Ep. #42 WTMM X CLI with Heather Morris

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #42 WTMM X CLI with Heather Morris
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Heather Morris and I talk about how dance lessons are life lessons…AND THEN we dig into all the things dance didn’t prepare us for.  We talk about our paths that have landed us where we are today.  We talk about success, failure, and we laugh through everything in between.

Show Notes

Quick Links:

Heather Morris: https://www.instagram.com/heatherrelizabethh/
CLI 2020 Experience: https://2020-experience.clistudios.com/

Transcript:

Intro: This is words that move me, the podcasts 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, movers, shakers, friends, and family at this point, really, truly some of you guys that have been with me from the beginning, it really is starting to feel like family. I see you out there. Well, of course I don’t actually see you. My field of view is almost entirely dominated by a microphone and a pop filter. I don’t actually see you, but I so appreciate your engagement on social media. Over at words that move me podcast on Instagram is one of my favorite places to connect with you guys. I’m seeing such awesome daily doing out there. If you are new, by the way. Hi, hello and welcome daily doing might be a mystery to you as of now. That’s probably because you haven’t listened to episode number one or episode two strongly encourage you take a moment, go check those out. I mean, it’s not essential listening, but that doing daily is definitely at the heart of the words that move me podcast community. I see you daily doers out there. I feel you. I appreciate you so much. All right. I’m jazzed as always about this episode. So I want to get into it, but first wins. Oh, by the way. Yes. If you’re new, I start every episode by talking about wins. I think it’s very, very important to celebrate wins, especially in the creative fields where our work is a reflection of ourselves, our human values, our emotional state and so on and so forth.  And we are especially critical of our own work. We’re critical of our work. We’re critical of ourselves. It definitely pays to celebrate your wins. Even the small ones, especially the small ones. Man, they are money in the bank. So let’s invest together. Today the win that I am celebrating is that I am taking responsibility for the living things in my home. Let me explain. I do not have any human babies or children or teenagers or adults actually, for that matter. I don’t have any pets. What I do have are plants. And what I don’t have is a very green thumb. Historically in my life It’s been hard for me to keep plant objects alive. Maybe it’s part of me. Maybe there’s a hint. Maybe I consider them objects, not living beings. Um, I struggle with plants. It used to be because I was in and out of town a lot I had a pretty irregular schedule and then the COVID crisis. Okay. Can’t use in and out of the house as an excuse. So what is it really? I think for me, it was that I simply didn’t know what to do or when. What’s too much water?What’s not enough water? When should I mist them? When should I wipe them? It just was also overwhelming. So I’ve committed to doing a little research, figuring out what I’m doing and keeping my plants alive. And let me tell you what I am loving this journey. I love that the plants in my home are green and not yellow or brown. I love that they’re all perky and lifted. Um, and I love learning. So I’m learning about plants right now. I’m learning how to keep them alive. And the next phase of this, which I’m so excited about is going to be to grow my own food. Now I’ve got training wheels. I’ve been using a little hydroponic, um, kitchen, pod grower thing for, uh, it’s called Aero garden. Total. Disclaimer, not advertising, not paid to say that, but I love my Aero garden. I grow, grew, growing. I am growing, um, basil all of the basil Thai basil, Genovese basil, all the basil. Love the Basil, um, mint, chives more basil. The Rosemary didn’t do so well. I’m not gonna lie. The Rosemary didn’t do so well. Um, basil.. Is that really all I’m growing? What else do I have over there? I can’t. Oh, dill and basil. So I’m growing the basil in the hydro, in the Aero garden, and then I’ve been transplanting them outside when they get too big to keep their in their little pods and Holy smokes, the garden, the herb garden is taking over. Someday soon I am going to be growing food.  You watch it happen. I’m announcing it here. You heard it here first. So I’ve been so enjoying caring for the plant beings in my home. Um, I’m counting this a win because I’m now seeing and feeling and thinking rewarding thoughts about my ability to keep things alive, my ability to take care of things other than myself, which by the way, pretty darn good at taking care of myself. Um, but to extend that care, to see the fruits, no pun intended of my research, my focus, my labor, if I could call watering labor, then yes, feeling good, counting it a win. All right, that’s me. Now you go, Oh my gosh. I just thought of an awesome pun. I usually say, what’s going well in your world, but I’m going to now say what’s growing well in your world. Do you like what I did there? All right, but really what’s your win. What’s growing well in your world. Take your time.  

Amazing. Keep winning, keep growing really truly I mean it. Today I am sharing with you an interview that I did with the one and only Heather Morris. This interview was conducted in partnership with my dear friends over at CLI studios during their 2020 dance experience this past summer. And Heather and I got to sit down and chat one-on-one. This is the first time this had happened in a really long time. Heather and I moved to LA around similar times. I believe. We would see each other, always at the studio, in class, pretty regularly at auditions. And, you know, we were a part of that come up together. And then I had the absolute pleasure. And so did the rest of America in watching Heather come into her own as an actress, performer and full fledged movie star. Thanks hugely to her role on Glee as Brittany. Now, watching Heather in Glee is one of my favorite favorite things, truly like I wish you could see the smile on my face right now, just thinking about my favorite Brittany moments, but sitting and talking to the person that is Heather Morris was as exciting as it was grounding. I say this because this is a very genuine, honest, open and thoughtful person that has been both student, performer, teacher, mother, so many of the things and so giving so willing to share her experience and her lessons learned. I do want to mention that this podcast was recorded before the death of Heather’s dear friend and colleague Naya Rivera. So if you’re tuning into this episode to hear more about that, you will not find it in this episode, what you will find, however, is a ton of information and inspiration about navigating this Wild West of an entertainment industry. Especially if you’re a person who is interested in nurturing a family and having a life outside of a studio. In this episode, Heather and I talk a lot about paths and how the thought that there is a fork in the road, a moment where you have to choose one thing or another is really usually just that. A thought, not the reality of our worlds. In this episode, Heather and I talk about how our life’s paths are more like trees than actual paths. Take a listen and see if you agree. I hope you enjoy this conversation with Heather Morris.  

Dana: I’m Dana Wilson. This is Heather Morris, and this is the first ever words that move me and CLI collabo cross cast. 

Heather: How does that feel? 

Dana: It feels really good. I feel very good about it. So excited. I’m excited. And I’m glad that you’re here. Thank you for doing this. Thank you for being here and talking to us today. I have to admit I’m a little embarrassed that we’re friends and have been friends for so long, but I will be asking you these questions as if I’m, I don’t know you and I kind of I’ll be learning you. I’m very excited about it. Yeah. Okay. So you just taught jazz class. Yes, it was awesome. I saw you going to the ground and coming back up. Great job. And you made it, um, so other than being a jazz teacher here at CLI, just tell us everything that you want us to know about you  

Heather: As a teacher or just in general human, beside being a teacher and like human being? Heather Morris is two different people because I am a Heather Morris but I’m also a Heather Hubbell at home. Oh my goodness. Isn’t that crazy?  

So you you’ve kept your professional name?  

I kept my professional name, Heather Morris. Um, it was just, I mean, financial reasons, maybe, you know, you have to pay and I’m like, whatever, let’s just leave it. People know me that let’s keep it there, keep it simple. And, but I did marry and take my husband’s name, Taylor Hubble. So I am now Heather Hubble, which I love that name kind of obsessed with Heather Hubble. Yeah.  

I really love doubles. BB L E. My husband is R E E T Z. I love it a double. So we lucked out, both of us. 

