Ep. #49 Pay Attention with Martha Nichols

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #49 Pay Attention with Martha Nichols
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 For Martha Nichols’ creative process, music is King and spirit is Queen.  In this episode Martha and I dig into that process and the beliefs that guide her in life and in art.  She reminds us that if you want the accolades you have to do the work, and that if you want a happy and healthy community, you must start with YOU.  You must be responsible for managing your mind and your behavior.  You MUST pay attention.

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 

Dana: Hello, Hello, my friends. How are you? And welcome to the podcast. I’m Dana. And if you are new here, welcome. If you’re a returning listener. Welcome back. I have a treat for you all today. Holy smokes. My guest on this episode is Martha Nichols. She is a dear friend and she is a bright, bright, light, fascinating human being. We laugh a lot. You will learn a lot. I really don’t want to keep you too long from this interview, but it is customary on the podcast. We always start by celebrating wins and this week my win is small, but really important. Actually, technically my win was about one and a half by two feet cubed. Um, does that make sense? It doesn’t really make sense. This week, my win is a box. I have had a cardboard box full of miscellaneous items in my living room, like right in the middle of my living room in plain sight, like an eyesore every single day for the last, like probably three months, it’s been there on my list of things to do, but nowhere near the top. You know, one of those type of items or areas in your house, you might have an area like, um, a junk drawer or a room. Some people have a full like junk room. Um, or a basket or a suitcase full of stuff that you just haven’t looked at or thought about for a long time. This was that box for me. And a few nights ago, I just sat down with my phone to take some photos of these remarkable items and a big glass of water. And I was like, I will get all the way to the bottom of this box and everything will either have a new home or will get donated. And I felt really, really good about that process. Most of the things in this box by the way, were artifacts, (um, underline the art part of that) from a project that I started back in 2015, 16. Oh yeah. I talk about it in this episode, actually. Um, I think it was back in 2015 into 2016. I started a company in Northern California. Well, where I was living at the time called The Bureau of Nonverbal communication. We were a fake government that was meant to kind of take place in the period, Late seventies, early eighties, we carried badges. We invented, um, all sorts of tools to measure dance. We were there to defend, protect, and investigate all things. Non-verbal. Um, actually because of that project started learning ASL American sign language. We did shows, we made videos, we trained, we had an absolute ball and you know what? After going through that box, I’m thinking about maybe, maybe revisiting the bonk, the Bureau of non-verbal communication. We might need a Los Angeles branch. We might need a branch in your city wherever you’re listening. If you’re curious about the Bureau of non-verbal communication, you can go ahead and visit @the_BONC on Instagram, THE underscore B O N C. You are really in for a treat. All right. That is my win today. I got all the way through that box. I found some stuff that made me smile. I found some stuff that made me want to cry. Everything found a home. And if that is not worthy of a celebration, I don’t know it is all right. Now you go hit it. What’s going well in your world.  

Awesome. Congratulations. I’m proud of you. Keep crushing. It. Keep winning. Even if it’s just little wins every single day, it really adds up. Really matters. Celebrate yourself. Okay. Speaking of celebrations, y’all this episode is a party, Martha Nichols, and I have known each other for a very long time. You can hear it in our voices, the enthusiasm to be connecting and we connect on a lot. Uh, we also dig in to some difficult questions. We talk process, we talk humor, we talk music. Um, we talk a lot, so let’s go ahead and get right into it. Enjoy this conversation with the fabulous Martha, Nichols,  

Dana: Martha freaking Nichols welcome to the podcast. Thank you so much for being here, 

Martha: Dana freaking Wilson. Thanks for having me. I’m so pumped. 

Dana: I’m pumped. I’m jazz. I’m ready to get into what is sure to be a very bright and I mean that in so many ways conversation. Um, but before we do, I it’s, it’s, uh, routine on the podcast that I ask all of my guests to introduce themselves. That is on you. What would you like us to know about you? 

Martha: Ooh. Wow. Um, I am an artist who believes in humanity and faith and the spiritual aspect in all things, which opens the door to faith and hope in all things. I love to create in the expansive, um, sense of the word, whether it is creating art or creating safe spaces, creating conversation, creating safety within other people. Um, yeah, I am a creator. I am an artist. I am somebody who loves Jesus.  

Dana: Yes. That is you. That is Martha Nichols. That is the Martha that I know today and have known for a really long time. So it will give the listeners a bit of context because I’m sure people will be. Um, if they’ve listened to any other episodes that I have made, if they’ve listened to them. Um, I think relative to previous episodes, I expect in some ways, um, a deeper dive here with you today. And in some other ways, there will probably be way more cackling than usual. So I’d like to shed a little bit of light on our history because that I think will inform people as do I there’s so much laughter. Um, so let’s see, Martha, I don’t actually remember when we met like our first, our initial meeting. Do you? I’m not offended if you don’t.  

Martha: I think it was, I mean, honestly I think it was at a function at Tammy Faye’s house. 

Oh my God. Okay. That far back. So the year probably 2006, maybe.  

Yeah. Somewhere in 2006, 2007.  

Okay. So tell me this. What year were you on So you think you can dance? 

2006 

And how’d that go? 

Um, it went. 

Up? Down? Spirals? 

Um, I would say for me personally, it went according the first, not according to plan and then according to plan, um, I never wanted to win. I honestly thought I was going to get cut early on and my hope was to go ahead and get cut so I could go back home. Um, and then I kept not getting cut. And then once I made top 20, I literally thought to myself, maybe we should try. Like you like you’re here. And despite you trying to not be here, you’re here. And there are people who wanted to be here, who are not here. So figure it out. Don’t take this for granted, actually apply yourself and try. Um, but for some reason I just was like, I don’t want to win. I think it’s more beneficial to build relationships with the choreographers, the producers and directors. So my personal goal was to come out with a good relationship with the people who are truly wanting to work with and to make top 10, and that’s exactly what I did.  

All right. So really loved that. I don’t know how it is. There, I guess I suppose, is a similarity in the sense of humor that you and I share for sure. Um, but uh, I’ve talked about on the podcast before a serious silliness. Um, and I would love to hear, because I think that you’re somebody that takes their work very seriously. Where, where do you find space for humor? Is it in the work? Is it in the process? Is it everything in between?  

I think I find humor everywhere except in intention. Hmm. Explain. Um, cause I think with intent, actually, I just listened to you and Dexter’s podcast, shout out to Dexter Carr where you were talking about, um, what you, uh, wow. English, Martha, what you learned from, uh, the paint, painters and like sculptures and how there’s not a neutral stroke and how it either adds or takes away. Um, and I feel the same way with words and words are language. Art is a language. I think it’s the same thing in my personal process in creating. So like the by-product of intent can be humorous like, Oh, this might be funny, but in intention it’s like, no, I take my intent very seriously. So it’s like the intention itself, there’s humor in that for me. Process, I want to laugh. I want to laugh. I love it. I like to have a good time. As far as like me creating something and saying something, I need to know what I’m saying. I need to have a clear understanding of it because words either build or destroy, there is no neutral and I don’t want to unintentionally add, even if it lands differently than the way it’s launched. I still have to have a clear understanding of where this sits.  

This is something I’ve been rapping with for a while now. Um, and I talked about it on my episode with Taja as well, which is this concept of words and their meaning and when they are flexible, when they are rigid. And I really do think that words, and this is like, this is where the wrestle happens. That words are very important and, and they are also neutral because they’re only as important as the person receiving them, believes them to be like, if you say something with words, your very deliberate words. And I think that they’re a lie, or I think that they don’t matter to me, or I think that those are your truth, not the truth. Then all of a sudden they become very light. They don’t they’re they’re, they’re not binding or rigid to me at all. So in, yeah, I I’m wrestling with it.  

I wrestle with that as well. I think for me, they are definitive. And I’ll say that because I think words have two meanings. There’s a universal understanding. And then there’s a personal understanding. I think we get into dangerous territory when we allow the personal understanding to maybe erase the universal understanding. I think there’s a world where both have to be respected. Um, and so I cannot worry too much about how it’s personally going to be received because that I can say what I want, 

It’s out of your control. 

Yeah. It’s outside of my control. But for my part, it’s like, if I’m saying anything, I need to know what it means and if it’s heavy to me or if it’s a way to, to me, I need to know that that is my personal experience with that word, but somebody may not have it, but I think there is a universal definition. It’s like in the dictionary, this is what this word means. And then everybody has their personal understanding and relationship with that word. 

With what it means to them. Or just say like, Oh no, that, that, that doesn’t work for me. This is interesting. And on ongoing. And certainly not one of those, like the answer that I land on today will be my answer forever. And it should be everyone’s answer. This is just one of those things that we could talk about forever to everyone all the time. And I’m always fascinated in this conversation. Um, okay. Speaking of fascination, I, and speaking of words, actually, this is a perfect segue. I did not plan by the way. I don’t know if I’ve said this out loud yet, but I have no plan in this conversation. Um, but this is a beautiful segue because one of the things that I have always admired about your movement is your ear. So let me elaborate. If you are not a person that is familiar with Martha Nichols, with her dancing or with her choreography, there is a heavy focus, a heavy a super-strong spotlight on music, on instrumentation, on composition of the actual sounds. Um, and so I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit about your creative process. Do you like is music King, are words is a message King or queen, or like what’s the most important thing to you while you are making?

It fluctuates. It definitely fluctuates, um, really the spirit of it all. The spirit is the most important to me in all aspects. Um, and so in process I’ve actually recently switched my process to something that I’d never done before, where normally I have a song and I know the song kind of in and out, and this is what this is. Um, this is what it sounds like to me. And then I kind of see it musically in movement phrases, as in like these notes are higher. So this shape should elevate or, um, this sound is a timpani and not a bass drum, a timpani has a rounder sound. So, okay. This needs to be somewhere in circular space. Um, yeah. Usually music is kind of like the first with the intent of what it is I’m trying to say, and then movement comes. But recently I had to choreograph something over zoom, which personally is an enemy to all things musical.  

Oh we can, we can go into that.  

I don’t like it here. Like I don’t like this, but I also do love a challenge. Um, but choreographing over zoom. I was like, okay, like this act like low key, this sucks because I want to do all these things, but I don’t know y’all, I don’t know if y’all know how to dance. I don’t know if you can hear the music. I don’t know if you’re on or off. Um, and then me being a slight  perfectionist and by slight, I mean, massive I’m now looking at the time in between the shapes to understand if they’re rushing or not. And so I’m like, okay, it was like Martha, you can’t do this. You’re going to drive yourself nuts. So I actually created movement to random songs and then challenged myself to create a piece of music, myself that fit what I’d already choreographed. Um, and I loved it.  

That’s great. Wow. That is awesome. What an incredible solution to all of those, I don’t knows. Like, I don’t know if you can hear the music. I don’t know if you understand this timing. I don’t know if you understand this rhythm, but I do know myself, my capability, my vision, my aptitude for, you know, creating a sound space and then you did it. It is brilliant. Martha, congratulations. I love, um, okay. So where your understanding of music come from, because I don’t think I’m far off in my guess that you have a deeper understanding of music than most dancers. Um, do you, do you have a background in singing or in musical groups or is it church or where does your understanding of music come from?  

All of the above, my entire biological family is musical. Mandatory coming out of the womb. Everyone sings and everyone plays an instrument. Those are non-negotiables, you can dance, you can play basketball, you can draw, but those are secondary to everyone is singing and everyone is playing an instrument. Um, both of my parents played instruments. My mother was a vocal coach. She played piano and organ at the church and was always a minister of music. So I could actually read music before I could read, because she would take me to whenever she would go teach, but she also taught at schools. And so she would have me instead of me coloring in like coloring books and whatnot. I was coloring in the musical staff. Like there was always, and if somebody in class didn’t have an answer, she would look at me like you should know this answer.  Um, like there was no nothing about it. Um, and so once I got into like middle school, you choose instruments and I wanted to play saxophone. They make you start on clarinet. Um, and I just was like, ah, I don’t want to do any of that. Actually. I want to play drums. And my mother was like, no, I said, okay, it’s a very elaborate answer. Um, can I get a why? And she said, no. And after about two or three months, I was like, no, I really wanted to play drums. And she was like, you’re not going to take class in something that you can teach yourself. And I was like, yeah, but people study that. She’s like, yeah, but that’s not you. So in class you have to go learn another instrument. You can teach yourself drums. So I started on clarinet, um, highly competitive, got to first chair, all the clarinet players were going to saxophone. I thought I already beat y’all. I don’t want to do this again. So I switched to bassoon, um, super competitive. And I also wanted to learn bass clef because a clarinet is treble clef and bassoon is bass clef. Um, and once I got to sixth grade, my mother was like, have you been paying attention in your band classes? And I was like, why? And she was like, because you can learn to play anything if you just pay attention. And so she talked the church into buying a drum set, and we would go early on Saturday mornings and she would say, figure it out. And she had perfect pitch. She had great tempo. So she would just check me on things. And whenever we’d go play at other churches, she’d be like, pay attention now, go play what you just heard. Um, and so, yeah, got a drum set at home and I would after school play music and just play along to what I heard. And that’s how I learned drums, but still played bassoon all the way through high school, still have my clarinet. Um, and then I can figure it out keyboard. Um, yes. There’s always been like, like I love music actually still have a drum set. Um,  

Oh, legit! 

Like legit, I have a drum set. yeah, like music has always been this, like this like safe Haven. It’s like curiosity, the known and the unknown music is like, she’s my girl. She’s one of my besties. I love her. And my whole family, everyone sings.  

I don’t sing. You probably know this about me actually. There’s another, there’s another circle back. I remember a, um, uh, Las Vegas afternoon, maybe a lunch break. I was in a car with you and Matt Carroll. And we were going to get food somewhere and you guys started singing whatever it was on the radio. And you instinctively harmonized with each other and started talking about the harmonies, like, Oh no, go a third higher. Or like you were using language that I didn’t understand. And I had this moment of absolute awe and it felt like I was listening to people speak a different language. I didn’t know what you were communicating or how you knew to do what or to meet each other in those places. But I knew that it sounded beautiful and I had never done that. I had never had that. Um, I tell you, what I do have is vocal nodules. So singing, not so much happening for me these days, but a lot of cup bubbles. So we’re working through it. We’re training. Um, I love this, this like underlined idea that your mom instilled in you, which is like pay attention, look around and listen up and pay attention. And that was always, I, you know, for as much fun as you and I like to have, or you and I and Logan Schuyvink or You and I and Pam, or you and I, and Ben Susak, like, we like to have fun. But when, when I think about you in those rehearsal days, you were the person that was like, y’all pay attention. People, listen up, pay attention, people, pay attention, pay attention. That might be the title of this episode. Pay attention! Okay. So where are you when you’re not paying attention? Like what’s the flip side of pay attention. And is there any value there?  

Um, I don’t think I know that place, um, because if I’m not paying attention on this, I’m paying attention on something else. Um, yeah, so I’m always paying attention to something. I may not be paying attention to what the people around me are currently focused on, but I’m always paying attention to something. Um, cause there’s a lot to learn.  

Oh my gosh, the world is so vast and we’re newborn babies. We know nothing. Okay. So let’s start learning things right now. You and I, um, I am wondering, I it’s this incredible thing that I, it happened to us just today, before we got on this call, I was extremely frustrated. I’ve had an, a very technically challenging day where all of the things that I expected to take 20 minutes have taken two hours. And all of the things that I told myself, just accept it. I look at, and I’m like, I can’t accept that. I have to try again. I, you know, nothing seems to be going as planned today. And until I jumped on this call, that was eating me alive. I was nasty in my self-talk. I was nasty in my outside talk. Um, before we hit record, there were several an F bomb.  Um, and it wasn’t until I verbalized that to you and to my technical assistant Riley, who is invisibly, who is listening. It wasn’t until I shared that, that I really belly laughed and genuinely was entertained by my circumstances instead of was wrestling them. I was like, I even in the moment before we started rolling, I was like, let me turn on some way I walked just four feet, four feet is all I had to go. And it tripped on my purse and spilled out all the contents. My hand sanitizer, the gum is now everywhere, which means like it, my life is everywhere right now, but it wasn’t until I started talking about it. That that was fun to me versus a threat to me. So I guess if I have a question, it would be like, what is your process of going through it? Like, do you, do you go through it in a dark place with like swearing and cursing and pressure? Or do you call up a friend and laugh? Like what’s the way that you go through it?  

Oh, the way I go through it is I’m very, I’ve learned the cerebral. I kind of knew about myself, but a lot of my friends have said it even where recently it’s like, I’m extremely cerebral. Like I am all in the mind. I could sit and have a three hour conversation in silence by myself, on my couch without anything,  

No stimulation, just 

No stimulation. Like I’m just sitting in a moment in the dark candles lit and let’s process it. Um, so going through it for me is kind of giving myself therapy. Um, and also, yeah, it’s just like, where, where did these thoughts come from? What, like, what are you actually mad at? What is it really? And who are you mad at? Are you mad at them or are you disappointed in yourself for allowing this even happen? Okay. So that’s on you. Why are you disappointed? Because you didn’t exercise boundaries. Got it. Why didn’t you exercise boundaries, Martha, like, it’s me just like going down all the way through it. Um, and then usually it gets not dark big. It’s a little heavy because I am extremely hard on myself. Um, and so what brings me out legit is the Bible. It’s like, okay, so how are my thoughts right now in this moment, whatever they may be in alignment with God’s word. And if it’s not, I need to throw them away. Like I can process them, but I’m not supposed to hold on to that because it’s not serving me. Um, and also if I get in such a dark place, I can’t help other people I’m best to other people when I’m best in myself. So yeah, a lot of silence, a lot of just like me on the couch, staring at my screensaver. Um, and then journaling. Hmm. Yeah. And just to write, like, what, what is it, what are you going through right now? How did you get here? Yeah.  

Giving it a name, understanding it, and then owning it,  

Owning it. I am all about individual accountability, I’ve gotten in arguments about it this year, but like individually accountability, like the responsible let’s be responsible. It’s your life. Yeah. And  

And we share the planet, right. We share spaces. Yes. But it is, uh, you know, all those individual contributions really, really make a massive difference. So be responsible for your contribution.  

Absolutely. Like you can’t understand communal responsibility. If you don’t understand individual responsibility, the community is made up of individuals,  

That’s it. By definition, that is what it is  

Like verbatim. So you have the individual responsibility of it all. Um, like yeah, just ownership, ownership. What did I do? Like Martha, you keep having this issue. You’re the only common denominator. So its you.

That’s hard, hard truth right there. Okay. So I, I, relate and I understand, and actually you and I talked recently and had this moment of like absolute agreement in this realization, which is the source of our results in our life stems, from the way that we are thinking period, the end. So, um, I would love to talk a little bit more about that and figure out, um, you know, find some, some good life hacks for our listeners out there who might find themselves in, um, common and undesirable results perhaps, and maybe guide through like some, some quick fixes on how a mindset shift might be the solution. Um, but before I do that, I do want to check in that last time that we talked, you told me that you have retired from dance. And then when we were scheduling this conversation, you were like, I have a rehearsal. I can’t, I can’t be there. So I’m wondering what is going on in your world right now?  

Right. I know we’re also quite an extremist, so there’s that, um, yeah,  

I’m here for it, I am really patient. So you could retire and get, and come back to the workforce. The workforce is that where we call it? You can retire 15 times my friend and I will still be here ready to hear what you have to say.  

I’m like, I’m here, I’m back. She’s back. Um, retired from who I thought I was going to be and who I wanted to be.  

Say that one more time. You’ve retired from the expectations of yourself?

Yes. I’ve retired from the expectations of who I thought I was going to be and who I thought I wanted to be. 

And who was that? 

Well, A. lost there’s that? Ooh, reel it back girl. Um, I realized that like, I wanted accolades, but didn’t want to do the work. So like, somebody was like, Oh, like, do you want to do Broadway? And I was like, I want it on my resume, but I don’t want to do eight shows a week. Yeah. I don’t, I, I know for a fact, I don’t want to do eight shows a week. I don’t want to do that. Um, and if I’m this passionate about not wanting to do it, I’m not going to do it. And even if I did, it would not be up to my own standard. Um, so yeah, really sitting with like, what are you retiring from? Like, okay. And, uh, I think all I’m retiring from old mindsets of what dance was to me as well. So I think I’ve had a deep recalibration with my relationship with dance, like put the shoes up for like eight months. And I was like, you don’t get to dance until you figure out why you do it anymore. Because I realized my old understanding and reason for dancing was kind of expired.  

What was it? And what is it now I’m asking the hard questions, girl, but this is for you and for the listeners.  

Um, I know we’ve already sat with all these questions for sure. Well, before it was definitely fun, only fun. And I danced and created because I didn’t have the words. It was a way to say what I couldn’t say. And over the past year and a half, I’ve been working on the words and I love the words. Like I love writing. I’ve always loved writing. And so I came a point where I was like, well, now that you have the words, what point, what purpose is dancer?

So especially if it had stopped being fun somewhere along the way. 

