think there’s, there’s a silver lining to all of this. And like I said before, nothing with tragedy comes success. And I think we all see success after this.  

Oh yes, my friend. And I’m out, we will wrap it up. You guys have a cipher to get to, um, we have a 107 degree heat out there to get to on our way back home. Thank you so much for talking to me today. I learned so much. I feel juiced. I’m excited. 

Thank you so much Dana

Thank you. Thank you guys soon. 

All right. My friends, I hope you are as jazzed by that conversation. As I was my biggest takeaways from that conversation are about Dexter’s attitude regarding social media. He doesn’t use it for approval. He doesn’t seek permission. He just simply shares. I love this approach. I also really, really loved the way that Dexter talked about his team. Um, so very humbly, he talks about the way that they check him the way that he will admit when they know more than he does about certain things. I thought that was pretty special. Now I could talk about Dexter for a long time, but what I really want and what I hope you really want to go do right now is about go get out there, make your dreams come true, get out there and vote and get out there and keep it funky. Thank you so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon.  

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, changeover 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 #43 Find Your Stage with Joe Lanteri

Ep #43 Find Your Stage with Joe Lanteri

 
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 Usually Joe Lanteri is the one making the introductions, but this week, I get to introduce you to him! The one and only Joe Lanteri!  Joe is the man behind the most renowned training studio in New York City, he started one of the first (and certainly the finest) traveling dance conventions, NYCDA, and he is the founder of the foundation responsible for over 3.5 million dollars in college scholarships to young dancers across the country.  Joe. Is. The. Man. And in this episode we get to find out what the man stands for.  Joe talks about making decisions, the value of money, the value of working hard and he makes a strong point about priorities.  Grab a seat (and a notebook) and ENJOY!  

Show Notes:

Quick Links:

NYCDA: http://nycdance.com/

Steps on Broadway: https://www.stepsnyc.com/

NYCDA Foundation: http://nycdance.com/foundation

Outliers:https://amzn.to/3595MXQ

The Creative Habit: https://amzn.to/35cC04i

Transcript:

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

Dana: Hello, Hello, my friend. And welcome to the podcast. Or welcome back if you are returning. My name is Dana. This is words that move me and I’m jazzed that you are here. This episode is super special to me for so many reasons. We’ll get into it. But first, today I’m celebrating a big win. But when I’m celebrating is that I have scheduled myself at vacation. And if you are listening to this on the day of its release, I am on that vacation and loving it, man. Even just talking about it now, I feel relaxed. I hope that you are finding time and space to relax as well on that note, actually, what’s your win this week. What’s going well in your world.  

Alright. Awesome. Congrats, stellar job. Keep winning. All right. Now let’s dive in. If you are a person that knows of me through NYCDA, which is the dance convention that I’ve taught for for years, then you are really in for a treat. If you do not know of me through NYCDS, you are also in for a treat, but if you’re a dancing that came up through conventions, and if you’re convention days were a movie, then my guest today is the voice of your movies trailer. I guarantee it. Today, I am joined by Joe Lanteri, the founder and CEO of NYCDA one of the first and finest dance conventions out there, If I do say so myself, he is also the executive director and co owner of Steps on Broadway. One of the largest and most renounced studios in New York City. Joe is my boss. Joe is THE boss and Joe is much, much more. So buckle up and enjoy this conversation with Joe Lantieri. 

Dana: All right, Joe Lanteri, we are finally doing this. Welcome to the podcast. 

Joe: Thank you, Dana Wilson. You know, I am honored to be sitting here and I would be lying to you if I didn’t say that I am nervous, but I’m excited to do it.  

Dana: Oh, I understand. Right. When you commit something to digital foreverness, there can, there can kind of be a nerves. Um, you and I can talk though, forever. So let’s treat it as if we were on a convention weekend that had no classes and we had nowhere to run off to. 

Joe: How interesting would that be? Right. 

Um, sort of maybe like what’s happening now as a matter of fact, convention weekends with no classes,  

Right? We’re on pause. Exactly.  

Man, okay. So it’s par for the course on the podcast, all of my guests introduce themselves, let us know what you want us to know about you.  

Uh, so my name is Joe Lanteri, as you mentioned, and you did allude to convention. So let’s start there. I am the founder and executive director of the New York City Dance Alliance. I say that with much pride and the New York City Dance Alliance foundation, um, I’m a new co owner and maybe not so new anymore co owner and executive director at the Steps on Broadway. Uh, we also have a sister company for New York City Dance Alliance called Onstage New York. I’m the producer and executive director of the Chita Rivera awards. I wear way too many hats in my life, but I cherish and love them all.  

Joe, you forgot to mention in that very illustrious bio, that Dance Magazine has also named you one of the most influential people in dance period.  

First of all, I don’t think about that. And to mention it, it’s not like it was at the top of my brain and thought, Oh, I’m not going to say that. I just wasn’t even thinking about that. You’ve done your homework because

I will say that I will say that 

I don’t think about that whatsoever. And yeah, I am. I’m very honored that dance magazine made that distinction. So I’m not sure where it came from, but I’ll take it.  

Well if I had to guess, I would say it’s because you make big, big changes. You do big business, you run big organizations, you do big important work, and I’ve been inspired by you for as long as I’ve known you, which I should mention is a long time. I’m not going to say exactly how long cause I’m a classy broad. Um, but I, I attended NYCDA as a young kid. And I remember looking up to you, I’m at stage like, wow, that’s it, man. And then I, you know, graduated, pursued a career in dance. I remember you called me one day and offered me a position as a faculty member on NYCDA. I wish you could have seen my face. I wish I had a photograph of that moment. Um, a very, a very prideful moment for me. And then the last 10, how many years of working together, um, On NYCDA. So I should let everybody know that because I’m going to say a lot about how NYCDA is one of the first, definitely the largest and certainly the best convention on the face of the planet. But I am biased of course, because I call it home. You guys are definitely my family and I’m so proud to be a part of that team. Um, so big businesses, big changes and, and you must be constantly making big decisions. So I want to start here cause it’s something that I personally am really interested in in my life. How do you make decisions?  

Great question. You know, and if you want to know the truth, I try desperately not to let the enormity of what I have going on in my life overwhelm me and I try and go back to the root of it all which often speaks to whether, whether it be the mission or the original vision or what I consider to be the integrity behind it. So if it’s something to do with, for instance, NYCDA, and it’s interesting, we’re having this conversation because I often say this now at Steps, because I’ve taken that mentality there. If I’m unsure of what that, how to make that decision. And this is the God’s honest truth. The first thing I asked myself is how will this affect the kids? How does this, and I’m being honest, how does this affect the dancer? And I start with that and I look at the impact on the dancer and based the final decision on that piece.  And I think, you know, in the conventional world or in the dance world in general, even in the open class world, you know, uh, people get into the mindset of counting heads. They look in a room and they count it. And it’s, I think it’s unintentional. I don’t want to think that it’s, you know, people intentionally go in there and do that, but they count heads and they think that that’s what this is all about. And it’s really not, you know, it has nothing to do with that. It really has to do with why is that class? Why is this organization? Why does it exist? And at the end of the day, it really is because you are investing in that group of dancers. And so that’s how I make the decision.  

That that’s a beautiful answer. And the beautiful segue actually into what I want to talk about next is, you know, you’ve, you’ve been teaching for a very long time. You’ve been running these enterprises for a very long time and I am constantly reminded. And I tell people all the time that you do it because you love seeing students succeed. And I don’t know how else you would be able to still be doing it if you didn’t get some kick out of that. But you’ve seen, I mean, how many students come up through NYCDA over the years?  

Well, we see 15 to 20,000 a year we’re in season 26, you do the math. I mean, that’s, that’s crazy. I mean, even for me, that it’s crazy. And if I had to be really honest, I already had a whole life and a career and saw many dancers and all that before NYCDA in fact, that’s, that’s what sparked me to want to start NYCDA, cause I already had a lot going on. So  

Yeah. Okay. So let’s talk about that for a second. What are the differences and what are the similarities of running, you know, your life in a performer sense and your work in the sense of all of these, you know, these institutions that you’ve built.  

That’s a great question. And it’s, um, it’s almost challenging a little bit, cause I, I, I feel so far removed from that person, um, which is interesting, cause I still live my life with the energy. Like I was when I was 25 years old and doing all of that, but I will, I, but I do have an answer. Cause I think the answer really is, is that you have to know what you offer and you, you have to have the confidence to put it out there. Uh, whether you are standing at an audition or launching a new enterprise or a new business, you really do have to know, uh, what you stand for, what your strengths are and that’s what you present and you can’t dwell on the naysayers. You can’t dwell on the negative. You can’t dwell on the challenges you chip away at those one day at a time and you just take those baby steps forward.  

I wish there was an audition for me to go to right now because I feel all puffed up by that. Um, okay. So let’s, let’s talk foundation for a second. So you started the NYCDA foundation 10 years ago. And how many millions of dollars in scholarships have you awarded since then?  

So the foundation itself, yes, we started in 2010. We made our first awards in 2011. And to date we’re at about roughly three and a half million dollars, which was a humbling and daunting number to even utter. Those words is kind of an amazing thing, but we’re at about three and a half million dollars.  