Yeah. Um, so I don’t know. I think like we, um, I’m at home right now. We’re trying to start our own YouTube channel. I’ll I’ll tease it called Hubble Home. So I’m kind of bringing my Heather Hubble home life into the reality into people’s minds, into people’s hearts. Um, cause they know Heather Morris and of course I’m goofy. Just like, you know, we both are very goofy people have a lot of fun. Um, so I’ll just bring, I’m bringing people into that lifestyle. Um, you know, I, I like to be consistent. I’m a consistent person and I like to have fun. I like to be, I’m an adventurer. I like to go places. I get really like mucky when I’m stuck. You know, like when I’m somewhere for too long, I get really antsy and I want to like move. I got to get out of the house. I got to do stuff. That’s kind of the person I am.  

So how’s quarantine going? 

Quarantine.. Actually It’s good for me. It’s learning, it’s learning. It’s helping me learn to take breaths and take moments and really practice sitting still, especially for my children, because my oldest is just like me. So he likes to nonstop walk around the room, nonstop, chatting, but talking, you know that like when you like keep talking, when you’re moving, cause it like makes your mind go. And I’m really trying to like figure out how to communicate with him. Like that might not be your best self, your best route. You know? Like as you’re getting older, let’s maybe like learn techniques to just have conversations without riling ourselves up. So,  

I’m all for techniques. I’m all for conversations. This is a match made in heaven.  

It’s hard. So I’m teaching myself at the same time that I’m teaching him like learning. Yeah. Let’s finish up this conversation. Let’s move to the next. We don’t always have to plan out our day because sometimes when you plan things out too much, you don’t end up enjoying it. So yeah, that’s kinda my quarantine life and now we’re traveling. They’re done with homeschool. So I went to Arizona, I went to Sedona. I saw the beautiful weather and the beautiful rocks. And now we’re going to Del Mar for summer week vacation.  

So you’re moving. You’re still you’re out in the world and you’re yeah,  

My husband knows me enough. Like he knows that we go. We got to get out to do stuff. 

I love this. Um, one of the things I talk about a lot on the podcast is this concept that dance lessons are life lessons and your sons are not dancers, correct? 

No. 

Okay. So how are they learning the things that we learned in dance, like how to communicate, how to be in touch with yourself emotionally, how to manage your time and schedule and listen to authority and all of the things that I value most, I think I learned from dance. So how are they, how are they learning and how are you teaching the things that you value most that you learned from dance? 

Yes. It’s really funny that you mentioned that cause existentially, I’m thinking about that throughout everything that I’m doing with them daily. And maybe sometimes I feel too outside of myself when I’m talking to them like this, where maybe they might not understand my words. So really trying to water and dumb our conversations down to like this works, but what would help it work better is if we did this, like that’s, it’s hard to communicate that young age. Um, but that’s a really good point that you brought that up because there are life lessons we learn listening to authority is huge. So with my second one, he is a real pistol and he loves to question authority, which is great. It’s good to just, you know, those memes are like, it’s good to question. It’s always good to have opinion. Yes. To an extent  

And,  

But give and take, Ooh, that’s a good one with my oldest is he’s not a good give and taker. That’s kinda what I’m looking for right now is he likes to talk and talk and talk and it’s constantly maybe taking from somebody, but I’m trying to teach him with his friends to stop, listen to what they have to say, then respond. Yeah. How hard is that? Well, not crazy. Like trying to teach your six year old that like, yeah.  

It’s, it can be definitely hard. I just stepped on your toes as I did. Like, how do you share space? This is another dance lesson that is a life lesson. You see somebody freestyling in a circle and you – you develop this sense of when are they wrapping up? When can I start to head in? How do you share space? How do you, I mean, I think a social distance is an incredible skill that a dancer I’m noticing are not as good as we thought we were about. Um, distancing something. Cause yeah, I, I think dancers are close types. We like to be close.

Like to be close with, like to be touching my kids for some reason really understand it. They will wear their masks maybe because I will wear my masks so definitively they will. Yeah. Um, but yeah, yeah. But the distance thing is really interesting.  

Oh, I think dancers, I think dancers are a remarkable period, but I also know a lot of people get similar training from being a part of a sports team or something like that. Sports was not a part of my family, but your husband is a baseball player. Yes. And are the boys?  

Yes. They both played baseball and we were starting flag football. Well, we’ll see how that goes. My oldest is kind of a, he’s emotional. So, you know, I don’t know. It’s a flag, which is fine, but once they start to get into the touch, that might be, um, a one and done. Maybe  

Interesting! I can’t wait to find out. 

Yeah. We’ll see how it goes. 

Okay. Question for you outside of the parenting mode, what dance training. Cause you you’ve been dancing for what like 

32 years

Since, since the Dawn of time

I was seven months old. 

Um, so I would love to know since you’ve had such a multidisciplinary career, what was something that dance didn’t prepare you well for?  

Ah, good question. Something that dance didn’t prepare me well for, I would say into the acting space was I wasn’t prepared for my own opinions. I was never taught to give my input. I was never taught to have my own voice as a dancer. You’re really taught to mesh your voices, kind of shut up, do your job. And that’s what I grew up doing. And then I got put into a spot where I was spotlit. If that’s a word spotlit

Um, spot spotlighting, spot  Spotlighted. I think  

I was in the spotlight, but I didn’t quite have the voice. So it felt like this whole new thing for me, I didn’t know how to use my actual voice. I didn’t know how to let my ideas like sputter and go, I mean, naturally conversationally it’s easy, right? Like we can sit here and chat, but then I went into, uh, interviews for a camera and I didn’t know how to like express myself because I was never asked to. So I felt really uncomfortable in my own skin. During interviews, I felt like the attention was too much. I was never used to that. I was never somebody who grew up on the third of three girls who people asked me things. I was always just kinda like quiet in the corner. And then you get to, um, people wanting to know more about you. And I always like in a shell, shy, not loving the attention. So it took a while for me to like break through and feel like I could use my voice and express myself just as I am and not feel embarrassed about it. You know?  

What gave you that training?  

Uh, I think just time, I think.. Americans have this funny way about ourselves where we like to a lot of fun. It was a lot of funny where we like to learn the hard way first. And I’ve noticed it about times right now, maybe with the COVID pandemic, we’re learning the hard way first because we want to feel good about ourselves. And I think I learned the hard way first. Um, and I was just doing all this press or I was just going for it, not thinking twice. And then dumb me would watch the tapes back later. And I’m like, that doesn’t sound like me. Who was I answering for? Like, that’s not my persona. Like that’s not who I’m representing. I just was kind of like filling this spot, I guess, to fill the time that’s I guess that’s really personal, but it’s how I saw it. So then I took a step back and I didn’t do any of that stuff cause I felt so uncomfortable because I was giving such a fake voice off. Hmm. Um, yeah, I dunno. It was kinda my voice, but it was fake and I just like would listen to myself crazy. So I learned the hard way with mostly everything. And I think I’ve done that my whole life.  

And it sounds like you were able to remove some of this notion that you should be happy or should be a certain way all the time. And when you embraced that. No, no, no. It’s not all that all the time. Then you were able to step into it.  

Yeah. Once you watch other actresses who really embrace themselves and like are just cool and happy and fun. Yeah.  

And, and, and sad and dark and broken and hopeful and all of these.  

They are not always Perfect. Yeah. And they don’t care. They really don’t care what you think. Not to the extent of like F you, I don’t care, but like, this is my time. Let me, let me recoup and then I’ll come back and we’ll be a better, um, so that was the hard way.  

That’s awesome. I love this. That’s very powerful. And that’s a good segue too into my next question. Something I want to talk about is this idea of a creative path or a career path. And visually in our minds, we see that as being like an actual path, like a hiking trail that goes that way, or it goes that way. So you have these really limiting thoughts of like college or dance or acting or dance or acting or family. And you’re a person that’s been able to really keep, um, a flexible path in your career and in your life. I think it’s really unique and admirable and special and cool. So I would love to hear about the interests that guided you on, on one direction and how you were able to, um, be in more than one place at once. 