Yeah. So it’s like, you’re just physically moving your body in empty space, which means you’re not dancing. You’re just moving. You are just aimlessly out here taking up space. You need to sit down. And so you figure out what you’re doing, sit down, you don’t get to participate.  Um, and so now it’s definitely like, woof, I create, because I have something to say, um, and is a gift. And if the Lord gives you a gift, it’s not my job to judge it. It’s my job to share it, my job, to work on it and elevate it and expand it and to use it and to wield it as a weapon. Um, so yes to that. So it definitely retired from like the industry. I like went and like quit every job for a moment there. Um, this is like, take me out and remove my face from the website, take it off. Like I remove it all. Um, I’m now in a place where I realize that I’m going to sum it up this way. I’ve been writing a lot about the difference between destinations and doorways. And I always thought that dance was the destination, when I realized it was the doorway I was moving and acting in this world, like it was the destination. And now it’s shifted is that I’ve not only understood that it’s just the doorway. I’ve also internalized and I’m shifting everything in my life to move according to what it is now. And so with it being the doorway, I love creating. Like dance is a medium, a medium that I love. Sometimes she loves me. Sometimes she doesn’t. Um, sometimes I love her and I don’t get that love back and it’s okay. You know, growth. Um, but, um, yeah. Now dance is, this. It’s, It’s still deeply spiritual on a selfish, personal level. It’s a moment for me to say, thank you for having a body for having the medium, for being able to use it, um, for being giving the opportunities to train and to study and to master certain things. Um, so it’s always a moment of gratitude now in a place where I’ve fully learned. And I understand that if my spirit is good, then I can properly steward whatever project, room, group of people are in front of me and dance is the bridge that like opens the door. Dance is a doorway for them and their art for me to them, from them in themselves. It’s like, it’s a doorway. Dance is a bridge, it’s a doorway. Um, and so I went from being like, I’m not doing anything I’m quitting to Ooh, A. you don’t get to quit yet.  

Not as long as you have a body and you have ears in the world makes music 

Yeah. Like you, yeah. Like, no, you’re not doing it, Martha. Um, so now fully creating again and recalibrate it, my thoughts about creation and what it is I’m creating, why I’m creating it, how I’m creating it. Um, so I have been commissioned by Kyle Abraham’s company AIM to do a new work. And so I’m in rehearsal for that right now.  

Awesome! Can you tell us anything about it? What’s your inspiration or what, what do you want the audience to be left feeling after this year?  

I don’t quite know yet. Um, I would say questionable. 

Awesome. 

Like a sense of curiosity. Um, I think always a sense of peace, always a sense of, uh, what I’d like to create a safe space for you to dive into areas that you may not know necessarily go into. But I like to always package you back up before I send you on your way. Um, yeah. 

Something, something easy.  I don’t mean simple. I mean, full of ease.  

Um, I, I remember seeing your show, um, I don’t remember what it was called though. So help me. What was your show called?

The Wider Sun. 

Wider Sun. Yes. In New York city and that was out, Oh, this is going to be fun. Oh, this is going to be so much fun.  Um, and I remember just feeling like it was easy to watch and digest and it looked good. Like the sounds sounded, and I could imagine what it felt like to be dancing it, and that felt good. And I, from, from the feedback that I heard from the audience around me, which granted were mostly dancers, even those who weren’t like, even those who don’t know what it feels like to be dancing, those grooves or in that mood seemed transplanted to that mood and seemed to like, get some residual feeling of what you had intended. Um, so Kudos to you and to that show. And I’m gonna like kind of sidebar, Um, and talk about, uh, Myself, Because this is important. And actually it’s something that I am working, um, with a lot of my peers and clients on is this idea of jealousy, um, or the concept of jealousy. So I know, uh, you’ve talked a bit about processing, right? Especially the darker corners of yourself or the unwanted feelings or feelings that we’ve been told are undesirable. And I think jealousy is top of that list. Um, you know, when we’re children we’re told, like don’t be jealous just because she, you know, has a nicer car or Sketchers or whatever it is that you’re jealous of. Don’t, don’t be jealous was always the message. And, um, I remember sometime in 2016, when I decided to rewire that, uh, message and get really curious about jealousy and start to use it as a map, I cannot fully take credit or any credit at all for this concept.  Um, Julia Cameron, who is the author of The Artist’s Way, has an exercise in that, um, in the artist way called the jealousy map, where you look at somebody who you are jealous of and you really work your way down to the actual seed. That’s at the core of your jealousy. It is usually not the person. Um, it is. So anyways, long story short, I now look at jealousy as like this check engine light that comes on in, um, not in protest of something going wrong, but it, that starts blinking to help me look at something that needs my attention. And I want to let you know, here live on the podcast. You are one of the first people that I ever jealousy mapped, and it was shortly after you had won the, the ACE awards. Um, and I think you’ll probably relate to this I in the moment that I received that news, I, I got the news scrolling through Instagram one day and I saw that you had won and I scrolled right past it because I got that ping. That was like zeal, you know, somebody is doing something awesome. And it wasn’t you that moment always, always ready with that hot poker. So I got that hot poker and it was, as I was learning about jealousy and I was like, Oh my God, go back, look at that. What was that? So I asked just like you had talked about like sitting on your couch and conversing with yourself and talking yourself down, like off of all the cliffs and into the belly of the beast of what is going on. And I, the way that the jealousy map works more or less is you ask the question why over and over and over and over again as if you were a five-year-old. Yeah, basically. Well, I’m, I’m taking that away and I actually really love the way you seem to be parenting yourself at all times, all times. I don’t know if being a parent is on your list of things to do, but I think you’d be great at it because you’re, you’re constantly parenting yourself. Okay. So we’re back to the jealousy map. I see this post you’d won the ACE awards and I became jealous and I asked myself, why, why are you jealous? Do you want to win the ACE awards? And I answered that question. No. And then I asked myself why. And I was like, well, because I don’t really want to be a choreographer. And then it was like, okay, so why are you jealous? Is it because, um, that distinguished panel of judges thinks that Martha’s good? And then it was like, well, no. Cause I think I know that distinguish a panel of judges thinks that I’m good too. I don’t need them to think that I’m better. Okay. So why, like, I didn’t even submit, like, I didn’t even put my name in the hat. So why, what is going on here? And after like seven rounds of asking why I found that I was jealous of the bullet point, the line item on the resume, um, I was jealous of the visibility that that would probably afford you, you know, it probably meant a magazine article or a cover or a, something like that. It definitely meant you got your own show. That was part of the prize of winning that. Um, so even more visibility and in that moment, uh, that moment by the way, was, I think it was 2014 maybe, or must’ve been 2014 or early 2016. Okay. So I was still in, I was living in Sunnyvale at the time I was away from Los Angeles away from my usual work network. I had not, I had not gained any new resume bullets in quite some time. I was feeling invisible. Yeah. And that feeling  Is what I responded to when I saw that good thing happen for you. So instead of swiping it away and just writing Martha off as a person that I’m jealous of, I started getting into the idea of visibility. I started getting into the idea of credits and work, and if I wasn’t working, why wasn’t I working? It’s certainly not because, um, the industry wasn’t busy. It was because I wasn’t putting my name into hats of projects I wasn’t creating. So at that time I decided to make a project. Um, I made a performance piece with my company at the time there in Sunnyvale. I reached out to all of my contacts in the world that write articles. I became visible simply by reaching out simply by. And I, I gave myself more bullets. I also redid, uh, shortly after that epiphany redid my, um, reel.  So all of the existing work that I had done became more visible. So thank you for being on my radar and being part of my check engine light that helped me nurture this vehicle. That is my creative life. Um, and I really encourage anybody out there listening. Who’s ever done that rapid swipe to make things go away that might be causing temporary discomfort. Don’t swipe those things away because if you do, you will experience almost certainly experienced some mandatory suffering later down the road. So, um, I’m so grateful for you and that moment, um, and I don’t know, I, I guess that I’d like to open the floor to you and as a person, especially a person who’s a perfectionist, a self-proclaimed perfectionist. How do you deal with those with, with jealousy maybe, or with imposter syndrome or with, um, anything else that’s on the quote unquote unwanted side of the emotional spectrum. So what do you do when you don’t get what you want?  

I asked myself why I want it. Um, so case in point I was choreographing this musical and there are, ee do I share this? Do I not? Okay. Yeah. So I..

You can use code names too, if that is helpful.  

Okay. Work. Um, I love research. I love research. I’m always reading something like I love, yeah. I love information. I love to learn. I am a student of life and everything. Um, and so in looking up awards that I wanted to win, I was like, okay, because we will always be like, Oh, do you want to be famous? And be like, Ooh, I don’t want to be famous. I want to be respected. I don’t wanna be famous. Um, and so it’s interesting that you’re like, Oh, the visibility and that’s something I’m like, Ooh, I don’t, I don’t need to be visible. I just want to do what I do. And if people like it, they like it. If they don’t, they don’t, but I’m just mind my business over here. Um, so looking up certain awards. So, cause it’s like, I have goals. Like I am ambitious as it’s like, Oh, I want to get one of those. I want to get one of those. Well enough if I would’ve went to Tony, um, for choreography, because like you’re not dancing anytime soon, like on Broadway now that you know of. So what would be the way,  

Because you don’t want to do eight shows a week. 

Because I don’t want to do eight shows a week. So like, you can’t want something and not, and, uh, you can’t want like this thing and not be willing to do the work required to get there. So I know 

You can, but you’ll just suffer miserably. What do you, when you don’t get to have it, 

I’m a huge fan of acceptance. So Martha accept the fact that like, that’s not your way. There could be another way. So I was like, ah, I would love to choreograph and direct on Broadway. Love to. Um, and then I was handed this musical and I was, Oh, this is amazing. And at, just kind of like in my season of recalibrating, it’s like, I’ve been a part of the musical for over a year. And uh, after the year it’s like a recalibrating this year and it was just like, I need to quit that I need to quit this blah, blah, blah.  And so I put everything, but the musical and the whole time, I just kept questioning myself. Like, are you supposed to be doing this musical? Or are you not like, are you, are you, are you supposed to like take a seat from everything in the current moment and then be reintroduced to it a little bit later? Or are you supposed to hold onto this? And I remember walking in my grandmother’s driveway, just like it’s at my grandma’s house. That’s the only place I have this quiet and alone. So I’m like pacing up and on the driveway. And we’re thinking to myself, it’s like, well, yeah, you want to do the musical, Like you enjoy it. The cast is amazing. The creative team is epic. And if I was to be a part of any project, it would be this, like everything checked, the boxes, content, people, music, all of it. Um, and then I thought to myself, Oooooh, you’re only doing this musical because you want to want to Tony. And that’s the way to get the Tony. But did the Lord asks you to do this musical to begin with? And I went, Oh, okay. So sit back down, sit back down, Martha and respectfully declined and stepped away. And it was just like, honor to be here. I would be doing you guys a disservice if I stayed. Um, but it took me a second to be like, do I like, what, what is this actual feeling here, Martha? What, what is going on here? Um, so again, like quiet time and reflection. And I taught, I had talked to myself all the time. Um, fun fact when we were filling out the psycheval for, so you think they asked like, do you hear voices? And I remember like having a moment being like, well, I mean, I do, but like its me, but like 

Probably should say no, but if I’m to be honest, then hell yes, absolutely. The majority of the time. Yes. 

But they’re all mine. So I don’t know. Yeah. 

When you say voices, 

Can we elaborate on that? 

I love this.  

Yeah. So like when I sit with like, I question myself all the time, all the time in everything I do, why are you creating this? Why are you friends with this person? Why are you taking this job? Why are you in this situation? What are you, what, what are you getting out of this? What are you adding to this? Um, and so those negative or not so fun kind feelings I sit with as well. Like, there’ve been a few friends where I’ve been jealous of. I’m insane. I’m just like, but why are you jealous? Like you don’t even want that. So what is lacking within you that this is a trigger, go sit with that. 

Or what are they doing well that you’re not doing well? What is that? What is it that’s a hook in you right now because there’s something to be learned. And, Oh, I forgot to mention this in the jealousy map, once you get to the very kernel of why that person or that thing that they are doing is speaking to you so loudly, there is right at the core, an action that you can take now, right this second, that will get you closer to it once you understand it. But if you, you know, if you just keep swiping and ignore, then, then you won’t get any closer to solving that riddle or, or gaining that, um, that win whatever it is that, that they’re winning at that you think you’re losing at. Yeah.  

Yes, yes, yes. I think, I mean, Yeah.  

So I think I cut you off. And I think, I, I think I totally hijacked your thought when they went back to the jealousy map. I’m sorry.  

No, you’re good. I’m still kind of like sitting in that space of just like, yeah. I, I feel like I I’ve always had the tool of why and growing up, it was annoying to most adults and teachers. Um, but now it is serves me like now it comes in handy. Um, and it was definitely, I’m realizing a lot of things that were spoken over me in my childhood were misunderstood. And those are the very same tools that actually helped me advance now. 

Like why and what else? 

Like why. And, uh, sometimes I kind of like think clearly I can think objectively, which sometimes is some people comes off as cold.

Copy that. I’m getting it a lot lately. Matter of fact, which when you’re warm, like bubbly people, like we are even neutral can read as cold relative to our normal mode, which is like sunflower. Copy that. So I want to talk really quickly about visibility and about respect because, um, you know, I mentioned visibility showing up in my jealousy map. And you mentioned this idea of respect when you decided that you wanted to win a Tony. So I would put visibility and respect as being absolutely relative, subjective and like feeling seen, feeling visible is a feeling, feeling respected is a feeling it’s very possible that you could win a Tony and feel totally disrespected and creating that same moment. So those like, you know, and me making the piece to feel, you know, visible or whatever it means putting a call out to dance magazine is not the thing that made me feel visible. I think in that moment, like really looking at myself, helped me to feel seen. And so that kind of speaks to your ability to walk away from this project is by knowing that that project doesn’t equal respect. I mean, even, even if that project equal to Tony, that project doesn’t actually equal respect, um, especially not of thyself. So, uh, speaking of respect, I respect you for making that decision. That is huge. And I think especially in quarantine times, which is where we are speaking from right now, the, the word, no with regards to work doesn’t happen a whole lot. Um, so it’s, it sounds like you are really, really dialed into the things that matter to you. Um, and, and I, I commend you for that. That’s awesome. 

Thank you. 

Yeah. Um, okay, Martha, I just, I simply think the world of you, I could talk to you forever, but I, I do want to send you back into your evening of what, whether it’s drumming or creating or sitting silently to yourself. Thank you so much for sharing with us. I just, I think the world of you,

Love you Forrest Gump! Thank you.  

Um, wait, can we like demystify that story really quick? Why are you in my phone as Jenny with like eight A’s and why do you call me Forrest? Like where did that come from? I think it was someday on, In the Heights. 

It was, 

But why?

I have no idea. I think it has something to do with running and then I yelled forest and then, you yelled Jenny. 

Um, okay, so there’s there’s room to still go deeper as there is in all things, in all areas, in all lessons yet to be learned. Um, and I hope you, and I get to do this again very soon and you’re awesome. This was awesome. I think the world of you. Thank you. Love you.  

Thanks for having me. I love you so much. 

You’re welcome. I love you. Bye.  

All right, everybody. What do you think that believe it or not was the, uh, abridged version of our conversation. Um, Martha and I will absolutely be doing a follow-up tune into the Instagram, the Instagram tune into the Instagram. We will be doing an Instagram live tomorrow. If you’re listening to this on the day of its release, which is Thursday, but we do save those lives to the Instagram account @wordsthatmovemepodcast So you can check in there. Um, here, our followup with Martha Nichols and so many of our other guests from the full from the whole year, almost a year, you guys, Oh my gosh. I hope you’re still loving the pod. I hope that if you do, you are downloading it so that you can have it with you at all times. I hope that you are leaving reviews and ratings if you are so moved to do so, it really does make it easier for other people to find the podcast sharing is caring. That is what I believe. I care about you. Thank you so much for caring about the pod. All right. Y’all that is it for today. Get out there, pay attention and keep it funky. I’ll talk to you later. 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. theDana wilson.com/podcast Finally, and most importantly, now you have a way to become a words that move me. Remember. 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. #48 Gratitude and Indulgence

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #48 Gratitude and Indulgence
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 The subject of today’s episode is GRATITUDE and INDULGING.  Specifically, indulging in celebrations that DON’T clumsily step on other cultures OR leave you and the top button of your pants completely undone. This episode is absolutely NOT holiday-exclusive or Thanksgiving specific. But if you allow yourself to indulge in the list of simple pleasures laid out in this episode (instead of the traditional holiday key players: Food, Booze, and more food), your whole life can become a little more like a party!

Quick Links:

Black Friday Sale: https://www.thedanawilson.com/shop

Promo Code: JAZZED (Limited time offer from Nov 26th – Dec 4th)

Sony A6000: https://amzn.to/3fHxOyB

Tony Testa: http://www.tonytestaofficial.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, my friend. How are you? I’m doing very well this morning. If you are listening to this podcast on the day of its release, then Thanksgiving is tomorrow. American Thanksgiving. That is, and we’re going to talk about it, but before you listeners that are dropping in from way out there in the future, stop listening before you hit pause. Let me just tell you that this episode is absolutely not holiday exclusive or even really Thanksgiving specific for that matter, actually Thanksgiving and several other American holidays are a really hot button issue right now. And, um, you know, therefore this podcast episode will not be discussing what Thanksgiving is about. Um, I’m going to stick with what I know, which is certainly not US history and or the genocide of indigenous people. Today. I am going to be talking about gratitude and simply celebrating and indulging in natural human pleasures that don’t, uh, step clumsily on other cultures or leave you and the top button of your pants completely undone. So whether or not you will be celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow, this episode is full of really good stuff. Stuffing good stuffing. Sorry. I will not do that anymore. I promise. Full of really, really good stuff for you. But first wins. If you’re new to the podcast, by the way, I start every week talking about some wins, that can be very, very big or they could be very, very small. And after I go, you go, so start thinking about your wins. Okay. This week, my win is that I stepped out of my comfort zone and actually stepped out of my house for that matter. After my bedtime, which is approximately 8:30 PM apparently. I don’t know about you guys. It is the middle of November and I am still really struggling to adapt to this new sleep cycle thing. Okay. Anyways, it’s 8:30 and I am going on a night photography walk with one of my very best friends.  

The one, the only Tony Testa. If you don’t know Tony Testa, I feel bad for you. Please go do some digging. You are in for such a treat. All right. So way, way back in episode two, I talk a little bit about my gear, all of the gizmos and gadgets that I assembled into. Basically my everyday carry when I was doing daily videos, way back in 2014, that is actually a really fun episode. I do recommend you give it a listen, but I’ll cut to the chase very quickly because I’m pretty sure you want to know the best camera for night photography and the best camera for dance videography and, or, you know, action shooting or high-speed, whatever, whatever I’m going to tell you right now, the best camera, the absolute best camera for all of those things that are just mentioned is the camera that you have. And the camera that you know, how to use last night is a perfect example. So last night I was shooting on my Sony A6000. If you’re fancy, you call it a Sony A6. It’s my favorite mirrorless camera. It is definitely my favorite camera that I have. I usually use it for video. If you are a Sony fan, you know that the, A series is just the coolest, what I didn’t say, Siri, you punk. Interrupting the podcast like that. Jesus. Um, such a great set of cameras, really, really big fan. Now last night, I was also using a custom lens that my husband put together, my super dreamy, wicked smart optical engineer of a husband. And, um, I swear every single photo is out of focus, but I’m celebrating it as a win because I got to exercise my eye for composition. I got to relearn this franken lens and start dialing myself back into it. I usually, when I shoot video, I usually use my zoom lens and everything’s on auto. That was not the case last night. Um, so really it was, it was a brilliant night. I got to spend time with somebody that I, that I deeply love and respect. I got to relearn my camera. I got to be behind it for the first time in a long time. And in front of it occasionally. So much fun. Maybe, maybe I’ll share a couple of the images from that night shoot throughout the week. So, so, so much fun. Um, all right. I have taken up enough of your Siri and I have taken up enough of your time now it’s your turn. What’s going well in your world.  Hit me.  

Okay, great. Congratulations. Um, so whether you’re winning, keep winning, keep doing all of those winning things. All right. Now, today we’re talking about gratitude and giving thanks and appreciation all the little shout outs to the lovely bits of life that you might be taking for granted. It’s about indulging in those things instead of indulging in a handful of other things. Now on any given holiday that centers around food and family and togetherness and mostly food and drinking, which let’s face it is many of them. I find myself usually uncomfortably full by like 4:00 PM. And then I stay about that full for the next few days of grazing on the leftovers. Well, this year on Thanksgiving and every day thereafter in perpetuity forever, I am committed to changing the way that I celebrate instead of indulging in Turkey and pie and wine and wine. Um, I’m going to indulge in the simple pleasures of life that do not affect the way my pants fit. And I would encourage you to join me. The following is a list of some of those simple human pleasures, natural pleasures, no matter who you are, no matter where you are, chances are, you can have at this list. Um, and if you really, really pause to enjoy them, they can make your whole life feel a little more like a party. Let’s get into it. 

Item number one, showers. Yep. Like in your bathroom, showers grooming in general, but let’s just talk a really good shower for a second. Thank you. Beeping noise, telling me it’s time to think about showers, the way the water hits your skin. Just think about the posture that you take when hot water hits your skin or your scalp, and you get to massage shampoo in your scalp and maybe give it a good scratch. And then the soap washes a way, then you do it all over again with conditioner, and then you get to rub your body with soap or a loofa or one of those weird little scratchy pairs of gloves. Or maybe you use a sea sponge if you’re au-natural. I don’t know what it is that you do in the shower. But I do know that if you really pause and take a moment to focus on the sensation of the water, hitting your body of your hands, touching your body or the loofa or the weird scrubber, whatever, that can be such a tremendous moment.  

