Ep. #34 Talk to My Agents with Meisha Goetz and Tim O’Brien (Audition August Episode 3)

Ep. #34 Talk to My Agents with Meisha Goetz and Tim O’Brien (Audition August Episode 3)

 
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Tim O’Brien, the founder of Clear Talent Group, and Meish Goetz, (Co-director of the Dance department and much more) join me on the pod to give their side of the audition story. Look out for some interesting takes on the role of the internet in auditions, and learn exactly what agents do! These two offer real talk, and real wisdom about a real tough market. Communication is key in a creative industry. Listen to these agents and walk away supported, informed, and inspired!

Show Notes

Quick Links:

Clear Talent Group: http://cleartalentgroup.com/about/

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, Hello and welcome. This is words that move me. I’m Dana and I am as always jazzed about this episode. This is week three of audition August and I have not one, not two. Oh no, yes. Two. I have not one but two incredible guests that are going to offer some tremendously valuable insights on, um, the dance market and what that means for auditions. And auditioners. Um, I do want to jump right into that, but first wins.  

If you are new to the show, we start every episode off with wins. I tell you mine and get yours ready because you are up next. Okay. Today I am celebrating a future win. Go with me here. Today, I’m celebrating that a year from today, August 19th, 2021. The podcast has reached 100,000 downloads. Ooh. Oh my gosh. That feels so good to say that I’m so proud of my future self. Okay. I know what you’re thinking. Probably two things actually. Number one thing. Wow. That’s really silly and very bold to proclaim such a huge goal so publicly, and then celebrate it before you actually achieve it. Oh my gosh. That’s going to hurt so bad when you fail. That might be what you’re thinking. Um, well, if you are thinking that, to you I would say yes, it is bold to proclaim such a huge goal so publicly. And yeah, I might fail quote fail, but I’ve been practicing being willing to fail publicly for over 15 years now of working in TV film and on stage, I am a pro at being willing to fail publicly, but just imagine how bad I would fail If I didn’t tell you the downloader that my personal goal is to reach 100,000 downloads. That is what is really silly. And now that you may see my point, you might be thinking, all right, okay, how can I help? Well, if you dig what you hear, then keep it with you. Download the podcast. If you’re using Apple podcasts, this might not be as easy or intuitive as I wish it was. It’s certainly not as intuitive as they think it is. So if you struggle downloading the podcast, DM me, @wordsthatmoveme podcast on Instagram or contact me at my website, theDanawilson.com at very very least, it’s a perfect excuse for us to be in touch. Okay, now you go, what’s going well in your world.  

Killer. Congratulations. I am so glad that you are winning. Please do keep it up. Actually. I’m so glad that we’re talking wins right now because this episode has some really valuable insights about wearing your wins and shedding your losses. Okay. Let’s get into it. As the entertainment industry starts to turn back on, think dimmer switch, not on off switch by the way, how dim is it? Oh, we’re going to tell you exactly how much less work is coming through the pipeline this summer relative to recent years. And what does that mean about our responsibilities as dancers, agents, creatives, or even as consumers of dance, whether you are a seasoned pro new to the game or simply a dance fan. This episode is for you because today we’re talking to talent agents, specifically two of my agents from Clear Talent Group. First step is the lovely Meisha Goetz She has her hand in the dance choreography and digital departments over at clear talent group. And we are also joined by the president of CTG himself, Mr. Tim O’Brien. He is joining us with many, many years of experience and an Eagle’s eye view of this COVID moment in our history. These two offer real talk real discussions about a real tough market. And I think you will walk away feeling informed and inspired. So let’s get to it. Enjoy Meisha Goetz and Tim O’Brien from Clear Talent Group. 

Oh my gosh. I’m so excited. Thank you so much for joining me today. This is Audition August where we seek to demystify the almighty audition, and if we happen to eliminate other dark corners of the industry, then so be it. I am joined by the lovely Misha Goetz and the one and only Tim O’Brien. Hello. Hello. And thank you for joining me. Hello.  

Tim: Hi, Dana. It’s good to see you.  

Dana: It’s. It’s good to see you guys too, albeit on a two dimensional surface. Yeah. Um, all right, so it’s it’s podcast tradition here to have my guests introduce themselves. Uh, why don’t we go ladies first? Meish..

Meisha: Sure, um, hello. My name is Meisha Goetz and I am one of the co-directors in the dance department at Clear Talent Group. And I also am an agent in the choreography department as well as the digital department. 

Dana: Awesome. All right, Tim, who are you?  

Tim: Hi, I’m Tim O’Brien. I’m the president of Clear Talent Group. Um, prior to that, I was a professional dancer for 10 years, and then I started one of the very first, uh, departments dedicated just to dancers a long time ago and, uh, have evolved into now owning my own agency and having, um, a wonderful group of agents like Meisha.  

Yes, and a wonderful group of, uh, talent, which includes me as a matter of fact. Um, alright, so I have a billion questions for you, both and, um, probably some semi sensitive ones given the sensitive nature, or maybe I’ll say unusual nature of our industry right now. Um, but I would love to talk about obviously auditions in the before time and the auditions that you guys are seeing go out into the world now, um, while productions are certainly under different limitations than they normally are. But before we dig into that, um, Meisha, could you talk through, this is a tough one. Could you talk through the very broad strokes, the, the flow of information and the flow of actions, the flow of tasks that happen from the minute your phone rings and the person on the other side is looking for talent to the moment when the talent is cashing their check. 

Meisha: Yeah, absolutely. Um, Broad, broad sense. Our job is to provide a service to either our clients or to the buyer on the other side. So when we get a phone call, we are trying to collect as much information as humanly possible. So that’s pretty much in simple terms, the who, what, where, when and why. So we’re collecting rates. If there’s a spec, if there’s a choreographer attached, um, and then from there it can go in two separate directions. They could either be requesting a submission from us, or it can go straight into an audition process. So in which it’s an open call, whoever fits the specs is getting the audition. Nowadays, we’re not having in-person auditions at all pretty much. So it’s all pretty much either direct booking, right? Direct bookings right now, or submission based. So this is when let’s just say, we’re going to go to go down a submission path. We’ll put together a submission, we’ll email it to the buyer. And a buyer is a producer, a casting director or choreographer. From there, we send this submission, we wait on selects. We may send a followup or two to make sure that they received.  Once we receive this selects, then we are sending out the audition. I’m sending out the audition, we’re making phone calls to make sure that you receive the information if we haven’t heard from you. And then we’re going to text you. And from that point we formulate a list is then back to the buyer of who is planning on submitting their self-tape and they, and this state of the world. If anyone decides not to self-tape, that is our opportunity as agents to potentially pitch people that weren’t selected. Sometimes it’s a hit. Sometimes it’s a miss, really just varies. And then, then it’s just the waiting game. You know, you’re getting submissions, you’re making sure that they’re following all the instructions properly because that’s a shoe in if you’re not. And then from there, you know, the review process becomes on the buyer’s side, we wait for a booking, but prior to the booking, we’re getting avails. And then sometimes the avail goes into a hold. And then from the hold we’ll receive the booking, where we get all the details all comes together. And that’s my personal favorite part is of course, making a phone call to the clients, letting them know that they booked the job. And then the job happens, right? The best part, the job happens from there. We, if it’s a nonunion job, then we are collecting hours. We’re asking our clients, if there’s hazardous conditions onset, where did you have to wear your own wardrobe to make sure that we’re invoicing properly. And then from there we’re really money chasers every week we’re falling, you know, sending followups to the production companies to make sure that they’re getting paid on a timely basis.  

That was so all encompassing. I’m very impressed and very clear. Thank you for that. Talk through it.  

Tim:  If I may just interject during that process is so important for the dancers to stay in contact with their agents. There’s so many times we put out calls and emails on a Tuesday night and on Wednesday morning, the staff has to come in and start chasing down the people that didn’t respond. And, uh, it can, it says the word I, that you always have to think of when you’re dealing with your agent, when we’re dealing with both the buyer and the talent is communicate, communicate, communicate as a choreographer, Dana, you know that the worst thing that can happen is you think you have your eight dancers and you book your eight dancers and you’re excited. And you know, I only to find out that one of them isn’t available. And, uh, so we try to avoid that at all costs. And the only way we can do that is by communicating. So I just can’t say enough about how important it is for the dancers to communicate with us so that we can represent them properly.  

Right? Communication must be the most important part of this agent dancer relationship at every moment at every, in between stage Meisha of the, of the talk through, you just gave it every moment that information changes hands is an opportunity for there to be a misunderstanding. Um, it’s just like, honestly, it’s a pretty big game of telephone. 

Absolutely! And I think what that experience the best is when clients were saying is communicative. And if they do have questions that we have created an environment for our clients, that they feel open enough. So whether that’s a text or call or email to make sure that when they walk through the room, they’re complete understanding the best of abilities, what job they’re about to be representing.  

That’s crystal clear. That’s awesome. Um, I do want to draw some attention. You mentioned that on a nonunion job when you’re collecting hours and keeping track of hazardous conditions, that’s really on the dancer to be recording those details on the job. I think that’s something that not that most dance studios don’t prepare their dancers for is to how to not only deliver the dance goods, but to also be receiving information about what’s happening on set what’s in alignment with the way things should be going and what isn’t. And, and then of course, the way to ask for those things to be, um, you know, reconciled. Yes. Um, okay. Tim, let’s zoom out a little bit if we could. I’m so curious and I’m slightly afraid to ask, um, relative to say last summer around this same time, how much work is coming through the pipeline right now in 2020? 

How much is coming through the pipeline?  Um, not much. It’s, uh, I think, uh, especially in the live event world Broadway is totally shut down. Um, all kinds concerts are really shut down. You might hear about some body doing something at a drive in movie, which is a cute idea, but it’s usually, you know, occasionally you see that kind of thing. It’s a very tough market. It’s it’s I hate to give percentages, but it’s probably 10 or 20% of what it was last year. I mean, the last couple of years as you started this whole podcast was market. The business was really doing well. Dance has become extremely popular. Um, not just on a TV with the reality shows it’s been in movies and television and concerts, and it’s, you know, it was a great market and it’s just, you know, the brakes are on and, uh, you can’t, you just can’t, nobody’s going to be sitting shoulder to shoulder at staple center watching their favorite pop star is not going to happen.  So it’s been hit pretty hard. And I think, um, that’s, that’s a reality that I don’t know about you, but when we first had our meeting at Clear Talent Group, I think on or about March 17th and before we started working at home, when I do go to the office, now we still have St Patrick’s day decorations. I mean, that’s what it is. I’ll start. Wow. And we thought, well, this could be a month, you know, maybe it’s six weeks. And then, then it became, it’s going to be three months. And now I think it’s really going to be 2021. And with the vaccine that we’re going to start getting back to normal. And I do think, and I know we’ll get back to normal, but yeah, we can’t kid ourselves. The market is, uh, slowed down enormously. And, um, I think it’s important. That’s why we, you know, we’re one of the few agencies that has a dedicated influencer department and, uh, the timing was good on that. And we’re trying to encourage our dancers to do all kinds of creative things, um, such as Dana Wilson started a podcast. Yeah. Um, so yeah, the answer to the question is this it’s off. I would say it’s off by 80% at least. It’s just the, market’s just not there. And then we are getting some movies and some, uh, episodic TV shows that are kind of giving us a heads up. Um, but that’s become like, uh, that, yeah, we’re going to start shooting in August. And then in middle of July, we’re going to start shooting, It actually is going to be September. And then, well, it’s going to be October. And then you start hearing about people saying it’s going to be 2021. Um, they just, you know, look, what’s happening. You have to, you know, I think it is important for dancers to pay attention to the world. And unfortunately this pandemic has been a huge wake up call that you do have to pay attention to the world and to our community, large and small. So yeah, it’s a, it’s not a good market. Now you have to, you know, as a dancer, I think you have to, we’ll get, I think we’ll get into this, but you have to keep your chops up and be ready for when it comes back. But, uh, you just have to start thinking of creative ways of, um, of not just working and generating income, which of course is important, but also keeping your sanity. You know, so yeah, to answer your question, uh, the market, um, is not good.  

Copy that. Um, so can we talk about where dancers are landing in the market today? I think dance is having a bit of a high point when we look at things like Tik Tok and all of the shows, the dance shows on TV, um, uh, movie musicals are having a bit of a comeback moment. I think dance is very cool to be a dancer right now. Um, Tim, could you talk about specifically in the digital space, the role of a dance influencer, like internet seems to be really helping dance. Um, how does that help you as an agent and how might that hurt you as an agency? You know, the, the role of the internet and how my dance and dance influencers, um, be affecting dancers themselves in the digital space?  

Well, I think that, um, with dancers working as influencers in the digital space, it’s a whole new market and anytime you can open up a new market, it’s great for your industry and then this case for the dance industry. So it gives a lot more, uh, there’s more options for dancers. Uh, there’s more ways to, um, to monetize your talent. And, um, so I think it’s a, it’s a, it’s a win, win. It’s a win for the dancers. It’s a win for the agents. How could it hurt? Um, the one thing about anytime we get into new markets, when music videos first started, and now with this, there’s a bit of a wild, wild west that happens. And, uh, producers, some of them not experienced, some of them very experienced will want to work directly with the dancer, with the influencer in this case. And it’s, it’s sounds like something that your agent tells ya, and, but it’s true.  And that is a producer. Any producer will deal with the dancer or the artist in a different manner than they’ll deal with the artist representative. So you do get a percentage of influencers that want to do it all on their own, or they want to know calling an agent when they get in trouble. Well, maybe they didn’t get paid or the money wasn’t when it was supposed to be. Um, so I guess that’s how it could hurt the dance market is, uh, they’re, they’re, they’re then can become a race to the bottom if, uh, if, if, uh, if we’re not careful, but generally I think it’s really good for them. And I think it’s good for us. And, uh, it’s an exciting new world. It’s, uh, you know, uh, right at the top of the news today, you know, the, president’s talking about getting rid of Tik Tok, which is just shocking. Um, but, uh, so I think it’s a win, win, and, uh, but like anything else you just have to proceed carefully and, uh, and rely on your agents. We’re here for a reason. We’re here to help dancers. That’s my mission in life is, you know, how can we help dancers make it a better world for dancers and improve not just their income, but their working conditions and to make sure they’re being treated right. And their images are being misused. So it’s all good. It’s all good.  

It’s all good. You’re bringing up some really important, um, parts of your responsibility as an agent and your roles as an agent, which I think some people might not have considered. I think in the minds of many, the agent is the person that gets you paid, but it’s so, so, so much more.  

Um, I have though heard of a few projects and it kind of blows my mind that things actually still are happening, but I’ve heard of a couple commercials where they’re working remotely. They will quote location scout, somebody’s home via a zoom call where the, um, the talent walks their laptop through their house showing this is where my bed is. This is a window. This is, you know, my kitchen. This has this much space. It’s five feet from here to here, 12 feet from here to here. And then the director will decide, okay, move your bed over to the other corner. So people are shooting like talent, The dancer is becoming the set decorator. Um, like they’ll receive a package in the mail, that’s a lighting kit and they’ll set up their own lights. They’ll set up their own camera. They’re given a tripod, they have to balance the tripod.  They’re given an iPhone or some other camera. What I’m seeing in the few examples that I know of, of work still happening, where the talent is becoming responsible for almost all parts of the project. There’s still a voice on the other side directing them. But wow. Um, I can’t imagine somebody who’s new to the game. Being able to take all of that on without knowing some basic camera terminology and onset language, without being able to speak with a director and take direction, be inside enough to deliver an awesome product, but outside enough to be taking direction, moving the camera, moving the light, doing all these things. So as the amount of work has gone down, is it safe to say that it’s so competitive that this might be the hardest time to catch a break? 

Yeah. I think you brought up a lot of really important topics. Um, First I want to touch how you mentioned how dancers are having to become their own set designers, creative directors through this process. And I will say that, you know, us as agents have had to adapt to that as well as they’re taking on new roles of being their own makeup artists, and hair artists, we had to adapt on our side to make sure that we’re asking for that digital compensation because of the time spent on those things. 

And resources, right? Like actual my makeup, actual my hair equipment, actual my space, like my actual space. So, so those talks are happening in the negotiation. Those things are being accounted for. 

Absolutely. And as they come up and that just once again, bringing up communication is so important for the clients to communicate with us that these things are happening because otherwise there’s no way of us. We’re not there. There’s no way of us knowing that those things are happening. 

Okay. So,  

Uh, Dana, if I could just interject on the other question you said, is it harder to get for a dancer to get a break? And I’ll answer a lot of this. Um, as agents, when we discover a new young talent and we really want you, you, the choreographer to see them, um, there’s nothing that is the same as getting them in the room. And how many times have you gone into a room and you have your favorites, you have the people you like, and you see that one person and you fall in love, you see them and you think I want to hire this person. They’re, they’re ready. And they’re, they’re talented. And they’re beautiful. And you kind of, as the day goes on in your audition, you, you actually created almost an emotional attachment. You want to give that person the first break. That’s really hard to do digitally it’s If we’re going to submit 20 self tapes you’re as the choreographer, you’re going to be, you’re going to be drawn to those people that, you know, can do the job, right. Even if they’re all in different rooms somewhere, and that’s the final shoot you were talking about commercials, just pay attention to how many commercials. Now it’s not 20 people or 10 or five people in a shot. It’s five shots of individual people. So, so it’s much harder I think, to get a break. Um, and so it’s tough. It’s a tough market. And that’s why the, especially the younger dancers, they really need to stay on their job, which their job definition right now is stay in shape, uh, take digital classes, um, make sure your pictures are ready because there’s going to be the day. And I think it’s not that far away. I think early 2021, where it’s going to take off again. Cause once we can start shooting, I mean, I have you watched everything on Netflix yet. Cause I’m getting close. So they need, they need, uh, they need material to go on Netflix and Amazon and Apple TV and Disney channel. Um, and they don’t have it because they’re not shooting. And so when things do start, my advice is be ready. But in answering your question, yeah, it’s hard for a young dancer to get a break, right. There’s less opportunities. And um, and there’s less ways to get at.  