Yeah.  That’s really interesting because it’s not planned. It’s never planned. You do make a plan and it never falls into place the way you want it to. But in the beginning of my career, I went to college for a whole year because when we would sit in class with Mark Meismer and whoever, and they would say, raise your hand and tell me if you want to be an, a dancer. And I would never raise my hand. It wasn’t in my cards. I was not interested in being a dancer. It, it didn’t pay enough. Um, it didn’t seem like it was fulfilling. Maybe because I was just like, starting out learning technique.  

Or because you subscribed to the idea of the starving artist. Sure. This thing that like, if you want to do that, you can’t have other things.  

Yeah. Right? Yeah. You’ll live at a certain level. Um, which money was never my thing, I don’t know, but so I never want to do it, went to college for a year and found out that dancing was actually the love of my life, aside from my husband, but it was the love of my life. And since then I pursued acting because I always had wanted to act when I was growing up. And I thought, why not? I’m out here. I’m going to study it. I’m going to do it because dance still, to me, wasn’t my end goal. I thought acting could be. Um, and just like dancing, acting is really tough. There are a lot of people out there and they’re all searching for not 20 spots in a gig, but they are searching for one spot in a gig. So I’m auditioning with 50 people, 30 people.  Yeah. Maybe I have a name doesn’t care. Me, guarantee me a spot. Maybe they want, um, you know, a different ethnicity. Maybe they want whatever it is they’re looking for. So living it at the time, living through it, going through every emotion and not settling and giving myself a limit to it, not saying, okay, I can’t do this anymore. Has helped me find the, the paths I want to go down. Because I love the arts. And I like to come up with ideas. I love to create, I don’t care if it’s not successful. If it is a good idea, I know it’s successful and I’m going to keep going for it. 

Um, Oh, this is great. 

So I just keep exploring things. If acting’s not going to be it right now, if I’m not going to get those jobs, I’m still gonna write stuff and I’m still gonna, I want to be a producer, like more than anything. I just have seen it unfold with everything I’m doing. I love to get people, artists, writers, directors, together, and making a really awesome project. 

I love this. You’re stoking me up. It’s very exciting. And you’re also answering questions that I had downstream. One of which was, I mean, you’ve in your career from, I mean, you have a podcast of your own with Ava Bernstein, shout out whatupgirl dancer, but also voiceover feature, film, stardom, super acting, dancing with mega pop stars, uh, reality type TV shows Dancing with the Stars. And So You Think also way back, way back in the early times, um, and TV and all the things. So you’re answering the question my, that I had in mind was what, what is the next creative rock that gets lifted and looked underneath? Is it producing? It’s also the channel with your family. 

Absolutely. Yes. YouTube we’re like, okay,  We’re having fun with that, but that’s also its own thing. Right. You know, you have to edit it 

and you’re fully,

I’m fully involved hands on. Yeah. We’re doing it ourselves.  

You also mentioned, even if it doesn’t make money, you’re interested in doing artistic things. Yes. So what makes a successful artistic endeavor for you? What makes it successful?  

What makes it successful? Um, I think if people are passionate about it, which is very broad. Yeah. I, you just, you have to have a good attitude with your projects. A lot of people will come into work and maybe they take like past trauma from other jobs and they bring it to their jobs, whether they’re in it for the right reasons or not, they might not seem like the right people to work with. And I think listening to that doesn’t seem like the right endeavor for me at the moment. Cause I’ve been there and done that. And that’s just, it’s not a fun workplace to be in. Really hard to say no, but it’s good to stick up for yourself. Um, so I just think that people are in it for the right reasons. It really grounds it.  

So you keep your finger on the pulse of group energy and like the feeling of a project? 

Yeah. You can’t, I’ve tried to carry things for  Myself. I’ve tried to be the only one doing stuff. And it just takes so much  

Out of you. 

This is why they say it takes a village, takes a village,  

Not just at your home. So I have a home life and then trying to balance producing or writing or editing, whatever it is. It’s like, it’ll just end up taking too long, you know? 

Okay.  So let’s jump back to past them. Cause that’s like eight different paths. I think that the imagery of the fork in the road is dangerous and limited. I much prefer to think of paths and creative careers as being like a tree. And you start climbing up the creative tree and out here’s dance branch and dance branch is close enough to acting branch. So you could even like jump from this branch to the other one. 

But You don’t have to let go. You don’t see that branch. 

Yeah. You can reach right across and grab it. And, and there’s a great Shirley McClain quote that I am afraid I will botch.  

Um, she says that she likes to live. She likes to go out on a limb because that’s where all the fruit is. So you can stay very close to the trunk and you can feel pretty safe here. Or you can branch out as we like to say, and you go to the ends of the branch and you find like, Ooh, I really, really like this. This is fruitful. This is beneficial. This is success. This feels good. And then you can also decide, Oh, you know what, college I’m going to go back over here. And I’m going to try this LA thing for a second. Yeah. And from the LA branch, you can look at acting, look at improv, look at making a family, finding a different thing. And I think that’s so interesting to see somebody without a plan. That’s so good at having a structure. That’s having this, climbing this creative tree and being able to make things work. Even without it being mapped out. It’s not a path that can be map it out. It’s a tree, it’s three dimensions.  

I don’t understand how people can, people can dream board and have a map. And they’re still like living their life. Good. I can have a map because if I have a map, I stick too hard to it. I had this tattoo on my shoulder that says, let go, because I’ve just learned the hard way of grasping something too hard. Um, and then you kind of like, you lose everything you loved about it. Yeah. So I, I really learned to let go

The let go, analogy doesn’t work quite so well. Or the leg, let go, quote, doesn’t work quite so well with the tree analogy. You should hold on the tree. But if you hold onto the tree, okay, here it comes. So if you’re on this tree, this career tree, and you’re out on the branch on the very end and you look over at family tree and you’re like, man, I kind of want to do that thing and kind of want to have a family. Then you can do the little spider monkey thing or sugar glider or whatever it is, where you let go and you jump from this tree and you can be like, and be in a new place.

And Hollywood make you feel really bad about that. Yeah.  

Will it? Tell me what Hollywood would make you feel?   

I feel like not that I’m suppressed, but that because I chose to take a break and I’ve because I’m always trying to find other people that are like me or just take people’s stories and liken it to mine. I I’ve noticed people who’ve done that. Who’ve gone to have a family. Who’ve taken a breath who felt overwhelmed with work because God knows it. Working in the industry is so tough. 16 hour days working on a set six days a week. Most of the time, because you end at like 5:00 AM. I like to sleep. I’m not, I just can’t work that hard. So I needed a breath when you need a breath. And all these people in the industry go to take a breath. It’s like an iron door closed behind our back, trying to get back in. And that’s a challenge is trying to get back and challenging to switch my brain on to say, okay, how do I get through this iron door?  This is probably a learning experience for me that I’m supposed to be taking, because maybe there was some traits about myself that- that how I was working before that weren’t right in that moment. And I needed to get out and step out the door, work on them so that when I do come back in and they’re fixed so that I can work the right way for longer periods of time. Do you know what I mean? So I don’t feel burnt out.. 

You develop skills and know how to set boundaries, how to work smarter, not harder. This is the sweet spot always. And that line kind of wiggles and is a little different on every project. I’m curious about this door. Um, because I think that a lot of people listening are probably people interested in breaking into the industry, not necessarily reentering, although some perhaps as well. And I’m wondering how you would relate the door that you’re knocking on now to the one that you had to knock on to get into the industry?  