Okay. Well it makes sense to me then that you have developed this reputation for being a person that’s very pro college. But what I want to say right here and now and loud on a microphone is that you are a person that is pro success, whether it’s college or in another direction. Um, I, myself, as an example, I don’t hold a college degree. Many of your other faculty members don’t. Yet, I feel tremendous support and encouragement in my ventures, in my work. Um, and I know that you provide that to other students that, that don’t pursue dance in college. Um, so I just want to give you the floor to talk about how you would encourage somebody who’s thinking about the decision, you know, making that seemingly daunting decision. I say that because it wasn’t very daunting to me. I just knew. But what would you say to people weighing their options between dancing college and jumping right into the workforce?  

Um, first of all, I appreciate you making the distinction that we are not necessarily only about college. Um, I do think the majority of dancers that I meet, uh, based on where they are themselves at that point in their lives might benefit from continuing with a structured program of some sort that makes them accountable. They have to get out of bed every day if at a certain hour. And you know, I do think college has its benefits in almost teaching you a work ethic of what might be expected of you. Once you do have a job and show up every day and put in an eight hour to 12 hour rehearsal process day in and day out. Um, but I don’t think it’s necessary for everyone and yourself being a perfect example. And we could go down a long list of people that I think are incredibly talented that I admire tremendously that did not go to college and have done wonderful, wonderful things.  Um, but I do think from a maturity standpoint, a lot of people would benefit from building their community, uh, starting their own network and investing in themselves in those four years. So I think that the foundation has taken off from the college standpoint because I think parents like hearing the message of we are investing in dancers. We, and we are promoting education and supporting the arts. I mean, that really is the trifecta of what our foundation is all about, but I do get often misquoted that Mr. Joe says everybody has to go to college, which is totally just not the case. And in fact, we are trying to develop new things. You were involved with our dance discovery showcase, which we launched is one of the, one of the silver linings. They came out of this whole COVID situation where we started this mentor program, which came with a scholarship. It was supported by the foundation and that money is not meant to go to college. It’s meant to go to training. So we are pro training. We are pro you’re not done at 18, regardless of how much success you may have had enjoyed in the convention/competition arena. You are really just beginning. The truth is you are, that’s your foundation that that is your that’s your base, but you’re now going to step into a professional setting, which is going to require you to really continue to train and learn so much more. And some of it is just learning in life experience, you know, not only do is in the classroom  

Or even, or even on set, you mentioned, uh, building your own calendar, being accountable, being responsible with your time dollars and your dollar dollars, um, networking, all of those things. Yeah. That, that sort of structure is certainly not, um, already in place, you know, outside of a college environment, there’s no systematic way of climbing that ladder into being a working person. You just kind of close your eyes and jump

To be really honest Dana. You know, especially as a teacher and as a teacher at steps for all those years and being in the hallway with all those dancers that are waiting to take my class and overhearing conversations, and some of it is about not, you know, why am I not? Why don’t, why didn’t you get a job or why didn’t, you know, all of the things that come with pursuing your career? Um, I think for some people, their big plan at graduation is, my best friend and I are going to move to a big city would whatever city that might be, and we’re going to get an apartment together and we’re going to dance and as great as that might be, that’s not entirely a plan of attack. You know, that’s not really, that’s not enough. That really is not, you know, and the other, the other thing I’m going to interject, just because I said those words, the other misconception is because we are the New York City Dance Alliance is that we expect all of our dancers to move to New York, which is ridiculous. That’s absolutely ridiculous. Again, you are a perfect example of that. You know, what we stand for is a standard of excellence and a level of training that you are then supposed to take that and go do whatever you want with it and thrive and flourish and do all of that. But wherever you go, you’re going to be held to a standard and your training is going to is going to resonate. And that’s why that’s, that’s who we are, but not because we think you have to be in New York, do it wherever you want to go, wherever, wherever, follow your heart, go find your stage. Those that, that is a direct quote for me. I use it all the time. Go find your stage.  

I love this quote and that is another beautiful segue. Joe, you would think we had had a rehearsal. I’ll tell you what, um, you’re famous for your talks. I hear them ringing in my ears ever because I’ve been hearing them since I was a kid. And you know, we’ve been working together for years and years now and I they’re so meaningful and I’m glad that people are willing to step away from the steps for a second and just give a strong verbal message, like no interpretation, this is what’s important to me and any alumni who is listening, anybody that’s been on a Dance Alliance weekend, who’s listening knows exactly the talks that I’m talking about. Um, and in those talks, one of the things you say a lot in addition to following your heart is to invest in yourself. I would love to know how you invested in you when you were on the come up as a dancer. 

I think that’s a great question.  And I will start by saying, um, when I use the words, invest in yourself, very little of it has anything to do with finances. It is not, it’s not about, you know, spending extra money or call it your even college tuition, as much as I do think colleges part can be part of that investment. But I think it’s really learning to find your path, um, to answer your question about my own journey, uh, both as an individual, as a performer, as a budding teacher, as an entrepreneur, all of those things, my greatest investment in all of those things was surrounding myself with incredible people. And that circle your own personal family that you develop and that you grow with, that is one of your greatest investments because that they’re there to support you. They’re there to support you in the great times and you all you share in that celebration, but they’re also there to support you in the difficult times. We are living that right now and not to go into a COVID place on this beautiful conversation that we’re having. But what a better example you being part of that family that I have, and you understanding many of the conversations that we’ve had in the last six months, uh, we couldn’t be doing any of this if it wasn’t for that, that to me is really the essential investment that we all need to make. Um, especially in our industry because our industry allows us to get caught up in our head and get caught up in comparisons and get caught up in the cattiness. And I work, I, my whole life have worked very hard to not buy into that and not to not to go down that path. You know, I, you, you, you joke about, or you mentioned my speeches. Um, my talks, I often, I often carry characters, might characterize myself as being a little corny quite honestly.  Um, and I’ve owned it. I own it. I absolutely own it. Those, those talks, I have genuinely come from a heartfelt place. They are a little borderline. The world is the world should be sunshine and roses. Um, I consider myself, uh, one of the most, you know, um, positive. Uh, there is a, there there’s always a rainbow. There’s always a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. That’s just the way I live my life. And I think for some people that’s difficult because they’re not that way. And they’re, they’re the, I call them the eye rollers. What a hand goes on. A hand goes on a hip and the eyes roll back. And I can’t do anything about that. And that’s one of those moments where I stay true to myself. I know what I want the moment to be. I know what I want my message to be. I know what I want a kid to feel. Um, and one of the most rewarding things for me is when I, you know, if you know me well enough that in that moment, when I’m talking to a room full of the older dancers, that’s also the moment where I take a quick break and go change my clothes and come back and we’ll do the whole end of the weekend. I will have dancers run after me. I will have parents run after me, grab me by the arm, tears in the eyes and just say, thank you for what, for whatever, whatever came out of my mouth at that moment, not preplanned. And just having even one person wrecking, have that effect, then I’ve done my job. Then I’ve done my job.  

Um, sort of as a followup through those pot of gold glasses, that’s what I’m going to call. I’m sticking to it. What do you see as being, um, kind of a hopeful result of the COVID moment on the dance convention world specifically, but maybe broader even dance education in general?  

Um, I think it’s been interesting for me now. I’ll be honest. I have yet to teach on zoom. Isn’t that interesting? I’ve not 

I didn’t know that! 

And part of it is because this whole thing that whole quick change has been so overwhelming that I have really been wearing my business hat as opposed to my dance teacher hat. Um, but the dance teacher in me does, has been a part of hundreds of zoom classes and situations and events and things like that. Um, so I’ve learned and watched and observed and seen a lot of what goes on. Um, I think, and again, not to sound corny, but I think we’re seeing dancers step into an ownership of the situation. Uh, definitely an accountability for themselves when they’re now alone in a room, they are not able to hide behind 30 people in a classroom or 300 people in a ballroom. They, they, they are accountable for their work. They are accountable to show up and I applaud the dancers even for showing up. When I think zoom burnout and being hours on a device, all of that is real. It is understandable and real. And yet there are many dancers that have embraced what this now is. Embrace this reality and have basically said, I’m not going to let this deter me from following my passion, my dreams and my training. So I’m going to make the best of it under these difficult circumstances. And I think that characterization for those people, that’s, what’s going to remain. I think in general, I think zoom and virtual learning has brought the world much closer. Um, you know, scheduling for myself, scheduling guests, even to teach at steps or even some of the intensives and the work we’re doing again yourself, a perfect example. I wouldn’t have the opportunity to bring you in its steps like right now, because we’re in different coasts, but now you can teach a guest class at steps and you have, and it’s been great. Yeah. I don’t think that’s gonna go away. I really think that, that, you know, we have numerous international students that take class at steps, people from around the world, uh, travel to New York and take class, and now they’re able to continue to have that feeling from their home. So I think that that’s going to stay with us. I really do.  