And I think all too often, we blaze through that moment because we’re running late or we’re trying to get to the rest of our day. I’m not suggesting that you take a 45 minute shower. I’m suggesting that you tune into your five minute shower or let’s be real, probably your seven to 10 minute shower. Um, yeah, you don’t need to indulge by over showering, but simply tune into your body and the sensations in it, on it as you’re taking your shower. Now I know that some people, uh, do love a multitask. I know a lot of people listen to podcasts in the shower or in the morning as they’re getting ready, um, or listen to music in the shower, sing in the shower. I’m I’m here for all of it, but for your first go, after listening to this podcast, try it in silence. Just let yourself focus on the sensations of your body.  

Okay. I guess I’m going to kind of go in chronological order here up next is lotioning your body. Shout out to my husband who does not wear lotion and thinks it’s crazy that I wear lotion all the time. Um, think about, I don’t know if you’ve ever put baby lotion on a baby, that’s going to get a little weird for a second. But as you do, usually you kind of coup at the baby and you’ll talk to them and you’ll tell them how much you love their tiny feet. And look at these perfect little toes. And you know, you’ll, you’ll give them a tiny little gentle baby massage. What if you did that for yourself every day? Look at these tiny little fingers. You do such a good job typing all day. I love you knee caps, knee caps. You’ve been causing me a little bit of pain lately. I’m going to take care of you right now. I’m going to give you a little massage. It’s going to feel great. You’re going to love it. Feet. Holy smokes. I know you pups are howling. It’s going to be another long one, but I’ve got you right now pumping you up. You going to make sure you’re ready for the day. You too calves. I got you back. Speaking of back, it’s hard to reach, but I’m going to try, take a moment to love on yourself. Like actually verbally love on yourself while you’re putting on your lotion, such an awesome way to celebrate yourself. I honestly, I guess I could broaden the whole lotion bit to say, taking care of your skin, whether that’s your face. Um, take care of your nails. I don’t know if, if, uh, you guys are like me since the lockdown. I certainly haven’t had any professional manicures, but I really love painting my own nails. Something about it is meditative to me. I get very quiet. I try to be very still, I focus on one thing and that is not to paint on my cuticles. And it’s, it’s so calling for me. So weirdly and wildly restorative. Oh, and then because I have wet nails usually for the following hour or two, it’s pretty low impact in terms of my activity. I might be reading a book. I might do a little, um, you know, surfing the internet or watch a movie. But in the moment when I paint my nails, the reward is much longer than simply the moment of painting my nails. So that’s kind of a bonus. 

Okay, we’re moving right along. Now. Let’s talk, getting dressed. Specifically, wearing clothing that fits and feels good on your body. Now you could go a step further by, by dressing up in things that make you feel fabulous better than — better than your average bare naked person. But I, I’m not sure what it is. Maybe it’s that. I grew up a dancer with a seamstress for a mom, and I love a good costume, but I really love looking forward to and walking around the world in an outfit that I love. So I don’t know if that is something that you might need to be out there in the world looking for, or if that’s something that you keep in reserve in the closet only for special occasions. You know what? Today is a special occasion. Go put it on, look and feel. Fabulous, simple pleasure. 

All right, now this next one is a good one. And I must admit I have some work to do in this category reading, especially in quarantine times, this one is clutch. And really when you catch yourself in the clutches of a good book, you get transplanted. You get put somewhere else, another world, another time, it can be as good as a vacation. Go ahead and fight me on this. But right now I would say it’s better than a vacation because it does not require leaving your house and putting yourself and others at risk. Read a good book today. I challenge you instead of that second or third or fourth piece of pie or glass of wine, grab a freaking book, take yourself in your mind, your imagination to another place where you can indulge in having an imagination where you can indulge in knowing that somebody wrote those words on that page likely a very long time ago, and they have no control over how you decide to see them in your mind. I think that exchange is just so magical and cool, freaking awesome. Grab a book. I’m talking to myself now. 

Okay. Let’s keep it pushing another one. Not a big, not a big hit in my household, but nevertheless, an excellent go-to, especially in holiday together times instead of grabbing an extra plate of food, grab a board game or a card game.  Actually, my family used to be big on the speed and a game called BS, a game called BS. We loved this game. Um, also poker has some roots in my family. I remember learning Texas hold ’em when I was like 12 or 13. So much fun. Engage the mind, engage each other, play a freaking game. Oh my gosh. Scrabble. You guys really, really good one because well, fun one for me because I love words, but I am a terrible speller hence podcast right now. I know there are several other games that I’m not mentioning right now. Some that like actually bring you into some physicality, uh, like twister, for example, but I wouldn’t exactly recommend eating a bunch of food and then playing twister that could go way wrong. Um, I’m sure I’ve left out some of your favorites. I would love to hear what they are actually, because I would love to stock up the games in my house. It might be time to make this house game house. 

Uh, all right, let’s keep it pushing. Hear me now. I do not work out for fun, but I work out so that my body can dance better. Also. I do admit it does feel really good after the fact, but while I’m in it, I’m not chances are, I am not having fun unless I have a really, really awesome playlist. (don’t worry playlists are coming up.) Um, I do think that exercise falls on this list and I do think that you can indulge in it. I do think that being in motion, um, whether it’s a yoga flow or a Pilates mat, this doesn’t need to mean this doesn’t mean that you need to go on a several mile run. Um, but I do think that being physical and getting your heart rate up is an indulgence that, yeah, I think a lot of us don’t really tune in tap into as often as we could, or maybe as often as we should. One thing that we almost certainly don’t do while we’re in the exercise moment is to take stock and give thanks of our working bodies of all the things that are working. Usually I don’t know if you’re like me, but when I’m working out, I’m telling myself work harder, work harder. I’m not telling myself thank you for working. Thank you for working. So on your, on your post Turkey workout or on your next workout. Give that a try. Thank you for working. Thank you for working during your workout.  I can’t wait to hear how it goes. 

All right, here we are favorite favorite guys, listen to music, listen to it loud, listen to it. Often listen to it alone. Listen to it with friends, listen to it in headphones, listen to it in your car. I mean all of it, but while you’re doing it, really focus on how incredible it is that humans made those sounds in that composition, in that order, in that tempo, in that structure, with that style. I mean come on, it is just the coolest thing in the world. And when you’re a dancer or a choreographer, you wind up listening to music all day long for your job. I’m not saying that takes the pleasure out of it. I’m saying it’s very easy to forget how much pleasure is in it. So let that be a focus, get grateful for your ears and the way that they work.  Get grateful for the sounds coming out of whatever that whatever the, um, noise maker is that you happen to be digesting your music through, get grateful for the noisemaker. I mean, this I’m, I’m tearing, I’m tearing, just talking about it, go grab you some music. You know what actually blows my mind to think about because of the nature of what I do. I listen to music. Absolutely every single day, but not everybody does. Like I had that realization recently. There are probably people that go several days without hearing music. And I’m like, well, I don’t know how, I don’t know how that works, but I do know that I, that I slip into music for work more often than I would like to. Um, I’d like to bring back the balance of music for pleasure and music for work. Um, I’d like to offer that you do the same.  

All right. Now, an obvious next step, or maybe not so obvious next step to listen to music is make music sing. I am not a person with an excellent or even decent for that matter singing voice. And I still love it. Especially when I have a thorough vocal warmup, shout out by the way, upcoming episode, I can’t even wait. I’m so excited. I cannot actually wait. I will be talking to my dear friend, Mr. Raab Stevenson, vocal coach to the stars. I cannot wait. I’m so excited. 

Okay. We’re back on track next step, because I’m following a theme here. Listen to music, make music, sing and dance. Not for work, not for a daily video, not for a, tik-tok not for the gram for fun. Dance for fun. You’re like, what’s that? No, really just music or no music and boogie and right when you want to stop, keep going and see what happens. Just see what happens. See what comes out. And I’ll revisit the same theme that we, uh, that we touched on when I talked about working out as you’re dancing, celebrate every moving bit of that body, because it is worth your gratitude. It is a worth a celebration. Get into it.  

Okay. Up next. And this is another one that I don’t, um, indulge in as often as I would like to, but I always have a really good time when I do painting something about getting your hands dirty and something about rolling up a sleeve, rolling down a tube of paint and just getting bright for a second, make something beautiful, make something ugly, make something, make anything. 

Speaking of getting your hands dirty. This next one is a favorite of mine. Potting plants. In general, I find that getting my hands dirty is one way to clean out my mind. It is possible to celebrate yourself well, caring for something else, right? You’re like getting ahead of the next harvest. Oh, by the way, if you are an avid listener of the podcast, I should tell you that my tomato plant is thriving. Making lots of little tomatoes. They’re still green, but there are a lot of them. Um, and my Basil is still my Basil it’s overflowing. It’s everywhere.  Moral of the story is plant something, get some fresh air, feel the soil in your hands, nurture a tiny little plant life and feel like the same that you are. I mean, come on. Does it get any better than that? No, it does get worse though. When the plant dies, you feel awful. That’s when you can plant another one or hit the Google and start finding out what you’re doing wrong. That’s what I did recently.

Okay. The next one again, might sound really obvious, but I think it definitely deserves a mention showing affection, right? Gratitude, affection, they’re cousins. So it makes sense that in an episode where we talk about gratitude, we talked about showing affection that can be written, spoken or physical. Now we are still encouraging social distance here on the podcast, but do not forget about the importance of physical contact, perhaps with a roommate or a parent. Um, if you feel a need, maybe you ask for that back rub or that foot rub, or maybe you offer one before you ask for one. I think that so many of us forget about physical connection, especially when we are uncomfortably full and probably don’t want to be touched. So what if the next celebration you’re at you save that little, little, little bit of room you have that you always reserve for, for dessert, but fill it up with a hug. I know it happens all the time husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, boyfriend/boyfriend, girlfriend/girlfriend, don’t care who the relationship is between couple plans for a romantic evening, couple overeats or over drinks, couple falls asleep before romantic times.  So try as hard as you can to remember how good it feels to be physically intimate and save a little room for that instead of seconds or thirds or desserts in general. 

Okay. Last step on the list. And this is maybe because it’s fresh on my mind. I’m not going to lie this one. Isn’t really a natural pleasure because cameras are not natural fruits of the earth, but take pictures. Yes. Take pictures. This is a really, really, really good excuse to be just about anywhere and do just about anything. Let me explain what I mean by that dancing alone in a parking garage somewhere kind of odd, right. But put a camera there or a camera crew and all of a sudden that makes total sense. Oh duh. Yeah. They’re making a thing laying down in the middle of the sidewalk. For example, wouldn’t recommend it. But if you do it with a camera attached to your face pointed at a skyline, I totally get it. That totally makes sense. Might be totally unsafe, but I totally get it.  Now other than the fact that a camera just seems to be this passport, this like ticket to go anywhere and be anywhere and do anything or talk to anyone besides that. The other reason why I love taking pictures as an act of celebration and gratitude is because obviously it feels really good in the moment, but it also captures that moment. It captures the moment in a way that you can see it. You can duplicate it. If you print it, you can touch it, hold it, you can edit it and you can revisit it any time. It’s so incredible. It’s so special. So this holiday season, I hope that you spend more time in your camera app than an Instagram or Tik ToK create more than you consume. That is what it’s really all about. 

That’s my list. It is by no means exhaustive. In fact, I would really, really love to hear from you. What are some of the other natural ways that you love to indulge and celebrate life? That doesn’t mean you wind up kind of bulging over the top of your pants. I do think it’s interesting that indulge rhymes with bulge. Alright, so reach out to me with all of your favorite ways of celebrating of indulging in natural pleasures on Instagram, at words that move me podcasts, I cannot wait to hear what you have to add to this list. I hope that you find ways of celebrating. I hope that you get really grateful for all of the natural pleasures of being a human this holiday season and every season for that matter. And if you do decide to indulge in some not so natural human pleasures, like for example, shopping. Into the plug, I am giving all of my listeners a 10% off coupon code for everything in my store, on the website, theDanawilson.com/store  

That means words that move me stickers. That means keep it funky shoe bags for stinky stinky shoes. That means digital downloads that help you manage and get inspired about your creative projects. Ooh, and we just added a daily creative prompt calendar for 2021. That means every single day for all of next year, you will have a creative prompt so that when you’re sitting, thinking I have no ideas, you’re wrong, you’ve got at least one idea. It is right there waiting for you at thedanawilson.com/store Um, our daily creative prompts calendar. I think it’s super, super cool. Shout out to Malia Baker for putting that together and a great idea by the way, this 10% off coupon code applies starting black Friday and goes all the way through a full week until December 4th, to use the 10% off to get your 10% off, select your items, then click on the little shopping bag.  It’s the cutest little icon I’ve ever seen. Click on the little shopping bag in the top right corner. And then finally type the word jazzed J A Z Z E D in all caps where you see the words coupon code, then click apply coupon and get your 10% off every single purchase. Every single thing in the store, no limits, I mean have at it so much fun. So much a natural pleasure. Holy smokes. Um, perhaps the most fun of all though, you guys is hard to even talk about this because I am smiling so big. I have to tell you, hopefully by black Friday fingers are super crossed. I will be releasing my first ever words that move me. T-shirt in collaboration with my good friend, Jesse Soyer’s over at Getting Unlocked. Jesse, by the way, is a phenomenal tap dancer. She’s more than a phenomenal tap dancer. She is a, a visual musician. She’s an instructor and a coach and an advocate for mental health and body positivity. She and Getting Unlocked her company, um, which is an apparel and art company that really really champions self-acceptance and inclusion above all else. She is doing great things. She is an incredible person and it was so much fun to collaborate on this. T-shirt um, if you follow me, Dana Wilson, the human on Instagram, you have absolutely seen one of these t-shirts it says, I welcome your differences on the front. It is a message that I love getting behind. Literally every single time I put it on. And I hope that you do to super special edition words that move me plus getting unlocked. I’m jazzed about it. So be on the lookout for that on the story as well. We’re offering more than 10% off on that. So use the same coupon code jazzed in all caps for that. And um, yeah. Holy smokes. Now I think I’ve talked about, uh, natural pleasures for as long as I’ve talked about natural pleasures. So, uh, let me stop. I’ll let you go decide for yourself how you would like to indulge and celebrate your Thanksgiving. So yes, please do go to theDanawilson.com/shop It’s a great way to support the website and support yourself with some pretty, pretty sweet stuff. If I do say so myself, but most importantly, this holiday season and every season, tap in and get grateful for the natural and almost free pleasures of being a human. Thank you for listening. Everybody get out there, keep it safe. And of course, 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 that moved me limber. So kickball changeover to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast to learn more and join. All right, everybody I’m really done now. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Ep. #47 Lady Boss: Diana Matos

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #47 Lady Boss: Diana Matos
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What happens when the commercial industry doesn’t make you happy anymore… Reinvention, that’s what!  My guest this week is a pro at exactly that.   Diana Matos bridges the space between street and commercial dance.  She dives into the importance of using her creative voice, and the challenges of having a company with members all over the world.  We also go deep on the difference between SELFISH and… SOMETHING ELSE, so do a spinal roll down and a few jumping jacks to get yourself warm, and LET’S GO!

Show Notes:

Quick Links:

Diana Matos: https://www.instagram.com/dianamatos/

Motus the Company: https://www.motusthecompany.com/

Fenty Show: https://www.amazon.com/Savage-Fenty-Show-Vol/dp/B08JQNCY8R

Transcript:

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

Dana: Hello! Hello, my friend. And welcome to the podcast. Welcome. Welcome. If you are a first time listener and welcome back. If you are a returning mover and shaker, I am so glad that you are here today. I am thrilled to share this interview with you. I think it is simply solid gold and a very fun listen. But before we get into it, I want to draw your attention to a couple things, because I am seeing some new daily doers out there. I want to make sure that you guys know, I offer some support on my website in the form of an interactive PDF that can help you with your daily projects. If doing daily is a new concept to you, go back and listen to episode one and two. But if you are a daily doer, I do so strongly encourage you. Go visit theDanawilson.com Take a look at the store in there. I have a downloadable PDF that helps you organize your project and really make the most of this daily creative challenge. So want to make sure that I say that before I forget. Um, also before I forget last week’s episode was so much fun. I did my first ever live Q and a via zoom. And so many of my listeners were there with me asking questions, interacting. It was just so much fun. Um, go back and listen to that. If you have a chance, if you dig it, if you’re loving it, please do download these episodes and leave a review. If you’re moved, if it was helpful, give us a rating, leave a review. It makes it so much easier for other people to find the podcast. And that is definitely important to me. So thank you in advance for doing that. 

Okay. Let’s get into it this week. As my win, I am celebrating the reconnection to old friends. I probably am not alone in that during the lockdown I have indeed locked in. I’ve gotten I’m pretty self focused, and I think this is a very important win today because in this interview with our guests this week, the lovely Diana Matos, we talk a lot about being self-focused or selfish and the difference between the two. So my win. This is that I, I reached back out to a network of friends that have supported me for a really, really long time, but also to new friends, people that I’ve met during the course of the quarantine during the course of this time, since having a podcast. Um, and I definitely am feeling connected. I am feeling supported. And of course I’m feeling so grateful to have you and this forum to share. So yes, my win is my connection to my friends. And I would love to encourage you if you haven’t in a while to reconnect to yours. All right, now you go, what is going well?  

Awesome. Congratulations. I’m so glad you’re winning. Keep on crushing it. All right. My friends, I don’t want to spend too much time. Preambling here pre rambling here. I want to get straight into this interview. My guest this week on the episode is the one, the only Diana Matos in my eyes, an untouchable dancer, um, an incredible presence and incredible friend and an incredible role model. I’m so excited to share what she shared sharing on sharing. Um, and I can’t wait to hear what you think about it. Please. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us @wordsthatmovemepodcast on Instagram. She is @DianaMatos on Instagram. D I A N A M A T O S. If you do not already know her, or aren’t already familiar with her work, please do go get an eye full. All right. And with that, let’s get into it. Please enjoy this conversation with the fabulous Diana Matos.  

Dana: All right. Holy smokes. Let’s do this Diana Matos, everybody. Welcome to the podcast. Thank you so much for being here. 

Diana: Thank you so much. It’s a pleasure. It’s an honor. You are an inspiration to me and to everyone around me so down always. 

Oh my gosh. Uh, likewise and I’m, I’m honored, lucky, count myself extremely special to have been able to share the stage with you before we’ve gigged a little bit, nowhere near as much as I would like actually. Um, you are now a person that you have your own company. You’re still crushing it in the industry. Most recently performed in Rhianna’s Fenty fashion show, which I do want to talk about. I want to talk about all the things, but before we dig into it’s, uh, it’s commonplace here on the podcast that all of my guests introduce themselves. So tell us anything you would like us to know about you.  

Diana: Hi, my name is Diana Filipa Pereira Morais de Matos Koumaev originally from Lisbon Portugal, I have lived there till I’m was 21, uh, danced trained, um, moved to London 2011, started working commercially and 2014 moved to LA. Um, yeah, I’ve been working since then, uh, hugely in the industry, but also very important to me that I stay true to myself, to my voice, to how my body moves what feel as good and organic to me and trying to build from there, especially right now at this stage of my life.  

Okay. So let’s talk stages then if your, if your dance life was a book, what would the chapters be? What do you chapter it out by like Portugal, London, LA, or is there like training, touring, stage? Like how does that get compartmentalized in your brain? How do you think about your dance life?  

I think to me, it definitely, I definitely com uh, compartmentalize it, uh, it being Portugal, it’d be in London and it being an LA. Um, also because to me it felt like a restart every single time professionally and personally, I have to reinvent myself, I have to drop everything financially, everything. It just, it’s always like a big step where I really, I go through a really rough time and then things finally start happening. Um, and especially within that time, there’s crazy amounts of growth personally and professionally. Um, so I would say that’s the way I sort of, you know, separated looking back. Um, I guess I was a little bit lost in Portugal. I learned a lot very limited, but at the same time, I found a way to sort of teach myself and reinvent myself because it wasn’t a lot back then. And, you know, there was no social media, there was YouTube and it’s a really, really small, town. So I had to work with what I had. I had to sort of re reinvent myself, which those are tools that till this day I use, um, me moving to London, it’s me, you know, finally breaking through. I barely spoke English at that point. So it’s also me understanding, you know, the language and how to talk to other people, how to, how to network, how to audition, how to even submit for an agency, all those things. Um, and then eventually coming to LA where I felt like it was sort of like my last attempt to have a career. I really thought I was maybe only coming for like a year or something. And then maybe going back to Europe and truly that’s when my career exploded. Yeah, exactly. You know? Um, so yeah, that’s, that’s, I would stage it.  