Yeah, I’ve heard actually a few choreographers use this term. I know Calvit Hodge has used it. And so as from Jamal Sims and they say, stay ready so you don’t have to get ready. And I love that.

It’s such a good quote, such a good mantra and thing to repeat. Um, especially in moments like this, where it is so tempting to take a little bit of a COVID vacation co-vacation, if you will. Um, I really like Tim, what you said about the need for more content. It didn’t dawn on me until this moment that the rate of consumption of media right now is probably higher than it’s ever been before. There will be huge demand for fresh new material enter talent. Right. So that’s really important. I think to remember,  

Just think of some of the jobs like, um, we have Zach Woodley is not in Utah doing high school musical. Um, but they’re not, I think, I don’t think they’re halfway through the season. They need a season. So when they can, they’re going to start shooting. Um, and uh, little mermaid came back from London. Um, movie’s not done. Those are just the projects that had started. And then if you start thinking of the projects that want to start, it’s going to be, I think, and I hope I’m right. I think it’s going to be a bit of a boom town that, um, once you can shoot, once we do get a vaccine and uh, we can really get back to work. I think, um, in our business it is going to be, it may be a, like a slight dimmer switch turning on. It might not be a full light switch, but it’s going to go on and it’s going to start burning bright, uh, at some point and it’s going to be a lot of stuff out there ready to go to work.  

Cool. I, I think that is a very hopeful thought. I will choose to keep that thought. Um, I do want to, I do want to circle back to what you mentioned around the audition, however, how nothing can be a substitute for that in-person in the room face to face exchange. So I hear you loud and clear, but I do want to add another angle, um, especially, and this is from the talent end of things. Actually, I love being asked to self submit to self-tape because I get to control all of the things I get to decide If I do 45 takes. I get to decide where my light is. If I change my outfit six different times, based on how it looks on camera. I get to choose the edit. I really enjoy that element. Um, and perhaps this is because I’m a person that has a decent technical aptitude for video editing, music editing, et cetera.  But, um, I’m wondering if there are any things, any elements, be it in the audition or otherwise that are happening now that you think won’t go away. Like the self-tape is, has always existed, but was used much less. Will it be used more? Is it useful? Is it helpful? Is it cheaper than renting space and having a massive cattle call, um, is, is the talent using their own lights and doing their own hair and makeup going to be something that stays because it’s cheaper. Is it visibly that much worse than the alternative? Like what, what things are we seeing now that you think will stay even in the new normal? 

Yeah, I mean, to be completely honest, I think that we were already straying less and less away from open auditions. There were hardly as much open auditions from when I started at the agency to right before COVID hit. So yeah, I think that concept is going to be more and more, at least it’s going to be more submission based, more direct bookings and more, um, select auditions. So private auditions.

Dana, let me ask you as a choreographer. Um, if, if you look at self-tapes, cause I think earlier on if we people would send us tapes and we would look at that tape and decided where we wanted to see them in person, this was back in the good old days, about five years ago. Um, uh, as a choreographer don’t you want to see, I mean, if you have to kind of separate the people that you know, and you work with, you have a relationship with, or that you’ve seen and you admire, from the people that you haven’t seen. So if you see somebody who submits a self-tape, uh, do you want to see them in person or do you want to, are you okay with just seeing the self tape and saying I’ll hire that, that person.  

You know what? You’re bringing up a great, an excellent point. The answer for me is both. I love a first round, like first like massive dump of video submissions that I can scrub through very quickly determine, you know, it’s true. What they say on performances. Start big, finish big fill in the middle. I will, I will watch the beginning of somebody’s submission and the end. And if I need any more information, I’ll go look for it. But that saves me a lot more time than, than inviting one at one at a time into the room or five at a time into the room teaching a two minute combination watching a two minute combination, like that takes a lot of time. And I actually, I don’t so much mind having the scrub process takes far less time, but then at the end of that scrub process, you’re right, Tim, I want to see the human and I want to know how they interact because it’s not just the talent that matters. It’s the directability, the energy, the relationship, the openness of the person to really get the job done, which is less obvious in a video submission than it isn’t.  

And sometimes it’s behavior in the room. One of the funniest auditions I ever observed, uh, the choreographer at the very end, uh, was getting ready to take a group of 10 dancers on a tour. And he was really ruminating and trying to make those last decisions. You got 20 people in the room, you’re trying to pick the eighth and he’s looking at it and he’s talking to his assistant and finally he looks up and um, I’ll use a different word, but he said, can I get the hands of the jerks that are out there? You know who you are? He didn’t use the word jerks. Um, he said, you know who you are. You’re the one that’s always, you know, making trouble when It’s not necessary. Can I just get your hands? And all the dancers kinda just looked at each other. I thought it was a hysterical.   

Did anybody raise their hand? 

Nobody raised their hand, nobody raised their.. but you understand the point. You’re trying to get a vibe. You’re trying to get a feel, especially when you’re going on the road or when you’re doing a movie. Look how long you were In the Heights when you’re choreographing that it’s, it’s, it’s a family you’re together every day. And it’s important to be able to pick up the vibe of the people that this is so important to be comfortable in the room you like to work with the people you like to work with. And so one of the challenges for a dancer is how do you become one of those people that people like to work with? 

Yes. And how do you get that across if you are that person that, but they don’t know it yet. How do you genuinely genuinely translate that, um, in an audition experience or in a self tape, even, um, how does that come across? How do you actually.. 

Yeah, I mean, it’s like right now, when I’m at the market or wherever with a mask, I almost want to tell people I’m smiling in this conversation.  

Who was I just telling this? My smiles have now transferred there in my whole body when I’m wearing a mask, my body smiles and I just bounce so that people know I’m kind. Um, it’s so funny that you mentioned that. I was just saying that it’s so funny. Um, okay. I love this story, Tim of this, like getting down to brass tacks, asking the room. Okay. Be real with me. Who, who are you like, how do you behave? Um, I’ve been in the room when similar, awkward in the audition room that is. When similar questions are asked as like this narrowing down of people. And it can feel very, um, uh, dehumanizing to an extent actually I think auditions are in general. It’s not uncommon. And I think it will be addressed. Um, when we see our world get back to normal, at least I hope to see this change. Um, a little bit less black girls over there, white girls over here. No, no, no, honey, you go, you go with the Brown girls. Okay. Red heads over there. It’s it’s like very extremely dehumanizing and insensitive. Um, I hope to see it change. Um, but I’m curious, Meisha, do you have any other, um, hopes for the way that auditions will change moving forward? 

Yeah. And I think that you brought up a really great point and I think that we are starting to see that change just this week. Uh, casting directors are changing their language. When they’re asking for submissions with, please tell me we’re done with ethnically ambiguous. Yes. I haven’t seen ethically ambiguous in the past week. I would say, 

What does it mean?  It’s almost like sending me people are there ethically I don’t know, right? It’s almost makes no sense. 

It seems very hurtful in a way to me to just say, okay, others, you others versus like you actuals you real things. You, you identities. 

You know, in the past have been asked to revise our submission because what exactly what that statement is, what exactly is ethically ambiguous? So we could submit and they could be like, Oh, we didn’t ask for this. 

Interesting. 

And then you’re like, well you, what, what are we supposed to be getting off of? So I think people are at the end of the day, right now, it’s a positive change that we’re seeing. And for example, there was a submission and they said, people, humans they are starting to use those type of terminology, which is refreshing to see 

Opposed to women or men?

Exactly.  And the end of the day, we’re all humans. 

So I love this. I love this so much. Okay. I’m so glad to hear that. Agents are starting to see a positive shift in the language of audition notices and casting breakdowns. I am jumping out here because I want to share a teachable moment, no matter what your job title, agent, casting director, teacher, talent, public figure, or private figure. You are a leader to someone, someone is looking to you for what to say and how to act. People in those leadership roles. And again, that means all of us, all of us are a leader to someone, people in leadership roles must demonstrate an effort to be culturally sensitive and progressive. It is our responsibility to employ the language and the actions that reflect the values of the world that we want to live in. The world that we are creating. If I’ve learned one thing since starting this podcast, it’s that words are important. Yes, words fall in and out of fashion. Yes, they hold different meanings in different contexts. Yes, I will almost certainly wish I had used them differently, but they are important. All right. With that said, let’s jump back in and hear Meisha demystify and decode some common audition language.  

I have seen a handful of times, some very coded language come through on audition breakdowns, which is what the buyer is asking for things for example, like dress, body conscious or looking for ethnically ambiguous people. Could you demystify what those words mean? Or, and are there any others that you think might be easily misunderstood? Any, any kind of code language that somebody new to the industry might not speak yet? 

Yeah, I think that’s a really great question. And sometimes, honestly we are trying to figure it out ourselves, but I think what’s really important is to understand the artists that you were making that submission for or the brand that you’re making that submission for. So body conscious going into a Beyonce audition is going to be completely different then going into a Ryan Heffington for example, body conscious audition. So, and that’s what our clients can and should utilize us for is I will have clients text me outfit options to make sure that what they’re auditioning in is going to be best represented and that they’re not going to walk in and be like, well, you said body conscious, but could mean literally pretty much anything that is form fitting to you. It doesn’t always have to mean I’m going to be wearing minimal clothing. It could just mean, I want to see your lines, our job to determine what that means for this specific project that we’re working on. 

Okay. Love that. So there’s this element of like, if, if communication is mom, then dad is like research, right? Talk, get the information and then research. Do your homework, figure out what that means in this specific instance. 

Absolutely. And I always see the most successful dancers that I have seen are the ones that if you’re going in for a commercial audition, per se, that you’re researching the brand’s history, that you are looking at previous brands that the in previous ads that have been ran by the company and see what direction they’re moving towards, tried to base your decisions of what you’re wearing and how you’re going to walk in from your research. And we’re here to help you with that research as well. 

Oh man. Oh, I used to be a person that fast forwarded through commercials. You know, I loved my shows and I wanted to just be in the show. But since I started working in commercials and since I’ve had the help of a handful of commercials in making a down payment on a home, I now watch commercials very carefully. And I really enjoy the things that I learned and observed. One of the things that I’ve noticed about commercials is almost always, you’ll see wedding rings on lead people. Married people apparently are trustworthy. They make good decisions. We want to be like that. Another thing that I noticed, and I, whenever I teach audition workshop or audition skills in, in any of my classes, um, I ask people for the last time they saw a belly button in a commercial that was not for Pepto Bismal or Tums, yet most of the dancers, I know when they go audition for a commercial, they’re wearing a midriff shirt. I’m like really? When was the last time you saw that happen on the commercial? Not very often. So I think when auditioning for commercials, yes. The idea of body conscious is certainly more conservative than if we’re talking music videos. In which case I cannot recall the music video where there was not visible belly button. Okay. So know what you’re going in for big, big thing.  

Um, okay. Let’s, I’d like to open to both of you, and this is like the kernel of what I would love to, for my listeners to walk away with today. What do your clients that are consistently working consistently do and what do they not do that keeps them working? 

I think the dancers that are consistently working are the dancers that take their career and they put it as, as dancers you are your own business entity and the dancers that have a business mindset and take their careers as such are the ones that tend to be most successful successful. So the do’s and the don’ts, I think we touched upon this in, at the end of the day, people want to be around good people, kind humans, people that they enjoy being around. And that is priceless. There could be the most talented dancer in the world, but they don’t have a good attitude at the end of the day, that’s is going to get around danceville. Like I used to, like I like to say dance world is very small and it can be extremely damaging to a career. So be a good human, keep your relationships up, stay in communication with your team and treat yourself as you should as your own business. 

Tim, do you have anything you’d like to add to that?  

You know, I always say look for when I used to audition and if I didn’t get the job, which happens all the time, um, less and less as life as went on. Um, anyway, I like to, I would make a point of going to see, see that show on TV to see who they did hire. I would even sneak into studios to watch them rehearse, to see who they hired. Cause I wanted to know, okay, why did they hire that guy and not me? Um, but at the end of the day, the dancers that work all the time, if you look at them, they’re really good. They, they are really good and not just really good technique. They know how to perform on camera. They know how to, uh, to act in the room. It’s like what you were talking about with self-tapes. They know how to self-tape they’ve taken the time to learn this.  

And, and it gets back to also being somebody that people want to work with on a personal level. So I don’t know really it’s there’s people you’ll see them and you’ll see them in every job. And you think, and you don’t even have to think about it. It’s like, well, of course they got the job they’re perfect. And that can change from job to job. Um, one movie is definitely different than any other and you know, sometimes it’s just not your job. It’s yeah, there is no really other explanation other than, you know what, it’s not your job. It just didn’t come down your way. So you’ve got to move on.  

I love that you brought that up and I love that you’re a curious person who, who will follow up on the project instead of develop this, um, like scab about the project, right? You get cut. And then all of a sudden that project becomes the worst and you didn’t want it anyways and you know, forget them. And you don’t go back to look at it because it might be painful, but you look at what it was and you learn and you, you learn from what you might do differently next time. Um, it’s one of my favorite things when I’m auditioning, when I’m in the room to not watch the talented people auditioning, but to watch the people on the other side of the table and what they’re watching, I really like that you brought that up. I think it would be good practice for the dancers that are listening to, um, try as hard as you can to not develop the scar or the scab that will keep you from looking back at that project that you did not get that you thought that you would, but instead go back and look and say, Oh, okay, what, what was that? And why was that not me? Knowing that the answer to that is it’s okay, that it’s not me, but you can absolutely learn from that. If you go look,  

I love that you said that. And one theory of mine and I, you see it happen. Um, because we, we often have our clients and we want them to come to us and say, “Hey, you know, I’ve been to five auditions and I get to the end and I don’t get picked, or I don’t get to the end.” Um, and the advice I see it happen where people, they take their last audition, the last loss, the last rejection to the next audition. And if you’re not careful, I love that. You said, there’s there scabs or whatever you want to call it. They, they take that loss and they start owning it right. Instead of shedding it. And you have to just, it’s so many times you tell somebody, Hey, you did great. It just, this wasn’t your, this wasn’t the time for your, we had somebody else that was, um, you know, that was better.  But if you take that loss, if you take it personally and you drag that to the next audition and then the next, and then the next, and then what you have on your hand is a desperate, depressed dancer. And nobody wants to look desperate and depressed. Um, you have to take, um, you have to take joy in, into every audition and that’s what you do so well with everything you do. Um, you have to enjoy it. Why else are you dancing? You know, you’re dancing the emotion and the joy of it. So you have to be able to express that. And if you’re going to kind of lock down those feelings and own them, it’s going to be more and more difficult,  

Right? Especially if you are dancing in the commercial industry where the whole point of commercials is to sell the idea that life, with this thing, with this pop star, with this product, with this brand, whatever life with this thing is better. You’re more joyful. You’re more happy, which I do think is kind of a damaging attitude as far as mental health is concerned. But it’s, it’s part of what we’re asked to do is like demonstrate life with this thing is so great before I had Skechers. I didn’t dance, but when I have Sketchers on life is great and I’m joyful and all the things. So the, the capacity to be happy and joyful and resilient is definitely an attractive quality. Anytime I’m looking to book a dancer, um, fortunately for me, it’s part of my disposition to be joyful. I’ve actually gotten some criticism on that. Like Dana, could you please stop smiling? Um, but yeah, it’s to not bring Tim the word you used, the thing is so, so important, desperate. And after being knocked out of the ring so many times, it can, especially at a time like today, when many of us have gone without a job for so long, it may be hard to walk in the room without that tinge of desperation. But I think, again, I go back to asking, when was the last time you saw a commercial or a music video where the dancers behind the product or the, or the person looked desperate? Like that’s not a look that we seek. Um, the other one that I use as an example, when I’m teaching audition techniques is fear. Like when was the last time you saw somebody looking afraid behind Beyonce? Actually never like, that’s the look that doesn’t get you hired. So although it is usually the feeling somewhere underneath all of that being afraid is normal in an audition, but it’s certainly not the thing that you’re selling most often  

I think you have to approach it as a skateboarder, approaches his ride down the hill or a skier or a, you know, any of those challenges. Is it scary? Yeah. It’s a little bit scary, but you know, it’s a blast, like a basketball player getting into a game. You have to approach it as like, you know, I’m going to kill this and I’m going to have a good time doing it. Um, I used to love auditions. I hate getting cut, but I love auditions. 

That’s awesome. Um, Meisha, do you have anything else, any other audition stories, whether they’re your own or stories that you’ve heard, um, coming to you via clients that might be inspiring or otherwise very entertaining. 