Thats awesome and I hope so. To me, that really is that it’s massive that the change that’s happened in the last eight months is tremendous and it’s important. And I think it needed to happen because the cost of entry to training with top tier professionals was A. you had to be in the city where the top tier professionals were. B. they had to be not working on other projects. C. you had to have enough money to take the class, to actually buy the class package or get in the room. And, you know, big cities like New York and LA are expensive and they’re not easy to get to for everybody. And I, I do believe in the value of in person exchanges, but I also believe, and I know you’re with me on this, that you’ll get out of it, whatever you put into it, if you are, if you are open to having a transformational experience on a zoom class, you just might. And so now the cost of entry to having those experiences is wifi basically. Um, which is still not everyone, but I do think it’s a massive change and I think it, I think it’s awesome.  

But I want to just piggyback on what you said. You were only going to get out of it, what you put into it, and if you can only give 50%, then you can’t expect to get 300% back.  

That’s massive. Okay. I know Joe, the executive director pretty well. I know Joe, the human being pretty well. I wish that we grew up together cause I would’ve loved to be training with you. You mentioned earlier that you still have the energy of a 20 something. Who’s like, you know, grab your coffee and take eight classes and then go to an audition and then go to a show that same night. And I just wonder if you could give us a peek into your world, maybe a cross section of your time at USC, um, a college day, Joe, what did your life look like?  

Wow, wow. Uh that’s um a flashback, but a welcome flashback. Cause my days at USC were amazing and um, I’ve had the opportunity to go back and visit the campus since the Glorya Kaufman School has happened at USC, under Jodie Gates. And besides the fact that they’re doing amazing, amazing things, it was surreal for me to walk down the street and find that building, which is literally four buildings down from where I used to take class every morning. Um, I was not a dance major, there was no real dance program at USC at the time theater. Right? I was a theater major. Yes, but I was the first year, uh, John Houseman who developed an acting program at, at the Julliard school left Julliard and moved to Los Angeles because at the time he was filming the TV series Paper Chase, this is really now dating me.  But, um, he started the BFA acting theater program that I became a part of and any, uh, movement classes. And I’m saying movement, because they’re not dance classes per se were movement classes for actors. But the fact that I lived in LA was my introduction to the Dupree Dance Academy. And you’re smiling as an LA girl. That’s where I took my first dance classes. And you’ll appreciate that. The two people that I credit the most for jazz are Carol Connors and Jackie Sleight because they, they were my, they were my two go to teachers and I didn’t know what I was doing. It was very difficult for me because I looked like I should know what I was doing when I walked in and my jazz pants and leg warmers in my little dance outfit at the time. Um, but the room was filled with the scholarship dancers of the day who were the best dancers in Los Angeles at the time.  And, uh, it was extremely intimidating, extremely humbling, but that was after an entire day of acting classes, voice classes, um, Feldenkrais movement, all the things that were part of our program, scene study rehearsals. And then if I could sneak a class in at seven o’clock at night, I would get in my car and drive to Dupree’s and take class. I mean, so I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t trade my time there for anything, but it is funny again, I just going back to my visiting the campus in the last couple years, since the Glorya Kaufman school, uh, there is a church down the, down the street for four buildings down from where Glorya Kauffman is on the USC campus. There is a church and in the church basement, there is now a coffee shop that has a little outdoor landing. Um, it’s got these beautiful iron iron and glass doors. Well, that’s where I took class every morning and that, and it’s still set up very similar now that it’s a coffee shop, but it’s still very much resembles what it looked like when I took class, except that the wall that had my mirrors now has been built over. And it’s part of where I guess they, their pantry, but the bathrooms are the same. The entrance is the same. It’s all exactly the same, but it’s, it is a, it’s a coffee shop.  

So cool. I love this. Um, alright. I, I wanted to go like three different directions a little while ago. Um, it’s hard for me to stay focused cause I really, really could talk to you forever. Uh, you talked about setting a high bar, keeping a high bar and having high expectations delivering at a really high level. And I cannot think of a better example of a high bar than our NYCDA uh, national finale gala night. I have seen, and I am not just saying this. I want to be clear. I haven’t seen some of my favorite dancing period on our stage at closing night gala. Specifically. And I w I am prepared to get specific. Um, Jermaine’s Fivey and Cindy Salgado dancing their duet from Dark Matters. Um, I really cannot wipe Ida Sakis. Uh, the year that she won title, I cannot wipe her solo away from my memory. It is it’s, it might be my favorite thing that I’ve ever seen at NYCDA And I tell her that, and she’s like, no, and I’m like, um, I also very distinctly recall, um, the ball, the ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria, Danny Tidwell and Melissa Hough. Um, I remember sneaking into that ballroom when they were rehearsing their closing night solos when they were handing over their title. And it just brings tears to my eyes to think about all those, all of those moments. So I know this is like asking a parent to choose their favorite child. Um, yeah. Could you share some of the moments that really stand out for you and  

Well, you’ve hit, you’ve hit quite a few. I mean, I think, I do think Ida Saki was groundbreaking, uh, literally breaking that fourth wall. And I mean, she really, uh, took on that moment in a, in a different way than anyone else we’ve ever seen do that. Um, the, the, I will be honest and I don’t mean this in an offense of anyone that has come thereafter, but the days that the Waldorf were a very, very special time, uh, part of it was just where I was in my life. Part of it was the evolution of what we were doing as a company and watching that success start to happen, that there was a true understanding that we were trying to do something different and you’re exactly right. That it, it, um, it manifested itself on that stage. And you saw it, uh, one of the things, one of the, uh, Melissa Hough and I’m being honest in her day, I had never met anyone like Melissa, and she knows, I’ve said this publicly before she knows this to this day. At that point in time, I had never met anyone that was as versatile, as dedicated as technical. Um, just as special as a Melissa Hough, you would think she was a hip hop dancer. Oh no, no, no, wait, she’s got point shoes on and she’s a point dan-. Oh no, but she’s got tap shoes on. And she was a tap da-. I mean, she was phenomenal in everything that she ever did and her final solo as a dancer, she came back many times as guests. Those are all beautiful, but I don’t know if you remember the Stevie wonder in a chair. Do you remember this? 

I don’t 

Mia Michael’s choreography. 

I don’t. 

Oh my gosh. I wish I almost should have prepared it to have, we should have shared screen. I should have prepared it for you.  

We could get a live feedback of me just like choking on my own air.  

Well, you know, audio visual presentation, uh, it was, it was a very, very special, very special moment.  

Have you shared that on your Instagram throwbacks?  

I have in the past, I could probably, you know, we’re probably due to do go back and find some of those things as well, but that whole, that whole era, Melissa, Danny Tidwell. Well, of course Travis Wall, uh, the list goes on, the list goes on and on and on. And there was something really magical about being in that particular space, which also in many ways, defined New York city. It was a Waldorf Astoria. It was the grand ballroom of a Waldorf Astoria in New York city where presidents speak and things like that. And here we had some of the most talented kids from all across the United States, you know, come to perform. It was, it was special. And it’s exciting that you were a part of that and that, that has remained with you. I mean, really it was very special.  

Absolutely can cannot forget it. Couldn’t, wouldn’t, don’t want to ever, let’s talk about it daily. Um, let’s talk about talent and kids for a second because you know, maybe it’s the training. Maybe it’s just, there’s more exposure. I’m seeing more young people dancing now, but am I alone in being absolutely jaw on the floor at what young dancers are capable of right now and how are they doing that? Like what’s going on.  

It’s amazing. I think, um, you know, with all due respect to all of us, kudos have to go to the local dance studio and what they are doing and the decisions that they’re making, uh, because obviously they’re doing great things, training their dancers at those studios and deserve all of that credit for making that happen. Um, I think that the world and the internet and television, which has embraced dance over the last decade, uh, has exposed dancers just so much more. Um, and as much as I’m not a big social media fan and that’s a whole separate, separate topic, 

Oh, don’t tempt me. 

And as much as I do get, I do have my concerns that it, it pushes what we do to not the best place, if I had to be very honest, um, when done right, the, the level of exposure does have a positive can ha can have, can have a positive effect on what we do. And it allows each generation to learn from the generation past and take it to another level. And I, I think you’re absolutely right. What we see young dancers do is phenomenal.  

There’s so much to talk about, um, on the subject of social media specifically though, I did want to pop out. Joe’s point of view is very clear. He’s seen both sides of the spectrum, both the joy and the pain that can be brought on by literally having a global audience in your pocket at almost all times. Now to find out where I land on social media, you will definitely want to go check out episode 10, where I really, really unpack, um, my views on the socials. Granted that was before I saw the social dilemma.. I stand my ground enjoyed episode 10. Now I want to back up a little bit because when I asked Joe how he’s invested in himself, he mentioned that very rarely was that investment, a monetary type of investment. And I wasn’t surprised by his answer there, but Joe and I actually went on to talk quite a lot about finances. And let me tell you that is an episode unto itself. Um, so we’ll jump back in now to a part of that conversation, but know that future episodes have money moves all over them. I want to talk about money. I want to talk about money, words, and words that move me, but for now let’s get on with it and let’s get right back to Joe.  