I love that. I, and I think that a lot of the people listening can relate to this feeling of starting new and being leveled, being baseline, trying to navigate, trying to transition and really trying to skill up as fast as possible and by any means possible. So this like this hungry student in you has been there for every single chapter and, and even as currently, and now you are attracting hungry students, um, with your company, talk a little bit about motus, what’s the mission, um, to tell me everything,  

Um, motus, it’s something that I’ve always wanted to create, right? Because as much as I believe in training and, and, and being in the room with as many choreographers as I could, and to, to sponge as much knowledge as I could through my journey, um, huge, uh, on, on understanding where my voice is as an artist, right. And I’ve always felt that I had that and very much so because of one, my life journey into my culture, um, which is half Portuguese, half African from Mozambique. So, um, motus has always been something in the back of my mind where I wanted to create a group of people that I’m able to, to utilize my voice into create this voice in the industry. Right. Um, not only that within the, the, the, my experience as a professional dancer, I’ve understood that we sort of have two options, which is to be an artist behind, uh, to be a dancer behind an artist, or to be a teacher slash choreographer, where you travel the world or you do conventions or right.  And those are like the two big options that you have to me is start after, you know, after a, while it started feeling a little bit like, Oh, this, this is all I have. Um, as an artist, if I don’t necessarily want to dance behind an artist anymore. And if, either I don’t want to teach, uh, or if I, choreographing is not my thing, where do I stand? You know? Um, so I think the industry sort of lacks specially for commercials commercials slash street styles, there’s a huge gap when it comes to, if I just want to be an artist as a dancer, where do I fit in? So I think motus, motus, motus’ goal is to create a company where artists can come and can sort of create a career off of it, where they travel. You’re getting paid, they’re dancing, they’re exploring their artistry, but not necessarily either in the commercial world or they don’t have to, you know, there’s a lot of people that are not teachers and they end up being teachers because that’s really the only option, which is not a good thing, you know? Um, so I think motus down the line, the big, big picture is to create, to have a company commercial slash, uh, streets out a street styles company that, um, that we can, can give a voice and give a space to all these dancers and artists.  

Cool. I, 45 follow-up questions. I’m going to start with this one. Um, so does the company, or do you envision that the company performed together? I know at this point it’s a training based company and the people that become members, the people that get involved, get their butt kicked. I know that this training goes above and beyond what somebody might expect to find in an in-person masterclass. Um, but tell, tell me about how, like, how is this next level training and do you visualize in-person performances with a company in the future?  

Definitely visualize performance companies. I think when motus started with me with COVID in quarantine and lockdown happening and me, um, understanding, okay, truly this is a time for me to, for me to do something that I’ve always wanted to do. I was never really able to, cause I was just overwhelmed with, you know, job here, rehearsal there. Um, so it’s time to do this, but now I’m limited with the circumstances that I can do it. So it has to be online based. So it has to be as for now and is until I’m able to train these dancers to be able to, uh, create whatever I can with no limitations, I have to train them. So right now in this first stage is very much so a program, an online program, um, where not only you train with me heavily, Um, two times a week, 

Oh, I’ve seen the videos, it’s heavy training. I like I sweat and I’m sore as I watch. It’s incredible just to watch incredible, by the way, do you take drop-ins because I have got to do these moves. I need a full 45 minute warmup and then I need to do the moves.  

Absolutely. You’re allowed to actually, that would be a great segment to this. If you would come in and film like your whole experience. Good idea. Love it. You’re  

So down. So now coming soon, coming soon. 

Um, so you’re not only trying to heavily with me, but also, um, you ha we have a grounding, uh, class 30 minutes before mine to prep and to sort of, uh, condition your body for all this training. And then on Sundays you have a different style, every single Sunday different style. And that goes from foundations, from like Afro, from, um, whacking, voguing house, popping, locking, like all of it and stuff that actually we don’t have access to often. And, and, and with the variety that, you know, also at the same time that we can have people from Switzerland to, to South Africa, we also have teachers from everywhere in the world. Um, so that’s huge,  

Massive. I love that silver lining of this moment. It’s remarkable. And what’s odd. I mean, it’s not odd at all. It’s been there for years. I mean, zoom has been there for years, but we only see what’s right in front of us and now we’re looking bigger. We’re zooming out and it thrills me to no end. Um, and so it’s, let me just  

Let me just add that. It’s actually really good in the sense that it created this, this almost like this relationship between me and the members and the sense that, you know, if it’s a regular class, you come in, there’s 60, 70, a hundred people who teach, groups, thank you for coming. The zoom It’s so personal. I’m looking at Dance, I’m looking at you dancing individually. Like I’m stopping you and saying, you see how you did that leg. You see how you did that weight. Wasn’t right. It’s such a personal relationship so much more than a regular class.  

I agree. I know there are several people that disagree that think that the screen, the layer between is a disconnect. I couldn’t disagree more. And because you and I are people who, whose work does show up on screen a lot, actually understanding how you look on a screen is an important element that you might not achieve in a, in an in-person class. There is a difference to those dynamics to the way that your shapes and your lines look. So, although it might be technically easier to correct someone in three dimensions, like in person, hands on corrections, you might not have seen the thing that you want to correct in person because the dance on camera element, at least to me, is hugely important. And so appetizing, I love working in this medium. 

Its so detailed. 

I love it so much. So let’s talk about the beginning of modus. I would love to hear what was the most challenging thing about making it?  

I would say one, understand how to keep people engaged. A lot of these people, we have people from South Africa to Australia, to New Zealand, to Europe, to London, right? Um, there’s people taking class at 5:00 AM that just barely woke up in their little living room or their rented room, you know? Um, so how to keep people, cause also we’re challenging people so much to after three, four or five weeks, you feel drained almost right. So to me was how to give a lot and how to really push these people with information, with the level, with the how to keep them motivated, uh, to want to keep cook, to come back and to continue this so we can actually get to the end goal. Um, it was that it was how to structure it, how to, how to finesse having that many people. And how do I give attention?  Suddenly I have 45 little squares, what I have to have individual feedback. So how long do I determine that feedback? You know, there’s so many little levels, um, training who to choose to, to, to invite for these guests teachers for every Sunday. And then it has to be sort of, if I give a little footwork this Sunday, then that next Sunday, maybe you should be a popping or then it should be, uh, maybe it should be a salsa, like how to completely shift every single Sunday to keep them almost like to have their bodies, uh, be pulled so many directions. And that, that creates, um, a body development and a body flexibility that that’s what we’re trying to achieve. Right? So as a mentor, director, however you want to call it that’s those are like my biggest challenges till this day. Honestly.  

What you mentioned earlier about there being kind of a divide in terms of once you, once you reached the level of being a professional dancer, you have a few more commonly traveled paths. There’s the backup dancers slash commercials, TVs, film type, where you’re a contributing part of a big, big picture, or there’s the, you are the traveling teacher, choreographer person where there’s this kind of celebrity it factor, but you’re, you’re teaching your moves. And then there’s the kind of less glorified version of a teacher, which is the person in there doing the daily grind. These are our dance studio owners. These are our teachers who are putting together programs, making them attainable, making them feasible, doing the structure, like financing it, deciding budgets, like all of that big stuff. I want to put my focus there because those, those people get so overlooked. And I want to emphasize and highlight that that is a creative mega challenge to, to, to actually build a program is tremendously creative. To strategize and finance. You have to get creative. So I, I just want to do my part in kind of dismantling the stigma that the people behind JT or the creatives or the people, you know, the, the headliners on your convention are wildly creative. I think the people on the ground building these programs and getting them out into the world and changing lives one little dancling at a time, those are the creative heroes. And, and I think I’m just smitten by that.  

No, absolutely. And that’s so funny because to me at first, when I thought about the concept, I was like, okay, I’m going to have to teach, you know, four times a week. And I have to create something new every week. There’s a lot of creative choreography or, uh, as a teacher, uh, pressure, right. That I thought that that was going to be my biggest challenge and truly is not, is, is how to manage it all, how even I finish class and how do I have to come back and manage all this stuff that I’ve truly never done in my life. Um, you know, and, and then finding an assistant, find the, how to delegate. It’s a whole process.

Building the team. I’m with you, my friend, this is, this is my first time managing a team in my life and I’m learning so much all the time. So what would you say in a, maybe we stick on that subject on the subject of managing a team. What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned?  

And I think this might be my come from a perspective, from a personal perspective, but think how to always put myself in these people’s shoes and how to not let either my, my day, my emotions, what I’m going through really give to that. I’m very, I’m very passionate. And that comes with a level of perfectionism, a level of expectation that is quite high that I expect not only for myself, but I can handle that, but to other people. And then it’s to really understand that I, it’s hard for me to think that someone is good unless they’re at my level, which is not right for me to do. You know, so understanding that  

I call this, um, comparing somebody’s chapter three to your chapter 30, or comparing your chapter three to somebody else’s chapter 30.  

Yup. That’s exactly what it is. So, yeah, it was really hard for me to like step aside from me and myself and everything. And, and, and to understand that someone is as valuable and as competent to, to do that job, uh, perhaps just differently. That was a huge lesson  

Compassion. Right? Ooh, that is so important. It’s so important. Okay. Is there a lesson since you started the company that you, I mean, you probably expected to level up on managerial skills and to level up on the technical side of things and to level up an organization, but is there, is there a lesson that you’ve learned that you did not expect you would learn?  

I would say, I would say vulnerability because a lot of people, you know, I’m suddenly starting a company and all these people see me as a mentor and you call it director because you have to call yourself and then there’s a whole marketing team behind saying, Oh no, you’re this. And no, you’re that. And, um, at the same time that I own one and want to own this, I want to be, I want to pave my way. I want to climb the letter respectfully. I don’t want, I’m not trying to rush into any sort of name. Um, but at the same time I have to, in order to, to make people feel like I got this together right. And jump on my boat, but I got this boat together. But at the same time to see the, the, these members every day and to have vulnerable moments in the sense where I forgot my step, I forgot my counts. Or there’s days. There was one day my dog passed away right before class. I got it like out of texts, like two minutes before class. And I was just in tears. And how do I zoom in with 40 people around the world saying good morning. And I’m in, you know, so, so, so to find that vulnerability and to, to, to make people feel like they can count on me, even when I’m on I’m at my lowest. So am I, I’m at my most vulnerable self, you know, that to me was a huge lesson to be okay with that. For me to be okay. Cause I’ve always tough, tough to, I got this together. Always. I have to be smiley and ready to go professional. Right. And sometimes that just doesn’t happen. That’s just life. Um, so I think that was a lesson that I was ready for.  

Thats huge. I, one of the things that I’m working to embrace, especially I’m giving a Supreme opportunity to practice it during the lockdown is to embrace the full human spectrum of emotion. And to understand that even at my best, I can’t make you think that I am the best,  No matter what I bring to you, you might still think I’m full of shit. Or you might still think I’m lame or I could be, you could call me president of dance and somebody might be like, yeah, she’s all right.  

Its so subjective, yes.  

So if it’s up to them, what they think and what they experienced, it’s up to me, what I think and what I experienced. And if I’m here for all of it, then buckle up because we’re going on a ride. Like you never know what you’re going to get. You never know. I might be in tears. I might be in tears.  

Thats truly. Yeah. That’s truly the journey. Yeah. It’s just, it’s just being down, being okay with whatever it comes. That, that that’s. Yeah. That’s a beautiful lesson.  

All right. So let’s talk about the journey now and let’s talk about what’s next. What are you most excited about right now?  

I think commercial jobs is don’t fulfill me the same way anymore. Um, just where I’m at in my life. And I think now is to really, I think my whole life was to check, check, check what I’m supposed to do to either being deemed as successful or, or, or great or undeniable, however you want to say it. Right. Um, and I think now life has showed me or has been showing me that things have to come from me first. And it took me a really long time to understand that to be, to be very honest. Um, so I think now I’m relearning myself and understanding like what makes me happy with, uh, within what I do will make me happy. What will would, this would this spark? My, my, my, my creative juices where what I’m interested in, like all these things, even quarantine finding out hobbies, I’ve never had time or mental space for hobbies like, Oh, that right.  So I think that’s the future for me, motus is, is something that I’m super passionate about. And I truly want that to be my, my, my legacy also, I feel like it’s, it’s a side of me. I’ve been somewhat, very selfish my whole career. Me, me, me. I go here to get this for I perform here so I can have this to say that I had that it’s very me. Right. Even though I’m offering my talent to this artist, that whatever. Um, but I think with motus, which was huge is that I’m not only of course helping me and creating this huge thing, but I’m also helping me helping others. Like it’s a whole different level, a whole different level.  

Dana: Alright. I just had to pop out right here because I want to shine a light on this, on this idea. D said, I’ve been selfish even though I’m offering my talent to someone else it’s still for me, is this something I can really relate to after 15 years, I guess, 16 years now of gigging in LA for Target or Amazon or Microsoft or Southwest airlines or any of the pop stars and TV shows and movies that I have, um, sold my time and talents to, and now I’m creating the podcast for free. Now I’m doing coaching programs. Now I’m finding ways to share what I’ve learned and empower. I’m really becoming less self-focused in that. But to be honest, I work on myself and my project and I’m thinking almost exclusively about them for at least eight hours a day or more. So how is that not still selfish. I really wanted to get to the bottom of this kind of discrepancy here that I’m going through internally. Um, and I wanted to go a little deeper. I want to get all the way through it. So yes, I did the thing where I Googled the word selfish. And here is what I found with the Miriam Webster definition. Selfish means concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or wellbeing without regard for others. I’ll say that one more time. And I’ll say it a little bit quicker and I’ll say it in pig latin. I’m kidding. I won’t say it in pig latin. Selfish means concerned exclusively or excessively with oneself seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure or wellbeing without regard for others. Okay. Now hear me out. Some of that actually sounds kind of all right, to me, seeking or concentrating on pleasure, wellbeing, and advantage. That’s actually kind of, kind of rock solid. It’s the disregard for others and the excessive or exclusive that rubs me the wrong way. Now what Diana is saying here. And what I want to underline is that there is a way to put yourself first so that you better, your ability to service others. There is a way to concentrate on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or wellbeing, air quotes with regard for others. And to me, that looks a little bit like saying yes, and. My good old fashioned favorite improv principle. Yes, I can do well for myself. And you can do well too. Yes, I can go far in my career and we can go further, farther, further. What do you say further, further, further? I think together. Yes, I can have a successful career and I can tell you everything about it. Yes. That might help you. Yes. I want to help you. This can be, Yes, And this can be Me, and you. So to everyone out there listening who wants to change the world and who wants to do better for themselves, I would say start by taking care of yourself and end with sharing what you’ve learned. I know that that’s not the end of it, but I think that’s a pretty good place to start. And that’s where I will leave it for now, because I’m excited to get back into it with D. 

You, you mentioned success, and I think you might’ve just answered it, but I would love to, like, if we could wrap this up with a bow on it, what is success to you?  

Success is true fulfillment. True. And what is fulfillment though? Right. 

You know I was about to ask, I wasn’t going to let you off that easy  

Nothing. It’s so crazy. Cause nothing is black and white and that’s why it’s so hard to define anything.  

That’s why you have to answer with gray. Right?  

I would say success to me is understanding what will make me truly happy. What will make me feel fulfilled and made me make me go to sleep at night in peace and wake up excited for another day. I think that’s the best way I can explain it. I like that success is good.  

Going to sleep at peace and waking up excited. I love that answer. Um, to me and I’ve been working on this definition to me, success is simply doing what I said I would do.  

I can’t beat you. 

I say, well, girl, I’ve been at the table for like nine months. Now, since March 6th, I’ve been in here. Like, what do I think about things? What do I have to say? I’m going to put a microphone in front of my face. Every, every Wednesday. It better be good. So that really that to me. And then on the flip side of that coin, of course is the, the opposite question is what is failure? And to me, it’s not doing the thing that I said I would do. Even if it’s as simple as taking out the trash or calling you when I, if I said I would, you know, um, I really am excited about accountability.

What is the things they used to told yourself that, okay, I’m going to do this, this and this. I’m not necessarily. Cause you know, we go through journeys is not necessarily what pleases you. So even though you said that you were going to do it and you end up not doing how many times have you not done it and realize, Oh, that was actually great.  

Well, I’ll back up a little bit and say that, first of all, I don’t prioritize. I don’t always prioritize pleasure or things that please me or things that will make me happy. Um, I mentioned already embracing and honoring the full spectrum of human emotion. Even if it’s devastation, embarrassment, humiliation, um, disappointment, or a feeling that I’ve let somebody else down like, Ooh, yikes. I don’t like those. Wouldn’t deliberately show up on my list of things to do. But, but my pursuit of success is not. Is not a pursuit of happiness. It’s a pursuit of a full life.  

Dana: Oh yes. My friends were going in. We are definitely getting into the depths here. Now this news about my priorities, not being the pursuit of happiness might seem like a shock to you because I am a joy machine. My default mood is sunshine and glitter and moonbeams, but I think that in our human lives, like the full scope of them, we will probably experience a real natural distribution of emotions, half positive, half negative, half good, half bad, some really bad, some really good most of them falling somewhere in between. I don’t personally chase happiness because I believe that out there, wherever it’s led me, that, that pursuit, I know that out there, even if I, even if I catch it, life will be 50/50. I think there is a full episode here. And I do really want to dig into this idea of 50/50, but I’m going to put it in the parking lot for now and jump back in with D because I actually really, really loved her ideas about success. And we’re going to dig into those a little deeper  

To sleep at peace and waking up jazz. Yep. That’s it? That paints a pretty serious, like a pretty pretty specific fixture. And it’s simple as well. Yes, but also not easy, simple, not easy going to sleep at peace by itself. I mean, how many things are there in the world for us to get restless and wrecked up about right now? Countless impossible. I mean, come on. But really I do believe that the facts of the world are actually quite neutral. Once we apply that it should be some other way and we’re wrestling and we’re like on the mat, sweaty, you know, with all this effort, that’s not going to sleep at peace, going to sleep tonight, knowing that  A is A, B is B, C is C. I can apply whatever thought I want to that thinking that is going to keep me up for several more hours. 

It is what it is. 

This is the fact I have another favorite saying is simply to let the easy be easy and let the hard be hard. Some shit will keep you up at night. Let that keep you up. That’s hard. Let that be hard, but there’s other stuff that doesn’t need to be that hard. And you can just put that to sleep when you hit the pillow. Good night. 

Good night. Dana you’re my life coach. 

Absolutely. Let’s go. Um, all right. I love talking to you and I could talk to you all day. Um, but I digress. I’ll let you back out into all your fabulousness. It’s an honor. 

Again. Thank you so much.  All right, my friend. 

And I hope that you got a lot out of this episode. I know that I absolutely did. Um, and I hope you do continue digging into the wondrous work of Diana Matos. Um, I hope that you take a Me, and approach to your life and your career, and she is such a good example of that. All right, now, go out into the world, focus on yourself, share it with others. And of course keep it Funky while you do it. Have a great rest of your day. Everybody. I will talk to you soon

Thought you were done, No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website  TheDanawilson.com/podcast Finally, and most importantly, now you have a way to become a words that move 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. #46 LIVE Q&A Vol. 1

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #46 LIVE Q&A Vol. 1
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Welcome to our FIRST but certainly not our last LIVE QUESTION AND ANSWER episode!  I am joined by a (fabulous) live (virtual) audience and we cover all the good stuff from dance to dollars and mentors to mental health! Talking to people is CERTAINLY more exciting that talking to a wall in my closet.  I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did!

Quick Links:

Money Michelle” for Bookkeeping: delegatedbookkeeping.com

Riley Higgins Silent Disco: https://www.instagram.com/rileyhiggins29/

Toni Basil Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLmwrNFEzKj9BS45SN41mdIunfcr_sssT9 

The Money Book: https://amzn.to/3n6zCDr


The Art of Learning: https://amzn.to/3eJpX2T

John Baldessari: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eU7V4GyEuXA

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.  

Hello? Hello, my friends. How are you doing today? I may sound a little different in this episode, and that is because I am talking to actual people right now. Well, actual pixel pixel people. This is the first ever live zoom podcast with a live zoom audience. Thank you all for being here today. And thank you all that are listening that might have missed this live moment. Um, this is, this is a great time for firsts. So I’m excited to be making this first zoom podcast with you because at the moment, um, we are, uh, about 24 hours, um, into having a 46th president elect. Mr. Joe Biden has won the presidential election. The crowd goes wild. Um, but I think there are some other really important things to point out. Kamala Harris is our first woman vice president. She is our first person of color. We also have our first second gentlemen who is Doug. Uh, we have a first dog again in the, in the white house, and this is also the first ever thank you for bringing this to my attention, Riley. This is our first ever rescue dog in the white house, and I think that is important. Um, so that’s where we’re at everybody in, in the world today. Um, and I’m really, really jazzed to be sharing this morning with you. Um, we’re going to treat this just like a normal episode in that we will start with wins. And then I’ll ask for yours. I’ll give you a moment to take the, uh, to start thinking about your wins. And I’ll tell you that my win this week, I’m going to, I’m going to keep it election free. My win this week is that I danced three times this week for no reason, other than fun, release, and the simple fact that dance seemed a better option than words in that moment, three times this week! And it felt so good. You guys, one of those moments was in a silent zoom disco. I don’t know if anybody has participated in such a thing, but the one and only Riley Higgins hosted a silent zoom disco. And from what I understand, she will be hosting one every Sunday in perpetuity forever moving forward. And now Riley, that I’ve said it, you are silently committed to that. Um, Riley, do you wanna say a little bit about the silent disco? What is it, what does it mean for people that have no idea what that is?  

Riley: Uh, yeah, so silent disco in the, when you in the real world, not in the zoom world is everyone has headphones on and listens to different playlists and dances together. We can’t do that because of Corona. So I put it on the screen and it’s just a place to be yourself fully with other screens in the world and dance to your own music. And I’d have improv prompts halfway all the way through the thing, but it’s really fun. And it was fun to dance with you, Dana.  