Yeah. Um, honestly, there’s so many that come to mind. When you say that question, it’s hard to pinpoint one experience or even my own experiences in, you know, auditioning. But I will say there is seriously nothing better than hearing our client’s experiences after an audition. And that has been unfortunately, a little eliminated during this time because we have an open door policy, pre pandemic, where clients would audition. They come in, they’re sweaty, they’re telling their stories and you’re getting to know your clients better. And that’s the joy. One of the many joys of our job. But one time specifically, this is probably more recent. I would say was there was three audition. There was two major auditions happening at the same time with a major job taking up. I think there was 40 girls booked on this project. And one was a super bowl audition. One was a Superbowl commercial audition. And then one was for a major artist music video that 40 top industry girls were booked on. And they were all happening at the same time. So we were, I mean on a high, right? Like this cannot get any better for our dancers. And then you receive the times and the locations, they’re all the same time and they’re all spread across LA. So at this point we’re like, Oh my gosh, what are we supposed to be doing? So it was a thrill. I will have to say very least because thankfully the choreographers actually all work together. You know, you hear the buzz of course. And you know, dancers started asking the choreographers, Hey, can I leave for just 10 minutes? And that specific choreographer, right? 10 minutes, that specific choreographer that was holding a Superbowl audition said it was his last audition for the next four years. So everybody was like, I need, this is my chance to be at this audition. I was getting time changes for these auditions every 10, 20 minutes call times were changing for the music videos. I mean, it was, I woke up at 6:00 AM and it was just non nonstop and that whole day clients in and out, and that’s as the best. That’s what you, what you want for your clients.  

Can I interject right here? Dana? One thing I want to make a point to the dancers is how invested we as agents are in your careers and you could see it or hear it in Meisha’s voice when she was talking about that. We, we don’t represent people that we don’t want to represent. It’s we believe in you. We want you to work. That’s our mission in life is to help you find your way in this crazy career that we’ve all chosen. Um, so when we recommend somebody for a job is because we know you is the right person for the job, and we want you to get that job. And so when, when they come in and their heart’s broken because they didn’t get the job or they come in, because they said, they’re so excited, cause they did get the job or, you know, whatever it is and happens where we’re just totally into it and totally committed.  And it’s, it’s, uh, we live through you guys. So it’s, you know, you are our passion where we’re in this business. You can’t be a dance agent without being passionate about it without loving dance and loving the dancers. And, uh, I just, I just want dancers to know that we are, we, we believe in you, we are with you and we just want only success for you. And, and we also understand that it doesn’t always come that way, so we want to figure out, okay, what’s way around it. How are we going to get to that point? So just want to say that,  

Oh, I’m so glad that you did. And in fact, I cannot imagine winding winding off. I cannot imagine going out on a higher note Tim, that’s a brilliant sentiment and it must be true. I, I don’t know how you would sit through how many emails a day on average, do you think  

Hundreds 

Hundreds, hundreds of emails a day without being passionate and wanting to see, um, your client succeed. And I certainly do feel that enthusiasm from you guys in, in being a part of your team, um, feel so tremendously supported. And, and also I’m so glad Meisha that you shared that you mentioned this, the open door policy. I hadn’t really considered the side effect of the pandemic being this, um, the bright spot in your day of seeing my face, uh, experiencing the joy or in some cases, the terror of an audition, um, that, that piece of the agent/client relationship is missing right now. I hadn’t thought about it. I’m glad you brought that up. I think it’s a good reminder for everybody who has an agent right now to check in with them, tell them, hello, tell them a story from your life. And, um, and for all of those dancers seeking representation, um, don’t hide, put yourself out there, put your work out there. There will be a need for you and your talent. Um, and hopefully that need will be coming soon.  

Okay. Well, Dana, thanks so much for inviting us on your podcast. Um, you know, I’ve been a fan of yours ever since it was a Dancer’s Alliance meeting that you were heading. And I remember thinking, I love that woman. And I went up to you afterwards and just said, I just think you’re great. And uh, I always thought you should be in commercials. And you know, 

I remember this, this was before I was at Clear Talent Group. And you introduced yourself to me afterwards. I think you said, I think you said, who are you? Which I think is how I started this call with you. So how appropriate is that? Um, well, I, I feel seen, thank you guys so much and thank you for talking. I hope that everybody listening learned a lot as I know I have, and I just dropped my, um, uh, Fanny pack off my chair. So that made a great noise. We’ll we’ll go out.  

All right. Thank you. Thank you.  

You guys. I miss you miss they good. Stay good. Stay healthy 

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 board member. So kickball change over to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast  to learn more and join. All right, everybody. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Ep. #18 Working Smarter not Harder with Marty Kudelka

Ep. #18 Working Smarter not Harder with Marty Kudelka

 
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Marty Kudelka is Captain Cool in conversation and of course in his movement.  In this episode, Marty talks about how dance kept him out of trouble, his process for choreographing the Trolls movies, and GOING LIVE on IG (something he NEVER thought he’d do). Now here we go, deep into the San Fernando Valley, where Marty hangs out  (literally suspended in a man sized bird cage), and talks about the freedom of freestyle, the power of positive procrastination, and other ways you can #worksmarternotharder

Show Notes

Quick Links:

ML’s GofundMe

Marty Kudelka

HBO Special FSLS

YT: Kmel Vs 3 Youtube video 

Me and Kmel

JT and Sza Video

Legends of Summer Tour? 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BHVKz-vBUYj/?igshid=rc1e1p9gu67m

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.  

Ah yep. Today, no matter where you are, I am bringing you to the front yard of my friend and mentor and legendary choreographer, Marty Kudelka! Yes, we are going deep into the Valley where the sky is blue and the birds chirp and garbage trucks squeal like lot of squealing garbage trucks. Terrifying sounds. Thank God for editing. So Marty and I talk about specific people and performances during this episode and I want to say right now at the front of it that all of those people, places and performances are going to be linked in the show notes of this episode, episode 18 of my website. So if you’re interested in any of those people, places, things and shows, then head on over to theDanawilson.com/podcast and search for episode 18. 

Oh also every podcast episode is available in video form on YouTube seven days after the podcast comes out here. So this episodes YouTube video will definitely include links to the memorable moments. Well at least the ones that were caught on tape. Um, so be sure to check that out as well. All right, before we talk to Marty, I want to talk to you. How are you feeling? After last week’s episode on processing emotions, I have been making it a habit to ask how are you feeling instead of how are you doing, how are you feeling gives you an opportunity to actually process and check in with your body and the feelings inside of it instead of just reporting the usual. I’m good. How are you? I personally, right now I’m feeling exhausted like a particular brand of exhausted, throbbing knee’s, kind of an achy back. That means I’ve been dancing and probably not using my abdominals as much as I should be, but Oh, speaking of dancing a lot, my win this week is actually a community win. Over the weekend, The seaweed sisters taught for the movement lifestyle’s 24 hour move-a-thon fundraiser, and as of this moment, as of the recording of this episode, the studio has raised over $63,000. Holy smokes, huge win, and if you’re listening to this podcast at the time of its release, then they’re still accepting donations. So if you can head over to ML’s GofundMe.  All right, now it is your turn to share a win. What’s going well in your world? Hit me.  

Awesome. I am glad that you’re winning. Congratulations. Now Marty and I cover a lot in this episode. Everything from working on the trolls movies and doing things that he never thought he’d do in a million years to several strolls down different memory lanes. Wait, is that a thing? Are they like memory street memory Avenue, memory circle. Anyways, we go there. So I hope you’re ready and I hope you enjoy this conversation with Marty Kudelka.  

Dana: All right, Marty, Dog, Dog! 


Marty: Dana Dane Dog! 

Welcome to the podcas t, my friend. This is long overdue. 

Marty: Absolutely. Thanks, Homie, thanks for having me.

I’m really stoked about this because A, uh, you’re my dear friend and also mentor, but B, you are probably the most mentioned person on the podcast, especially when I’m talking about career and, professional life because you have played such a key role in my professional life. So there’s that. Um, but before we get too deep, I would love for you very quickly to introduce yourself and tell us where you are right now. 

What’s up? This is Marty Kudelka checking in team Roast, you know, we sizzle the most, you know how it be, I’ m in, the bird cage, my own little Disneyland here in Valley village, California. Talking to one of my favorite humans on earth, Dana, Dana dog, Wilson,

The crowd goes wild. “Ahhh”, so you, you did not mention in your bio that you are, uh, one of the greatest choreographers ever to have lived. And I think I found that out on the internet, so it must be true. Um, but you are also a creative director and a teacher. Oh, and I live on auto row, so we’re getting some automobile sounds today. Some people are not honoring the social distancing today I can tell cause it’s beautiful outside and there are way more car and motorcycle sounds than usual. Um, but back to you, uh, how long have you been choreographing for?  

Um, before I knew what like choreography was even, I didn’t know what I was doing. I called it making up routines or putting routines together. I believe my first one was when I was 14 years old. I was in middle school and it was for a talent show and me and one other girl named Brandy Davis. I still, I still keep in touch with her too. And um, we dance to Rob Bass “It Takes Two”  at our talent show and, and I’m sorry I wasn’t in middle school, I was a freshmen in high school, which was even more scary because literally I’m the young kid on the block, little white guy up on stage with hammer pants on like doing the running man for 400 8 counts. So that was my first time I ever put together something. And then I started kind of just teaching my friends right after that. Mmm. Kind of a trade off. Like they would get, keep me from getting beat up at school and I would teach them dance, kind of thing. And um, that was my first intro into choreography and teaching, if you will, because then I saw, well, I can like make some money or at least get ahead doing something that I like to do. Um, so that was my intro. It’s not your typical story, but that’s really, that’s, that’s to me, that’s when I started choreographing because even though I didn’t know what an eight count was or a bar of music was, I knew when the song changed, you should change your steps, you know, that was kind of common sense. So I was putting the stuff down yeah. Since I was 14 and now I’m a lot older than that  

Truth. Yeah, true. Just a few years. Um, so there’s a classic case of learn by doing where you like didn’t go to school for this or you didn’t come up through a competition convention. Typical studio. 

Um, there’s going to be a trash truck. Oh, sorry. Got it. That happens out here on the bird’s nest. 

That’s a trash truck. That is a trash truck. 

So I am lucky enough to have been part of your creative process a handful of times. And by handful, I mean a lot. Um, and, but for people who are listening, who might not have met you or worked for you or even taken your class, can you explain a little bit of your creative process from the moment you hear the song to then seeing it danced on other bodies or on a stage? 

Yeah, I mean we, you know, you know firsthand we’d be here until next Thursday if I really answered that question in depth from A to Z. So I’ll try to make it like real somewhat quicker. 

Give us the bullets. 

Yeah. Um, I mean first comes, it depends, that’s a hard question because it’s so broad because it depends if it’s for one single number or if it’s for a, you know, club show where it’s 10 numbers or it’s for a tour that has, you know, a giant stage and production value, you know, so it, it depends.  But say just for, as an example of music video, we’ll base it off that. So if I, once I get the song, the first thing I’m going to want to do is learn this song as well as I can and, and then create like the basic plan of what I’m going to do. Mmm. If it was for class, I would just start figuring out what I’m going to. Which part of the music you don’t want to dance too. And then kind of make a up plan comes from music video. Before I did anything, I would probably ask for the treatment. If There was a treatment at that point too, figuring out what the story is or if it’s just a performance video or just dancing or whatever. So that way I know I’m not doing extra stuff. Mmm. Work smarter, not harder. So those are two different versions. So going back, I’m going to keep flipping it now. Back to video or a class. Yeah. I would know what I’m going to dance to already. Then I’m going to stand up. I actually did this last night, Which is crazy. I didn’t think about that. Mmm. So I’m making something up. So I listened to the song and I already knew the song really well, but I haven’t heard it in about shoot over 15 years easily. But I put it my headphones in and started listening to it and like, okay, made a decision. This is the part I’m going to dance to. I already pretty much knew it got up, I started moving around until I have like a little at least a couple, a few eight counts. Then I’ll take a break, then I’ll listen to it again and listen to what I don’t have. Then stand up, try to fill in the gaps and they come slowly but surely like where I stand now morning with the routine I have like the first two eight counts. Then there’s like two, two and a half counts missing and then another eight count, three eight counts missing another four. Mmm. Once I do that, once I have enough then I like to call in the troops, which is you know the, YOU, the Ivan, the Nats, like call you guys in and start teaching it to you. I still haven’t seen it by this point by the way, but once I, call you guys in, and then, um, A. I’m getting to learn how to teach it. And B. I’m seeing it on another human and deciding whether I like it or not or what to change or what to add. Or you guys may give me an idea on how you finish and go into something. So it’s a big puzzle basically. You know, you never just do the puzzle like this. You know, sorry, I know it’s a podcast from up to down or you know what I mean? You have to fill out the frame and then you start making like parts over here and parts that you know are easier to do. And that’s the same thing with putting together a routine regardless whether it’s for a video or class  

Dana: Solid. That’s a great answer. You set up the segue so beautifully. Thank you for that. Um, Marty basically wrote the book titled “work smarter not harder” and I want to go through that book now and name the chapters if we could. And you already, you, you, you set up a few of those. But I have to tell people on the outside right now that I sent Marty a little warmup text before we got on the phone today. I was like, Hey, these are some of the things I want to talk about. This is kind of the, the outline, you know, we’ll, we’ll keep it loose and we can flow, but I definitely want to do blah blah blah. I want to hear about bleh be ready to answer blah and dah dah. And you wrote me back, I’m going to pull up the text also at the end 

And now that you just asked me the question I’m wishing I would have looked at it more 

Um, at the, at the last thing I asked you is anything else you want to cover or specifically not talk about and your response was “anything you want and I barely read this BTW finger pointing up. I just like, I just like to freestyle these days.” So that’s, that’s pretty much where we’re at. We’re freestyling. Okay. So based on what you just said, a you make sure you have all the information and you are really good. You actually taught me this, uh, about how to identify the people that have the information just by watching. Very good at sitting back and watching like, Oh, that’s my guy for this. Oh, that’s the dude for this. Oh, here’s the one you want to have in the room for this. So you’re, you’re great at identifying the sources of information and then you’re a great listener. Actually, I kind of wanted to play a game later, but we’ll, well we’ll see if we get there. If you had to put a price on your most valuable asset, you, Marty Kudelka A. what would the price be? And B. what is that asset? I could even, I could even call it a part of your body. What is the most part of your body?  

Uh, my ears.  

Boom. I was going to say one, two, three and have us say it at the same time.  

Oh yeah. That’s easy. Yeah. There’s no amount of money though. Yeah. Ears are like none other. It’s true. Justin’s ears are really good too. I can’t lie. That dude, you know he is a freak. That guy hears stuff and I mean he has to be good because of who he is at paying attention to his surroundings because you know with crazy fans or whatever, he’s got to stay aware so that that that’s helped him do that. But for some reason I always look the same way. I mean I just want to know what’s going on around me. Maybe cause I got in trouble when I was younger, you know, so I was always on the lookout but it helps in what we do specifically. Like that is a big thing of working smarter, not harder. Like if you pay attention like what.. the main.. I think it should be called “work smarter, not harder. Dot dot, dot. It’s just common sense” because it is, if you use common sense like it’s not that hard.  What we do. It’s really, it’s really not. And it’s not, if you just pay attention, it’s not hard to figure out who is the person that needs that you go to for this or this or like you just said like it’s not that hard if you just pay attention. But a lot of times it’s dancers and even you know, choreographers and directors, we get so into what we’re doing that we don’t sit down for a second and pay attention. A lot of people these days want, they feel like the more that I do it, the better I’m going to get it. Like even  Right. That’s the same principle as just seeing the layout of whatever you’re doing.  

I love that. It’s an excellent lesson and we are all receiving a masterclass in it right now. Okay, so get the info. Be watchful, listen. Of course. And then the next one I think that you are really well prepped for and well set up with is this nature and then the skill and they are different. The nature and the nurture, um, of being a freestyler, I think that you are a freestyler like in your DNA, but then it’s also a muscle in you and in your process that has gotten really, really strong. Um, how, how do you think starting as a freestyler, uh, contributed to your workflow right now?  

Freestyle helped me. I mean, it helped mold my style. That’s still how I started. Like last night when I started my routine, I didn’t say I’m to do a, Mmm, what is the first move that I do? I do like these jazz hands to my stomach, right. And my foot goes out and in

And does it look like this, ‘dah doom?’  

A little bit. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re so good.  

I wonder if you could talk it to me and I could do it. Okay.  

Of course I could, I just talked about this on my IG live the other day, but I’ll, I taught you and I then at one point sitting down like four, I think it was four eight counts and y’all got up and did it. Perfect. We should do that again. 

Yeah, let’s definitely do that again.

But when I, when I started this move, I didn’t get up, Off my couch and say, Oh I’m going to put some jazz hands to my stomach. Like I just, I knew where that were. The first count is seven, eight ‘and a’. And, all I knew is I’m starting on the ‘and a’ after the eight and then I just did that and it, it was like, Oh that feels cool. I know it looks cool cause I’ve done it before. So, okay. That’s my starting point. And then from there I just let my body go. But if I wouldn’t have, I had that training growing up and the freestyle aspect, like in the freestyle world, then I don’t know what I would be doing. Like I don’t know if people who aren’t, have never been in that freestyle world. I don’t know how they, if they go into a studio and just move through a bunch of moves, I have no idea what their creative process is because I’m not them. And I’ve never been rooms with people like that. I’ve always been around people who are similar and come from similar backgrounds, which is who I gravitate towards, dancers, you know what I mean? People who can boogie and also do choreography.  

Um, sneak attack. This is me opening the door and coming out of my little closet and introducing myself to you for the first time as a person who when we met nothing terrified me more than freestyling and learning choreography, this might’ve been why we got along well, right? As somebody who leads with freestyle might really do well by enhancing their team, by adding a person who remembers all the moves that gets spit out and can keep them or teach them or whatever. But um, it took you and some hard slap in the faces. Slap slap in the faces. No, I have one face, uh, slaps in the face of learning that that weakness needed to get stronger for me. One of them actually happened at your house? Um, it was right after, maybe not right, maybe not the same day, but shortly after the big audition for the future sex love tour. And there were like 500 people. Was it an open call or was it just selective call but mad people?  