Let me share this because we’re just talking honestly. And, and, you know, you’re, you’re, you’re delving into my past in some way. Um, I have to give all props all thanks. Uh, cause I’m pretty good with money I’m I have a good, pretty good financial, uh, mindset. And I thank, I am a product of my parents. Um, and many people don’t know this, but my parents were Italian immigrants. They didn’t speak much English whatsoever. They never really assimilated to this country. Uh, they remained old world, uh, to the day they all the day to the day, they both passed away. Um, and they’ve given me so many incredible gifts. One of them being my ridiculous work ethic to a fault, but one is understanding the value of money and the value of working hard for what you have and then taking pride in that. And, uh, in that ownership of, I I’ve earned this, you know, um, and I have, they had that pride because they came with nothing and, um, in my own way as well, I’ve I, you know, I’ve built my businesses from nothing. I, I, you know, just from decisions and I invested my own money in making it happen. So I’m right there with you with the financial planning. And I often sit down, we’re walking, we’ve never done it, but we could, we should do it at some point. I have often taken part in financial conversations amongst our people, you know, just in terms of like that next step or what do you do and how do you do it and all of that. 

I would love that. 

but it’s an important part of all this  

It’s so important, you know, and that there is more to it than work hard and save. That’s where I’m so curious and excited to learn and to take some next steps. Um, okay. I do want to ask. I would be, I would feel awful if I didn’t, it feels terrible to say to somebody what’s next for you when their plate is so full, but I, I, I guess I’ll reframe this question to be what excites you most right now.  

Good question. What excites me most, very honestly, though, is opening a new door and finding yet a new opportunity, uh, frankly for the kids, you know, um, I will share this with you and I’m saying this completely off the record, but on the record that my next, uh, desire that I hope to launch as things settled down and we’re going back to the foundation is something more to do with diversity and dance scholarships that we really collectively as an organization, as an institution, as, as a country, really support that movement to a greater extent. Um, and I think this is the time the, the, the society is demanding it. Um, I don’t think that we’ve been far from it ourselves and all the time that we’ve been doing what we do. Um, so it’s not a new message for us, but maybe it’s time to be louder. Maybe it’s time to use our voices in a different way. Um, and I think creating more scholarships in that diversity realm is important to me and had, had, have started having some conversations, frankly, in terms of how to pursue that next.  

I am so glad to hear that I’m absolutely tickled by it because it’s you’re right, the world is demanding it. Um, but that’s not why you you’ve mentioned already. That actually is your message has always been your message, um, to open doors, to people, to encourage greatness, to provide tools, to do that. Um, so the message is the same, but the audience is everyone. The audience is truly everyone. It’s got to be everyone because if it isn’t, who’s, who’s getting to draw the line in the sand or hand out the numbers like your first, your second, your third. I am so excited at the potentials of that. And congratulations is going to be amazing.  

I do think our, our audience has always been everyone. And I think our alumni, our past our, you know, our previous recipients already speak to that, but I think to underline it, is important. I think that’s the difference. I think we, we go, okay, we’ve, we’ve all in some ways we’ve already been doing this, but we really want to show you that this is important right now.  

Joe is really underlining his statement here. And I want to double, triple, quadruple underline and highlight that message because yes, our society is demanding inclusivity and equity, and yes, it is about damn time. But I think that a lot of businesses and leaders believe that they’re already doing a fine job of this. As Joe mentioned, and he’s not alone by any means, many companies truly believe their audience is everyone. And that their message is for everyone. But as Joe put it, maybe it’s time for that message to be a little louder. Maybe it’s time to underline it. Maybe it’s time to put it front and center. How could you do that in your business? How could you do that in your life? Take a moment to pause and think on that, like actually hit pause, take all the time that you need. And when you’re ready, I’ll be here, ready to get back into it with Joe. 

Um, I, I wanna talk about routine for a second. Um, because I know that a lot of people listening, uh, don’t only aspire to be incredible performers, but they want to run businesses. They want to become an entrepreneur to stay as connected to dance and dancers. As you have, while building out brands and taking existing companies to new levels. What is, what is your process? Your, Hmm, it’s hard to break it down to a daily thing. Cause I know it is so much bigger. It’s like all of the steps leading up to this are, would have helped you to be able to do this, but is there a part of your day, or is there a thing that you do that might help people, um, not recreate the work that you’ve worked, but perhaps it’s, perhaps it’s a lesson that you learned that helped you to do what you’ve done?  

I’m not sure. I would wish that on anyone, frankly, Dana, but, um, you know, do you want to hear something funny that resonates with that question years ago, I was having a conversation with our friend Andy Blankenbuehler. And, uh, this is probably pre Tony awards for Andy and we were discussing that he had just read Twyla Tharp’s new book, creative habit at the time. And I remember him sharing with me that what he took away from that book was that she dedicates two hours a day in a dance studio to do what she does and that two hours. And I think that has to be nonjudgmental time. Just time that you just get in a room and do what you do. Have you ever read The Outlier Book

By Malcolm Glad…Smith haha 

Or go back and read, or just read the pieces about the 10,000 hours? Because he attributes to some of this to literally just the fact that people dedicate this much time to a sole thing. And that speaks to success. That would speak a little bit. I don’t consider myself any more talented, any smarter, any more resourceful, any more gifted. Um, I’m not afraid of the work. And if you, you ask the question and put it in under the phrase routine, my routine very honestly is I get up in the morning. I go right to the coffee pot. I splash water in my face. I go right to the coffee pot, pour a cup of coffee. And I come right to this chair to, this is my home office to this laptop. And I start to work. I look at emails. I, I, um, I’m very hands on.  I look at all the finances what’s coming in. What’s going out where, where things are going. That’s how I start my day. Um, you are, you, you are benefiting from me actually stopping and taking a shower today because the time during this COVID time, I am apt to, I actually have a shirt on, I wear sweat pants, which I have one from the bottom down and just a white v-neck tee shirt and just go to work. And I like that routine. It serves, it serves me well. And for me personally, I’d have to learn to carve out different times of my day to get things done. And one of the things, if so, if we’re really going to talk about this, one of the things that I’ve learned from my own process and everyone’s process is going to be different. It’s two things. One actually is there are, there’s no such thing as a priority because at the point that you, for me, this is just for me at the point that you make something really, that much more important, those things on your ever-growing list that are at the bottom of your priorities. You’ll never get to those. They will forever continue to fall off that list because other things continue to get higher and higher on your priorities. So something that I like to do, and I refer to it this way, I like to plant my seeds early in the day. So before I came to you today, I already put out 15 emails out in the world in different directions for different things that I’m hoping by the time we get off of this call and we wrapped things up today, I will have a handful, half a dozen responses later this afternoon. And I’ve planted those seeds for my day. I do that every single day. Yeah, for me, it’s it’s um, on Sundays, if I’m home, um, I am a spiritual person. I go to church. So if I’m not traveling, I’m at this point in my life, I like to go to church. I like to, I like to give time to God. I like to, I like that. To center myself that way. Um, and in evening time is entirely about my husband. He gets, he gets all that time. He deserves every moment of that time. I don’t check my email. I don’t sit with my cell phone in my lap. I don’t, I don’t do any I don’t my cell phone. Doesn’t sit by my bedside at night. I’ve already devoted so much time of that from 6:30 in the morning to probably 6:30, 7:30 at night. So unless we’re working on a huge project, that is a crunch. And then we all have those where you do work around the clock. I’m I do. I give that, give my business those hours. That’s my routine. And nighttime is my personal time.  

I love your nod to repetition, to focus, to doing the work as well as setting the boundaries and saying in this time no work will happen. And I think that might be the real key to that recipe. Um, I do want to give a little pushback is something I’ve been thinking about on the subject of this 10,000 hours idea. And I had a conversation with Andy a few days ago, we got really into it. It was our first catch up in a while. It was awesome. Um, I think that the notion of 10,000 hours, that it takes that much time of which you you’ve already invested 10,000 hours. I’m sure Andy has Twyla Tharp also, especially if she’s logging the hours that she says that she is in that book. But if that is the case, if it does require 10,000 hours to really reach a degree of extreme competency or mastery of a thing, then I at 35, I’m not very motivated to do anything else.  If I don’t think I’ll be great at anything else, then why would I try? Um, I’ll answer my own question. When I say that here’s my belief. I believe that 10,000 hours I am working to invest. If I haven’t already in being an excellent mover, contribute to the 10,000 hours, that will make me an excellent teacher. That will make me an excellent movement coach. That will make me an excellent coach coach. That will make me an excellent parent. That will make me an excellent entrepreneur. That will make me, I think there is a lot more, like I joke about this and I’m going to have to put it on a T-shirt at some point, Chloe and I, Chloe was my guest in episode three. And the title of that episode is Dance Lessons are Life lessons. And I believe that to be true, I’ll say it till I die. Joe’s like co-sign  

Preaching to the choir here. No doubt.  

Yes. So what if those 10,000 hours are not kept in individual buckets, dance bucket, teacher bucket, theater director bucket, entrepreneur bucket. But what if this all just one big bucket and I think it can be really discouraging to think of a career transition as being, wow. I’m starting back at hour one. You’re not starting back at hour one.  

I agree. I fully agree with you. I mean, we learn, we take all of that. Why, why do so many, uh, performers go on to be so successful for the wrong it’s because they have logged those hours? You know, I will just in, um, speaking about the book, the outliers, the 10,000 hours is actually just one example of how they talk about how people get to where they are. So it’s not logging in 10,000 hours, but I agree with you. I think those 10,000 hours contribute to who you are as a person. Um, it’s the, it’s the aggregate of all that you’ve done. Not strictly just that one field. I agree with you. We’re the same.  