In the very beginning, I think there is a naive, um, and a naive outlook we have when we’re first coming here at a younger age that we maybe don’t have one we’re growing a little bit older, maybe in our thirties, in our thirties, we have settled into ourselves. We’re not questioning at 18, 19, I was exploring everything. Um, I was willing to give up dong sure. I took every class. There was, I just want it to be in class. We were always in class together. I loved class and I’m not a person that’s gonna talk your ear off. I’m not going to try and pitch myself to you. I’m not going to give you my best part of my personality to wow you. Uh, I just, I don’t know. I don’t know why I’m not like that. I feel weird doing it. So I’m gonna go prove myself. I’m going to go take class until I’m blue in the face. Even if I’m not good at that particular class, I’m going to go back and I’m going to learn how to do the movement. Like the teacher wants me to do it. I’d say maybe the same for acting roles. So when you’re going into meet with casting directors, not the class per se, but when you’re going to meet with casting directors, they want to get to know you and they want to feel you personally. Um, and they want to give you adjustments and they want to know, you can take it just like a dance class. If a teacher comes up and gives you an adjustment and you don’t do it, they’re going to be like, I don’t want to work with that person. 

Theres no time for that. There’s no time for that. 

You need to hire someone and you need to get it in a second. So if that’s the hurdle, you need to jump to be a dancer that you want to be. Maybe start working on that now. Like if you get adjustments, you don’t have to do hard every time. Maybe you work on like the specifics, the, the, what is it? Like the, all of those adjustments. Yeah.  

So, so I think what I’m hearing is that when you’re younger, you’re able to make adjustments quickly. So knocking on all the doors is actually fun and it’s exercise. And now you’re like, listen, I’ve done my exercise. I’ve done my training. I am here. I am full. I am complete. But you also know that this, this whole student thing and progress is forever. Like you will always be evolving and always be changing. And that door just might not be the door that you really want to be opening. 

Maybe it’s ready for me when I’m 50. Exactly. 

Oh my gosh. 50, 50 year old Heather.

50 year old, Heather

I think that if 50 year old Heather came knocking, I would open the door and I would have like teams of, of welcome party behind me. Yeah. I love this.  

Yeah. I always keep my eye on. Like, there’s always  

The long game. Super important. I love this. I love this like multilayer approach to getting stuff done. There’s like, you get stuff done today on the ground with your kids. You’re teaching, you’re doing this thing. Yeah. In the longterm. You’re developing this, this project, whether it’s a YouTube channel or producing this something else, that’s like, kind of now ish, because you gotta be working on it now. Otherwise it will not happen, but it’s also not here right now. And then there’s this 50 year Mark. Right? Okay. Talk to me about that. 50. What are you doing there?  

Listen, comedy like 50 is just the prime 40s maybe, but like 50 is just prime, especially in women. Right?  

Live our lives and be loud and make jokes. No

Nobody cares anymore. 

Or people care and it’s just that caring. And it’s like, I don’t know. I’m very interested between the fine line between grief and comedy and the older you get, the more real stuff gets right. You see, um, you’ve seen more tragic things. You’ve experienced more trauma. You, the people in your life, maybe passing on, maybe getting divorced, maybe losing children or you know, loved ones. And that like that’s life out there. It’s not necessarily better life. Just because you’re older. We may be like a fine wine, but we aren’t a fine wine. We don’t necessarily get better with age. So out there, you need different tools that help you deal with life as it gets that way. That’s why the funniest people in my life are Toni Basil, who is 75 years old. She might be 76 by now and my parents. And I just like tap. I love talking to people that are older than me. I love talking to you too. Don’t get me wrong. But there’s like, there’s a perspective and a way of coping a way of inviting things, specifically humor into your life.  

And what is it about young people feeling like a threat? That again, like younger, younger people, when you’re younger, everybody seems like a threat to you. I never felt that way, but I always sensed it from other people.

Interesting. 

That was a, it was always weird. Maybe more so than acting because it’s so limited. It’s very competitive. Dancing, It’s so inclusive and everybody wants to hug each other and we’re kind of all in it together. And then you like go into a smaller box and you become this actor. And like, it just seems like everybody feels like you’re a threat to them. And 

And we’re,  We’re in this together, this human thing. So how can we think more like our future selves right now? Because I’m telling you what we don’t need any more competition. We certainly don’t need any threats. We don’t need to be threatening anyone period. So how can we invite future us that, that, that future selves that are funny and compassionate and smart and, um, all the good things.  

Yeah. It’s tricky because when you are a teen into your twenties, you hear scientifically your mind is not fully developed and that’s a big hurdle. And whenever I do, um, these cameo things, you can do these, uh, celebrity cameos, where somebody will pay you to do a video. And they’re younger. And I’m always telling these kids, I’m like, y’all are going to feel threatened, or you’re going to feel like people are judging you or people are looking at you. Maybe they do make comments. But what I need you to learn right now is that your mind might not be fully developed. Always remember that so that you can trigger your brain to go. My brain’s working this way. Let’s work around that. Yeah. Let’s steer our, our reaction to a positive one, or just mind your own business  

Or mind your own mind at the very least. I think there’s kind of circles to what you were saying about talking to your sons, how you have to explain things to them in a way that they will understand, right. And how old are they? Six and four. So here we go. This is the lesson today. Everybody gets the lesson today. The lesson is, if you can parent yourself, if you can parent yourself with compassion and curiosity, the way that you would talk to a five-year-old talk to yourself, treat yourself with kindness, treat others with kindness. That is how we have the future that we want to have. And that’s how we have it. Now  

You heard it first guys. 

Wow. Thank you, Heather. I wouldn’t have got that on my own. That was very much a collaborative roundabout that we came across. Yeah.  

Its true, you gotta be so gentle with yourself. Yeah.  Yes. Be kind, be kind to yourself. Be kind to other people, Respond to haters with kindness, you know, Sarah Silverman, she does she’s on Twitter. Have you ever seen her responses? So when there’s a troll and someone’s very unkind to her and calls her something, she gets their information and she finds out how to help them. She, if they are suffering from something, like say, they said I don’t, blah, whatever. And she finds out she’ll direct message them. Find out details about these people. Maybe they’re overweight or something like that. She’ll get them like medical help. Like she’s like respond to negativity and find the kindness. I just love that. This is awesome. Once I found this out about Sarah Silverman, I’m like, Hmm. I wish.. 

Has that changed the way that you absorb or not absorb that you handle haters? 

Yeah. Kill them with kindness. 

Its funny my mom has said those words for my whole life, kill them with kindness is my mom’s famous words. But it somehow takes like, watching that in practice for you to actually be able to be like, Oh, like  That. Yeah. Aha. 

Yeah. Cause it’s easy. Our primal selves are, you know, like you’re gonna fight me. I’m gonna fight you back  

Survival. This is what we’re, that’s what we do. That’s how we’re human. But we can do with kindness because we’ve evolved. We’re solving. Exactly. Okay. Guys, be kind, be good. And definitely keep it funky is something that I say on the podcast and in my life. And when I was watching your class, I was like, dang. She’s funky. Thank you so much again for being here. Thank you everybody for tuning in.  

I loved it. Thanks for joining. 

See Ya!  All right. My friends there, you have it. The one and only the extravagant, the phenomenal, the very, very real Heather Morris. I hope you soaked up a lot of goodness out of this episode. And I hope that this episode has made you want to go climb a tree, be safe, be smart. And of course keep it funky. I’ll talk to you very 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 important, you have a way to become a words that move kickball, change kickball 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. #38 WTMM x CLI with Joshua Smith

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #38 WTMM x CLI with Joshua Smith
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Joshua Smith has an interesting view of the industry, validation, and fame. This episode diggs into all that and more.  We go deep on dance as an art/ sport, the Black Lives Matter movement, Daily Routines, personal style, and GRATITUDE.  I can’t wait for you to hear this master-peace of an episode. Enjoy!