No, it was, it was, there was like 250 people, but it was, I selected all of them and then a few people, like five people crashed.  

Okay. So massive audition. And we filmed the end and either the next day, the day, I don’t remember, we were watching the footage at your house and we had an unexpected intruder. I don’t even think he rang the bell. He probably like bolted up. Yeah, he just walked in, shout out b-boy kmel, Um, but I remember he looked at your TV and he was like, what is this garbage? And I was like, um, excuse me, this is the best dancers in Los Angeles. And he was like, those people are garbage. And he walked up to the TV and he pointed at Nick Bass and he was like, he was like, my shoe has more talent than that guy. And then he pointed at Misha and he was like, “Please! He’s okay. But mostly he’s garbage.” And then he pointed at the next guy and it was like, I’m sorry, wait a second. These people are like ridiculously talented. How could you even say that you’re delusional? And he, that was a bad idea, Little Dana,

It was a really, really bad idea. I remember it like it was yesterday. And I remember looking at you like, here she goes, look out man. She just had no idea what she did. 

So what I did was redirect his, uh, b-boy battle mentality from other people to me. And he basically went, okay, and who are you? And I was like, I’m Dana. And he was like, uh, exactly. Who are you? And I was like, I’m a dancer. And he was like, no, you’re not. And it was like, uh, yeah, I am. And he was like, why? Why have I never seen you out? I’ve never seen you at the club. And I was like, that’s because I’m 18 or I was 19 at the time.  

Maybe I was like, I’m not allowed to go to clubs. And then he laughed so hard, he probably started crying. He was like, you are not a dancer, you are a robot. You are a machine that has been trained to remember other people’s moves. You think you love dance, you don’t love dance. If you did, it would come from you and it would come without somebody else’s telling you to do it. And I didn’t cry at the time. I think I got home and really processed what he had just said. But I did cry hard about that and the thought that there might be some truth to it. And um, that definitely motivated me to explore freestyle and dancing strictly for myself. Not for accolades or a job or an award or recognition in some other form, but just because it feels freaking good.  Um, and especially being so focused on winning at the industry, which is what my primary goal was at the time. I really hadn’t been thinking about that a lot. So that conversation woke me up. And also most of your classes at the time, especially, this is back in 2005, ended with a freestyle circle. Like that’s, it was a part of class. Like that was, that’s what what we did. Um, I don’t remember where this conversation started, but Oh, the importance of freestyle and me telling you that until we met, it really wasn’t a part of my daily life  

That day, meeting Kmel. You knew Kmel?

Oh, I knew, I absolutely knew of him and I’d watched him get down. I remember a specific  Youtube video  where he battles three different people at one time and roasts them all. Uh, I’ll try to find that out. We’ll try to share that. But that’s another thing when I talk about you in addition to you just being, um, my mentor and the person that I worked for most directly in my life. But you’re also the person that introduced me to the most influential figures of my life. One of them is Toni Basil. Um, Kmel is included on that list. Popin’ Pete is on that list. Really. I got so fortunate in my timing and placement in meeting you that I learned, you know, the studio that I came from, we offered hip hop once a week and it was for an hour and after you change out of your leotard and tights, that’s really like 45 minutes. Um, but I got to LA, fell in love with your style and fell in love with street styles. And then you introduced me to Toni Basil who taught me everything I know about locking. You introduced me to Pete, taught me everything I know about popping and you introduced me and gave me an appetite for freestyling, which is really compounded and made me the dancer that I am today.  

Absolutely. It’s a huge part in what you do.  

Yeah.  

You be roasting fools now.  

Um, I have good teachers. We’re gonna say,  

Dana: I hope you are digging, getting to know this guy. Marty is clearly a very laid back dude who loves a good story. He is captain cool in conversation and of course in his moves and we talked for a while about his public persona, about him being very friendly but not necessarily very accessible. After all, he is extremely busy working at the top of his field and to add to that list, he’s also a family man and to add to that list, he’s also a super sports enthusiast. We’ll get into that later. Marty was never really one to engage much in the social media sphere until now. He’s been doing daily or at least almost daily IG lives and I do want you to hear about that. Let’s get back into it.  

To be honest, the first one I ever did was, was was Lucy, my daughter at a clipper game like years ago. So I had done one before but I’d never done one by myself and Mo and strictly to talk about dance. So it started of course when this quarantine started and I think I started on day one and I missed a couple of days, but I’m trying to do it every day as of now. I never thought I would be doing this in a billion years and I’m really, really enjoying it. You know, we don’t just talk about dance on there. Like I had kmel, on the other day and we were just talking about real life stuff and stuff that we had done back for the day. In the end, people were loving it.  

Yeah. Like a peek into your world, right? It’s like this is your house, this is the you, this is unfiltered. This is uncensored. And it’s,  

Yeah, it’s, it is. It’s cool. It’s, it’s wild though. Um, I’ve been being brave and being, I haven’t seen a lot of other people doing this and cause whenever I’m on their Instagram, but I, I accept whoever, like if somebody requests me and I don’t know them, I’ll still pick up the request. And I’ve had some couple of funny experiences.  

I can only imagine.  

It’s been fun. I mean, it’s better than sitting I guess watching TV all day, you know what I mean? So, and another cool thing is I’ve connected with people that I haven’t talked to in like 1520 plus years.  

I love this. Yes. It’s amazing the internet is being used for what it was intended to be used for connecting people and solving problems and getting information. Yeah, I’m all about it. Um, one of the things that came up when I popped on your, um, IG live the other day, which reminds me every, uh, Thursday after the podcast comes out, I do an IG live at five. So the podcasts come out, podcasts come out on Wednesday, and then I do a live on Thursday. What’d you doing on Thursday at, uh, at five,  

Uh, going on with you, I guess.  

Okay. So when I jumped on yours last time we started talking about team WOM. Now for those of you that missed the live team, WOM is a well oiled machine and it consists of Marty, myself, and a few other key players. Marty, can you talk about like what makes the dream team?  

Well, my dream team as of now, and it’s been this way for a little bit is me, Dana, AJ, Ivan, and Natalie, um, that’s who I have an intensive called school that is an invite only type of intensive that Dana is a part of of course. And it’s us. Five is the core people. And even, you know, when working on a tour or you know, whatever the job may be, it’s always, it’s not always us five. I alternate as well, depending on what the gig is and what I feel is right for it. Um, we just had a job for Justin where me and Ivan and Aja were part of the production team and Dana was a dancer on it,  

Although you, although you wouldn’t really know it, that was a cutting room floor of circumstances. It happened then 

And after all that hair. Oh my gosh, so much fake hair. We’ll also, we’ll also be linking to that Video   

But you, but you have a great story about it. Such a good story, but yeah, but, but that, that’s my dream team and they, everyone brings something different to that pot and we’re a very well rounded team. And if you look from me, the oldest going down to the youngest, which is it you?  

No, I think it might be Ivo actually.  

Oh it is Ivo.  

Nat is older than me.  

So then I will, you know, we cover a bunch of different generations and I feel like that’s something that you have to have it to stay connected and stay relevant in this business.  

Good point. If anybody out there is seven years old, we’re looking to fill a slot. Marty and I have questions about tik tok. 

We do actually we’d see what’s cool is there is like a un just like with team Roast cause team Roast really is just me,  Eddie Morales, kmel, and Lil-C. That’s the original team Roast. But we have an extended family, which all you guys are in of course. I mean, you know, Legacy, Flea rock. We have like a big, you know, a big healthy team. Roast family. Same thing with team WOM. I do have a couple of like seven to eight year olds. I’m sure you do too. At your conventions. Who could help us out? 

Oh my gosh. Marty. Easy, young ones are like so capable on the dance front and then also like punctual, respectful. They got a personality. They know how to respond to emails on time. I’m looking at my generation like, come on, y’all step up, let’s go, let’s go communicate. And I, yeah, there are a couple of young people in my life that are very impressive on that front.  

On one of my lives the other day. This shout out to @Mattygoogs if you’re listening, he, uh, he’s a little assistant for us on monsters and he hit me up on my live with the question, like speaking professionally, just perfectly written up. I’ve really enjoyed learning from you and getting the chance to assist you in prior cities. But my question to you is, how can I get better assisting this and that? I really want to be able to cater to the T like, 

So well-groomed, so well-groomed. Believable. Yeah.  

Take note y’all.  

Okay. Marty’s team is made up of people who are professional and still very personable. They can be casual because they’re so capable and those are the people that I want to have on my team. In this business, your team is your tribe and your team is super important. But that being said, you are the most important person on your team. So next we’re going to get into Marty’s personal codes of conduct and peek into his process for choreographing the trolls films. 

Dana: Um, one of my favorites, sayings slash lessons that I ever learned from you is, um, early is on time, on time is late and late is you’re fired. We’re going to use that. We’re going to use the F word.  

Yeah, you could, you could use a couple of different F words there.  

Um, what other codes do you live by and do you run your professional world by? 

Oh, that’s a good one. Um, this, I don’t know if this quite answers it, but this maybe in a roundabout way, I, and I just said this actually, I got a chance to teach for Rich and Tone They’re intensive, the Rich & Tone Experience . And I caught myself saying this there and I’m gonna kind of repeat it now. Like I, I lately and I haven’t always approached work like this, so even works, this is kind of, some people could say, well that’s contradicting where it’s smarter, not harder, but it’s not to me it’s making me work harder. I’ve been, I like to put pressure on myself, so that’s a, that’s a code that I’m living by these days, whether it be with work, even at, uh, you know, I don’t know at home life sometimes I like to almost procrastinate sometimes on purpose to build up, to have a lot to do. So then whenever it’s time to do it, I can just get it all done. You know what I mean? Like when it comes to work, like my example on the trolls movies, like when the scene comes to us, me and AJ watch a scene just to break down real quick, we see a scene, they tell us what happened in the story before, what happens in the story after. And then obviously we, we’re knowing what’s going on in the scene and then it’s up to me to choose where I want dance and build a scene through dance. So I can do whatever I want pretty much right there. Which is awesome. Crazy to think  

That creative freedom is such a gift. That’s great.  

It’s such a gift. So you know, obviously I’ve seen the scene a couple of times when we have an initial meeting, but then up until the day that we rehearsed, uh, I don’t watch it. I want to go in the day of, I want to watch it again, like an hour before and then I give. So by this time I have like 45 minutes to prepare something. I’m not going to prepare the whole thing, but to give myself a start and basically I’m putting myself in a corner because I know there’s only so many hours of rehearsal before the powers to be, are going to come in and watch and give us notes and then eventually film it for the movie, so it’s a lot of pressure. But to me, no pressure makes diamonds. Do you know what I mean? And like if you have, if you have no other choice, then you have no other choice.  

You have to get it done. And, and up to this point, I’ve never had, knock on wood, I’ve never had not got it done. You know what I mean? Maybe I could have done it better. Sure. But we’re not, we’ll never going to know that and maybe I wouldn’t have maybe what I created because of that pressure is what it’s supposed to be. You know, I’ve already, I have already prepared by listening to the song by knowing what’s going on, you know, and I have seen it so it’s not blind. I’m not an idiot. But you know, it’s, it’s, I don’t, I feel like if I have from that time we have that meeting, if it’s a week before we’re going to do that rehearsal, or if I just only think about that scene, it’s gonna mess me up and the product will not be as good as if I did it the other way.  

That’s so interesting. I wonder if part of your, um, cause you love sports. We haven’t talked about that much at all and I probably won’t talk about it much because I’m not a sports person. It’s like I just run out of information pretty quickly, so I’m like, Oh yeah, teams, huh, Ooh,  

No worries.  

But I wonder if part of your thrill is like the clock’s running out. Absolutely. You love the thrill of, of, let’s see, I already ran out of sports words, but I wonder if that plays into this a little bit like  

A hundred thousand percent. It’s the same thing whenever, whenever I came out here and was auditioning as a dancer, I used to go to auditions like it’s a game, but to me it was, I’m like, yo, I’m ready to roast these fools. Like this is not, they’re my opponents. Like I’m trying to get the job and you know, we can be cool before and after, but I’m going to try to destroy these dudes. Like, and I’m not going to cheer for them. Right. You know, and like do all that crap. Like that’s good in class and that’s good. You know, whatever. But at an addition, you know, I get it, keep the morale up or whatever, but I’m not clapping for you. Like I’m trying to get your job  

Right. Imagine that. If you had like opposing sports teams, like cheering each class is incredible. I’ve never considered that metaphor or that perspective for another.  

Well, when you were, when you, you were a competitive dancer, like at your, your studio, so when you went out there to compete, did you think that way or were you just like, Oh, I’m just, I just want to do my best or I just want to, or were you like, Oh, I hope we get first place.  

I definitely wanted to win. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I love this. The idea that you can audition as a, as a person on a team, you’re like, my team is gonna win and I don’t need to be your friend. Yeah. You’re, you’re your team. Um, that’s very cool. Thank you for sharing that.  

Absolutely. I miss that, man. Shoot, the audition process! 

Let’s go sometime as soon as auditions happen again.  

I would love that. Do you know what the last audition I went to was a Michael Rooneyaudition.  

Oh, I think I remember this!

I booked the job, believe it or not. 

Yeah, of course you did before  

It was for a TV show. As a pilot for some TV show, I forget the name of it. I don’t know if it ever came out, but it was like, you know, this big grand 40 person dance piece, whatever that I was in and like doing turns and stuff. It was pretty awesome.  

Oh, I love it. So much  

And I was so nervous every time on set because I’m surrounded by all these like technical divas and I’m like, I’m just trying to do a clean, double.  

Incredible. So talk about that for a second. How did, because your style really does fuse some jazz elements. Marty, Marty Kudelka, combo I can think of has a swift inside pirouette in it.

I love a good inside pirouette. 

Love a good inside pirouette. You’re, you’re also, uh, known for a Rond de jamb every now and then, big fan of, uh, I’m going to save your favorite step for a second. But how did you wind up interfacing with technical dancers growing up?  

 Um, when I started really teaching a lot at studios, I, I taught a lot. Like I have in my busiest time, I was doing like 25 classes a week for like four years. Four or five years in a row right before I moved to LA and, and that was like nine months out of the year. And um, but so I lived at the studio and I literally like, I mean I had an apartment but my apartment was walking distance to the studio. So I literally spent all my time except sleeping at the studio. So when I wasn’t, weren’t teaching, I would sometimes go in other people’s classes cause I knew it was common sense to me. Like I already knew that this is what I wanted to do and I knew that I would have to learn something at some point. And then we started at the same time we were doing gigs in Dallas and a lot of people who were choreographing those gigs were trained. So every time that I did a job, I would be just a dancer before I started choreographing some of them I was just a dancer in them and I would have to learn, like I learned how to do an axle because of a job I had to do.  

And you have a mean axle by the way. I want the listeners to know that I am seeing it. It is strong. I’ve seen it.  

It’s a good lasso. I know I can, that’s my go to lasso arm. Axel to the right, which came into handy actually at a Janet audition that I auditioned for on the day of the callbacks, Tina Landonput a freaking axle in there and I couldn’t believe it. And by the way, I’m doing a live with her at some point next week. And I’m going to bring this up to her and thank her because I don’t think I ever have, because literally for that moment I was prepared and, and I remember being in the studio, not the studio that we basically, we got kicked out of the studio and her and her squad like Kelly Konoand Nikki and uh, all her squad at the time, I think Gil? No, no, no. Gil Duldalaowas auditioning. Uh wow. She, yeah, Brian Friedmanwas auditioning like it was that time.  Friedman was young young. Yeah, this is a 97. And I remember peeking in the blinds to see if I can peek on what they’re doing in there. And I, as I peek, I see them perfect timing as I look, they do an axle and I’m like, and I’m looking around at like, there was probably like 50 of us left and I knew there was going to be one more cut and I’m looking around at all the other hip hop dudes, you know, cause I’m putting myself in that category and I’m like, I know damn well none of these dudes know how to do this. Like there’s no way. So I’m like, yes. And sure enough a lot of them got cut and then there was only like 20 of us and that  

And so that’s, that’s how you got your b-boy name.  

B-boy Axel. It’s terrible. It’s pretty funny. 

That’s a good story.

I forgot about it.  

Dana: Okay. It was really, really cool for me to hear Marty stories about auditioning and his audition mentality. I think that with someone like Marty who’s been at the top of their field for so long, sometimes it’s easy to forget that he hasn’t always been there. He had to climb just like I did just like you do. And I know Marty pretty well, but this was the first time that I got to hear about his audition mentality. It was also cool to hear that even he gets nervous on set, although he certainly doesn’t show it. Next Marty and I get to reminiscing a standout gig and a career highlight for me a performance that you might not have even seen if you are new to the scene. Enjoy

Okay. I want to hear about one of your favorite creative processes. Like talk through  

when your favorite, it could be a tour or it could be one specific like show or music video. 