Um, how much, Oh, there is a saying I’m going to get it wrong. Um, hard work, beats talent, beats talent, but Oh, what is it?  

Talent doesn’t work hard. I say it all the time. 

This is true. There’s a variation on this same sentiment. That’s like hard work, beats talent. If talent doesn’t work hard, but if somebody talented works hard, get the hell out of the way. And I think those are the people that you attract and I’m so happy to be, um, witness to them and among them. And man, I just think the world of you and this world that you’ve built for all of us dance-lings . Um, so with that being said, is there anything else you would like to commit here to digital forever furnace today?

You know what, for me, it really is. It’s piggybacking on what you just said. I do believe that we as a community and I forget dance, first of all, I believe strongly that we’re a product of our choices. I believe that I think there needs to be ownership in our lives that we’ve, we are, we are where we are because of some of the decisions we made in our past good or bad own them learn from them, move on and you know, be where you are. But I, I will underline the need to surround yourself with wonderful people, uh, people that are there to support uplift, uh, nurture, teach you I, as a, as a business person, I say all the time, I’m excited to hire new people that are going to teach me something. I love that, you know, I, I love that. So it piggybacks a little bit on what you just said.  Um, I feel blessed to have you in my life, frankly, I feel blessed to have all of the NYCDA team, all the different people that, that really, that the paths that I’ve crossed. I live my life in a way that if, if you’ve, if I’ve invested in you in some way along the way, then you will always have that little special place in my heart. Um, because it comes back. It really, it really does come back. And so this is meaningful. The fact that you even asked me to do this was very meaningful to me. So I, I thank you. I do time for you anytime Dana, you know that I would, I would make time for you.  

Thank you. I appreciate it. And I’ll be totally transparent and honest. I, from my earliest, you know, in brainstorms of the podcast and guests and topics and things, you’ve always been on my list. And I’ve reserved you for about this far in my podcast journey. Cause I wanted to get better at doing this before we did this. I was like, I’ve got to have my setup dialed in. I’ve got to be a good question asker. I’ve got to be a good listener. I’ve got it. I, I, I know you hold a high bar and I love that about you. I see the value of doing that. And I don’t think that we underdelivered today with this episode. I think that we overdelivered.  

You are incredibly gracious and generous. Cause I, I, I live my, I live my life with my feet really on the ground. So I do appreciate all your kind words I really do. And I, and I’m grateful to be a part of it, you know, and whatever I can do, you know.

I appreciate it. I appreciate it. Um, perhaps there will even be a small series of NYCDA podcasts. We yeah. What a, what an incredible group of people doing really incredible work. Thank you again for all of it. I’ll talk to you soon, Joe.  

Bye. Thanks so much, Dana. You’re the best. Thank you. 

You’re Welcome. You’re welcome.  

Well, my friends, how is that so much inspiration, so much information. I will absolutely be linking it to our NYCDA tour. cchedule two steps itself to the scholarship foundation and so much more in the show notes of this episode, please do be sure to check all of that out. I hope that it has instilled in you a sense of confidence and capability and furthermore, a sense of responsibility  to invest in yourself and the people around you. I hope to see you soon at an NYCDA near you. And of course I hope you keep it funky. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon.  

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. #33 Casting Director Download – Kristian Charbonier (Audition August Episode 2)

Ep. #33 Casting Director Download – Kristian Charbonier (Audition August Episode 2)

 
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How do you get your headshot in front of a casting director? How does a headshot turn into a booking?  How does a booking turn into a FULL BLOWN FEATURE FILM? Collaboration, that’s how! I loved having casting director and collaboration king, Kristian Charbonier on the podcast this week!! We go deep on diversity and collaboration in the casting process. We talk In The Heights, inclusivity, representation, and organization so I hope you brought your highlighter…

Show Notes

Quick Links:

Kristian Charbonier :https://www.instagram.com/ktcharbonier/

Telsey and Co. Casting: https://www.telseyandco.com/

In the Heights Movie: https://www.instagram.com/intheheightsmovie/?hl=en

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: Hello. Hello everybody. And welcome to words that move me. I’m Dana and I am stoked that you are here. Yes. This is week two of audition August all this month. I am talking to different people from all sides of the casting table about what the audition process is to them and what usually works. What usually doesn’t, how are auditions changing and how might we change to ensure our ability to create work for ourselves? It’s a big month.  And at the end of this big month, really big event, I will be hosting a virtual workshop event via zoom on how to audition. Yes, I will be dishing out almost all of my personal tips and tricks. Come on. I’m no fool. And I will go deep on the art of the self tape as that is the primary way people are submitting for projects right now, the workshop itself will be on August 31st from 4 to 5:30 PM Pacific. More details and info about registering. It can be found on my website, the Dana wilson.com. And you better believe I will be shouting about this loud and proud from the gram I’m @danadaners and the podcast is @wordsthatmovemepodcast. So check out all of those spaces for more information, so jazzed about it. Okay. Let’s move on to wins. Yes. This week, I am celebrating a project, a new seaweed sisters project. If you do not know what and who the seaweed sisters are, I strongly encourage you take a google dive and watch our video work, but also give a listen to words that move me episode 15, where the sisters and I sit and chat about ourselves. Very, very special. Anyways. Yes. The seaweed sisters have another video in the works. It is in the camera already actually. And, um, I always celebrate my time with the sisters, but this one is particularly special, not just because we are creating with our dear friend and longtime collaborator, Isaac Ravishankara who also directed us in number two, the sequel and number three part tree. And not just because we shot it socially distant and, um, corona compliant. But also because we got the ball back rolling on this one. Now I’m sure that everyone listening has experienced an unusual pattern in their motivation. At some point, during 2020, for me, this is a matter of momentum, more or less when things especially projects are rolling, they stay rolling. But when they’re on pause, it can be extra hard to get things moving again. So I’m celebrating this project as a win because it is an awesome example of people coming together to push things into motion. And I’m so excited for it to exist. And I’m excited to share it with you. Okay. What’s going well in your world. What’s moving.  

Okay. Killer great. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Congratulations. I’m so glad that you are winning. All right. Let’s dig into it. This week’s guest is Kristian Charbonier. He is an associate casting director at Telsey and Company. One of the biggest casting offices in New York city. And we met on In the Heights. Um, the feature film adaptation of Lin Manuel Miranda is Broadway hit, In the Heights. Uh, we met last year and Oh, yes, don’t worry. We’re going to talk plenty about In the Heights, but this conversation really looks into what a casting director does and what you can do to create memorable casting and audition experiences. We talk collaboration, we talk inclusion and equity on Broadway, on stage and behind the curtain on screen and behind the camera. Oh, we talk a great many things. So let’s dive in. I hope you enjoy this conversation with Kristian Charbonier. I’ll talk to you guys later. 

Dana: Kristian! Welcome to words that move me. Thank you so much for being here today. I’m jazzed about it. 

Kristian: Thank you for having me I’m jazzed as well. 

Dana: Yay. Um, okay. So one of the things I like to do on the podcast is I have my guests introduce themselves. So tell us a little bit about you and what you do. 

Kristian: Yes. So my name is Kristian Charbonier. I reside in New York city. I’m currently, given the circumstances, in Miami, Florida with my family, where I was born and raised. Um, I am a casting associate at Telsey and Company casting in New York. Our office is a little different from most casting offices, just considering we do a very big collaborative situation of all the projects we work on. We work on TV shows. We work on films, broadway musicals, Broadway plays, commercials, any sort of situation where we need a cast dancers for fashion week. Like we’ve done some time. Throw us something we’ve probably done it. We’ve cast people for video games before. Um, and I have worked there for about four and a half years now. I started there right as I graduated college and I’ve been there since, and I have learned so much and I have grown so much as a person, as an employee. I’m sure we’ll get into it. 

Oh, we’re going into it. We’re going into all of the things. Um, so I’m glad that you kind of dropped the line about all of the different things that casting directors, casting associates and casting assistants do. Um, but before we dig deeper on that, could you touch on the difference between those three titles?  

Absolutely. So you typically in casting start as an assistant, which is the way I started as well. Um, assistant sounds just like it is, you are assisting on every single thing that the project calls for in regards to casting. So you’re putting out the appointments, you’re helping cut the sides for the auditions. You’re prepping the audition with the casting director and with the associate you’re uploading the tapes to send to the team. Um, you’re really the main point of focusing in terms of organization. I say to all of our interns and the assistants who come in and out of our office, that our main job there is organization. The best associates were amazing assistants as well. If you move from assistant to associate, then as an associate, you really take a lot more responsibility than you did as an assistant. You’re the one in the session, reading with the actors, coaching the actors, you’re really discussing with the creative team on a more personal basis, a lot more than an assistant would.  Um, I think this is really the point in your career where you’re really formulating yourself into being a casting director, which the director is the face of the project. The person who’s on all calls is negotiating. The deals with the big agents is giving you the ideas that you might not typically think of as an associate. Um, you’re, you’re the main source of collaboration in that specific field. Um, I’m sure you know this because you are so collaborative in everything we’ve done together. Um, the collaboration is so key, especially in those relationships. You have to have an open form of communication. You really have to be able to trust each person that you’re working with because when you fall, they’ll pick you up when they fall you’re supposed to be there to pick them up. 