Oh, it was so much fun. And your improv prompts were so great. I think that this type of dance is accessible to anyone. The prompts weren’t like HeadSpin for four, eight counts, or it was all very human range of motion. Anybody could be dancing. These dances, you dance it to your music. Uh, I did find it really, really cool to watch the contrast in the world. My audio scape was like probably queen, um, like I think six out of the 10 songs we danced to that day for me were queen. So I was like raging. Um, and but, but some other people moving really, really slowly dancing to some super serene, maybe like chanting, I don’t know. Um, but it was really nice to see all the worlds collide and all I was so much, so much fun, great dance. Okay. Now, as my listeners out there in the, in the listen sphere are thinking of their wins. I’m going to share a couple from the zoom room today. Um, this is really exciting. Rebecca made cookies last night and had one for breakfast. That’s the type of world I want to live in. Um, Oh, Rachel got time to read this week. Congratulations, Rachel. I started reading a new book this week. It is all about dance and politics in New York city, between 1929 and 1942. It is fascinating. I will definitely be sharing about it in a must read list coming up later. Um, uh, Andrea, this is such a good win. She has re-sparked her creative juices and reconnected with old friends. That is absolutely something to celebrate. I love this. Ooh, Jess Franco. All right. She has prepared a training schedule for November and reached out to friends to identify her strengths. It was actually a really cool thing. I got an email from Jess, um, asking, ‘Hey, like, would you be willing to share a moment that you remember me and what you about me in that moment in your memory?’ Um, I’m probably botching that prompts, Jess. Jess, do you want to, do you want to share actually what that prompt was this email that you put out to your friends that was such a cool thing to receive?  

Jess: Yeah. It had, um, it was an exercise to identify you at your, at your strengths. So reaching out to like 10 or 20 friends and just asking a moment where they remember you at your best and what it is about that moment, that they remember. A feeling together, the experience itself, the way you were, the way you were together. Um, just trying to identify things that I might not notice as my own strengths, cause everybody’s perspectives are a little different. So it’s nice to know what the world thinks of you. And then maybe you can identify new pieces and tools that you can use even more so and develop even more and or recognize where you can bring someone else into your world to fulfill any gaps that you might have. So self-reflection at your best. Identifying strength through your friend’s eyes, as well as your own awareness,  

Super win. I love that. Thank you so much for sharing huge encouragement there, do it, put it out into the world. Um, I’m going to share one more, win from a zoom chat because this one appears in the form of a haiku. You do receive extra credit bonus points. Also out there in the listensphere. If you can present your awareness in the form of a haiku, Stephanie, this one’s yours when veggie roasting beets in my toaster oven too big, too many, too big, too many. Many is. Yeah. Many is a two syllable word. Great job, Stephanie, super win, super haiku. Do we have any more haikus? Did I miss any, raise your hand and flap it wildly if I missed your haiku. Oh, great. Awesome. I’m checking your work before I say it out loud. Sell, wait. Here’s my wins haiku. Got it. Got it. Here’s my wins. Haiku celebrating, taking space, sharing, sharing together. Nice job Dinka. Oh my gosh. These are fun. Did I miss anybody else’s haiku. Okay. Homework assignment, homework assignment. Now everybody at home, you go, what is your win and silently? We can all think of this song.  

Yeah. Here it comes. The end. Big finish. Awesome. Congratulations everybody. And keep on winning. Keep on crushing it. Um, I want to quickly put a little magnifying glass on how easy it may seem to find wins when your side is winning. But I do think it’s really important to remember that half of our country right now feels the way that you might’ve felt around this time four years ago. So it’s a great opportunity to practice some compassion, openness, and understanding, and to be looking for wins. Always even when your team is losing.

All right, with that, everybody let’s get into this Q and A episode. I am riveted. We’re going to start first with Orianna. What’s your question.  

Orianna: Okay. Hey, what do you think? I know that you’ve said in the past that you didn’t know that much of mental health, but I still want to ask, um, what do you think that are the hardest things that dancers and choreographers have to manage regarding their mental health and what do you think that they can, how can they improve it or what can they do to have a better mental health in the industry?  

Dana: Uh, that is a really, really good question. And you’re right. I, because I’m not a doctor, I’m not a scientist, I’m not a person who’s studied the brain, but I am a person that studies my feelings day in, day out. And it’s where I make my art from. So I am always seeking to understand them better and to find ways of managing them and find ways of turning them into gold. Um, so I’ll start by answering your question on kind of a global level, and then I’ll shrink it down to the dancer level. I think that the most important thing I’ve learned about my mental health and that, uh, and the mental health of a lot of America is that it may be a problem to be constantly seeking just the positive end of the spectrum. We are really, really motivated to prioritize happiness and all of the things that we think happiness will bring, um, or will come along with it. Like the family, the spouse, the kids, the cool gigs, the lots of money, the car, the fancy clothes. Um, and first we know because we’ve seen people with all of those things who are very unhappy, that those are not, that those don’t come hand in hand. But secondly, I think that by only pursuing the bright side, you’re missing out on a really big portion and really important portion of life. And as artists, we know that some incredible work gets spawned from the darker side of the spectrum. Some of my favorite pieces don’t have a bit to do with happiness. So my overall observation is that I think we would all do better and our work might do better if we embrace the full spectrum, instead of simply, um, pursuing the happy side all the time. Now regarding dance specifically, I think the, um, I’ll call them like the mental mousetrap, these little traps that are set up for us around every corner. And by us, I do mean dancers. The, the mental mousetraps that are set up around all the corners are usually, or in my experience are, um, these are my three, my three favorites. And when I say favorites, I mean least favorites, jealousy, imposter syndrome, which is basically another word for self doubt. And maybe let’s just start with those two. So for me, jealousy happens a lot because, um, our work is visual work. So I see people it’s like, I wouldn’t be jealous of other if I were an accountant. Maybe I wouldn’t be jealous of other accountants because I can’t see their books. I don’t know how they’re doing or whether they’re doing, it’s not like, you know, those numbers, aren’t running side by side all the time. But you know, in, in, in a visual field like dance or other performing arts, you see other people’s work. So you are holding yours to theirs even maybe on a subliminal level. So I think that jealousy comes up for us a lot. And I think that we brushed past it because for our whole lives, we’ve told, we’ve been told don’t be jealous. I’m just now learning the value of jealousy, using it as a map and trying to find within that jealousy, what is, what is the thing that I really want?  What is that person doing that I am not, um, usually it means there’s a skill gap somewhere. Something that I’m not quite doing yet, that they are. Um, so I think jealousy can be a huge teacher, although it doesn’t feel really good in the moment. I’ve gotten a lot better at not resisting it when it shows up, but actually really looking under the rug of it and trying to find out what’s underneath there. Um, same is true for imposter syndrome and I feel it all the time. I’m a person that has, uh, an arguably decent resume to look at, you know, and even so I am afraid that someday people will wake up and be like, ah, no, she’s awful. She, that was all like a fluke. Uh, she didn’t deserve any of that. Like all the time I feel, um, like I don’t deserve the seat at the table that I have. Um, and that, I think also is kind of like a check engine light indicator that maybe there’s something I even know about that I’m not doing. If I didn’t know there was something missing, I wouldn’t feel that way. If I thought that I knew all the things and was the greatest and all the things I wouldn’t have imposter syndrome. So that’s me. The imposter syndrome is me like suspecting. I’m not topped up in all the places that I’d like to be. So yes, imposter syndrome and jealousy, those are the two, uh, or I’ll call them self doubt and jealousy are the two negative emotions that I feel most often or have felt most often in my dance career, um, that, that you guys might be facing up against as well. And I would encourage you to use them as check engine lights and an opportunity to look a little deeper at what might be going on in there. Does that help? Awesome. 

Okay. Next up, Rebecca, what you got for me?  

Rebecca: Hello. Um, my question is recently ish, you shared a video of an unreleased series of dailies where you talk about, you’re talking about your vow to not make meaningless work. And I’m curious what led you to that vow and like how that vow is going, right.  

Dana: Oh my God. You’re an angel. Um, thank you for bringing that up. I took that vow, uh, pretty shortly after, or was it before? Oh, my history. Oh, my self history. I was never bad at American history, but Dana history. That’s another question. Um, so I took on my daily challenge for more than a year. It was wound up being over 400 days and I stopped. I decided to stop doing daily one day when I saw, you know, I have a slogan, that’s always be rolling. And so my camera was just constantly on everywhere I went, I was rolling. And if I, you know, I’d put the thing down and do the little jig. And even if I thought I was done, I would keep it rolling because something else might happen. So as it was reviewing the footage that day, I saw my face in between takes in between moments.  And I was so bummed on what I was doing. I was not inspired. I was not vibrating at my usual, you know, sunshine and sparkles level. So I was like, okay, this, this might not be the thing. Um, so that I noticed on one day, then I kept going. I went for like one more week and I was like, okay, definitely it’s time for a pause. Um, and in that pause, I went to art school, which is not an actual place. Uh, well, it is, there are several art schools out there, but my art school was simply my husband, Daniel Reetz, who went to school for sculpture and then became a visual neuroscience, super extraordinaire. Um, he’s an obstacle engineer and rapid prototyper and, and, and, and musician, you guys he’s been cranking out some jams. So anyways, uh, my husband gave me kind of a crash course in art school. What he, he sort of boiled down his four year art school experience into a couple of weeks of like the most important people and things that you need to know about. And during that period, he showed me a documentary, a small docu short I’ll call it about John Baldessari, who I have talked about on the podcast before. And John Baldessari has a, uh, a famous piece of Val that he makes. Uh, and this is by the way in 1971, John Baldessari wrote over and over and over again, I will not make any more boring art. I will not make any more boring art. I will not make any more boring art. So I suppose, um, I adopted that, uh, mantra and that Val for myself, and I decided that I wouldn’t make any more, um, meaningless art, which, which after 422 days, I can’t say that every one of my pieces had a deep meaning.  And I had sort of diff sort of defaulted to ones that didn’t, they were simply silly. Now this could turn into a Tik Tok conversation if you would like it to, but, uh, silly dance seemed right there at the surface. And I got really good at silly dance. I could fart out a little 15, second silly dance faster than you can blink your eyes. And it was no longer lighting me up. So I decided to see if meaningful dance lit me up. So that’s where it came from really long way to answer the first part of your question. Second part of your question is, do I still have that. Oh man, I’ve really, my mind is so strong. My mind has found a way because making meaningful art is hard. It takes more time. It takes more effort. It doesn’t necessarily get more rewarded. And so my brain is found an offering for me that makes it easier for me to make silly art is that, um, meaningless art can be meaningful to some. Intention doesn’t necessarily mean impact. So I could intend with every fiber of my being that something be mean of meaningful and an audience could think of next. And I could also just like have one of those farts of a piece that I think is meaningless and somebody might be profoundly impacted by that. So once I’d made that distinction for myself, I simply made the commitment to be deliberate in what I was making. If it was going to be silly, it was a decision that it’d be silly if it was going to be meaningful, even if my audience didn’t find it so. It was my decision that it meant something to me and I don’t care what anybody else thinks. It’s so, so the distinction for me just came, became the decision. 

Okay. Um, we’re going to do Max next what’s up Max. It’s nice to see you, my friend  

Max: So good to see you! Something that we’ve talked about a lot is liking your reasons for doing something. And I feel like I have struggled with finding this boundary between liking my reasons for doing something and being defensive about why I’m doing something. I found it very difficult to find this balance between supporting myself and the things that I do and feeling like I need to defend myself. So do you have any tips as to where to find that boundary and how to get out of that mindset of defensiveness?  

Dana: Okay. Question. How do they, how do defensive and supported show up differently in terms of your body? Like your actual behavior? What is, what is defensive Max behave like? And what does supported Max behave like  

Max: Supported max can exist in public. Where if I feel really good about something I’m thinking about doing, or if I have an idea that I really like, then I feel like I’m able to create that in the presence of other people. Because I think it’s a good idea. When there is, when I’m having like more defensive thoughts, there is a certain amount of doubt surrounding that, where I feel as though I’m trying to make myself like the reasons, even though I don’t necessarily. 

Dana: Right. Because there’s doubt there because your brain is like, you’re lying to yourself. Okay. So what’s the thought that makes you feel supported?  

Max: Uh, let’s see. I guess the thought that makes me feel supported. It’s just like, what I’m doing is interesting. And what I am doing is making me better or making the world better in some small way. 

And maybe in a big way 

Max: And maybe in a big way.  

Dana: And when you think that though, how do you feel supported? Yeah. And when you feel supported, you go out into the world and how do you walk? How do you talk? How what’s like, if I was really, uh, like, Oh my gosh, you guys, my husband and I have been very into corvids lately. We watch the crows. It’s like our new favorite Corona Corvid COVID experience. But anyways, if I was a crow, just flying around, watching max out there in the world, what would I notice about your behavior? Your supported, like self,  

Max: I look comfortable where I am able to sort of hold myself up. I’m not trying to hide in any way, because I feel as though I am supportive, but I don’t need the support of other people to make feel that way. I’m able to do that myself.  

Dana: Amazing. So the person that thinks what I’m doing, what I’m thinking is important in a big way, or, or it can be a little bit and can be really, really important. You feel supported. And when you feel supported, you go out into the world, supported, believe it or not. Um, the, the difference in thinking that thought and thinking one that makes you feel defensive is, you know, the difference shows up in your actions in the way that you feel, but it stems from that thought when your, your, your, your thought that leads you to feel defensive is what? 

Max: It’s usually trying to make myself believe. Those same things where it’s like, Oh, trying to make myself up. But what I’m doing is beneficial.  

Got it. Right. So you’re fighting with yourself and that’s why you feel defensive because you’re fighting max, have you read The Art of Learning? I haven’t, this is mandatory reading for everybody out there. The author is a guy called Josh Waitzkin. He is a child prodigy chess player, world champion, and a push hands, Tai Chi world champion as well. Multidisciplines multi champions. And he’s like 20, or I don’t know how old he was when he wrote this book, but he was a child pride at each prodigy child prejudi, um, child prodigy chess player. And then I think by the time he was 18, he had won a national push hands title. Anyways, one of my favorite takeaways from the book is this concept of being a blade of grass in a hurricane, the winds around you can be wailing and big, big, strong trees will be snapping, but you can just be flexy and nimble and your, and your mind can be the wind and it can be like, and you can be like, *woooooosh* it’s cool. I’m just a little blade of grass. And you don’t need to fight the wind. You don’t need to fight with yourself. You could just blow. You can identify, Oh, here I am fighting with myself and that’s okay. These winds will pass. And I will feel supported once I decide to think that what I’m, what I’m doing is important. So roll with it. That’s the other awesome. Like, it’s the fundamental, like it is the, uh, uh, that like the ethos. I mean, that’s the wrong word, whatever, it’s the, it’s the mom’s laughing at me. She’s like, God bless find the words, honey. Um, my mom is in the call today. Shout out, mom. Thanks for being here. Uh, I think like the underlying underlying principle of Tai Chi is to be like a ball in a socket, any force that strikes you rolls off instead of meeting it with equal force, you just roll. Um, and that, and that is just such a beautiful principle. I think we could all get a lot of out of adopting something similar. 

Okay. Um, I think next step is Alyssa.  

Alyssa: Um, my question is, if you can, can you share about your love story with Locking? Like, how did you meet, how do you start dating, like training and like, how did you, how do you use locking now?  

Dana: Wow. Thank you for bringing your locking to the podcast. I don’t think I’ve ever talked about my love affair with locking here on the podcast. Think of what a great question. Thank you so much. Okay. Let’s rewind. The year is 2005 and a half. Um, on Lankershim Boulevard is, was, was well, is at the time located  millennium dance complex and the dome. I was 18 years old and some change. And I was taking as many dance classes as humanly possible. I took everything that Marty Kudelka ever taught. I took all the Misha Gabriel, all the Nick Bass, you name it also shout out JR. Taylor. I miss your class. Um, and
Toni Basil used to take Marty. Kudelka his class religiously. Toni Basil, by the way, if you don’t know is a living legend. Um, she is the woman that sings, Hey, Mickey, but she is also, so-so so much more. She single-handedly bridge the gap between street styles and classical ballet specifically, but other more formal dance styles. Um, and she brought them to the forefront. She brought them to the mainstream. She’s, you know, she’s the reason why we see those things on TV. Um, I’ll link to a couple of my favorite Toni Basil performances in the show notes to this episode. So Toni Basil would take Marty’s class. And, um, she, at the time, you know, she’s older than most people in Marty’s class and Marty’s style. Although it looks very pedestrian is not easy at all. His ear is insane and his style is, is challenging. It’s also very far from Toni Basil’s personal style, but she loves a challenge and she loved it to put herself in class. Um, and to my understanding, this is how this transaction worked out. She asked Marty for some privates coaching on this, on, on a certain combo.  And he was like, honestly, Basil, I love you so much, but I, I do you mind if I hand you off to my assistant? I think you guys would be a great fit. You, you know, you can learn from her, she can learn from you. Perfect handoff. And I remember him calling me and asking if that was okay, that he put us in touch. And I was like *GASP*, and I’ll never forget. The first day I went over to her garage to dance with her. She had a CD player that adjusts the pitch of music, and we were dancing to Neo Addicted to Sex was the name of the song and at like half speed. So it was like, No, uh,  It was the funniest thing, but we, uh, yeah, we, we did a trade swap. So in exchange for me working with her on Marty’s combos from many, many weeks in a row, we would do this and she would teach me some locking. So I am very fortunate, very lucky, very proud to say that my first taste of locking came not from the source, but pretty darn close. Toni Basil’s one of the original lockers locking. Uh, obviously I said obviously, but maybe not obviously was created by a guy called Don Campbell Lock. Um, and the original lockers are, if you ask me today, what’s my favorite. Who’s my favorite dance crew. I would tell you the Original Lockers close, second Electric Boogaloos shout out Pete. Um, but I fell in love with it from her. She just looks so cool dancing it. Uh, and then I started training.  I took several classes from Suga Pop who was teaching at evolution at the time. That was a weekly if possible or every week that he was there. I was there. Then I started taking from a woman called Lockadelic, Celine Um, she is now back in France. She doesn’t teach in LA anymore. Um, but that’s one funky woman in her class was drills. We were dancing solid for an hour. There’s no teaching eight counts or no talking it from the top. You follow the leader and you dance around the room for an hour straight. And that’s when I found Funk. Honestly, I didn’t have it until Lockadelic’s classes. I would imitate Basil a little bit in her garage, but yeah, Basil I guess, would be the dating phase and then taking Lockadelic’s class and just jamming with her. We would jam every now and then that was my like, Oh, we’re exclusive. I think he might’ve had another hidden question in there, but I’ll leave that. I’ll leave that at that for now. 

Um, okay. Gaby, you are up next.  

Gaby: Yes. Hi. So, uh, my question is an episode you mentioned Money Monday, uh, and I was curious to know what that entails and what you could share about that.  

Thanks for asking Gabby Money Monday, um, was definitely a habit of mine. It shifted a little bit now because now I have a bookkeeper. I call her Money Michelle, because her name is Michelle. Um, so on Money Monday, Monday is actually, this is great timing. Another book that you guys absolutely must read. This is called The Money Book. It was on one of my required reading lists earlier on The Money Book for freelancers part-timers and self-employed, there are a couple of nuggets of wisdom in this book. One of them is, look at finances frequently, just stop making it mystery, stop, letting it sneak up on you around tax season. Stop, pretending to know like, you know, how much you have and just look at how much you have once a week, just get familiar with what’s actually going on in there. So I decided, um, I would take on a Money Monday and for me that meant reconciling receipts. So I would keep at the time all paper receipts, and I would make sure that what was on the receipt was what was, um, debited out of my bank account. So that was step one. And I was shocked actually at how often those numbers did not line up some restaurants, some shady business there. Yeah. So, so step one is reconciling. Step two was categorizing my expenses. So if I had went to, uh, if I did any Amazon shopping and let’s say I bought like, um, an adapter for my computer and a new eyebrow pencil, these are actual purchases that I’ve made in the last 24 hours. Um, although that’s one receipt from Amazon, those are actually two different categories of expenses. One of them is technical than the other ones, what I would consider maintenance or a personal upkeep. So I got really good at getting specific with my categories. Um, and then I would also pay any bills that were due, anything like that. So step one, reconcile receipts, and then it would get rid of all the paper. Once I like taking photos of them and put them where they needed to go, made sure that the proper amounts were withdrawn. Um, then I would do my categorization, which means taxes at the end of the year. Just went a lot faster. You don’t have to do it all at once. Just small bites. Um, and then yeah, paying any bills. That’s the general Money Monday. That’s gotten a little bit more elaborate since I became incorporated. I am now an LLC, um, Money Michelle is extremely helpful in all of my finances. If you are looking for a bookkeeper, I would be happy to pass her information along, but yeah, that’s Money Mondays in a nutshell, highly recommended. 

Cool. Emily, Jo, you are up next. What you got?  

Emily Jo: Hi. Okay. Um, so my question is kind of a broad one, but as dancers, um, we’re often told to find what makes us unique. Like what’s our thing, that one thing that makes you stand out. Um, and I feel like personally, that’s kind of been a struggle for me. Um, cause I like to dabble in everything. Like I, I just love it all. I don’t, I don’t ever really know how to choose. I love doing other forms of art even. And even though I might be above average and a lot of them, I feel like sometimes I have trouble honing in and specializing. And so to find that thing, like, do you have any thoughts on how to hone in on a specialty or is that even a necessity or an important thing to do or is it good to really diversify? Like where do you find the balance and how to do that? 