Um, let’s see. All right. You know, one that stands out, you a part of it of course was the 2013 video Vanguard awards performance for Justin. Um, so A. It was a big deal because it was a lot of time. Normally you only get to do, you know, like three minutes max. Um, no matter who you are. So we knew that this was going to be, they didn’t give us a time at first, but they knew, we knew it was going to be anywhere from like 12 to 20 minutes, somewhere around there. So actually, I actually, I think the reason that’s that number stood out to me, I believe the reason why is because I think they actually did say that they’ll give us 12 in the beginning. And I think our first music edit was like 21 minutes. So we were like, well, We’re gonna have to like, yeah, let it begin. And then it ended up being like 16 and some change, I believe. And so that was a good, happy medium. And I feel like we won that battle and it was like seven seconds longer than Michael Jackson performance, his video vangaurd award. So we felt like we won that battle. But that’s part of the creative process is having to have these talks like, which, by the way, where we talked preproduction for like two and a half months before and on all these calls where it’s all the MTV people, right? Sure. Uh, the, um, you know, the lighting people, the, all the production team, the management, the record label people, and then me, um, it was always just me and like you and AJ y’all didn’t, y’all weren’t part of these calls yet.  Like, um, right. Like now I have AJ do more of the email stuff cause I just can’t stand it anymore. And um, I hate it. I really hate it. But anyways, um, but all these talks go in and Justin’s not even on the phone. So I’m basically having to like relay all this important information to him and then we talk about it, then I go back to them and then talk about it and negotiate more about that, like everything. So that’s a big part of the process. But then also he had the idea of, yeah, why don’t we bring N’Sync  back together for a little thing? And, um, I thought it was a joke and I was like, no way, you’re not going to do that. And he’s like, why not? And I’m like, well, yeah, I’m asking you why not? Like, why don’t you, he’s like, well, I think I will. And then he did. And then we did, which created another thing. And, and by the way, this is all happening while we’re doing a tour with Jay Z called Legends of Summer That tour was, uh, like a two month tour and that was going on while we were planning this. So we were having to deal with, uh, another ongoing job as things change when the tour is going, but while doing this. So, most of it was like, I remember being in hotels having to be on these conference calls and then yada, yada, yada. But then another big part is now that we know NSYNC going to be there, you know, then it goes. And how much time did they get? What songs did they do? What choreography do they do, do they do choreography, these kinds of things. So then we started putting it together. At the same time, we’re, me and Justin are getting on the phone with Adam Blackstone, the musical directors to figure out how to cut down these, this music. So then, okay we got to take this out and it’s not just taking out a song. Cause then if it’s taken out a song, did that piece have choreography? Transitions? Its gotta make sense musically but also choreographically and direction wise. And then okay now we know that we’re going to go all over the arena was our idea. So then, and I forgot how that idea first came about but Justin just likes to always move. He doesn’t like to be stagnant. So we, I think it was maybe we, we saw the game plan and they said which stage do you want to use type of thing. And we said, uh, all of them and maybe can you build us a couple extra ones? And so then we have to figure out, it’s just a big math problem. Figure out, okay what goes where or does it make sense? Can he survive doing this? Cause if you really watch like that dude was all over that arena. So then once you kind of have that in place, then you have to go back. And there was a, the biggest discussion was we didn’t want to start inside the arena. We wanted to show him with us walking into the venue. But you’re in Brooklyn, New York, and that creates a bunch of permits and this and legal things and what you can and can’t do, where you can shoot, why you can’t do that. All these things. I’m sure you had to deal with this with In the Heights a billion, you know, so you, these are the talks that take the most time. So figuring out what’s possible. Eventually we figured, you know, then we, there was talks about getting off the subway that’s connected to that then, but then you have to go outside. So no, so we can shoot in the subway but we, and then we can jump inside but we can’t shoot the segway in between. That doesn’t make sense. So then we ended up having to shoot it inside to make it look like we kind of just came from outside. So there’s all these talks. Finally we get all that in place and then there’s, well, where are we going to rehearse? Because we have to keep this a secret because of the NSYNC thing. So nobody knew. None of the MTV, not Hamish the director. Nobody knew. Not even you guys as dancers knew. At First, I don’t think maybe you knew  

I did know because insert my career highlight of a moment you asked me to rehearse them. Um, I am 33 now, which means at the height of NSYNC, I was also at the height of NSYNC. I was like a huge fan. I had everything they ever did recorded on a VHS and I would watch it, I would study it. I knew all the moves. And I remember one day after rehearsing with them, um, Joey asked if he could film me doing it and he would rehearse watching me. And then Lance was like, Oh yeah, me too. And then JC, of course, YO, JC works so hard. He was, he was like the ultimate most focused. And so, uh, I had the most surreal moment of my damn life when all of the NSYNC members were filming me doing their moves so that they could learn from watching me on video. I was like, you have no idea how backasswords this is because for my entire adolescence, it was the other way around. It was such a wild ride.  

Yeah, I remember that day. I remember them all doing that.  

Yeah. And we were in, okay. So back to your point about keeping this super under wraps where we had high school gymnasium or some rec center or some sort?  

No, we were in the back of a theater. 

Why were we in Florida?

We were in, we were in Miami because the legends of the summer tour, the last date was in Miami on a Saturday night. And then he actually had a concert in that theater that we performed in. We performed in the rehearsal space behind the theater, but he had a, uh, you know, he liked to do show after the show. He had a show after the show that Saturday night. And then we had a day off on this Sunday and Miami. And then we started rehearsals there. That’s why we had it in Miami because we were already gonna be there. Justin and I, and we could have a day off in Miami and then fly all you guys there and we start on that Monday in Miami. And because we rehearsed in LA, people would find out about the NSYNC thing. Like what studio could we go to that would, that could be kept secret. Somebody’s gonna talk. Right. You know what I mean? So we in New York, same thing like especially everyone’s going to be rehearsing there cause that’s where the BMS are. So Miami kinda made sense and I loved it. Didn’t you have fun there?  

I did have fun. There we went out a couple times. 

Yeah. I think that we should always rehearse in Miami. Absolutely. Another cool, cool thing about this, just a little, a little nugget is that um, it was kept such a secret that all five dudes in NSYNC, they all stayed at different hotels, had different transportation of course. And they all came at like scheduled different times to rehearsal. So they weren’t all showing up at the same time. Like it was like a whole secret like service type of thing, which was really cool to be a part of. And I think we kept it from the other dancers like you knew. And maybe 

Where is that footage? I know you’ve been releasing some,  

I have that footage. I put part of it up of the first section y’all are in.  

Oh man. There’s some nice nice moments in there.  

Yeah, yeah. But, but, but that was a cool thing just having like I remember the day that they came in NSYNC where and all the dancers finally got to know and we ran it for them or whatever and they got to see what we were doing. And that was such a cool day, man. That’s history.  

David Moore was so hype. He was so excited.  

And I let David dance in front of NSYNC. 

That’s right. He was there. He was there. He was their leader. Um, I will definitely link to that performance cause it is a forgotten gem. That is such a, that’s history. Good call. Um, also in there, I think you just revealed the closing chapter of work smarter, not harder. And that is, remember everything you have a steel trap of a memory that makes, you know, all of the listening in the world doesn’t mean anything if you can’t remember it. So whatever your method is, method is, if it’s having great assistants or keeping good notes or just being Marty, which means your memory is foolproof. Um, then that like, that is such a huge, huge, important part of, of being able to work smart.  

Yeah. Um, I mean I think it’s, I don’t think I have some like special memory. I think I have like a selective memory. I think that’s what you have to do is like if you, if it’s something that you think you might need to know and remember, then try to figure out a way to remember that. You know what I mean? Like, you know how bad I am with birthdays. Like I’m the worst at birthdays and I’m really bad with people’s names. Um, once I know it and then the people’s names, then I w- I don’t forget, but I’m really bad if I just meet you once or twice. It’s really hard for me. And I think part of that is almost like, I want you to make me remember who you are. You know what I mean? Like I will make me want to know you type of thing. Where a birthday. I’m kind of like, I don’t need to know that because some, somebody gonna to remind me, you know, someone’s going to be talking about it or I’m going to see nowadays especially I’m gonna see an Instagram post and I’m going to go, Oh, I’m going to hit up that person before I forget, you know, 

Cross out everything. Definitely don’t remember everything. Remember important things important. Absolutely. That’s that. Um, and on that note,I think, I think we’d wrap it up. Is there anything that we, I think we could easily go round to for the record and I’m excited about going a little deeper into some of these topics on our IG live on Thursday at five. Um, but I’m just so grateful at you being in my life and at you sharing all of this. The insight is priceless. It really, truly is. So thank you for doing it.  

Thanks for having me. This was fun. Let’s do it again Thursday.  

It’s been awhile since we took the dog out.  

Where’s this dog going

To the pound. 

Where’s this dog going? 

To the bank. 

We’re just all going logging out of our zoom conference right now by Marty. Thank you so much.  

I hope you smiled. I hope you laughed and I hope you enjoyed reading the ways that Marty works smarter, not harder. I’ve been learning from Marty for years and I got a lot out of this episode. It had so many great reminders to look, listen, freestyle, and remember the important stuff. Oh, and laugh a lot. If you don’t already have a full page of notes on this episode, I want you to grab some paper and brainstorm the ways that you can work smarter, not harder. And at the bottom of that page, leave yourself some space and ask yourself for three ways that you can make sure to laugh more today than you did yesterday. And with that, my friends, I will bid you. Adieu. Adieu? I’ll bid adieu Thank you so much for listening, everybody. Stay safe. Stay soapy and keep it funky. 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 word member. So kickball, change over to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast Learn more and join. All right, everybody now I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Ep. #16 Serious Silliness with Kat Burns

Ep. #16 Serious Silliness with Kat Burns

 
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Plainly put, Kathryn Burns is fascinating.  The only thing that is more exciting than her choreography, is the work she did before she even owned the title “2 Time Emmy Winning Choreographer”.  From a post production machine room to UCB and beyond,  we hear about how she learned by DOING, and what it takes to do what she does.  Over 160 episodes of scripted TV is just the beginning… 

Show Notes

Quick Links:

Kat Burns

WTMM Patreon

UCB

My Crazy Ex Audition Submission

Raggle Taggle Dance Hour

Totally Unmorganized

The Dance Room

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, hello. Hello. How are you doing? How’s everybody? Man, if you are like me, then these days are going by so quickly. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s, I’m just being inside and so many days are the same. Um, maybe it’s that I’m filling my schedule every minute of it. Uh, but it’s strange, this sensation of time passing and standing still all at the same time. Maybe it’s just me. I don’t know. Um, this episode, ah, I’m so excited for it. I’m so excited for you to listen to my guest today. Kat Burns. She’s one of my favorite well people period, but also one of my favorite choreographers and she shares so much, um, tremendously valuable insight in this episode. I’m jazzed about it. Uh, but before that, of course we have to do a quick round of wins. My win this week is that I am becoming a person, day by day, meal by meal. Uh, I am becoming a person that is confident in the kitchen. I’m having more fun and I’m having more creative freedom in the kitchen. And I think that’s a win. It’s something that for me has always been a kind of point of insecurity. Um, my husband traditionally is the cook of the household and I’m having so much fun, uh, exploring a bit, really digging that. Okay, so now you go, what’s going well in your world?  

You might need a little bit more time. So I encourage you to pause right here if you’re really, really winning, which I really, really hope you are.  Um, but this episode is just, it’s something else we gotta get to it. We’re jumping in. Ladies and gentlemen, the one and only Kat Burns. 

Dana: Yes. Kat Burns. Welcome to the podcast. 

Kat: Yeah!

Yeah! Oh, I love wees and woo hoos and yeas, it feels so good. Just smile and I cannot not smile when I, I think Kat Burns. So welcome to the podcast. Introduce yourself for those who may not know who you are, those fools, 

Kat: Those nincompoops! Um, people call me Kat burns. I’m Kathryn, uh, Kathyrn Burns, AKA, you know, Kat Burns is my like cool choreo alias. I suppose that that is just kind of taken over. And I’m a choreographer mostly for scripted comedies.

Nice. Um, I really love intro asking people to introduce themselves because it’s sometimes a different story than what the bio would read. Um, uh, your bio leads with, and I think it should, your Emmys your double. Is it two? 

It’s two, right. She’s a two timer. 

She’s sure. Just a two timer, a measly two time Emmy winner. Um, and I do think it’s, it’s cool to like acknowledge the wins, but it’s also speaks a lot to you that you do not lead with the accolades, but rather with the work itself. And I love your body of work. I love it so much. I love it. Primarily because it’s funny, but also because it’s diverse. Um, can you talk a little bit about the range of work that you do and what is the difference between a digital or scripted format or you do also a lot of live work. I know you came up through UCB, like what is the difference really truly when it comes to choreography between all those different formats. 

Oh goodness. Well I appreciate your kind words cause you know, I’m a huge fan of yours and I believe I introduced myself on a street corner and I was like, Hi. Hi. You guys are awesome. Do you want to do my UCB show? And you’re like, okay, great.

I recall, I recall. It’s so funny. I do recall, I recall because I, well it was a seaweed sisters related, um, acknowledgement and the seaweed sisters, uh, Jlilian Meyers, Megan Lawson and myself, we don’t get recognized outside of dancers very often. Um, and when we were not in a dance studio setting, we were literally on the street corner. Uh, so it, it made me feel like, Oh my God, pay attention. This is happening. You guys this, the seaweed sisters, are a thing, we’re being recognized. 

It’s like five years ago, I want to say. 

Yeah, it was a while back. Yeah. Oh, cool. Um, so thank you. Thank you for your fandom. We can, this is a safe place where we can absolutely be gushing over each other. So don’t let it stop. Um, but I am so curious about the different, um, uh, places that your work lives. 

Yeah. So there’s, it’s a, it’s a multi folded, I was gonna say two fold, but it’s uh, you know, lots of folds type an origami fold of answers if you will. Um, I, I think what’s really fun about working scripted comedy  or scripted in general is that the choreography is always dependent on the scene. And so by default I’ve been able to hire a lot of experts in a specific genre and then play within story, but still making it proper. Um, and so whether it be like a tango or a musical theater, traditional dance in the street vibe, or a tap dance or a fill in the blank, or even just like specifics that are funny or trying to make, like one of the tricky things was trying to make ’em like a viral video. Like, you know how like video or people like quote unquote dancing bad. Why? What’s the tipping point? Like why is it popular? I need to like recreate those moments as a choreographer when you have two people, it’s like the note was like, it’s too good, it’s too good. And I’m like, it’s not, it’s just like when you have two people dancing together in unison, it’s automatically going to seem more better, more, better. Just the word I like to use because it’s like, I don’t like to say something’s bad. I like to say it can be more better. 

It can be more and better and you are the more better maker. Um, I think part of that recipe is definitely accessibility. Like you don’t want to choreograph steps that only a trained dancer could do. So it’s like every, every man dance. Um, and do you do a good job at choreographing dance on a normal non dancing type characters? 

I like to call them dance enthusiasts. 

Dance enthusiasts. That’s way kinder than what I call them. I call them, I call them normies. 

Normies that’s cute. I just think Norm McDonald dancing. When you say normies.

Many Norm McDonald’s. Normies plural. Um, uh, so how many episodes of television would you say you have choreographed to take a ballpark for me?  

Well, I actually did a show a year ago celebrating a hundred, cause I was like, when I graduated college, people are like, what’s your dream job? And I said I wanted to choreograph for TV and film, but I have no idea how to do it. And you know, I had to celebrate that because I was like, I guess I figured it out. Yeah, you did. And so well sometimes you’ve got to celebrate a little milestones cause we can be so hard on ourselves on a daily basis that we’re not doing enough or creating enough or being disciplined enough or right. 

Girl, I am here for celebrating. Actually I just started a new podcast habit. I start every episode with wins. Were I just talk a little bit about what’s going well. 

That’s awesome. I used to have a thing where I would keep champagne in the fridge cause there was always going to be a reason to celebrate. 

Yes, I am about that life. And now since we’re in lockdown you’re going to need to keep at least five cause you can’t be leaving. The house as often. 

Exactly. 

Um, okay. So let’s back up a teeny tiny bit. You mentioned after college when they asked you that question and you answered, I want to choreograph TV and film but you didn’t know how, what was your next step?  

Uh, well it was more of like that’s a, that’s a fantasy job that doesn’t really exist 

Or not for you. 

Right. Uh, so I worked in post-production for years and thought I could use my degree and be an editor and I worked in post houses and like lob dailies and patched digie betas, for recording. Like lobbied editor’s reels over and was just like in the machine room learning about editing and the more responsibility I got, the more anxious I got. But I started, you know, I studied film in college and Mmm. So I was already doing that. And then, you know, you talked about the difference between scripted and stage and then I started at UCB right when they opened their doors pretty much like I was working next door at the clothing shop, um, when they went door to door to meet their neighbors and I was like changing and I stuck my foot out and I was like, “I’ll be right with you!” and my mom was in town and was like, “Hi, welcome to Native.” I was like, “she doesn’t work here. I’ll be right out”. And, 

And they were like, you’re in. 

And they were like, you’re funny, you should take internships. And I was like, great. And then I just started being a part of that community, like from the ground floor. And so I learned the art of choreographing for a script in a way to like heighten the joke without distracting. And I was already, I’d got a dance agent. I was taking Aisel’s hip hop class. Yes. After like six months of living in LA. So I got the agent, I was dancing sporadically doing like show girly type musical theater, tall girl jobs and realized quickly that I was much taller than everyone else in LA.  

Tiny. We’re all micro types. Yeah. 

They move so fast? How did they get down to the floor and in one count, tiny legs. Tiny legs. Yeah. I was like, I still have my bevel. You know, you gotta have a sensible walk and a good bevel if you’re tall.  

Oh, you ma, you have to have a sensible bevel no matter what I would argue. But definitely if you’re tall. Um, okay. I wa I want to branch in a hundred different directions. I am taking notes. 