I love this notion that behind every individual role, there is a team. Like there is no such thing, especially in terms of making a movie or a Broadway show of one person carrying all the weight. It might be one person carrying all the post its or highlighters, but it is absolutely a team effort and you have to be a collaborative person to succeed. So, okay, this week on actually not just this week, this month on the podcast, I’m talking exclusively, almost exclusively about auditions. So that makes me talking to you really, really exciting because not many people get a direct line of communication with the casting associate or the casting director. Um, other than that quick 20 minutes in the room. So I think this is an awesome opportunity to hear a little bit more about A. what you do B. how it works behind the scenes and, um, C. kind of what you look for, what stands out to you in the process.   Um, so I, I guess let’s dig into it. You mentioned that Telsey does everything from Broadway to film to fashion week. All of the things. I know that in the past they’ve cast, um, actually current Broadway shows Hamilton, Wicked, West Side Story, Frozen to name a few, but in the past, everything from American in Paris to Fiddler on the Roof to, I mean, quite literally all the things Oh, in the Heights obviously, um, which transitions us into film, you guys were the agency behind, um, is that correct? The agency? What is Telsey? The agency. 

The office 

Oh, okay. Great. So, so Telsey was the office behind, um, casting In the Heights. The film that I worked on with Christopher Scott, Emilio Dosal, um, Ebony Williams and Eddie Torres jr. What a dance team, shout out friends team, um, Telsey also was responsible for casting the Greatest Showman, Mary Poppins, the one with Emily blunt, which I love. And one of my favorite movies of all time Across the Universe directed by Julie Taymor, which between you and I, and now between us and the world, there is not one thing that I would change about that movie. I would not change a single character casting. I wouldn’t change a step. I wouldn’t even change the one part where the guy with the briefcase kind of slips and falls a little bit. I love it. I would, I love it all. It’s so great. Um, but you guys don’t just do musicals. I guess one thing I’m curious about is the difference in process. If there is one from casting, a Broadway show that involves singing, dancing, all the things to casting a dramatic film or TV series, um, I mean, obviously you would audition one for singing and dancing and not the other, but other than that, is there a difference in process for different mediums?  

It depends on the medium. Um, I would say that in TV and film, there’s more structure to the process in terms of deadline and when certain things have to happen, because there are so many moving parts in that regard. Um, whereas in a Broadway show, there is a structure and a deadline, of course, because we have dates. We have first rehearsal, we have the presentation, we have all of those outlying dates. Um, but I do think that in terms of a Broadway show, there is a little more time to really amp up the pace. Whereas TV and film, you really got to go from the start just because you know, that that first day of principal photography is not moving and you have to get that that day, um, which is something you and I learned very well together.  

That is exactly why I found myself in the middle of times square at Telsey and Company. Well after hours, I don’t even remember what time it was, but there was nobody there except for In the Heights choreography team and you and we were sitting in an office with probably a hundred headshots on the floor and magnetism or pinned to the walls. And we’re just moving people around, having conversations, imagining this person with this person, no, that person with this person, these people, as a group, this person as a standout individual, you know, all of the different combinations of people. And that was because we were pressed for time, extremely pressed for time on that project. Would you say that that’s standard when you work on films, does that sort of thing happen often?  

Yes. I will say once we get past the point of the principal players in the film, which that’s not even ultimately true, because sometimes we are casting go, go, go, let’s cast every single principal, that’s cast every single supporting role, let’s cast all the dancers and singers at the same pace. In the Heights was a little different because we really had time to prep for those principles and then once we started together, as we’ve said, five times already, it was go, go, go from the start. Um, that to me is the way I love to work, so it was never anything alarming or crazy to me. It was just like the thrill of sitting there and just moving everything around is like, it’s just, I can’t explain that. I never will be able to. Um, so that, that in regards to again, a TV/film project is more so that way where let’s sit here for three hours at 9:00 PM and let’s go through it all and let’s make it happen.  

Yes. Let’s make it happen. That is the energy. That was the energy of the room. Um, do you have a steel trap memory for names and faces? Are you, are you really like, even outside of your job training, have you been good at that?  

I, I really, it’s kind of weird that I do have that and I don’t think I really realized it until I started working professionally. I still see people to this day who I remember, like seeing them perform it in high school at our like state competitions. And I’ll be like, Oh yeah, that girl sang this song from bat boy, my junior year of high school. And now she’s in final callbacks for Elphaba on Broadway. Like those things happen all the time. Um, which again, I think is such a healthy and good thing for my specific position in the company, because you have to be that person to be able to remember, um, Chris Scott and I had a big joke where he would always be like, who was that girl again? And I’ll say she was wearing the red shirt that I had like a T on the side. And then she had like purple shoelaces, remember? And he’ll be like, how did you remember that? And I’m like, I don’t know. It’s just the way my brain works. It’s the way we work. You know,  

I love that. And in the event that your sticky brain slips and misses someone, tell me about the room that you showed us at Telsey that is literally floor to ceiling binders of everyone that is auditioned for projects in the past. Um, you keep all the headshots, resumes, bios, like that room was such an incredible archive of, of audition history.  

Yes, it’s amazing because we, number one, thankfully have this space for that. And number two, um, we see so many incredible people all the time. That just because they’re not right in that exact moment, doesn’t mean that a year from now two years from now, six months from now, they will, they won’t be the right person. It’s it happens all the time. And the best thing is, is when we get a new project and you’re like, I worked on, I worked on this commercial like two years ago that I needed a 75 year old who could do a pas de bourses, let me go find those schedules and see who it was that got called back for that, because I knew those people again, right now. That’s an amazing archive that we have. And it’s also really fun as an industry slash theater nerd, to just look through those schedules. We do it all the time. We’re like, can you believe that? So, and so came in for this role in 1996 and got like, it’s just, it’s unbelievable. And you saw them yourself. There’s so many. Um, and it’s just  

Floor to ceiling as big as my living room and bigger maybe. I mean, incredible amount of history and information. And yeah, as you pointed out like some super special, uh, like historic moments in terms of transformation and trajectory, the existence of that room in and of itself speaks to a motto that I hold when I go into auditions all the time. And that is, it’s more important to be memorable than to be perfect. And once I lift the pressure of being perfect, once my only objective is to be memorable, I opened myself up to new potential. That’s just not stressed out energy, but also to sticking myself into the mind of somebody like you, who really might remember that moment as being the right moment for something else, trying to be the perfect thing for every project just doesn’t exist, but trying to be memorable enough to stick in someone’s mind so that when the right product project comes along, you’re there at the top of the mind. Like that is so cool. And it’s so cool that you guys have a paper trail for that.  

And I love that motto that you said, yes, it’s perfection. It, it’s not necessary. It’s for that specific, be the best that you can be in that moment. That’s it. There’s nothing more. That moment exists, one time, you leave. It won’t happen again. That’s it.  

I love this. Let’s talk through the role of an associate casting director on the day of a massive audition. Go. 

Great. So typically, because I, even though I just said, you don’t have to be perfect, am a perfectionist in my mind. So the night before I am very excited, but also just thinking about every single thing that I can do to make it go flawlessly, which again, we both know that that really doesn’t exist. Um, but we can try. But, um, so we’ll get to the studio about an hour before we start session, um, with our hundreds of schedules and all the names. Um, two days prior to that, I’ll spend all day on the phone with the agents talking about who’s new that I don’t already know that I haven’t scheduled yet, who they think I should try.  

These are talent agents.  

Yes. Talent Agencts. Um, we’ll get to the studio an hour before we’ll start to get the room going. Everything’s set up our systems. And then once we bring that first group in, it’s go, go, go. As you know, until that last second that the studio director comes and tells us you have to leave. Um, which once again, we have, we have experienced together,  

Probably why we wound up back at your offices. They were like, you don’t have to go home, but you got to get out of here. And we all look at you like, uh,  

And, um, as, as you associate in those moments, really what you’re there to do is to serve the creative team. We’re trying to help you guys figure out your vision and figure out what you think is necessary to achieve what you have in your mind. Um, we’re also there to help you out in the event that you’re not really familiar with someone and maybe you’re, you want some sort of extra feedback about someone that we’re very comfortable with and have tried multiple times and have booked on jobs or are big fans of, um, so there’s a lot of that. There’s a lot of, again, the word that always comes to mind every time I’m discussing any of these things is collaboration and the best people to work with are the people who we collaborate with. That’s something that I experienced with you and Emilio and Ebony and Chris, all from the second I met you guys was that it was such a collaboration and it was such a dialogue the entire time, It was never, I want this and that’s it. It was, I want this, what do you think? Right. Which is so important. 