It is a story that you have to be a specialist. I think that specialists do very well, especially in our world, but the fact that you have to, the fact that you have to be one is simply made up. That’s not true. I’m not a specialist at anything except for being me and I’ve gotten, and it took several years. Number one, I had to start liking myself and all of my interests. Number two, I had to find out how to fuse them and how to put them together. So that, that might be like, how do you do that is a really hard question to answer, but I want to start simply by saying that it’s, it’s really just a thought that you have to be one or another, that it’s not good to be a generalist. Um, I think again, specialists will do very well at their specialty, but a generalist, especially if you really like all the things that you’re doing, you’re going to have a very fun and full life, um, with all of your many different interests. So I guess my, my stance on this question in general is to start liking the fact that you’re a generalist instead of fighting the fact that you’re a generalist and then learn to be weaving the ch the, all of your interests into one thing. Um, uh, does that, does that help more or less? 

Emily Jo: Definitely. Yeah. 

Right. It’s like, Oh my gosh, I love all these things and that’s awesome. Lucky me. Oh my gosh. How do you even get through with life? Just loving one thing. Oh, feel sorry for you.  Um, I think when you come at all of your, your interests from that place, when you really like champion all of them, you don’t downplay any of them, then you, then, then you, you become a really special entity that way. Great question. 

Okay, Jess Franco, you are up next. 

Jess Franco: Yeah, buddy. Hey, how is your neutral listening experience going for you? 

Oh my gosh. This is so great. Okay. I’m going to give a little backstory, Jess Franco and I, so I did, I don’t remember what episode it was, but I did an episode about the overactive listener, um, or the overactive like collaborator. Who’s always like, yes. Oh my, Oh yeah. I love it. Oh my goodness. Everything. Oh my God. And you’re like constantly nodding or smiling or, you know, I’ve, I’ve gotten some criticism from this in the past that like that I’m a very open book and sometimes that’s nice. Right? Cause you don’t have to work too hard to understand what I’m thinking or feeling, but it can also, um, I w I won’t say it might be damaging and it can just simply not be the most useful thing to do. So I’ve been working on neutrality and Jess Franco reached out to me and she was like, yo, same, let’s go. So we started an accountability group as friends, every Friday, we checked in, we got to get on this, um, about how we were with our visual feedback when we’re listening, I’m not going to lie, Jess. I have not been doing very well in this last week. I’ve been extremely, extremely, um, expressive in my likes and dislikes for things and statements and situations. Um, but I think that, um, awareness of it is still there. And even though I was like, I was conscious, I was like, look at me responding right now. Look at me getting ugly right now. Look at me getting bright right now. I was conscious. I just chose not to get neutral. So I want to share something that, um, I found actually a gift that I received from my, uh, a vocal coach that I was working with in the past, who is all about relaxation. I think it’s a good place to start anyways. And she gave me this, um, this visual imagery of hanging as if they were little earrings that hang from the corners of my jaw bones these little sandbags. So just hang these sandbags from the corners of your jaw and feel your face, get a little bit more relaxed through your voice shift, to being in a different place. And that definitely helps me not respond with my usual perky cheeks, which kind of strains my neck which kind of strains my voice. So putting those sandbag earrings on my jaw jaw rings, we’ll call them. Um, and then I started hanging one, like directly down the back of my head as well, like the opposite of the princess from the never-ending story, what was her name? You know, how she wore that cool Tiara with that little bead and how all kids at that moment started wearing their mom’s necklaces on top of their head. Cause that was the coolest, um, I imagine a little sand bag hanging down the back of my head and that really helps this forehead area. So to answer your question, Jess, I’m not so great with the neutrality lately. How are you doing with it?  

Jess Franco: I’m doing better in person. I’m not killing it on things like zoom, where I find myself on mute and I want to let you know, I’m participating. And I see all these faces and I’m smiling to smile with you. I’m here, you know, energetically on the mute button. I find it hard not to visually participate, right. But in real life, I can provide that space for another human, but on the screen, it’s a little bit more challenging for me.  

Awesome. Observation of the distinct distinction between the two. And I think like all of us here in the room right now, we can practice really quick. Just give like a, a real neutral response. Good freaking luck. Here we go. Like, how does that look and feel to you guys? Does anything feel missing? Okay. Now a gentle smile and maybe a nod or a floppy thumbs up. Hmm. Okay. Right. All I can like the, the biggest difference for me is motion. And I think it’s normal. Um, Like, uh, like  Kind of on an animal instinct level, motion catches our eye. You know, if we were like scavengers in a forest, in a Bush rustled over in the corner, we’d go. And so our attention goes to things that are moving. So it makes sense that in a, um, in a zoom conference with, with no audio information, our eyes go, okay, what’s what’s happening? Where do I get the information? So maybe in a zoom, it is important to be a little bit more visual with your feedback. So that the person on the other side, isn’t just a man walking through a forest that’s empty.  So maybe there maybe there’s a place for both. I like that. Your visual, your amount of visual feedback right now. Thank you for it. It’s something that I’ve really cool thing for everybody that might be listening to start practicing, like being a neutral place for, for the conversation instead of taking a stand one way or the other, especially at this time in our world right now, a little neutrality given all the polarization a little neutral might be just what the doctor ordered. So put, put your job bags on and, um, and have a ball with that neutral, Neutral listening.  

Okay. Sarah, you are up next.  

Sarah: Um, hi everybody. My question is who were your biggest dance choreography role models growing up? Like who was it that made you feel just like sparkly inside and what is it about them that resonated so much with you?  

Okay. I will go back now. Uh, before I moved to LA, when I was at a dance studio kid, as they call them at Michelle Latimer Dance Academy in Inglewood, Colorado, I was very inspired by a dancer that was older than me by three years, I think maybe a little bit more, um, named Nina McNeely. And some of you may know Nina Mcneely because she is still, she’s a force to be reckoned with in the dance and choreography realm, but she’s also branched into directing. She is a wicked video editor. Um, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear someday. She decides to become a recording artist or something she’s so talented and art just, she can draw, she can paint like art just flows from her body. And that was one of my earliest inspirations and examples that this life was a possibility for me. She made it look so cool and she made it look doable. So Nina McNeely, um, her dancing was full of abandon, which to me is one of the most attractive qualities in a dancer. This borderline recklessness that’s supported by so much technique that they don’t fall off their leg, but it looks like they really should have that. That’s Nina to me. Um, and she was the first person, um, really close to me, like in my people that I see every day group that moved to, to do, you don’t have to edit that out. Riley. That was funny. That was a good stutter, uh, that moved to LA and we kept in touch. So I kind of got acquainted with what happens out here and what the life in LA at that time looked like to be a person that moves here to pursue dance. And I was just so curious about it. I remember being really, um, excited about it. And since I have her in the room, I’m going to ask my mom to weigh in on what you remember about, uh, w do you remember me talking about Nina? Do you remember the way that she impacted my life? 

Stan (Dana’s Mom): Absolutely. And I was going crazy when that question was asked, because I knew that your answer would be Nina McNeely. Um, she choreographed a dance for you for NYCDA national title, and it was dark and dramatic and deep. Um, I remember the makeup that you wore on your face of tears. Yes, totally like that. So it was so dramatic. You guys totally knew it had that. Like, she absolutely touched that thing in you. That that is totally there. Um, and she, I think she knows she’s a year older than your sister. So maybe four years older than you. The other person who I think in my, in my memory, 

Dana: I know who you’re going to say.

Stan: Okay. Nicole, Nicole, Nicole Harshbarger she, she made you love jazz, I think. Okay. And I’ll,

Dana: I’ll agree with you on that hundred percent. Thank you. Thank you, Stan. That was, Nicole is a really important one. I grew up at a dance studio where we had ballet five days a week, all the guest choreographers, all the rehearsals, all the, um, you know, across the floor, class and stuff like that. And Nicole Harshbarger at the time, she’s now Nicole Carr. She, uh, taught a late night jazz class on Wednesday nights and only the grownups got to stay for that class. And I remember when I don’t, when it, when it became okay for me to stay for that class, I don’t know if she asked me to stay or if you allowed me to say, or whatever, some combination of the two, but once I was allowed to stay for big kid jazz class, it went into like 10:30, um, which for a 15 year old that’s legit. Um, and yeah, she definitely tapped into, um, an artist voice inside of me that up until then had been pretty much a technician and a showman.  Um, but it was her and that late night, big kid class that helped me feel like I had something to say and teach me how to practice saying it. 

Stan: She lit the fire in your belly for jazz. I mean, I could see it. And maybe you said those words, or maybe I said them, but she made, she brought you alive in dance and actually she made you receptive to Nina. 

Dang, listen to that. Look out. You’re right. She, yeah. She’s the catalyst. Yeah. So cool. Hi Nicole. Oh, awesome. This is great. Okay. Does that answer your question in a really cool, beautiful, poetic and family type of way? Awesome. 

All right. Noga, you are up next and I think you’re up last. This is it. Final question.  

Noga: Oh, hello team. Hi everyone. All right. It’s words that move me. So I have to bring in the thought model model. The infamous thought model. I’ve been doing a lot of work lately on the thought models specifically on building intentional thought models. And a reaction that I’ve found is that it feels very inauthentic to me sometimes. So my question is, what advice do you have for embracing intentional thought models slash is that equivalent with embracing new beliefs about ourselves?  

That’s exactly what you’re asking about. Like how do you create new beliefs without feeling like a total phony? Great. Okay. I’ll do a little, um, uh, a little backstory in terms of context here. What Noga is talking about the thought model, um, is a model to help you understand and organize the circumstances, thoughts, feelings, actions, and results of your life. The thought model was created by a woman called Brooke Castillo. At least that’s how I learned about it. Brooke is a life coach and entrepreneur. And, um, the thought in the thought model, your circumstances, which are the neutral facts of the world, be they, the weather, the weather, other people, um, the temperature outside the temperature of your body. Um, although the ice man would probably argue with me there, these are things that are outside of your control. Those trigger, your thoughts, your thoughts are just sentences in your head and you can control those. They’re different from person to person. They are arguable, they are subjective. Um, and you can author new ones. So that’s what Noga’s talking about in an intentional model, you would work backwards from the bottom line of the model, which is your results. So you would put a desired result there. The results, by the way, are simply your experience of the world. Whatever you want to experience that would go in the result line. Then the second to last line is your actions. Simply your behavior. You would fill that line in with what are the actions you need to take in order to achieve that result. So you put all your actions in there, then you ask yourself, what do I need to feel in order to do those actions? So that’s your, the third line, there is your feelings. And then what thought gives me that feeling? So I just, I, sorry, I jumped around a little bit there from top to bottom, we go circumstances lead to your thoughts. Thoughts, trigger your feelings. Feelings leads you to take action or inaction. Your actions give you the results of your life working backwards. You have, you have a desired result. You decide what actions you’ll take. You decide how you want to feel. You decide what thought will make you feel that way. And I, I understand, especially if you’re making a big reach, the example I like to use is I hate my neighbor as the thought, and then trying to go to, I love my neighbor. That’s just not something that, that one thought model is going to help you do without you feeling like you’re absolutely bullshitting yourself. Damn it, Riley. Sorry. We, I really tried to keep it clean. Um, so we talked about this a little bit in ABC, my mentorship program, that that Noga was a part of. The concept of what I call monkey bar thoughts. The thought right now is I hate my neighbor. Somehow. I want to get myself all the way over to, I love my neighbor and in between there is, I hate my neighbor, most of the time. I didn’t hate my neighbor for one moment this week, uh, which opens up options for, you know, what actually all day today, they didn’t really piss me off today. It was kind of a great day actually on the neighbor front. And then that, that kind of thought might lead me to take actions that start nurturing a friendly neighbor relationship. Those actions might get reciprocated. Eventually my, I hate my neighbor, thought about monkey bar over to my neighbors. Not that bad to, Hey, I kind like my neighbor too. You know, those kind of like my neighbor, thoughts, lead to feelings and actions. That’s a really important one, you can’t just will, it, you can’t just sit there by yourself thinking it and watch it happen.  But that, that leads you to take actions that might foster a relationship where you could get to the point where you might love your neighbor. So the answer to your question. Well, that loga, wow. The answer to your question. Noga. In a very long-winded way is you’ve got to start getting better at monkey bar thoughts. It sounds like you’re expecting yourself to jump from, I hate my neighbor to, I love my neighbor and there’s a lot of work and action to be done in between those two. So start, start finding some monkey bar thoughts that you can actually get behind. Is that what got the monkey bar thoughts? Well, thank you for reminding us all about our monkey bar thoughts, such an important tool. Um, and Oh, okay. 

We’ve got one more question here. This is a good one. Great  Question. What advice would give to somebody looking to possibly start their own podcast?  

Oh, I’ve got a lot. This might be another podcast actually in and of itself. Um, okay. Top three things, Practice. Before you start,  don’t start with episode one, do like plan on there being four episodes that suck before you put any out there into the world. During those episodes, you’re trying out new microphones you’re playing with what happens if this piece of foam goes behind you, uh, behind the microphone or behind you, you’re playing with where you put stuff you’re playing with your voice. You’re playing with. If it sounds better, if you script it or if you totally wing it. So I would really encourage, first of all, I encourage everybody to start a podcast because it’s important for us to all become that familiar with what we were thinking, because you really have to think and write a lot. Now that I’m putting a microphone in front of my face every week. I think it’s a great idea. Everybody should do it. Um, but definitely practice in play before you get started. Um, and I also do, I would say is a pretty full-time job. So you might need to assemble a small team, shout out Malia Baker, shout out Riley Higgins, shout out Andrea Viable, new addition to the team. Thank you guys so much for your help. Um, yeah, it does. It takes a village. 

Okay. Oh man. We have one more question. You guys, I can’t, you don’t do this because you already know. I can talk.  Ooh, I can talk.  Okay. This is a good one. And this one, I actually do have a really awesome and concrete answer for it. I talk a lot about confidence in my mentorship groups and in my coaching groups. The question is how can you be confident? Or what advice would you give to boost self confidence? I’ll just talk very briefly about this. Um, although it is something that is super important, I’ll just give you a nugget to chew on. I think there’s an important distinction between confidence and self confidence. I think that confidence, um, specifically related to tasks like actions comes from the past, your number of times, having done it successfully. I have poured a glass of water so many times that I, and not spilled some of those many times enough to have a lot of confidence when I pour water, I can be brushing my teeth while I pour water. I can be having a conversation while I pour water. I can be like doing  Middle-school Level mathematics while I pour water. It’s not an issue. Um, that’s because I’ve done it a lot and self-confidence is different. Self-confidence has nothing to do with the past. Self-confidence to me is simply a willingness to feel any feeling. Without any past experience whatsoever. I directed my first music video recently, and I walked onto that set as if I was Steven Spielberg. I was like untouchable because I was willing to be humiliated. I was willing to not know the answer. I was willing to look stupid in front of my crew and say the wrong word for stuff, which I may have. I don’t even know nobody really reacted. So I felt fine all day. Um, but that willingness feels in my body a lot, like task based confidence. And it looks a lot like task-based confidence to the outside world. Um, and people who are confident get treated differently than people who, who hide in self-doubt. Um, so that I think is a really important distinction. Self-confidence being your willingness to feel anything or try anything. And task-based confidence coming from the past. Of course, you wouldn’t be confident in doing something you’ve never done before. You’ve never done it, but you won’t ever do it until you’ve done it. Literally up until that moment, you will not have done it. So something’s got to get you there. It might as well be willingness, willingness is so important. Um, I do just want to add a quick caveat to my self-confidence speech, which is the difference between being self confident and being arrogant. To me self-confidence is I’m good. I know I’m good because I have my own back. I’m good at feeling feelings. Um, I know I can dust it off and try again. If I happen to fail that self-confidence, it’s like, I’m good arrogance on the other hand is I’m better than you or I’m better than everyone. And that doesn’t rank anywhere in my head. When I show up on set as a self-confidence person. Not better than anyone. Definitely not, certainly not on my first day. But, um, I, I, I think the arrogance is dangerous because all it takes for you to crumble in that state is simply somebody else who’s better than you showing up. And then your whole world gets rocked. So, um, definitely rather be a self-confident than arrogant. And I think so many times we avoid self-confidence because we think it’s arrogance and they’re actually very, very different. And I don’t think anyone in the room right now that I’m looking at could be arrogant. Even if they tried, you guys are all so compassionate about the outside world. So careful and deliberate in the way that you talk to people and treat people and make art. Um, I don’t, I don’t think you could be arrogant if you tried, so you might as well try self-confidence cause it extremely useful. All right, everybody on that, I’m going to wrap it up. This was so much fun. I think it went really well. I think I will be doing these more often in the future. Thank you for being part of the first go get out there into the world, make stuff and keep it funky. 

Thought you were done. No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned 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 member. So kickball changeover to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast to learn more and join. Alright, everybody now I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Ep. #45 Emotional Backpacks

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #45 Emotional Backpacks
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This episode is about emotional backpacks… as in backpacks that you put your feelings in when they are not useful in your body (which is where most feelings are kept most of the time for most of the humans 😉  Allow me to explain.  Your feelings (all of them) are important and worthy of your attention, but some of them (especially negative emotions like self-doubt, worry, anger, frustration etc.) when kept in your body for long periods of time, can lead to unwanted results. Honor and recognize these emotions ALL emotions as part of the human experience and as such they are valuable so you keep them with you… but they do not need to own your body.  You own them and you put them where you put your other belongings.  In your backpack!

Show Notes:

Quick Links:

The New York Branch Video: https://www.instagram.com/p/CG31kHqjdIS/

Episode 17: https://www.thedanawilson.com/podcast/ep-17-the-process-of-processing

Transcript:

Dana: Hello, Hello, my friend, how are you doing today? Little disclosure. I am recording this episode before election day. I voted, I voted by mail and I voted early and I do not know what the results of our presidential election will be. It is possible that even if you’re listening to this on the day of its release, which is actually the day after the election, it’s possible that you still are uncertain of the results. I’m sure there are a lot of factors at play here, actually. I’m not sure, but I can only imagine. Now whoever is announced to be the president of the United States for the next four years. There is sure to be a lot of disappointed people out there, a lot of upset people, and here is what I have decided. I will tell you about that. This is what I will tell all of the upset people, all of the victorious people and, um, my future self that will be listening to this episode as well. I will say, that there is much work to be done, period. And you can do work. You actually love doing work. Yes. Quitting feels really good in the moment and blaming other people, oooooo that also feels really good in the moment, but doing the work and owning your good work feels so much better. It feels incredible. Now it may look hateful and unsafe out there, but you’ve got this. It may have even gone your way and you’ve still got this you’ve got work to do. And this episode is about one of the many ways that I work on myself. And I think that starting with the self is a really great way to get big, big work done like global type of work. Alright, I’m excited to get into it, but first let’s do wins. Shall we? Depending the results of this election and depending on what side of the aisle you sit and depending on when you listen to this episode, it may or may not be really hard to name a win today.  So let this be an opportunity to practice, not hanging your emotions on the circumstances of the world, but rather on your own decisions and your own creations. Today, my win is that I have made a place for people like you. Yes, you exactly. You, you smart and funny and emotionally intelligent and imaginative and resourceful listener you. I am celebrating that. I have made a place for you to come and listen and a place for you to come and be heard and a place for you to meet other people like you. Other smart, funny, emotionally intelligent, imaginative. What else are you? Oh, resourceful people. Now last week, I got a gift from a few of you. A few of my listeners who have taken on the doing daily creative challenge and also took it upon themselves to actually meet and actually make something really, really special together. A Broadway worthy piece to my damn fantastic, If I do say so myself, opening, jingle, shout out to Max Winnie, AKA the, make it on Instagram, my composer and longtime friend. Um, such a good job with that jingle. I mean, I do still listen to it often and it makes me smile. Okay. Anyways, four of my daily doers put together this piece and I’m linking to it in the show notes of this episode because it is simply too good to miss. So thank you, @DinkadoingdailyWTMM. Thank you, CourtneyDarlingt0n That’s with a zero instead of an N. Instead of that, that’s with a zero instead of an O in Darlington. Thank you, @SarahDoingDaily Thank you. Kristindoesdaily and thank you, @FrancesBrooks Now fondly deemed the New York city branch. I see you. I appreciate you. Thank you so much. Now it is your turn. What do you decide to celebrate today? Something that’s yours, something that you made, something that you decide is worth celebrating.  

Awesome. Congratulations. And thank you. You are crushing it. Okay. Many of you know that I am a backpack enthusiast. I have spent countless hours in my IG stories, reviewing different backpacks, even hours in my personal life, criticizing your backpack or praising my backpack. If you know me, then you already know my backpack. By the way, is the LuLu Lemon Cruiser from 2014. I should tell you, and I haven’t been paid to tell you this. I should tell you that there are two varieties of this bag. One of them has a hard shell, outer zipper compartment for glasses. I’m assuming. My bag is not that bag, the bag that you want is the other cruiser. It has all soft compartments and it is better. I should also tell you that this bag is no longer in production. I am sourcing them from eBay and I am on my fourth Lulu Lemon cruiser.  