Uh, but I very frazzled. I didn’t even answer your first question. 

I’m pretty sure you did. We talked a little bit about formats and the places that your work lives, which is on 160 episodes of television primarily, right. But also on stages because you do that. 

Yeah. And I just did a musical here in LA and I, I’ve done like comedy musicals and LA, uh, which obviously like stage is, is much more collaborative I think is the biggest difference. You have the writers in the room sometimes or you have the director in the room and you have the actors in the room and you have time and you’re playing and you’re creating, I mean obviously like a, the UCB schedule is like, learn it, do it, done. It’s very quick.

And that’s the point. 

Yeah. Yeah. Your dress rehearsals off in the performance cause no one’s getting paid and to learning learning curve. But I just did this musical with a wonderful New York team. The musical was called Found and we did it at, um, it’s, Iama Theater Company ’s musical. It was our first ever done at the LA Theater Group. And it, got closed, you know, three weeks before it was supposed to finish. It was New York team. Um, and they were so collaborative and awesome and I was like, Oh, this is what process is, you get to actually create in a room with creatives. Yes. Often on television schedules. You’re often trying to get into the minds of creatives. Like you’re each department heads given a specific ask very, very quickly and within like a 10 minute or less creative conversation, you have to then go off and do your work, present it, change it on the fly if it needs to be changed and be like, this is what I think you want. And from all your references, ID do deduced yeah. Anyways,  This was the dance pretty much. 

Um, ah, okay. That’s fascinating. So a difference between stage and film being, the amount of time you have and the people that are part of these creative conversations.  

Everyone’s process is different. I mean, I think a lot of choreographers, and this also totally depends on the budget of the show they give. It has a budget for rehearsals and the choreographer can have a skeleton crew. They can kind of like massage the choreography and change it and get it to a way and have a few days and have a process. But if you’re like, hi, hired for two days, you have one day of rehearsal, slash prep, slash casting, slash creative slash, whatever, and the next thing you know is you’re on set trying to like leave this dance with a bunch of people you just met. You’re also trying to figure out their personalities and how not to step on toes, but also do your dance, be professional, be fast, pleasant and you know, protect the dance and protect the dancers but also serve the story and serve the process of that. That is making television. 

Okay. I had to jump out right there because that’ll just happen real, real fast and I want to make sure that you all caught all of that. Kat just gave a lightspeed masterclass in what it means to be a choreographer. Yes, we decide what the dance is, but then we must lead the dance or teach the dance and occasionally that’s to people that we’ve never met. We have to navigate so many personalities, not just the dancers, but the entire teams. Then we have to protect the dancers, of course, meaning looking out for their working conditions and making sure they’re taking breaks and well taken care of, et cetera. But also we’ve got to be fast and I mean we don’t have to be, but it really helps if you’re pleasant or easy to get along with. And then of course there’s the whole serving the story and serving the big machine that makes the TV show or the stage show or the music video or the fill in the blank. I think it’s super important to remember, especially for the young aspiring choreographers that being a choreographer means so much more than making up the steps. Okay. Let’s get back into it. Kat and I talked about the many hats that she wears, the many jobs that she’s had and the thoughts that led her to become an Emmy winning choreographer.  

Dana: What was the, um, what was the step or the chase or the kickball change that took you from editing room to, uh, dance studio or choreography, I guess?  

Um, I was always that kid that did a million things so differently. Like when I was young. It was like suck or student dadadada that every dance class imaginable. I was always booked, right. Like I my and I would like highlight all of my times that like college thing happened and I’d be idea as an adult to just do one thing stressed me out and made me so anxious. I felt like I was making like, like signing a death sentence of being like I’m going to do this for the rest of my life and I was super scared. Um, so I think a lot of times I just did a bunch of side jobs. Just that I wasn’t working towards a career necessarily. Like I went, I went, I went to college. I thought state school was supposed to be the thing that you do. And I was like such a rule follower that I had a hard time listening to myself and people were like, I remember like the advice being like what do you think about when you’re at a stoplight? I was like, Oh like I’m always making up things in my head. And even when I was like bored at concerts, I would just zone out cause I’m like, no one’s dancing. This is boring. And I would like choreograph something in my head and I would feel better. And I just realized if I wasn’t dancing or moving, I was sad. I honestly feel that a lot currently with what we’re going through and like I’ll feel such an angst for the world and my heart would be so heavy. And then all, I’ve been just dancing in my studio for hours on end because it’s the only thing that makes me feel relief and joy. Um, so I, I think, I think I, I worked in posts, I thought I wanted to be an editor. I had a million side jobs, I was a paramount page. And then I would like work at a steak house. And like I served, well when I first graduated college I thought I was going to be a Rockette. I made it through all of the, the cuts and stuff and then they just never called.  

Well, I’m so glad they didn’t because we got to have you instead. I get that dream though. Oh my gosh. And that audition process is brutal. Congratulations.  Holy smokes. 

What was my first professional audition ever, ever. And then at the end of the audition, um, this is the second day,  they’re taking all my measurements and I said, “I just wanted to let y’all know this was my first audition and you were so nice. Oh really? Oh, is it? Okay.” I had a four by six picture. I just didn’t know. I went to the University of Missouri. I didn’t do like, I never went to New York for a summer or anything. I had never taken from like professionals ever. Actually.

I love this. That’s such a great example of all the grooming in the world doesn’t ensure that you will get your foot in the door and at the same time you can be totally ungroomed and come through the side door or the back door and do phenomenally well. 

Yeah, I mean, I envy  people that had all this, this massive education and like mine was just like the local dance studio or the dance team. And that was that. And I just was always dancing in my room. Or like at the time it was recording VHS is and learning the dances of Britney Spears, you know, or whatever, studying for exams while watching Cats,  the VHS recording of the Broadway show. 

All right. Jumping out again this time I had to do it because I think it’s very, very interesting that the thought of doing one thing made Kat anxious and propelled her into doing so many seemingly odd jobs that really stands out to me because to so many people, there’s contentment in doing one thing and having one career and having their job. I think that a lot of people out there would actually feel anxious at the thought of doing all the many things that Kat did from serving steaks and working retail to working as a paramount page, um, pages by the way. Uh, give tours and direct guests and do a great number of tasks on the paramount lot. Um, but dang, she, she even worked in an editing bay. I guess what’s so special to me about Kat and about her journey is that at least from the outside looking in, all of those experiences gave or refined the skills that made her a great choreographer. Yes. Like the dance, the passion, the love of movement and moving has always been there for her. It always brought tremendous joy. But what brought success was the combination of that love of dance plus her many, many unique skills and experiences. Let’s jump back in and hear about the one moment. Well, the one heartbreak that changed the way Kat thought about being a choreographer.

It took a heartbreak. Uh, I was with, I was with someone for eight years, my whole entire twenties, and when that ended, I was so heartbroken that I had no choice but to make myself happy. And that was after I’d been doing UCB classes. I liked dance at Christmas times. I had like dance gigs and I was still doing a million jobs. But there was something about that timing that I was so desperately sad. Like, he kind of was my whole life and when that ended I was like, it was a very clear change of thought. I had been doing this musical that I choreographed and was in called Freak dance the dirtiest forbidden boogaloo at UCB and Matt Besser  wrote it, And the premise is whoever dares dance the nastiest wins. And it was like a spoof of all the dance flicks and like the white girl learns how to be poor so she can be a good dancer they lose the community center and then they have to do this dance battle and they make just enough money to win back the community center, yada yada.  

I’m so glad that exists. 

We did it every Friday for two and a half years at UCB and then one day they were like, we’re making this into a movie. And we all thought we would get replaced by everyone bigger and better. The only person that got replaced was the 20 year old playing the mom and she was replaced by Amy Poehler. So like that makes sense. Um, and right around the time of this breakup, I was filming this movie and they had asked me to like storyboard, what some of the dance numbers would look like. And I was like, I’m not an artist, but I knew it. And there was, there was a something called Work that Butt, and I was like, well, what if there was like a butt flower from overhead? And I was like, butts coming in at like an encapsulated her. And then she had this reveal and was a different outfit, but like storyboarded what these two, they couldn’t afford anyone else. It was also, Mmm. So that was my first job and I was also in it and I also didn’t have an assistant, so it was crazy. And we shot it all in 13 days. It was an original movie musical. With original music with the non dancers as leads and like Drew Droege is one of my favorite comedians and one of the stars and Hal rudnickthey were like the two world’s best dancers. And then we hired, Matt Besser was obsessed with America’s best dance crew. So we hired like Quest crew and The Beat FreaksAnd, um, anyways, so like all of these comedians were like dance dancing in front of all of these crews and I’m just there heartbroken. And I had this epiphany that I was like, Oh, I thought my whole life was supposed to be love and appreciation from this one person. And if they weren’t there I would crumble. And I quickly said to the cast, I was like, I love you guys so much and I need you guys so much. So that was a pivotal moment for me as a creative to have experiences with the people I was having camaraderie with at the time. My coworkers were my family and I would experience and be alive with all of this creative camaraderie that got me through a dark time. And it was just, it’s kind of stuck. It’s kind of stuck with me. Like I, I really, I really feel fortunate that I’m able to like dive into a project with an open heart because I truly look at my collaborators. I mean you like, we’ve gotten to know each other through working together and I have so much love for you but we haven’t, yeah, separate  doing something together really. I mean like maybe a few times, but it’s always like let’s get a glass of wine. Great. I see we’re working together. I’m going to like suck up as much yummy hang time as I can. Cause I don’t know, again, cause we’re both busy as the way LA is. Everybody has something next, you know.  

Well that is the way LA was my friend.  

Certainly people are still like, Oh I can’t, I’ve got a zoom it two. Or Oh I can’t, I stopped like I said 1130 this morning. And I was like, can we do four? Can we push back?  

Kat and I talked for a while about the way the LA and the entertainment industry are uh, maneuvering through this COVID crisis. But the radio waves are pumped and coursing with that talk and there’s just so much other goodness to come in this episode. I thought I might just leap frog over that if you don’t mind. And skip ahead to my favorite video submission ever. And the importance of good lip syncing because why not?  

When you get an audition submission request from your agent for a Kat Burns project, you go, ALL IN, because working for you is such a treat. Really, truly, I am a sucker for a lovely process. So I got this audition notification and I was like, Oh yeah, I can do this. It’s asking for a doo-wop style background singer and she’s singing to her mom. Um, I happened to be in Denver at the time that I got this notification and it was with my mom and it was in my sister’s gorgeous house and it was like, okay, yeah, this is, this is a no brainer. So I taught my sister the shots and she filmed it for me and I lightly choreographed this thing with just like a chain here and a hip hip here. Nothing like crazy cause I had watched the show before and it’s never, um, it’s never meant to be the like, uh, sit down and watch this dance. It’s like you could do this dance  It was a sidebar side side thought of mine to be a dance commentator for dance, YouTube videos in that same, in that same voice. Okay. So made, made the an audition submission sent it in. And I don’t remember if you texted me directly or if my agent did, but you were like, that is obnoxious and hysterical. And will you assist me on this project? Yeah, it was so funny. It was also cool to get my family a peek into my world, right? Like, uh, audition submissions happen or happened pretty regularly and in a very like in a three hour turnaround, I’m expected or asked to create a, create a thing, memorize the lines, make up the moves, capture it, edit it and submit it. And so they got to be there for that. That was super fun. And then  

What I loved about your video too is like, a lot of times, you know, as much as I say like I want good acting, the lip sinking is really important. Like, I trust that dancers can nail a dance step, right? It’s really important to me is how you’re emoting. So I see you as this like 1960s, like, you know, shoo bop, shoo whatawhata to dancer. Um, and you totally embodied that character and the lip sinking is really important. Like, um, I had an audition for Carly Rae Jepsen and it was, um, well holding an audition for her and it was like two backup singers that were dancing. And so in the audition I was like, you guys, you’re moving your heads too much. Like you’ll never believe that they’re singing into a mic to like actually pretend like you’re seeing into the mic. Um, don’t you have to, it’s a strange thing to like not whip your hair around because a lot of times dancers really aren’t that focused on- on being the star and being seen and like with our hair around our face and like make some sexy faces was not really about the face, you know? 

Right. I have this theory that we’re dancers are um, attractive, not necessarily because we’re good looking but because movement attracts your eye. Like if you imagine a jungle setting and a bush rustles over here, your eye goes to that and I think dancers have gotten really are the good ones anyways, have gotten good about being attention, getting when they need to and just the right amount of rustle versus being distracting. And especially if you’re in a tight shot, moving your head around is distracting and its as you mentioned, very plainly, not the way that background singers would do it. Um, that’s a great consideration. I think it’s an important skill and maybe we don’t spend enough time on it. 

And you also the the why it’s hard is that to believe that we believably be a good lip syncer you have to sing out loud so your breath is different. So although it looks like an easy dance when you’re actually singing out loud, the, the, the beats are counterintuitive to like, like the pickups of the lyrics are going to be before the one. And it’s tricky to get your brain around the lyrics and have your body do what the music is doing. As you’re acting, and singing out loud and thinking about your breath, you can’t just breathe through your nose and make whatever weird sounds you need to make to get through the aggression of the dance 

It’s a much different skill. I came across this issue, uh, a handful of times like hands full, like multiple hands, like NBA basketball player hands full of times working on In the Heights where we had huge groups of dancers, a part of musical numbers, but we weren’t the people that recorded the vocals.  

We weren’t the people that um, you know, not all 150 of them have the script, you know, for a chunk of time during rehearsal we would sit down with pages and learn the lyrics. But even that is expected to happen quite quickly. And not a lot of dancers have the same memory for words that we have for moves. So it, it really is a special skill. I suggest that everybody listening to this podcast right now pick a a movie musical moment, whether it’s LA LA land opening number or anything from crazy ex-girlfriend challenge yourself, give yourself how much would, how much time would you say is allocated to learning lyrics for an episode of crazy ex? When we did the tap number? Um, the prescription one, it wasn’t that long. I want to say that was like maybe 30 minutes. 

Well, probably like it was like 30 minutes at the top of rehearsal and I’ve actually had an, I had a big audition in New York.  Um, there’s a really great show out now called, uh, Dispatches from elsewhere. It’s Jason Segel ’s new show on AMC. I worked on the finale number and they’re singing and dancing, spoiler alert. Um, and I had to just teach the lyrics real fast because people saying the lyrics was as important as the dancing and there was this really amazing dancer. And then I looked back at my video because I don’t like making cuts, so I just filmed everybody, I really want to see everybody. I want to properly give everyone a chance to be seen by me cause I don’t come to New York, I don’t have auditions much. Um, so anyways, he was like, I was like booked and then I looked and I was like he didn’t Lip sync, a word. And on most of the jobs I do dancers get Face-time like closeups and like, Oh and I’m so, so for “antidepressants”  and the, it was all, it was all like fluoxitine, fluoxetine, Our lawyers won’t let us say brand names. Like it was very tricky vernacular. Yes. Medical terms on top of that medical terms, you get pills, pills, therms. Um, but, we had, we had a, we have one day of rehearsal so you could like overnight rehearse it. That’s true. I remember on the day Rachel changed, she changed the lyrics. So what’s tricky is that you had to learn it and then on the day after you’ve been practicing, I think you said change the name of the dog and then change this lyric we’ll re-record it in post. So you guys had to say lyrics out loud. This was what was 30 minutes or less. You had to say lyrics out loud that did not match the audio you are hearing all while doing choreography, you’re fast tap dance and then staying in line and it was like super precision based and like you’re high, you’re a little high here on your airplane arm you need a little bit lower.  

We’re taking in all of the, you know, the movement notes that we’re used to, but there’s also not just the learning of the lyrics but the unlearning of the old lyrics and then the relearning of the new lyrics. This is great. Really, truly, if you’re listening, make that an additional challenge. If you’re listening, you’re listening, you’re listening. If you’re, if you’re hearing, um, then yeah, try to learn a thing in 30 minutes and then change it, but don’t change the thing that you’re playing back. That song has to say the same. Your lyrics change. Oh my gosh.

And the timing varies slightly and then the moves or shot. It’s like you have to adjust your timing and your blocking based on what the steady cam operators doing or, or at any point in time, the show runner who’s a showrunner is basically the one that hires all of the writers.  They’re like the head, they don’t usually say head writer, but they’re the one who like keeps a tone of the show in general, you know, on the right track and everything and they’re the one that’s sold the show in general. But at any point they can come in and say, why are you doing this? Or, or like, um, or like for that number it was like as you guys were holding, I like added a like a little, a little bop. Yeah. Yeah. And then, um, just constantly finding it until you, like for me it’s like playing until you find what makes you laugh and like got there. That’s it. That’s it. That’s it. That’s it. Okay. Do that. And then, and then at any point someone could say, no, don’t bounce. And so you’ve just been rehearsing it with the bounce and something as simple as that.Like your body wants to bounce, but you can’t. Um, tricky. I don’t know. It’s tricky. And then, and then when I favorite things to like hark on park, her harp, whatever you look that up as I finish this, this tale of woes, but basically. Once it’s cut the end of that she goes Mmm. Basically it’s just like, Oh you guys are, Oh you don’t want to dance anymore. Okay. Like going from dance or to pedestrian and now

Oh wait, this is one of my favorite things to do. 

Walk like a dancer. Like it’s hard cause we do that in real life. I act sporadically. And um, I was in a commercial and I had to walk to the elevator and I was wearing heels and they were like, um, excuse me Kathryn, you’re like standing like pretty cause I was like beveling, 

Your just like, it’s my Rockette in me. 