So helpful. So helpful. Yes. Okay. So that’s a big day. Um, so you come in, sorry, you, you talk to the agencies, you make the schedule, you talk to the creative team, you have an understanding of what it is that the creative team is looking for. You have sign up sheets, you make sure everybody is where they need to be at the right time. And then we hit record on cameras. Choreo team kind of takes it away. We start funneling people through, we teach material, we break people into groups, make sure everybody’s visible on camera and that we know how to contact people when we’re ready. And then of course begins the, um, endless watching of the footage, which there was a bundle of. Um, and I love that by the way. I, wow. Can’t imagine how things were done before. Um, actually I can just much more labor intensive on the dancers behalf. Like I can watch you dance 12 times on tape instead of making you dance 12 times in person. 

Exactly. Yeah. It’s amazing to think. And you see these old movie musicals with these hundreds of people in the background and you’re like, how did they do this without a computer. And they danced  

They danced! And they took notes and they took notes and the danced, that’s it. Um, okay. So then you organize that, that footage I’m assuming, and that goes into an archive somewhere.  

Yes. We upload ’em to a system that’s called Cast It, which a lot of TV and film offices use. And that’s another way that everything stays really organized. So that in the event that you’re asking me for tape on a person, I can just easily go into the, into the archive and find that tape and send that to you all.  

So you’ve got all the digital organized, you’ve got all the material, you know, the paper headshots and resumes organized. And then the moment comes where creative has decided that we’re ready to book people in. What is your role in doing that? How does that, how does that work flow pan out from me saying, I want Sarah to Sarah getting a phone call saying show up at this time, on this day for this many dollars. What’s that work flow  

Yes. So that’s the best part about our job is when you get to call someone and tell their agent that they got the job. Um, so once we hear from you and we have all approvals to move forward and hire this specific person, or people we’ll call the agent will say, Hey, so, and so’s getting the job. I’m going to email you all the offer details. We’ll send all the offer details. Once we close that deal, I will say, I will fill out a whole bunch of paperwork, send that over to production. And then production is the person who takes over and then does all the phone calling, sets up their fittings, lets them know what day they need to be where. Um, preps them for any sort of information that they would need in order to be there on that day. Um, and then believe it or not, people show up to set and shoot a movie. And then the movie is made. It’s unreal to me even now, even still, I still work on projects and I, I go to a screening of the film or the TV show and I’m like, they made this movie or this tv show, like it happened  

That got done. That was headshots on the floor. And now it is a movie.  

Yes. And even like specifically for a project like In the Heights where we did do a massive open call and found a whole bunch of actor, actors and dancers that we never would have met coming from an agency just specifically because they didn’t have representation to see them on screen in a trailer or in the film. You’re like, this was a person who just showed up to this audition and he’s now in this movie, it’s unbelievable. It’s so it’s so cool and rewarding.  

Let’s dig in a little deeper on that. That’s one thing I think was really unique about In the Heights is our efforts to be as inclusive and true to the story and the culture and the time as possible. And I do think we made opportunities available in ways that maybe traditionally aren’t, um, you know, in other film projects, it’s probably standard for a casting director to call the talent agency. The talent agency sends their top five that might be a good fit. And then, then some, one of those five gets the job. But what about the people who don’t have representation? What about the people who aren’t uh, uh, the top five? We really had several opportunities for people without representation, people without having done a film or a TV show or an any show. I, I think that this project was very inclusive. I think that this project gave the floor to a lot of people who either haven’t seen it in a long time or aren’t used to taking the floor. Broadway has a nickname, um, the great White Way. And I can understand why, I do think that that’s changing. Um, but I can imagine that the casting directors are feeling a lot of that heat because a lot of people think that it is the casting director’s choice. You just highlighted that the casting director serves the creative team, it comes back to the creative’s decision. Um, do you feel in your role heat from Broadway and film entertainment, not being inclusive enough?  

I have been lucky in, in my personal trajectory that I have worked on so many different projects that have started that very first conversation with let’s find the best person. It doesn’t have to be a specific person. Let’s find the best person, especially in regards to something like In the Heights where all we were looking for were people who would perfectly and realistically portray this very real story and this very real community. And I think that these creative teams and everyone in the industry has just tried to go the easiest route. And that’s why we end up in the place that we are instead of digging deeper and finding these underrepresented communities and trying to give opportunity to these people. Like we said, who have no representation who probably honestly never thought in their lifetime, they would even be in a major feature film. I think that that’s one of the main things that we, again collaboratively did together on this project. And I think it’s something that once you do it one time, you know, that it’s possible.  

I might also add not only do you find that it’s possible, but you find that it’s worth it, especially on a project like In the Heights, which is about your dreams, it is about living your dreams, but more so it’s about fighting for them. It’s like the themes of this film are the themes of today. And I think it would have been a shame to watch that watch the leading roles and the supporting roles to watch the dance, to watch all of it, be danced by people who live on the silver screen and eat from a silver spoon. It just would have so missed the mark. Um, and what I experienced in working with people who have never been on set before, um, and working with people who are aren’t SAG card holders was not that it was a hot mess of disorganization and not that there was unprofessional, um, behavior on set, but actually quite the opposite, extreme respect, extreme enthusiasm, readiness, willingness. And I think that we’ll see in the, in the, uh, in the final cut how important it is to have representation, inclusivity, authenticity, especially when you’re, when you’re telling a story like that one.  

Absolutely. And I started, I love that you used the word authenticity because In the Heights specifically means so much to so many people because it was something that they could see and see themselves on that Broadway stage, which is what we’re doing in the film now as well. It’s showing so many kids from Washington Heights itself that they can be a movie one day that they can be dancers in a film. They can have speaking roles. And if I’m that, it’s all doable.  

I am wondering what are the things, the changes that you’ve noticed in your industry in the last handful of years and what do you hope to see in the next handful of years? 

Yes. Um, something that I’ve seen, which again goes back to something we talked about a little earlier, is this idea of who else is out there. I think that’s always existed in our industry and we always, casting people specifically, like you’re never satisfied until you know, that you, until you see that electricity in front of that camera and you know, that that person is it, you know. How much more are we going to do to find that person? And what more are we going to do to find that person. 

Leave no rock unturned?

Yes. Or just again, like we were saying re-inventing and thinking of things a different way. I mean, Ali Stroker who won the Tony for Oklahoma, um, that’s it, it’s just unbelievable to see Ali Stroker who we have auditioned for years. Like finally be raised up to this pedestal and be like, this is someone who is so talented and so worthy. And I also feel like that’s something we can do even more with underrepresented communities, um, with Latino communities, with Asian communities, with the black community. I think that those are so important and it’s something that maybe we produce more content that centers around these communities. Um, but I think it’s something that, that the, that the industry is in this moment focused on. And I hope that they continue to focus on that  

All different levels, right? Like on the talent, of course, yes. Like the onscreen representation, but also behind the curtain, the writers, as you mentioned, producers, but on Broadway also, literally the people behind the curtain 

Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. And it’s something that I’ve discussed with a couple of people around my age, how we were all so lucky to end up where we are, because we were able to go places and intern for free and be able to be financially supported to do that where so many people aren’t able to, and that’s why they’re not able to break into the industry because they didn’t have those same opportunities that we had. And we have to find ways to be able to reach those people and allow them the same opportunities that we’ve all had. I think that’s another thing that the industry is really focusing on now is how can we bring people who don’t have the same opportunities that we’ve had into not just in front of the camera or on the stage, but into the costume shops, into the casting offices, into the tech sides of the industry, into the stage management offices, all of those different facets that the, the, the audiences don’t see, but surely exist and drive that product. And that product would never happen without those people. I mean, I, my family is Cuban and I’m so I’m so lucky to be where I am, So I could have been supported by my family. And I told my parents, I wanted to be a casting director. They didn’t know what that was, but they said, yeah, sure, go for it. Why not? Um, and it’s so important and so exciting to see other Latino people in the industry and be like, Oh my God, yes. Like, you know, it’s happening, we’re doing it. Um, it’s something that’s so spotlighted right now. And I think that once, like I mentioned before, once we, and we have started, once we continue to really drive that car forward, we’re never going to look back. We’re going to be like, this was the way we need to continue. And this is the way that we’re going to continue.  

Yes. I’m just like, I wish that everybody could see me. I’m just like nodding perpetually nodding in agreement. Um, so it sounds like you are glad to see the, that casting directors and casting offices are doing more outreach, doing more in terms of going out and finding, but what would you say to somebody that might be listening that wants to be found? What would, what would you say to somebody who believes that they are talented and out there and don’t want to wait for you to come find them?  

Right. Um, we’re lucky enough to be in the age of the internet and the internet has been just, I, I, I don’t know how people lived without the internet truly. Um, number one, I think actors, I think dancers are just the most gracious people because to get up every single morning and go to auditions and put yourself on the line every single time, I think that that is more commendable and more brave than I could ever be. Um, and I think that, that goes for the same, for the same people that you were describing, go to these open calls, we are looking, and we are paying attention. If you, if you see something about a video submission, take the time and make the best video that you can make and submit, do these things to put yourself out there and get yourself in front of all of these people who are looking for you because we are, um, and don’t be afraid to do it.  I feel like there’s so, like, what’s the worst that could happen. You send the video and you don’t hear anything. At least you sent the video, you would never hear anything. If you didn’t send the video at all, you know, um, it’s it’s and again, it’s tried and true. We cast people from open calls. Like we said, so many of those people in, In the Heights where people who we just, I put out an ad and said, Hey, show up at this location on this day and be ready to dance. And that was it. And they showed up and then they ended up in the movie  

Where was that ad. And where do people look to find those?  