Show Notes

Quick Links:

Joshua Smith: https://www.instagram.com/dancer_boysmith/

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

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, good people. And how are you? I’m Dana. And this is words that move me. Welcome back. If you are a regular and welcome, welcome If you’re new here, I am so stoked to be talking to you today. And as always, I am jazzed about this episode, but of course we’re not jumping right in. Oh no, that would be rude. It’s like dancing. Before you warm up, I’m going to give you this warm up. This is where I’d like to start today.  Today, I’m starting with my win, which is very common practice here at the podcast. We always start with a win, but this win comes with a very deep and personal story. Six years ago, my two best friends, Megan Lawson, Jillian Myers, and myself created I’ll call it a whimsy. We created a whimsy that we now call the seaweed sisters. We are a dance… Well, you know what? I’ll take that back. We are a trio. We are a trio that dances. We are a trio that makes things. We are a trio that teaches. We are a trio that performs. And now I can say we are a trio that inspires. Here comes the, win just a few days ago, I got a FaceTime call from my sister. I’m always very excited when those happen. No offense, SIS, but I’m even more excited when I hit accept and it’s my niece taking up the full frame, not my sister. So my niece is seven. I believe. Well, seven and a little bit more than a half. I think she turns eight in January. She called me as if she was like producing a film. She said, Dana, do you have a minute to talk? I was like for you. Absolutely. And she goes, I have a question. I think you’re going to like it. I was like, okay, I can’t wait. And she goes, how did you do the seaweed sister’s video. The one in the pool. The first one, I was like A. I love that. You remember my group, the seaweed sister. She’s been watching these videos since she was born B. I’m so glad that she knows that the first one was the one that happened in the pool. Although on a technicality, we’ve done two that involved pools, but only one that involves a pool with water.  I digress. Number three. I love that. She wants to know how I made it and that she thinks I can tell her the answer to that over a FaceTime call. This is great. I say, why, why do you ask? And she said, well, well, Charlotte and I, Charlotte is her sister, my niece, who’s younger, Charlotte and I are creating her words. Exactly Charlotte and I are creating the fishy sisters. And we would like to remake your seaweed sisters video. So I’m going to need to know how you did that. And I was like, amazing. This is great. Okay. Well, first you’re going to need, um, costumes. So we talked about what her costumes are going to be. She showed me all of her available leggings, which by the way, were many good job sis, that kid is stocked on the legging front. Um, she showed me the color options. I told her, she’s going to need to make a swim cap with a hot glued rhinestones on it. I told her she would need adult supervision for that. Um, she was very excited about the costuming. I asked her if she was prepared to do the moves, she was like, Oh yeah, the moves. I’m not so worried about the moves, but how did you actually make the movie? And I was like, well, that’s, you’re, you’re probably gonna need some help there with, with that as well. You’ll need a camera operator. And she says, what’s an operator. And I said, camera operators, the person that operates the camera, they control where it is and how it moves and whether or not it’s on and recording. And she goes, Oh, okay. That can be my mom. And I was like, nice. Okay. So we’ve got a camera operator. I can send your mom a shot list. And she says, what’s a shot. And I say, a shot list is basically a recipe for the movie. It tells you what you need and how much of it. And when to put it in. And she was like, okay, great. So you can send us the shot list in the mail and then I’ll do the costumes and we’ll do the dancing. And we will make the fishy sisters video. And I, this conversation, I don’t know how, but it wound up lasting, It was like 30 minute conversation. We got very specific about how she will be remaking the seaweed sisters as the fishy sisters. I’m counting this away in a, because I’m completely smitten that I have a niece that’s interested in making things and B because I know we forget it. Sometimes I have to say it here, Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And I couldn’t be more flattered that my own blood, the magical Emilia is going to be flattering the seaweed sisters by creating a remake of the seaweed sisters. First video. So thrilled, please do be on the lookout. I will gladly be sharing that on the socials over at words that move me podcasts. And on my personal probably I’m DanaDaners on the gram. All right. That’s my win. Had to get it out. Thank you for listening to that. Now, what is your win? What’s going well in your world in particular, who and what are you inspiring these days? Obviously I’m open to any answer. The answer to my question was a seven year old. I’m here for all of it.  

All right. My friend, congrats and keep winning. I’m so proud of you and I know you can do it forever. Okay. Let’s get into this interview today. I’m so jazzed to be sharing this conversation with you guys. This was part of three interviews that I did in collaboration with my friends over at CLI studios. Over the summer, they had a 2020 dance experience. And during that 2020 experience words that move me and CLI teamed up to hold these three interviews. I talked to Heather Morris, Dexter Carr. And today I am sharing with you the conversation that I had with the one and only Joshua Smith. Josh is a person that I had been admiring from afar for quite a while, but he and I had never met before this day, before we actually sat down and had this conversation, I was a little nervous. I’ll be totally honest, but Josh was completely open, so friendly, so warm and so tremendously insightful. I was, I was wrapped. Top-to-bottom so engaged and so excited. So I hope you are too. I hope you get a lot out of this conversation. I know Josh has a lot to offer, um, tiny little backstory on Josh. He’s born in Durham, North Carolina. He moved to Atlanta when he was young. He has absolutely made his mark on the entertainment industry by performing with mega stars like Usher and Chris Brown. He actually won the 2019 soul train award for best dance performance in Chris Brown’s video, No Guidance. He is an outstanding teacher. He champions a healthy mindset. He champions hard work, and I am just so thrilled for you. Let’s not wait any longer. Enjoy this conversation with Josh Smith. 

Dana: Hi everybody. I’m Dana.

Josh: I’m Josh. 

Dana: And this is words that move me on CLI how lucky are we? We’re so lucky. And so are you, I might add I’m I know I’m saying that at the top of the interview, maybe I should have reserved that until the end, but, um, I think you’re in for a treat because I feel privileged to be sitting here talking to you today. Josh, I’m so excited. Um, I want to start with this. I know your other half Lindsay. She and I have had, I have had the honor and the pleasure of working with her before, but our professional paths have never crossed. So answer me this is the dance world big or is it very, very small? We like to say it’s such a small world, but I’m like, how has this never happened?  

Josh: I think it is a small world. I think just, uh, it’s different avenues. You know what I’m saying? Cause I’ve definitely heard about you and definitely seeing you around for sure. And I think he just different pathway, you know, different artists. We are different. However, we go, so he never got to meet, but this is the perfect time. And we’re here.  

Dana: It is. I’m so excited. I have a million D questions and they’re all right here and I should have written them maybe somewhere else, but that’s risky. So let’s start at the almost beginning. I won’t go into birth, but, um, I understand that growing up, you were very athletic soccer, football. Am I missing anything?  

Josh: Baseball, basketball, you name it? I ran track for a little bit. I was on the step team. I was in band and I was a drum major.  

Dana: Just a couple of extracurriculars. Thanks. Alright. So when I grew up, I, my only extracurricular was dance and I feel a little bit shortsighted in my experience of like team building and learning myself. And I, I really kind of have become sort of an indoor cat more or less. So I’m always really curious when I hear the discussion about dancers are athletes and dance is a sport. I’m curious about that, cause I, because I’m not an athlete I well, or am I, I don’t know. I’m asking you like, where do you stand on dance as a sport and dancers are athletes,  

Josh: Dance is definitely a sport. And definitely because we have the same traits and characteristics between the two, you know, you have a coach, you have a choreographer, you know, you have people who are on a team, you know, whether it’s a camp or it’s a team. So where it’s togetherness as we both, we all have to go through these eight hours and there’s regular rehearsals or practice four hours. So the togetherness of it, it’s a team aspect. And then we do have to stretch and keep our body warm and all that we do high magnitude like moves and impact on our bodies is so much. And, uh, it very, very, very, very close. So I do consider dancers as athletes, for sure. Like it’s, it’s a, the same similarities, tough times, blood, sweat, tears, you know, and we, we run it together and that’s how you gotta do it. So if you think that way as a sports, which you are an athlete, then that’s what it is.  