I just like can’t, you know like when we’re in heels and more like a tight skirt, as a dancer you walk differently naturally. So I had to be like, Oh, I have to ditch how I naturally walk and walk pedestrian, just go to the elevator, like for don’t dance, walk to the elevator, don’t sit in your hip. Pretty  

Just pretend like you don’t know how to walk in heels as well. 

It’s actually for me, kind of difficult to navigate the middle ground between like dancing like a pro dancer, like JT, backup dancer, pro dancer and dancing like a non dancer that moves well. And then dancing goofy like uh, your, your UCB show right now. Raggle Taggle Dance Hour which I do want to give the floor to for a second cause it’s amazing. We did an opening number, which I want you to talk about, give a little context. Um, but I watched the footage back and I looked at myself, I was like, dude, you were bad dancing. And that’s not the goal. The goal is actually to be dancing really well, but not to be a dancer. And so that’s another layer of intricacy.  

Yeah. I think that’s what I’ve found with my work. It’s like, it’s, it’s easy, not easy, hard, not hard, but we’re properly living in a world. Right. So like the reference for this number was the pink Mr emus pink windmill kids, the mill kids or something. It’s like an eighties dance show. 

We’re going to link it because it’s, it’s a game changer. 

So I, the end of season one wanted the cast of crazy ex to recreate this video and I had that had the costume department hand dye sweats to match the color palette of the early eighties.

This is what we call full out. 

And then obviously everyone was like tired or busy and so they’ve just been sitting in my storage for four years. 

The costumes or the people that were tired? 

The costume department ready to go whenever there very expensive to keep, but it was worth it at the end. But we did the, we recreated the opening video finally. And my dream came true and it’s like feel like, like why it’s so funny and enjoyable is because they are trying to hit it so hard, these little children and it happens to be sloppy and fast, but like you have to go for it with the Gusto and energy of like this is the best thing anyone’s ever seen. And it’s like eighties. You just have to hit really hard. Also like nineties hip hop. You have to hit it so hard that your every bone hurts and it doesn’t look like much or just punching. But like woo, there’s a difference. Um, so you have to hit it with full exuberance.  

There is a difference. It’s those shows. Okay. I want to talk about something you just, you mentioned, um, I, well blah, blah words. So I wanted to ask how do you do funny, but I think you’ve already answered my question when you’re talking about the crazy ex episode, uh, with the pharmaceutical drugs and we’re just sitting there, Bob like hands on knees just bopping. And you said you just play with something until it makes you laugh. Is that your general approach to humor and dance

Kind of, I mean, and even like in a good way I, I’ve said this before, but like, um, I think it’s a lot of times when I approach my work, like if it wasn’t funny it’d be cool. No, like we’re trying to like properly live in a genre and a lot of times it feels a bit like a puzzle in my brain for a while. So like it’s important for me to know the tone of a show and to know what their funny is. Like I worked on workaholics and their village is much different than the crazy ex village. What they find funny and their sense of humor, I mean comedy is also super relative, just like dance. There’s like a wide array of good dancing or what you think is good. Right? I can’t tell you how many times a script is like Fosse and you’re like, but what about Fosse are they referencing to? Do they want it to be hyper-sexual? Do they want it to be awkward? Cause like when I think about Fosse it’s like, well he’s, you know, he did like he was inverted, he had, he had musicality that matched his movements, you know what I mean? So it’s like trying to find what it is about that reference that they like. So you kind of have to like get in the brains of the reference and then play within it and then for me it’s like, because I’ve studied comedy and I’ve, I spent my whole childhood watching movie musicals and things like it’s um, I dunno, there’s like a, there’s a, there’s a good or bad or creative process you have to like know when to put the pencil down I guess. So for me it’s like finding it and then sometimes like in crazy ex we kind of found this thing of like, Oh gross.  Okay. Yeah, that’s it. That’s it. And you kind of have to push the envelope. I mean there was like S and P issues to standards and practices. So we’re a network show. You can’t just create whatever you want. It has to be approved. And West side story is super particular and has like legislation against you doing like exact choreography, same with Fosse foundation. So, but you know, choreographers don’t own their work and aren’t unionized. So you know 

Kat Burns, enter Kat Burns the organizer. I wasn’t sure if we would get to this point and I know that not everybody listening is a choreographer, but I do think that this is really important too. Everyone in creative fields, no matter what they are, uh, choreographers right now, specifically an organization called Choreographers Alliance, which is a nonunion organization are working really, really hard to win choreographers SAG-AFTRA contracts for our work because unlike everybody else on a TV, film or digital sets, choreographers do not have the protection of those union contracts, which means no healthcare, no pension and no residual structure.  Um, 

No minimum hours work, uh, overtime or anything like that. 

So Kat is a staple in the community that’s working to win us an agreement that would support us in that way. Thank you so much. 

It just seems like it needs to happen. Everyone else, literally everyone else on set, unless you’re in an assistant role, has union protection and then they have it for SDC, which is stage directors and choreographers Guild. So for Broadway shows, Vegas shows some touring shows, they get a royalty every time their work is used, they own their work, they can, you know, that’s obviously not going to happen necessarily in TV because it’s called a work for hire clause. If you’re a freelancer, um, and writers as well, like, but if they use their work again, they have to pay them. Um, and if you have the union then let’s say dirty dancing, right?  Like that’s been like Kenny Ortega . His work has been used so many times and he’s never made any money past that. Same with Vince Patterson from smooth criminal, you create like how easy would it be to be, Oh, we’re going to use this choreography. We’re not going to hire Kenny because he’s off directing in Canada. We’re going to pay him X amount of money just like you would a song. And then the, and then like they can just take the exact choreography and never pay the choreographer or anything. It’s so broken. It’s so broken. But we did it. And it’s about celebrating the wins. As you say. I was asked to recreate Christine and the Queens “Tilted”

Werk, my favorite,

It’s one of my favorites for Better Things for season one. And, and the reason why I was asked this, cause I work with non dancers and they, and it was, it was the whole family. It was the mom, the grandmother and the two daughters. But put on a performance for you. I don’t want to ruin it if you haven’t seen the end of season one. 

I haven’t done, I’m going to, I’m writing it down right now. That sounds fascinating. I already, 

You already know what’s coming, but it’s okay. There’ll be emotional and beautiful. And I said they were like, we already got the rights to the music and everything and I was like, well did they pay the choreographer? And the awesome line producer was like, well, let me look into it versus saying we’ve already paid. But, um, they actually paid the choreographer for the usage of that work. Um, but that was a big win. They paid the court and I said, you have to credit, there is no union. Like I wouldn’t get credit. And then the person who originally choreographed, it wouldn’t get credit.  Right? Like they can do whatever they want. But I said the original choreographer, Marion Motin and I was like, you have to say originally choreographed by and then like adapted by me cause it’s not my choreography, but I was hired as quote unquote THE choreographer. But I need, I just think it’s interesting because now people are doing like Tik Tok videos and they understand currency of dance and like even in this time we’re giving away or work for free, we’re teaching classes for free. We’re trying to help the community. But like, you know, this is how people make their money. 

Ah, I, I do want to dig into more of those technical issues and I want to celebrate you going to bat for an instance like that, which I’m sure happens all the time and I’m sure that choreographers who, uh, maybe don’t have as much experience or aren’t as in passionate about the subject as you are, wouldn’t even to ask if that had happened. So I’m really glad that you spoke about that. I think that’s super important. 

Choreographers definitely have asked me like even what should my minimum rate be? So like if you’re getting a job and you don’t know what to ask or even how to run a set or anything, like reach out to someone that you know that’s working if you don’t have an agent yourself. And then also I think it’s important that we ask those harder questions. People are only going to give you what you fight for, you know, otherwise they’ll just take advantage and also to know when to back off. I have a solid rule of threes. Like I’ll ask something like three different ways just to make sure that I was heard. And then the answer the third time is still no, I go, okay, well I at least try it. 

Here we go. I at least tried thrice. Yeah man, I really wish we had more time to dig into all of these lovely icebergs that we just saw the tip of. But I think that there will be time for that and I hope that people will go find you. Find more of you. Um, you’ve done a handful of podcasts as well. I think that you can be found in this, in this audible world as well. What other podcasts have you jammed on? 

Totally Unmorganized. Uh, uh Oh and then Heather and Ava’s, yeah. Yes,The dance room  the dance. And then there’s been a, Oh, the Bigfoot Collectors Club . My friend Michael McMillan has a, she has a podcast about, um, about Bigfoot. So I have a lot of non, non dance related content in that. Then my mom and I did a podcast for, My friends, a beauty beauty vegan podcast called Natchbeaut She’s a passionate vegan and finds women owned businesses through beauty and beauty is not my world. So my mom was really good at being the guest, I was just there to be made fun of. Pretty much, which I’m..

You were the link. You were the link between the worlds. Um, well thank you beyond for being my guest today and for sharing so freely. All of your wisdom and humor and insights and tips about lip syncing. You know, there is not a podcast for that yet. Thank you so much for being here. High five across the screen. Great. I think we missed 

Your, you’re doing such a good job. 

Ah, I so appreciate that. Thank you so much. I’ll talk to you soon. Bye. 

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

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

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

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

Show Notes:

Quick Links and Further Readings

The Power Of Vulnerability – Brené Brown

The Call to Courage – Brené Brown

Daring Grately – Brené Brown

Failing Your Way to Success

How To Be A Successful Failure

Gift of Fear – Gavin de Becker

Brooke Castillo’s Thought Model

The Farwell – Akwafina Movie

Episode Transcript

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ep. #2 Doing Daily Pt.2 | The Production of Things

Ep. #2 Doing Daily Pt.2 | The Production of Things

 
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Episode 2 is action packed! We dig into the perks of a tight feedback loop when sharing your work, my approach to daily making, my every day carry, and what it means to be “a producer”.

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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: Well hello there and welcome back to episode two. I am super stoked about the podcast today and so glad that you are here. I have a couple of updates before we dig into the meat. Number one, the podcast is now available on iTunes and Spotify and Apple podcasts and I got some very exciting news today that uh, words that move me has ranked in the top 100 of performing arts podcasts on Apple. I am flattered. Thank you so much for listening and for sharing and I’m getting a lot of great feedback from many of you, so thank you for that as well. Please do keep it up. I really love hearing from you. Nn a more somber note this week I learned of the passing of one of my favorite artists, Mr John Baldessari. If you don’t know who John Baldessari is, now would be a great time to find out. He is one of my favorite artists of all time and one of the most important conceptual artists of our time. and from what I understand was making art all the way up to the very end. If you don’t know who John Baldessari is, please go find out, celebrate the life and work. John Baldessari, we salute you

In lighter news. I had a couple important firsts this week that I would like to share with you. I worked as a dancer on a music video yesterday and as part of our look, I was on the receiving end for the first time in my life of acrylic nails that are maybe less than an inch long, but it feels like yardsticks hanging off the end of my fingers. Um, they’re gorgeous. Whoa, they’re like shiny and cool. Uh, but I’ve had to relearn how to do everything, especially type. Um, but also get into my car. Unbuckle my seatbelt, buckle my seatbelt, uh, wash my hair, eat food, get food out of my teeth. These are all like super steep learning curve for me right now. So kudos to all the ladies out there who make this work on a daily basis. I am rocked by this. I kinda like it. I think I could get used to it. Um, another first extensions and lots of them, which means lots of glue that I had to get out of my hair today with the fake nails and dish soap. I think it’s all out of there, but right now I do have a deep conditioning treatment in and my head is wrapped with um, some wrap. So if you hear that sound it’s me touching my head. Okay. I think that’s all for updates. Let’s get into the good stuff. Oh no, there’s one more. In case you couldn’t tell I’m sick. I knew this would happen at some point. I didn’t expect for it to be so soon in the series. I apologize that right now you’re having to listen to my stuffiness and the occasional cough. But I’m going to learn so much about editing out sniffles and sneezes and throat clears, so thank you for your patience today as back to 100%

Okay. In episode one, I make the argument for doing daily and I give my definition for creativity. I also talk about the story of how I started my 400 and some consecutive days of videos on Instagram. I talk about going from being afraid of cameras and technology to being about as comfortable in my editing software as I am in a dance studio and becoming a living mother ginger of cameras. I keep them everywhere and I will talk about those in a bit. Also, in the last episode, I touched on the importance of putting the perfectionist in the passenger seat. On a technicality, It’s impossible for all of your work to be your best work, and I believe it’s highly unlikely that your early work will be your best work, so why not get closer to your best work by working every single day? Yes. In episode one, I posed a challenge to all of you to make a creative work every single day even if it sucks and I’ve heard back and seen work from several of you who are on your way already. Congratulations. I’m excited for you.

Okay. I’m going to start by expanding on few of the thoughts from episode one, so if you haven’t listened to that you might want to jump back and catch up, but please if you’re driving, stay right where you are. Don’t touch your phone. I promise I’ll do my best to make this not feel like jumping straight to Return to the King when you haven’t seen the Fellowship or the Two Towers. If this podcast goes well. By the way, I think I will be starting a Lord of the rings appreciation podcast. Big, big fan. Okay. I’m going to start where we left off with the value that I found in making my project public. I loved the fast feedback loop of Instagram and I noticed that relative to other platforms like Facebook or YouTube, the feedback on Instagram tends towards positive. Notice there’s not even a thumbs down option there and I think that’s deliberate. I’m sure it is designed to keep you feeling good so that you stay there longer. Well, I don’t like the thought of somebody else trying to engineer how I spend my time, but I do, as a recovering perfectionist who’s been hard on myself and my body and my work since I was very young, find great value in the occasional pat on the back. That said, this project was a great, really low stakes way for me to practice receiving criticism.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed or if you’ve been on the receiving end, but people can be super harsh from the other side of a screen, and I like most of you, creative types, whether you choose to admit it or not, am a delicate flower. I’m going to talk more about criticism in a future podcast, but for now I’d like to leave you with this Teddy Roosevelt quote, which you may have already heard and encourage you to go watch Brene Brown’s Netflix special, A Call to Courage. All right, here we go Roosevelt.

“It’s not the critic who counts. It’s not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man that’s actually in the arena, whose face is marred with dust and sweat and blood. Who strives valiantly. Who errs, who comes short again and again because there is no effort without error or shortcoming. But who does actually strive to do the deeds? Who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause? Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Whew. Oh my gosh. Brings a tear to my eye. Listen, once you’ve done a daily doodle or daily thing, past 400 days, you can come rip me apart. But until then, as far as I’m concerned, I am untouchable. I am Sparta. Oh man, I would love to use that sound bite here, but I don’t think that is allowed. So moving on now, I’d like to talk about approach.

I’ve been choreographing for close to 20 years and I don’t think my process was the same for any two pieces. I really can’t tell you exactly what to think or do that will get you through a lifetime of fulfilling making. But I can tell you a bit about the mindset and the techniques that helped me get through a year of daily making. First, take your ideas seriously, especially the silly ones. Get ready to start hearing the inner child, AKA artist. Constantly speak up. mine usually said something like, Oh, wouldn’t it be funny if or, Oh, it’d be crazy if, or, Ooh, you should really. And then I got in the habit of listening and when I’d hear sentences start like that, I’d respond to them right away. I wasn’t always in a place where I could act right away, so I’d keep lists. I kept one called “carry on” and the other was called checked baggage. Obviously the carry on is for fast and easily accessible ideas. Something that I thought I could knock out in a couple of hours without much planning. None of them take as long as you think. By the way, go ahead and double it. Then you’re on the right track. All right. The checked baggage list, on the other hand is where I kept bigger ideas that needed a little bit more flushing out. For example, a project that needed a specific location or costume or other people getting involved. Now, if both bags lists, we’re empty. This is what I do and I recommend you do this everyone, regardless of whether or not you’re working on a daily project, when you run out of things on your idea lists, take a field trip or what Julia Cameron, the author of The Artist’s Way calls an artist date. This is a time when you can indulge in curiosity, when you can go deep inside yourself and observe what’s going on there or you can zoom out and sale above all the people in things going on in this world and observe them. I had a lot of my favorite ideas solo on artists dates, speaking of ideas and coming up with new ones. I think it’s important to remember that many great artists have built careers off of going deep on just a few ideas. Take John Baldessari for example, he put dots on faces for years years, so even if you’ve chosen a daily challenge, don’t feel like you need to choose a new idea every single day.

All right. My final offering on the subject of approach is more than a trick or a tool or a rule. It is a way of life. It is. Yes, and. you may be familiar with “yes, and” as being the golden rule of improv comedy. Well, it is not just the golden rule. It is the guiding principle of my life. My favorite illustration of this, and I’m going to, I’m going to ask you to get involved here. I’m going to ask you a question and you’re going to say no. Okay.

Hey, uh, can I tell you a story real quick?

Oh dang. That’s a shame. Dead in the water. Now let’s try again. I’m going to ask a question this time you’re going to answer yes, no matter what I say.

Can I tell you a story real quick?

Cool. Is it okay if it’s about outer space? Right on. Is it okay if it’s about Brittany Spears in outer space? Great. Is it okay if it’s about Brittany Spears in outer space being chased by a space bear? You didn’t even know space bears existed all. Let me tell you about space bears. Can I tell you about space bears? Okay.

You see where this is going? Lot of room for creativity. Just say yes, and then keep going.