So our company has that, I would say, because I help run the social media of our company. I might be biased. So we do post our stuff on, um, our social medias. Um, our, all of our handles are @Telseyandco Um, and again, we, as casting, people are very good research papers as well. So I spent two or three weeks calling every salsa studio in New York, calling all the agents and saying, Hey, do you know this person who like shot this salsa commercial one day? Um, and the agent would be like, I don’t really know them that well, but I’ll shoot them the flyer and see who they want. Um, Eddie Torres Jr. Was a huge source of finding so many organic, authentic New York dancers.  

People that don’t have studios that they train out, they train in clubs. They dance socially, not in, not in little structured pods.  

Exactly. Um, so there’s so much research that goes into it. Um, but again, so many of these calls are now publicized on the internet that you you’ll be able to find them and follow our social medias. And I’m sure you’ll see. I mean, if you scroll for our Twitter and our Instagram, it’s literally all just ad after ad, after ad open call for Wicked open call for In the Heights open call for third, every, every project that we’re looking for, very specific people, it happens

Cool.  Very cool. Good to know. Good to know. Um, okay. Rapid-fire burnout round. What are the things that people who book consistently consistently do in auditions?  

They exude positivity. They are on time. I love people who are on time. I highlight — I highlight them highly. If they’re on time, 

High highlights. 

Yes. I love. There was such a thing. Oh, yes. Amazing. Um, and people who are open and game to do anything, I think that you can really tell that from a person in a room very, very quickly. Um, it’s also so fun to be on the sidewall, the, the choreographers and the associates and the assistants are teaching because you’re watching these people and you really, really get to know the way they work. Um, and the number one thing that I see in so many people, and I find so commendable is if they may, if they mess up, they, you, you’re not really convinced they messed up by the second count because you’re, you’re like, wait, what?  Like they, they just effortlessly go over that. I think that’s something that’s. So especially about dancers. So unbelievable is that you almost think you’re like, did I just blink and miss something? Or did they mess up? Yes. Yes. Because they just keep going. And that is the number one thing, not only in a specific audition, but just in the industry, in the industry in general, you should have to keep going. You have to keep doing it and it’s going to happen if you keep doing it. And if you are being the best that you can be,  

Oh, that’s such great advice. I should have ended on that. But instead, I’m going to ask what, what are the telltale signs of somebody that is not ready to be working professionally?  

That’s a little bit of a hard question, because if they’re not, if they’re not ready for that specific project, like we said before, they might be ready for something else. Um, what I, rather than not ready to work. One thing that I realized in people who don’t audition the best is that they are so in their heads, that you can see the, you can see them thinking above their head. Like you see the word scrolling over their head. Where it’s, I think that, that shuts you down so much, both externally and internally that you just got to roll through it. If you are, if you’re stressed about it, if you’re not having a good time, it’s okay to walk over to the casting person and let them know, Hey, this isn’t the right one for me. 

Not my best take, not my best.  

Absolutely. Or let’s say perfect example, someone who does perform for the camera, we say, thank you. And they didn’t feel that good. Come on over and say, Hey, I’m so sorry. Can I just do it one more time? Like I know that I can be better. I think that knowing that and being that thinking in that space makes you so much more successful. If you don’t think in that space, I think that you just, you’re doing yourself a disservice because the only person that you’re hurting is yourself. In that regard, you have to be your, you have to think for yourself and you have to be your biggest fan. In those moments, you have to trust yourself and know that you are doing the best you can do. And if you’re not doing the best you can do, if you’re not having a good day, come on over and tell us, let us know where we are there. It’s what I always tell people. Especially when I talk to like kids in high school, who I work with, or kids who have just graduated from college, our job is to cast the project. So all we want more than anything is for you to be amazing. Like that’s, that’s all we want. We don’t want anything less than that. So if you’re not being amazing, we want to help you be amazing. Let’s figure out what it is that we can do to help you be amazing.  Lets figure out what we can do to help you be amazing. 

Exactly. You guys are trying to cast the project. You want to cast the project. This is great. And somebody’s performance in an audition really doesn’t have everything to do with their readiness or not to work professionally. So thank you for calling me out on that. Very gently. Um, but also thank you for the perspective of, yes, you guys want them to be the right person. So although it can be tough, I’m saying this from the performer’s point of view, to be both inside yourself, enough to deliver an impassioned performance, but outside yourself enough to have seen whether or not that was your best work, it really takes a multilevel awareness of yourself and your performance be able to say, Oh, that wasn’t it. Let me, let me ask, let my outside self ask for one more time. And then let me go back in and make the corrections that really helped me hit.  And that takes time. It takes practice and it takes permission. So I’m so glad that you opened that line of communication. Like, if you feel like you need one more, come and ask, it’s one of my favorite things to do at auditions. Whether I feel like I nailed it or not. I say, alright, that’s pass number one. Is there anything else you’d like to see differently? I love to be directed. And with that statement, very simple statement, you know, Oh, this is the person who can communicate and talk about their work. Oh, this is a person that wants to deliver. Um, and Oh, this is a person that actually likes feedback because that’s another thing that I know on both sides of the table. I like working with people that are open to feedback and open to making change and getting better. It’s what film productions need and film, especially you have to do those things quickly. So if you see somebody do that in a casting, when the, when you’ve got like a 15 minute window, if they can do that in that window, imagine how much they can do in a nine hour rehearsal.  

Absolutely. And again, you, you said it exactly in the event that someone does ask those questions, you see, you’re like, okay, this is someone who, who does take direction very well and who is open to direction and is collaborative in that regard. Again, it all goes back to collaboration. We all want to work with people who are collaborative because it, number one makes the project more fruitful and you never know what any single person is going to bring and how it’s going to better, any single thing that you’re doing. But also it just makes it easier. Like, of course you want to work with people who are going to be easy to work with. That’s the whole point of collaboration it’s going to be. We’re all going to click where, and like our specific example is all of us together working on In the Heights. We all were there for each other. We were all collaborative in that regard. We were all doing the work together and that’s why we have a great final product.  

Okay. Kristian, final thought before we go, and this is a doozy. So take a deep breath. What are your thoughts on the shutdown on Broadway right now? And what do you think we can expect once Broadway reopens? Give me the real, Real. 

I think that we can expect joyous, joyous, joyous, first curtain calls. I think that people will be just so, I mean, it’s us New Yorkers, especially it’s our, it’s our life. We go to the theater all the time. You know, it’s something that, uh, number one, it’s, it’s a lifestyle for so many of the people who are on Broadway because they are so unfortunately unemployed right now because of the shutdown. Um, what we can expect. I think that there will definitely be a lot of internal look at everyone on Broadway and how we can better the industry. Once the industry picks back up again, although we are already doing that, I firmly believe, um, I think that the industry will look different in that regard. I think we’ll be a lot more discussion regarding inclusion and collaboration and bringing so many other underrepresented communities and underrepresented people into the industry. Um, of course that takes time, but I think that people are willing to put their thoughts and finances towards that. Um, as far as what it will feel like to be in a theater again, I, I, I can’t imagine it just because it’s been so long, but I know that it’s going to be amazing and I know that we need to make it happen because number one, it’s a lifestyle for so many people. Like we said, we need this to happen so that people can survive financially. And how boring would the world be without Broadway or without entertainment at all? Not interested. It would, it wouldn’t, it would not be a good one. My friends and I used to joke when we were younger. We’re like, what’s more important than Broadway, as a joke, of course, now that we’re older, we all understand, but it’s true. What, how, how could we live in a world without any of these parts of our industry and not specifically just Broadway, just TV and film and how all of these films are so delayed now because of the shutdown. And it’s like us, for example, again, I keep going back to us, but we thought the movie that we saw would have been out for a month today, and now it’s another year. You know, I think, I think it’s gonna be a very interesting world to go back to, but I think it will be a more open and more thoughtful world than it was before the shutdown.  

It’s a beautiful way to wrap it up. I truly do believe that after the depression, after the recession, there is a Renaissance and I can’t think of a place better suited for that than Broadway. Because although you did mention it’s part of a New Yorker’s culture. Most of the people in the film In the Heights never saw the Broadway show In the Heights because they couldn’t afford. There are less jobs because if I’ve learned nothing, not every show on Broadway structure was built to exist forever. Maybe a new structure needs to show up probably in order to be fewer disdain. God knows what happens next. I hope it’s not enough pandemic, but I really do think, as you’ve mentioned, surveillance is a time where we get to look deep I and do the more time intensive and thought intensive work. I think that you are a person who is completely dedicated to doing that. I am working to become a person that is totally dedicated to doing that. I’m so grateful for you and getting to meet you. I think we learned a lot today. I’m so grateful that you, uh, decided to chat and share with us. Thank you so much.  

Thank you. I’m so happy I could do this and I’m naturally such a fan and  

Yeah, I would love to do an in the Heights exclusive super podcast someday. So perhaps we’ll get to talk again. Um, yeah. Okay, Kristian, thanks again. Have a great rest of your day 

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 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.