Yes. I have decided to share this information with you today on the podcast, even though it could potentially mean that I am less likely to find these bags for myself, that my friends, is selfless. My backpack has everything. It has everything it needs and nothing that it doesn’t need like a super sleek black interior that makes it impossible to find my phone. My cables, my pins, my mascara, my Bobby pins or anything that is black. I mean like impossible, good luck. The black interior is a fatal flaw. I will not purchase your backpack. If it has a dark interior lining the dark interior lining of the bag matches the dark interior lining of your heart and your sick sense of humor and your design errors. No thank you, to bags with dark colored interior linings. Bright interior linings are for bright people, such as myself and such as you. You deserve a bag with a bright interior lining. Trust me, trust me now, thank me later. Okay. Anyways, this episode is really not about actual backpacks. Dana, please resist the urge to make this episode about actual backpacks. It’s been like 15 minutes of me talking about backpacks. I’m moving on. 

This episode is about emotional backpacks. As in the backpack that you will put your feelings. Nope, Nope, no, please don’t hit stop. Your feelings are important. They are worthy of your attention and they’re worthy of a backpack all to themselves. Let me explain. In episode 17, I talked to you through my process of processing negative emotions. In that particular episode, I walked you through how a coach helped me through feeling stuck. I discussed and described every single detail, every single inch of that feeling. I discussed how it felt in my body, how it looked in my body, you know, what color it was, how much it weighed, if it had any motion to it. And if that podcast were a video episode, you would be able to see how it felt in my body, a visible physical tension that turned into hot tears and eventually flowed from my face. And it took about 25 minutes to do this, by the way, this, this whole processing of the emotion thing. Now, when I don’t have 25 minutes to process my feelings, I like to employ this concept of an emotional backpack. My emotional backpack is the place that I put the most important feelings instead of keeping them in my body where they might not be very useful in the moment. Let’s take a look for example, at self doubt, when I feel self doubt, I feel it like in my sternum area, it feels like a black hole looks dark, icy, cold, vast, and sucky. I can’t think of another word. Like literally it sucks. Like it’s sucking everything around it, into it. My collarbones collapsed towards my diaphragm, my shoulder blades round forward, my face and eyes dropped to the floor. Everything gets sucked into that. Sternum suck. And I shrink. That’s what happens to my body physically when I carry self-doubt. And as a result in that shrunken state with my eyes low and my mind collapsed on itself, I don’t see the world. I don’t see opportunities around me. I don’t see teachers. I don’t see solutions, my doubt, and that darkness, that void are perpetuated and it keeps sucking. Everything keeps sucking as a result. So here it is. Here’s the big secret instead of carrying my self doubt and other unwanted emotions like overwhelm or worry or rage or shame, instead of carrying them in my body, I carry them in my emotional backpack on my back. And my emotional backpack is not my Lulu Lemon cruiser. It is an invisible metaphorical tool that I use that I happen to carry on my back, but yours doesn’t have to be a backpack. Yours could be a satchel or a fierce clutch or a lunchbox. I mean, you name the container of your choice. The point is that you honor and recognize these emotions, all of these emotions as a part of the human experience and as such, they are valuable. So keep them with you, keep them in the place that you keep your valuable things like your wallet, your keys, your tools, your cameras, your chargers, all of the things that are important to you. Count your feelings on that list of important things that you carry with you always, but you don’t need to carry inside of you. You own these things and you put them where you put your other belongings, in your backpack.  

Now give a negative emotion that you have experienced recently. Give it a name, guilt, embarrassment, imposter syndrome, overwhelm devastation, disappointment. You name it. 

Now, where do you feel that feeling in your body when you’re experiencing it? Where do you feel it most in your body? How much of your body does it take up? Close your eyes if you’re not driving right now and imagine it really feel that feeling. What color is it? Does it move? Does it move faster? Slow. If you were to touch it, would it feel warm, hot or cool? Would it feel wet or dry, rough or smooth? What does it do to the shape of your body? When you feel that feeling now with a deep breath, take that feeling into your hands and move it into your imaginary backpack, purse, satchel, shoulder bag, Fanny pack. What have you. Now zip it up. Feel the weight of the zipper, and now feel the weight of the bag. Take another deep breath.  Do you feel like you’ve made space in your body for something else? Do you feel lighter? Now, pick up your emotional backpack and put it on. It may be heavy, but heavy, like a jet pack, heavy like a jet pack that might actually boost you forward instead of hold you back. Pretty valuable. Huh? Now this new emotional jet pack. This is the thing. This, this is the real thing about the emotional backpack. It’s not just for negative emotions. Like the ones I mentioned before, or like confusion or embarrassment or anything like that. It can also be used to contain your positive emotions like exhilaration, pride, accomplishment, confidence. I keep all of those in my emotional backpack as well. Those are the feelings that fuel my life. Now, here is the best, best thing about the emotional backpack. Possibly the most important thing about it. When you finally make your way home or to a place where you take off your actual real backpack, that is your cue to take off your emotional backpack and unpack it as well.  Unpack all of the feelings that you’ve kept in there throughout the day and process them. Look at them, touch them, feel them, give them a color, honor them, turn them into art. Should you choose. Now I know that this concept is a little bit abstract, but if it speaks to you, please do revisit episode 17, where I talk more about the process of processing and please do enjoy or don’t enjoy what it feels like to feel all the feels. If you have any questions about this concept or actually anything at all, please feel free to write me @wordsthatmovemepodcast on Instagram. Yes, I suppose this is the beginning of an ask me anything. Call for questions at all times at any time on any subject, please reach out with questions. Um, full disclosure. This was not my idea, but that of my dear friend and brilliant human Emma Portner. Thank you for asking the good questions. Emma, bring them on everybody and bring on the funk. That’s somehow not as good a closer as Keep it funky. I don’t know you guys. I tried, I tried. Keep it funky. Everybody. I’ll talk to you soon. Have a great day or night or you know what? Grab all of it have, have at it. Yeah. That and everybody I’ll talk to you later 

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 though. theDanawilson.com/podcast Finally, and most importantly, now you have a way to remember. So kickball changeover to patreon.com/wtmmpodcast to learn more and join. All right, everybody I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Ep. #37 Marveling with Marguerite Derricks

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #37 Marveling with Marguerite Derricks
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Even if you tried, you could not duplicate the career of Marguerite Derricks, but with this peek into her thought process, you’ll want to try things you’ve only ever dreamed of…and you may walk away with a new definition of success.

Show Notes

Quick Links:

Marguerite Derricks: https://www.instagram.com/margueritederricks/

Marguerite on the set of Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIP1IsfjWv4

CLI: https://www.clistudios.com/

KC Monnie: https://www.instagram.com/kcmonnie/

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, my friend. And welcome to the podcast. I am so excited that you are here and I am so excited about this episode. I really cannot emphasize enough. This is a gem. Get ready to be inspired. Um, before I get into this interview with the fabulous Marguerite Derricks, I will start this episode as I always start, but this one comes with a warning. I always begin with wins because I think it’s very important to celebrate. What’s going well in your world.  

I want to be very clear. This week’s win is not a copout. This is really truly my win. And when I say this, I mean this episode and this day, this day is my win this week, because in the course of this, you know, this the last 24 hours, I have experienced actual pain and embarrassment. Um, I started my day by falling. You guys, literally hands and knees on the concrete fall. I fell down on the ground. Um, and that doesn’t happen very often because you know, dancer coordinated, but I really ate it today. I hit the deck. There was a guy with a leaf blower who actually like ran over and tried to help me up. But social distancing it’s okay. I got up on my own and I didn’t even spill my coffee because I know what’s important and what should be protected.  But I, you know, I don’t know if you can recall the last time you actually fell, but there’s this flush of heat in your body. I started sweating it. I was really checked in like, Whoa, what a Swift warmup. I don’t think it’s possible to actually get that warm any other way than a real true, honest fall. So I ate it. I felt embarrassed. I felt pain. Um, I felt low literally and emotionally. And then I experienced some extreme technical difficulties in the moments leading up to this interview with Marguerite that I had really prepped for and was planning in my head, the way that it would go down. Of course, nowhere in my plan was zoom difficulties. I really thought I’d had that figured out, but alas, I fell. I had the technical difficulties and then I had this conversation with Marguerite. Tremendously inspiring and informative, and wow, just took me on a ride. So today’s my win. Because today I experienced the full realm of human emotion. Well, maybe not full, but a wide spectrum. And that just feels so great. So that is my win today. What is yours? What’s going well in your world.  

All right, let’s do this today. Marguerite and I talk about gratitude. We talk about readiness. We talk about climbing and when it’s time to jump and we talk about setting the bar high. Marguerite is much more than a choreographer. True fact. She actually carries the title producer of dance. She is a teacher. She is a leader and she is an example of what is possible. She brings the marvelous to all that she does, and she’s been doing it for a long, long time. So please enjoy this conversation with the marvelous Marguerite Derricks.  

Dana: Alright. Yes. Marguerite Derricks. Thank you so much for being here today. I’m thrilled to have you. I’m so thrilled to get to talk to you. Oh my goodness. 

Marguerite: Thank you. I’m really happy to be here. All right.

It is par for the course on my podcasts that my guests introduce themselves. So have that. What would you like us to know about you? 

Oh my gosh. Well, my name’s Marguerite Derricks and I’m a choreographer sometimes producer aspiring director, um, at one three Emmy’s um, currently, well, I was currently working on season four of the Marvelous Mrs Maisel season four of GLOW before we hit this lovely pandemic. Um, but I work in TV and film and commercials and videos and Broadway and Vegas. So I get to do it all and I love doing it all. So I guess that’s it. 

That was a gorgeous introduction. Um, and I love the way that you have framed our pandemic as lovely. I think there are a lot of hidden gems in this moment in time. Um, I understand the magnitude. I understand that it is awful in so many ways, but I also do see tremendous opportunity in this moment 

When I say lovely, um, you know,  I try to find lovely every day, I guess, you know, um, it is horrific cause a lot of people are suffering. Um, and you know, so I, you know, I feel there’s so much going on right now. That’s so heavy. Um, but I do every single day, I wake up with counting my blessings and finding gratitude in the day and in my life. And, you know, trying to find a lovely, I guess for sure. 

I love that. Um, I did a little listen to the podcast that you did with Tony Selznick, um, the Hollywood dance project you mentioned in that episode, starting your day with gratitude. What does that look like for you? Is it a mantra a meditation, a journaling moment? What’s the process there? 

I wake up every day and I start, I just, I give thanks for, I just start counting my blessings, remember, my dear friend, Doug, Doug Caldwell always ended everything with counter blessings. And so I, I wake up and I start to pray out loud and just think to give thanks for everything that I’m blessed with. And then I go and I press go on the coffee machine and I come back and I say, my prayers, I literally get on my knees. And I say my prayers and I put it my intentions into the universe. And then I there’s, um, I open up my, my phone and there’s, uh, two books or like they’re daily inspirational books that I’ve been reading the same two books over and over for about 10 years. They’re both from Joel Olsteen and they’re, you know, just one is a daily, you know, their daily blessings, but there’s something interesting about it. It comes from, “Your best life now”, um, which was a book that my friend Tyce Dirorio gave me years ago when I was going through a really difficult time.  So these are like scriptures and little verses from your, uh, your best life now. And it’s so interesting. I literally, as soon as I finished the book, I started again, but it’s very interesting on the days that I read something I’ve read before that all of a sudden has so much meaning on a specific day for me. So I, that’s how I start every single day. If I have to go to work at 5:00 AM I get up early so that I can do those things. And I, I don’t ever miss a day. And that’s how I, I kickstart my days is with gratitude and prayer and, you know, intentions, manifestation. Yeah

That’s super powerful. And I’m sensing a little bit of an overlap. I did read a long time ago, Twyla Tharp’s the creative habit. She mentioned being a creature of habit and a person who religiously does certain things that put her in this space where she’s able to create freely and create freely, but also create on demand that creative muscle is exactly that. So I think, I think perhaps gratitude also is a muscle. The more you practice it, the more accessible that is for you.

For sure. Absolutely. And I’m, I am definitely a creature of habit. I do things the same way. Always like sometimes change is almost jarring to me. Um, so there is something I think for me, that’s empowering about that.  

 I’m so curious. What are the things, what are the, the habits? The alwayses

Well, just, just how I start my morning. Like it’s, it’s you could almost, you know, it’s almost like Groundhog Day. You saw me wake up every day. You would go, Oh, you could say, okay, now she’s got a, you would know what to, what exactly what it is that I do. It’s a ritual 

Opening sequence of all that jazz. 

Exactly. It’s a, it’s a, it’s my spiritual ritual that starts my day. And then, you know, the, the, you know, I create, I have a, a certain way that I create, like, I like to start, like there’s an ABC and D to how I do each job. Um, yeah, I’m just kind of a creature of habit. I find things at work and I get very comfortable with that.  

Well, the things that you have found that work work very well because you’re at work is some of my favorite, some of the most memorable dance on screen that I have ever seen. And this is not to discount the live shows as well because La Reve is one of my favorite shows in Vegas, but my husband is not a dancer. He is an engineer, he’s an optical specialist in lenses, cameras, camera displays, arrays, all sorts of technical things. When we met, he didn’t know who Justin Bieber was, who I was working for at the time, very far removed from the entertainment industry. And when he asked who I was talking to today, I was like, if you have seen movies, like more than one that have dance, chances are Marguerite choreographed that movie, or one of those movies and the breadth of your work. And in addition to the different, you know, the amount of work itself is incredible. You’ve been working as a choreographer for 35 years and not just in commercials and not just in music videos and not just in live shows, but I call it a diversified portfolio, which is one of your keys to longevity. And we’ll talk about that in a second, but, um, I think the most memorable dance that I’ve seen on camera is likely yours. So I wonder what is the most important thing while you’re making and do you seek to make something memorable or, or are you seeking to make it something else. 

You know, I, I never, I never approach a project with that in mind. I never think about it being memorable or it like ha like escalating to a certain place. I try to, I just try to find something magical about everything that I do. Um, and I, I really, you know, serve whatever the project is. Right. And I work really hard. I do a lot of research. I try not to repeat myself, although I’m sure I have many, many times. Um, but I never really think like, Oh, this is going to be, you know, memorable, or this is going to, people are going to talk about this for years and years to come. And it is, it’s always surprising to me some of the things that are, and some of the things you think are going to be super successful, they’re not. And then the thing that you think is just this little thing that you did is it’s just like, it’s, it’s huge. Like when I did that gap commercial, that GAP, Gogo commercial, I became a, like an overnight celebrity and literally it, it opened up more doors for me. Then my three Emmys did, that GAP commercial, a 60 second commercial, a little spot. I did big movies with big stars that I thought were going to be very successful. And then along came this little indie film, Little Miss Sunshine. It became this thing, you know, so I now, like I’ve learned early on, cause I, I got really hammered, you know, not just me, not me, but me because I was a part of it. I felt very hammered early on when I did Show Girls and Striptease, I felt, I felt the pain of even though Showgirls then turned around to become a whole different thing. Um, but when they came out, like I, early on, I learned, you know, all you can do is your best, and then it’s not in your hands anymore. You know? And after, after Striptease and Showgirls or Showgirls and Striptease then came Austin Powers and that was so, so hugely successful. Um, and I didn’t know, like the first Austin Powers was an indie film. I think I got paid a nickel and a dime for the first one, you know? And, um, but you know, so I learned early on and I’m so grateful for that, not to expect anything, um, to do my best and to have a good time doing it, to really try to like, enjoy the process, which I’m learning more as I get older to really kind of like take it all in and breathe it and just go like, Oh my God, like, this is so amazing. Like, I, I think when I first started, I like, you know, it kinda, I got on a roll pretty like once it started, it started, I was doing always like three, three or four movies at a time. So it was hard for me to go look what I’m doing, look who I work, you know, like it was just, I was just hustling and getting it done. So I’m in a different space now where I breathe it in and I, I kind of like try to like go, Oh my God, look what I get to still do, you know? But yeah, 

The, the first thing that I’m relating that to in my mind is my wedding day when everybody’s like, breathe it in, just take a moment and pause and just breathe it in. It is such a big, exciting day and a big, exciting moment. And I think if I were to practice that type of excitement, as often as you are practicing the exciting role of being, living your dreams or the exciting role of being first in command of this massive dance number on this massive project, then yeah. You would probably get more practiced at that moment.  

It’s just a part of the gratitude, right? It’s like, you know, really just, just because it all, everything goes by so fast, like your wedding day, it probably felt like a second to you, you know? Um, so life goes by really fast and you know, the more we can slow it down. And I think maybe that’s one of the lovely things that we can come out of this time with this, because we are all slowed down to almost a stop right now. And, you know, I, I hope that, um, when we go back to the life that we know, however, that’s going to look that I hold onto some of this, of this kind of like being in the stillness and you know, like I lived in my home for 20 years. I have enjoyed my backyard. I never went out in my backyard before I have friends. Like people come over and say “such a beautiful backyard.” I’m like, yeah, it is. I, I never really came out here before, you know, so just enjoy the simple things and, you know, to just take it all in. And I think that I know, Oh, I I’m always the first one rush. Like when, like the minute I’m done with work, I rush off the set. I don’t think I’ll be rushing off anymore after this. I think I’ll stick around and, you know, just like take it all in. Even when my work is done and just watch everybody. And I don’t think I’ll be rushing out anymore. I know that’s something that’s going to change on this when I go back.  

Oh, that is a beautiful sentiment. I love that thought  

My dancers are not going— like dancers are not going to believe it. Cause they know. I, I always say like, well, we’re getting ready to do the last shot. Okay. I’m going to say goodbye now because it won’t be that anymore. I think I’ll slow it down. And you know, like, like maybe do at the end of the day, how do I start? The beginning of my day is slowly leave and count the blessings and the gratitude as I’m ending the day.  

Oh, I love that. Taking stock on the, on the, in and out. Um, uh, my several years of life on tour with pop stars, we, we call it a quick out, after the show, you don’t even have time to shower. Well, I still consider the baby wipe head to toe a shower, but I’ve embraced that. I brought that into my social life. Occasionally like guys, I’m doing a quick out tonight, I’ll see you later. And there is something effective there, like efficient, trust me, I can talk a podcast is exactly where I should be living. I could talk forever goodbyes. A quick round of goodbyes can take an hour and a half. So I do see the value of a quick out, but I really like the idea of taking stock in and taking stock out. Um, so this, this thought of being grateful in this thought of taking pause and taking a moment to witness yourself doing the things, um, that’s powerful to me. I really I’m right now, 34 years old transitioning from being primarily a performer to primarily not a performer. I am many things. Podcast hosts, choreographer, movement coach, um, movement director on several projects, which I love that role by the way. But I really right now am interested in the power of our thoughts and how those guide our actions. So on, on your podcast with Tony Selznick, you talked about a lot of the actions that keep you in this position of continuing doing a thing and continuing to love it. You talked about a lot of the things that you do that have perpetuated a career of longevity. For example, being really diverse in the type of work you do. Commercials, TV shows, award shows, um, Vegas, movies, all the things you talk about being prepared and being a champion of having all the options. You talk about understanding money and understanding how productions are looking to dance team leader, as a guide for how much time things need, how much money they require, how many dancers does that actually take if we want this and how do we, this you’re the person with those answers.  Um, and this is so great. I love the actions I love like, Oh, just listening to the way you talk about your team and how you utilize time. And, and people is very inspiring, but I would love to know some of the thoughts that keep you in your, in your ongoing love of dance. And is it always been love? Is it, has there ever been love, hate moments of, of this thing in 35 years?  

Nope. Never, never hate. I think I’ve always loved what I do and I still, I still do. I know there’s a lot of people that, um, they want to go to a different level. So they, they, there becomes this negative thing about the thing that they love.  

Mm. The level that they’ve been. Yeah.  

Yeah. So like, you know, wanting to go here, they hate where they are and I don’t, I still love what I do. I still love, I love being with dancers. I love creating movement. Um, I love what I do. I do want to do other things, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to stop loving what I do and going, well, I’m not going to do that anymore. I did that when I was a dancer, I stopped dancing to be a choreographer. I felt at the time that I started doing choreography, that there weren’t, it was way different than it is now. There, there, there were only that the top dogs there, weren’t a lot of young choreographers coming in. That wasn’t a thing. So now it’s a thing it’s like, you know, they’re there, there’s a more openness to young choreographers, you know, now than what there was then.  So I felt like I had to stop dancing and just go into choreography to be taken seriously. And, um, Debbie Allen has never forgiven me for stop dancing. She’s always tells me, you know, we got to get you to dancing. I’m like, Debbie, if it’s in a rolling chair, sure. I’ll do it. But I honestly, I’ve never regretted it. Um, I loved dancing, but I, I think that I, I do know that I was meant to do what I’m doing now. I was doing it as a young girl. I just didn’t realize what I was doing. I didn’t, I didn’t know that I was choreographing, but I was creating dance. So I never thought, Oh, I want to be a choreographer that just happened. But when it happened, I went, Oh yeah, this is what I’m here for. This is why I’m here. Like, it just fits so well.  

Oh, that’s a power thought. This is why I’m here. This is why I’m here. 