All right. As promised, I’m going to talk a little bit about gear. Now there’s a lot of hype and words around cameras and quality and you can talk about pixels and sensor size and frame rates and things until you’re blue in the face, but if you asked me what’s the best camera, I’d say it’s the one you have on you and it’s the one you know how to use no sense in having a big fancy camera if you don’t know how to use it. My arsenal started with an iPhone and is now an iPhone, a galaxy for ease of use when I’m overseas, a VIXA mini, a Sony A 6,000 a DJI Osmo, the pocket gimbal, super cute, uh, Ricoh Theta and the Theta S an Insta 360 1 and an Insta 360 X and a DJI Mavic, which is a drone, which is awesome. All of these are useless if they aren’t charged up, so keep backup chargers and batteries and of course they’re useless if they’re not on me, which is why they’re all small and is why my backpack is heavy.

Pro-tip, by the way, speaking of backpacks, the Lululemon Cruiser, the one that was made in 2014 it’s not the one with hard case for your glasses on the outside. It’s a soft pouch on the outside. All of the pockets on the outsider, soft, three pockets on the outside, two long ones, one, two long vertical ones, and then a horizontal one at the top. Oh my gosh. I might just do a full podcast backpack review someday because I have a lot to say about backpacks. I’m going to keep this very brief. Here’s something that a lot of people don’t think about when they’re buying a backpack. The color of the inside of the backpack. This is where the cruiser gets it, right? Exterior the backpack. Well they may come in many different colors, but exterior black, I love solid black. Interior cream so that I can see all my black items that I keep in there like charging cables, um, tights, leotards, you know, it really helps to be able to see the inside is bright. So Lululemon Cruiser, good luck because I have an eBay search out for them. Usually when they spring up, I buy them right away. Moving right along. What is inside of the backpack is absolutely as important as the backpack itself. Maybe more so. Let me run down a quick list of things that you might not think that you need on an adventure of daily doing, but the, you really, really do number one, a camera or capture system of some sort, SD cards and many of them. Tape. I mean in general, whether you’re in a creative moment or not, you need tape. You might also need cash and you certainly need an all weather notebook just in case it starts to rain. We already covered spare chargers and batteries, so okay.

Moving on to the software front. I love the Adobe suite. Couldn’t recommend it more. lynda.com , lynda.com was the online tutorial that I use to learn the Adobe suite and I am stoked about it. Number one fan, first in line on the mailing list. Absolutely obsessed. Okay, so we’ve talked about the feedback and the approach and the tools. We even covered hardware and software. Now I want to talk about the big picture production, the making of things.

You’ve probably heard the saying it takes a village and that is true, especially for creative projects like films, TV shows, music, but I like to think of it a little bit less as a village and more like a gigantic automobile assembly plant. You know the ones with a big robot, super arm that puts all the parts together? Yes, that one and the parts are all of the different teams. The parts usually come from different places, different factories if you will, and they’re all designed and specialized for their specific function. So in my little metaphor, the carps and the electronics, they’re the chassis production. Design team is the body, the stylists and wardrobe designers. They’re the interior. The choreo team are the wheels. Lighting is, well the lights and music is obviously the music. If we were to really go deeper, I would tell you that the stunt coordinator and the onset medic, they are the airbags. Now here’s the part where it gets good. The producers are the big robot arm. The director is the engine and the talent are the ones that get in the car and drive. Now this is a big abstraction and I’m leaving out some key players like camera, but this is how I like to think of it. So let’s focus for a moment on the producer. The robot arm, if you’re still in the metaphor, this is kind of tough because the job producer can mean very different things from project to project. Film producer has different responsibilities than a music producer for example. And then if we really lift up the rug and take a look, there’s executive producers, co-producers, line producers. Although I could spend an entire podcast talking about the job descriptions and a breakdown of the hierarchy of all of these roles, but for now, let’s do a general demystification. Producers are responsible for the project financially and logistically. They understand the full scope and they know who will be the best to get the job done, so they pull the team together.
That’s everyone from director to grips to publicists, electricians, gaffers, choreographers, writers, stylists, dressers, hair and makeup, yes, dancers, et cetera, et cetera. All of us, and they delegate and communicate with all of these departments throughout the production and make sure that it gets done and gets done on time and within budget. Fingers crossed. I had a really unique experience with this on my daily project because by the time I started making my own micro movies, I’d already been in a handful of feature films, so I became fascinated with how things are made from a very, very small scale to a huge scale. One of the best things that I gained from that perspective is an understanding of exactly how much work goes into a production. Even a tiny one. I learned the value of location scouts and camera operators and editing and lighting, Holy heck lighting. So important. And that gave me a whole new level of compassion and respect for those that I share set with. And I would like to gift that to all of you because no matter what your discipline is in the fullness of time, your path will cross or maybe even merge with a different one. And because of projects like daily doing when they do, you’ll be ready for it.

All right, my friend, I hope you are feeling prepared and inspired and ready to make because I am ready to wash this conditioner out of my hair. I so look forward to talking to you next week and until then, keep it funky. I do. I like keep it funky. I think that keep it funky is my sign off. I believe in it fully.

Ep. #1 Doing Daily

Ep. #1 Doing Daily

 
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In this episode, I tell you all about the project that changed my life more than any other. It is my argument for MAKING SOMETHING EVERY DAY, EVEN IF IT SUCKS.

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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: Well, hello and thank you for joining me on episode one. This is a big day. This is a very, very exciting day. If you are listening to this on the day of its release, then it is new year’s day. It is also new decades day. Today is January 1st, 2020 and I can’t think of a better day or a better way for that matter to talk to you. You may be hungover right now. I really hope you’re not. You may already be at the gym working on the new year, new you, idea. Either way. It’s a great day for a podcast, specifically this episode, even if it isn’t new year’s day, when you’re listening to this, today’s topic can be the perfect mile marker for a new year starting right now. Today I want to talk to you about the project that changed my life possibly more than any other, and it’s likely not what you would think. It’s not a big movie or a music video or a TV show or a tour. It’s actually much, much smaller, much, much, much, much smaller and in some ways a whole lot bigger. Today, I’m going to tell you about my 365 consecutive days of Instagram videos. Actually, it was closer to 420 I think, but who’s counting? I’m doing this today on episode one because A. I’ll probably reference this project or something that I learned from it a lot down the road. B. a masterclass and commitment is exactly what I’m looking for as I embark on this new year’s challenge, this weekly podcast and C. because I believe that there is genius and tremendous momentum in doing daily. In my 30 years of training to be a professional dancer, nothing prepared me to make art the way that this did. This project unlocked my creative superpowers and now I want to share the key with you.  

So journey back in time with me to March of 2014 Instagram was a very different place at the time. No ads, first of all, and videos were limited to 15 seconds. Do you remember that? Does that sound really short to you? Like does 15 seconds sound impossible? Does it sound stifling? Just as a fun extra credit assignment, go check out 5secondfilms.com you will see five seconds is plenty of time to tell a story. Anyways, 15 seconds might be short to some of you. It might seem terribly long to others, but to other others, 15 seconds was the perfect play place. Adam Carpenter is one of those others. When I found his account, I wasn’t very active on social media. In fact, I was not very active in the digital world period at all. Cameras and film terminology confused me. Computers made me feel like a toddler and occasionally cry like one.  Um, and editing software made me want to pull my hair out. Anyhow, Adam S Carpenters on Instagram did a daily dance. Now I wouldn’t call him a dancer per se. He’s much, much, much more, he’s like dancer meets clown meets Gandalf. He is literally a wizard, a dance wizard. I loved his stuff on Instagram. Loved like sometimes I would lead conversations with, “hi, I’m Dana and have you seen Adam carpenters on Instagram? The guy’s a genius. Check it out.” I would be constantly tagging people in his comments. Um, and I think that’s ultimately how we came to connect. We started talking back and forth in the comments and decided that we should meet and that I should guest star in one of his daily dances. True story. I was so nervous about this day because I did not know if I would be funny or cool enough for Adam S Carpenters. Long story short, we met in a really dirty back alley somewhere in the garment district of LA and there were a bunch of mannequins everywhere, specifically the lower portion of mannequins, a lot of butts. Uh, and of course we did a tiny 15 second dance to baby got back because that’s what you do. I digress. We had a ball and it was really cool talking to him actually and hearing about his little tricks of the trade. Actually one I got to witness in person. We were asked to kindly leave the alley by one of the store owners. Um, and I recall Adam just really casually slipping him a 20 and guy just kind of disappearing. I went back to that alley recently and um, there was a sign up that said no photos, no videos. I think Adam might have started a trend if he didn’t start it, at least he was ahead of it. He did. He made this look so cool and so fun and so doable. And then he really encouraged me to try my own daily dance video challenge. The next day I left for uh, the European leg of my second world tour with Justin Timberlake. Perfect timing. On that day I started posting daily videos and I didn’t miss a day for over a year. Thanks hugely to my husband for the occasional tech support, often, the almost constant tech support. Speaking of tech support, one of the greatest rewards for doing this project was the shift in my understanding of cameras, dance on camera and a video editing workflow. Holy 180! before I started the project, my husband tried teaching me premiere pro and I cried hard at the very beginning of my project I used an iPhone and imovie. Then I got tired of the five transitions and the six fonts that I movie offers.  I’m exaggerating a little. So while on the road with JT, I taught myself Adobe Premier Pro with the help of a site called lynda.com and that’s with a Y.  L- Y- N- D-A hugely recommend, big fan. So thanks to the help of Lynda,  I wound up about as comfortable inside of that editing software as I am inside a dance studio. Eventually I formed a relationship with GoPro and a company called Ricoh that has a 360 degree camera called the theta. Whoa real game changer and I found myself seeking even more from premier pro, so I taught myself a little bit of after effects jump to today. I am up to my ears in cameras and I’m producing my own podcast in Adobe audition. See what I mean? This project changed my life, so thank you. Adam Carpenter. Thank you husband. Thank you Adobe suite and thank you Instagram, which we are going to talk about in depth in later podcasts.  I’ve got a love hate thing going on with that. 

Back to the daily videos. Surely there were days that I didn’t want to do it and I had a plan for that. I had a small backlog that I’d pull from a, yeah, actually that means that there were days when I didn’t make a video and there were also days where I made more than one video. There were also days when I’d wake up stressed and feeling totally awful and completely out of ideas. Then I would go out into the world and see a place that needed to be danced in or a person that needed to be danced with or I’d hear a song that made me want to move and I just plop the camera down, hit record and there you have it. My video of the day, I feel like I should mention by the way, they weren’t all dance videos.  

In fact, I feel like many of them were like bogus commercials. I’ve always really liked commercials. Some people fast forward through them, not me. Often I will fast forward straight through the program, especially if it’s a sports type and just watch the commercials. I love them. I am a product of consumer culture, but this project gave me an appetite to produce and that, Ooh, that is such a gift. Now I’m not saying that everything I made was brilliant. In fact, it often wasn’t. I’d be watching and editing and dreaming of all the ways it could be better. Or sometimes I’d sit with the final result and like hold my head in my hands like, God, this is awful. And that’s kind of the point. It is also my other favorite reward for doing this work and that is the practice of putting the perfectionist in the passenger seat and letting the inner child drive for a little while. Mmm. bad analogy, don’t let kids drive. Let the artist’s drive, let anybody drive except the perfectionist. That’s easier said than done. For many of us, I suffer from a terrible affliction called perfectionism and I know I’m not the only one, especially my fellow dance types. This project taught me that it’s impossible for all of your work to be your best work and it’s also highly unlikely that your early work will be your best work. So relieve yourself of all that extra perfection pressure and get closer to your best work by working every single day, even if that’s just a couple minutes a day. Am I asking you to make an Instagram video everyday? I dunno, maybe I am. Does that excite you? If it does, then go for it. What I am doing is proving that creativity is a renewable resource and anyone can mine it. Even if you consider yourself more of a idea person that struggles with the follow through or if you think of yourself as a type A person that’s really strong on the technical side but has been fooled into thinking that you aren’t the creative type. 

Speaking of creative types, I think it’s really interesting that everyone seems to have a different definition for art. Like what is art? Actually, take a second and answer that for me. Need more time? Now. Ask someone else, the next person you encounter. This is a great challenge. Ask the next person whose path you cross, “what is art?” and I guarantee you they will give you a different answer than the one that you just gave yourself. So okay, people have different definitions of art and people certainly have wildly different ideas about what is good art. Well, I have a different definition of creativity. I believe the word creativity is simply another word for problem solving. Yup. That’s it. Google says the definition is the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of artistic work. Okay. Let me take that one more time. Creativity is the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work. Wow. Okay. We could really rip that apart and ask, well then what is an original idea? Is there really such a thing? And we could have that, What is art? and therefore What is artistic? conversation again, or we could just say that creativity is problem solving and every living human being will be met with problems, I’ll call them challenges every single day. Some of these challenges will be more pressing or demanding than others. For example, squats or global warming and some might be small and seemingly trivial like deciding what to wear or what to have for dinner. Just as there’s a range in magnitude. There’s also a sliding scale of creativity that’s exercised in solving these challenges. My husband and I, for example, could look into the same fridge with the same challenge, Dinner. And I would walk away with some solid food item like an Apple or a broccoli dipped in Greek yogurt, then dipped in almond butter. Don’t judge me. And he’d come out with a three course meal inspired by a specific ingredient or region of a variety of homemade sauces or mustards and probably a cocktail that compliments a flavor profile of the main dish.  He’s always tasting as he goes, tweaking and changing and then finally plating from start to finish. It’s a production, it’s a sight to behold and it is a taste to be tasted. Alternatively, when tasked with the daily challenge of what to wear, he will wear whatever clothing items are clean and closest to his feet when they hit the ground as he gets out of bed and I’ll leave the house usually several hours later prepared with multiple looks selected specifically for their color, shape, size, and texture, which all affects how they make me feel and how they look in motion and how they’ll help me better express myself.

Think about all of the decisions that you make in a day, what you eat, what you wear, how you get around, what you watch, what you listen to. Every time you make a decision, you have an opportunity to flex your creative muscles. The creative muscle can get stronger, but it can also get weaker if you don’t exercise it. So yes, I’m asking you to flex your creative muscles. I’m asking you to problem solve and now your problem is that you have to make something every day. Go and solve it. You could solve it by making a latte, a hot and very thoughtful, artistic and beautiful, well curated latte. Or it could be an eight count or it could be a sweater that you knit, I don’t know, it could be an eight count of choreography about knitting a sweater while you’re drinking a hot, thoughtful latte. And it doesn’t need to be for a year either, or even a month. I’ll admit it. A year is a really long time. A 365 day challenge will change your life, but big changes can still be made in smaller amounts of time. I suggest you choose a length of time that is just barely longer than what you’re comfortable with. Once you have a timeline, pick a challenge. Turn one of your many interests into a daily challenge and remember it doesn’t need to require increasing your expenses. For example, if you’re a foodie, you could make a new recipe or research a new ingredient every day. Fashionistas, you could challenge yourself to build a new look for a friend every day or additional challenge, You could use items that you already have. Actor make a daily monologue every morning. Artist, How about a daily doodle Photographers, photo of the day? You see how this is going and you’ll probably notice that it gets way more exciting when you add a few parameters to your work. For example, movies have to be 15 seconds long. Doodles must be made with non art supplies or photos must be taken with your feet, so on and so forth. The next step, of course, is to share it with the world. Okay? The digital capture or public display are not an essential part of this challenge, but here’s why I’d recommend it. Number one, the simple thought of others looking in on a project helped me stay accountable. Number two, the feedback I’ve received provided really unexpected insights into what moves people. For example, I learned people really love dogs, dogs and babies. If my video had a dog or a baby in them, boom, instant hit. Alternatively, if I wasn’t in the video, a lot less engagement. It’s cool to get that feedback and to get it so quickly. Number three, the real life skills and face to face relationships that come as a result of this challenge are worth more than gold. With these little videos, I attracted the eyeballs of people that I might have never ever come in contact with. Some of these people are my real life heroes.  Some of those heroes. In fact, it became real life friends and collaborators all because of this platform. That is an incredible thing. Number four, if given the opportunity to improve your own life or improve your life while possibly improving the lives of others, wouldn’t you choose? The latter? Sharing really is caring. It’s a cliche. I know it, but I think that there’s truth in it. I also think that creating something every day will change the way you see the world and the way you interact with the things and the people around you. Solving the problem. What am I going to make today? We’ll give you the tools, strength, and confidence to tackle other challenges in your life. So now that you’ve decided on an interesting topic, given yourself a timeline and decided how or if you’ll share it, here’s a little starter kit of tips. 

Number one, keep a list. You’ll be shocked at how fast ideas come once they start flowing and it can actually be really hard to remember them all. You don’t even need to keep them all in one place, but have places that you keep them. Number two, always be rolling. In other words, record everything. Your rehearsals, your scouts, your setups. You never know when genius or magic will strike. In my experience, it usually strikes right after I hit stop. So always be rolling. Number three, be prepared for people to not be as thrilled about your project is you are, especially if your project involves a camera. Not a lot of people are that comfortable around cameras, truly, and I’m not saying that your project needs to be built around making other people comfortable, but it’s good to be aware. Also, be aware that cities and states have different rules about filming in public spaces. So study up and decide when it would be better to ask permission or forgiveness. In my next episode. I’ll talk more about gear production approach and more. But right now I think you have more than enough to get started. I want to hear all about your journey, so be sure to message or tag me at words that move me podcast, All one word, on Instagram. All right, I think that does it. That does it for episode one. Hey, thank you so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon. *pew pew* It’s amazing. That’s my sign off for this episode. It comes with finger guns  *pew pew* and a little body roll. Bye!