Dana: Don’t give me too much confidence. Now you might see me on a field of some sort like, no, I can do this. I’m an athlete. Trust me, tombe pas de bourses. Um, okay. So what is different? Could you put a finger on a difference between a dancer and an athlete or are we just straight up 

Josh: You know, I guess it’s different because a basketball player and a football player, not the same, you know, and you’re an athlete, but it’s different magnitude and impact on your body. And I think with that being said, like soccer is more endurance than physical. You know, it is physical, but it’s more endurance, but football is very physical. And the thing about dancing is different genres are different, uh, style of dance for quiet. That b-boy is more physical. You know what I’m saying? And ballet is physical, but in a different way, it’s more a up core, so, and very on your legs. Well, so when you think about it in that way, in that aspect, you know, it’s different, but, um, there’s different way of going about it. Right?  

Dana: Right. I like that. I think there’s so many different, you know, dances and artistic expression. It’s nuanced, it’s subjective. It’s not even from one style to the next is not the same. You’re reminding me of a mantra that I, that I harness with my fellow, my two best friends, Megan Lawson and Jillian Meyers, shout out the seaweed sisters. We have a saying, um, our saying is strength is not our strength, but in every sport strength, isn’t the value. Um, it’s focus, placement, endurance, all the things that you just mentioned. So that is cool. I like to now think of the seaweed sisters as athletes as well, even though, even though strength is not our strength, we have different strengths.  

Josh: Shout out to y’all because y’all are amazing. 

Dana: Thank you so much, man. 

Josh: Lindsay was he was giving me a .. rundown, I knew you got, but she gave me a rundown on the seaweed sisters. And I didn’t know about that.  

Dana: You got research, you had research before you came into the interview as well. No vice versa. Okay. Okay. Speaking of research, I learned that you want a soul train award in 2019 for No Guidance for Chris Brown. That’s a, that’s a very cool, very prestigious thing because soul train, obviously this is not something that people have decided is new and important, but been around for a very long time. Um, my question is broadly, what is your relationship with external validation? Because a lot of people seek the awards, the credits, the, you know, the relationships and having a credit like that, having an award like that is a pretty big deal. Was that ever a thing that drove you?  

Josh: That’s a great question. Um, honestly how my mentality is, I think that, uh, I always looked at it like, yes, I want the awards and I want some know some feedback and people to see my name, but honestly not really, you know, I’m not that type of guy, but not really because even now within my stage of my career, which I’m honored and like so thankful and blessed to be in, you know, I’m not really in the forefront. I don’t, you don’t really see my face too much. I, I do teach when I want to teach. I’m not a teacher of saying that I just want to teach because I just want to get some money to go around the world and teach, see my name. I love teaching when it feels right for me and everything I teach is probably what I’m going through at that moment. So if I teach a ratchet piece, because I want to have fun and not really thinking about doing moves. And sometimes I might, this one, I felt, uh, empathy for so much and you know, vulnerability with this piece I just made and I wanted something way more relaxed to calm my mind down. Cause I didn’t want to have to fake on camera. I don’t like faking anything. So, you know, I, I, I take that with my own personality. I don’t like faking anything. So I don’t seek validation. I like, I go kind of street smarts and I’m really I’m. I was raised in the streets with it and have great family. So not in a bad way, but more so I had street smarts in the sense of, I liked to think. People will know you when they need to know you and the right people should know you. So my whole thing is maybe not millions of people know who I am, but the right people are knowing me because they keep asking me to come back around. And that’s what I want to get to outreach to. You know what I’m saying? They know the people who want to be inspired and thank God they’re inspired by me. I want it to bestow it to people. And everyone knows you can fall in between whenever you get there.

Dana: It’s beautiful. Put a Bow on it and ship it. That sort of speaks to the notion of quality over quantity and being driven by the substance or the process even of the work instead of the end result itself. Yeah.  

Josh: Yeah. You can’t know a lot of people do the work and I want to say a lot, but I know people tend to work for the outcome. Oh, I know there’s going to be great. People are gonna love me. Oh my God. Like, I’m going to get this love, but it’s like, to me, I want you to love it. Not just because of me. I want you to love the work in its entirety. So then when you do realize its me like, wow, Josh, you did that. But I don’t really like shouting out to telling people, look at me, look what I did. Look what I choreographed. I did that. No, I want people to get their credit even assistants So whoever is involved is you’re right. You know what I’m saying? Just as my right. 

Dana: That’s a really good segue. Something I hadn’t planned on talking about this really important to me is crediting your team. Um, I know that you kind of came up through ranks as being a dancer and an assistant. I would love to know what your experience was in getting credit for the work and how that’s affected the way you credit the people on your team.  

Josh: Yes. Um, so, uh, when I started, no, I started with a crew when I moved to LA. I’m not originally from Atlanta. A lot of people think that it’s like a side note, but I’m from Durham, North Carolina research research right there. So Durham, North Carolina. And, um, I moved to Atlanta and I had a crew collision crew, Jeremy Strong, and a couple of people was in that and Cody was affiliated Cody Wiggins. And uh, you know, I had good people surrounding me the whole entire time. And loyalty is a big thing for me. Cause I will be loyal to you. And if my friends or whoever you work with, we know you can be a millionaire and I can still say no, if it doesn’t feel right, you know what I’m saying? So, and I got into the Jamaica Craft, my mentor, fix it, big homie friend, all that great stuff.  

Dana: And so talented. 

Josh: Like that’s like, you know, a big, big homie of mine. And uh, she taught me law too. You know, as much as she didn’t her career and what she’s continues to do, she, um, trusted me and she showed me the ropes. She showed me what it means to be really a dancer and be a dancer with power. She doesn’t, she told me, I had my manager, China who taught me to say the power of no. And, and saying that don’t look and seek people who will you think are already made it. And you’re getting to that place. When you get to that place, I have to leave my team behind to go meet this person. When all you should really do is bring this person with you to meet each other. So then for, because you know, for a fact, this person has made it already, but this person has rolled with me the whole time. So loyalty is a big thing with me. And then when my loyalty, Jamaica has taught me that and uh, she always held me down. She never did no weird, nothing crazy. Like when this job it’s a job, when she hit me and I said, add for advice. And she was very secretive. Cause he wasn’t like, she was not a person you can get around in Jamaica. Right. When I got around her, if she installed so much knowledge, you know their stuff so much ambition, you know? And like I had it already, but she just said, you know, you’re talented and never let anyone take that away from you. Like not even me, like go as far as you can inspire people as you can. She, the one who told me the right people would see you, even if it got to take four years, cause it’s four or five years ago, nobody really seen me. I was still, you know, I was dance for usher. I didn’t live in LA. I was still going, but no one really knew me, but that’s what I, like I say, no, it’s cool. The attention, not on me right now, but when it is, I’ll be ready.  

Dana: I love that attitude. That’s awesome. Thank you for that insight. That’s super cool. Yeah. I, I like to think of the notion that it’s lonely at the top as kind of a lie I would like for it to be very, um, crowded and friendly at the top. I think that that is the top that I want to make.  