Yeah. So that, that I knew that right on. And, um, it makes sense the way I’ve been guided through, you know, through magical moments by the universe, you know, big disappointments that led me to, Oh, pushed me onto the track that I was supposed to be on. I always tell people, you know, have a focus in a dream, but be ready to really open it up because, you know, you may think you’re going down this road, but this road over here might be so much grander that you just didn’t even see it. So, um, you know, by just, I think by just, just keep moving and keep doing your thing and being open to a shift, there’s been a lot of shifts in my life. There’s been things that I’ve thought, Oh, that is going to be it, that’s going to change my, no, it wasn’t that it’s always the surprising things. So I try not to attach myself to anything anymore. Like I don’t, Oh, this is going to be huge hit. Is it, you know, you never know, Hey, I did so much TV. I think Maisel and GLOW.  

are The first TV shows that I’ve worked on that have gone beyond one season. 

Really?

There  have been so many TV shows like bunheads and shows that I love so much. They were the first. And now they’re both in season four. I just remember thinking, hearing of like, you know, shows that would go on for three or four seasons going, Oh my God, that would be amazing. Cause I really love doing television. And I love being on a TV series where you really, you know, you get in there and you, you know, the characters, you know, you get to know, you know, the voice of the show and like with Maisel and GLOW, I know the voice of the show, I am part of that voice. And I, I just remember always like, Oh, that would be so cool. You know, to have a TV show that goes longer than a season. And you know, I’m feeling that now. And you know, I never knew it would be Masiel and GLOW You just don’t know what it’s going to be. Right.  

Follow the lead. Um, I heard a BTS interview or video that you did on the set of Maisel and you, you mentioned that the first step in that process for you and there all the processes will be different, but on Maisel your first step is always to talk to Amy, the director and Dan the producer. So my question is what, what will your first step be when you are the director or when you are the producer, what’s the, what’s the first step then when you’re just, when you are driving.  

When I’m when I’m directing, I will have a really good long talk with myself before I get to set.  

So the same, the same first step, different audience.  

So my first step will be, you know, um, having that, you know, I’m a team player and I really do believe it takes it. It, you know, it takes a village, right. To create greatness, and it would be, um, surrounding myself by, you know, some great, great, great talent. And I think it would be, I would then be an Amy and Dan’s position where I would be talking to my people and getting them on board with my vision. Um, so that would be the first step. I would just be sitting in a different seat  

Or sitting with a mirror. I love this. So on the subject of teams and the importance of like having a really solid team, you have a rep reputation for using A plus plus talent and for running a tight ship, if you are not A plus, plus you can’t hang. And I respect that. I think that is brilliant. And I am not the same. That’s not to say that my team isn’t A plus plus, but I’m so interested in error in humanness, in, uh, the mess ups in being exposed um, my taste in art is very rarely the modern, sleek, pristine, clean, minimal. It’s the thing that has like, you know, epoxy dripping out of the side, or like a smudge over here. And it looks, it looks homemade or manmade. Um, I know because I know a lot of the people that work with you a lot, your work is polished, pristine, exquisite, but your process, your working with you is human and, and open and accepting, and kind of like this, this homemade feeling, this, we are a team we’re doing this together. I am wondering personally, professionally, how you navigate that balance for yourself, the maintaining of this ridiculously high standard simultaneously nurturing the team, being a teacher, a lot of like your, your you’re training, your dancers and your assistants. You’re, you’re teaching simultaneously as you’re creating.  

Absolutely well, that’s, that’s the thing. It’s that? I I’m number one. I am a teacher and I love teaching and I, I keep that going at all times, no matter how busy I am. Like when I’m in New York shooting, Maisel on my days off, I’m at Broadway Dance Center, teaching class, I’m a teacher. I love teaching. Um, I think it probably is the most joyful thing that I do. And I think that I am a great teacher. I know that that’s where my, I really have greatness. Um, and so that’s where I find my team. All of my assistants start in class, you know, they start in class and a lot of the dancers I hire, I’d meet them in class and it’s in class where it’s, it’s a more loving, nurturing space, it to see how I work and really get to feel the way I want my, the movement to be, you know?  And, um, they get to know me and I get to know them. That is always the beginning for all of my, all of my assistants. My assistants are, I mean, A plus plus plus plus plus plus plus like they are, and they’re insane and they’re wonderful. And, um, they’ve been doing this, there’s this thing that I’ve just really started to recognize and acknowledge. I’ve always recognized it, but I’m really speaking on it. Now, my assistance train, the new assistants that come in and they’ve been doing it since the beginning of time, you know, Michelle Elkin, she trained Jen Hamilton and Shea Spencer. They trained, you know, they, they just pass, they pass it along and they, they, they send, cause they know all my choreography that I do starts in class. Everything that is on film that I’ve done was in a routine that I did in class.  Le Reve is a routine I did in class. A lot of those, I created 15, 20 years ago when I was teaching so much and I had this teen company at Tremaine. And, um, so they, they have old videos that they send each other so that they know my background and the stuff I did because they know, Oh, I’ll go wait. There was something I did in Sarah Smile that would be great here. And then boom, we start doing the old routine and you know, then we start to flip it and change it and use it. So, um, then coming to class and knowing like this summer, I’ve taught nine classes at CLI and for the first time, in a long time, I had the time to go in and create new choreography for class. And I’m so excited to take all this new choreography that I have now, this ball of choreography.  I can’t wait to put it on film. 

That’s awesome. 

That’s all I, you know, I’ve had the time to really go in and, Oh, it’s just, that’s been probably the most joyful time of, of the pandemic for me is getting into the studio with my assistants and creating new class choreography. Cause I know it’s gonna go on film. I know it’s going to go on stage. Um, and yeah, so it all, it all starts for me in the classroom and I’m teaching and learning. I learned from everybody that I teach. So it all starts there and it’s, it’s such a more relaxed atmosphere that auditions and you know, really a place for us to all really get to know each other. Yeah.  

Oh, that’s awesome. And I cannot wait to see, I did drop in on a couple of your CLI classes that looked like so much fun and I can’t wait to see those sweet moves manifest on some silver screen or some cell phone screen somewhere. Um, okay. So from, as you take from your classwork, put it out there in your, whatever. I mean, they’re both professional work, so it’s weird to say classwork versus industry or, um,  

It’s definitely.. people view it differently, but yeah. Yep.  

If I were to cross section your early class material say 30 years ago or 20 years ago, and something from this –  from this past summer, what do you think would be the biggest difference between these, these two moments in your creative vocabulary, your movement vocabulary, or maybe the easier question if we want to segue with an easier question is what’s the same? What is your work? Always  

Technical and strong. Yeah. Yeah. Technical and strong, um, lines, clean lines, you know, um, and you know, really heightened and pushing, but making it look easy and effortless. You know, I like, I look, I, especially when I was doing CLI my assistant Lonnie and Bobby, like wholly, they were sweating, they were working their butts off. It was not easy, what they were doing.  

They are so capable. They are so good.  

They did it, it looks so easy, but I know how hard it is. I think the best thing that ever happened to me is when I, um, busted up my knee early on in my career in my early thirties, I blew my knee out. I had major knee surgery and I had to learn to choreograph without using my body for a while. And then I stopped using my body and I just saw, saw things in my head. So I like, I’m like, can we do five turns? Like I never could do five turns, but I can choreograph five turns. Do you know what I’m saying? So I took it off of what I could physically do into what these two young. So I think that’s, what’s different. The ability of the dancer as they’re, as they’re getting higher and higher, I’m able to do higher and higher  

Well said. And Holy smokes. Yes, I am constantly, I’m shocked. I mean, a triple pirouette at when I was a junior coming up in competition was like, wow. And now holy smokes. Like it’s, it’s unreal. The things that these young dancers are capable of. And so cool.  Mmm,  Where do I want to go next? I could, I could tell a story. This is a fun one. So because the dance world is small. I know a lot of people that have worked with you very closely, KC Monnie is a good friend.  

I love him so much. 

I Love KC Monnie so much. And, uh, so we were having a chit chat as I was preparing for this. And he was like, you know, Marguerite gave me my first job. Right. And I was like, no, I had no idea. Well, you’ve been that for many people, which is actually contrary to what most people say about, which is you only hire people that, you know. Nobody would have their first job with you. If you only hired people that you knew. So I think that’s very cool. Number one, number two, KC mentioned that when he walked on set, I’m gonna abandoned my family friendly language just for a second. Cause I have to quote him specifically, I’ll bleep this out. But KC said, “I was scared as ** ***” I was like, I bet you were.  You know, we talked a little bit about what that project was for him. And then he said at the end of it, I felt truly loved and supported. And in that moment I knew that it is not just your work that I admire, but the way that you work, that I admire. And I think that probably speaks to the longevity as well. If you’re able to create a space like that and you’re able to come with all the rest of the, the technical preparedness, the, the knowledge, not just what it takes to do something great, but the knowledge that you yourself are great, but you’re sharing that greatness with your team. I’m just like, Ooh, that is a sweet spot for me. Um, so I’m wondering if you could maybe talk a little bit about what your dancers mean to you and how they get from, I guess you mentioned class as an entry point in a big way, but you do hold auditions occasionally. What is it that you look for in your dancers?  

Well, you know, once again, like I love well-trained dancers. I love strong technical dancers, even if, you know, like just really, I love well-trained dancers. I just, I just do, um, and KC is all of that. Um, and I like people that are respectful of, of, you know, that there’s sometimes, you know, you have an audition, I’ve know dancers that will go to an audition and they show you one thing and then they walk into rehearsal and you’re like, I’m like, who is that? You know what I mean? So I want whoever I, whoever auditioned for me, that’s the person I expect to come to my rehearsal. Um, I always on time, I’ve always early looking at the clock. The minute it hits, I start I’m so efficient with time. I don’t like to waste time. Um, so I, I want really wonderful dancers that, you know, have a great work ethic and I love to have fun, but I like to get the work done.  I’m super intense day one. Cause I like, I want to please Amy, like if I’m, if I’m doing something for Maisel, I want to get it done, film it, send it to her, get her okay. Or get her notes. So it’s day one is like that. And then we glide, then we have fun. We have breaks, you know, we get to know each other, but day one is like really important to me. Um, so any dance, any dancer that has worked with me knows that about me. They know I come in prepared. It’s always usually choreographed. So they’re not standing around while I’m trying to figure out 8s and very efficient that way. So I like, I like to dancers that come ready to get it done. Cause then they might be done in an hour. They’re getting paid on a side contract for 12 an hour. You know what I mean? And then we can have lunch together, whatever. Like I just like to get the work done because I, you know, there’s people that I want to show it to and, you know, get approval by it. All of that. Um, you know, I was different when I was younger. When I, when I first started to choreograph, I was, uh, a hard-ass I was young. I was, uh, hiring my peers. So there was I, there was a wall that I put up. I was known. I used to wear dark glasses all the time, even though they were prescription, like I always had this wall up. I don’t have a wall up anymore, but I think there’s something lovely about my urban legend because people dancers come in and they know they gotta get it done for me. Like, yes, I am a sweetheart. And I do love you. I love dancers. I love them. And I would do anything for them, but I expect everything from them. And so knowing that like Amy, Amy, we do, we’ve been doing a lot of interviews, uh, you know, lately. And she talks about me as like this little blonde sargent girl, you know, like, you know, like there’s nobody, you know, like, you know, she gets it done. Like I like, I’m not mean I don’t have to be, but people, but people respect me so much and they know if it’s not good, I’m gonna let you know. And I’m not going to be happy with that. I don’t need to scream. And like, and humiliate, I’m not that kind of person, but I expect greatness because I bring greatness, but we can have fun and I can be loving, wrapped all around that. And anybody that’s worked with me more than once knows that about me, my dancers they’re like my army. They protect me. I remember I was doing the Emmys one year and I had Brandon Henschel and I can’t, I remember what there were a couple of my guys, I was, I was dealing with Conan O’Brien and he was nervous. They were like, they were standing at the door to make sure like that. I don’t know. Like I just remember seeing them stand there to make sure I was okay. I don’t know

Your angels 

Angels. So dancers know how much I respect them. They know how much I really do love and care about them. And yes, if I love working with you, you’re going to get a call. I’m going to give you jobs. Doesn’t mean I’m not going to hire somebody new. But if you are in my circle and you’ve been an angel to me, why would I not hire you again?  Like KC Monnie you know? And sometimes I’ll say, guys, you might come into the audition. You’re going to get the job. But, but there’s always room for new people. But you know, if people are mad at that, I’m sorry. Like they’re like Amy Sherman Palladino has hired me for bun heads, Gilmore girls and now the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and we have a relationship and she knows that I know how to get it done. She says one word to me. It’s like, uh, like having to say, talk to somebody for 10 minutes, why would she want to go there? She’s got this person that’s in her brain that knows. So that’s how I am with dancers. Always room for new, especially with Maisel because I’m in New York and I’m starting to get to know all the New York dancers, which is great. And I got some angels there now. I have so it’s just, um, there’s, that should be for me, any dancer should want to be somebody’s angel because that’s a relationship. And then you can count on my people that have worked with me. I’m sure when they hear I have a job, they probably perk up because there’s a very good chance. If they’ve worked with me before that, I’m going to try to get them the job because we’ve had a great relationship and I know what they’re going to do on set. I know what they’re, how they’re going to be in rehearsal. Um, that’s a beautiful thing. And you know, if you, if you have a good experience and you do a good job, you deserve that. You just, and not every job, I can’t like guarantee them every job. Cause sometimes it’s a typecasting thing. But if I can, I do, if there’s something wrong with that, then I’m just going to be wrong. 

That me tearing up Marguerite, you’re dropping the, the, um, uh, what are they called? Dramatic pause.. soundbites. Good Lord. That was tough 

Right now. The word. And.. is sometimes I can’t find it. 

I’m searching. I’m searching. Um, it’s funny. I do the same thing in podcasts as I do in the room when I’m creating, I search with my eyes up here. Like that’s apparently where I look for them. 

I always look off to somewhere. Yeah, yeah. 

Like it’s there. Yeah. That’s funny. Um, I really love what you just said about expectations and respect. High expectations equals high levels of respect. And I really love the idea and I’m faced with this. So often, almost every time I positioned myself with, well, it’s either this or that in this, in this case. Well, you’re either a softy lover friend of all dancers who doesn’t, you know, run a tight ship or you’re the drill Sergeant that you mentioned, and you are reminding me as I get reminded all of the time that it is not an either or conversation you can have and be both.  

Yeah, absolutely. 100%. 

That’s so refreshing and inspiring to hear. And to see that example, 

When we walk in the room, we all know that we have a job to do so all of those dancers that know me, that I’ve worked with before that I’m very, like, I call, I’ve been calling KC every couple of weeks just to check up on him through this time. I’ve been calling a list of my dancers just to check up on them cause I care about them. But when we go, when we walk in that room, we are all there to work. And like, you know, KC and those people that are close to me, they got their eyes on me. Even if I’m working with a different grouping, KC is focused. Like what can I help her? Like they all become my assistants. They all be. They all, I get that from them. They’re there. So they, they, they care for me and they take care of me. And I, I do the same for them. It’s it’s a mutual respect. 

Yes. And this idea that when you do well, they do well. And when they do well, you do well. I do not understand how you could be disrespectful or use demeaning language in a rehearsal process. Although I have been in there as it happens and I’ve heard terrible stories and I just don’t understand how that has a place still  

Look it. Nobody deserves that. I think that, you know, um, we have a choice whether we put up with that or not. And I understand sometimes you need the job, so whatever, but I, I, I don’t, I don’t think anybody deserves that. And I would hope that they could just flip it off and walk out the room because it’s nobody’s deserves that. 

Well, Hey, with more examples like you, then I would say that the time is running out on that end of the, on the spectrum. Um, okay. I have one more theme that I would love to talk about. Although I think people are getting way more than their time dollars worth in this conversation. So I want to talk about readiness because you’ve done a lot and you’ve done it in some kind of unusual ways. You did act as an assistant for a short time, but you didn’t necessarily, you know, like find the artist that it worked with and just stuck that out or like find me a person that you assist well and just assist them forever or come up through a really successful company, you know, from the core to the principal, to the, you know, those traditional ways of getting places. I don’t think were your ways of getting places. So I’m wondering how you navigate the moment or how you make the decision between when it’s time to fall in line and climb the ladder. And when it’s time to just jump and try something you’ve never done before.  

Hmm. I don’t know the answer to that. Actually. I think that I’ve been, I I’ve been climbing the ladder by whole career, but it’s been a steady climb. I always like, yeah. I don’t know. I don’t know.  

Well, we can, we can find out together we can be a buddy system because I’ve always got my finger on the pulse of like when to jump and when to climb.  

I mean, right now during this time, my son and I have are creating some projects together. It’s cool. Yeah. I was supposed to direct a movie last year that he came in and was helping me. We were like really flipping the script upside down and, and we worked so well together and the project fell apart and we looked at each other and we’re like, well, let’s just come up with our own. So we have a couple projects right now that we’re developing and I think I’m ready to jump, but you know, um, yeah. So I guess I’m ready to jump, but I’m still, I don’t know that a lot, I guess I’m, I guess I’m, I’m I’m as I’m climbing, if this, when this thing goes, I’m ready to jump so  

Well, there, it goes to the saying, one of my favorites. If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready. So if the entire time you’re climbing, you’re ready for the ladder to be gone.  

Cause I used to, I there’s something that I said that somebody thought was genius. I don’t know the thought behind it, I think is important right now. The difference right now with all of the young choreographers that are working, it’s different now they’re not climbing a ladder. And so I fear that they’re jumping and they may fall off the other side because there’s something about climbing like that, you know, building, working your way up, just that the wealth of knowledge and this, the situations that you have to make you get through, like, as you keep going up, you’re ready for the next level because you’re, you’re, you’re, you’re, you’re taking it step by step. I fear sometimes some people that get there too quick, they don’t stick around for 35 years. Tell me how many choreographers are still at the top of their game. After 35 years, there are some, but there’s not a lot of them. So that’s what I would rather do the climb, the climb has been a blast and a good time, man. Like I, I have loved everything that I’ve done, you know? Um, it’s a blast. So  

Like a beautiful hike and less like a, like a cargo net. That’s terrifying.  

It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s really beautiful. So I think there’s something wonderful about that. But if you do have a desire now what you did now, I jumped here was my big job, 23 year old Marguerite and the back of the addition, like a lion back and forth. Should I audition? I don’t know. Should I addition? I don’t know. I was starting to work. I wanted to become a choreographer. I was a couple of jobs as a choreographer and I would still go to the auditions and I, cause I was on the fence and then I finally just took the leap and that was, that was my big leap. I haven’t, since then I’ve been climbing the ladder, you know, I found what, like what my real purpose was and it’s just been a joyful like journey for me. So that was my big leap was when, early on, like I was a really good dancer, but I was ready for something else.  

Uh, and, and willing for whatever pain might come along with falling. 

That’s right. 

That’s something I’m working to practice in my, um, in my daily practice, I call them downloads. Um, I suppose you could call it a meditation or like a, a free writing exercise, just like a check in with myself, really focusing on my willingness to feel all the fields. And this is a perfect moment to be doing right face to face with a lot of discomfort and uncertainty and, and, and, and um, and so I’m really learning the value of simply being willing to experience a fail or a humiliation or, uh, um, a missing of the mark, like so down, what is the worst thing that can happen to me in that case? The worst thing is that I feel a bad feeling though, we’re saying, is that, yeah, that’s it like, even if you told me that the worst thing is like, well, you lose your friends still.  It’s just a feeling of being lonely or you could not get hired again, that’s a feeling of being unrecognized or useless or incapable. Like those are all, this is just feelings. If I’m willing to feel all the feels I am unstoppable. So from that place, I can jump when I’m, when I’m willing to be okay with whatever feeling happens, where wherever, whenever, however, I land 

Thats a beautiful way to put it. 

Willingness. Hi, well, um, I’m exercised. I feel great. My face is numb and tingly in certain places from just having been smiling for an hour. Uh, is there anything else Margaret you’d like to add or, um, that my audience really truly is a mixed bag of creative types. Some of them are dancers have been dancers for a long time. Some of them are in other areas of entertainment and art. Um, some of them have left dance and are coming back, I think, as a person who wears many hats and has a tremendous amount of passion. Anything else you might say to people who are looking for information and inspiration in, in this moment? 

I think, you know, just never give up, you know, manifest, put out, put out into the universe, what it is you really want. And this is a good time to get quiet and really see what it looks like. You know, what is it that you really want and, and manifest it and just don’t give up, like, there’s, it may come in such a different package. You know, it may come in like in such an odd way. So be open to the delivery of your dreams, but don’t give up dreaming.

And on that ladies and gentlemen, we will round it out. Thank you Margaret so much for your time for your wisdom wisdom and for your work. That is so great. And I just can’t wait to see where it goes from here all the direction. Oh my goodness. I can’t wait. I’m so excited.

It was my pleasure.  

Okay. What did I tell you? Good one. Right. So insightful so wise, and I really was taken aback at how willing and ready Marguerite is to share at all times her, her insights, her wisdom, her experiences, um, her wins. I really, really loved what she had to say about building her team, a team that supports each other. Thank you all as listeners. Thank all of you listeners for being a part of my team. I hope that you got as much out of that conversation as I did. And I’m going to go ahead and venture a guess. You’re going to want to download that one. That is a conversation that I want to have in my pocket at all times. If you’re digging, what you hear, don’t be shy. Please share and leave a review or rating if you’re loving what you’re hearing. Thank you guys so much for listening. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day, night, week, month. All of it, keep it funky. Everybody. I’ll talk to you soon.

Thought you were done. 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, 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. #34 Talk to My Agents with Meisha Goetz and Tim O’Brien (Audition August Episode 3)

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
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

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
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

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
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.