Josh: I tell people all the time there is room at the table, man. But the good thing to know is, is when you get there, you earned it. But now it’s about holding it. Keep it don’t show it. Don’t talk to me. Why aren’t you? Yeah. You are under a lot of people earned this seat, but do they get to stay here? Longevity? A thing for me, I don’t want to be I’m young. I’m still 28 now. I mean, I said 28 I’m 27. I want to be 28 years here, but I’m 27. And like, um, I think that, I know I have a long way to go. We know people who I do look up to is Rich & Tones and Fatima and Jamaica and hi-hat, these are people who have longevity. These are people who, their generation, another generation and generation after that, they’re still here. You know what I’m saying? And that’s something that I wanted. So I don’t live for now all the time, which I have to do more, but I’m more so like I want my name to be great for years to come. So  

Dana: I’m going to ask a question now, what’s your plan for that? How do you, how do you achieve that? Um,  

Josh: I’ve been trying it so far, I don’t have the right answers for that, but being a good person, training really stunning and really knowing who and knowing that it’s time with this, but knowing who you are, you know, like I never tried to be perfect or within relationship within, you know, dance. I’m very, very open book. I’m very like, I like to base myself on with, you know, even my own demons or whatever it’s and find me. So if I know I can be the better version of myself and truly be the better version, don’t have to worry about Limelights or personas or you know, all that good stuff. I’ll be okay now eventually I will make it there. So I don’t know when I will make it there.  

Dana: I believe that you will, by the way you’re talking right now and I want to be there at the end too, right? Yes. Longevity is so important to me. One of my mentors and inspirations is Toni Basil. She’s 76 years old and could roast me right now like me and my 30 something year 34, a few days ago, self, 

Josh: Happy belated birthday! 

Dana: Thank you. Thank you. Um, and, and I think part of Basil’s secret to success is persistence. Every single day, she dances, even when she doesn’t want to dance, she does. And I think that that’s something speaks to what you just mentioned about bringing all versions of yourself might not be perfect today. It might not be happy today. It might not be the coolest moves today, but continuing to show up is how you continue to show up. It’s simple as that. It’s nothing earth shattering, no simple, not easy though. Simple, not easy. Um, okay. I’d love to segue into like perception and persona public, um, public presence, maybe dare I say social presence. Um, one of the things that I really admire about you and the way you use your voice, not just in your choreography, but in the social platform is that you’re not afraid to talk about things that are important to you. Yes. The black lives matter movement is tremendously important to you and to so many people. Thank goodness. And we’ll find out we’ll find out yes. If this is something that can be important to everyone. Yes. But, um, I, in this process of learning the world that I live in and becoming really working to become more culturally sensitive when I watched dance, like when I consume dance and when I make it, and here’s what I’m learning that takes time. I mean, it’s very easy to scroll and watch a piece. Yes. But if you want to be sensitive, what you’re watching culturally, racially and otherwise, yes. You are asking, who is this person? Where is this person from? What is this person experience? Where is this person going? What, what does this mean? Like, what does that mean? What does it mean when this person kneels versus when this person kneels, what is the meaning of a movement? So then you have to like, you go, you wind up looking. So a scroll is now taking three and a half hours. I get why people don’t do that. It’s a lot. And, and it doesn’t even, you might not necessarily wind up at right or better, or, but, but it’s responsible and it’s an important time to be. And also we do have time arguably to be doing that. So my question is that was a very long winded way of asking your question, is what might people think about your work on a scroll and what might they learn by going deeper? Okay.  

Josh: Okay. Well through dance or just on my page in general.  

Dana: Oh man. Let’s talk about dance,  

Josh: Dance. Okay. So hopefully when you see, when you scroll through my stuff quality. Cause I, I strive for that. You know, I I’ve danced as we all dance for years, but I’ve tried hard, I can say to not master, but in a sense perfect my style, you know, and I’m moving away that I will love for you to be like that. It’s nice that you know much about this guy, but he looks good.  

Dana: Achieved, achieved party of one because when I watch, I’m like, nice. Really? Truly like that word probably happens a lot. Yeah.  

Josh: I like that. Just be like, Oh, nice swell. Okay. Then after that, I will hope that you will feel to want to know even a little about me by, because I like to details. Like, even if it’s the slightest thing I like to, why do you, like you might see, you know, I realized that I’ve seen Josh’s clips that he wears all black a lot. Why is that?


Dana: Great example, great example.  

Josh: It makes you dig in deeper and it makes you want to see more about me. Like, cause I am like, again, open book. I like wearing my beard, whether it’s clean or not. No, I had this beanie. Why did he have this been here?  

Dana: I’ve I’ve heard the beanies of thing. Why, why do you have the beanie on all the tests?  

Josh: It was when I was on tour with usher, uh, I was finding myself as a dancer. That’s when I really found just so you know, that’s when I really found myself, like right after that tour, um, as a mover, I had Kento, I had Yusuke. I had Antonio Hudnell, I had Marvelous. I had Quita, you know, Ashley Everett, you know? So it, it was like a lot of power Naeemah, you know what I mean? And um, we did yoga and all this things and it was like, it was just very togetherness. And um, I found my style and uh, I don’t want to drop the question. Tell me the question one more time. Sorry.  

Dana: Um, Oh gosh, no, I lost the question. Specifically. The beanie, is there a story? Why is it the, what is it? Is it a signature? It’s a thing. Yeah,  

Josh: It’s a signature for sure. And I found it on tour after tour and I was, I used to wear like a towel.. on my pocket. Every time I go on stage, because you know, when you go on carver, doesn’t really give you the freedom to be like, this is where whatever you think is fly. So Jamaica was like, you scanned kento. They had really a box of shades. Yeah,  Like 30 pair of shades. And that box every night, they changed different shades. What they want to wear with that outfit. So she was like, Josh, if you want to wear a towel, whatever, whatever do your thing. Cause she told him about Swoop back in the day and he used to wear his gloves. You know what I mean? So like, it’s like, what is your sauce? When you step out to make you feel like that’s going to be the best you when you’re on stage. So I had a towel and then eventually I see Tone and Tone used to wear, his, his, uh, his hat regular though, you know, regular stuff. And he’d have his towel tied up tights on. Cause he came from the ballet. Right. He was very like protecting his body. I got to stay warm. So I was like, what’s my little niche. I like, and I don’t want to be a gimmick. But I just want my own little sauce, you know what I’m saying? It belong to me. So one day I had my beanie up in the house now I rolled it and I kept rolling it. And I wrote up high, like a little sailors hat. I was like, I’m not mad at it. So I did it a couple of people, a couple of years, people was like, why you got your hat like that? I’m like, Hmm. It didn’t eventually everyone caught on. And now it’s weird. I didn’t start it. But I see people now like there’s hats that made like this now, like, and people ask me, where do you get your hat from? I said, to be your supply store, a gas station really.. I just rolled it up certain way. And then rock it. So it’s been stuck ever since.  

Dana: I love it. I love it. I think there’s something so unique about dancers and getting to feel this like very this like in your body difference, depending on what you’re wearing.  

Josh: Oh, that’s a big thing. I mean, it’s a big thing right there. You can be in rehearsal for three months and then you go on stage. He was like, this is what I’m wearing. I lost all the feelings.  

Dana: 20/20 Experience is a perfect example. I love a loose pant. I mean, borderline put me in a burlap sack. We’re good. I just space and air. And then all of a sudden I’m in a high waist, high crotch it, all of it. And it really, it changes. It changes things, um, in the way you feel. But it also changes the visual, like your center of gravity is now high, different shapes. Look good up here. Then the shapes that look it down here. So it’s a part of it and it flatters the outline, the silhouette. I love it. It’s great. Okay. So we’re back though. The tough, the more, not tougher question, because ask answering questions about your signature and your style is not easy and finding your signature and your style is not easy. I don’t mean to downplay that at all, but um, I’m wondering when people dig deep on you, what is it that you want them to find? What is it that they find now? And is that what you want them?  

Josh: I want them to find that honestly, first off I’m a genuine person. You know, that’s what, that’s just what I tell. When I talk to people, when I dance, I’m very vulnerable and I want you to see that I’m a genuine person. And I see that. I take my craft very seriously. And to know that my whole goal is to inspire. My dad taught me back in the day. He always taught me this. I had a story and I won’t go too long in it, but pretty much saying your gift is not for you. You’re gifted for people. God gave you the gift to make people smile and make people happy. So no matter what, whenever you do in your career, if you keep that in mind, you can never lose. So that’s what I’ve tried to give up on my Instagram and my dancing. And when I talk to people, I give so much energy people. How can you give so much energy all the time? You always, so I say, because it’s not for me, you know what I mean? It’s for, it’s for the people who can’t do it for the people who want to do it for the people, even when I was in that stage in my life. And I wish I could be there. Cause you know, you tend to get to a place and you’re like, dang, I still need to get to this place. But it’s like, did you remember when you wanted to be in this place right now? So, you know, I kind of always go back to that and tell people, look at me in genuine light and know that I love what I do.  

Dana: Ugh, thank you for sharing that story. That’s so important. And I’m glad that we had time. I think we have time for one more. Um, in, in my research, um, I discovered that you have a favorite quote. I am a masterpiece that is trying to master peace. Yes. Would you be so kind as to share with us anything you’ve learned in your quest for mastering peace? 

Josh: Yes. I got it tatted on me, man. 

Dana: Let’s hear it. Let’s see it.  

Josh: Yeah. So it’s back here, you know, you really can’t see, I know you can’t see it too much, but I got that quote, my masterpiece, trying to masterpiece because you know, within our own right, we are artists. No, I am an artist. I am sensitive about my art and I love what I do, man. And like, I’m a massive piece that we all are in ourselves and God has given us the right to feel that, you know, no one can take that away from you. And like that goes to parenting. I had great parents who made me feel that love that no one else can take that from me and trying to match the peace because I am an Aries and I’m a fire sign and I can get, I am very passionate so I can get to a very high level of aggression, you know, because out of my passion, but knowing that I want to master peace, I want to be able to be levelheaded and, and, and think clearly and move with purpose. You know what I’m saying? Move with purpose, move with a divine plan, move knowing sometimes I’m not going to have the answer. That’s why I’m a masterpiece trying to masterpiece  

Dana: Trying emphasis. And that’s a constant, right? Because the moment you’ve achieved it, something is gonna happen.  

Josh: And that’s why I kind of remind myself, like I’m trying to masterpiece, you know what I mean? That’s the thing. That’s the biggest thing for me, because I don’t want to handle relationships or friends or, you know, business offer like, you know, anger or upset. Because back in the day I used to just get upset and I just cut people off. I don’t want to talk. I’m cool. Like, cause I’m not a loner, but I’m, I’m comfortable. So comfort with myself for being alone. I’m comfortable being alone. I went through enough in my life that I’m like, I respectfully bow out. We don’t have to be friends. We don’t have to be here. We don’t have to do work. I’m okay. I’ll make it. I’ll find a way to make it. So I don’t want to have to leach or you have to leach you off of me. We can stop it. Now. Now I’m saying, but now mastering the peace that knowing that relationships are good and talking through things is the best way to do it because communication is key  

Dana: With, with a person. But also the self was so like, if you, it sounds like you were a person who’s okay with being with yourself. And if you can master like peace within, you’re more prepared to achieve it, receive it out there in the world from other relationships. Yes. That’s awesome. I think it’s the, I think it, it should be, could be everyone’s right?  

Josh: Yes, man. Like, you know, I think everyone, we, if we move non selfishly, like, and just know that everyone can be great within your own, right. Doesn’t have to oversize and overstep. You don’t have to move that way. You know what I’m saying? And I know sometimes within not feel the industry, the, it can get very tricky, right. But everyone can move a certain way to get to a certain place, you know? And that’s why you got a room at the top. There’s always room.  

Dana: We have to like change this, this imagery of it being a mountain with a peak and a flag. That’s one person’s flag to being like, Ooh, what if it was just an, also a mountain, but upside down,  

Josh: Upside down,  

Dana: Ascending is going to be way harder. Cause you’re in an inversion. But I, yeah, I think that that’s possible. There’s the saying I’m going to botch it. I’m not going to get it right. Um, but one, one matches flame does not take away the light from another, like this match being over here and bright and lit doesn’t mean that this one is going to be dim, light it up, let there be light illuminate. I think that’s another one that my husband has gifted me. Light is the best disinfectant. And I think that in this time we’re shedding light on a lot of things and  

Josh: Which, which needs to happen. And these are steps they need to happen. Black lives does matter, you know? And like, I’m just going to put this out there. You know? No one wants to say that no other lives matter. We say that because like you said, you might not know the generational, like depression that we had over the years that I’ve experienced because I am from the South. So, you know, I’ve like no cultural and police brutality and all that stuff. Since I was like 13, you know what I mean? As a black man in the world. So no I had the police talk and even me now talking to my friends, knowing that they didn’t have the same talk that I would have grown up. So  

Dana: The conversations is training and experience  

Josh: The same experience. So just to say that we all have love for each other. We just want to come at peace with everybody in the world and live our life exactly how everyone knows can live that life.  

Dana: Yes. Josh, thank you so much. I have nothing left to say, except for, thank you. Thank you for being here and being open, um, for somebody that I’ve honestly not before today, shared word in person words, right? I feel like we could do this for a very long time and I hope that we get to, I would love to spend more time with you and Lindsey. I’m such a fan of your moves. They’re so nice. And it’s really nice to get to know what’s what’s beneath them as well.  

Josh: Well, it’s the kinjaz 

Dana: Yeah. We’re going to throw it to the Kinjaz. There’s a cipher. Josh and I are going to go. You guys should go. I think it’s a very exciting time to have dance and have community and you can feel connected even at six feet distance. You can feel connected even on the other side of your computer screen. Um, and I’m excited actually now to be digging deeper because you mentioned people not knowing, not having known you before. And I love a deep dive. So where could I go to find more of you Josh  

Josh: Thats the bad thing, I’m horrible at social media. I’m just now I’m about to get my YouTube started out.  

Oh, okay. But we’ll be on the lookout  

Josh: And we don’t look out my damn, uh, my Instagram Dasher underscore boys Smith. That’s pretty much on Twitter and everything else. Uh, watch out for any upcoming projects. I do have old clips that you could probably look at on YouTube, but ask me, y’all gotta go dig on that.  

Dana: You’re going to dig on that. You know, I’m going to dig on that. Yeah.  

Josh: Hey Dana, I appreciate you, man. Thank you so much.  

Dana: She’s lovely talking to you and thank you CLI thank you everybody watching and listening. I had a ball. Let’s go cipher. Let’s do it. I wore the wrong shoes for sure. Definitely going to have a blister. If there’s a lot of dancing, I should have made my signature thing. Socks, really comfortable socks. That’s my signature. Move that way. I’ll always have them. Okay. Enough enough on me. Thank you so much, Josh. We’ll talk to you later! 

Dana: All right. All right. I hope you got as much out of that conversation as I did. I absolutely loved hearing Josh talk about the relationship between being an athlete and being a dancer. I thought it was fascinating to hear him talk about his relationship to the public perception of him, his work and social media. I also loved hearing from Josh about the importance of activism in his life and using his voice and in supporting his community. To me, this is a hugely important part of our work as artists, as makers, and especially as teachers. So cheers to you, Josh, thank you so much for being such a great example for all of us and thank you all for listening. Enjoy the rest of your day afternoon, night, whatever it is. 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 weight change over to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast to learn more. All right, everybody now I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon.